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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thrifty Living

I was born and raised by a thrifty family. There have been some times (like in the late '80s, most of the '90s, and the early 2000s) where I spent like a drunken sailor, but throughout most of my life, living thrifty was was just normal. Now that the spouse and I are both older and wiser, we are just automatically thrifty. Here's a snapshot of my thrifty lifestyle:
  • The heat is set low (55 degrees) at night. It's best to sleep in a cool room anyway and just pile on the blankets if it gets too cold.
  • Beverages in the morning are made at home instead of at Starbucks. Ditto for breakfast.
  • For beverages on the run, we make them at home and put them in an insulated tumbler with a cover.
  • Lunch is made at home and taken to work. I simply don't eat out unless it is a business lunch and someone else is paying.
  • Conferences and meetings are great places to eat and drink for free.
  • Dinner is made at home every evening.
  • On the rare occasion that we are caught away from home and hungry, we head for a $5 sub at Subway to split, the $1 menu at Burger King/Jack in the Box (it won't kill you if eaten rarely), or the like. A guy brought in a $6 two piece chicken meal to the office the other day and I thought--wow, I bought a whole chicken for $2 just a few days ago!
  • Shopping is done once a week by buying loss leaders at all of the local stores. Some weeks may be fish, fish, and more fish if that is what is on sale at all of the stores.
  • The internet is used for new recipes instead of buying cookbooks.
  • Internet, phone, and cable is bundled at a discount price. Also, when better deals are offered for new customers, I call and ask for the deal myself since I am a loyal customer; I usually get it.
  • The heat is only on in our home if we are home, if not, it is set at 55 degrees. Lights are only on in the room we are in, ditto for TVs.
  • Lighting during the day is done with the sun--just open the shades, unless specific lighting is needed.
  • Laundry is done once a week using half the recommended laundry soap and half a dryer sheet. The clothes aren't THAT dirty and a whole dryer sheet is too perfumy. Also, clothes that don't get dirty are worn more than once before going into the laundry basket.
  • Entertainment is done at the library, free community events, or at friend's homes. Movies are watched when they come out on basic cable or TV. It is a very rare occasion that we go to the movie theater or watch on-demand movies that you need to pay for.
  • We rarely shop. Part of that has to do with the fact that we have had our home for years and everything works. Why buy a new TV when the old one works fine? Clothes are purchased at 50% off clearance sales and in the clearance sections of Walmart, Ross, and TJ Maxx.
  • Most food is made from scratch. The spouse enjoys cooking which is helpful and we make our own processed foods (granola cereal, cookies and pastries, salads, salad dressings, yogurt, Asian/Indian/Mexican/Italian food, etc).
  • Housework and yard work is done by us. In our yuppy days we had both a housekeeper and a yard guy but really, two people shouldn't need two other people to take care of them.
  • Hair color is done at home. Haircuts are done at the local, generic haircutting place. We tried the home haircut thing before which didn't go so well.
  • The products we use are basic--soap, shampoo, toothpaste. My friend's home has no less than a dozen products in the shower which to me is expensive overkill. A bar of soap and bottle of shampoo will take care of all of your shower needs.
  • If we do need to shop for an item we usually hit thrift stores, Walmart, the internet, check out the ads for local stores, and try discount stores. Never pay retail.
  • Maintenance is also done by us. Things like changing furnace filters, changing the wax ring on a toilet, and car upkeep, are simple and cost effective to do yourself.
  • Cell phones are bundled on a cost effective plan. Why pay for 3000 minutes a month if we only use 1000 or less?
  • I always ask for discounts and deals in most situations and if there is a problem with the service or product I receive, I don't hesitate to ask for compensation or an upgrade.
  • I'm still enjoying riding the bus so with one car and one bus pass, we get along just fine for transportation.
  • We exercise which I am thinking will save money on future medical costs.
  • We don't drink or smoke so that probably saves a lot of money.

I think that's about it. While it may seem that we live a spartan life, we really don't. Most importantly, we don't do these things just to be thrifty or save money because we "have to" or "should" do it, but rather as a conscious choice because there are other things we would much rather spend our money on including travel and an early retirement.

Original: http://codenameinsight.blogspot.com/2009/01/thrifty-living.html



Have all your family members memorize key phone numbers. Mom and Dad's cell phone and work numbers. Parents, this includes you, too. Memorize the kids school's and the children's cell phone numbers.

If you can't memorize the numbers, then make a business card-sized list of important numbers for each family member to carry.

Blog Post:

Communication, it allows us to exchange information. Stop it, and we know nothing about each other and the outside world.

To communicate during an emergency, you will need to plan.

