Sunday, July 21, 2019

Ideas for Fall Gardening


It is still July, and the sun is blazing hot. But now is the time to start thinking about Fall gardening. August will be here quickly, and that is when you need to plant many Fall crops. 

Here are some ideas to keep you busy over the next few months:

Grow a Fall Garden. In many places across the country, mid-August through mid-September is the time to plant your Fall Garden. Crops to consider for the Fall include lettuce, radishes, beets, leeks, onions, rutabaga, cabbage, Chinese cabbage (examples: Napa cabbage, bok choy), kohlrabi, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, spinach, and kale. The exact timing of your planting will depend on the crops you want, and your plant hardiness zone (your local agricultural extension office can help you with that).

Plant Garlic Bulbs for the Spring. September is the time to plant garlic bulbs for next year. Consider planting a couple of interesting varieties from the Seed Savers Exchange.

Harvest Apples. Many areas have u-pick apple orchards. A visit to one would make for a fun and useful way to spend a Saturday afternoon with the family. You can also visit your local farmers' market or attend one of the many small town apple festivals that are typically held in September or October.

Pick Nuts. September through November is the time to harvest pecans and black walnuts.

Plant Trees and Shrubs. Fall is a great time to plant most trees and shrubs. Check out my article from last year, Tips For Planting Fruit Trres & Common Mistakes.

Start Composting and Improving Your Soil. See my earlier article on Composting and Vermiculture

Start Making Your Lasagna Garden. Now is a great time to mark off your lasagna-garden beds for next year, lay down the newspaper and use the falling leaves and yard waste in the layers.

Start Building Your Raised Garden Beds. Raised-bed gardening is a relatively easy and very productive method of gardening. Get a jump on next year by building your raised-beds this Fall.

Grow Indoor Herbs. Many herbs, such as chives, oregano, basil, mint, and rosemary, can be grown in pots indoors during the Fall and winter.

Transplant Perennials. Fall is the best time to divide and transplant most perennials. A Japanese hori hori garden knife is perfect for this. I've been using one for a couple of years now, and really  love it - much better than a regular garden trowel.

Order Seed Catalogs. Don't forget to request seed catalogs for next year from your favorite companies. You can spend the winter months thumbing through the catalogs and dreaming big dreams.

Good Luck and Happy Fall Gardening!
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Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners: Everything You Need to Know to Start and Sustain a Thriving Garden. Great intro to raised bed gardening. 4.5 stars on Amazon. 







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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Syria: Christian Woman, Aged 60, Gang-Raped for Hours Then Stoned to Death by Muslim Militants

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christin human rights organization. Check out their website, https://www.persecution.org, for more news and information on Christian persecution and genocide around the world.   


Christian Woman Stoned to Death in Syria 

Autopsy Reveals Gang Rape Prior to Death, Islamic Terrorists Blamed

07/17/19 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on July 8, 2019, an Armenian Christian woman living in the Syrian Governorate of Idlib went missing. Suzan Der Kirkour was 6o years old and her body was found the next day just outside of her village, al-Yaqoubiyeh. An autopsy revealed that Suzan was tortured and repeatedly raped over an estimated period of nine hours. She was then stoned to death.

The incident was confirmed by SOS Chr├ętien’s d’Orient, which wrote in a statement that “cruel was her ordeal. The reality is just as much… (a) virgin at sixty, she died under the repeated assaults of the jihadists of al-Nusra.”

“The autopsy reveals that Suzan had been subjected to repeated rape since the afternoon of Monday (the 8th) until early Tuesday morning, only hours before her discovery. As a martyr, she is joined in heaven by thousands of Christian brothers, who died in the arena of barbarism,” continued the statement.

Suzan was a gardener and Arabic teacher. Although retired, she often volunteered at the Kneye Village Church where she helped youth achieve their baccalaureate. The church was concerned by Suzan’s absence, and it was parishioners who found Suzan’s body.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also verified the incident. “Her body was found with marks of torture on it. And according to forensic medicine, the woman had been tortured for about 9 hours before she was stoned to death by unidentified persons,” read the report.

It is widely reported among locals that Suzan’s attackers were members of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, which maintains a strong presence in Idlib Governorate. Al-Yaqoubiyeh is a Christian village, but most of the women have left because of violent aggression from the terrorists. Some estimate that only 18 women, including Suzan, were living in the village.

The Syrian Civil War has raged for eight years, opening the door for Islamic extremism to take a strong foothold. Jabhat al-Nusra is the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. They and many other terrorist groups are active in Idlib Governorate, which was supposed to provide a safe haven for internally displaced persons.

