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  1. Today’s decision has been anticipated by traders and investors for weeks. Today, the Fed announced that they would not change their current asset purchasing program often referred to as Quantitative Easing or QE. The Fed announced they would continue purchasing $85 billion a month in US Treasuries and Mortgage Backed Securities or MBS’s. As markets had priced in a “taper lite”, this sent bond yields plummeting and gold prices soaring. The yield on 10 year US Treasuries was down 10 basis points to 2.75% at the time of this writing; gold was up $48 an ounce and silver was up $1.16, a 5% increase. At the end of the day, the Fed’s decision today means very little in the long run. US debt is over $17 trillion dollars. As interest rates begin to normalize, the debt service will continue to consume a larger and larger portion of our overall federal revenue. We have seen rates on 10 year US Treasuries jump from 1.6% to nearly 3% in recent weeks. That jump alone represents a $238 billion dollar increase in annual interest payments to be paid from our overspent budget. As the average rate approaches the 10 year rate, and it usually does, the total debt service will be $510,000,000,000.00 or 20% of our entire revenue collected by the IRS. If the rate returns to the highs of the 1980’s, right around 15.8%, the interest payments on our current federal debt will outstrip all federal revenue. Not good. At least the economic policy dram is over right? Wrong! The next round of the debt ceiling debates begins next month. We all remember what fun those have been over the past few years. The trend for debt ceiling debates have been further erosion of confidence in the US dollar, higher gold and silver prices and political gridlock. Keep checking back for my articles on Brink of Freedom, and I’ll do my best to help you navigate the certain uncertainty. The entire system is set to pop. Like a ticking time bomb, a new crisis is just waiting to blow up in our faces. As with all the crises and bubbles before, it is impossible to time, because it all depends on the confidence of investors and market participants. When the confidence in the US dollar and our government’s ability to repay its debt erodes, and it will erode, everyone will head for the exits at once. In my new book, American Exit Strategy, Book One of the Economic Collapse Chronicles, I use survival fiction to take an in-depth look at the real life politics and economics behind the issues that are likely to trigger a currency collapse or financial meltdown in the near future. Liberty minded individuals and those who believe in the Constitution will find this near future dystopian novel to be right up their alley. Those who are looking to be more informed about the potential threats to America’s financial stability will learn what to watch for and how to prepare themselves for an economic collapse. I would like to offer a free PDF copy of my new book to all Brink of Freedom readers. If you would like a copy, please e-mail your request to prepperrecon@gmail.com. Put “BOF PDF” in the subject line of your request. Thanks so much! Happy Prepping!
  2. Prepper Recon

    Prepping With Coupons- Prepper Econ

    Introduction Hi, I am Prepper Recon, and I will be writing a regular column entitled Prepper Econ. I know; it rhymes. Prepper Econ is going to be bringing you updates on major economic news and personal finance tips. Some of us are nerds who just love economics and others of us are bored to tears by it. My hope is to bring something that will stimulate the former while making it interesting for the latter. Love it or hate it, economics affect us all and personal financial responsibility is going to be an integral part of surviving the tough times ahead. Join me back here every week to keep up with the big headlines in financial news and get great tips on budgeting and stretching you dollar. To borrow a phrase from one of our centuries great philosophers, it will help you ” if times get tough or even if they don’t.” Building Your Stockpile With Coupons One of the most important aspects of a good preparedness plan is having a stockpile of storable food. Building a 3 to 6 month supply can be very hard for a family on a budget. Couponing can allow you to build that stockpile without increasing your normal grocery budget when it is practiced over time. An extra can of soup here and an extra box of pasta there will add up if you are persistent. Couponing, like many skills, was considered almost a lost art. The recent recession and steady increase in food prices have caused Americans to return to this trade of frugality. Stores and brands use coupons to grab customers’ attention and pull them into their store or influence them to try their product. Today’s technological capabilities provide many other avenues to get coupons besides the Sunday paper. Products often offer coupon on their websites. Stores also use the internet to send coupons to shoppers who will sign up for email lists. For preppers new to couponing, the task can seem overwhelming. Thanks to the internet, there are hundreds of couponing websites that do all of the hard work for you. These sites match up coupons from stores with coupons from manufacturer and special promotions, like “buy one get one free”, to get you products that are next to nothing, free, or in some instances, money-makers. A money-maker is just what it sounds like. It is a situation where the coupons and promotions are a higher value than the cost of the product, and you can find them all the time. Some stores may not actually open the register and give you cash, but most will allow you to use the overage from that product to offset the balance on other items you may be buying. There are a string of coupon sites that begin with ” iheart” that specialize in lining up the deals and coupons for you. For example, my grocery store in my area is Publix, so we find out about the deals there at iheartpublix.com. We also go to iheartCVS.com to find all the great free items for the week at our local drug store. Yes, they have free items every week. It requires an initial investment, but after that, the free items pay back CVS extra care bucks that allow us to keep rolling over the same original investment. My wife has been rolling over the same 25 bucks for about 2 years now and has amassed thousand of dollars worth of free deals. If you don’t have CVS in your area, Rite Aid and Walgreens have similar programs. Of course, there is an iheartRiteAid.com as well. Walgreens’ site is iheartwags.com. Target is another great store that offers great deals that can be combined with coupons. Target’s deal match up site is totallytarget.com. More great couponing sites I heart the mart Walmart, major grocery stores, and drugstores. hip 2 save More geared towards amazing internet deals that will save you a ton of money. Addicted to Saving Excellent site for store deals like Publix, Winn Dixie, Albertson’s, Target, Walmart, and many more. Southern Savers Great site to learn tactics and get coupons. Krazy Coupon Lady Very good site for beginners. Has deals for most of the country just click on ” find my store” in the upper left hand corner. There are all the drugstore deals as well. I Heart Kroger Great site for Kroger deals if that is in your area. Kroger does double coupon days! I Heart Saving Money Deals for Kroger, Food Lion, Ingles, Target and Walmart. I Heart Rite Aid Rite Aid is a great drugstore where you can get lots of freebies. Their rewards program is similar to CVS’ program. Free Printable and Online Coupon Sites Coupons.com Coupon Suzy Smart Source Red Plum All You Keep your eyes open for coupons when you go to the store. Many grocers keep a stack of weekly coupon books at the entrance of the store. Several stores have small coupon dispensers located on the shelves near the products they offer discounts for. Some stores have coupons on the back of the register receipts. Coupons are everywhere! Many folks assume there are never any coupons on the things they buy. Don’t bet on it. We get razors, soap, pasta, pasta sauce, toothpaste, Advil, granola bars, and many other items that we stockpile for long-term storage for free. Not every week, but when the deals come around, we stock up! How can I keep track of all of those coupons? You can purchase a simple multi-pocket binder to keep your coupons organized. Sometimes it is easier to just keep them in the sales paper until you find out about the deal from one of the websites I mentioned. We keep all the coupons in the paper they came in. We group them into all the flyers and booklets for the week, stick a post it with the date on top of the stack, and put a rubberband around them. Coupons as a Spouse Flipper. My wife has always understood and tolerated the prepping, but when she discovered couponing, it turned her into a full-fledged survivalist. She is always eager to show off her hauls and receipts. She will often mention that we may not need an item that she was able to get for free, but it might be a good barter item. Guys, you can coupon too. There is nothing more macho that having a six month stockpile of storable food and hygiene items that you bought with your normal weekly grocery budget. Practice Makes Perfect This is true for primitive skills, firearms training, and it is true for couponing. The more you do it, the better you will get. With a little practice, you will be building a stockpile that will benefit you “If times get tough or even if they don’t.” Couponers, what coupon sites do you use in your area? Leave the site and your state in the comments! Happy Prepping! MDG
  3. Interest rates soaring and new homes sales plunging are signs of stress fractures in a failing economy. Despite $85 billion per month in new money creation, the Fed has been unable to keep the economy above stall speed. Just the hint of taking away the punch bowl has sent bond markets plummeting. July new home sales dropped 13.4% from the previous month. The skyrocketing 10 year Treasury, which is the bench mark rate that lenders use to figure mortgage rates has almost doubled from its lows in May. The rate has risen from 1.6% in may to briefly touch 2.92% last week. Many of the sages that predicted the housing bubble like Peter Schiff, Nouriel Roubini, and Ron Paul have since warned of an even bigger bubble of sovereign debt. Even the world’s largest Bond fund manager, Bill Gross, compared the current bond market to a supernova. For those of you who don’t watch ‘Big Bang Theory’, a super nova is when a star, like our sun, burns enough gas to lose the density required to maintain enough gravity to keep all of the gases together. The gases expand to many times larger than the original size of the star. The gases burn up in a giant flash that sears any nearby plants orbiting around the star. Bill Gross went on to say that he recommends hard assets like gold. That is the equivalent of Hilary Clinton telling folks to vote for Rand Paul. The rapid rise in interest rates is definitely a cause to keep your eyes open. Whether the Fed is letting rates rise because they are anticipating higher inflation or if rates are rising because the Fed is losing control, both are bad news for a fragile economy. This week did see a brief respite from the rapid increase in Treasury yields due to the fear of yet another war that we can ill afford and have no business interfering in. How convenient. In other news, gold and silver have made a tremendous come back. At the time of writing, gold was at $1410, up from its low in June near $1200 per ounce. Silver has made an even more impressive recovery. It sits above $24 from its low right around $18.50 in June. That is a 30% jump in little more than two months. Gold and silver have served as stores of value since the dawn of time. Genesis 13:2 says ” Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.” Which fiat currency can you think of that has been around that long?
  4. Prepper Recon

    Syria- The Cost of Conflict

    Blood and Treasure The war drums are beating once again. It seems we are determined to get involved in yet another foreign conflict that we can ill afford. With the U.S. debt now at $17 trillion dollars, leadership from both sides of the aisle are supporting military action on a country that is little to no threat to the U.S. So what is this one going to cost us? The proposed strike alone is estimated to expend 200 to 300 tomahawk missiles which range from $600,000 to $1,400,000 each. So we can easily figure on $250,000,000 just in missiles. We currently have five destroyers and one amphibious ship positioned in the Mediterranean to effect the assault. I am not aware of any of those ships being able to run on sunshine, so we can assume they are using quite a bit of fuel. Destroyers hold around 500,000 gallons. At $3.50 a gallon, that is a cool $10 million just to get a fill up for all six ships. Speaking of gas. Iran has made threats in the past of closing the Strait of Hormuz. We could easily see oil prices jump 10% due to U.S. involvement in Syria. Can We Afford It? As I mentioned before, the U.S. debt is $17 trillion, and interest rates are spiking. During the 1980’s, the bench mark 10 year treasury rate jumped to 15.8%. If rates returned to even half of that level, interest only payments on our debt would be $1,343,000,000,000.00. That is more than half of the $2.5 trillion our government currently receives in annual revenue. At the 15.8% rate of the 1980’s, the interest payments on our current debt would exceed everything the government receives in revenue. So, yes, the potential for disaster is here. Read my recent article on Syria to learn more and get links to write your representatives and tell them we can’t afford another war. Happy prepping! Prepper Recon
  5. Roswell Crutchfield

    Homesteading on a Budget

    “Homesteading on a budget” is almost a repetitive phrase. It just seems natural; those that homestead, do so on a budget. Yet, looking through a lot of the websites and catalogs geared towards homesteaders, you would think it was a hobby for rich people who have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. The truth is basically the opposite. Not to say that all homesteaders are poor, but that they tend to spend a little more conservatively than most people, as they are naturally striving towards self-sufficiency. Below are some ideas that I came up for homesteading on a budget. If you think of any I may have missed, please leave it in the comment section below. Forage for food in your yard and the wild. (Make sure to have the landowner’s permission and do NOT eat anything that you are unsure of) Use rain water to water your lawn and/or garden. Make your own compost instead of buying it. Go to the library for your books and movies to research the homesteading lifestyle. Instead of spending money going “out” think of other ways to save money. For instance, go on a hike instead of joining a gym, cook instead of going out to eat, read a book or watch a movie from the library. The money saved can be used on something that you actually need. Visit Freecycle.org; there you can find all sorts of stuff that people are giving away. Craigslist is another website that has great deals and often free stuff. It is basically a free online classified section. Save on energy (there are SO many ways to do this): When you leave a room cut the lights off! Use energy saving appliances, CFL bulbs in your lights, cut the ac/heating off when away for long periods of time, use a power strip or a timer to cut off those vampires (you know all those little lights that are still blinking after you “cut off the lights”), when done charging things like cell phones and laptops – unplug them, use cold water detergent and even air dry your clothes on a clothesline (assuming you don’t have a HOA that frowns on that like we do). Use alternative energy. Things such as solar panels, geothermal, a gasifier, or wind turbines to save on your energy bill and, in some cases, even sell energy back to the power company (initially this can be quite expensive, but you can probably find grants or tax credits, both federal and state in some areas). Get Creative! Recycle things and re-purpose things for new projects. Think before you throw something away and see if you can devise a new use for it. Also, be on the lookout for things you can re-purpose elsewhere either from dumpster diving, garage sales, neighbor’s trash or anywhere else you see and can legally obtain materials. If you have to buy something then why not get it used? Check out Ebay and Amazon for pretty much anything. If you must buy something new, buy in bulk and/or when stuff is on sale if possible. Check out stores like Sam’s Club or Costco for bulk items. Stores like Dollar General, The Dollar Store, Family Dollar and such are great sources as well, but can be hit or miss. Clip coupons from the paper, save them from the grocery store line and scour the Internet. One site I use before ever making an Internet purchase is retailmenot.com. You can also use a search engine and look up “(name of company) and coupon”. You will usually get hits on any current coupons or deals going on at that store. Some are codes for online and others to be printed and used in the store. If you can use a coupon on something already on sale, so much the better.
  6. Roswell Crutchfield