The first part of the plan is to look at your threat analysis. What are you planning to survive? Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes/extreme weather, civil unrest, financial depression/hyperinflation, EMP attack and/or nuclear war. Each of these emergencies will determine what you will need to do.

Let us start with the simple solutions.

First, buy a weather radio. A weather radio will automatically notify you of flood, high winds, storms, tornadoes, and other extreme weather. They range in price from $20 to $200 depending on their features. For outdoor folks, there are portable weather radio models available.

If you can afford it, I suggest buying a radio with the Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) and battery backup. The SAME feature allows you to program the radio to sound the alert only for the counties you want to know about.

Some organizations suggest purchasing a battery-powered portable radio. This is a good idea. A portable radio will allow you to receive updates on emergencies and other information The radio will also allow you to take it with you if you have to shelter-in-place, evacuate, or listen to the ball game.

This last one is important. You need to listen to your radio, now. This allows you to find the stations that will offer information about your area, find stations that have good reception, and you get to know your radio.

These two radios, some portable radios have weather alert, are all you need for natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and other extreme weather. These two radios will also provide information about other disasters.

If you live in the United States, forget about buying a radio with the TV audio band 2-13. (TV audio bands allow you to listen to the television stations) The new digital television conversion will stop television stations from broadcasting on those radio stations.

But we know that local and national media doesn't have the time, money, and/or desire to provide all of the information we might need. This is where shortwave radio comes into play.
Shortwave radio has been a popular method of receiving information for many years. You have to be careful though; some shortwave broadcasts are propaganda.

A radio designed for shortwave listening will cost from $100 to $500. Before you buy make sure you shop around. I have heard Radio Shack has shortwave radios, made by famous names, for less then the famous maker.

Now don't confuse shortwave radios with transceivers. Shortwave transceivers allow you to transmit and receive messages. These transceivers require a licence. In the United States and various other countries, there are different classes of licences. The American Radio Relay League is the source for information if you want to obtain a licence to broadcast on shortwave radio in the United States.

Now, there are other radios that you can use to communicate with your family and/or friends. These radios are called Family Radio Service (FRS) and General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) radios. They have a range of about 1/2 to 5 miles. The FRS radio does not require a licence; to use a GMRS radio, you will need to purchase a licence.

FRS and GMRS radios can be found in your local discount store and consumer-electronics stores. When buying, look for radios that use AA batteries.

Another popular radio is CB (Citizens' Band). CB radios do not require a licence. These radios have a range of 1 to 5 miles. As far as I know, CB radios require a car-type battery to operate.

The next type of radio is the MURS radios. Multi Use Radio Service (MURS) radios require no licence. According to one source, they are the best radio for local communications.

All of these radios are good; however, you need to make sure you know how to use them and they work. Nothing is more embarrassing then opening the package and the radio failing to work.

Now, radios are pretty good, but they don't have the convenience of cell phones. Heck, my cell phone can call Tokyo, Baghdad, Paris, New York City, and many other places (for a small fee), but an emergency may block local calls from going through.

To overcome this problem, your family designates an out-of-state contact. An out-of-state contact allows you to bypass local problems. It seem that local and long-distance phone calls are handled on different lines.

An out-of-state contact is someone everyone in the family will call. This person gets information about how the individual family members are doing. The contact gets information such as location, plans, and any problems. The contact can update family members as needed.

Another cool feature of cell phones is the ability to enter phone numbers and contact information. You have probably heard of ICE numbers. ICE stands for In Case of an Emergency.

In the cell phone's contact list, ICE is entered and the number of the person to contact in case of an emergency is entered. If an emergency responder finds the phone, and you have been in an accident, they can immediately contact that person.

See you next week!


NOAA Weather Radio - SAME Info

American Red Cross - Personal Workplace Disaster Supplies Kit

What You Should Know Before Buying a Radio with the TV Band

An Introduction to Shortwave Listening

Wikipedia - International Broadcasting

Selecting a Shortwave Radio

Wikipedia - American Radio Relay League

General Mobile Radio Service

Federal Communications Commission - Citizens' Band Radio

Federal Communications Commision - Multi Use Radio Service

Inventory Check: Grain Grinder/Mill

Here's today's inventory check: do you need a grain grinder?

Have you bought wheat berries? Do you plan to grind rice into rice flour, or beans into bean flour? Perhaps you will plant corn so you can make your own cornmeal?

You need a grinder. A hand mill. Preferably one that doesn't use electricity, unless you want to be stock with 400 pounds of wheat berries, and no way to grind them into flour. There are many different kinds of grinders and hand mills. Check them out. Make your purchase. Make a back-up purchase. Then practice using them. Get out those wheat berries and rice, and grind them into your flour.

