Friday, September 13, 2019

New to prepping? Here are your next steps.

If you are relatively new to prepping, or just now considering the prepping lifestyle, things can seem overwhelming. There is so much to do, to buy, to stockpile, to learn... Where do you even begin? Here are some ideas to get you started:

1) Think for yourself. Let me start by stating what should be obvious - there is no "one size fits all" preparedness plan. There is no "one way and only one way" to do preparedness. Be wary of anyone who insists their way is the only right way. Everyone faces different circumstances and has different concerns. Everyone has different skills and abilities. Everyone has different challenges, different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, your survival plan will be at least somewhat different than my survival plan, which in turn will be different from someone else. That is a good thing. 

2) Prioritize health and fitness.  No, I'm not saying that you have to become a world-class athlete. For most of us, that isn't going to happen. But we all can do more to improve our health and fitness, regardless of our age or circumstances. Work on eating a healthier diet and being more physically active. Start out slow, make steady progress, and you'll be surprised how quickly you notice positive changes. 

You may be interested in my articles Fitness and the Aging Prepper and Ways to Improve Your Health and Fitness for Free! for more on this topic.

3) Develop self-reliance. Supplies are nice, and skills are even better. But, when an emergency hits, survival is often more about attitude than anything else. Developing an attitude of self-reliance is crucial. To that end, I've identified seven foundational points of self-reliance:
  1. Assume responsibility for your own life.
  2. Take the blame for your own life.
  3. Be informed.
  4. Know where your going.
  5. Make your own decisions.
  6. Learn skills.
  7. Gain experience.
Want more details on developing self-reliance? Check out my article What Exactly is Self-Reliance? where I discuss each of these points in more detail.

4) Develop a communications plan. This starts with gathering a list of emergency contacts, but it doesn't stop there. A good communications plan let's everyone know how and when to get in touch with each other, and what to do if they cannot. After all, an emergency is unlikely to happen at a convenient and predictable time when everyone is together. The situation will be chaotic and confused. 

See my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan? for an in-depth discussion of this topic.

5) Develop your financial fitness. Living within your means, building an emergency fund, and paying off debt are the basics of financial fitness, and you probably already know you should be doing these things. But are you? Please read my article from last week, Financial Preparedness: Get Back to Basics, for lots of ideas for financial preparedness! 

6) Acquire a basic stockpile of food and water, as well another supplies, such as cleaning & hygiene supplies, batteries, and so forth. An emergency, be it a winter storm or something longer lasting, will mean a massive disruption in the supply chain for goods and services. In other words, the shelves at Wal-mart, Target, Lowe's, Home Depot, and your local grocery, hardware, and clothing stores will quickly be emptied, and may not be restocked quickly. Stock up now for an extended period of time in which you will not be able to buy what you need.

Of course, the more you have, the better.  But if you're just starting out, strive for a week's supply. Then bump that up to two weeks. Once you have that, then you can build a month's supply, and so forth. The point is to do a little at a time, making slow but steady progress. This will feel less overwhelming than trying to acquire an entire year's worth, or two, all at once. 

My article Emergency Water Storage is a fairly complete guide to water storage, including guides to how much water to store, so check it out. 

The best resource on food storage, in my opinion is Peggy Layton's book Emergency Food Storage & Survival Handbook.  It has detailed information for building stockpiles of food, water, medicine and other necessities. I consider this a CORE BOOK for most preppers.

7) Learn first aid and survival medicine. Everyone, prepper or not, should learn first aid. Even young kids should start learning the basics. And every serious prepper should learn survival medicine. By survival medicine, I mean what to do when a doctor isn't available, and help isn't own the way.

For first aid, I suggest the ACEP First Aid Manual, 5th Edition. This first aid manual of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is much more up-to-date (2014) than the American Red Cross manual, which hasn't been updated since 1992.

For survival medicine, start with The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way, by Dr. Joe Alton and Nurse Amy Alton.  

8) Get ready to bug-out!  Even most non-preppers have heard of "bugging out" and "bug-out bags."  Its probably the topic most associated with prepping, besides food storage. No matter how safe a location you currently live in, there may come a time when you have to evacuate to a better, safer location. When this happens, it likely will happen quickly, without much warning or time to plan and pack. That why you need to plan ahead of time for such a possibility. Decide where you might go in an emergency and how you'll get there. Be ready with a packed bug-out bag that you can quickly grab on your way out the door.

I should say that bugging-out in an emergency should not be your Plan A. The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put. Bug-in (hunker down) where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have no other choice. Bugging-out is a measure of last resort. Also, consider that a bug-out location isn't necessarily somewhere you'll move to permanently. You may only need it for a few days or a few weeks.