    Camouflage Is Not Always The Best Camouflage

    It seems a lot of people of the preparedness mindset seem to be somewhat obsessed with camouflage. And when I say camouflage, I am talking about the mixed patterns designed to make one blend into their surroundings. Merriam-Webster dictionary describes camouflage as follows: the disguising especially of military equipment or installations with paint, nets, or foliage; also: the disguise so applied concealment by means of disguise behavior or artifice designed to deceive or hide Too often, I see people focus on the first definition while forgetting the second. However, in many settings today, camouflage patterns make you stand out more than you would without them. If one wants to really conceal themself, the best plan is just to blend in. This idea of blending in can be applied to just about everything and takes camouflage to an entirely new level. This is what it means to become “the grey man”; a being of total inconspicuousness, this is true camouflage. First, let’s talk about clothing. It seems like recently camouflage clothes have become part of fashion, and not for actual concealment. You can walk into just about any mall or Walmart in America right now and someone will be in there wearing camouflage clothes. Guess what? He sticks out more than golf pants in the woods! If you aren’t in the woods, camouflage clothing makes you more obvious. I’ll say that again. If you aren’t in the woods, camouflage makes you more obvious. Instead, try to wear clothes that allow you to blend in. This is real camouflage! Remember, the sheepdog is so effective because he can blend in; otherwise, everyone assumes you are a wolf. For instance, I wear cargo pants almost every day, but I don’t walk around in military BDUs (battle dress uniforms), I wear khakis. And nobody looks twice. This concept of hiding in plain sight by blending in can be applied to almost every aspect of one’s life, even their home. For instance, one could spend all kinds of money making a 20 foot tall barbed wire security fence, post all kinds of threatening signs, and it will work… to an extent. Sooner or later, someone is going to think, “If this guy spent so much money keeping people out, then there must be something good in there worth stealing.” Instead, why not try to make your security a little less obvious. You can still have a formidable fence that looks more aesthetically appealing and people won’t think about the utilitarian aspect. Instead of a sign that reads, “Trespassers will be shot, survivors will be shot again”; go with a simple “No Trespassing” sign. They basically say the same thing, but the less threatening one doesn’t advertise that you have guns in the house. Remember, a lock on a door only keeps honest people honest. So, you want to redirect the not-so-honest person’s attention elsewhere and avoid the conflict all together. Another mistake I see people make is on their vehicles and the stickers they put on them. I understand the draw to want to share your interests, as I have a TSP (The Survival Podcast) sticker on my car. However, when someone has like 10 stickers for the NRA it becomes obvious that you may have a gun. Many people think that would warn people off and it will, for some, but on the real criminal element, it has the opposite effect. They aren’t scared because they plan on getting the jump on you first; which immediately puts them at an advantage. Another thing I see are these stickers with all the family members, their names, and even their favorite activities. To me, this is tantamount to putting your social security number on your car. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love wearing camouflage patterns and don’t always keep it to the woods. However, I am well aware of how people perceive me when doing so and sometimes change so to blend in. This isn’t a fashion thing and I wouldn’t look down on someone wearing camouflage pattern in public. I am speaking to the mindset of what it means to be “the grey man”; to blend in so completely that you are, for all respects, invisible. Truly think about your goals and make sure you aren’t working cross-purposes and be mindful of the personal information that you may be sharing in public without thinking about it.
  7. Roswell Crutchfield

    Monthly Home Maintenance

    It is nearing the end of the month, which for me means it is almost time to go through my monthly home maintenance checklist. Your home is your most valuable asset and it deserves to be taken care of. Monthly home maintenance isn’t as daunting as some people think, but when put off, it can really add up and, in some cases, it will come back to bite you if neglected for too long. The list below may not be a complete one for your home and some of the things listed may not apply to you. So, I encourage you to use my list as a basis for your own. Furthermore, I encourage anyone that thinks I forgot something to please add it in the Comments section. Home Maintenance Checklist Test your smoke/fire alarms, as well as your carbon monoxide detector(s)- [replace the batteries every 6 months at minimum]. Change the filters on your air conditioning system and furnace. Check all other filters, purifiers, and water softeners; such as, those on your refrigerator and water pipes. Check the disposal and all drains for obstructions and clean accordingly. Check the level on your fire extinguisher(s) and replace if necessary. Make sure your generator(s), sump pump and battery back-ups are all in working order, if applicable. If you store gasoline, and you should for emergencies, make sure to rotate your cans by putting the old gas in your vehicle and filling the cans with new gas. If you have a bug-out-bag/72 hour kit or whatever, check the food you have packed to make sure it hasn’t expired. Confirm that your family’s emergency plan has remained unchanged and all numbers and routes are current. Check the air pressure on your vehicle’s tires, as well as the treads. Check all fluids on your vehicles and lawn maintenance equipment, as well as their air filters. CLEAN!!! You should constantly be cleaning your house so it doesn’t all pile up. However, take this time to clean all the things you don’t normally get to. Hardly anyone likes to clean, but you need to do it, and not just because guests might come by. Cleaning the home keeps things from physically deteriorating, improves the resale value, and most importantly it keeps you healthy. Mold, dust, and bacteria are more than just gross; they can cause some serious health issues. As I said, the above list is not a complete home maintenance list, but more of a jumping off point. So, take my list and tailor it to you, your family, your home, and your situation. Also, there are many things, such as cleaning the gutters or sweeping the chimney, that need to be done to maintain the home, but don’t need to be done every month. These items either need to be on the list too or have their own list because they are no less important. Take home maintenance seriously because Murphy’s Law dictates that the worst thing will come up at the worst time; the more you can do to maintain things, the more prepared you will be.
  8. Roswell Crutchfield

    Homemade Applesauce Recipe

    It is harvest time for apples, as well as pears and other fruit. This recipe is for making homemade applesauce in the crock-pot, but it can be adapted to many different fruits. For example, my wife and I love pearsauce, especially with some pork. I would also suggest purchasing a hand crank apple peeler/slicer/corer as it will make the process much easier and faster. Ingredients: 6 Medium sized apples 1/2 cup Water 1 tbsp. Cinnamon 1 tbsp. Sugar 1/2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract – imitation is just that, imitation Directions: Peel, slice and core the apples (make sure to peel. I once tried to leave it on to “make it chunky” and it did not work out. LOL). Put the apples in the crock-pot. Pour the water, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar over the top of the apples. Cover crock-pot and cook on low for about 4 hours, stirring every couple of hours. (If you doubled the recipe, like I did, then you may want cook it up to 5 hours) Lastly, either mash up with a potato masher or toss in the blender until it reaches the desired consistency. ENJOY! *TIP : When the applesauce is finishing up in the crock-pot, get the water bath or pressure canner ready. The applesauce will already be hot so this way you won’t have to heat it twice.
  9. Roswell Crutchfield

    DIY: How To Make Can Lanterns

    Can lanterns are fun, cheap, and easy to make. You can use an aluminum can or a tin one; both will work. This project is only limited by your creativity. You can cut all kinds of designs into the cans if you want or keep it simple and just make them functional. You can use can lanterns in all types of ways: to create ambiance in a backyard by hanging them from trees, to provide a light to read by, and anything in between. What You Will Need: Can Cutting Tool (Knife/Tin Snips/Multi-tool) Old Candle Stub or Tea-light Candle *Optional* – Wire Directions: 1. Cut a big “U”shaped door in the side of the can 2. Carefully bend it upwards. The edges will be sharp so be careful not to cut yourself. 3. Put the candle in the can and that’s it! Some advantages to this are that you can see without giving away your position or subjecting the flame to the wind. OPTIONAL If you want to you can go a step further and make hanging can lanterns. Cut two holes towards the top of the can, on either side of the opening so, that they are opposite each other 2. Take some wire, strip both ends and make hooks 3. Fit each end of the wire through a hole and hang The best thing about these is that you can make them fast, and you can make them anywhere. Pretty much everyone I know carries a knife and a lighter, and if you don’t, then you should. Cans themselves can be found anywhere trash can be, which is everywhere. So, all you need is a piece of candle or a tea-light. These weigh basically nothing, and can be added to anyone’s gear without any noticeable difference. Don’t forget that what I have shown is the most basic and utilitarian design for the can lantern. One can go all out creating different designs by cutting shapes into the can. You just have to make sure to leave yourself room to get the candle in and light it.
  10. What really is “freedom”, and can we ever attain it? Some years back, my frustration with and in life slowly began to dissipate after an industry productivity consultant inadvertently convinced me that there were two simple rules of life that trump all others: “What is, is.” (And, therefore, what isn’t, isn’t). “Nobody cares.” On rule #2, he went on to say that perhaps your mother really does care, and maybe your spouse does too, on occasion; but it is best to conduct your life as if not one other soul really cares about how you feel, how your day has gone, whether you are successful, or how unjust the world has been to you. I think you get the idea. He suggested that if we were having trouble understanding these rules and their implications, then to purchase “The Tao of Pooh” (Benjamin Hoff) in the airport newsstand and read it on the flight home. He offered to refund the cost of the book to anyone who, after doing this, felt that they had wasted the 2 hours it would take to read the book. I “bit” and finished the book for the first time before the plane pulled up to the destination gate. Mr. Hoff’s purpose in the book is to introduce westerners to the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism, using the characters from the children’s book “Winnie-the-Pooh.” (If you research Taoism (or Daoism), you will find an endless amount of information, all of which becomes overwhelming in short order, and most of which seems to be pulled into a religious or metaphysical direction that I do not wish to pursue). Pooh knows who he is, he doesn’t complicate things by attempting to do things as others might try to have him do. He keeps it quite simple: he is a bear, bears like honey; therefore, seeking honey is his overriding purpose in life. Everything else is just a footnote. The other characters all demonstrate the traits that tend to hold us back in life – Piglet is indecisive, Eeyore is a pessimistic fretter, Rabbit is too clever for his own good and never accomplishes simple tasks, Owl is pompously and uselessly over-educated or “wise”, and Tigger doesn’t know his own limitations. Pooh? Well, he just wakes up, considers his options and generally just looks for his honey. So what in the hell do Taoism or Winnie-the-Pooh have to do with prepping, preparedness, modern-survivalism or whatever term one wishes to use? Consider Jack Spirko’s primary tenet: “Everything You Do Should Improve Your Position in Life Even If Nothing Goes Wrong” This is a simple statement that supports the fact that preparedness is a process and not an endgame. Here is the deal: “Complete” preparedness and our ultimate survival is an illusion and unattainable, as we are all going to die no matter what we do to try and delay or prevent it. Funny thing, the literal translation of Tao is “path”, and most definitely NOT “destination.” Are you following me now? OK, so we cannot survive forever and we cannot possibly prepare for everything. Why bother? Recall the rule I referenced earlier, “What is, is.” Accept it. As a prepper, you can’t fall into the trap of focusing on the destination as there is no destination. (Anyone remember Y2K ?) Instead, you have to focus on the “path” or “journey.” Recognizing this is what makes life’s experiences always seem to work in your favor, i.e. “improves your position in life, even if nothing goes wrong.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Back to Hoff’s Pooh & Tao. From Benjamin Hoff, “The Tao of Pooh” “The Christmas presents once opened are Not So Much Fun as they were while we were in the process of examining, lifting, shaking, thinking about, and opening them. Three hundred sixty-five days later, we try again and find that the same thing has happened. Each time the goal is reached, it becomes Not So Much Fun, and we’re off to reach the next one, then the next one, then the next. That doesn’t mean that the goals we have don’t count. They do, mostly because they cause us to go through the process and it’s the process that makes us wise, happy, or whatever. If we do things in the wrong sort of way, it makes us miserable, angry, confused, and things like that. The goal has to be right for us, and it has to be beneficial, in order to ensure a beneficial process. But aside from that, it’s really the process that’s important.” A closing thought to follow on that last sentence: You will find a virtually unlimited amount of advice on how to be a successful “survivalist” or how to be prepared for anything and everything. It is overwhelming at the very least and mostly useless, although bits and pieces can be useful to YOU after you grasp that it is about YOU, not about THEM, or what THEY say YOU should do. Consider more from Mr Hoff, “We don’t need to shift our responsibilities onto the shoulders of some deified Spiritual Superman, or sit around and wait for Fate to come knocking at the door. We simply need to believe in the power that’s within us, and use it. When we do that, and stop imitating others and competing against them, things begin to work for us.” Specifically? Don’t procrastinate or be indecisive. (Piglet) Don’t be a pessimist worry-wart. (Eeyore) Keep it simple, i.e. don’t be too clever. (Rabbit) Don’t overthink it or believe you have to know everything before you start. (Owl) Don’t ignore your limitations. (Tigger) What’s left? Keep it simple, move forward, get on the path. (Pooh) It seems that today the world is a mess, as messy as it ever has been, and scores of potentially catastrophic trends appear to be firmly in place. While I will agree that the world is a mess, I’m not buying into the “things are so much worse than they ever have been” mentality. Perhaps humanity’s bus is actually driving over the cliff this time, once and for all; but so what? You and I can’t stop it. (I doubt that this is the end of times. Every generation thinks they have challenges far greater than any previous; let’s not forget that every generation has tools and opportunities not seen by any previous. Perhaps it balances out more so that we give credit?) It all goes back to the first rule of life referenced in the beginning of this article: “What is, is.” What is going to happen is what is going to happen. It is the nature of the world, the most complex of systems in which, ironically, we try and come up with simplistic reasons for everything that happens. Usually there is no reason, it is just the may nature is. When we stop falling into this trap, our ability to control the direction of our life becomes much clearer. We can begin to live our lives on our own terms and not through the cattle chute of a life that society funnels us into. I would maintain that this is as close to true freedom as we can come. Yet this is an elusive and difficult path to stay on because it is so easy to be pulled back in by the Eeyores, Rabbits, and Owls of the world. At virtually every moment of every day, we are sucked back towards the distractions that suck the freedom from us; besides people and institutions with substantial agendas (politicians and commercial enterprises come to mind), the culprits more often are well-meaning people in our lives who just don’t know otherwise. This is what is so powerful about Pooh’s Tao; he interacts with world, yet still manages to keeps things simple and always moving back to the center of the path he has chosen. He flows with nature and takes it as it comes, and the more he does this, the more things seem to work out for him. I guess this is my point. Freedom is a mindset, a philosophy of independence that starts inside of us, that eventually manifests itself in our actions and eventually is present both consciously and subconsciously in every decision we make. We live our lives freely, we take care of ourselves according to our priorities (and not those of the “system” or society), and it seems that eventually the less we worry about things, the less we have to worry about. Well, at least it seems to work this way for me (and Pooh, of course); freedom is my journey, not my destination. A not so serious moment during a backyard rice harvest.
  11. Cohutt