You'll be glad you practiced. It ain't easy!

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/inventory-check-grain-grindermill.html

Reference Manuals

I love using the Internet to find all types of information, I use it daily as a matter of fact. But, nothing compares to the warmth of a good book on a cold winter day. Cup of coffee (and one for each of you to0 ), my favorite chair (the one closest to the wood stove ) and a good book are all I need to be complete. I love books and have many. Our shelves are full of books that I have acquired over the years on various topics. I do, like most of you, have some favorites. These are the ones that sit on my chair side table at this moment. They are changed out every few days or so, so I can refresh myself on the things that I enjoy most. Nearly all of my books are reference manuals of some sort although I do have some non-fiction that I enjoy too.
The last few days reading have consisted of the 3 books below. I highly recommend them to all of my readers, packed full of useful information.
Can you ever really have enough first-aid knowledge?? I though you would agree.
I was amazed at the number of people that perish, ones that have a compass, and don't have any idea how to use it. The numbers are mind boggling. Always refresh myself on this skill from time to time.
How could anyone be without one. I have read this thing until the pages are worn. I have made numerous notes on nearly each and every page. I would never be without it, never.
I just wanted to share a few good reference books with you today, ones that could save your life or the life of a loved one. Now I don't keep these with me everywhere I go but I do refer to them often. A good knowledge of the skills offered in these books makes me feel a little safer in the fact that if the need arises, I will know what to do. Reading and learning from these is also a good way to prep for future events too, and the best part is, you can do it when it's cold outside, it's wet outside and you're BROKE !! lol I truly believe that knowledge is the most important preparation one can make.

Original: http://johnsonfamilyfarm.blogspot.com/2009/01/reference-manuals.html

Dehydrating Apricots

Apricots are full of vitamins and minerals, major benefits you don't want to lose by not preserving your apricots. Buy fresh at the store/farmer's market, or get canned apricots on sale!
  • Choose the apricots that look the best. Cut out any bad parts.
  • Wash, cut in half, and turn inside out. Slice into quarters.
  • Soak 5 minutes in water with lemon juice to prevent browning.
  • Arrange in single layers on trays. They can touch because they will shrink some.
  • Dry 8-20 hours until piable - Temp: 135 degrees F.
  • Freeze in freezer baggie for 2 days to kill any bug eggs that may have been laid while dehydrating. If you're 100% sure there aren't any, you can skip this step.
  • Store in moisture-proof jar with a moisture absorber. Seal. Cover with dark paper to keep light out. Label with contents and date. Store in cool, dry, dark area.

You can rehydrate the apricots to use in a recipe, or eat dried as a snack.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/dehydrating-apricots.html

Recipe: Italian Chicken-N-Taters

4 potatoes or 4 cans new potatoes (drained)
1/2 cup dried bell pepper dices
1 cup chicken broth
2 large cans chunk chicken (with liquid)
1 cup Italian salad dressing
salt/pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into chunks, and place into crockpot with bell pepper dices and chicken broth. Drizzle with half of the salad dressing. Top with the chicken chunks. Drizzle with remaining salad dressing. Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours, until potatoes are tender. Serve garnished with parsley.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC


Recipe: Italian Chicken-N-Taters

4 potatoes or 4 cans new potatoes (drained)
1/2 cup dried bell pepper dices
1 cup chicken broth
2 large cans chunk chicken (with liquid)
1 cup Italian salad dressing
salt/pepper to taste

Cut potatoes into chunks, and place into crockpot with bell pepper dices and chicken broth. Drizzle with half of the salad dressing. Top with the chicken chunks. Drizzle with remaining salad dressing. Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours, until potatoes are tender. Serve garnished with parsley.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/01/recipe-italian-chicken-n-taters.html

Wooden Gun Stock Refinishing Tip

With a great many people buying used guns, especially the military surplus rifles, there is sometimes a need to refinish the wooden stocks due to abuse or neglect. There is a simple trick you can use to get that smooth satin finish that is found on new wooden gun stocks. You can turn it into a showpiece with very little effort if done right.

One of the things that I have done frequently is refinish wooden gun stocks for friends and other people. They have either accidentally or through neglect allowed their rifle stocks to become less than perfect and as a result need to refinish them.

To get a satin smooth finish when refinishing a wooden gun stock all you have to remember is that in the process of sanding down a wooden gun stock dust will get inside the grain of the wood. This dust can be hard to remove properly with a dust cloth. The best way to remove this dust is by using a cloth soaked with denatured alcohol. The denatured alcohol will clean the dust from sanding out of the grain of the wood but will dry quickly in the process. Then when staining and sealing the stock you will be able to get a really smooth finish because the fine particles from sanding have been removed with proper cleaning.