Instead, the governorate has become center stage for the Syrian conflict. Most Christians have fled the country, although they made up approximately 10% of the population prior to the war.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Suzan was a pillar in her community. Her untimely death and the manner of her murder is horrifying. It further deepens the shadow which has fallen upon any Christians who have remained in Syria throughout nearly a decade of violent conflict. Rule of law, justice, and accountability must be restored in Syria. Otherwise, we are witness to the slow, but fierce, extermination of Christianity from a country where it has existed for over 2,000 years.”
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Monday, July 15, 2019

China Continues to Hold North Carolina Pastor John Cao

By Tim Gamble
July 15, 2019

In March of 2017, Chinese authorities arrested Christian pastor and missionary John Cao, a permanent US resident living in North Carolina with his American wife, on charges of "illegal border crossings" between Myanmar and China. He was convicted and sentenced to seven years in 2018 after a perfunctory court hearing, despite the fact that Cao had been routinely making the border crossings for three years with the full knowledge of the Chinese government. Since his conviction, Cao's legal appeals have been delayed seven times. In the most recent development, Chinese authorities are refusing to allow Cao to appear in person before the court, stating that any appeals would be "paper only." 

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reports that Cao's "health is deteriorating, and he’s lost over 50 pounds. He’s forced to share a cell with a dozen inmates and only 1 bed."

Observers believe that Cao's arrest, conviction, and denials of an an appeals process, are part of the ongoing crackdown on Christianity by the Chinese government. The crackdown consists of the harassment and shutting down of many Christian churches and schools, including the bulldozing of some church buildings, the removal of crosses from public display, the arrest on spurious charges of many Chinese pastors and other Christian leaders, among other measures.

John Cao converted to Christianity in his 20s, attended seminary in the US, married an American citizen, and settled in North Carolina as a legal permanent resident. He and his wife have two sons. He has been doing missionary work in Myanmar and China for decades, traveling between North Carolina and Asia. He founded sixteen schools for improvised children and set up various anti-poverty programs during that time.

China, which remains under strict communist control despite opening up to capitalism in recent decades,  has a population of approximately 1.4 billion people. The Communist Party in China, which is officially atheist, has approximately 70 million members. However, the strong growth of evangelical Christianity in China has resulted in slightly over 100 million Chinese Christians (approximately 75 million Evangelicals and 27 million Catholics. Also, the Chinese Orthodox Church, an autonomous Eastern Orthodox church, has about 15,000 members).

This situation of Christians outnumbering official Communist Party members is at least partially behind government crackdowns on Christianity over the last few years, as they seek to exercise control over Christianity in China. Communist governments, and all other collectivist regimes for that matter, demand that the citizen's top loyalty be to the State, not to God, the Church, or even the family. The State essentially sets itself up as God, and hates competition for that slot. 

The ACLJ, which is representing John Cao's family, has an online petition calling for John Cao's release.  

Sources:  1) Information provided by ChinaAid, 2) Information provided by the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), 3) Information provided by Voice of the Martyrs.

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Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Preparing quickly for a near-term SHTF event...

Survival is a long-term project. Developing self-reliance. Learning skills. Acquiring a bug-out location or homestead. Developing and fortifying that bug-out location or homestead. Hardening your home. Planting fruit and nut trees. Developing a community of like-minded folks. These things take lots of time - years or more. In fact, the survival lifestyle can take an entire lifetime to fully develop.

But what if we don't have an entire lifetime to prepare? What if we don't even have a few years? What if the threat we are worried about is only months, or even weeks, away? There will be no time to find, buy, and develop that perfect homestead or mountain retreat. No time to find or build that perfect prepper community. No time to make major changes in our lives. No time to develop the multitude of skills that would enhance our survival. 

Don't let those worries stop you. Keep preparing, and keep pushing for your long-term goals. But, while you are working on those long-term goals, there are steps you can take right now, that can be accomplished relatively quickly, to prepare for a more immediate event.  Here is my advice to someone wanting to prepare for a major SHTF event they believe might happen in a few months:

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First, stockpile lots and lots of water, food, first aid & medical supplies, personal hygiene supplies, cleaning & sanitation supplies, and other useful items. If you have a fireplace or wood stove, stockpile wood for it now. Make sure you have a least a few hundred dollars in cash stuck back in a safe, well-hidden place.

Second, work on enhancing your personal and home security as much as possible in the coming weeks. Get a gun if you don't already have one, and learn to use it! Stock up on ammo. Consider replacing your easy-to-kick-in doors with heavy duty security doors. Consider installing burglar bars on your windows, and enhancing the outdoor lighting around your home. Make sure your smoke detectors are working, and get a couple of fire extinguishers if you don't already have them. Go over security plans with your family.



Third, do not skip or put-off appointments with your doctor, dentist, or eye doctor. Get those things taken care of now, just in case you can't later.

Fourth, do not skip or put-off any needed car maintenance or repairs. Get the oil changed. Inspect and fix the brakes if necessary. Service the transmission. Get new tires if you need them. Replace the battery if it is getting old. You don't want to have to deal with a broken-down vehicle in the midst of an emergency. If you can safely store some extra gas (in containers designed for that purpose), do so. Don't store gas inside your house or apartment!