    CD3WD: A Mega-Reference for Homesteaders

    If I could keep only one reference source in a post-apocalyptic world, I know which one I would choose. Before I fill you in on my choice, I’ll go ahead and declare that I’m not planning or preparing for “the apocalypse” or teotwawki. I realize that if I am wrong I’ll just have to pay for my lack of foresight… This being said, having available almost all of the information needed to reconstruct a functioning society in Mad Maxx times is a pretty cool thing to consider. This would be the case even if I’m just looking at “how to’s” for a whole slew of things that today we have in place and take for granted. (If you’re reading this article you probably are much more aware than the average person, so you’ll probably agree with my next statement.) In my experience, the most basic knowledge and skills are the very ones that are increasingly void in the average person today. The “average person” category includes those otherwise successful and intelligent people who are just plain clueless on a lot of very simple things; we all know these people. More often than not, the building blocks of a more self-sufficient lifestyle are built upon these basics. This long introduction is intended to qualify the usefulness of really basic reference material; information that often seems too primitive to apply in the developed world anymore. So lets let’s look at the things that are most needed in the underdeveloped parts of the world. At the same time, we could perhaps increase our quality of life here in “modern” society. (Plus, a whole lot of the information on this site is just plain interesting even if it isn’t all useful to your particular situation.) The site I am referring to is cd3wd.com, but this main link isn’t the best entry into this massive online reference (more on this later). A catchy name, isn’t it? I’m still not sure exactly where it came from other than it is an acronym, of which the “3wd” part stands for “3rd world development”. I’m guessing that the “cd” part refers to compact disks, as DVD technology was a luxury at the time this site was conceived. What is it? It is a collection of documents and links of mostly public domain documents that were originally created in paper form by various international development agencies. They have been fastidiously assembled and maintained by an expatriate Scotsman named Alex Weir, currently residing in Botswana. An engineer by vocation, he apparently had an epiphany some years ago and set out on a new mission in life to assimilate the substantial reference information that existed “somewhere”. The twist was he realized that this information is what is most needed, yet least accessible, in those areas of the world which had little or no internet access. For the last decade or so, he has dedicated himself to developing this resource and making it available both online and offline (very inexpensively) for those areas where the “bandwidth” gold standard might be a marginally reliable dial-up telco connection. Does anyone remember those from say…. 1994 or so? On a side note, this website seems worthy of support both for the motive and the delivery of material to its target- the impoverished areas of the world that modest improvements in the basics of living would provide exponential relief from a miserable existence. This is the ultimate “teach a man to fish” effort. Consider supporting the site and/or purchasing the inexpensive DVD sets of this content (this is probably a good redundancy to build in ahead of the “apocalypse”, you know, just in case . He will even send you a preloaded 500 gigabyte external hard drive if you wish to spend $180 for convenience. I recommend entering the site via this link, described as the “now-superceded classic version of c3wd” http://cd3wd.com/cd3wd_40/cd3wd/index.htm Before you get lost browsing the titles, consider that this page alone contains over 4,300 of them. In order to get some grasp of how to best present samples in this article, I ended up cutting and pasting the titles into excel so that I could tag and filter/sort titles a bit according to the subject matter. Remember that these aren’t glossy “Popular Mechanics” or even “Backwoods Home Magazine” or “Mother Earth News” type references. For the most part, these start with the building blocks for solving problems and dealing with issues that we in the modern western world, in most cases, haven’t even stopped to think about. The “tip of the iceberg” follows. Construction / Shelter / Daily Living Related Reference Sources Think outside of the box with your building materials Construction – SKAT Appropriate Building Materials Woodworking – GTZ Carpentry Construction – Habitat Low Energy Construction Construction – VITA – Bridges Historic Structures – Timber Structures Water & Sanitation – SKAT Water Filtration Water & Sanitation – VITA – Water Storage and Treatment Appropriate Technology – VITA – Cooling Passive Appropriate Technology – UNEP Fuelsaving Stoves Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Solar Cooking Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Solar Distillation cd3wd425.zip – The Complete Book of Heating with Wood Agriculture/Livestock/Food Storage Reference Sources Maybe should be titled “Where there is no vet”? Veterinary – BF Animal Disease Veterinary – IIRR DIY Vet Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Raising Ducks 1: How to Begin Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – A Complete Handbook on Back-Yard and Commercial Rabbit Production Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Guidelines for slaughtering, meat cutting and further processing Fisheries – BF Freshwater Fish Farming There are municipal codes against backyard chickens, but are there any against fish? Fisheries – CDI Tilapia Farming Food Processing – ILO SmallScale Fish Processing Food Processing – PracticalAction – Biltong Food Processing – PracticalAction – Drying of Foods (Dozens more) Food Processing – VITA – Flour Mill Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Centrifugal Honey Extractor Livestock – DFID-NRI-Mystole – Cheese making Food Processing – PracticalAction – Banana Beer (Everyone wants to know how to make banana beer don’t they? Health Related Reference Sources This title caught my attention. Health – Hesperian Where There is No Doctor Health – Hesperian Where There is No Dentist (The title alone made me cringe.) Health – MSF Med Minor Surgery Remote Areas Health – TZ Tradit Medical Plants Health – VITA – ORT – Oral Rehydration Therapy Health – WHO Care Normal Birth (Yikes) How to build interesting things that would be extremely handy in a jam (and find a use for that old bicycle in the garage): Appropriate Technology – VITA – Pedal Power Little things we might want to try even though we can purchase them cheaply & with ease Appropriate Technology – VITA – Soap Making Appropriate Technology – PC Tool Making Things I wouldn’t expect to be on this site: Miscellaneous – VSO Math Games DFID-NRI-Mystole – How to run a meeting (Obviously, not many people in my organization have read this one; I think I’ll keep this and provide it as a reference to higher management in my firm.) The list above barely scratches the surface of the breadth of reference information here and on most subjects, the depth of information is phenomenal. To prove this point, I’ve provided all of the related links to “micro-hydro” generation. I find this more interesting than solar or wind or about any other alternative energy source; I would love to build something just for the challenge. (Unfortunately, I have no convenient and perpetually falling water source at present, so this will have to wait.) Appropriate Technology – SKAT Micro Hydro Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Power Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Wheels Appropriate Technology – VITA – Water Wheels Overshot Appropriate Technology – DTU – microhydro – pumps-as-turbines (PDF) Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Micro HydroPower Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro III Appropriate Technology – PracticalAction – Microhydro Financing Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Micro (Water Power) Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Mini (Water Power) Appropriate Technology – VITA – Hydro Power (Water Power) Appropriate Technology – VITA – Banki Water Turbine cd3wd405.zip – Cost Reduction Considerations in Small Hydropower Equipment cd3wd405.zip – Hints on the Development of Small WaterPower cd3wd405.zip – MicroHydro: Civil Engineering Aspects cd3wd405.zip – MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Operation and Maintenance Manual cd3wd405.zip – Low-head hydro power cd3wd405.zip – Micro-hydropower–a working example…By Greg and Bonnie Chan cd3wd407.zip – SKAT – The Dhading MicroHydropower Plant: cd3wd408.zip – A Pelton MicroHydro Prototype Design cd3wd408.zip – MicroHydropower Schemes in Pakistan cd3wd408.zip – Nepal: Private Sector Approach to Implementing MicroHydropower Schemes cd3wd430.zip – A Design Manual for Water Wheels cd3wd430.zip – Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T2 cd3wd430.zip – Design of CrossFlow Turbine BYS/T3 cd3wd430.zip – Design of Small Water Storage and Erosion Control Dams cd3wd430.zip – Design of Small Water Turbines for Farms and Small Communities cd3wd430.zip – Harnessing Water Power for Home Energy cd3wd430.zip – Hydropower cd3wd430.zip – Industrial Archaeology of Watermills and Waterpower cd3wd430.zip – Local Experience with MicroHydro Technology cd3wd430.zip – Manual for the Design of a Simple Mechanical WaterHydraulic Speed Governor cd3wd430.zip – MicroHydro Power: Reviewing an Old Concept cd3wd430.zip – Mill Drawings cd3wd430.zip – MultiPurpose Power Unit with Horizontal Water Turbine: Basic Information cd3wd430.zip – Small Earth Dams cd3wd430.zip – Watermills with Horizontal Wheels cd3wd430.zip – Directory of Manufacturers of Small Hydropower Equipment cd3wd430.zip – Micro Hydro Electric Power cd3wd430.zip – Microhydropower Handbook Volume 233 cd3wd430.zip – Microhydropower Handbook Volume 234 cd3wd430.zip – Mini Hydro Power Stations cd3wd430.zip – New Himalayan Water Wheels cd3wd430.zip – Small Hydroelectric Powerplants cd3wd430.zip – Small Scale Hydropower Technologies cd3wd430.zip – MicroHydropower Sourcebook cd3wd430.zip – Small Hydropower for Asian Rural Development cd3wd430.zip – Micro Pelton Turbines cd3wd430.zip – Compendium in Small Hydro cd3wd430.zip – Simple water mills – Cloudburst 1 And just to brush up on your electrical engineering knowledge, should you figure out the mechanical part of micro-hydro, A way to expand your understanding of electricity? Electrical – IBE Electrical Engineering Intro There are over 4,200 more documents & books; poke around some and I promise that you will find something useful regardless of your situation.
  12. In the very early spring of 2012 I was fed up with the damage from slugs and snails on the various crowded greens I overwintered in the rickety poly-tunnel. Apparently the environment that was so perfect for my winter greens also was the ultimate season extender for these slimy little gastropods. I’m sure that these slimy little villains fulfill some beneficial function in nature, although I can’t currently name a single positive contribution that slugs and snails provide to my little ecosystem. Now before I continue towards the ultimate point of this post, let me offer a comment on slug control methods. I know about beer traps, but given the scope of my problem, that’s a lot of beer to set out every night and I would only be slowing down the assault, not eliminating it. I have used the enviro-friendly/pet-safe yeast baits and they seem to work. However, they are certainly not cheap when you consider that they have to be “reapplied” every couple of weeks. I won’t consider the Ortho industrial slug poison, even though it probably would wipe the population out in short order. I really don’t trust the unintended consequences of a heavy application of this type of thing, especially since there are all sorts of pet warnings on the label (not in the fine print even, but a big graphic built into the packaging design.) I have domestic pets and we have neutered/fixed a feral colony of cats that occupies and patrols a rickety commercial plumbing warehouse nearby. So, other than hand picking slugs every night for the rest of eternity, what might a proactive garden planner do to stop a growing slug control issue? The answer is that we must look for a balanced solution, abandoning unsustainable control methods in favor of sustainable ones. The sustainable strategy is to attract the right predators to the garden, and amphibians are the champions of slug predation. I needed a garden frog pond. Frogs and toads are the anti-slug; they are ferocious nocturnal terminators of all things mollusk that creep out from under things at night to eat my lettuce, spinach, cabbage, artichokes and, as mentioned earlier, just about everything we like to grow and eat. With the right habitat for toads, frogs and other amphibians, eventually my slug and snail population will be reduced and held in balance, with no poisoned or drunken animals on the property. So I built an amphibian pond. Not a fish pond, not a pristine circulated and filtered waterscape that my mother’s garden club peers would ooh and ahh over. No, I needed a mostly still, cloudy, algae ringed amphibian pond surrounded by heavy cover. I needed it to be large enough to allow for a balanced ecosystem to develop that would offer things attractive to other creatures deemed as desirable. Before discussing some of the things I considered as I selected the location of my little pond, I’ll admit that I was more than a little skeptical that I would actually be able to attract frogs and toads to this a tiny pond in the middle of my little urban historic district neighborhood. I still pushed ahead, with weak blessing from Mrs. Cohutt, who probably shared my skepticism and most definitely had higher priority projects identified for me to pursue. OK, so what are features that make a pond attractive for frog procreation while, at the same time, increasing the survivability odds for any offspring hatched? Access: The steep sides of decorative fish ponds don’t work for amphibians; like swimming pools, they become the equivalent of “roach motels” for frogs: They can check in, but they can’t check out. You have to make sure a sufficient amount of the pond edge has a mild grade to it, like a beach. While frogs are quite adept at hopping into water, they aren’t so good at hopping out of water. Cover: Your pond design and site selection should incorporate two types of cover. First, make sure there is at least one deep hole in the pond, something sufficient to allow for both tadpoles and frogs to hide from potential predators from above, mainly birds and cats. Additionally, consider in your site selection your ability to provide some cover along a side (or more) of the pond as staging areas for both the young frogs as they make their way out of the pond into their permanent adult environment and for the adults and they make their way into the pond at dusk in order to make more young frogs. The cover can be appropriate live plantings or it can be piles of brush, logs, rocks, etc. Surface area: It is suggested that the larger the surface area or your pond, the more likely it will be found quickly. I have read of cases where ponds go undiscovered for a season or more; this would certainly be disappointing for most of us, especially given the effort required to put one in. The good news is that a freeform pond that uses a flexible liner tends to spread out a bit, if you are trying to build a shallower “beach” side for the access requirements described above. Bigger is better, and more volume also allows a steadier and more balanced ecosystem to develop. A thriving and balanced ecosystem gives your pond things like natural, no maintenance, mosquito control via predatory insects like diving beetles and water striders. Water quality: This one is counter-intuitive to a certain degree. Throw out your own image of what “quality water” means. Clear, cool water circulated through a filter looks nice and doesn’t leave your pets with what we have come to describe as “pond breath” or “algae breath”, but it isn’t what frogs seem to consider ideal. Stagnant water with a little color to it and perhaps some duckweed or algae growing along the surface seems to be in much higher demand for breeding amphibians. Location: Besides the availability of cover, consider it better to locate your ponds lower vs. higher in your property’s grade line. I guess water flows downhill, and somehow these creatures know that it is more likely to collect low vs. high, all else being equal. Likewise, if one border of your property is a parking lot and another is a more natural area or woods, by all means, place priority on the areas closer to the natural side. Back to March of 2012… I decided on a location, bought a pond liner from Home Depot, and started digging. My plan was to have the pond overflow into a bog area that would support bog type plants like ferns, exotic nutshedge grasses, and hostas. I set up a couple of misting nozzles running off of the well system that would constantly top the pond off, as well as cool the air a bit during our hot Georgia summers. The light misting should provide enough water to keep the bog damp, but not so much as to run the pond too clear and “pristine” like a fish pond. Construction commenced: Eventually things began to grow out a bit and the pond began to blend into the scheme a bit: While things grew up enough last year enough to provide the adequate cover I sought for my amphibian friends, in the second season (this year) it completely transformed into a natural looking “amphibian-scape”. Would you agree? Amphibian Heaven So, there you have it. I built it as prescribed, but did they come? Boy, did they ever. We have had continuous chorus of Cope’s Gray tree frogs this year with a good number of toad calls interspersed after good rains. I caught a little of last year’s hatch as they tried out their lungs for the first time. Additionally, the pond has proven to be a successful breeding habitat for dragonflies, including the Pondhawk shown below, and the big daddy of all dragonflies in this area, the Common Green Darner (the exuvia under the lily pad belong to these). Note that dragonflies are a good thing, too; they are ferocious predators of other insects and are handy in the pesticide free zone that I have created here. My slug issue seems to be improving, although we still have a lot of improvement to make. I’m pleased with the results and am convinced that an addition like this to a garden brings a world of benefits (Oh, and did I mention the mockingbirds are much less interested in pecking a hole in my tomatoes for a drink anymore?) In closing, let me show one last picture, an android taken from this morning of moderately adequate quality. Before I showered and dressed for work, I pulled together a sampler of fresh herbs for a caterer who had expressed interest in putting together an arrangement for fresh herbs. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a movement in the basil that I thought was an insect of some sort, maybe a grasshopper that needed to be hopped out of existence. Upon closer examination, I was able to find the creature, but it wasn’t a hopper, it was a member of the growing local slug and bug eating army my little pond had created. Do you see him? Tree Frog in Basil ??? Yes, I didn’t think so. How about now: Spotted! Build it. They will come.
  13. Cohutt