I go into a lot of details about bugging out in my previous articles But, bug-out to where, exactly??? and Eight Tips for Bugging Out

Final Thought: There is a lot more to emergency preparedness and survival than the items listed in this article. There is so much that can be done that it can seem overwhelming. Don't let it overwhelm you. Its like the joke about how you eat an elephant: one bite at a time. Follow this list if you're new to prepping, and you'll be better off than the 95% of the population who have done nothing.



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Sunday, September 8, 2019

Financial Preparedness: Get Back to Basics

During times of great change and chaos, one of the safest and most effective strategies is to simply "get back to basics" - to do all those things you know you should be doing but which are so easy to get away from during the good times. But, when it comes to finances, what exactly do I mean by the basics? And how do we get back to them?

Get back to the basics of personal finance. Make sure you are spending less than you earn. Avoid taking own any new debt - don't use credit cards, payday loans or installment payment plans of any type. Pay cash or make do without. Pay off credit cards, auto loans, and other installment loans. Get on a budget or spending plan and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases. Scale back your lifestyle sharply. Find the best bargains by using shopping lists, clipping coupons and doing comparison shopping. Start an emergency fund. These are the basics of personal finance, and you probably already know you should be doing these things. But are you? 

Eliminate debt and build savings. I don't know when exactly, but I do know that at some point we will be  facing difficult economic times once again.. It will be especially difficult for the folks who are living paycheck to paycheck, in debt up to their eyeballs and with little or no savings. Debt – whether personal, business or government – is bad. It creates stress, entraps us in jobs we hate and makes us much more vulnerable to economic downturns.

In your personal life, work quickly towards eliminating consumer debt – credit cards, car loans, payday loans, personal loans and installment plans. This will mean you have to put yourself on a budget and stick with it. It will mean putting off major purchases, avoiding impulse purchases and denying yourself luxury items. It may mean taking bag lunches to work. It may mean selling your car to get out of the loan. It may mean having a major yard sale to raise some money. It may even mean taking on a second job. It will take sacrifice to eliminate debt in your life, but the benefits will be more than worth it.

Debt Busting Idea #1 - Making payments on your vehicle?  Sell it and buy a more affordable vehicle with cash. Downsizing your vehicle to get out from under the loan is an idea Dave Ramsey often suggests to his listeners. If you can't get enough for your vehicle to pay off the entire loan, you will need to raise some extra cash using other ideas from this article. 

Debt Busting Idea #2 - If you own any "adult toys" such as ATVs, boats, sports cars, RVs, pool tables, dune buggies, hot tubs, motorcycles, or other big ticket items that you use only for recreation and entertainment, consider selling them and dedicating the proceeds to debt repayment. Same goes for any home gyms and exercise equipment that you don't really use. Depending on what you have to sell, you may be able to raise anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. That's a lot of debt you can pay off.

Why pay off debt if we are headed towards high inflation? It may be true that by waiting to pay off debt, you will be paying it off with cheaper dollars. However, there are other considerations. For one, debt puts you, your family and your assets at risk. Pay off your debts now while you are employed and you run less risk of losing your home or other assets if you become unemployed later.

Also, debt can be very stressful, especially in difficult times, which can be a real detriment to your health, and to your ability to make calm decisions, at a time when you most need both.

Another reason to pay off debt now is that debt can shackle you to your current job and circumstances, when what is really needed is freedom and flexibility.

Finally, people tend not to realize how fast interest, late fees and other penalties can add up. You may be paying off your debt later with cheaper dollars, but still be paying more in real terms because of all the added interest and penalties.

Building some emergency savings will have to be done at the same time. Yard sales are a great way to bring in extra cash to do this. So is a second job in the evenings or on the weekends. Put the money somewhere safe, such as an insured CD or money market account in a stable bank or credit union (do your own homework or check with one of several companies that offer ratings on the soundness and safety of various financial institutions). Don't worry about getting top interest. Safety and liquidity are your goals for your emergency savings, not growth.

Once your debt is paid off and you have accumulated some emergency savings, then you can then turn your attention to savings for long-range goals such as the purchase of a car, a new home, your children's education, or your retirement. Use common sense, avoid overly-risky investments and seek professional advice of someone you can trust.

No investment is perfectly safe. Cash savings are subject to losing value to inflation. Stocks and mutual funds are subject to the ups and downs of the market. Land is subject to property taxes and eminent domain. Converting all your money to gold & silver and burying it in the backyard is subject to thieves. There are no guarantees in life. The best you can do is use reason and common sense, to remain vigilant and to take responsibility for ensuring your own future.

Reduce your entertainment expenses. We may hate denying ourselves, but entertainment is a purely optional budget expense. Eliminate it. Learn (or re-learn) how to have a good time for free or nearly free. Start a family game night. Play with your kids in the backyard. Invite friends over for a weekend cook-out or a movie night (DVD checked out from the library for free). Next week they can invite you over.