When using this technique you will need to make sure you've allowed the alcohol residue to evaporate fully before applying any stain, lacquer or varnish. This technique can also be used when refinishing a piece of wooden furniture.

Staying above the water line!



Trench Composting


The easiest way I've found to utilize kitchen wastes and other organic materials is to trench compost. Dig a hole or trench eight to ten inches deep, fill it halfway with the waste products and backfill with soil. I use straw on top to hold moisture and that's it.

The technique works well in small garden areas, especially raised beds. It's something most everyone can do.

Organic waste materials do not grow anything in a land fill, unless that land fill is right in your backyard.

Original: http://kennysideshow.blogspot.com/2009/01/trench-composting.html

Time to Prepare


Take the time to prepare for the coming financial woes.
by Gwen Caldwell

The financial stability of our country is in peril. Unemployment continues to rise. The housing market continues to fall. Banks are failing at an unprecedented rate. The stock markets are unstable, as is our dollar. Folks, the new regime in Washington is not going to fix this problem! No matter how many bailouts they want us to pay for, we are only applying a band-aid to a gaping wound in the financial jugular vein of this country! It will not stop the bleeding.

We have got to start facing the facts and preparing for the total collapse of our financial system as we know it. Start downsizing now! Get your pantries stocked with food, water, essential vitamins and medicines. Making these preparations now may not only save your life, but will ensure that your quality of life is not reduced in the face of economic disaster.

I encourage all of you to look around your homes at the things that you could liquidate right now to create storage space for food and that can create extra financial resources for stocking up on food. Quit eating out, avoid fast food and junk food. Eat popcorn, fruits and vegetables for snacks to keep your immune system built up and save money.

Think about those things that will disappear in a crisis and make sure you have them. Oil lamps and oils, batteries, diapers, camp stoves and fuel, guns and ammo, toilet paper are things that come to mind. Think about those things that might be good barter items in your area...get them.

I urge you to go online and purchase heritage garden seeds, so that you can grow your own food. Even if you live in a small apartment you can plant food in containers to help you supplement what is in your pantry. Buy sprouting seeds and a sprouter. Buy canning jars, so that you have a means of preserving your food.

There are many excellent videos at www.youtube.com on sustainability, survival skills, long term food storage, growing urban gardens and so forth. Take the time to educate yourselves on these skills.

I believe that our time to prepare is short and would encourage all of you to do what you can now. I have already noticed that the shelves at the stores where I live have less selection and fewer items. It is not inconceivable that one day the shelves will be empty.

We will not be getting a bail out, be assured. Our bail out is how we prepare now and how well we do it.

more: http://www.nolanchart.com/article5864.html


Survival Gardening: Growing Food During A Second Great Depression

My point for you non-farmers out there, is that you are not going to feed yourself with a Mantis tiller and 1,000 square feet of sandy dirt that requires you to pump endless ground water irrigation just to keep your crops alive. If you committed enough to surviving that you purchase over 20 firearms and 20,000 rounds of ammo (a good start) I am suggesting that you need to consider a similar commitment to growing food.

more - Daily Survival


Food Security

Our high-tech civilization depends on a precarious balance. Our beautiful cities, the urban hives where millions of lives are stacked up and laid out, are like black holes sucking in tons of food every day. Each depends on the produce of acre on acre of industrial factory-farming to feed its teeming masses. To modern humans in developed nations, food comes not from the land but from the supermarket. We are affluent to the point where obesity has become epidemic - how ludicrous, that one of the great plagues of our lifestyle is that we have too much to eat! Well, friends, this is all going to change. Losing immediate access to food is one thing that is going to catch the majority of our population very much by surprise.

Start growing your own food, this spring if at all possible.

Another thing to keep firmly in mind is that having a ready supply of food is going to make you a target. I'm going to talk about self defense in another post. For now suffice it to say, start thinking about how you're going to protect your home and your garden.

Long term food security is going to be a bit harder to achieve. If I sound alarmist, it's because the state of the world has me alarmed; and I happen to live in a province devoted primarily to agriculture. I can only imagine what things could be like for people who live in less rural areas. If the optimists are right, and the collapse decides to give us some breathing room, now would be a very good time to start planting our survival plots, thinking about turning every green space we can find into community gardens, and convincing some of the masses who are being laid off at this very moment to take up urban farming full time. I'm convinced that with some work and technological advance, we can get to the point where cities can provide their own food sustainably without relying on the factory farm infrastructure; but I very much fear that a year, or even two, is just more time that people will spend not thinking very hard about where their next meal is coming from. The habit of depending on people hundreds of miles away to serve us our meals is too ingrained. It may well take a sharp shock to the stomach to remind us that when you can't feed yourself, nothing else matters.

more - After the Crash


Growing Edible Sprouts

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikibooks/en/thumb/d/d9/AlfalfaSprouts1.jpg/300px-AlfalfaSprouts1.jpg All the info you need here, or here.