    Tomato Processing Tips for the Home Grower

    First, let me toss out a disclaimer. I’ve only been doing this for a little while and am definitely learning as I go; I had no aspirations to do anything other than this little garden I installed in June 2009. The first stab at growing my own food circa 2009 Today this is my view from the sun room, and I sometimes feel like I have a tiger by the tail. The same backyard in August 2013, a food growing carnival I am a little overwhelmed with tomatoes (again) at the moment and, as I have been processing them, I put together this list of tips. I had to learn these on my own, usually the hard way. This doesn’t mean nobody told me, or that I didn’t read them along the way; it is likely I just forgot or was too stubborn to listen if someone did offer any of these up for consideration. Tomato processing tip #1: You better have some big pots, with one of them at least 16 quarts, with a decent copper or aluminum disc base (big batches are easier to scorch/burn and the disc distributes the heat more evenly across the base). If you are even moderately successful in your production, small pots mean a lot of smaller batches; which means less time for things like garden tending, family, and sleep. While I’d love to have some $300 top shelf AllClad pots (but only if someone wishes to give them too me), I found a decent enough 16 quart stainless pot at WalMart for under $50 bucks that had a good disc underneath, as well as a nice fitting glass lid and insulated handles. 16 Quarts of $49 WalMart stainless steel Tomato processing tip #2: Get a pressure canner, a big (see big pot explanation above) 21 quarts one. Pressure canners allow you to put up more types of food (meats, low acid vegetables). If hot water bath canning is all that is needed in a situation, then you can use the big pot as a hot water bath canner. It won’t work the other way around. I opted for the “All American” brand vs the Presto (built like a tank, 6 locking lugs, no gasket to align/maintain). I bought the 15 quart, not the 21, and there have been times I would have liked a single double decker batch of pint jars, instead of a single layer in two different batches. I wish I had gone with the 21, even though the 15 covers most needs. Heavy Duty All American 15 Quart Pressure Canner (On my NG grill side burner) Tomato processing tip #3: Have a conveniently located and sheltered outdoor heat source. Canning is a humid, heat producing process, that can really make your kitchen unpleasant. It is also messy (for 95% of us anyway) and noisy. Even though my canner is built like a tank, it is a little unnerving to have it hissing and wobbling inside on our range, because the kitchen opens into the family room. Note the location of the canner above, outside. Tomato processing tip #4: Get a tomato/vegetable press or strainer. This is a huge time saver with all things tomato, plus you can make apple butter without skinning the apples, and a batch of thornless blackberries can be seeded and cored in no time. I chose the Victorio due to good reviews and a substantially cheaper price. It was among the least expensive and was the only one at the time that had a bunch of user reviews on Amazon. It definitely has been money well spent. I also picked up the extra accessories that include different sieve cones for different applications. The Victorio’s product page gives a pretty decent idea of how it works. Victorio Strainer and accessory kit Victorio Strainer doing its thing Tomato processing tip #5: If you are growing a lot of tomatoes, then you’d better come up with a plan, i.e. a “ripening system” and find space to bring in your tomatoes for sorting/selection, both for fresh eating and processing. I try to get them off the vines when they begin to turn and let them finish inside, where they are safe from the tree-rats, mockingbirds, and other vermin that conspire to destroy or damage them if left on the vine. This leaves me with a wide range of ripeness among the tomato herd in my sunroom; so (as difficult as it can be) I still have to pay attention. Why was this a priority this year? First, consider how I did it last year. Tomatoes ripening, just one bad tomato away from a ruined tabletop finish Now here is the same table, as it stands, as I type this article, upstairs in a spare bedroom, in the middle of being refinished. Tomato table refinishing project (oops) Yes, if a single bad tomato is missed and manages to take a dump on a table finish, that table finish is done for. I learned the hard way. This year, I’m using a handful of tray inserts for the larger Rubbermaid bin; these are only a couple bucks at WalMart and they nest together for easy off season storage. One improvement I plan is to add, a layer of plastic garden fencing (the ½ inch mesh stuff) to elevate them from the bottom of the bin slightly. It would make for a lot less tomato inspecting and washing if one goes bad and oozes. Plan B, using cheap Rubbermaid bin inserts to manage ripening tomatoes. Tomato processing tip #6: Plan just a little ahead of time and come up with a good way to store canning jars, both empty and full. I never dreamed we’d have so many in the rotation at this point. I am not sure what my “right way” to store empties is yet, but I’m pretty sure this is the wrong way: The wrong way to store empty canning jars; fixing this is a future project. Tomato processing tip #7 : Remove the rings when you are checking the seals after the jars have cooled. As a new canning enthusiast, this was difficult to do as it seemed counter intuitive. They “can” stay there, but you might miss it if a seal breaks and I promise you they will become cemented to the glass within a few days if left. And, when you do remove them, wash them. Tomatoes are acidic enough to corrode them to ruin in just a season if any residue is left in them. Clean rings drying for their next assignment Tomato processing tip #8: Spend a little more and get some good knives, especially a chef’s knife of some sort, and a good paring knife. I never knew what I was missing until I was given a good German steel chef’s knife (Zwilling JA Henckels Twin Four Star line). A hollow edge, Santoku style, one that was sharp and well-balanced for handling all the chopping that I was suddenly doing. You will be chopping and slicing and peeling continuously, so you might as well be properly equipped with safer and more effective tools. Quality assortment of kitchen knives makes life much easier during harvest season Tomato processing tip #9: If you are going to invest in good knives, you’d better learn how to care for them. Do yourself a favor and invest in a sharpening system and some wooden or bamboo cutting boards. The cheap, hard plastic/acrylic boards are hell on knives. I didn’t realize this until I really had done a number on the edge of the Santoku knife previously mentioned. The battered edge of a what was an excellent knife, thanks to sustained use on an acrylic cutting board. Bamboo boards are cheap at outlet and liquidator stores like TJ Maxx; they wear like iron, look nice, and don’t ruin the edge of your good knives. As for sharpening, I have a quick double “V” sharpener from Henckel that is good for a three-pass freshening up of a cutting edge in the middle of a big chopping session. I also invested in a GATCO 10006 diamond system that does a great job on all blades, but is mandatory for serrated and single edge blades. A quick and effective knife sharpener and a blade pampering bamboo cutting board These aren’t earth shattering revelations by any means, but hopefully one or more will help someone get ahead a little faster than I did. Good luck.
  14. Cohutt

    Hyperinflation 101

    For the better part of 4+ years now we’ve been hearing of how the Fed has been “printing money” with many dire warnings of eminent hyperinflation. It hasn’t happened. So why has inflation remained within the “normal” ranges during this period, or more specifically where is the hyperinflation? While a lot of people like to sling the term around, very few can actually come up with much more than the “money printing” retort or “Weimar Germany!” or “Zimbabwe!” when asked to explain hyperinflation. For a while there, I can’t say I had anything more lucid to say about the subject; so a few months ago I spent a little time trying to understand it a bit more. If you wish to learn more, a good first step would be the 2012 EconTalk Podcast where host Russ Roberts interviewed guest Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University and The Cato Institute. The topic was the hyperinflation episodes of the past century documented in a recent white paper he co-authored. (The podcast can be found here along with additional information and a transcript.) I found it interesting and perhaps the most comprehensive listing of actual hyperinflation we’ve experienced in modern history. Through tedious digging he has documented 57 such episodes; I recommend you review the list via the EconTalk link provided above. Before we plunge into my $2.00 summary of hyperinflation, take note that there is a big difference between high “normal” inflation and hyperinflation. We aren’t talking about the “great inflation of the late 70’s and early 80’s (the peak in CPI was 1979-1981, where the annual rates were in excess of 11%, 13% and 10% sequentially. For more on the US inflation during the period consider this in depth white paper from the ST Louis Fed) The “red line” measure used by Mr. Hanke in his study was the one put forth by Philip Cagan in 1956: A price level increase of at least 50% in one month defines the onset of a hyperinflation period. When the monthly inflation rate fell below 50% per month and remained below this level for a year, it was done. If asked to name the most common cause of hyperinflation, I think most people with at least a small exposure to economics would provide something along the lines of “hyperinflation is caused by central banks printing money to finance deficit spending”. While central banks or their equivalent almost always are complicit in hyperinflation episodes, the lethal level of deficits actually tend to coincide or closely follow the onset of hyperinflation versus actually leading it. The central bank influences likewise seem to be more of a parallel versus a leading contributor. It’s not to say that countries were not running deficits and their central banks were not playing their games prior to each episode; my impression is that all were to some degree. It is just that these activities seemed to more often have resulted from another event or condition that provided the unusual and substantial disruption to economic activity. These shocks tended to be of the “Black Swan” variety as described in Nassim Taleb’s writings. Generally three common characteristics are shared among the “textbook” episodes of the last 100 years. Large debts payable in another currency (including gold) which become increasingly expensive to the local debtor currency. One or more disproportionately severe supply (production) disruptions or shocks to the economy. The most relevant cause seems to be war, both from the diversion of resources from normal economic activity, as well as destruction of the means of production, infrastructure etc. Output is severely disrupted and the demand equation becomes destructively unbalanced. Change of regime (with or without a war) has been a catalyst (Soviet Union breakup as an example) and economies heavily tied to certain commodities (either produced OR consumed) have sustained sufficient disruption in peaceful times. A feedback loop of some sort that turns on and/or accelerates the cycle and allows it to run out of control until any normal balancing mechanisms are rendered useless. Usually it seems this one is where central bank and political intervention, regardless of motive, tends to allow conditions #1 and #2 to coagulate and create the perfect storm. The woefully brief examples outlined below are intended to give you some basic examples of how these three conditions have played out together over the last 90 or so years. Weimar, Germany (1922-23) Debts owed in another currency: War reparations owed and required to be paid in gold. Supply disruption: WWI damage and the occupation of the industrial Ruhr valley afterwards. Feedback Loop: Trade imbalance (imports heavily outweighed exports) depreciated the Mark, the depreciated Mark drove increases in prices, which exacerbated trade imbalance. Repeat, repeat, repeat, (faster please). Hungary (1945-46) Debts owed in another currency: Reparations, both financial and in goods to support the occupying Soviet army. Supply Disruption: WWII (Hungary was a battlefield and half of the capital stock was destroyed; some estimate more than 90% was damaged). Feedback loop: The government tried to stabilize tax revenue by issuing a split currency. A separate currency was used for tax collection, which led to indexed deposit accounts. Within no time everything was effectively indexed to the inflation rate and it was off to the races. Yugoslavia (1992-94) and the Republic of Georgia (1992-94) had episodes that spawned from wars and sanctions; both counties then followed similar patterns as outlined above, with debts and trade generally transacted in the former currency of the Soviet Union, the Ruble, prior to the establishment of their own stable currencies. Needless to say, the Ruble devalued itself quickly in local terms. There are two fairly recent of examples where the supply interruption was not war; commodity price collapses set the stage for these disasters. Bolivia (1984-85) Debts owed in another currency: Primarily dollar based debt quadrupled in the late 70’s. Supply Disruption: Collapse of mineral prices, notably tin, on which the government relied heavily for export revenue to finance growing debt. Feedback loop: The capital stopped flowing in 1982 (after Mexican defaults), and with no means of finance, the peso weakened when the administration attempted to de-dollarize the economy. The run on the peso accelerated and domestic unrest increased as Bolivia continued to try to pay the external debt as things fell apart. By 1984 virtually every worker’s wages were 100% indexed with what became a monthly reset. Things spiraled out of control very quickly. Zimbabwe (2007-2009) Debts owed in another currency: A drought-induced collapse of agriculture led to forced importation of food and resulting foreign currency debts. Supply Disruption: Drought followed by an ill-advised and timed land reallocation scheme cut output in half; to compound the issue, both major export crops (tobacco and maize) fell by more than two-thirds. Mining exports virtually ceased when the rail infrastructure finally crumbled when the prolonged lack of maintenance came home to roost. Feedback loop: Dollarization of the currency ensued amid large-scale immigration and the die was cast. So in what way do these three conditions appear today in the US or in what capacity could we see them in the near future? I am not an economist (thankfully), but my modest effort to identify or speculate about them follows. 1. Debts Owed in a Foreign Currency As long as the dollar is the reserve currency, is this really going to be a likely factor? How long before the reserve status is seriously threatened? I don’t doubt it is coming, but how far out is it? And what exactly would the impact be? It seems to me that it would still take a few years more after losing reserve status to put ourselves into a jam with foreign denominated debt. Perhaps we are already further along in this than it seems. 2. Possible Supply Disruptions Energy shock? With a born again domestic energy industry this seems to be much less a risk with each passing week. War? A “real” war perhaps, something cataclysmic, such as a true WWIII in which the US military is actually contested by formidable opponents? How about one where fighting and/or destruction occur in the lower 48 states? It would have to be sufficiently serious to heavily divert production and supply from our domestic economy; to this I will “never say never” although our (mankind, not just the US) ability to blow up the world 640 times over would hopefully continue to serve as a caution flag to escalation. Still, we can’t be certain of anything now can we? Severe civil unrest? Domestic, political, socioeconomic, and racial tensions seem higher now than they have been for some time, but I have no scientific proof of this. Would our worst civil unrest scenario escape beyond one or two metropolitan areas? I don’t know; perhaps it would be more likely if in concert with another of the disruptions listed here. Pandemic? Personally I think this would rank high on the plausibility scale. With our highly mobile society vs 100 years ago, could we (and would we) be able to quarantine effectively enough to snuff one out in the early stages? I believe this would be exacerbated by related civil unrest in areas locked down. Some want in, some want out, some inside take advantage, who knows? Cataclysmic natural disaster? I could envision several possible events that could provide the impact required to knock the wind out of us. Maybe severe earthquakes in highly populated zone(s)? Volcanic eruptions have been sufficient in the past to significantly alter world agriculture output (and not positively) due to temporary worldwide cooling spells under immense clouds of ash. A worldwide agriculture shock would be very ugly; it seems like a WWIII sequence would be plausible in a world with a seriously deficient food supply that lasted more than a season. What about an interstellar EMP event? Gee, I don’t know, does anyone you know rely heavily on devices with complex circuitry? Let me rephrase it: do you know anyone who does not? I’m not up on the probabilities of such an event, but I do believe the probability of a significant impact to us is quite high. 3. Rapid Feedback loop To this I have little to offer; I’m open to suggestions. It seems that our “welfare state vs producers” balance is listing a bit dangerously towards the former, but is still not sufficiently past the tipping point to create an accelerating loop (YET). However, in the earlier examples, the loop didn’t ignite until the other conditions had taken hold to some degree. If output is severely impaired, the system tips to the left and the welfare state becomes a much larger percentage of the economy just by virtue of the economy swiftly contracting. What policies would we witness spring out of that situation? I am afraid the likelihood of new errant reactionary policies, even though well-intentioned (and completely destructive), would be high. I bet that our imaginations are the limit in this case and real life versions of “The Anti Dog Eat Dog Rule”, the “Equalization of Opportunity Bill” and “Directive 10-289“ undoubtedly would be floated by those good men and women of our own “Capital District”. (I’m sorry, I think I just mixed metaphors.) My conclusion after this matchbook investigation is that US hyperinflation isn’t in the cards, at least not soon, and not without a severe supply shock to get the ball rolling. The housing bubble/financial meltdown of 2008 perhaps could have been the kicker but it just hasn’t happened. Does this mean it won’t happen? Of course not….I guess my point is that a little understanding of previous hyperinflation events in one’s bank of economic awareness is a good thing and we ought to respect the fact that none of these previously documented events were what anyone could consider “planned”. Nobody will ring the bell ahead of time announcing the next one with absolute certainty. One closing thought: Periodically I do double check and add to the physical assets I’ve put back as potential value retaining “currencies” if world hyperinflation episode #58 descends upon us here. Duh
  15. Jerry Wiggins

