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Empty Wallet, Empty Stomach


         Today I noticed a sign posted on the vending machines at work. It stated that on September 10th, the price of sodas would be going up. The sign stated that due to the raising cost of food and labor that they had no choice but to raise the prices. I’ve read articles about the ever increasing price of food and the diminishing quantities of food you’ll be getting -basically paying more for less. And although I’m sure the grocery store has slowly been shrinking boxes and raising prices, this was the first time I really took notice of it affecting me on a personal level. Hard times are coming to this country. Soon riots won’t be fought over winning Championship teams or police brutality. Someday in the near future people will rob you for food and water. Desperate times make desperate people. Corporations are running on fumes. The status quo has to change. They’ll begin it by laying off workers and closing factories. That much we’ve seen already. After that, they’ll stop trying to make fresh, healthy alternatives and just process everything to sell you void, nutrition-less products. This has been the norm for years now. Then they’ll give you less of their product but charge you more for their services. Your dollar won’t stretch as far. Your food won’t last as long. Eventually this will all lead to people stealing and killing one another. If you are a prepper, you are already somewhat in the mindset of expecting this. If you are not a prepper, than I would strongly recommended preparing yourself and your family. Store long term food and water. Begin hoarding foods with long shelf lives. Sometime in the near future food and water will become a scarce commodity. So how can you prepare for the worst?

Stockpiles – Everyone should be prepared for long term emergencies. Regardless of the price of food or the possibility of food shortages, in the event of a long term catastrophe – such as earthquake, hurricane, tornado- it’s vital to have food on hand for you and your family to survive off of. There are tons and tons of products out there with five year shelf lives. Get them and stockpile away. Start off with a 72 hour pantry. Have enough food and water for your family (and pets!) for three days. Once that is accomplished, slowly grow that number out. Increase it to a week, then two weeks, then a month. Slowly over time, try to at least get up to six months worth of supplies. But keep in mind that every once in awhile some products need to be used and replaced. Check expiration dates once a month and keep track of when things may go bad. No sense wasting money by letting things spoil. Some foods that last a long time are military MRE’s and numerous canned goods. Several companies sell safely sealed five year water supplies. Try to avoid dehydrated foods as they will consume vital water supplies in order to properly eat them. Be sure to store goods such as sugar, salt, spices, cooking fuels, grains, flour, and multivitamins. Your favorite foods might one day run out, build up your supplies now and prepare for the long haul.

Gardens – Growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs will be extremely vital in order to survive a catastrophe. Not only that, but if food becomes scarce, you will have your own organic, fresh supply on hand. Be sure to do some research and find foods that are symbiotic to your landscape. It will be a waste of time and money if you try to grow something that isn’t native to your soil. Also learning how to can goods and salt meats will help you preserve and stockpile fresh ingredients throughout the non-harvest seasons. Experiment with it now, before it becomes a way of life so that you can build your confidence and skills for the real deal. Start small: perhaps a small collection of herb pots on the window sill. Grow something, keep it alive, and use it for cooking. Once you become aware of how to tend for smaller plants, branch out and start growing larger things. Once you really get the hang of it, start a garden. Instead of paying someone else for their labor, learn to do it yourself.

Homemade – One of the best things you can do for yourself is learning how to take raw ingredients and turn them into your favorite foods. We’ve all grown accustomed to purchasing prepackaged, already cooked foods from the store. But how many of us could make a loaf of bread from scratch and bake it to a golden crust perfection? Learn how your favorite foods are broken down. What are the main ingredients? What happens if you forget one or use too little/too much? Find alternatives for cooking without a stove or a microwave. By learning to cook and bake from scratch, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars in grocery bills. And you can stockpile long lasting ingredients to be combined and cooked later. The best possible example I can use is bread. You can’t stockpile bread. It goes bad, turns moldy, and decays at a fairly rapid rate. However if you know how to make bread, you could stockpile flour, water, wheat, grains, and all other pertinent ingredients, then you’ll be able to make fresh bread any time you please. If you know how to make casseroles, pies, bread, noodles, catch and filet fish, or hunt and skin wild game you’ll be able to provide for yourself if the worst case scenarios come true.