As an example, Mr. Obama should have the staff gardener put in an organic garden this spring and report on it via his web site.

Growing Food on the White House Lawn


My list of easy to grow, in a fairly small space, nutritious vegetables for a moderate climate, in no particular order.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage
Sweet Potatoes
Lettuce varieties
Peppers, hot and sweet
Turnip greens, Kale
Early peas


My wish list for survival and healthy living includes hemp foods.

There is one thing that we all have in common: this tiny planet we share. Today the world is throwing around terms like "sustainability" and "green living" but what does that really mean? Hemp is one of the most diverse plants on the planet, and could literally supply most of humankinds needs for fuel, food, clothing, building products, and medicine. Despite its usefulness, hemp is illegal to grow in the United States.

This site is intended to be an avenue for the community to empower themselves with information. There is a truth that must be heard!

Why should farmers grow hemp?
Because hemp is the ultimate cash crop, producing more fiber, food and oil than any other plant on the planet.

According to the Notre Dame University publication, The Midlands Naturalist, from a 1975 article called, "Feral Hemp in Southern Illinois," about the wild hemp fields that annual efforts from law enforcement eradication teams cannot wipe out, an acre of hemp produces:

8,000 pounds of hemp seed per acre.

  • When cold-pressed, the 8,000 pounds of hemp seed yield over 300 gallons of hemp seed oil and a byproduct of
    6,000 pounds of high protein hemp flour.

These seed oils are both a food and a biodiesel fuel. Currently, the most productive seed oil crops are soybeans, sunflower seeds and rape seed or canola. Each of these three seed oil crops produce between 100 to 120 gallons of oil per acre. Hemp seed produces three times more oil per acre than the next most productive seed oil crops, or over 300 gallons per acre, with a byproduct of 3 tons of food per acre. Hemp seed oil is also far more nutritious and beneficial for our health than any other seed oil crop.

In addition to the food and oil produced, there are several other byproducts and benefits to the cultivation of hemp.

2. Six to ten tons per acre of hemp bast fiber. Bast fiber makes canvas, rope, lace, linen, and ultra-thin specialty papers like cigarette and bible papers.

3. Twenty-five tons of hemp hurd fiber. Hemp hurd fiber makes all grades of paper, composite building materials, animal bedding and a material for the absorption of liquids and oils.

4. The deep tap root draws up sub-soil nutrients and then, when the leaves fall from the plant to the ground, they return these nutrients to the top soil for the next crop rotation.

5. The residual flowers, after the seeds are extracted, produce valuable medicines.

Our farmers need this valuable crop to be returned as an option for commercial agriculture.

While marijuana is prohibited, industrial hemp will be economically prohibitive due to the artificial regulatory burdens imposed by the prohibition of marijuana. When marijuana and cannabis are legally regulated, industrial hemp will return to its rightful place in our agricultural economy.

Hemp may be the plant that started humans down the road toward civilization with the invention of agriculture itself. All archaeologists agree that cannabis was among the first crops purposely cultivated by human beings at least over 6,000 years ago, and perhaps more than 12,000 years ago.

Restoring industrial hemp to its rightful place in agriculture today will return much control to our farmers, and away from the multinational corporations that dominate our political process and destroy our environment. These capital-intensive, non-sustainable, and environmentally destructive industries have usurped our economic resources and clear-cut huge tracts of the world's forests, given us massive oil spills, wars, toxic waste, massive worldwide pollution, global warming and the destruction of entire ecosystems.

Prohibiting the cultivation of this ancient plant, the most productive source of fiber, oil and protein on our planet, is evil. In its place we have industries that give us processes and products that have led to unprecedented ecological crisis and worldwide destruction of the biological heritage that we should bequeath to our children, grandchildren and future generations.

Restore hemp!

more - hemp.org

Original: http://kennysideshow.blogspot.com/2009/01/time-to-prepare.html

Stocking Up On Stuff

A big part of prepping is accumulating lots of stuff. It is not everything but it is a pretty major part of what we do. I am going to talk about some simple strategies to accumulate needed stuff.

First lets break this whole thing down a little. To simplify things a lot there are two kinds of stuff, single use and durable goods. A rifle cartridge is single use while the rifle is durable. Significantly different strategies can be used for these types of stuff.

