I know I stress practical preparedness and a community mindset. Not tonight.
Let's talk about some sweet gear that you want/need/must have in order to protect your family/restore order in your neighborhood.
First, check out Plan B Supply. File this under "Who Needs A House When You Can Live In A Tricked Out Deuce And A Half." I need one of these trucks. Just because.
The Plan B Supply website has a number of videos that show you a number of their awesome trucks. This video talks about how you can help others using their huge trucks. Which helps you justify buying one of these massive beasts. Because you can help others. And look bad ass while doing it.
Meanwhile, if you're ready to get into ham radio and are looking for a good disaster radio for both short and long range communications, check out the Yaesu FT-187. This will likely be my next ham radio purchase. I'm a big fan of the Yaesu brand.
Looking for a must have fire starter? I got a Holland Fire Starter for Christmas. This thing is amazing. When you want a durable, fire on the first strike fire starter, this is hard to beat. Check it out:
In case I haven't mentioned it enough, I teach the Texas LTC (formerly called the CHL) course.
One of the things I stress to my students is that we now live in a surveillance society. To make that point, I show them this picture:
This is the now the iconic picture taken by an Associated Press reporter of federal agents sent in to extract Elian Gonzalez from a house in Miami. Many were critical of the fact the federal agent seemed to be pointing his rifle at the boy, but as experts studied the photo, much of that criticism vanished.
Because of the agent's finger.
Notice how the agent adeptly kept his trigger finger on the frame of the gun - and not on the trigger. This likely saved the agent's career.
Two other personal stories illustrate this:
With the advent of HD video, it's easier to make out people's features, as well as their gun handing skills.
Like the federal agent in the first picture above, security video and images can help or hurt us.
On November 13, I wrote a piece in this blog entitled "Paris Is Why We Prepare." I wrote:
No one thinks they will need first aid supplies, a flashlight, or a firearm when they leave home for an evening in town. If we did, we wouldn't leave the house.
Terrorism happens. Car wrecks happen. Tornadoes happen. Workplace accidents happen. Violent crimes happen. Making that observation doesn't make you paranoid. I'm watching cable news coverage of the event in Paris right now, proof positive these things do happen.
Like the rest of you, I awoke to the terrible news from Brussels. The Drudge Report aggregated a number of articles in response:
EXPLOSIONS ROCK BRUSSELS AIRPORT, SUBWAY...
Suicide bomber attacks AMERICAN AIRLINES check-in desk...
Blast hits Metro station just yards from EU headquarters...
City Shut Down...
RAIDS UNDERWAY ACROSS BELGIUM...
Phone Users Urged to Text Not Call as Networks Jammed...
Brussels Ran Ad Mocking Notion of Islamic Violence 2 Months Ago...
FLASHBACK: ISIS Says Paris 'Start of Storm'...
MAG: Islamic State Overwhelming European Counterterrorism Forces...
Geert Wilders: 'We Ain't Seen Nothin Yet'...
Just blood -- like apocalypse...
Belgium beefs up security at nuke plants...
Aftermath footage shows terrified travelers cowering behind suitcases...
Europe vows to defend democracy on 'black day'...
American missionaries, military family among wounded...
Attack narrowly missed two visiting U.S. Senators...
Once again, we are reminded that we live in a fallen world. That bad things happen. And that we need to be prepared to deal with those things.
Spend a few minutes perusing the links above. Understand what is at stake, and that this isn't going away anytime soon. Think about what you might do to put yourself in a better position to avoid and deal with such situations.
Bob Ross was awesome.
After twenty years in the U.S. Air Force, he started a second career as television's iconic painter on the PBS show "The Joy of Painting." A master of both artistic and communication media, Ross parlayed his 30 minute TV show into gentle but poignant rants against the IRS and animal cruelty, declarations of love of country and the military, motivational talks for those needing self confidence, only to conclude each episode by saying "God bless, my friend."