         The cost of food is only going to go up. Unless humans somehow evolve to need less water and nutrients, our daily requirement isn’t going to diminish any time soon. We all need food and water. It is as necessary to our survival as air. Keep an eye on the things you buy. Pay attention to trends in prices and volume in packaging. Be aware of what you’re getting for what you’re paying. If it starts to get too expensive, stick to the basics. Fresh produce, lean meats, no empty, sugar-filled foods. The only person concerned about what you are eating is you. Take care of yourself. The big processed food companies are only worried about the margins and profit.

The Flip Side


         Today my office went out for lunch for one of our employee’s birthday. My boss drove us and we rode in his very nice Chevy Malibu. The car is beyond comfortable. Very clean and loaded up with a bunch of extras. XM radio, customized seat temperatures, OnStar, you name it. The car made me feel envious. I am still driving my car from 2003, a little Honda Civic. It’s got a giant crack in the windshield, a scratch on the left side that’s starting to rust, small cracks on the right side that have already rusted, a somewhat deteriorating interior, a long stain on the hood from battery acid, and a bungee strap underneath that holds the protection cover for my exhaust in place because it rusted off and was dragging on the ground. My boss’s car made me wish I had something newer. But then he and another co-worker started talking about his car payment. And she started talking about how she just refinanced her lease. And I had to smile to myself. My Honda is a little run down, sure. It’s old, not flashy, leaves much to be desired, but it’s reliable. It’s good on gas. And most importantly I own it; bought and paid for, with a title in my safe. See that’s where we all get caught up in the rat race sometimes. We see the shiny things other people have and it makes us jealous. It forces us into desperation where we make decisions we wouldn’t normally make. I could have easily got swept up in it all and gone out this weekend to get a new car. But when I stopped and thought about it, I realized I don’t need a new car. My Honda is my own. I know what each little scratch and dent is from. My car is me. I’ve never broken down with my car. Never had to spend a fortune repairing anything. And the only money I spend on it is gas, oil changes, and preventative maintenance such as replacing the air filter, belts, or battery when it needs it. Sure, my boss is a few months younger than me. And he dresses very immaculate. He has a house and a brand new car. I’m sure his girlfriend is beautiful as he has mentioned dating models before. But what is the price of all that? Something else he has that I don’t is a mountain of debt. So I sat back there in his backseat in my blue jeans and t-shirt and just had to shake my head at myself. Not all that glitters is necessarily gold. Don’t strive to be like The Joneses. Just strive to be the best you possibly can be within your means. And always keep in mind that looks can be deceiving. Sure someone may appear to have the perfect life, but you don’t know what they do when they get home. You don’t see the stack of bills, the maxed credit cards, or the phone calls from past due accounts. Be thankful for what you have and never underestimate the value of owning your things without letting them own you.