The main way I stock up on durable stuff is by holding onto the older stuff I have. A pair of pants that are a bit worn is far better then no pants. Wrong color, odd fashion from a couple years ago, whatever. Still a lot better then being neikid. An older beat up pan that have been replaced becomes the camping pan. I have bunches of blankets because I never throw them out. Some are odd sizes or colors but they would keep me warm.

Single use stuff can not be accumulated in the same manner because once it is used it is done. Can't eat a snickers bar twice. This stuff must be purchased in quantity prior to needing it. Pick up 6 spare chap sticks so when I need one it is in the medicine cabinet. Keep extra cold medicine lying around because you never know when someone will get sick. A few bucks worth of OTC stuff makes getting sick a lot less crappy. What I like to do is just get two when I need one. Sometimes getting more then that makes sense.

Durable stuff can be purchased in advance if you desire to do so. There is some wisdom in this plan. I particularly like the holding onto older stuff plan because it is free. You will not care if an older pan has some scratches when the other one has a hole in it. Some combination of purchasing stuff in advance and holding onto older stuff is probably the best way to go.

The big thing is to KEEP EXTRAS OF STUFF YOU USE. You do not need twelve of everything in Cheaperthandirt, or Sportsmen's Guide. Picking up a spare jacket at a good price though it isn't something you would normally wear isn't a bad thing but you probably don't need to have fifty of them. Ditto for 1940's era Swiss mess kits, it is great that you get a discount for purchasing 12 or more but that doesn't mean you need twelve. Aside from a few spare sets of unfashionable work clothes, footwear and some tactical gear (spare holster, some sort of load bearing gear, etc) if you do not currently use it then there very well might not be a reason to own it. Do however keep in mind how your needs would change if modern utilities were nonfunctional. Can't just flip on the light if the power is out so you might want some flashlights and a lantern or two.

So hold onto your old stuff and pick up extras of disposables.

Original: http://tslrf.blogspot.com/2009/01/stocking-up-on-stuff.html

Beyond BoB

Contents of My Day Bag

Originally uploaded by nodigio

Your Bug Out Bag is all well and good, but it isn’t enough to get you through a long term crisis. You are going to need a group, a cadre, a club, whatever you want to call it. Humans have formed societies for as far back as we can find evidence of our existence. There’s a reason for this. It’s because we survive better and healthier when we have people with us to share the work. No matter how good you are, you still have only 24 hours in each day. Even if you were outstandingly good at everything you did, you are still just one person and can’t do them all simultaneously. If you get sick or hurt, you’ll need someone to do your jobs and/or take care of you.

How can you join a group? The answer is easy – you won’t. If an existing group hasn’t already contacted you, they won’t. You might marry into a group. Maybe. You might have a child of yours marry into a group and then they might invite you. The chances of being invited to join a group with whom you have no “ins” is slimmer than remote.

So, how do you get to be in a survival group? Generally, the best way is to just form up a group yourself. You’ll have to talk to others. You’ll have to share information. You’ll have to be strong enough to reject those who don’t fit in after all, and you’ll have to accept being rejected. That last one will really sting if you are the one who gets kicked out of the group you started, but it happens. So you just start another group until you create one you fit into.

Having been down this road a few times, I have some opinions and suggestions on this. If your experience is different, I’d love to hear about it, and if you have suggestions, tell me about them after you’ve done them yourself for a year or two. It’s that experience thing. What sounds good talking about it may be completely unworkable in real life. I blog a bit about what I’m doing, but very, very rarely about who I’m doing these things with. I respect their privacy. So what I talk about is generally broadly applicable. If you want details, ask me privately and I may answer you if it doesn’t breach privacy agreements I’ve made.

You want your group to be local. People you can meet with on a regular basis and actually practice things with. Group members who are hours away won’t make it to the meetings, won’t be able to get together to build the necessary trust and familiarity you have to have. Internet “groups” are so non-starter. You can exchange information and tips and such, but you aren’t going to really depend upon them. You’ll want people you can camp with, people you’re comfortable being around 24/7, people with whom you can build a body of experience and trust because in a long term event, that’s exactly what you’re going to be doing. You’ll want people who are as dedicated as you are. You’ll probably start with your immediate family because you’re already (I presume) comfortable with them and like being around them and you know one another’s habits and capabilities.

Your group needs to be exclusive. I know, I know, this riles up some folks. But really, if you have people coming and going all the time, you will never have the ability to build the essential trust and learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has to be able to contribute to the success of the group. An easy way to help limit the membership is to have a definite, clearly spelled out purpose. Since this is a survival group (it is, right?), your purpose could be something along the lines of “To ensure and enhance the survival of members and their immediate families” and you can modify it you want, but I like leaving it somewhat open-ended since we don’t know what traumas and disasters may come our way.