Fifth, if you don't already have a bug-out location, figure out somewhere else you can go in an emergency - perhaps to a relative's or friend's house (somewhere away from where you are now, and away from a big city). You may even want to preposition some clothes, food, and other supplies at their house. Don't have a friend or relative you can stay with? Maybe your best bet would be camping at a national or state park, or private campground. Decide where, determine how much it will cost, and make sure you have the appropriate gear. Put together a "bug-out bag" for each family member as a part of this step.

All of these things can be accomplished relatively quickly if you make it a priority. As I said earlier, keep working your long-term plan in addition to these steps. 
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Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Fitness and the Aging Prepper

I'm a middle-aged man with type 2 diabetes, and vision problems related to my diabetes. My knees aren't what they used to be, and my left shoulder doesn't work quite as well as it should. But don't worry, this article isn't about me. I just want to make it clear from the start that I am no young whippersnapper who doesn't understand the difficulties older folks face. When it comes to fitness and the aging prepper, I am the aging prepper. 

We all understand the importance of fitness. I don't believe I have to sell anyone on that idea. Rather than wasting time convincing you of something you already know, this article will address three issues when it comes to fitness and the aging prepper. First, what fitness objectives we should pursue as we grow older. Second, how we can meet these objectives. Third, how we can overcome the many obstacles we face in pursuing these objectives. 

Fitness Objectives for the Aging Prepper

I have decided, as an aging prepper, to center my fitness plan around three main objectives. Here are those objectives in order of importance:

     1) To achieve and maintain a healthy weight. What is a healthy weight? It will differ from individual to individual depending on factors such as sex, height, build, and age. An even better indicator to go by would be body mass index (BMI). Consult your doctor to decide weight is right for you.  

     
2) To improve and maintain flexibility, agility, and balance. Flexibility is the ability to move your joints. Agility is the ability to change direction quickly. Balance is the ability to maintain a specific body position while either being still or in motion.
All three tend to decline as we age, especially if we don't take steps to maintain them.

     3) To improve and maintain physical endurance. Physical endurance is the ability to maintain effort or activity over extended periods of time. The better your endurance, the longer it will take before you become too tired or weak to continue your efforts. And the less sore your muscles and joints will be the next day.

Other fitness objectives, such as improving and maintaining speed and strength, may also be important, but I have decided on these three as the most important to work on as an aging prepper. 

Meeting Fitness Objectives

There is some bad news. Meeting these (or any) fitness objectives will take time and effort. Fitness is not something you can buy from Amazon and have it delivered tomorrow morning. You have to work at it. And the results won't be instantaneous. Fitness requires patience. But meeting your objectives will be very worthwhile.

There is some good news. It can be done. And it doesn't require a lot of money. You don't need a gym membership, or expensive equipment, or even fashionable workout clothes.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Go for a walk. Walking is great exercise, and free. 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 (a great way to walk on a rainy day), or at local parks and greenways. I even know an older couple who walk laps inside their local Walmart most mornings, rain or shine.

Be active. Yard work - such as cutting grass with a push mower, gardening, raking leaves, or chopping wood - makes great (and free) exercise. In fact, anything that raises your pulse rate and causes you to lightly sweat counts as exercise. 

Stretching exercises and calisthenics are easy, don't require special equipment, and can be done just about anywhere. Just remember the exercises you used to do in gym class back in your school days - jumping jacks, sit-ups, toe-touches, leg squats, windmills, push-ups, and so forth. You can also find lots of videos on You Tube with fitness exercises and workout programs, ranging from basic beginner videos to much more advanced workouts.

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 Exercise balls aren't expensive (most are under $30, some under $20) and are a great for yoga, pilates, and other types of exercise, as well as helping improve your balance. You can simply sit on an exercise ball while you watch television or work on the computer. You'll work on your balance and burn a few more calories at the same time.    

Speaking of balance, walking around the house with a book on your head really does help. It'll improve your balance and your posture at the same time.

Consider yoga or tai chi.  Both will help with all these fitness objectives. Again, you can find lots of videos on You Tube. Avoid the new age and eastern spiritual aspects if you are uncomfortable with them, but the physical exercise part is great. 

Whatever exercises you choose, be patient. Start slowly, and gradually increase your workout as your fitness improves. And, of course, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program or making major changes in your diet, especially if you have a chronic health condition.    

Overcoming Obstacles  

"I'm too old."  
"I'm too out-of-shape."  
"I have bad knees."  
"I have a bad back."  
"I don't have the time."   

Excuses. We all have them. Often times those excuses are very real. But they are still excuses. They are still reasons we give to not do something that we know we should do. 

Everyone has obstacles in their life. Those obstacles seem to only grow as we age. But an obstacle doesn't have to become an excuse. Instead, find a way around that obstacle. It won't be easy. It will take effort. It will take determination. It may take creativity. But you can do it. And it will be worth it.