Read a book (checked out from the library for free, of course) instead of going to a movie. Libraries are a wonderful source of free entertainment. In addition to books and magazines, many libraries today also offer audio books, movies on DVD and Blu-Ray, music CDs and even board games that you can check out. Many libraries also have story times for young children and host lectures for adults.

Local parks are another source of free entertainment and exercise opportunities. Playground equipment, obstacle courses, walking & jogging trails, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic tables, and plenty of open spaces can be found at most parks. A local park near me even has fishing ponds that the county keeps well-stocked. They also host many events, such as an annual gem & mineral show and a summer concert series, that can be attended for free.

Give up the vacation away from home. Instead of heading for the beach or Disneyland or wherever, stay home. Spend a week visiting local museums, zoos, botanical gardens, historical sites, parks or wildlife refuges. Go on a picnic or nature hike. Go fishing at a local lake. Play frisbee with your kids in the backyard. Or just relax at home, thinking of all the money you are saving.

Eating out should be a rare treat, not a lifestyle. Taking a bag lunch of leftovers to work with you instead of buying lunch at the local fast food eatery will save you big bucks over the course of a year. How much? If you spend just five dollars a day for lunch, that is over $1,200 a year. If you are a two-income family with both of you eating out at lunch, this doubles to over $2,400 a year. Family dinners out are even more expensive. This is one area of the budget where huge savings are possible for most folks. 

Small purchases equals big money. Money spent on little things - sodas, snacks, and impulse items of all sorts - can add up really quickly. A great example is a guy I used to work with who constantly complained about not having any money. Every afternoon he would head down to the break room and buy a Pepsi and a Snickers bar from the vending machine. It was only a $1.75, but he spent that money five days a week. Over the course of a year, that inexpensive afternoon snack adds up to almost $450.

We tend to dismiss small purchases as being insignificant - its only a couple of bucks - but when we make a lot of small purchases, those couple of bucks add up to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars over time. 

Reduce you home energy use. Turn off lights, TVs and electronics whenever you leave a room. Set your thermostat to conserve energy.  Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models.  so be sure to consult a tax professional. Super-insulate your house. Consider installing energy efficient windows and heating with a modern wood stove. These ideas will cost you money up front, but will likely save you money over the long run. Also, certain energy-efficient upgrades may be tax deductible, so be sure to consult your tax professional.

Reduce the amount of fuel you use. Make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and the engine is well-maintained (tune-ups, oil changes, a clean air filter, etc.) to maximize mileage. Drive slower and less aggressively. Drive less by walking, car pooling and using public transportation, as well as planning & combining trips. Consider replacing your old vehicle with a newer one that gets much better mileage (but not if you would have to make payments).

Energy efficiency for your home and car will become especially important if and when the progressives come back into power. Their obsession with "climate change" and their need to pay for all of their give-away programs, guarantees much higher energy and gasoline taxes in the future. 

Stocking up on food and other supplies is a great hedge against inflation. Canned and dry foods can last 2 -5 years or more. Wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove can be stacked up in your backyard. If you are into gardening, and you should be, composted cow manure, bone meal, hummus and other soil amendments can be used to improve your soil for future use. Most seeds have a shelf-life of 3 to 5 years. Extra shoes, clothes, toothbrushes, razors, soap, paper towels, tires and many other useful items can be stored almost indefinitely.

Needed and useful items that you stock up on (for future use or bartering) are very much a form of savings. With the debasing of the US dollar, and many other currencies worldwide, such stockpiles may be a good place to put some of your savings.

Take personal security seriously. We should expect crime to rise dramatically during the difficult times ahead. Identity theft, fraud, con games, check kiting schemes, burglary, car theft, armed robbery and even kidnapping for ransom are very likely to increase during the next economic downturn.. People who stand out as being "rich" will be very tempting targets, but even the poor can be victims. Don't flaunt your wealth. Be aware of your surroundings. Be vigilant about your protecting your financial information and identity. If you are wealthy, a gated community with private security may become a necessity. If you live in a regular neighborhood, start a community watch program. Teach your kids to be very wary of strangers and aware of their surroundings at all times. Avoid the seedier parts of town whenever possible. Try not to shop or run errands alone, especially at night.

This article only scratches the surface of financial preparedness. You may also be interested in some of the other articles I've written on financial preparedness:

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Don't Like Being Sick? Here's What To Do.

Schools are back in session. The days are starting to get shorter and the nights cooler. Winter will be here before we know it. And we know what that means: Cold and flu season is fast approaching. Time for my annual "How Not To Get Sick" article. I hope the commonsense advice helps you avoid this year's illnesses.