    ZA Survivor Colony Manifesto

    I like zombies. This is pretty apparent to anyone who knows me, from my “Zombies, Eat Flesh” subway t-shirt, to my extensive collection of zombie themed literature and video games and movies. I like to surf forums that relate to zombies or zombie themed topics (surviving the apocalypse, scavenging for food, forming a group of survivors, etc.) and my friends and I often get into deep, thought provoking conversations about zombies (don’t judge me). One day we were talking about building a post-apocalyptic society, and I was intrigued; how would we form a society? How would we manage its growth? I’m no fan of the police state idea as some of my friends suggested, since that always ends in disaster (at least in the movies). Of course, I’m no fan of the police state period, but that’s for a different conversation. So, after we talked for a while, I went home, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this. I puzzled it in my mind: the greatest engine for prosperity and security is freedom; as free men will come together to protect their ideals, as we have seen in America. The U.S. Constitution is one of the most brilliant documents ever conceived, and it embodies freedom for all, even if it has never been fully realized. So I whipped out my computer and started writing. I wrote this document as a thought experiment. When I presented it to my friends, some thought it was good, some thought it needed improvement, and some thought it was garbage (those would be the police state advocates); but of them, I was the only one to actually write something out. I present this, not as a model for how you should structure YOUR post-zombie-apocalypse society, but merely as something to make you think, something you can enjoy reading, and something you can laugh about and talk over with your friends. Enjoy. Colony Manifesto Free and honest men, as is their tendency to do, will come together in the aide of one another in times of need and crisis. For their common defense, free and honest men will seek to reside near each other and to supply each other with resources to aide in their common survival. Men such as these will not seek to wrong each other out of spite, yet disagreements will arise among them as they are imperfect men in an imperfect world. Not all men are free and honest, as some are bound to sin and deceitful, and so it is for these reasons that we come together to ratify these standards for living peaceably amongst each other, and do affirm that all those who seek shelter amongst us shall abide the same. Structure The people shall come together as free men and women and shall decide together the fate of the colony, every man and woman, over the age of 16, having the right to vote and to affect the future of the colony. Every member of the colony shall also, at any time required by the needs of the colony, contribute to the collected defense of the colony. Once the colony reaches a population of no more than 60, the colony shall organize into neighborhoods of no less than 20 and no more than 39 people, decided by locale, and the free grouping of free people. Each neighborhood shall elect one (1) individual to represent them in the Congress of the Colony (hereafter referred to as The Congress or simply Congress) in all matters affecting the whole of the colony. This representative shall attend The Congress to present the will of the people in his neighborhood and shall, upon recess of that Congress, report back to his neighborhood to inform the people of updates and decisions regarding the progress of The Congress, and shall continue in this manner until the conclusion of The Congress. A new election shall be held at the conclusion of every congress for each representative, and no man or woman shall be elected to that position more than two times in a row, nor serve as any more than every fifth representative. The Congress shall convene on the first day of every month to ensure that the business of the colony is managed properly and proceeds unimpeded. They will serve one day in session to present all business to be discussed at that Congress, and then recess for two days to present the business to the Citizens of their respective neighborhoods. On the fourth day they shall reconvene and shall each present the response of their neighborhoods to each article of business, except in the event that any of the neighborhoods have not reached a consensus on the business at hand, at which point a further day of recess shall be granted, not exceeding three (3) days. The Congress shall then have three (3) days to conclude business. The duties of The Congress shall be enumerated further in this document. Once the colony has attained a size requiring the formation of twelve (12) neighborhoods, the colony shall be further divided into districts, each comprised of three to five (3-5) neighborhoods. Each neighborhood shall elect one (1) representative to manage the affairs of the neighborhood through service in the District Council (hereafter referred to as The Council or simply Council). The Council will operate in much the same manner as does The Congress, and their duties shall be listed further in this document. Each District shall elect one (1) representative to serve in The Congress which shall operate the same as prior except that there will be an extra day for initial recess as the Congressmen reports to the Councilors and they report to the people. Each neighborhood shall elect one Lawman who shall serve with the other Lawmen from the district to keep order and apprehend criminals. The term each Lawman shall serve is to be one quarter of the year, with the year beginning on January first, and no member of the colony is to serve more than one term as a Lawman in any given year. The duties and power of the Lawmen shall be enumerated further in this document. The Congress shall, from this point forward meet every other month and the election for Congressman shall be held in the second month of a congressional convention for the next cycle. In the event a special session is required for emergency business, the congress of the current cycle shall convene. Once the colony has reached a size requiring the formation of twelve (12) Districts, the colony will be further organized into regions consisting of no less than three (3) and no more than five (5) districts. Each neighborhood shall elect one (1) representative to serve on The Council. Each District shall elect one (1) representative to serve on the Regional Assembly (hereafter referred to as The Assembly). The Assembly shall operate in the same fashion as The Congress and meet every other month, with elections being held in the second month of the cycle. In addition to convening on the first day of each new cycle, The Assembly shall also convene when The Congress convenes. The congressmen shall return to their regions and relay the business of the colony to the members of The Assembly. The Assemblymen shall then relay that business to their district Councilors and once they have delivered a verdict to the congressman they shall conclude the Assembly. Each Region shall elect a representative to serve in The Congress. The Congress shall be granted one extra day of initial recess, and shall meet in the first month of each quarter year, with the year beginning on January first, and elections shall be held in the third month of the congressional cycle. Each neighborhood shall elect one Lawman who shall serve with the other Lawmen from the district to keep order and apprehend criminals. Each District shall elect a Sheriff to coordinate the efforts of the Lawmen in their District and to cooperate across the Region. The term a Sheriff shall serve is one quarter of the year, with the year beginning on January first, and no member of the colony shall serve more than one term as either a Sheriff or a Lawman in any given year. The Duties of the Sheriff shall be enumerated further in this document. Once the colony has reached a size requiring the formation of twelve (12) regions, the colony will split evenly, forming two fully functioning and self governing colonies. The colonies are then free to dissolve ties with each other or, in the spirit of this document, to band together and establish a higher form of government, preferably modeled after the Constitution of the United States of America, and work together for the betterment of their citizens, and the betterment of humanity as a whole. Duties of Elected Officials Congress To settle disputes between the highest orders of organization (neighborhoods, districts, regions, respectively). To manage the dealings of the colony with outsiders who do not wish to join (i.e., trade with other colonies, raiders, etc.). To prosecute crimes that occur between the highest orders of organization (ie, a man from one region kills a man from another) To prosecute appeals from the highest order of organization. To prosecute crimes against the colony To protect the rights of the citizens. The purpose of law is the defense of personal liberty, not the rectification of social injustice. To that end, The Congress shall pass no law constraining the personal liberties of the Citizens of the colony, and shall only have the power to pass laws respecting the rights of the Citizens. To set and standardize the weights and measures. Council To settle disputes between neighborhoods. To manage the dealings of the district with other districts. To prosecute inter-neighborhood crimes. To prosecute felonies. To manage the standard operation of the markets in their district. Assembly To settle disputes between districts. To manage the dealings of one region with another. To prosecute inter-district crimes. To prosecute appeals from the council level. Representative notes Councilors, Assemblymen, and Congressmen shall be compensated one day’s wage for every day in session. They shall serve the people from whence they come during the session and then return to their homes to continue in their business and earn their living as amongst free and honest men. A day’s wage shall be determined as what is likely to be required for sustenance and healthy maintenance of a single and averaged sized adult, and as the average of ammunition and supplies to be expended throughout the day. Lawman To conduct regular watches throughout his neighborhood and to organize a volunteer peace force to maintain watch. To apprehend for trial violators of the common law of the colony. The Lawman shall, when pursuing a suspect, have the power and authority to assemble a posse to assist with the apprehension. Sheriff To coordinate the efforts of the Lawmen under his jurisdiction. To pursue and apprehend, with the aid of the Lawmen, fugitives fleeing from one neighborhood to another. To transport suspects to trial and to transport convicts to have their sentence carried out. To facilitate the release of acquitted persons. Peace Force notes The Sheriffs and Lawmen shall be compensated with one day’s wages for each day of service. The offices of Sheriff and Lawman shall be issued some type of long rifle or shotgun for duty services as available. Volunteers for the Peace Force Watch shall provide their own weapons, but shall be provided with two (2) loads of ammunition for the duration of their watch, to be returned to the Peace Force armory if not used. The constituency of the elected officer shall develop a defining uniform which shall be issued to each person holding that office. All citizens can, if witnessing a crime, detain the offender. Common Laws The purpose of law, as stated previously in this document, is to defend personal liberties, not to rectify perceived social injustice. As such the only true law is common law, that which is naturally evident through observation in the world and behaviors around us. We find that the laws common to all man can best be enumerated through the inalienable rights endowed to us by our creator, and that among these are the rights to Life, Liberty, and Property. Let it be noted that the colony is not a democracy of mob rule, but a republic of laws of nature, and that no laws of man shall be passed that conflict with the natural and self evident laws. The right to Life encompasses many aspects of the common law. We have the right to live and so are guaranteed through common law a freedom from unwarranted attack, whether intended as lethal or non-lethal, a right to defend ourselves against such an unwarranted attack with lethal force, and a freedom to earn a living through any means we see fit, so long as that means does not violate the rights of another. The right to Liberty guarantees us freedom in activity. No one may inhibit the activities of another that does not violate the rights of any. The right to Property guarantees that every man is entitled his possessions and no others, and shall remain in possession of his belongings until such time as he should decide to part with it. People are not property While all men have certain rights, residing within the colony is a privilege. As such all persons over the age of 16 have certain responsibilities. All men and women have a responsibility to contribute to the defense of the colony. To that end, all persons over the age of 16 are required to own and maintain a firearm within the colony and to keep it with them at all times. Every man shall keep regular training with his arms and shall, when available, be afforded two loads of ammunition for his weapon on every second month with which to train. All persons have a responsibility to provide for themselves. Every able bodied man and woman over the age of 16 shall work, either farming, maintenance, scavenging, or some other job for which they may collect their wage of their own accord, or trade their service for a wage to be bartered between the two parties of the transaction. For the privilege of residing in the colony, all members of the colony will be taxed by three quarters of one days wage at the beginning of every week, with any and all excess to be stored as a colony stockpile. The elected officials may not vote to increase this tax. The Citizens of the colony have the authority to vote to trade supplies from the colony stockpile for other types of supplies and equipment that may be of use to the colony. Trade may only be initiated once enough of the stockpile has been set aside to ensure that the elected officials are compensated as intended. The elected officials may not vote to initiate trade without the approval of their constituency. Once in every third month, stockpile permitting, the colony may elect to distribute three quarters of the stockpile back to the Citizens of the colony. Every man and woman, over the age of 16, shall, for the duration of their stay in the colony, be assigned a regular shift to keep watch on and about the exterior of the colony, in order that, in the event of attack, an alarm may be raised in a timely manner. The individuals elected to government are not special citizens and are in fact merely avatars to the will of the people. To that end there are limits to the power a government may wield over its people. The government may not alter this document, except through a ballot vote amongst the populace for which they receive two thirds approval to move forward with the selected alteration. As every man is a member of the militia defending the colony, no standing army may be raised as all defensive needs have been met through the militia. The government may not, in any way, limit where arms may be borne, nor in what fashion, nor which arms. The right to bear arms is absolute. The government may not levy any taxes on its citizens, other than what has already been established in this document. The government may also not tax goods coming in or out of the Colony. The government may not initiate dealings with outsiders without approval from the people in the form of a simple majority. The government may not pass any rule or regulation that in any way limits the freedoms of the individuals, except where expressly stated above. This document is the framework we shall use for maintaining order, peace, and civility in the colony, and maintaining a safe environment. Following are the people who have read and agreed to this document and the rules set forth therein. Violation of this document may result in expulsion from the colony, and the signature of the violator following this document removes any question of knowledge from the proceedings.
