Throwback Prepper Stuff
Check out this video providing civil defense announcements from 1961. I enjoy reading about civil defense efforts from the past.
Upcoming LTC (formerly CHL) Classes
Turns out I have a website that I could be using to promote upcoming classes. This website, to be exact. Click here or look under the "Events" tab above for more info. I currently have space available in my classes scheduled for:
I cannot stress enough that these classes fill up quickly these days. I set up a class on Friday for March 13 to accommodate someone bringing several students and filled it within a day.
I cap attendance at six people so as to maximize the attention I can give each student. If you want to attend, please let me know ASAP.
In addition, I can deliver LTC training to your home or office for a flat fee. Use the contact form below to ask for details.
I hope you are paying attention to the zika virus. The World Health Organization is. From the Washington Post:
The WHO said the pathogen, which was virtually unheard of in the region a year ago, is spreading so fast that it could infect as many as 3 million to 4 million people within 12 months. Chan said those numbers and the severity of the possible complications being reported -- from a brain abnormality called microcephaly in children to paralysis in adults -- make the situation dramatically different than what epidemiologists have seen with past outbreaks of the virus.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Friday that "US on high alert for bird flu." Such events are generally limited to poultry flocks. It bears monitoring due to the impact it has on food prices.
No doubt people will read more stories about these things and rush out to buy bird flu masks, latex gloves, and anything else they think they need to keep their families safe. Just like they did for bird flu a few years ago. And SARS. And ebola.
The reality is that we are due for another pandemic. This is not some biblical prophesy or conspiracy theory. From the acclaimed New York Times:
When the Next Big One arrives, spreading across oceans and continents like the sweep of nightfall, causing illness and fear, killing thousands or maybe millions of people, it will be signaled first by quiet, puzzling reports from faraway places — reports to which disease scientists and public health officials, but few of the rest of us, pay close attention.
I'm not taking any additional precautions because of zika/ebola/SARS/bird flu or any other pathogen. I've made what I believe are sound preparations for such an event....which look like preparations for many different types of perils. I would urge you to prepare for this distinct possibility when such an event isn't front and center in the news, so that you aren't out with everyone else coming up with your monkey pox survival kit.
What's the best way to do that right now? Check out Dr. Grattan Woodson's excellent primer. I highly recommend that you download and save this document. And if you live in the Atlanta area, consider establishing a doctor-patient relationship with him.
Bear In Mind That The "Best" Strategy May In Fact Be In Error
From this month in Reason magazine: "In April 2015, the editor of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet reported that the participants in a recent conference believed 'much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue.'"
When I was writing Pivot Points, I studied (and quoted from) Samuel Arbesman's book, "The Half Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has An Expiration Date." The premise of the book is startling - much of what we think we know to be true is in fact inaccurate.
These findings have huge ramifications. We take medicines and treatments based upon testing to show they are both safe and effective, although much of that testing may lead to questionable results. We base policy on climate change theories which, despite mantras that "the science is well settled," may not be as settled as we are led to believe. We build infrastructure based upon generally accepted assumptions. Yet much of this, we later learn, was inaccurate at the time.
There's a temptation to say "well, since the experts will just change their minds on this later, there's no reason to take their advice now." While skepticism may be healthy, remember that not all findings and beliefs are deemed in accurate. If we accept the postulate presented in The Lancet, as much as half of what we know is in fact correct and will be considered correct years from now.
That's why it's critical that we never stop learning and challenging our preconceived notions. Preppers need open minds in order to adapt to changing situations. Take the basic, reasonable steps now to prepare for pandemics, power outages, and other emergencies. And then stay on top of news and changing ideas about the best way to do so in the future.
Doug Casey and Going Global
Many of you are familiar with Doug Casey of Casey Research. This week, I read his book "2015 Going Global," with its predictable strategy of moving assets off shore and owning precious metals.
I suspect there is great wisdom in much of what he recommends. The problem, however, is that for most people, the recommended strategies are not cost effective.
For example, he suggests that Americans have money in an off shore account. This is quite feasible for many income brackets, as many of the banks he recommends do not have minimum amounts to open account. (Bear in mind that while it can be quite legal to open accounts off shore, doing so for tax evasion purposes is not.)
But other strategies - holding large gold reserves in offshore depositories and having a second passport to another country - are simply out of reach for the typical American. Including me.
So, if you're worried about the things Doug Casey is worried about and outlines in the first six pages of his book - such as currency devaluation, gold confiscation, and rising income taxes - but you don't have $300K to spend on a second passport, what are you to do?
I'm not a financial advisor or an accountant. I am an attorney, but I don't provide legal advice here. But I do think it's worth us discussing some options that you can raise with the financial or legal expert of your choice. These things include:
Don't let the lack of a hefty net worth discourage you from doing what you can with what you have.