Its actually not the cold weather that makes us sick, but the fact that we're all suddenly spending a lot more time indoors, in close contact with lots of other people, allowing diseases to spread like wildfire. Schools, in particular, are extremely efficient incubators of all sorts of diseases. From there, the kids pass it on to their parents, who in turn pass it on to their co-workers. Its a vicious cycle.

No one like to get sick, so the question is: What can we do to avoid getting sick? Quite a lot, actually!


The Commonsense Basics

>>> Wash your hands thoroughly and often. Hopefully, everyone realizes the importance of hand-washing, so I won't waste time trying to sell you on the idea. Instead, let's define "thoroughly" and "often." Thoroughly: wash your hands with soap and warm water, vigorously rubbing them together for at least twenty seconds. Then dry your hands completely. How often: *VERY* - when you wake up, before each meal and snack, after going to the restroom, after coughing or sneezing on your hands, after handling money, after being around sick people, after shaking hands with someone, after handling keyboards, after using door handles, and before going to bed. Make especially sure to wash your hands after handling phones - public phones, including your house phone and office phone, are among the most germ-encrusted objects you will ever encounter, worse even than public toilet seats according to several studies. 

Hand sanitizers are okay in a pinch, but are less effective than soap and water; use them until you can get to the nearest wash-basin.

>>> Get plenty of sleep. Unfortunately, modern civilization is a 24/7 event these days, and many folks now brag about how little sleep they need and still be able to get by. You might be able to "get by" with less, but research proves that adults, and their immune systems, actually need at least 8 hours of sleep to perform at optimal levels. For example, a 2009 Carnegie Mellon study found that adults who get less than seven hours of sleep are three times more likely to get sick, than adults who get at least 8 hours.

>>> Drink plenty of water. When you are dehydrated, it dries out and reduces the effectiveness of the watery, protective surfaces lining your mouth, throat, eyes, lungs, stomach, and intestines. Stay hydrated!

>>> Eat a healthy diet, including lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and other nutritious foods. Avoid overdoing sugar and alcohol, as both are known to negatively impact the immune system. Modern, processed foods are typically loaded with lots of sugar of various types, so you may likely be consuming too much sugar even if you avoid sweets - pay attention to labels. Many condiments, such as catsups and salad dressings, are often loaded with sugar AND people typically use more than one "official" serving, thus multiplying the amount of sugar they're getting without realizing it. If you drink alcohol, stick to one glass of red wine a day.

>>> Get plenty of exercise. Exercise pumps up the immune system by boosting the production of disease-fighting white blood cells. It also floods the body with stress-reducing hormones, and less stress means a more efficient immune system.


Additional Steps To Take

>>> Learn to relax. Stress, particularly long-term stress, leads to an overproduction of a class of hormones called glucocorticoids, which suppress the immune system. Exercise, yoga, meditation, listening to calming music, prayer, participating in a hobby, or just quietly reading can all be wonderful ways to relax.

>>> Sanitize the surfaces in your life - keyboards, door handles, phones, etc. - at home and at work. I personally use Lysol Disinfecting Wipes almost daily to wipe down my desk, keyboard, mouse, and house phone. They also work great for door knobs.  However, for my Samsung Galaxy, I use a screen cleaner such as Screen Mom since I'm worried about messing up the touch screen.

>>> Don't bite your nails. Think about it: the small gaps under your nails make great breeding grounds for germs, and are easy to not clean well when washing your hands.

>>> Make sure your getting enough vitamins and minerals. This is best done by eating a healthy diet, but a daily vitamin & mineral supplement may add some additional insurance. An article by the Harvard Medical School recently mentioned that deficiencies of zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, and vitamins A, B6, C, and E can negatively impact the immune system. 


The Difficult-to-Do

>>> Avoid sick people. This one is a lot easier said than done, as we have little control over people who choose to go to work, school, or shopping while sick. But, to the extent you can, avoid being around with people who are sick. This means trying to avoid large crowds whenever possible. When you do have to be around someone who is sick, take proper precautions like washing your hands frequently.

https://amzn.to/2M5oCTZ>>> Wear a surgical mask in public. Taking the bus, train, subway, or otherwise hanging around a large crowd of people in tight quarters? Take a clue from the Japanese and wear a surgical mask. This will help you not spread your own germs and help you avoid the germs of other people. (They are also great dust and pollen blockers for those suffering from allergies.)  This isn't as common in America as it is in Asia, so you'll likely get a lot of strange looks. But, is it really effective? Actually, yes. According to a study published in The International Journal of Infectious Diseases (December 2008 issue, page e328), surgical masks have a protective efficacy of over 80% against respiratory illnesses like colds and influenza.