  16. In today’s post we’re going to discuss foraging for edible plants. Foraging is a skill that everyone should be “RE-learning” and practicing. That’s right…RE- learning. This basic skill, mastered by the human race over millions of years, is sadly now all but forgotten. There are a lot of skills like that; skills and knowledge that our ancestors mastered and relied on for everyday basic survival that have been pushed aside and forgotten in the name of convenience and “progress”. Hopefully today, you’ll be inspired to learn a little more about foraging, and to start re-learning one of those lost skills. Anyone that’s read any of my past posts knows that I’m probably the last person to be giving advice about living in some post-apocalyptic, SHTF type of world. However, it would be equally naïve to say that a true SHTF scenario could NEVER happen. Our modern society is so fragile. Even though it’s statistically improbable for our modern food supply chain to be permanently destroyed, the chance is absolutely still there. Foraging is a skill that would not only be helpful in a true SHTF scenario but if the history of our ancestors teaches us anything, foraging skills could literally be the difference between life and death for a lot of people. I don’t put a lot of stock into skills and gear that’s suited only for a SHTF, “OMG ZOMBIES” scenario. However, foraging is a skill that you could probably use in a quite a few serious disaster scenarios, as well as everyday life now. I don’t know exactly how to describe it, but there is something pretty amazing about being able to take a walk in the woods, looking around and seeing more food than you can possibly eat growing everywhere around you. Both of these reasons combined are why I consider foraging a win-win, and a skill worth learning. Foraging can be pretty daunting to a beginner. There are literally millions of plants all over the world that can help keep your belly full, however there are just as many that will kill you faster than a politician spends money in Washington. Your best bet is to start small. Study and memorize the most common and easily recognizable plants in your area, practice your identification methods and move up from there if foraging is still something you’re interested in. If you’re not, no biggie…you’ve already learned more than enough to make foraging a life-long survival skill if you ever need it. Below we’re going to go over just a few of the most common edible plants, how to prepare them and how some edible plants can be useful for other important survival priorities. ***Disclaimer*** I am not responsible for any actions taken while foraging. Remember, even though these plants are very common and safe, there plants out there, even in your own backyard that can be extremely harmful to you if eaten. Before you put any wild plant in your mouth, you need to know exactly what it is. Please take some time to pull up as many images and as much information as you can and compare them with the plants you find to make sure what you’re eating is safe. Dandelions The humble dandelion, battled for over a century by frustrated homeowners is completely edible. They grow almost everywhere, and despite the best efforts of our “friends” at the pesticide companies, return year, after year, after year. The entire Dandelion plant is edible. The best part though is the greens or leaves of the plant. You can eat them raw; flower, stem and leaves. Dandelions later in the season can have a bitter taste. A quick sauté of Dandelions with some butter, garlic and (dare I say it?) BACON is absolutely delicious and leaves no bitter taste at all. In a disaster scenario, where you may not have the time or resources to prepare dandelions with extra ingredients, simply boiling them for a minute will remove the bitterness of the older plants. In late spring or early summer, raw dandelion greens actually have a mildly sweet taste and can make a delicious salad. Cattails You can find Cattails around pretty much any natural body of water. They are very easy to find and a most of it is edible no matter the time in the season. Cattails are a great wild edible because the roots and base of the stems are packed with carbohydrates and calories. The leaves can be used just like any other green such as spinach or dandelions. The base can be eaten raw early in the season, but can again become bitter the more mature the plant becomes. In the late summer to early fall, you’re going to want to cook or boil the Cattail to get the bitter taste out. Later in the season the flowers should not be eaten raw, as they are filled with fibers and seeds, but could technically be dried and ground down to make flour. Cattails get an extra bonus for me. Not only are there two types of essential nutrients from the leaves and roots, but after the flower matures, the fibers inside make amazing tinder to make fire. There have been dozens of stories of disaster survivors using the dry fibers of Cattail flowers to start fires, even when all the other fire-making materials around were saturated by rain. Plantain The plantain is another wild edible that gets a bad rap by conventional gardeners. Despite the same name, this is not the banana-looking plant that you find in a lot of tropical areas, this plant is a lot more common. It’s an extremely common plant that can be found pretty much everywhere in the spring and summer. The leaves can be used just like any other salad green. Later in the season, edible seeds develop in the plant that can be eaten raw or ground up for flour. The plantain plant can also be used to keep minor scrapes and cuts from becoming infected in a disaster situation. Just chew up some of the leaves into a poultice (which is simply some sort of plant that has been chewed up) and apply to the cut for about 20 minutes. It’s not exactly as effective as peroxide, but doing this once a day in a disaster situation can significantly fend off or even prevent minor scrapes from becoming life-threatening infections. **Important tip about foraging in urban areas** Be very cautious about foraging in urban and especially, public areas. Although these plants are completely edible, pesticides are not. Unless you know that the plants you are foraging haven’t been sprayed with any sort of chemicals, it’s best to move along unless it’s absolutely necessary. Pesticides can make you very sick if ingested, and unless you’re in a disaster scenario and in desperate need of food, it’s not worth the risk. We could go on all day about wild edibles, and we will definitely be taking a more detailed look into foraging in future posts. A last piece of advice for anyone new to foraging; stay away from wild berries and mushrooms. Yes, there are hundreds of varieties of mushrooms and berries that you can find almost anywhere. Some of them are completely safe and delicious, and some of them are extremely toxic and can KILL you faster than a horde of zombies. For beginning foragers, focus on the most common plants in your area that don’t have any toxic look-alike cousins. Buy a local wild edibles guide specific to your area and find a lot of different pictures online to make sure you are 100% positive of what you have before eating it for the first time. Once you’re comfortable identifying a dozen or so wild edibles, you’ll become more accustomed to inspecting plants in detail and identifying the subtle nuances between them. This is a skill you’ll need when identifying plants that have toxic look-alikes. Hopefully today you’ve been inspired to think a little more about foraging and wild edibles. It’s a skill that’s easy to pass down to future generations and is a delicious reason to get outdoors. Although we’re not quite to the point where the local store shelves are going to be bare tomorrow, it’s nice to know that if that day ever comes, the foraging skills of our ancestors will still be there to help us out once again.
  17. Long-term storage food like Mountain House and Wise Foods have become increasingly popular in the prepper community. Unfortunately, the prices per meal on these just-add-water foods have caught up to the demand. Currently, a single serving of these types of meals (and let’s be honest, those servings are tiny) is running anywhere from $2.50-$3.50, depending on the variety and vendor. Today we’re going to discuss how we can make a comparable alternative to these long-term storage food options for less than half the typical price. We’re also going to give you a sample recipe to make your own long-term storage meal that will put the Mountain House and Wise brand to shame. What you’ll need A food dehydrator – Obviously an expensive Excalibur brand dehydrator would be ideal, but any dehydrator that has accurate temperature gauges and displays will work just fine. Ingredients (will vary by recipe, we’ll give ingredients to these examples in the recipe) Sealable bags – This isn’t completely necessary. You could put these meals in an unsealed jar or bag, but taking the air out will significantly extend the shelf-life of your meals. The cheapest option would be an inexpensive handheld vacuum sealer with the included sealable bags. The method we will be using for this is dehydrating. Dehydrating is a little different than the typical preparation that Mountain House and Wise use for many of their meals. They will typically freeze-dry their ingredients. However, most of us don’t have several thousands of dollars (on the low-end) to invest in a freeze-drying machine. Freeze drying does mean that the shelf-life of foods can be extended without using a vacuum (notice that Mountain House and Wise still have significant air in the bags) and freeze-drying does help with preventing as many nutrients and minerals from leaching out of the ingredients, but again, not many people have access to a freeze-dryer, and the point of this article is finding a COST-EFFECTIVE solution to conventional freeze-dried log-term storage foods. Dehydrating is an effective food storage preparation because it removes air and moisture from foods. Bacteria (the bacteria that spoil foods) require air and moisture to thrive; therefore, by removing as much air and moisture as we can from foods, it eliminates the bacteria’s “life support system” and allows foods to be stored pretty much indefinitely, as long as it’s in a controlled area. Next we will go over a simple dehydrating recipe that will teach you everything you need to know to start making your own long-term food storage and start saving money. 5 Minute SURVIVAL Chicken Alfredo Makes 4 servings (Since the dehydrating process does take a long time, it is a good idea to fill up the dehydrator trays with as much as possible.) A typical inexpensive dehydrator should be able to do 16-20 pieces of chicken in 1 sitting) Retail Price – Approximately $12.00-$15.00. Do It Yourself Price – approximately $7.00 or less (Your price per serving can be reduced significantly by buying in bulk, using generic label ingredients or using money-saving coupons.) Ingredients 4 chicken breasts 1 can of your favorite Alfredo sauce 1 box of fettuccine noodles Salt and pepper (to season) 1 small can of peas One of the major benefits to using long-term dehydrated foods is that they can be cooked in just a couple minutes just by adding a couple of cups of hot water. The majority of ingredients in dehydrating will need to be blanched or “par-cooked”. Dehydrating is done AFTER the food has been pre-cooked. Directions 1. Use your favorite cooking method to cook your chicken. You can bake the chicken, sauté it in a pan, or even grill the chicken. (I wouldn’t attempt to dehydrate fried chicken though) Cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Set the chicken aside to finish its “carry-over cooking” and cool. (Feel free to use any of your favorite spices and seasonings on the chicken) (Typically 160 degrees is on the low-end of what is a safe temperature for poultry; however, not only will the chicken continue to cook for a few minutes after its been taken off the heat, but it will be “cooking” longer in the dehydrator as well) 2. Blanch the peas for a minute in hot water then spread them out on a paper towel to dry. (This isn’t completely necessary as canned peas are already cooked. However, they seem to taste a little better after a quick blanch. Raw peas will need to be blanched for 3-4 minutes) 3. Precook your pasta. Only cook the pasta to “al-dente” or even a few minutes before, depending on how soft you want the final product to be. Lay the precooked pasta on paper towels to dry. 4. Cut the chicken up into thin, short strips about 2” long by 1” wide. It is important to slice the chicken thin as it will take less time to dehydrate. 5. Place the chicken strips on the dehydrator trays. Set the temperature for 145 degrees and let it dehydrate for 8 hours. (this timing may vary depending on your dehydrator and how thin the chicken was cut) The easiest way to do it is just to start it before bed. It should be finished when you wake up! (Depending on your dehydrator, it may be a good idea to rotate the dehydrator trays for more even drying, there is some trial and error to this, as every dehydrator is a little different and the humidity in your area may affect drying) 6. Repeat the process with the peas. Fresh peas take less time to dehydrate since there is less water in them. Canned peas may take as long as 12 hours to fully dehydrate since they have been absorbing water in the can and from blanching. You will know when the peas are done when they become brittle. 7. Next comes the sauce; this can get a little tricky if you’ve never done it before. Lay out the fruit leather trays that come with your dehydrator. Fill the trays NO MORE than 1/4” thick with sauce and dehydrate at medium heat (155-160 degrees). About 2 hours after starting the dehydrator, you will need to “flip” the sauce. It will be a flimsy, but solid sheet at this point. Flip the sauce “leather” so that it can evenly dry out on the bottom. After another 2 hours, the sauce should be hard, but still isn’t finished. Remove the trays and break up the hard “sauce leathers” as much as you can. Replace them back in the dehydrator and finish for another 2-4 hours. At that point, the sauce will be extremely brittle and will break up into powder easily. 8. Lastly, we need to dehydrate the pasta. Simply lay the pasta out on the dehydrating trays evenly. Use the dehydrator’s lowest temperature and let it run for at least 8 hours. When it is done, it will look similar to uncooked pasta, but will be much more brittle. Now that all of our ingredients are finished, we simply need to portion them. This will be up to you. Personally, I think the portion sizes for Mountain House and Wise are a little…optimistic…to say the least. Simply fill your sealable bags with each ingredient and add a pinch of salt and pepper to each (or you can wait and do this while cooking it, or not season it at all). Cooking these meals is easy. Simply pour the contents of the bags into a pan or pot, add a few cups of hot water and cover. Wait 5 minutes, and you’re ready to eat! You’ll want to decide if you’re going to use sealable bags or whether you’re going to use unsealed bags or jars. Remember, the unsealed containers will work just fine, but will eventually allow air and moisture in, which will drastically shorten the shelf-life. Although I’m sure it could go longer, I would not eat an unsealed portion after a year on the shelf, just to be safe. As with all long-term food storage, you need to have a dark and dry area to store them in. A kitchen cabinet is just fine, but if you’re doing a lot of long-term food storage, you’ll probably run out of room. Your best bet for sealed bags would be to put them into a dark-colored plastic Rubbermaid container and store this container in a basement or closet. This will add another layer of protection from light and moisture. Well there you have it! You’ve made your first long-term storage meal for half of what it would have cost at the store. There are literally thousands of recipes you could use to make various meals like this. The longer you practice with your dehydrator, the better you’ll get at preparing these meals. The cost benefit alone makes dehydrating a no-brainer. You’d probably have to take out a small mortgage on your house to buy a year’s worth of Mountain House or Wise, but by making your own, you can build up your long-term food supply stock quicker and cheaper. What are some of your favorite dehydrated meal recipes? Post your recipes and comments on our Facebook page!
  18. Today’s preppers seem to have a very active imagination about how they plan to survive the end of the world as we know it. Everyday I see people discussing their bugout plans and homesteading plans in preparation for the next “big event”. However, there seems to be very little (if any) discussion about a very important topic that’s going to throw a huge monkey wrench into these preparations. This is the unhealthiest country in the entire world. That’s not an opinion, that’s documented fact. A huge chunk of us are significantly overweight and have one or more serious health risk factors that are impacting the level of physical activity that we can do on a regular basis. Our kids are unhealthy and our elderly are becoming less active at an earlier age. Due to inactivity, convenience and downright laziness the entire country is simply not as physically fit as it was 100 years ago. Why then, are so many preppers making these unrealistic bugout plans that involve hiking dozens if not hundreds of miles when a lot of then couldn’t even realistically make it to the grocery store and back on foot? Why are people spending huge amounts of money buying remote bugout locations when surviving there is going take more physical effort than they’re even capable of? The answer is simple… plans are easy to make, actual solutions aren’t. If physical fitness was a prep item, it would be more important than your food storage, more important than stocking ammo and more important than your bugout bag. In fact, physical fitness is the most important “prep” you could possibly have. Being a survivalist means you’re proficient at…well…staying alive, so what are some things we can do now to ensure that we can live a long and healthy life to survive the S hitting the fan or even if nothing ever happens? Re-evaluate your diet – You’re only as healthy as the things you put into your body. If you truly want to be ready to face any disaster you need to pay attention to your food. Maybe it’s time to look into that Paleo diet everyone’s talking about. Maybe it’s time to start counting those calories. Or maybe it’s simply time to just cut out all the junk from your diet. No matter what path you decide to take, DO SOMETHING… do something that makes a change in your diet. Not only will it help make you healthy enough to face SHTF, but it will add years on to your life even if nothing happens. Do SOMETHING to stay active – Are you planning on strapping on a rucksack and hiking 100 miles to a remote bugout location when the SHTF? Have you ever hiked 100 miles before? It’s not exactly a stroll in the park. When the SHTF, most people are going to be rudely awakened to just how physically demanding life off the grid and life without modern convenience really is. Start preparing today. Take walks, sign up at the gym, maybe even just strap on that big rucksack now and do a “mock bugout” once a month. Anything you do to become more active will help your chances in a disaster. Get off every medication you possibly can – Medications are finite. Long-term, modern medications do not have a place in a self sufficient lifestyle. If we ever face a long-term SHTF scenario, medical supplies are likely to be the first thing to run out. If you’re not prepared for that now, how are you going to survive? Obviously there are situations where it’s simply not possible to just quit taking medications. However, there’s no reason you can’t talk to your doctor right now about things you can start doing that will help you get off the those daily meds. Surviving a SHTF scenario isn’t going to be easy no matter how prepared you are. There will be many things outside of our control, and even the most prepared still have no real idea of what TEOTWAWKI will look like. All we can really do is make the best preparations we can. Being physically fit enough to face those disasters head on will be crucial. Our forefathers didn’t rely on convenience food, modern medications or the government to get them through hard times. Their survival came from the sweat of their brow and the loads on their shoulders. If we want to be more like them, capable of handling anything life can throw at us, then we’re going to have to start taking responsibility for our own health. If you liked this article you may be interested in more articles at Ready4ItAll.org A Realistic View on Buying Silver for SHTF What Will a Total Economic Collapse Look Like? The Top 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Going to Survive Bugging Out to the Woods