He never took a dime from PBS for his shows and donated his paintings to them for use in fundraising auctions. The shows, were in fact, free infomercials for his branded paints, painting supplies, workshops, books and DVDs. He and his business partners truly made something from nothing.
One of the things Bob told his audience regularly is "don't be afraid to experiment." This is solid advice for both artists as well as preppers. I've learned a lot in my preparedness experiments, much of which is transferable to non-preparedness applications.
The other night, I was using my vacuum sealer (which provides me with hours of entertainment), experimenting on various things I could seal effectively. I previously reported I sealed some tactical medical supplies, but the seal didn't hold. I determined I wasn't putting enough of the open end of the bag into the sealer. Once I figured that out, I got a much better result:
Many will disagree with my decision to carry tactical med gear (tourniquet, bandages, Quik Clot gauze, Russell chest seals) in a vacuum sealed bag. The reality is this kit fits neatly in many of my suit jacket pockets and is notched in multiple places to make opening under stress easier. I am more apt to carry this kit in a suit pocket or in a pair of cargo shorts than a tactical med ankle rig.
As you start vacuum sealing things, you begin to experiment....and you begin to seal some rather interesting things just to see how well they seal.
This is the kind of experimenting Bob Ross encouraged. You learn when you experiment. You learn what works and what doesn't. You also come up with new ideas, even though you may not have any idea what practical use those ideas have. For example:
When I created this product, I was just messing around to see how it would look and how effective it would be to seal some cash. I learned later this is a rather popular thing for preppers to do:
And once it's vacuum sealed, where are you going to put it? Here are some pretty clever ways to store your newly sealed cash money around the house.
Prepping is one of those activities where experimenting is rewarded. You come up with new solutions to problems as well as learn some handy information along the way. Don't be afraid to experiment.
I taught two License to Carry (LTC) classes this weekend (my first time to teach two back to back). The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) requires instructors to cover, at a minimum, four designated topics (often referred to by DPS as the "Four Food Groups"). One of those required topics is "non-violent dispute resolution."
I do a section in my class materials about non-violent dispute resolution, although I weave that theme throughout my presentation. In short, I stress to students that:
Sometimes students say "I'd take out my gun and stop them, and shoot them if necessary." And then I tell them the truth - the young woman being abducted in this video is a teenage runaway, and the "abductors" are her family members taking her to a rehab program. Needless to say, using deadly force in this situation is the wrong answer.
In the class materials from DPS, they urge us to stress to LTC holders that they should be on the lookout for people dressed in seasonally inappropriate attire and engaging in unusual mannerisms. We discussed this in both classes over the weekend. This morning, a student in one of those classes shared this video with me in response to our discussion on this topic.
My question to you is: What's your plan for this?
I suspect the majority of the people in this business - a car dealership, in broad daylight - knew immediately that something was up when these men walked in. Notice their demeanor and posture. Notice everyone else is in short sleeve shirts and some are in shorts.
Notice the man holding a small child sitting next to the door.
What happens next is hard to watch, not because it's graphic, but because everyone just sits there. No one takes action. They are paralyzed by fear.
What's your plan for this?
I suspect I know what some of you are thinking. "Paul, it's too dangerous to use a gun to defend yourself in this situation. There are too many people around. You're more likely to hurt yourself or an innocent bystander than the bad guys."
I don't discount the fact there are a lot of innocent lives in the room. But I also don't believe in the myth that an armed citizen with a modicum of training could not defend themselves in this situation. That's because defensive gun use (DGU) happens between 274 and 1,013 times a day in this country. From Pivot Points:
When people need to defend themselves, they need to do it immediately. Waiting for law enforcement to arrive isn’t an option, even in areas where police response times are excellent. BusinessWeek concluded that using the government’s own data, one can conservatively assume that Americans use guns 100,000 times a year in legitimate DGU – defensive gun use. BusinessWeek then concedes that the actual number could be far greater than 100,000 times a year – perhaps as much as 370,000 times a year. Sticking with the conservative number, we can determine that citizens use guns to defend themselves and families 274 times a day. On the high end, that daily number skyrockets to 1,013 a day – some 42 times an hour.