The Controversial

>>> Get a flu shot, or don't. I'm not going to tell you what to do on this one - its up to you. People on both sides of the debate have strong feelings when it comes to vaccines. Pro-vaccine people point to the success of vaccinations with wiping out diseases like polio and smallpox, and fervently believe that modern vaccines are safe. Anti-vaccine people point to a lot of anecdotal evidence that vaccines can cause various problems such as autism and infertility, and they don't trust corporations or the government to tell the truth about the safety of vaccinations. And a third set of folks believe that vaccines are generally safe, but that we are way over-medicating ourselves, which could create unintended consequences. Therefore, they are reluctant to take every recommended vaccine that comes on the market. Decide for yourself. Need more information to decide? Check out: 


Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives, discusses the pros and cons of vaccinations in a fairly even-handed way.

The blurb: "Midwife, herbalist, and mother of four, Aviva Jill Romm sifts through the spate of current research on vaccine safety and efficacy and offers a sensible, balanced discussion of the pros and cons of each routine childhood vaccination. She presents the full spectrum of options available to parents: full vaccination on a standardized or individualized schedule, selective vaccination, or no vaccinations at all. Negotiating daycare and school requirements, dealing with other parents, and traveling with an unvaccinated child are covered in detail. The book also suggests ways to strengthen children's immune systems and maintain optimal health and offers herbal and homeopathic remedies for childhood ailments. Emphasizing that no single approach is appropriate for every child, the author guides parents as they make the choices that are right for their child." Available on Amazon
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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Real History Book List

History, more than any other subject, has been purposely watered-down by political correctness and corrupted by leftist ideology. Real History is no longer taught in schools. Yet, a correct and accurate understanding of history is essential. Here is a list of books that do teach Real History, without leftist ideology or political correctness.

https://amzn.to/2MO4tXv

Paul Johnson's book,  A History of the American People, is a must-read for all patriotic citizens of the Republic. In it, Johnson states: "The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures. No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind." Johnson has written numerous other history books, all well-researched and presented in a way to be both educational and enjoyable.


A Patriot's History of the United States - Over the past decade, A Patriot’s History of the United States has become the definitive conservative history of our country, correcting the biases of historians and other intellectuals who downplay the greatness of America’s patriots. Professors Schweikart and Allen have now revised, updated, and expanded their book, which covers America’s long history with an appreciation for the values that made this nation uniquely successful.


The Patriot's History Reader: Essential Documents for Every American - The Patriot's History Reader goes back to the original sources-the documents, speeches, and legal decisions that shaped our country into what it is today. The authors explore both oft-cited documents-the Declaration of Independence, Emancipation Proclamation, and Roe v. Wade--as well as those that are less famous. Among these are George Washington's letter to Alexander Hamilton, which essentially outline America's military strategy for the next 150 years, and Herbert Hoover's speech on business ethics, which examines the government's role in regulating private enterprise.


I've been looking for a good, accurate history of the Crusades for a long time. I wanted a book that gives the #RealHistory of the Crusades, not tainted leftist historical revisionism. It hasn't been an easy task, but in Dr. Thomas Madden's book, A Concise History of the Crusades, I finally found such a book. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those folks who want to understand the reality of the Crusades without the anti-Western, anti-Christian bias that marks much of the academic world over the last 50+ years. Dr. Thomas F. Madden is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Saint Louis University.



https://amzn.to/34hCO6yhttps://amzn.to/2LxeHZpLarry Schweikart (this time with Dave Dougherty) has written a two-part history of the world to compliment the history of the United States mentioned at the top of this article. Volume one is Patriot's History of the Modern World: From America’s Exceptional Ascent to the Atomic Bomb: 1898-1945. Volume two is Patriot's History of the Modern World: From the Cold War to the Age of Entitlement, 1945-2012. These are an excellent overview of world history from a perspective unbiased by political correctness and leftist idealogy. 

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310730953/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0310730953&linkCode=as2&tag=timg0a-20&linkId=RTZHDVBGBMGCPTGShttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0310730953/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0310730953&linkCode=as2&tag=timg0a-20&linkId=RTZHDVBGBMGCPTGSOur Constitution ROCKS! & Our Presidents ROCK! are excellent for middle school & high school ages, but even adults will learn from them. I've written full reviews of both, which you can find by clicking the titles above, or click the pictures to go straight to their pages on Amazon.

http://amzn.to/1IcZnfLhttp://amzn.to/1IcZjMRAmerica, The Last Best Hope (V. 1 - From the Age of Discovery to a World at War and V. II - From a World at War to the Triumph of Freedom) is a two-volume history of America by Dr. William J. Bennett, who writes patriotic history that reflects his deep respect for America's traditions and founding values. Intended as American history text books for private high schools & homeschools.
 
http://amzn.to/1PQJnm1The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society's Descent into Tyranny by Michael E. Newman does an excellent job of proving that free societies throughout history lose their freedoms and end in tyranny once their populations realize they can utilize the power of government to give themselves benefits at the expense of others. Well written for the general reader, with in-depth footnotes for scholars, this is an excellent survey of the world history of freedom and tyranny.