Most obstacles (excuses) are really just mental barriers. Remember the story of the four minute mile. Prior to 1954, running a mile in under four minutes had never been done by any athlete at any level. In fact, many people thought it was physically impossible for a human to do so. But, in 1954, Roger Bannister broke through that barrier, running a mile in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. Since then, over 1400 athletes have broken the four minute mile. The current record stands at 3 minutes, 43.3 seconds. Its not that humans suddenly become faster in 1954, but rather that the mental barrier of the supposed human physical limit was eliminated as an excuse.

What excuses, real or imagined, are holding you back? What can you do to eliminate those excuses? Or to find a way around, over, under, or through, those excuses? Obstacles are real, but you don't have to let them become excuses.
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The American College of Sports Medicine's Complete Guide to Fitness & Health isn't just for young people or professional athletes, but covers the entire life span - from birth through our senior years. It has chapter devoted to flexibility, as well as on specific health conditions such as diabetes and cancer. 

 


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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Seven Core Skills of a True Survivalist

Survival isn't something that just takes place in the wilderness or during an extreme emergency. Survival also takes place in everyday life, during good times as well as bad times. There are many, many specific kills that are useful for survival in particular circumstances, but there are seven core skills that any true survivalist needs to master.

1 - Health and fitness is a skill, because it is something that doesn't come naturally, especially in the modern world. Like any skill, it must be learned, and takes time and effort to develop. It can't be bought from Amazon and delivered to your front door the next day, like you could buy your food storage. Developing the skill of health and fitness requires work, sacrifice, and time. Perhaps that is why its still on many preppers' "to do" list, still waiting to be checked off when we finally get around to it. Well, its time to get around to developing this fundamental survival skill.

Need information on healthy living? See my 2016 article Steps to Good Health. You may also find my article from earlier this month, Ways to Improve Your Health and Fitness for Free!, to be useful.

2 - Self-reliance is an attitude put into action, thereby becoming a skill. Like the skill of health and fitness, self-reliance doesn't come naturally for most people today (in fact, modern society is intentionally set up to discourage self-reliance, but that is a discussion for another article). Self-reliance must be learned, and takes time and effort to develop. I've previously identified these key components to self-reliance:
  • Assume responsibility for your own life.
  • Take the blame for your own life.
  • Be informed.
  • Know where your going.
  • Make your own decisions.
  • Know where your going.
  • Learn skills.
  • Gain experience.

For a deeper discussion of self-reliance, see my article from last year, What Exactly is Self-Reliance? 

3-  Problem-solving is a series of closely related skills, and flows out of our self-reliance. This means if we don't develop our self-reliance, we'll never become a good problem-solver. Problem-solving means recognizing when a problem exists, taking on the responsibility to solve the problem yourself (not waiting for someone else to solve it), analyzing the problem to understand what is really wrong and what needs to be done to fix it, and then actually doing your part to fix it. Fixing the problem usually entails using previously developed skills and/or learning new skills.

4 - Situational Awareness is another skill that doesn't come naturally because modern civilization has made us used to being relatively safe as we go about our day-to-day lives. We depend on the government, laws, and societal norms to keep us safe. We expect the police and other "authorities" to be only moments away, waiting to rush to our rescue should we need them. But this is largely an illusion. The world is a dangerous place, and situational awareness will help us to safely navigate it. 

Situational awareness is much more than just paying attention to what is going on around us, although that is an important starting point. It means paying attention, knowing what to look for, and knowing how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. 

For a complete explanation, read my article on Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop, which has been described as "the best guide to situational awareness available on the Internet" (excuse my shameless plug).

5 - Self-Defense, as well as the tools used for self-defense, is an unalienable right, a Biblical concept, and guaranteed by the US Constitution. We have the absolute right to defend ourselves and others from unprovoked violence and aggression. But, to do so successfully, we must learn how. Self-defense, both in both its lethal and non-lethal forms, is an important core skill we must learn and develop. 

You may be interested in reading my statement on Self-Defense and the Use of Force.

6 - Financial Management is a basic skill needed in our everyday lives, but it is one that is rarely taught and therefore is missing from most people's skill sets. A broad topic, financial management includes living within our means, controlling our impulses, being employable, goal setting, budgeting, avoiding and/or getting out of debt, developing an emergency fund, saving for retirement, saving for major expenses, and generally managing our money to best benefit us and our families. It doesn't just include dealing with money, but all forms of wealth, which could include our homes, land, businesses, food, and supplies. 

I written many articles on financial management over the years, so just scroll through this website to find those that interest you. My most recent money article is Tips To Get Ready for the Next Great Recession, which I believe is only a couple of years away.