You could decide to just have an open group that would “teach, develop, and/or practice survival strategies and techniques”. You could hold classes, have seminars, establish a kaffeeklatch that exchanges survival stories, and occasionally has group camp-outs to put the teachings to the test. Then, you could invite the more promising people to be part of your inner group, the ones you’ll really depend on. There are some people who are absolutely wonderful, but you’d never trust them with your life, and you want your group to be people you’d trust with your life.

I’d suggest looking at your actual neighbors. If something happens, they are the most likely ones to be Right There, and you’ll have to deal with them then – or now. Now is much better because you can teach them, guide them, learn about them, and develop real relationships with them. You can start by joining or starting a Neighborhood Watch. Call your local sheriff and ask them. Host a BBQ or potluck and tell them you want to start a neighborhood watch and to maybe do things like teach the kids bike safety and maybe set up a safe place for the kids to play their basketball or ride their bikes that isn’t in the middle of the street. You’ll have to strike up conversations, and ask questions, and get involved, and get them involved, and then you can start talking about neighborhood safety and protection form home invasions, and looking out for one another. And then you can suggest survival classes and group gardens and eventually, you’ll have developed a group.

If not, at least you’ll know your neighbors better. You’ll know who to depend upon and who to watch out for. You can look a bit farther outside your immediate neighborhood, but not too far. Look at people with whom you interact regularly – your co-workers, your children’s classmate parents, the people you see in the local park or stores, people at churches.

It will take time. Cold pitching someone with “wanna form a secret survival society?” is a sure way to be labeled weird and eccentric and that crazy lady to stay away from.

Having groups within groups is a good idea. You’ll have your local neighborhood watch and a couple of people who are in your inner group, and maybe you’ll have your library group of survivalists, and one or two from them in your inner group, and maybe you’ll have a co-worker survival group and one or two might make it into your inner group. There might be overlaps in these groups, or not. Maybe you belong to groups that have nothing to do with survival – a writer’s group or a knitting club or a book club, for instance – but there are one or two people in those groups you think might fit into your inner group. Invite them to one of the outer survivalist group meetings. If they act committed and become involved, invite them into your inner group and see how well they fit.

Once you start culling the other group(s) for your inner group, your core group of survivalists, you’ll need to start building your infrastructure, developing plans and actions, practicing techniques, and getting used to spending a lot of time together. It will require commitment from individual members. I don’t want to trust my life to someone who doesn’t care enough to be committed. If they’d rather watch a House, M.D. re-run than meet up to actually do survival activities – weeding, harvesting, distilling water, checking filters, cooking and canning food, practicing drills, and so on – then I don’t want them in my Core Group. Would you?

And this is just the beginning. If you live in a suburb or city, these people will form the core of your Sub/urban Survival Compound and you may all eventually living within a few blocks of one another in order to make it happen. You’ll be a tight-knit group of people and when a new neighbor moves in, you’ll check them out and see if they fit in with your group.

You don’t have to wait for a major, long-term event to go into actions, either. You’ll be there for one another in small disasters like ice storms and tornadoes. If one of you loses a job, the others will be there to help you get another one and point you to micro-businesses you can do, may even hire you for some work. They’ll take care of you when you get sick, and you’ll take care of them. Your neighborhood won’t have an elderly resident who dies at home alone and no one finds them for a year because you’ll know everyone there and their habits. You’ll have checked up on the old one and gotten help or contacted his/her relatives long before the police break down the door to find the body.

Each small disaster or event is a bonding time and a preparation for greater disasters and events. And if those greater disasters never materialize, we can all be grateful and still enjoy the benefits of a group of mutually supportive people.


as promised...dah-da-dah - here is "Part II - Emergency Communications" from Santa at the WVPN :

I have been overwhelmed at the interest that my first post generated. First of all let me thank all of you who left comments and also the emails that I have received with questions. I am going to try to address all of them but please be patient with me as typing is not one of my skills. Proper English and spelling are also not my best ability. (Spell and grammar check are my friends trust me) I am however very talented at moving mountains or at least parts of them. Just wanted your tired eyes to open with that statement. I am a self employed excavating contractor here in the Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. I do not have a background in the field of electronics or radio communications. Now you will understand why I say what I do next.

First let me start with the number one question: HOW HARD IS IT TO GET LICENSED?