So What's Going Well?
One of the downsides to being an advocate for preparedness is that we're always seen as Debbie Downers, like this character on Saturday Night Live from a few years back. Yet there's a lot going on that's positive in the preparedness movement. We need to remind ourselves of that from time to time. For example:
What Am I Working On Right Now?
I'm in my busy season at work, which runs January through May. So while I am always working on preparedness "to dos," my time is more limited these days.
Nonetheless, here are some of the things I am working on:
Questions? Comments? Let Me Know What You Think.
First and foremost, check out my YouTube Channel and subscribe to it. You can do that when you watch this short video I made this evening:
One of the challenges I issued attendees at our preparedness conference earlier this month is to identify what is keeping them from living the preparedness lifestyle. One of the things I identified for myself was that I didn't always have a convenient way to keep first aid supplies on me or near me.
I decided to remedy that when I ordered two ankle rig medical kits, complete with tourniquets, QuikClot Combat Gauze and two Russell chest seals. I really like the convenience of these systems, but I found they don't work very well for me when I wear business attire. It's not cool to have tactical gear coming out of your pants leg when you're sitting in meetings with regulators and legislators.
I decided to come up with at least a partial remedy to that this evening, which I describe in the video.
On Friday, I went into a UPS store to ship something and make copies. While I was making copies, a little boy - maybe 6 or 7 years old - was in there with his mom.
This kid was kitted up. He had a child's plate carrier tactical rig on, complete with a toy pistol, toy survival knife and backpack. He was ready.
Bored with whatever his mom was doing, he struck up a conversation with me. He told me about his chest rig. "I have bullets in here," pointing to the magazine pouches. I then said, "I have bullets, too," and showed him the two magazines seated in my brand new Safariland magazine holder on my belt.
"I have another gun in my backpack," he said, pointing to the bright orange rifle barrel pointing out of his tiny backpack. Since Texas is an open carry state now, I pushed back my jacket and said, "I have my gun, too," exposing the Glock in my holster. The kid's eyes got big...."Mister! Are you a cop?"
I smiled, and assured him that I wasn't, but that I was just a citizen who had a license to carry a gun. I then asked him whether he had any first aid gear on him. Doing so, I pulled up my pants leg to show him the ankle rig I had on, complete with tourniquet, chest seals and quick clot gauze.
"Why do you have THAT stuff?" he inquired, not really sure why anyone would want first aid gear. I told him I have it in case I see someone who is injured and needs help. That way, I can help others.
His response? "When I get home, I think I am going to put some band aids and other first aid stuff in my backpack." I told him I thought that was a great idea!
His mom, finished with her business, told the boy it was time to go. We chatted for a moment, and he told his mom about my gun. She chuckled. "We just came from Wyoming. Everywhere you go, you see people carrying guns out in the open!" He made sure to tell me bye, and his mom smiled, no doubt thanking me for entertaining him while she finished her business.
We in the gun community need to be setting a good example. Take advantage of opportunities to engage young people about preparedness. It's not simply about having a gun in your waistband. It's about encouraging others of all ages to be better prepared for a wider spectrum of perils. Don't be hesitant to share what you know!
Do preppers want to see disasters come to fruition?
Lachesism, as defined by the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, is
the desire to be struck by disaster—to survive a plane crash, to lose everything in a fire, to plunge over a waterfall—which would put a kink in the smooth arc of your life, and forge it into something hardened and flexible and sharp, not just a stiff prefabricated beam that barely covers the gap between one end of your life and the other.
Before we do the deep psychological drill down, let's take a few steps back.
According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows YouTube description of this video, the word lachesism comes from the Greek word Lachesis, meaning "the disposer of lots." Specifically,
Lachesis is the name of the second of the three fates in Ancient Greek mythology. Clothed in white, Lachesis is the measurer of the thread woven by Clotho's spindle, the apportioner who decided how much time for life was to be allowed for each person or being. She measured the thread of life with her rod.
Never heard of the word? Don't be surprised; it's an invented word from the creative mind of John Koenig, a graphic designer and filmmaker. He has created a number of words to describe feelings that don't quite have adequate words to express or describe them.
I'm not a psychologist. I've never taken a single class in the subject. So while I cannot say with any expertise that lachesism is a real thing, I do think it's a discussion worth having.
Do preppers hope for a disaster?
In a way, it's akin to asking if first responders like doing their job. Do firefighters like running calls to house fires? Do paramedics like running calls to critically ill patients? Do cops like running calls to dangerous situations?
Yeah, they do. Not because they want people to lose their home in a fire or succumb to their injuries or have their life shattered by violence. They like the adrenaline rush that comes from helping others in dangerous situations. That's not a criticism; thank God there are people out there willing to put themselves in harm's way to help others.