7 - Soft Skills are often overlooked, but can be extremely important for survival. Soft skills are general skills that are often seen as part of our personality, and as such are typically self-learned without realizing it while we are growing up. Examples include communication skills, team work, creativity, and getting along with others, but there are many others. Although typically learned while growing up, they can be developed as adults. 

See my article Soft Skills Preppers Need to Develop for more on this topic.
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Sunday, June 16, 2019

Knowing When to Bug-Out (includes the Bug-Out Equation)

This article isn't about bug-out bags, bug-out locations, or even bug-out vehicles.  This article is about answering the most basic question  "When should I bug-out?" - the answer to which is both very simple and extremely difficult. Let me start off with the following story, then I'll segue into my answer.

Many preppers and survivalists have become fond of saying "If you didn't bug-out on 9-11, you'll never bug-out." Although I understand the sentiment behind the statement, I disagree with it. Despite the horrific events of that day, for most Americans it made little sense to bug-out, as it was obvious they were safe where they were at the time.

Sure, if you lived or worked in New York, Washington, or some big city that would be a likely terrorist target, you should have bugged out. But for most Americans, this wasn't the case. 

On 9-11 I was living and working in a small town in western North Carolina, a couple hours away from the nearest big city. Terrorists seek maximum carnage and maximum publicity.  The chances that a terrorist, even on 9-11, would fly a plane into a building in my particular small town was next to zero. I probably had a higher chance of being struck by lightning on that day. Frankly, this was the case for most Americans.  Bugging out would have been a highly emotional over-reaction, unless you happened to live or work in a big city, like New York or Washington.  

This perfectly illustrates one of the main points of this article. The answer to the question "When should I bug-out?" is an individual one, dependent not only on the big picture of what is happening nationally (terrorist attack, EMP event, economic meltdown, or whatever), but also on the smaller picture of what is actually happening, or is likely to happen, in and near your particular location.

Why You Should Bug-In If Possible 

Bugging out should not be your Plan A, of course. 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 to escape greater danger. In most cases, bugging out is a measure of last resort.

There are reasons most folks shouldn't bug-out too early.  Needlessly bugging out will make you feel foolish and it will interfere with your regular life, making you and your family members more reluctant to bug-out next time (when the need might be much greater). Imagine having to explain to your boss that you missed several days of work because you panicked and bugged out over something that turned out to be nothing.  Imagine your already prepper-reluctant wife's reaction to a false bug-out, or you teen children. A premature bug-out can create many problems. 

Besides, bugging out means leaving familiar territory - giving up the home field advantage, so to speak. Most folks know where they live and work better than they will know some remote bug-out location. You know your neighbors, who to trust and who not to trust, better where you live. You know the layout of the land, where resources are located, and where the danger spots are, better where you live now than at some location you maybe visit a couple times a year. Simply put, your local knowledge will be greater where you live than where you'll bug out.  

Also, if you are like most folks, your home is where you keep the bulk of your supplies, most of which you'll have to abandon if you bug-out, as there is going to be limited space in your car or truck. Don't underestimate the home field advantage that your giving up when you bug-out.

When To Bug-Out

But, despite all these reasons to stay, there may come a time when you have to bug out - when staying where you are at becomes just too dangerous. Maybe it is civil unrest, rioters and looters. Or, maybe a wildfire is sweeping your way. Whatever the danger, how do you know its time to bug out?  This is where local knowledge and situational awareness meet to help you make an informed decision.

You will have to decide which is the safer option: staying put or bugging out. In a SHTF situation, both options will have dangers associated with them. And you'll face additional dangers on the road as you travel to bug out location. You'll have to factor those dangers into your calculations, too. Its not just "my bug out location is safer than my home, therefore I will bug out." Your bug out location may be safer, but the route to it may be more dangerous than staying home. In that case, staying may be your best option. Think of this decision process as an equation.

The Bug-Out Equation

If A > B and C, then D
If A < B or C, then E

A = Danger level of staying home (bugging in)
B = Danger level of staying at your bug-out location
C = Danger level of traveling from A to B
D = Bug-Out
E = Bug-In 

A, B, and C are variables that you'll have to decide for yourself, using your local knowledge and situational awareness, which I'll explain below. Those variables will likely change constantly, so you will have to use your knowledge and commonsense to predict those changes in order to avoid bugging out too late.  

Local Knowledge

Local knowledge is your understanding of where you live and work. You should also develop local knowledge of your bug-out location, and of the route you travel between the two.

Local knowledge is more than just knowing the roads, although that is a part of it. You need to know where the bad neighborhoods and high crime areas are, and how to avoid them. You need to know traffic patterns and where congestion is likely to occur. You need to be aware of road and infrastructure construction and how that may effect your route. You need to be aware of alternate routes. You need to know where resources are located - such as gas stations, grocery stores, rest stops, hospitals, camp grounds, and other places you may need. Most importantly, you need to know all these things without having to use GPS, google maps, or other technology that may or may not be available during a SHTF event.