http://amzn.to/1Id7clyIn Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, Michael E. Newman argues that the American Revolution was fought and won by two groups working together- angry mobs and founding fathers. The resulting nation (really a loose confederation of independent states) was "anarchic and chaotic" and a dismal failure, until the founding fathers disposed of the angry mob and their Confederation, creating instead the world's most successful Republic ever, through the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Wonderful, and often overlooked, history of America's founding.


http://amzn.to/1PQMqefSetting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White, by David Barton, tells the stories of many forgotten black heroes of American history. Forgotten largely because their stories are not politically correct, and therefore don't fit modern progressive narratives regarding race relations. This is real history that the educational establishment refuses to teach, and that you will never hear on a Black History Month public service announcement.


Original Intent: The Courts, the Constitution, & Religion, by David Barton, takes on one of the most covered-up aspects of American history - the role religion played in our nation's founding and the actual intent of our founders regarding Freedom of Religion, as well as the role they intended for the judicial system. Heavy on facts and actual documentation, this book is a must have for Christians wishing to defend the Freedom of Religion they enjoy.


https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1495446697/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1495446697&linkCode=as2&tag=timg0a-20&linkId=ZECHOTPZRZ7DWNBF
The Federalist Papers, by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, & John Jay, and the Anti-Federalist Papers, by Patrick Henry & others, were the embodiment of the debate over establishing the new Constitution, and lead directly to the Bill of Rights. This is primary source material for understanding one of the most pivotal points in American history.

Legends and Lies: The Real West is a fascinating history of many of the legendary characters of the Old West, including Kit Carson, Jesse James, Doc Holiday, Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, and the man who was the real Lone Ranger, among many others. This history looks past the legends, revealing the real people behind them. Perfect for fans of the Old West.

The American Patriot's Bible, available in both the KJV and NKJV, contains 48 long articles (4-pages w/pictures), along with hundreds of shorter articles, notes, and quotes connecting the Bible with America's religious founding and heritage, something that is not only completely ignored in our public schools, but in fact is treated as criminal. The hardcover edition is not only nice enough to serve as a family bible, complete with pages for genealogy and family history, but is a great resource for learning the religious heritage of America that you were not taught in school.

http://amzn.to/2f4s2ZZ
George Washington's Sacred Fire is a fantastic biography of George Washington, which firmly settles any doubts over the depth and importance of Washington's Christian faith and values (progressives have long tried to deny this aspect of Washington). Extremely well-researched with extensive footnotes, this is also a highly readable and enjoyable biography.
 
Other Recommended Biographies of America's Founders
(click on the picture to go to the corresponding Amazon page for more details)



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Thursday, August 29, 2019

PSA - Suicide Prevention

Last week a neighbor committed suicide. He left behind a wife, grown children, and young grandchildren.

Earlier this week, I had the privilege of talking to a veteran who serves on the honor guard at military funerals. He told me about the number of funerals he has served at this year and how many of those were suicides. It was a shocking number.

There is definitely a suicide epidemic happening now.  So, I would like to take a moment to address the issue. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please ask for and get help. If you know someone who may be having suicidal thoughts, or who may be suffering from depression, PTSD, or other mental illness, please say something to encourage them to seek help. There are no easy answers, but silence is always the wrong answer.

Where to Get Help*
   
❗ National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Website: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

❗ Veteran's Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
Website: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ 


❗ Anxiety and Depression Association of America Website: https://adaa.org/

❗ SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline – 1-877-726-4727  (Get general information on mental health and locate mental health & treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.)

❗ Refer to the article Finding Help: When to Get It and Where to Go on the Mental Health America website. 

❗ Local clergy (pastors, priests, rabbis) often will be able to refer you to local programs, support groups, and counselors that can help.

* Having relationship with God is a very important part of getting help. I encourage everyone to pray and read the Bible daily, and to attend Church regularly.
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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Five SHTF Events I am Preparing to Survive

I sometimes get the question "Tim, what are you preparing for? What do you really think is going to happen?" Well, here's my answer:

1) Life's Everyday Emergencies.  Life is full of smaller emergencies that fall short of being a civilization ending doomsday - house fires, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, power outages, car accidents, household accidents, recessions, an unexpected job loss, an unexpected illness, and even an unexpected death. These type of emergencies happen everyday to lots of people. They are so common, I guarantee that everyone reading this article will face some of these emergencies not just once, but multiple times in their lives. I certainly am preparing with these everyday  emergencies in mind. 