In a crisis, police response times increase dramatically, to the point where citizens are often required to fend for themselves. During the Los Angeles riots in 1992 and the Ferguson, Missouri riots in 2014, many business owners armed themselves to protect their livelihoods and lives from the senseless violence. And the peril in the post-crisis environment need not be rioting. National Public Radio reported in 2006 that violent crime in New Orleans increased dramatically a year after Hurricane Katrina hit the city.
(pg. 75; citations omitted).
What's your plan for this?
This isn't some bar at 3 AM in a bad part of town. Any one of you reading this could have been sitting in that car dealership - with your child in your arms - when this went down.
If your plan doesn't involve getting licensed to carry a gun, I respect your decision. But I would then respectfully ask you what you plan to do in this situation. Sit there and hope for the best? Fight back? Try to run out the door?
Regardless of your willingness to be an armed citizen, don't assume bad things always happen to other people. Because you are someone else's "other people." Which means this could happen to you.
Start thinking now about what you would do at the local grocery store, the mall or the restaurant if something bad happened without warning. And it doesn't have to be a shooting - it could be a fire, severe weather or a major accident. Talk to your family and come up with a game plan on communication and standing protocols if your family gets scattered in the process.
What's your plan for this?
Today, I spoke at Cedar Ridge High School, a beautiful and relatively new school in the Round Rock ISD system, to approximately 40 students taking a class entitled "Disaster Response" for school credit. (The seniors taking the class were not present, as today was the traditional "Senior Skip Day" where they forego their educational obligations and opt out of attending class.)
Today's presentation was similar to the ones I did at another local high school recently. I start these presentations with a 30 minute discussion highlighting my Six Axioms of Preparedness:
We then spent about 45 minutes working through a table top exercise that I designed. The exercise involves a bus crash in the evening filled with students returning from a school trip. The students work in teams to come up with their strategy as to how best to solve the various problems they are facing throughout the exercise. The students learn a lot from each other during these exercises.
To keep the conversation going, I leave the teachers with another table top exercise they can do on their own, involving a tornado hitting the school. This exercise is one I modified from my first book, Bracing For Impact.
The fact we are teaching disaster preparedness and response classes in high schools means we have come a long way in our efforts to build a culture of preparedness in America.
I encourage you to reach out to your local school district and offer your help in training. My suggestion is to find the website of your local high school and find out if there are any course offerings for students on a first responder career track. Those instructors are often appreciative of offers to speak in their classrooms about preparedness. I'll even send you my notes that you can use as the basis of your presentation.
It's incumbent upon us to support preparedness efforts; how can you help your local school get our kids ready for emergencies?
If you've read this blog for a while, you know I spend much time talking about building a culture of preparedness.
Today, I had lunch with a lobbyist friend of mine. We were discussing politics, both state and national, as well as various political issues and how they affect the Christian church. My friend, who has been a successful lobbyist for many years, noted that in a recent sermon at her church, the pastor talked about the culture we live in today.
She said her pastor's choice of the word "culture" really resonated with her. Looking around at the various societal problems we face today, we see that much of it stems from our current culture. Cultures that don't value thrift or saving. Cultures that encourage consumerism. Cultures that tell us everyone is a winner and that things we want should be provided free of charge.
She's not the only one. I had a lengthy text exchange with a family member last night whose political leanings are fairly opposite of mine. While we were not arguing, we were comparing notes and observations. What I found interesting is the fact that while our solutions to societal problems differ, our analysis of what is causing those problems was fairly congruent with each other: we have a culture where those responsible for much of our problems are not held accountable, in large part because most of us are distracted with the latest game show/sports event on television.
Don't believe me? Ask some of your acquaintances who the chair of the Federal Reserve is or what negative interest rates are. And then ask them to name the Kardashian sisters. I'm willing to bet more people can do the latter than the former.