You also need to know people - such as your neighbors where you live and where you'll bug-out. Have an assessment in your mind of how they will likely react during a crisis - will they be friend or foe.  Do you follow the local news, or maybe listen to a local talk radio show? Have you talked to a local cop and asked questions about what areas are problematic when it comes to crime, potential looting, or other dangers? Get to really know your locations. 

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness is simply being aware of what is going on around you. But, situational awareness done right is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you. It means paying attention, knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. 

For a full explanation of situational awareness and the OODA Loop (an important part of situational awareness). please see my article on the subject, which has been described as "the best guide to situational awareness available on the Internet" (shameless plug). In this article, I'm just touching on how you would use situational awareness in your decision making process of when to bug-out.

In a national emergency, such as what occurred on 9-11, most folks will likely tune in to cable news to keep up with events. This is probably a mistake, since what you need is an understanding of what is actually happening around you at your present location. As such, I suggest that a local TV station or news/talk radio station is a much better choice. This will give you up-to-the-minute information of what is actually happening around you, not just on the national level. In addition to local news and events, you'll also find out about school & work closings, road construction, traffic conditions, and instructions from state and local officials.

You'll also want to listen to the NOAA weather channel for your area, as well as monitoring local public safety bands (police, fire, etc.) to stay on top of what's going on around you. I consider a good emergency radio and a police/fire scanner to be essential preparedness gear. There are even apps for your smart phone that let you listen in on many local public safety radio bands.

Local Knowledge + Situational Awareness = Informed Decisions

Take your local knowledge (which must be developed prior to any emergency) and add your ongoing situational awareness to it, calmly assigning values to the current danger levels of A, B, and C from the Bug-Out Equation. Constantly update this assessment throughout the crisis to determine when you need to bug-out.  But don't Bug-Out too late. This is where you need the equation and your decision making process to be predictive rather than just reactive.

Being Predictive

In order to not bug-out too late, you need your assessment of the danger levels to not only be current, but predictive. In other words, you need to factor in not only current conditions, but future conditions as well. Local knowledge combined with experience will go a long way towards allowing you to accurately predict how dangerous things will get.  

Hopefully you've been paying attention to how people in your areas react to emergencies and other events. How did things go down around you during the last hurricane? What happened if folks had to evacuate the area? What were the problem traffic areas? What other problems occurred, and where? During times of civil unrest, such as after certain police shootings, were there riots and looting near you? 

Even if nothing has happened in your area, you can glean insights into human behavior watching what goes on in other communities during times of crisis. Combine these insights with your local knowledge to predict what will happen next in your community during a crisis. Predict as best you can when staying where you are at will become more dangerous than bugging out, then bug-out just before it happens. Simple, yet extremely difficult.

The Bottom Line

Bugging out is typically a measure of last resort. Yet, bugging out too late is also unacceptable. Bug-out too early or too late can be disastrous. In order to "thread the needle" between bugging out too early and too late, you need to figure out now how to make that decision. The Bug-Out Equation I present here is one method of thinking through and accomplishing this task.
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Kaito Emergency Radio

Kaito Emergency Radio - Powered 5 ways (electrical cord, built in rechargeable battery, removable AAA batteries, solar, and hand-crank) , this emergency radio receives AM, FM, shortwave, seven weather bands and NOAA weather alerts.


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Saturday, June 8, 2019

Tips to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

As I've revealed in the past, I am a Type II Diabetic and suffer some vision impairment due to diabetic retinopathy. Needless to say health issues are important to me, especially those related to diabetes.  I've previously posted on the warning signs and risk factors for type 2 diabetes (click here to read it). In this article, I want to give some tips to help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Tips to Help Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
  • Eat healthy -This means limiting junk food, fast food, and sweets. Instead eat more veggies, particularly those with a low glycemic load, which is a measure of food's effect on blood sugar. Examples include leafy greens (turnip, mustard, collards, kale, spinach, etc.) and other cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, etc.). Some other good choices include squash, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and various types of lettuces.
  • Be careful of the so-called "white foods."  Replace white flour and white bread with whole grains. Replace white rice with brown rice or wild rice. Replace white potatoes with sweet potatoes. Replace refined white sugar with natural sweetness from fruit or honey. Even with these substitutions, be careful of eating too much. Control your portion sizes.
  • Don't drink sodas or sweet teas. Drink water or unsweet teas instead. Be careful with fruit juices since they are extremely high in sugar. Again, control your portion size.
  • Be mindful of the hidden sugar in many products. Many condiments and salad dressings have surprisingly high amounts of sugar and calories in relatively small serving sizes. Also, I have found many frozen dinners labelled "healthy" actually have more sugar than the average candy bar. Read labels carefully.
  • Be physically active. Walk more, sit less. Strive for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day (enough to increase your heart rate and make you sweat lightly). Good ideas for exercise include walking, jogging, hiking, biking, swimming, and gardening. Park at the back of the lot so you have to walk farther. At work or the mall, take the stairs instead of an elevator. If you cut grass, use a push mower. If you golf, walk and carry your own clubs. Consider taking up tennis, as many local parks have courts you can use for free.
  • If you’re overweight, take the necessary steps to lose the extra weight. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is very important.
  • Quit smoking and abusing drugs and alcohol.
  • Get plenty of sleep - a minimum of seven hours of sound sleep a night, and eight hours would be even better. Several studies have revealed a link between not getting enough sleep and a variety of chronic health conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even some cancers. 
  • Early detection of diabetes or prediabetes is essential. See your doctor for regular checkups. Also see your eye doctor for regular checkups since diabetes can often be caught by an eye exam very early on.
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Of all the books on diabetes I've read, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to control your blood sugar by bringing together the best of traditional and alternative medicine. What I appreciate about Pollock's approach is that it is based on solid science, even the "alternative" aspects, and is not some hippy-dippy book that rejects medical science (avoid those). Also, I found his ideas easy to follow.