2) The Threat Within. There are elites in both government and corporate board rooms that want to destroy America and western civilization for their own benefit. They believe traditional western civilization and culture is bad, that America in particular is evil, and that Biblical values and ethics are too restricting (for them). They hate capitalism, even though they personally have greatly benefited from it. They look down on the lower and working classes with great disdain (we are uneducated, unsophisticated, vulgar...). They want to create a world with no borders, where they are basically global citizens unrestricted by normal laws and ethics. They desire a large underclass (they need workers), a small middle class (they need some working professionals), and a small but extremely prosperous upper class made up of themselves and their fellow elites. They want to create an elite class who, by virtue of their obvious superiority, have absolute rule over the lesser classes. 

Over the past decades, the elites have already done great damage. The introduction of centralized banking and fiat currency is one example, along with massive government debt they have generated. Destroying our educational system and dumbing down the people is another example. Their current attempts to restrict Free Speech and Free Press come straight out of the elites' desire to control the lesser classes, as does their desire to eliminate the Second Amendment, to ridicule patriotism, to end borders, to weaken the traditional family, and to greatly restrict parental rights. The attempt in recent decades to recast the broad Freedom of Religion our Founders gave us into the much more narrow freedom of worship is very much a part of their attempts to overcome traditional western civilization (see my article on the important difference between Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Worship and how the elites are weakening our freedoms in this regard). 

The threat within may lead to massive economic, political, and social instability, along with a loss of rights, traditions, and culture. In fact, we are already starting to see these things, and it will only get worse. 

3) The Stealth Invasion of the West. There is an active, but stealth, invasion of Europe and the Americas by Muslims through "peaceful" immigration, along with increasing (often violent) demands for various accommodations, privileges, special legal status, and the acceptance and even imposition of Sharia Law. This stealth invasion is well-documented by investigative journalist Leo Hohman in his book Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and Resettlement Jihad. Also documenting this stealth invasion are Sam Solomon and Elias Al Maqdisi in their book Modern Day Trojan Horse: Al-Hijra, the Islamic Doctrine of Immigration.

Add to this stealth invasion the much higher birth rates of Muslims compared to native westerners, who have been convinced that large families are a bad idea (overpopulation, climate change), and you have a situation where western civilization is slowly being replaced by Islamic civilization.

It is worth noting that this stealth invasion by immigration is being fostered by western elites who have become so anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, and anti-traditional values, that they are willing to allow anything that might bring down traditional western civilization, so they might remake it to their benefit. Expect more economic, political, and social instability, violence, and loss of freedoms as this trend continues.


4) War with China. According to the historical concept known as the Thucydides Trap, which has been well-studied by academics and heavily discussed in diplomatic circles, a hot war leading to the destruction of either America or China is coming. Very simply, the Thucydides Trap states that when a rising great power (China, in this instance) threatens to displace an existing great power (in this case, America), a war that will almost certainly lead to the destruction of one of the great powers is almost always inevitable.

China is aware of this concept, and is making policy based on it. They are preparing. America is also aware of this concept. However, we are not preparing. Notice, too, the resistance from elites within our government and board rooms to Trump's attempts to be strong in regards to China. War is coming. Not tomorrow, but it is coming. 

5) Death. Even if nothing I've talked about in this article comes to pass, one SHTF event is certain. I will die. And so will you. At some point, everyone one of us will die. Spiritual preparedness is an important part of my preps, and hopefully, it is a part of yours, too. You may be interested in my recent article on spiritual preparedness for more on this topic. 

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Friday, August 23, 2019

The Thucydides Trap and the War With China

by Tim Gamble

The current trade war with China is only a prelude to what is coming. China is preparing for what it considers an inevitable "hot" war with America within the next 10 years. China is convinced this war must happen because of a concept known as the Thucydides Trap. 

The Thucydides Trap isn't some conspiracy theory twaddle, but is a well-studied historical concept heavily discussed in academic and diplomatic circles. Very simply, the Thucydides Trap states that when a rising great power (China, in this instance) threatens to displace an existing great power (in this case, America), a war that will almost certainly lead to the destruction of one of the great powers is almost always inevitable.
 
The Chinese are very aware of this concept, and are actively making policy based on it. Again, this is known and discussed within diplomatic circles (i.e. cannot be dismissed as a conspiracy theory, but rather is known fact). It is the basis of their ongoing massive military build-up, as well as their interference in North Korea (the Chinese have always assisted North Korea with their nuclear and missile programs, and are pushing Kim Jong-un to stall in regards to denuclearization). It is also part of the reasoning behind their aggressiveness in the South China Sea (control over vital trade routes), including their building of artificial islands & military bases, as well as their economic & diplomatic push into South America and Africa (the later which includes a growing military presence), to obtain various resources. 

Take a look at a few recent headlines during the past week alone:


When Will This War Happen? 