I don't know that most preppers hope for a disaster because it will make other people suffer. I think we often do yearn for the opportunity to test our skills and preparations to see if they are up to snuff. And while we can often do that without the need for a disaster, putting ourselves into that stressful environment makes the challenge more real.
Do you long to be struck by a disaster? And if so, why?
This project - urging America to create a culture of preparedness - has led me to spend a lot of time thinking about the best ways to go about this.
It's not enough for you and me to put some water and storable foods aside, or a "get home bag" in our car. It's not enough to buy some guns and ammo. It's not enough to take a first aid class.
We need to be encouraging others to do the same.
What's more, we need leaders in the movement. People who not only encourage others to become better prepared, but who are resources themselves. People who know what's going on in the world. People who help others. People who vote. People who are active in the community. In other words, people who are watching out for our communities.
I'm reminded of a passage in Ezekiel 33:
Once again a message came to me from the Lord: “Son of man, give your people this message: ‘When I bring an army against a country, the people of that land choose one of their own to be a watchman. When the watchman sees the enemy coming, he sounds the alarm to warn the people. Then if those who hear the alarm refuse to take action, it is their own fault if they die. They heard the alarm but ignored it, so the responsibility is theirs. If they had listened to the warning, they could have saved their lives. But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths.’
“Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself.
(Ezekiel 33: 1-9, NLT).
Who are the watchmen and watchwomen of our communities? They are scout leaders, PTA moms, church volunteers, civic leaders and community activists. They are bloggers, city council members, and charity workers. They are also storm spotters, disaster recovery volunteers and reserve sheriff deputies. But perhaps no one embodies the qualities of the watchman more than the volunteer firefighter.
The National Fire Protection Association issued a report in November 2014 regarding the various staffing issues of fire departments nationwide. One alarming conclusion from the report - from 1987 to 2013, the number of volunteer firefighters in America has steadily declined. In 1987, there were 8.05 volunteer firefighters for every 1,000 people in the country. That rate has fallen; in 2013, there were only 6.46 volunteer firefighters for every 1,000 people. When you consider 69% of all local firefighters in the United States are volunteers, a reduction in their numbers means there are fewer firefighters for a growing population.
The problem isn't limited to the fire services. U.S. News reported in 2014 that volunteering hit a decade low in 2013. And in our farm team for watchmen, the Boy Scouts of America, the news is bleak - Boy Scout membership fell for 13 consecutive years between 1998 and 2012.
It seems America is losing its watchmen and watchwomen. It's time to bring them back.
In the coming months, I want to have a conversation about what makes someone a watch man or woman. To begin that discussion tonight, I want to share with you some qualities I ascribe to such individuals. You may have others to add to this list. For purposes of this discussion, the watch man or woman is:
Aware. The watcher pays attention to the news and to their surroundings. This awareness not only provides immediate physical protection for the watchman, but also enables him or her to identify opportunities to help others.
Up to date. The watcher knows what's happening in the news on a global, national and local scale. The watcher is up to date on the financial markets and the local weather forecast.
Shares what they know. Watchers don't simply accumulate skills or knowledge. They eagerly share what they know with others when appropriate.
Sounds the alarm prudently. No one is served by sounding the alarm prematurely or tardily. A watcher's reputation should be such that when they do alert people to a problem in their neighborhood, it is something worth a citizen's time and attention.
Has a servant heart and mindset. Like the volunteer firefighter, the watcher must be willing to put themselves in a position of inconvenience from time to time in an effort to help others.
Is spiritually prepared. If the watcher is a person of faith, they have a good understanding of their belief system and live by it as best they can. All watch men and women - regardless of their spiritual beliefs or lack thereof - live by a code that requires them to be mindful of the needs of others, to prepare themselves and their families for possible emergencies, and to be willing to be a leader in a crisis.
Is temporally prepared. Faith is a wonderful thing, but the watcher needs to have his or her family's physical needs squared away. This means different things for different people, of course. At the end of the day, the watchman or watchwoman must ask themselves if their family is in a position to ride out a difficult time or crisis with minimal inconvenience.
Has useful skills. A watcher knows how to do stuff. How to do CPR. How to change a tire or jump start a car battery. How to build a fire. How to run a chain saw. With the advent of the internet, it's never been easier to learn new skills than it is today.
Respects the rights and choices of others even if they don't agree with their decisions or beliefs. We are not required to agree on everything, but we do need to get along. A watchman or watchwoman is able to put aside differences in religion, politics, personal belief systems, gender, sexual orientation, race and any other issue to work with others in their effort to be a good citizen.
Is charitable with their time and resources. Everyone wants to be a patriot until it's time to do patriot stuff. Our founding fathers pledged their lives, their honor and their sacred fortunes to the cause of an independent nation. We need to be willing to support causes that strengthen our communities with our time and money. That's what patriots do. And watchmen and watchwomen are patriots.