Productivity Boost


         “No great achievement is possible without persistent work.”, so says Bertrand Russell. And it’s very true. Everyone expects life to hand them ease and luxury on a platter and that it’ll be served in exactly the flavor they want. But for those of us with feet planted firmly on the ground, we know that isn’t the case. If you want to succeed, you have work increasingly hard at it. You have expect and accept failure. You have to learn to pick yourself. You have to push on. You also need to keep a clear picture of what it is you really want. You need to keep your goals organized and your To Do List constantly updated. Know what you want to do, but keep in mind why you want to do it, and be sure to track how you can achieve it. What is your end game? What is the ultimate goal of your goals? We can all sit around daydreaming and wishing on a star, but a truly successful person is organized, constantly in motion, and always thinking three steps ahead. But how do we accomplish this? It’s simple really. Just get yourself a Never Ending To Do List.
         I came up with this concept earlier today when I thought of some really important things that didn’t really fit the structure of my to do list for today. So here’s what you do: Get a notebook, of any size you choose. On the outside cover, merely write The Never Ending To Do List. Inside that notebook write down everything thing you need, want, have to do. Don’t date anything, don’t prioritize (at least not at first), and don’t put anything in any particular order. Success doesn’t come in one swift event. It happens through tiny baby-steps. You have to skip the stone several times across the water to reach the other shore line. Figure out what your goals are, what your intentions are, and then write down everything you need to do to secure your future. It can be small items, such as getting business cards. Or it can be a grand gesture, like hiring an agent to handle your affairs. Don’t limit the book to just your career dream, though. Make the to do list for all of your life. Finances, family, friends, retirement, goals, dreams, ideas, health, etc. Anything you need to accomplish in order to become the best person you can and should be needs to be listed.
         When you think of a new To Do, write it down in the notebook. Don’t back burner it in your mind (Or worse! Forget it entirely!). Write it down where you can see it. Let it become a real goal that you have clearly declared. Keep track of your comings and goings. Unfetter your mind and let a simple piece of paper keep you motivated and aware of what you need to do next. If you accomplish a goal, put a thin line through it. You’ll slowly start to fill the notebook up with finished tasks. Start off small, with easy goals that you can finish quickly. The success of the smaller goals will snowball into greater success with bigger tasks. As you become more comfortable and you get into a routine of using the notebook, you can then start experimenting with priorities. You can change the color of your ink; use red for my important, higher priority To Do’s. Use a highlighter for high catching tasks that need to be finished quickly. Use the margin to fill in dates next to time sensitive tasks. It’s important to never lose focus on what you need to do for yourself. Most To Do Lists are short and simple, written daily, and then discarded at the end of the day. But the steps we take towards our security in happiness aren’t done in a day. It takes a long line of hard working, organized, and focused days to accomplish what we want. Nobody else will keep track of your life. It’s up to you to pay attention to what you are (and aren’t) doing to realize your dreams.

The basics.

Hopefully yours is far more complex than this.

5.8 DC Earthquake


         The news has been a buzz this week with stories about the recent 5.8 magnitude earthquake that hit the eastern coast of the United States. It was the first earthquake of it’s kind in that area since the 1800’s. Following up this earthquake a massive hurricane named Irene is coming violently to that same coast line. This is a prime example to show you that disaster can strike any time, any where. And it doesn’t necessary just stop with one event. In less than a week, a region was hit with an earthquake and then a hurricane. Mother Nature doesn’t wait for you to be prepared. The unexpected can hit at any time and can be layer after layer of tragedy. It’s better to have a kit and a plan but not need them than to get overwhelmed with disaster and have no measure of personal assistance in place. I’ve said it before, but I’ll repeat as often as possible: THE GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BAIL YOU OUT. If you expect for FEMA to ride in on silvery manned white horses baring gifts of food and water and clean clothes, you seriously need to reevaluate who you vote into office. The government can not save us all. And as Hurricane Katrina showed us, sometimes no one is coming. This earthquake hit the DC area. What if it had crippled the government? Taken down the White House, killing hundreds of our leaders? Then if Hurricane Irene hits Florida and causes devastation, who’s coming to the rescue? Nobody. You need to prepare yourself and your family. Today I’m going to be discussing some earthquake survival tips. You might think the area you live in is immune to such things, but the entire crust of the earth is under constant pressure. At any given moment tectonic plates can shift causing tremors, earthquakes, or even sinkholes. Although you might not live right on a fault line, a powerful earthquake usually includes tremors and aftershocks which can ripple out for hundreds of miles.
         The most important thing to remember during an extremely violent earthquake is that your home gas and/or electric power as well as your water need to be shut off. Know how to do this and do it immediately. If there are downed power lines, your home line may be prone to surges that can electrocute you and fry your electronics. Powerful electric bursts might also make things such as computers and tv monitors explode. Play it safe and turn your fuse box off. If an underground gas main is ruptured during the quake, this can cause enormous amounts of problems. Leaking gas is toxic and can asphyxiate you, your family, or your pets. If a spark connects with leaking gas it can cause an explosion that could easily kill you or potentially start a fire. Water mains can flood or become contaminated. It’s vital to your survival to keep your cool and to shut these things off before doing anything else. Especially shut off the grids if you have to evacuate. No one wants to come home to a burned down house or to a house full of useless electronics.

US Earthquake region

The U.S. Earthquake Zones

         The picture above is FEMA’s graph of hotspots for earthquake activity. But just because you live in a zone outside of the deadlier zones doesn’t mean you can’t be affected by tremors and aftershocks. If you happen to live in a highly active earthquake zone, there are several things you can do to prepare prior to an earthquake strike.