My answer to this is here in the US it is almost too easy. With just a little dedication and studying any one of you can and will be able to pass the technician class license. (I did)

While this first step is NOT going to give you the privileges to operate on all the bands there are, it will give you the bands that will be most useful in what I consider local communication (100 miles give or take)

The second step is where you get the privilege to use all the bands or at least a portion of them. This is the General class. While it is a little harder and takes a little more dedication and study time it is still not that hard. Again I did it so I am confident any one of you will be able to do it. At this level your ability to communicate will become world wide. (And I do mean world wide I have the QSL cards to prove it) For those that do not understand this, a QSL card is a card you either have printed for you or print from your computer. These are used to send thru the Postal system to other Hams when you speak to them on the air. I am going to make an offer here to send you one of mine so you can see how it works. (I know that I will probably catch some flak from old school Hams over this but that is OK I have big shoulders I just want those with an interest to see how it works) I may have to limit this offer because of cost but I am not sure how many will request one. So for now I will try to send one to everyone that emails me an address to send it to. (Trust will come into play here but I promise to keep your identity and address private I have no motive to use it for any purpose other than to let you see how this works) I take the trust thing very serious. I will tell you though; I do have a very unique QSL card that you will like.

The third step: Extra class is where you get the privilege to use the entire portion of all the bands. I have not gone that far to date but it is in my plans to do so in the future. Because of the fact I have not done this yet I will leave it at this point.

The second question that came up a lot was: HOW MUCH DOES ALL THIS COST?

The first step is to find a way to study for the test. This can be as little as FREE. You can purchase books for this at a cost of around 20 USD but you can also do it the way I did and study online for free. I will give links at the end of this post for a couple of sites, that you can take practice test for free (At least they were free when I did them) until your scores are high enough to go in and pass the test. Now for the test itself, my first test was 7 USD and when I upgraded to General that test was done by a group of Hams that do not charge anything. They do it for the love of the hobby at there own expense for FREE.

Now as far as the equipment goes: Well this can be as little as free to as wild as the imagination allows. I can only tell you what I have in my personal inventory. My first radio was 50 USD from a friend used. My first antenna I made from new ½" copper pipe like is used for plumbing in a house. I went to Home Depot and purchased new for this around 20 USD. I built it myself from plans off the internet that were free and I will email anyone that wants them. Now this is a plain 2 meter radio and a home made antenna but that was the beginning of my ham station. With this radio I am able to talk on all the local repeaters and have also talked as much as 75 to 100 miles without use of repeaters. That will not be everyone's results as there are many things to interfere with radio signals. I live in the mountains so I have natural elevation that helps me with distance. My main HF station or general coverage radio I purchased it thru the swap meet forum at www.qrz.com total cost with shipping from Texas to West Virginia 550USD. It is a Kenwood 570D and it covers from 10 meter thru 160 meter. For antennas I got my 160 meter double bazooka, a 20 meter double bazooka, and a 6 foot roof mount antenna mast never used from a fellow ham: the cost was a drive of about 50 miles one way to get them and once I got there about two or three hours talking with a great person. I would have driven the distance for the conversation and the hand shake from a very neat person to talk with. My 80 meter off center feed dipole is home made from cable TV hard-line coax left over from my days of building overhead lines for a cable company and the help of two friends. My 10 meter is left over form my cb days but you can buy something similar for as little as free to 20 USD if you get one used or 60 to 90 USD new. There are more antennas coming in the future and most of the wire antennas are down at the moment because I was clearing trees from my property this winter and did not want to damage them in that process. We have had our first taste of spring weather and the area where my antennas go is now ready for them to go back up. That will be a future post coming soon so you can see how this is done. My original part 2 was going to be a post of my mobile set up in my service truck with pictures, but because of all the wonderful comments and questions by email this became part 2.

Kymber: of the Canadian Preppers Network was promised the next post I did but that was supposed to be what is now going to be Part 3 so I guess you will see Part 3 on the CPN first also.

Good sites for US residents as well as info for our Northern brothers and sisters are:

www.arrl.org A great place to read about Ham radio in the US.

www.qrz.com at this site in the upper left side (little white window) type in your zip code use your mouse to hit the search button and you will see a list of all the hams in your zip code. (You never know but you may already know one) There is also a great Practice test area on this site and that is how I studied for both my Tech class and my General class test.

http://www.eham.net Another great place for info and they have a section REVIEWS I believe it is on the left side of the page and there you can review what other people have said about different radios before you decide to buy.

http://www.hamtestonline.com/study.jsp an online place to study for your test but it is not free.

http://www.hamuniverse.com/bazooka.html info about the double bazooka antennas I mentioned as well as much more if you search the site.

http://www.n7qvc.com/amateur_radio/copper.html the 2 meter antenna plans that I mentione.

All of these links should still be good but if you find one that is not email me, I will try to help.

email wvsantaclaus@aol.com

God Bless all from the Hills of Wild and Wonderful West Virginia


Original: http://canadianpreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/and-without-any-further-ado.html