Is emotionally stable. We all have challenges in our lives that affect our mindset, attitude and self esteem. Watchers need to be able to keep a mentally healthy mindset. And if they need help doing so, they should seek help without hesitation and with maximum effort, for their own benefit as well as their family's.
Is logical in situational assessments. A watcher is willing to think critically and incorporate data and information that challenges their preconceived notions.
Actively participates in the community. The watchman and watchwoman's influence is in large part the result of their willingness to get involved in efforts to improve the community. Be it a neighborhood association, a run for city council, the local PTA or food bank, the watcher actively engages in community involvement both as a leader and as a servant.
Understands functions of government and politics. Many people choose to be blissfully ignorant of the political process and how government works. The watchers regularly read up on the political issues of the day and have a good understanding of the government process.
Is physically fit. While most of us never seem to achieve the level of fitness that we'd like, watchers make the effort to stay in reasonable shape. This enables them to be more effective in the community and during emergencies.
Learns from, but does not shrink away, in the face of criticism in their efforts as a watcher. Watchers are human - it's tempting to withdraw if their efforts are criticized or unappreciated. Instead of being deterred, watchers must press forward, learn what they can from mistakes and criticisms, and continue their role.
Leads by example. Leadership is a willingness to take initiative. Watchers are not the "bosses." They are the doers of the community. They get involved and encourage others to join them.
Takes decisive action. When it comes time to act, the watchman and watchwoman is a person of action. They may not always take the right action, but they learn from their mistakes and change course when it becomes necessary to do so.
Do you think of yourself as a watcher? What qualities do you aspire to attain or maintain?
Saturday's preparedness conference - the forth annual event - may be our best effort yet. The evaluations completed by attendees revealed not only strong scores for all presenters, but it also proved that we have found a winning formula for format and presentation subject choices.
A few highlights from Saturday's presentations:
Cybersecurity - Jack Jania of Gemalto spoke on the need to migrate towards EMV chip cards for credit cards rather than relying upon the magnetic strip on the back. Chip cards are far superior for security purposes than the current technology.
Open Carry - Karl Rehn of KR Training spoke on open carry best practices. While there are pros and cons to OC, most experts believe concealed carry will remain the preferred method of carry out in public. Karl stressed the need to look and act professional when openly carrying so as to set a good example for other OC practitioners and the non-gun public.
Building a Disaster Resistant Home - Suzanne Tolbert, a real estate investor with extensive experience with beach homes, and I spoke on this subject. Making your home disaster resistant and more resilient can be challenging and expensive. But such improvements can enhance the value of your home, lead to savings on your utility bills and insurance premiums, and dramatically improve life safety. Suzanne generously donated a weekend at her beach house for one lucky attendee so they could see what a hurricane resistant home looks like up close.
Preparedness While Traveling - I spoke on this subject. It's easy to be prepared when driving to various locations, but how can we be prepared when we have to fly to various places? Much of the solution lies with planning such things as what type of hotel you choose, making sure you have enough funds on your person, and carrying some basic gear with you when you travel.
In Case Of Death (ICOD) - I spoke on this subject as well. Death is a high frequency, high severity event. If you are preparing for a financial collapse or a pandemic, even though those things may not happen, then you should be preparing for events that will happen - like death. Make preparations - have a will, proper insurance, and an ICOD folder outlining what you want family members to know if you get sick or pass away.
Pet Preparedness Strategies - Allen Codding, DVM of Anderson Mill Animal Clinic spoke to the issue of what preppers need to know about pet preparedness. As with most health issues, good preparedness means you are doing preventative work - getting your pets check ups, vaccinated and fed with quality foods.
Preparing for The Aftermath of a Self Defense Incident - John Daub spoke of his experience a year ago. He has taken a very unfortunate situation and is using it to help others appreciate the gravity of the decision to use deadly force. John's presentation scored a perfect 5.0 score - the first time we've ever had a presentation get a perfect score from every attendee.
Take Back The Night - Clifford Cheadle of Third Coast Thermal, LLC spoke on night vision options for preppers. This technology, while pricey, can dramatically improve your ability to hunt for food and identify threats at night.
What We Need to Be Doing The Next 90 Days - I concluded the conference by speaking on the subject of the need to start taking action. Rather than get mad and complain, I urged attendees to get their families ready and then look for opportunities in the community to share the message of preparedness. Specifically, I urged attendees to get active in community organizations and urge those groups to improve their readiness in the event of a disaster.
We have tentatively scheduled our next conference - number 5 - for January 7, 2017.
I'm occasionally chastised by friends when I do something they think isn't very "prepper." Non-preppers have this mental profile of those in the movement, and so when we color outside of their preconceived lines, they often seemed surprised that we would do such a thing.
I can think of four misconceptions I regularly encounter as a prepper:
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.