Friday, June 7, 2019

More Anti-Christian Violence in Egypt

The following is an unedited press release from International Christian Concern (ICC), a Christian human rights organization.   You can visit the ICC website at https://www.persecution.org/ for more on Christian persecution around the world.
 

 Isamic Celebration Spirals into Anti-Christian Violence in Egypt

Christians Targeted in Upper Egyptian Village Following Conversion Case 

06/06/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on June 5, 2019, anti-Christian mob violence sparked in the Upper Egyptian village of Shosha, located in Minya Governorate. The predominantly Muslim village is home to approximately 50 Christian families, that are currently confined to their homes as the authorities attempt to regain control of the situation.

No injuries are reported, although Christians have noted that some of their homes were stoned. An estimated 40 Muslim men initially gathered in the streets to celebrate the return of Fransa Abdel Sayeed, a Christian woman who disappeared in April. It was later discovered that she had converted to Islam, married a Muslim man, and was pregnant. Her Christian family immediately began facing harassment and intimidation from their new Muslim in-laws, who live across the street.

Initially, police refused Fransa’s petition to return home to the village, citing concerns that it would incite sectarian tension. However, during the celebration of Eid, police allowed Fransa and her husband to return. A group of Muslims gathered to welcome her, and the situation quickly escalated into anti-Christian violence.

Fransa’s Christian brother, Elisa Yusuf, shared with local press his family’s belief that the police manipulated us. Now, the police encourage and support the Muslim extremists… We live in a state of terror now and the village has become chaotic as a result of the celebration of Fransa.”

He continued, “Copts have not been able to leave their homes. Despite the great presence of security forces in the village, this has not prevented chaos, and (at) the house of my uncle… stones have been thrown and the Copts are crying. The extremists are provoking the Copts so it’s possible to blow up [violent] actions between the Christians and the Muslims of the village.”

A local church leader familiar with the situation further explained to ICC, “At the dawn of Wednesday, the governor of Minya commanded that Fransa must return to the village and there would be a great presence of security forces. He was smart to choose this time. It is a time when all the people are celebrating (Eid).” 

“The police members are relatives to the Muslim extremists, so it is hard and impossible for the police to resist or disagree with them,” he added. “The Muslim husband has many relatives and friends in this village. The Muslims want to humiliate the Copts.” 

The issue of conversion remains highly sensitive in Egypt, where Islam is the official religion. Christians, most of whom are Coptic Orthodox, are often placed under intense pressure to convert to Islam. Christian families with a relative who converted to Islam are especially at risk of violence and harassment.

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “Police have known for several months that tension was approaching a breaking point in Shosha. The manner at which they addressed the problem during Eid was the ignition point that has long been boiling. Police should hold the mob accountable for their indiscriminate attacks against Christians. Pray that tensions will soon cease and that the violence will be resolved according to due process of law.”  

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Monday, June 3, 2019

Ways to Imprve Your Health and Fitness for Free!

Health and fitness should be at or near the top of every prepper's list of priorities. The good news is that improving your health and fitness doesn't require expensive gym memberships, personal trainers, special exercise equipment, or high-priced "health foods." Here are some FREE ways to improve your health & fitness:

  • 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. A general rule of thumb for losing weight is "No snacks after 8pm."
  • 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 (a 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. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. Sleep is much more important to our long-term health than most people realize. Lack of quality sleep not only impairs our immune system, reflexes, and reasoning skills, but has also been proven to increase our risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and even certain cancers. We might be able to "get by" with less sleep over the short-term, but we are damaging our health over the long-term.
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Sunday, June 2, 2019

Six Important Skills to Teach Your Children

The following is a repost (with some editing) of an older article of mine that got very little attention when I first published it (mostly due to bad timing - it got "lost in the shuffle" during a very big news week). It is an incredibly important topic, in my opinion, so I am reposting it now.