  • Make sure you have plenty of food and water stocked up. In case the roads are badly damaged, aid might not be able to reach you. Have enough food to take care of your family. And don’t forget your pets! They need to eat too. FEMA recommends that the average adult needs at least 3 gallons of water per day for survival and hygiene. This amount can fluctuate depending on age. Plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to have a solar powered or hand crank emergency radio to keep you in the loop with what’s going on. This is especially important if a bulletin is released that your area needs to evacuate.
  • Prepare your home by making it sturdier and more durable in the event an earthquake happens. Suggestions usually range from securing bookshelves to wall studs and getting strong latches for cupboards to strapping water heaters down securely and moving heavier items to lower storage areas. Avoid hanging pictures or other decorations over your bed.
  • Make a plan in advance. Find a secure space in every room in your home where you can drop down low without the risk of something falling on you. Train yourself and your children for survival.
  • It is also recommended that you keep flashlights and dusk masks stored ready for use. An earthquake can leak all kinds of dust and dirt into the air. A mask can help you avoid trouble breathing, allergens, or even asthma attacks for those who suffer from them.

         If you suddenly find yourself in an earthquake scenario, take steps as quickly as possible to keep yourself safe. If indoors, get under a strong table or desk to avoid anything falling on you. If you can’t find anything to hide under, try to get in an interior doorway and brace yourself against the frame. Only do this if you are sure the frame is secure and won’t collapse on you. Be sure to avoid bookshelves and other furniture that can fall on you. Try to get away from windows and be prepared for fire alarms or even sprinkler systems to go off. Most importantly, do not panic. Most earthquakes do not last very long. Hold out, keep your head protected, and try to ride it out. If you are outdoors and on foot, get to a clear space, away from buildings, trees and especially power lines, and get down on the ground. Wait out the tremors. If you are driving, pull the car over in a safe spot away from anything that could potentially fall on you. Stay in the car and wait out the quake. Again, try to keep a rational head, keep yourself protected and wait it out. Whether indoors or out, find a secure spot where nothing can fall on you and wait until the earthquake is over. Statistically most fatalities during earthquakes don’t happen from ground movement. Most people are killed because of falling debris or collapsing buildings.
         In the event you find yourself trapped under debris there are some important guidelines to follow to ensure your survival. First, assess yourself. Can you wiggle your toes and fingers? Is your breathing impaired? Does anything hurt? Are you bleeding? If you find yourself in good working order but simply trapped, try to find a light cloth to cover your mouth and nose with to avoid breathing in dust and debris. The universal “Help Me!” signal is a set of three. For someone trapped, you should find something large that makes noise, and hopefully vibrates, and tap it three times. It doesn’t have to be continuous, but every 30 seconds to a minute, tap three times to let rescue workers know you are trapped. Do not light any matches as there may be a gas leak. Try not to move too frequently and cause dust to kick up. Stay calm and conserve your oxygen. Most importantly, do not try to dig yourself out. You have no way of knowing what’s above you and a shift in debris could cause the entire structure to collapse completely on top of you.
         If an earthquake strikes and you are fortunate enough to be prepared and not get trapped under debris, immediately get your family outdoors. If the integrity of the building you are in has been compromised, it could collapse. Once outdoors, check over yourself, your family, and your pets. Check for injuries, especially bleeding. Look for bruises and scrapes. In animals, check for awkward breathing or heavy, unnecessary panting. Lastly, earthquakes do not normally just happen and then end. Most times after the earthquake, tremors or aftershocks can be experienced for several hours or even a few days. Expect this and inform your family so no panic occurs. If you live near a coastal region, it’s especially important to have an emergency radio available to listen for updates regarding tsunamis, as these are common if an earthquake strikes near or in the ocean. People have a tendency to grow fearful during natural events that are beyond their control. Earthquakes happen and will always happen. The plates beneath our surface are constantly shifting and ever changing. Be prepared, make a plan, and do your best not to lose your nerve if an earthquake should happen. The earthquake might take you by surprise, but survival should not.

The earthquake earlier this week was around 5.8, which isn't too severe but can still cause many problems.