An honest answer: I don't know. What I do know is that China is preparing for a hot war with the United States. I assume they are waiting for the right moment to strike, a moment when they feel ready and believe the US is at its weakest. I suspect they will wait to see what happens in the 2020 election (notice the last headline posted above is about China already meddling in support of the Democrats in the 2020 elections). 

I also know that we need to start preparing, as a nation and as individuals, for the coming war with China. History says it is almost certainly inevitable. The clock is ticking.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Skills vs. Gear & Supplies vs. Atitude vs. Health & Fitness


This is a multiple choice test. Choose one.

Q.  Which of the following is most important for survival and preparedness?

    A-  Skills
    B-  Gear & Supplies
    C-  Mental Attitude
    D-  Health & Fitness

Its a trick question. The correct answer is E- All the Above.

The simple fact is that skills, gear & supplies, the right mental attitude, and health & fitness are all important. Have one, or two, without the others, and you're going to be in a really tough situation when the S hits the fan.

The reason I bring this up is that I often see folks with long lists of gear, tools, and supplies that they recommend for survival. Then I see where others criticize them saying that skills are more important. Then others pipe in saying that what is needed is the right mental attitude, or health & fitness. This argument misses the point, in my  opinion.

The point is THEY ARE ALL IMPORTANT.

Gear, tools, and supplies are useful, but without the right skills, they aren't going to be of much use, especially over the long term. Likewise, those wonderful skills aren't very useful if you don't have the right tools and supplies for the the job.

Likewise, mental attitude is essential. After all, if you panic in a bad situation, your skills and supplies won't be of much use. The same thing can be said about health & fitness. You simply cannot isolate one of these as essential over and above the rest. They all are essential.

The bottom line:  What I'm trying to get at in this article is to encourage folks to have a balanced approach to their preparedness. Work on all areas, not just one or two. Buy your tools, gear and supplies, but also learn skills. And don't forget your health & fitness, as well as the mental aspects of preparedness. Balance is key. 

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

SecuringYour Current Assets Before the Next Economic Downturn


Here are some ideas for securing your current assets before the next economic downturn:

1) Make sure the banks and insurance companies you use are financially healthy. There are rating services you can use, such as Bauer Financial and BankRate for banks and credit unions, and A.M. Best Company, Inc for insurance companies.

2) Pay off your mortgage if at all possible, or at least refinance into a fixed rate. For most people, their home is their largest and most important financial asset. Yet, in 2009 over 3 million homes were foreclosed on.  Don't be one of those in the next economic meltdown.

3) Pay off your vehicles, and anything else that you are making payments on that you don't want to loose. Can't pay off your vehicle anytime soon? Then trade down and get out from under that car payment. That clunker you own outright may look embarrassing, but it will be of more use to you than that shinny new car that gets towed away because you missed a payment. Same goes for other things that your making payments on that might get repossessed in a crisis.


4) Pay your taxes on time and in full. The government has given itself extraordinary powers to seize your paycheck, savings, investments, and property to collect back taxes.

5) Put a portion of your savings into silver, gold and/or other hard assets. How much? Depending on which "expert" is talking, anywhere from 5% to 20%. I lean on the high side of that range. Remember, certificates that say you own X amount of gold or silver being held for you by some bank or investment company will only be worth the paper they are printed on during a severe financial crisis. Take physical possession of your gold or silver before the crisis hits.

6) Guard against identity theft. Identity theft is a $20 billion dollar a year industry, and it will only increase as the economy worsens. Be careful who you share your information with. Shred or burn financial documents instead of just throwing them away. Be especially careful online, and keep your antivirus updated daily.

7) Take steps to protect your current job. Check out the article Fifteen Commandments of Keeping Your Job. Don't give your employer a reason to fire you.

8) Get ready now to look for a new job. Don't wait until you are fired. Keep your resume constantly up-to-date. Make sure you have updated contact info for all your references. Start networking now - you will be more likely to find a new job through a friend or colleague than from the classifieds or even employment services. Building a network is essential career advice, good times or bad. 

9) Learn new skills. Realize you may have to find a new job in a different field from your current job. Or you may have to go into business for yourself. Learn new skills. Take some classes at a local community college. Take a marketing and/or public relations class (surprisingly useful to most jobs/careers). Learn to sell (read the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham - considered a business classic). Brush up on your computer skills. Learn coding. Learn bookkeeping & accounting. Learn Spanish for the workplace. Consider learning a trade (electrician, plumber, welder, HVAC repair, etc.) as a back-up to your current career. The more you know, the more employable you will be. 


Don't wait until the next financial crisis hits to protect your assets. Start preparing now.
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Monday, August 19, 2019

A Survival Lesson from Everybody Loves Raymond




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

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

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

The Survival Lesson - Taking Personal Responsibility

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

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

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

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

Spiritual Preparedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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