And that's the problem. We lack the requisite culture to strengthen the nation.
And yet there's good news: we can change the culture.
From Pivot Points:
But as in the examples above, and countless others, the dynamic nature of American culture means we remain capable of changing it in a more positive direction. Many would agree that the culture change towards recycling waste materials and consuming more organic foods reflect positive steps for our nation. These two culture shifts did not stem from some random force of cultural physics, understood by only a handful of Ph.Ds in college campus laboratories. Cultural shifts have been taking place in our country precisely because the laws of cultural physics can be appreciated – and utilized – by anyone.
If cultural phenomena in America can be changed, is it worth the time and effort to create a culture of preparedness? Note I’m not pitching a new idea here. Quite to the contrary: in the last decade or so, a number of authors and government agencies have tried to tackle this very issue.
This isn’t rocket science. People have been changing the culture in this country with music, art and Bible verses for decades. There’s no reason we cannot do the same. And the news gets better: there’s no organization out there to my knowledge that’s going to oppose our efforts. I don’t see an anti—preparedness movement rising up, thwarting our attempts to get kids to learn CPR and parents to have food set aside in case of emergencies.
(pg. 81, 88)
We are all capable of changing culture. Every single one of us. We may not change the culture of a nation by ourselves, but we can do it with those around us.
Want to create a culture of preparedness with those in your circle of friends, family and acquaintances? Try some of these things:
A reading assignment for you for the next couple of days:
Blog entries that get the most traffic on this website are the ones with a) pictures and b) stories of where I have failed. I check both of these boxes tonight.
Not my teeth. I do a much better job at brushing than this.
I'm a dentist's kid. As a child, this meant a number of things:
A while back, I found a drawer full of these tablets at my parents' house - and I do mean a drawer full. I didn't know anyone hoarded disclosure tablets. Turns out my parents do. It never crossed my mind that zombies would be so focused on the adequacy of their teeth brushing, but perhaps they will be.
I took a handful of these tablets back to Texas with me - remember, I said they had a whole drawer full of these things - because I wanted to test my brushing from time to time. Also, I was intrigued by the fact the best by date of the tablets was 1996. Old habits die hard I suppose, and the urge to test a dental product 20 years past its prime was simply too much.
I began using them every four to six weeks, checking on my brushing technique. During a recent disclosure tablet use session, a question popped into my head that bothered me:
What if I could take a disclosure tablet to show me every shortcoming in my life? Would I take it?
Most of us think our lives are, more or less, in good shape. We may have shortcomings, but it's rare that we think our lives are filled with errors, shortcomings and bad habits. Our friends are hesitant to point them out to us, because they are our friends and want us to be happy with ourselves.
But our lives are, in fact, filled with errors, shortcomings and bad habits.
My diet isn't as good as it could be. I let stress affect me more than I should. My preparedness efforts are not as focused as they should be. I let my consumption of bearish economic news affect my investment decisions. I don't get enough sleep. I worry that I haven't accomplished as much with my life as I should have at this point. I let past failures and problems haunt me. I spend too much time on social media.
And these are just the things I am aware of.
This isn't meant to be negative or depressing. In fact, it's precisely this kind of Life Disclosure Tablet results that led me to begin tithing. To recognize my tendency to use social media in ways that may be hurtful to others. To become a stronger advocate for local charities. To get involved in local government. To lead discussions in my Sunday school class. To re-prioritize my preparedness efforts. To write two books.
Sound preparedness means we are regularly conditioning ourselves to deal with emergencies and difficult situations. If you want to be really good at preparedness, you must regularly engage in honest, critical self evaluation in order to root out the things that are holding you back, making you less resilient, and restricting your ability to be an effective leader and citizen during a crisis.
I urge you to resist the urge to buy more storable food or prepper supplies for a period of time, and instead be brutally honest with yourself about things about your life you need to improve. It will pay great dividends in your long life as well as during an emergency.
Here's where I tell you what I think about things I think about.