Daily Personal Kit Project Pt 2


A really unique bag.

The OverBoard Waterproof Back Pack

         About ten days ago, I posted a blog about developing my own personal daily survival kit using the OverBoard waterproof backpack. I’ve been slowly developing it into something unique that is not quite as diverse as a Bug Out Bag but is definitely useful as a “Get-Out-of-Dodge-and-Get-Home” type of survival kit. As promised, for every new item I add to it I will post details on here so that I can hopefully give you, my readers, a chance to gain new ideas on survival and perhaps get different perspectives on what others might use to survive. My first add-on to this wonderful backpack was to add some paracord. Paracord -or parachute cord- is generally a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope that was originally used for suspension lines in US parachutes during World War II. Once these ropes – or cords as most like to call them – were used in the field of battle, soldiers often found many other handy ideas they could be used for besides jumping from planes. Fast forward to modern time and paracords have been used by a vast array of organizations ranging from NASA to the Marines and even to everyday preppers like myself. A good rope can be a huge advantage in a survival situation. Paracords have a wide range of uses, and they are terrific for any survival kit as they virtually weigh next to nothing and cost just about the same. Lots of companies and brands sell different kinds of paracords. I went with an actual military grade just to ensure a long-lasting, reliable life. Most paracords are designed using a braided sheath made up of high number of interwoven strands giving each line a relatively smooth texture. The all-nylon construction makes paracord fairly elastic and, depending on the application, this feature can be an asset or a liability. But unless you are using the rope to go rock climbing, this generally isn’t a concern.

Rothco Paracord

Strong, Cheap, Necessary.

         I purchased Rothco Paracord via Amazon.com for a fairly cheap price. I ordered two 50 foot strands of black Type III nylon paracord. I would have preferred a straight 100 foot shot, but it wasn’t practical for my small backpack. The paracord from Rothco has a 7 core strand made of 100% nylon. Each cord has been tested by a U.S. military contractor and has been certified for up to 550 lbs. Made completely in the United States, the cords boast a thin diameter of 5/32 inches. For the price and the durability, you really can’t beat it. I started by weaving one strand onto the left strap of my bag. My thinking is that by utilizing a basically free space on my bag, I don’t have to take up any additional space inside and it doesn’t make the bag any more bulky or uncomfortable. It was a very slow process, but I took my time and made sure I packed the rope tight and wove it in a straight, winding-up pattern. Tied off at the top around the carrying handle already built into the bag, I finished the left side and quickly started the right. The right side was definitely neater and completed faster than the left as I had spent time perfecting the technique I used. In the end, I finished the project and now have 100 feet of paracord attached neatly and almost inconspicuously to my pack. Granted, having wound it and tied it off I cannot get to it in a real hurry, but at least it’s there should I need it.

I'm actually proud of myself for this idea.

Half way done. The right strap came much easier.

I wish the bag came standard like this.

The finished product. Quite nice looking.

         That being done, I added a few smaller, simpler items to the pack that might come in handy. I took four quarters, stacked them, and then taped them together. Having a few quarters is essential in case cell phone communication drops during an emergency. Chances are good that landlines will stay be okay, so keep quarters with you for payphone usage. If all else fails, at least you have $1 for an emergency vending machine candy bar if you need it. I also added a small bungee cord that is attached hidden in plain sight to the outside of the bag. A bungee is useful as it can be developed into a makeshift fishing hook if needed, or can be employed as a hanging device if you need to put some water to boil over a fire. In the event of something tearing, I could also use the bungee cord as a temporary clasp to keep something sealed until I can secure it properly. Inside the pack, I clipped two large safety pins into the actual bag’s factory tag. Safety pins are invaluable and have many uses. All three items I just mentioned have been added to my pack and have taken up no additional space, nor added to the weight or bulk of the pack. So far I’ve added four helpful items and I haven’t even started to fill up the pack yet! It’s great beginning to my project. There will be more to come once I begin to add new items.

All hail the bungee and pins!

Small, but very useful items.

Secretly hidden away.

Bungee cord easily added into the makeup of the backpack.

We won't charge them rent, they aren't using any space!

Safety pins neatly hidden away for a rainy day.