  19. Over the last week fellow patriots in the preparedness and liberty communities have been up in arms (no pun intended) over the story about a Denton, TX school using a textbook called United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination. This textbook, although seemingly mundane at first glance has had some very interesting editing done in its chapter about the United States Constitution. If you haven’t heard about this story yet; the textbook’s author and editors have made several editorial changes to constitutional amendments, including one to the 2nd amendment that has thousands of pro-firearm advocates across the country seething. As we all know, the 2nd amendment of the Constitution of the United States decrees that: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. However, in the book the Denton, TX school district has decided to adopt to teach its students states: Second Amendment: The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia I think it goes without saying that this “editorial change” is unacceptable and should be condemned by any freedom-loving patriot still left in this country. Amazon has had this book in their inventory for quite some time, boasting a 4.5-5 star rating. Since this story broke that rating has plummeted to a lousy 2 stars and now has over 370 negative 1 star reviews. You can view the amazon page HERE and I urge you to add your opinion. If you are interested in sharing your opinion with Dr. Jamie Wilson, the superintendent of the Denton, TX Unified School District about their choice of book for their AP history class, he can be reached at 940-369-0000. This story isn’t the first instance of public school systems trying to change history or force social agendas on our children; however the frequency of stories like these is becoming downright alarming. It’s becoming very apparent that there is a war waging in our local schools; a war that could potentially change the thinking of our young people and our very society for generations to come. Many would think that teachers are on the front lines of this war, and are to blame for this movement. Yes, there are quite a few bad apple teachers out there that would like nothing more than to assimilate your little Jimmy or Sally into their misguided liberal-utopia of gun control and forced altruism, but honestly, I know a lot of teachers. They teach what they’re told to teach, just like many of us do things we don’t necessarily agree with in order to make ends meet. If they weren’t doing it, someone else would be. Is it right? No. Would literally anything whatsoever change if they refused to fall in line? Well yeah…they’d be out of a job because there are more than enough teachers out there to fill that spot with less outspoken libertarian ideals. Pointing the finger at teachers honestly is just wasting time in this argument. No, our weapons of protest shouldn’t be aimed at the teacher. It shouldn’t even be aimed at the administrators or the state legislators that are heading this movement to brainwash our children. School administrators are by and large simply the farm league of politics; ambitious former soccer-moms and accountants with big political dreams, even bigger egos and rarely ever make a real difference in anyone’s life, let alone the children they are charged to care for. They’re puppets, just one step down on the political ladder. We’re always told to use our vote responsibly, and it might make sense to use our votes locally to get these administrators out of office and replace them with liberty-living patriots, ready to teach our children real life lessons and get them ready to fight the good fight in the real world. Well, sure… there are a lot of potentially very good administrators out there that could change public education for the better. Unfortunately, superintendents don’t call most of the shots. It’s called PUBLIC education for a reason. It’s ran by your state government, and nowadays, it’s honestly ran mostly by Washington and its endless “committees” on education. You see…you’re not fighting a school district or even just a sole AP history teacher. You’re fighting the entire socialist movement comprised of literally millions of people all across the world. You are fighting Washington itself and multi-trillion dollar industries that will never… EVER hear your voice. In a nutshell… you’re trying to punch down a brick wall with your bare hands. It’s not going to work and the only person who’s going to be left hurt and exhausted is you. Well that’s kind of depressing isn’t it? Does that mean we simply roll over and let these people win? Do we simply let these people teach our kids to become part of the system we are so desperately fighting against? Hell no. There are 2 things we as parents can do to not only start fighting this war successfully, but win it….easily. First off… at least for now, there are no laws out there that say your kids have to go to public schools. Sure, it’s convenient and it’s cheap. However, as preppers and survivalists we strive to take back control of our lives and leave behind the systems of dependence that have trapped society for the last 100+ years. It’s not always easy and it’s rarely cheap. This means that in some way, we need to take back control of our kids’ education and not leave it up to someone else to be responsible for their schooling. There have been massive advancements in homeschooling courses and materials over the last 10 years and there are several real advantages even outside of personal liberty and preparedness that can come from homeschooling. Realistically it’s not going to be possible for all of us to home school. Even if it’s financially possible to do so, some parents want their children to have the social aspect of a typical American school system. That’s ok too. What we need to be doing as preppers though, is being actively involved in every area of our kids’ education. This means going to all the extracurricular activities. It means networking with other parents. It means actually learning alongside your kids the subjects they are studying. It simply means that you HAVE to be involved. If there’s something being taught that you don’t agree with… talk to you kids about it. REALLY talk to them…and even more, TALK to them about your opinions and strive to make them devise real, thoughtful opinions of their own. If this means having to say “well your teacher might say this and this, but the real answer is…” then that might be a talk you need to have with them from time to time. They’re your kids. What they learn is up to you, regardless of what the person standing in front of them every day at school is saying. YOU have to be their teacher, their administrator and their superintendent. YOU have to encourage them to not only think for themselves, but to make them explain their thoughts and opinions and validate them logically. It is your responsibility to guide them, to teach them things like the REAL definition and meaning of the second amendment, financial preparedness, disaster management and effective leadership skills. It’s your job to instill a real work ethic in them and a sense of honor, pride and to value freedom; because it’s becoming more and more apparent every day that the school system sure as heck isn’t going to. If you liked this article you may be interested in more articles at Ready4ItAll.org A Realistic View on Buying Silver for SHTF What Will a Total Economic Collapse Look Like? The Top 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Going to Survive Bugging Out to the Woods The post "Calling All Prepper Parents – It’s Time for an Education Revolution!" appeared first on Brink of Freedom.
  20. In a true SHTF disaster, it doesn’t matter if you’re a hardened combat vet with an entire battery of weapons and enough food and water to sustain a small army. A small cut, not properly taken care of, can take you out just as easily as a well-placed gun shot. Infections are the #1 killer in any disaster situation. It is estimated that 2 out of every 3 deaths in a disaster scenario are caused by some kind of infectious disease. Every prepper knows that stockpiling medical supplies, especially antibiotics, is extremely important. When the grid goes down, medical supplies are going to be just as valuable as food. It’s also not as easy to stockpile antibiotics as it is to store most other medical supplies as most antibiotics are prescription only and have a limited shelf life. Fish and animal antibiotics are a good alternative for prescription medications because they are easily available without a prescription, but in a long term SHTF scenario, there will come a time when the antibiotics run out and finding more will be next to impossible. Today we’re going to go over a few common scenarios that you could come across in a disaster situation that deals with infections. We’ll outline some basic remedies and tips you can use to make sure you don’t become a victim. Cuts, Scrapes and Other Boo-Boos Can Become Big Problems Really Quickly We’re very privileged with modern society that if we get a cut or bad scrape we can either treat them ourselves with anti-bacterial medications or seek medical attention if it’s really bad. We won’t have that luxury if the SHTF. Here are a few tips for treating cuts and scrapes in a disaster scenario. Disinfection prevents things from going from bad to worse – Cuts and scrapes don’t just immediately become infected. Some sort of bacteria has to form inside the wound to cause the infection. Keeping a wound and the area around it clean and covered will prevent most topical infections. An equal-parts mixture of water, vinegar and salt makes an extremely effective disinfectant for any kind of topical cut or scrape. Cover any and all cuts and scrapes immediately – In a disaster scenario, personal hygiene is going to suffer. As a modern society, we rely on running water to keep ourselves clean on a daily basis. When you have to ration your water, walk it in from a stream, treat the water and store it, that daily shower is going to get put pretty far down on the priority list. This is what will cause the majority of infections in cuts and scrapes. ALWAYS keep new cuts or scrapes completely covered at least until a hard scab has formed on it. Use natural ingredients to cure infections – The following is a list of plants that are natural infection-fighters. Most can be simply applied to the wound directly under your bandage. It would be a very good idea to learn how to identify these plants in case you ever need to use them. Planting these plants in your garden or around your property would also be very advantageous in a disaster scenario or even just as an alternative to modern medications. Calendula Hypericum Goldenseal Comfrey Plantain (no… not the banana) Ginger Don’t Drink the Water! Most infections in a disaster situation come from tainted water. This section is pretty cut and dry. If you’re in a disaster scenario, assume that any water you find is tainted with bacteria and will cause an infection. Not all of it will be…in fact a lot of water in the wild and especially in an urban or suburban setting will probably be just fine….probably. In a disaster scenario, I wouldn’t be satisfied with probably and neither should you. Infections stemming from tainted water can lay you out for days or even weeks; the risk just isn’t worth it. We’ll go deeper into water purification methods in a future article, but for now, here is a link to a useful article: 24 ways to purify water. Foodborne Infections and Proper Food Sanitation Foodborne infections are serious business. Even outside of a disaster scenario, 76 million people are hospitalized every year because of foodborne infections. In a disaster scenario, you’re not going to be able to call an ambulance or check into the hospital if you get a case of food poisoning. You’ll have to deal with it yourself. Here are a few tips to help you deal with food poisoning in a disaster scenario. Overcook all your meat – In a normal situation, an overcooked steak has the potential to send this admin into fits of rage. However, in a disaster situation, your meat is going to come from your long-term preps or harvested from the wild. Undercooked meats cause the majority of food poisoning issues, some of which can be fatal. In a disaster situation, over cook your meat… that is the only way you can be absolutely sure it won’t be contaminated. Cleanliness is the key – Even outside of a disaster scenario, food sanitation is vitally important. Make sure your cooking area is clean and sanitized. A simple solution of water and vinegar or (even better) bleach will kill any bacteria that could contaminate your food. Also make sure to clean your cooking utensils thoroughly after every use. If you don’t have any (or have ran out of) sanitation supplies, cleaning the solids off your utensils with water and then putting them in your fire will kill all the bacteria on them…just make sure to clean off any soot that builds up on them. In today’s modern society we have developed a false sense of security that we have somehow become more immune to a lot of the infections and other diseases that plagued past generations. In the majority of instances, this isn’t true. It is important to remember that the modern world that we rely on to keep us safe from serious medical complications could be gone tomorrow. There are hundreds of disaster scenarios that could cause medical facilities to close and access to even basic medical supplies to be restricted indefinitely. Start learning more about basic medical skills today so you can be ready when you need them. If you liked this article you may also like: Turning Your Child into a Prepper What If The SHTF Event Never Happens? The Top 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Going to Survive Bugging Out to the Woods
  21. If you have never delved into the world of martial arts and unarmed self-defense, it can be pretty intimidating trying to decide what style, school and instructor would be best for you. Today we’re going to go over some key points that you should keep in mind when choosing a martial arts school and some red flags to look out for to keep you from getting ripped off or misled. Do you want to learn martial arts or do you want to learn REAL self-defense? This is an important question to ask before even looking at a prospective school. It seems like the two should go hand in hand but I can tell you from experience that the majority of traditional martial arts schools aren’t in the business of teaching you how to actually defend yourself. They’re in the business of teaching martial arts, but you’re not going to ever be thrown into even a somewhat realistic fight or flight defensive situation in your training. You’ll learn technique, you’ll learn speed and you’ll be required to memorize forms for belt testing purposes, and you’ll even do “sparring” with other students but I can tell you from many years of experience, it’s not the same as a real combat situation. If you’re looking to “study” a martial art style then this type of training may be for you. There are quite a few benefits to it. All martial arts will help you stay in shape, there’s a lot of networking connections available at these schools with other students and instructors and there’s definitely a rich history that goes along with any traditional martial arts. If you’re looking to train in real-life, unarmed defensive combat, traditional martial arts schools are just going to disappoint you. Yes there are some techniques and training that could be useful in any martial arts, but unless you’re looking to train in a new style year after year, piecing together your own defensive strategies, it’s not worth it. You’ll learn a lot of bad habits and even if the teaching gives you some confidence, stylized martial arts isn’t going to prepare you to actually defend yourself in a survival situation in most cases. Start asking good questions If real defensive training is what you are looking for, then you need to start asking questions and doing some research. There are several self-defense instructors and schools out there that are not teaching the same old stylized martial arts. However, the demand for stylized martial arts; the same “teach my 10-year-old to do some kicks and break boards” type of teaching is a lot higher than the demand for realistic self-defense training. Unless you get lucky, you’re going to have to find these schools. They typically don’t advertise very much. The school isn’t going to be a modern, expensive dojo, and you’re probably not going to see white uniforms or colored belts of any kind. These instructors teach what they teach as a labor of love and dedication. They’re not in it for the money. These are the type of people you want to be learning from. The best way to find a realistic self-defense school and instructor is to ask around to people that would be most likely to know of such classes. Police officers are a great start. Many police officers take practical self-defense courses either through their departments or just on their own time. They may be able to point you in the right direction for what you’re looking for. Obviously Google and Craigslist are other good search tools. Beware the money trap, leave the kids at home As someone that was actively involved in a family-run martial arts school, I can tell you from experience that there are more schools out there that are in it for the money than there are for the training. Martial arts can be a very expensive hobby. There are monthly dues, uniform fees, belt fees, testing fees, competition fees, safety gear to buy…the list can go on and on. If you’re focusing on real self-defense, actually learning real ways to defend yourself, you shouldn’t be looking to a school that has all these fees. Realistically all you should be looking for is a school with a reasonable monthly or even per-class fee and that’s it. Despite what a lot of schools might think, a $100 uniform and a $30 cloth belt aren’t necessary to learn self-defense. Many martial arts schools focus heavily on bringing in children into their classes. I’m kind of torn on this one. I know from growing up in a household that centered on martial arts that it can do some great things for children. Martial arts are great for teaching discipline and self-confidence. Again though, we need to go back to the first question… are we here for martial arts or are we here to learn how to defend ourselves? If you’re looking for a hobby for your children that can teach them some really good life skills, then yeah, a traditional martial arts academy might be a good choice. On the other hand, I don’t care how many black belts a 12-year-old has, you put them in a real defensive situation with someone much bigger and stronger and all the training in the world isn’t going to be worth a whole lot. So again, if you’re looking to actually learn how to defend yourself, and are looking for a teacher that solely focuses on realistic self-defense keep an eye out for any children in the class. If there are any, that’s probably a queue that this school isn’t for you. If you liked this article you may enjoy: Are You Physically Fit Enough to Survive SHTF? What Will a Total Economic Collapse Look Like? The Top 4 Reasons Why You’re Not Going to Survive Bugging Out to the Woods Follow Ready4ItAll on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/Ready4itall.org/posts/520673954669442
  22. ModernSurvival