Six Important Skills to Teach Your Children 


Three Basics

1) Attitude of Self-Reliance -- Teach your children to start taking personal responsibility now for their own lives. Taking personal responsibility is the core of self-reliance. And self-reliance is the core of preparedness and survivalism.

Teach them that taking responsibility means doing what needs to be done, not just what is fun or what you want to do. Taking responsibility means not waiting around for others to do it for you. Taking responsibility means not assuming if you don’t do it then someone else will. Take the initiative and do it yourself.

2) Strong Work Ethic -- Having a strong work ethic is a major key to success in life in any situation, not just in survival situations.  Teach your children the value of hard work. Hard work is good, healthy, and effective. Its importance is revealed throughout God's Word. The idea of "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay" is part of the traditional American value system.

Children, even young children, should have chores that they are expected to do. And make them actually do their chores. Of course, the chores should be age-appropriate, but their responsibilities should increase as they grow older and gain maturity and skills. Older children can work part-time jobs outside the home. You are not helping your kids by shielding them from hard work.

3) Biblical and Traditional Values -- Teach your children to have a relationship with God. Make prayer, scripture reading, and worship a regular part of their lives. Teach them the Commandments and the teachings of Jesus. Teach them to look to the perfection of God's Word as the ultimate authority for what is right and wrong, instead of the whim of worldly opinion. Don't just teach them what you believe, but why you believe it. Prepare them for a world that is telling them that Biblical and traditional values are wrong. 

Also, teach them traditional American values - including the importance of individual freedom & self-reliance, the importance of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the importance of private property rights (see my article), the morality of capitalism (an excellent book on the subject by Fr Robert Sirico), the value of hard work, the value of human life, common decency towards others, and the traditional monogamous family unit as the basic building block of society. Be sure to teach them that our rights come from God, not from government.


Three Additional Shills

http://amzn.to/2h6mXzC4) First Aid (including knowledge of wild medicinals) -- If your children are old enough to be in school, they are old enough to learn basic first aid. They can advance their skills as they grow older.

I would also start teaching them early on how to identify wild edibles and medicinals, adding to their skill sets collecting, preserving and using wild medicinals, as they mature. Consider having them start and tend a medicinal herb garden. Again, start with the basics, and help them grow their skills as they get older.

5) Self-Defense Skills -- Teach your children situational awareness, which is more than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start. It means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. Check out my article on Situational Awareness and start teaching your children these skills.

I also urge parents to enroll your children in a good martial arts class. Learning a martial art such as karate or judo can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits, improve self-confidence, and is a life-long self-defense skill set.

If your family or group has guns, then your children need to learn gun safety at a very young age. Two good resources on gun safety for kids are the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Club (a program of the NRA) and the book Toys, Tools, Guns & Rules: A Children's Book About Gun Safety.

It is up to you to judge the maturity level of your children and decide when they should start firearms training. I grew up around guns and was shooting and hunting with my grandfathers when I was still in my single digits. They were with me to provide guidance and supervision, but I was carrying and shooting my own gun. I also had to help clean anything I shot, even at that early age.

6) Gardening Skills -- This covers planting, growing and preserving food, as well as saving seeds for the next year.  Have your kids help with your garden, or even set aside a small part as their garden (letting them choose what to plant and making them do the bulk of the work). I realize this may be difficult to do in the city, but perhaps you can join in a community garden in your area, or encourage your church to start one. At the very least, take your children on a field trip to a farm so they can learn that food comes from somewhere other than the store.  ---------------- 

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

History for Preppers: Problems Faced by Late-1800s Backcountry Farms

We, as preppers and survivalists, have much to learn from history. Of course, modern disasters and SHTF events won't be exactly like historical examples, but there are still lessons to be learned. We would be foolish to ignore the past. This article is the second in a series of articles I am writing on History for Preppers (see the bottom of this article for a link to the first article). 

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 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 even machinery (gang plows & sulky plows appeared in the 1860s, deep well drilling equipment in the 1870s, and horse-drawn combines in the 1880s, just to name a few). They also had to buy their everyday 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 (Amazon didn't offer free shipping back then). 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, no 911 services, 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. And politics did affect them, despite their isolation. They were largely ignored by the politicians, and often taken advantage of by the railroads and banks with little or no recourse. 

Conclusion

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.

Researching this article, here are my take-aways:
  • Homesteading/farming might seem like a "simpler life," but there are still expenses and hardships
  • Homesteading/farming, even done off-grid and "on the cheap," is still expensive to get into (even if the land is free, which it isn't in today's world)
  • 100% self-sufficiency is impossible - we will still need other people 
  • Being isolated from others is both safer AND more dangerous at the same time
  • You can never 100% insulate yourself from being affected by politics

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 a simpler, more natural, more sustainable life of self-reliance.

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