    If It Saves Only One Life Gun Logic Applied to Staircases

    You hear it all the time from those who want gun control laws added to the more than 25,000 plus existing regulations, “if it only saves one life, it is worth it.” Many of us who actually value simple small things like the right of self determination, the constitution of the nation, and individual liberty will often point to automotive deaths as a counter argument, but I have a better one – deaths and injuries due to staircases. Let’s examine some classic gun grabber logic and apply it to staircases. I think you will be shocked at the results. First some statistics, falling down stairs on average Kills over 1,300 people per year – (source) Over 1 million people are injured per year in stairway falls – (source) Nearly 100,000 children a year are injured enough by stairway falls to require hospitalization – (source) Young children and the elderly are the most victimized by falls – (source) Let’s take those numbers over a decade we get… 13,000 deaths that never had to happen 10,000,000 plus hospital visits that never had to happen 1,000,000 children hospitalized for serious injury that never had to happen An unfair and disproportionate group of victims who are small kids or older adults that need protection Now I know those that love regulation are thinking, I know we can do something, some sort of warning sign campaign or perhaps requiring some sort of additional safety whereever stairs are. Oh no, if we are going with “if it saves even one life” logic like gun grabbers, let us go to the next one, “no one needs a gun”. Now you and I may be tempted to point out that no one needs a lot of things people own. Like say a DVD collection of Desperate Housewives, but that people have a right to property. Let’s not go there though, let’s follow this logic into something that will kill 130,000 people and injure more that 10,000,000 and put over 1,000,000 precious babies in the hospital in the next 10 years. Here is a radical thought, “no one needs stairs”. Heresy? Not really, clearly I am not serious when I say we should ban stairs, but let us examine it with gun control logic. Why do you think you need stairs? Well, to get to the second or higher floor of a building for one thing. Really? Man, elevators have been safer than stairs since 1852 when the cable brake was invented by Elisha Otis. So we just need to ban stairs (except for emergency use and their use by trained professionals, of course) and we will save over 13,000 lives in only 10 years, not to mention prevent over 10,000,000 hospital visits. Not practical? Now hold on this is gun grabber logic where the government has a fleet of magic unicorns that fart rainbows and solve problem with things called regulations, laws, congressional committees, building codes and “government oversight” not to mention taxing the evil rich! Let’s start with what we can all agree on, the madness must stop. So, at a minimum, we have to ban the building of any new stairs for general use. All new constructions will have stairs only for emergency evacuations, there will be licensed trained professionals that can use them for other needs and who will direct us untrained types down them if necessary. That is right, if you need to use your stairs dial 911 and professionals will come to your aid. This will add to tax payer expense as all public buildings will have to have additional elevators added, as the ones for equal access to the handicapped won’t be sufficient. However, we know, due to those elevators, that government regulations work, if you mandate elevators they will appear! Of course it is only right that the rich pay their fair share, so we also can pass laws saying any and all commercial buildings (this would include apartments) must have sufficient elevators installed for all use by residents/customers. We are not unreasonable, this plan can be phased in over a few years. Oh and big companies that would be adversely affected can get a waiver, you know like, Walmart did with Obamacare. Now wait, I know what you are thinking, you’re thinking what about areas where an elevator isn’t practical, where you only need a few stairs, right. Well, that is still to dangerous! But it isn’t a problem, have you ever wondered why we have both stairs and wheelchair ramps in the same place outside a building for instance? Time for this moronic redundancy to end, if a ramp is good enough for a person in a wheelchair, it is good enough for people who can walk upright, too. This will save a ton of money in construction costs and, as you will soon see, we are going to need plenty of money to solve this deadly problem. Now, of course, we will be installing these elevators and closing all stairs in schools as well, that happens in the above paragraph. But hey kids are at the greatest risk! So all schools need to also be stair free zones. Not only will be give priority to removing all dangerous stairs from schools over other government facilities, but we will double the new substantial penalties for anyone creating anything close to a stair without a permit. If it happens in a “stair free zone”, 5 years of prison becomes 10, I mean we have to protect the children. Oh wait! On that note, kids can be part of the problem due to neanderthal type parents that join radical new groups like the new NSWA (National Stair Way Association). Such parents encourage their poor children to continue an archaic process of stair usage as though it was some sort of right granted by a mythical “creator”. So we will need a zero tolerance policy on stairs in schools. If little Timmy stacks books the wrong way, out he goes or if little Tammy chews her state approved sandwich into a blocky shape she has to go, too. I mean, when that horrible little monster of a kid chewed his pop tart in the shape of a gun, they suspended him right? For the love of God, lives are at stake! Need I remind you 13,000 people will die from this that don’t have to if we fail to act! So okay now the kids are safe, all stairs are out of schools or only to be used by trained professionals who must be first called in to help others use them. We have stair free zones that double the stair building prison sentences for anyone creating a stair on school property or within 1 mile around it. Finally the kids are safe, at least at school. We will also have “stair free zones” on all public property, let a protesting member of the NSWA climb on his “soap box” in a public area, hey bud that looks like a stair, so it is 5 years in the clink, well 10 for you buddy, this is a stair free zone. Again, no one needs stairs, we are not barbarians, technology has a safer answer. So now the big problem, grandma and the kids are all now safe in rental units or safe secure stair free zones when in public buildings. Yet what about the middle class and the lower middle class, wealthy enough to have a home but not an elevator. Hold on, first let’s start with what we all agree on, the madness has to stop. So we will start with new construction, no more two story homes without approval. If you want two stories you have to show “good cause”. If approved, you are responsible for your own elevator. If you are a licensed professional, you can use your stairs without calling 911 first, but your family may only do so in time of emergency under supervision. I mean, you don’t think it is okay for a wife of a New York City police officer to handle his service pistol do you? That is dangerous, he is the trained professional, not her. Hell, you know what, this no more or seriously limited two story house construction is a great idea anyway. I mean two and three story homes are far less energy efficient than a one story home. Hey don’t you care about the polar bears, are you some evil climate change denier or something? Yep, smaller, more energy efficient housing for everyone. Well, except for the connected and the wealthy that can get a permit, we are on to something here. Now we can turn to the existing 100 million plus owner occupied homes, about half of which are two story, and fix that. It is a big challenge, but America should be an example to the rest of the world! Let’s face it, there is no way the average person can afford having their stairs walled off and an elevator installed, we need government to step up for that! So we can create a new government workforce, we can call it the “Elevator Installations and Maintenance Squad” the EIMS, all such groups need catchy sounding names! These will be good government jobs and help lower unemployment. First they will get on the massive task of putting in about 50 million elevators and blocking off an equal number of stairways. There will be job training and benefits. It will be expensive, but let’s just raise the marginal top tax rate from 39% to 49%, those rich assholes have plenty of money! And if that isn’t enough to pay for this, we can print money. The story that printing money causes inflation is a right wing conspiracy theory! Heck, in the end the program will pay for itself! Consider the size of this workforce and what it will mean to the economy. It won’t only help big cities either, rural America has plenty of two story houses, I wonder if that big old Walton’s House is still around, it needs an elevator, too, you know! I mean, you might think after all new homes are one story or self funded for elevators and all existing homes retrofitted we are done, but who is going to maintain all this new technology? The EIMS, of course, don’t forget the M all letters are important in a government agency, you know, you can’t just pick and choose the ones you like. I mean, with so many new elevators in both public, private and commercial hands, there is no way the private sector can be trusted to look after them all. The EIMS will be a great place to work for many decades. The brilliant Mr. Keynes taught us about this. Think about it, all EIMS members are trained pros, they will get permits easily via their jobs for two story homes. So that is more work for them in installation and maintenance right there. They are going to spend the money they are paid, so what is the problem, it goes into the economy stupid! They will buy cars, send their kids to safe schools, have a great benefits package. This will spur the economy to even greater heights, and this is all while saving millions from serious injury and tens of thousands from certain death over the years! There really is no reason not to do this, I mean, with guns we have that pesky second amendment! There is no constitutional right to stairs, nor should there be. No stupid myopic conservative supreme court justices to get in the way, just that annoying NSWA lobby, but hell we can crush them like the prehistoric regressive vermin they are. There will be even more jobs of course! Sure we have existing government agencies and the NIMS but we know no government agency can be self policed. So we will add yet another organization that will regulate all these new agencies and departments and elevators. This is a national movement, the tenth amendment doesn’t apply to this. The individual states can’t be trusted here. So a new federal agency will be created to provide this oversight and law enforcement service. We will call it the BSCJ or the Bureau of Stairways, Cosmetics and Junk Food. While there is currently regulation of Cosmetics and Junk Food, it is pretty lapse and by consolidating them into the new BSCJ, we will save tax payers even more money all while creating even more jobs. I know hiring more government workers seems counter-intuitive to saving tax payers money, but you just have to trust me here. Of course this new organization will also need policing but that is no problem, we will just place it under the DOJ (Department of Justice). I get it right here at the end you are all about getting on board with this right? You are just struggling with the last part, the BSCJ, right? I mean, do we really need another department of the DOJ and what the heck in the world do Cosmetics and Junk Food have to do with Stairways? Well, there is precedent for something that seems this unrelated and it always exists in the DOJ, so we know it will work perfectly. Of course I am talking about the BATF! People didn’t think alcohol, tobacco and firearms had a lot to do with each other back when that department was created either, but man it has worked out. It is simple, we get some cool black jackets with big old white SCJ letters on them. Then we give these trained professionals guns, armored cars and tactical training just like the AFT gets. We make the SCJ a “a tax-collecting, enforcement and regulatory arm of the US Department of the Treasury” within the DOJ, just like the ATF is. We give them authority to tax collect, enforce law and see to our safety. From what the existing ATF says on their own website, if we do that, we can expect a 35 to 1 return on our money! Seriously that isn’t just a liberal pipe dream, you can see this 35 to 1 claim on the ATF’s own website here. Hell, all any government agency needs is guns and the power to tax and we can have more money than we know what to do with, but that is a story for another day. The ATF has taken down the page that shows that claim sense the writing of this article. They still have the exact same claim on the ATF for Kids site. For now can’t we just all agree to stop the madness! It is time for marches by MADS (Mothers Against Dangerous Staircases), time to call your congressmen and demand this. How can we fail to act when this program would revitalize our national economy, create good paying jobs, save lives, keep people out of the hospital and gives tax payers a 35 to 1 return on investment. The time is now, the hour of decision is at hand. We can cling to an outdated and archaic belief or move forward into a new progressive and safer society. To those of you clinging to your Big Macs, lipsticks and stairways, let me simply add – the next poor child or elderly parent that falls to their death or injury could be your own. I mean, if we can save even one life…
  23. ModernSurvival

    Why Won’t Libertarians Admit What Government Has Done Right?

    This is a common argument I have seen countless versions of; in fact, I have seen it taken to downright attacks on one’s claim of being a libertarian. It will often take the form of something such as, “Well, you claim to be a libertarian and think everything the government does is wrong, but you benefit from pubic roads, use public lands, and you even get your water from government-run utilities.” The connotation is that the libertarian is either ungrateful and disingenuous or simply all theory and no practice. The problem, from what I have seen, is most libertarians have no real idea how to respond to such claims. The general response is to write off the other party, or more often to attack them as wanting “government to run their lives.” This exact scenario just played itself out on my website when a person who took exception to libertarianism left a comment with a link to this political cartoon in the comments section of my blog. The image shows various pets complaining that humans have never done anything for them, all while enjoying the benefits of being fully cared for, with an attempt at a clever caption titled “If House Pets Were Libertarians.” In the cartoonist’s attempt to be clever, he has actually made an exceptional case for libertarians. People are not pets. Now the government is trying to treat us like pets, but I sure don’t want to be one – even with good food and free trips to the vet. The animals in the cartoon can’t use logic, reason and forethought. Humans can. This stab against libertarians is actually an excellent cartoon with the right interpretation. The average libertarian actually does know that many things that have been done by government are “useful”, they just know, in most cases, government wasn’t required to get them done. They know they could have been done, for less money and with more efficiency, without big brother. Their anger at government hides this fact and is one of the things that impairs reaching more people with the libertarian message. Here is a simple way to explain these so-called government “successes” and why the libertarian will choose to “benefit” from the results of big government, even while speaking against them. Consider what I would be forced to do if our government somehow legally took 50,000 dollars directly from my bank account, and then bought me a 25,000 dollar car with my own money. If I had no legal recourse, no way to fight the injustice, I would have no choice but to simply accept and drive the car. Sure it would get me to work every day and the big government types would say, “Look, see, he uses the car and doesn’t acknowledge it.” Now was this program a success? Is the car useful to me? Does it run when I turn the key, stop when I hit the brakes, and will I use it to get where I need to go? Of course I will use the car, but the reality is, my right to buy the model I wanted, at the price I was willing to pay, has been taken away from me. I had four choices before I was “helped” by the car program. If I had been left to my own choices I could have… 1. Purchased a similar car for 25,000 dollars instead of the 50,000 it ended up costing me. 2. Purchased a much nicer car with the full 50,000 dollars they took away from me. 3. Purchased a less expensive car all together and kept most of my money for other needs. 4. Not purchased any car at all and chosen to walk; hell, maybe I wanted a motorcycle! The reality of successful government programs is perfectly illustrated in this example, where my money is stolen and spent in a way I disapprove of, and then they tell me how lucky I am to have the car they overpaid for and chose for me. So, the next time you are challenged about this type of thing, use this example. I had a great friend at one time that called this “eggplant theory.” To quote him, “I hate eggplant, they take my money and feed me eggplant, and tell me I should be happy to be fed.” That sums it up pretty well. Sure, the libertarian will utilize the few useful things that government has produced, but it is only because we have paid for it and have been left with no alternative. ~ Jack Spirko