Monday, August 31, 2009

Prepare: Swine Flu Survival Guide Fox News

Fox News had a silly little slide show about how to survive swine flu.

Get a vaccine, what to do at college, school, etc.

Very silly.

How to avoid swine flu courtesy of me.

1) Avoid sick people. When the swine flu outbreaks start, plan on staying home as much as possible.

2) If you stock up now, you won't be forced out of the house to congregate with other sick people like at the grocery stores. Buy food and water in bulk now.

3) Keep your kids away from other sick children. Too many parents today are lazy and let little Fauntleroy go to school with a 101 degree fever. If the kids at school are sick, keep yours at home.

4) Avoid sick people at work too.

5) Have several N95 masks on hand. Don't buy one - buy 20 to a box, several boxes. Keep three in the car and more by the front door. Use 'em and replace them.

6) Keep hand sanitizer for you and big cans of Lysol on hand. Spray surfaces after visitors leave.

7) Avoid public gatherings. Won't it be rich when a case of swine flu spreads at a "Town Hall Meeting" on health care?

8) Disinfect your mail. Guess what the postman has been touching? Everybody else's mail!

9) Avoid visiting others for the duration. We have phones, email and online chat for catching up now. Use it.

Good luck

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prepare: What? Swine Flu Again?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offers a warning after a special panel presented a grim report, saying among other things that a "plausible scenario" for the United States later this year is wide-scale infections, possibly 30,000 to 90,000 deaths, mostly among young children and young adults, and perhaps as many as 300,000 sick enough to require intensive care unit treatment at hospitals. - news this morning.

In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), the government has to come up with a way to remove the local population from possibly witnessing the aliens landing. They concoct a horrible nerve gas release as the cause which naturally results in panic and pandemonium and the desired effect. Everybody scammed, aliens arrived, no press.

I can't help but wonder what reason the government has for trying so hard to scare us with swine flu this year. No, I don't think the government has our best interests at heart and is trying to prevent another 1918 Spanish Influenza outbreak. If the government was so concerned about our health and safety, the TSA would be profiling every potential terrorist based upon past perpetrators and would leave grandma in her wheelchair alone.

Nope, swine flu scare tactics are another classic "Hey look! It's Elvis!" distraction courtesy of Uncle Sam. They have a lot to distract us from..

- 10 trillion dollars plus in debt in 10 years or less. Even the most conservative economic commentators warn that the United States government spending debt will be 75-80% of our Gross Domestic Product. Soon, the U.S. will owe more than its worth. I can hear Mr. Potter now, "You're worth more dead than alive! Ha-ha-ha!".

- 10 percent unemployment, and growing. Many job seekers have given up. They are off the unemployment rolls. Many out of work have exhausted their benefits and they too are now off the unemployment rolls. Many who have jobs have either had their hours cut or their pay or both. They don't count in any employment survey. Many new jobs are contract only (1099), have no benefits or only pay if the employee brings the company revenue - I received a call like that five minutes ago. These "workers" are considered the same as the employee with two paychecks a month, full benefits and a 401K to the government.

I think there is closer to 15-17% unemployment when everything is taken into consideration. And like I said, it is going to get worse. The word "jobless recovery" has entered the room. Everyone stand up and introduce themselves.

- Unaccountable government. Whether it be unelected czars (where are we? 19th century Russia) running every department in the federal government or representatives ignoring their constituents on health care, immigration and jobs, the government has given their bosses (us) the finger and will do what they think is best regardless of the outcome to the people who pay their salaries. Thank goodness we are all losing our jobs. We won't have the taxes any longer to support their hair brained schemes.

But forget about the distractions. What about this swine flu? Is it for real? Yes and no. Yes there is a swine flu virus, but there are also dozens of other flu bugs out there which thousands of people get each year and some actually die from.

Is there a real threat from swine flu? Sure, there is from every flu bug. However, this one already surfaced this past spring and while there were some fatalities, there was not a pandemic that the UN, WHO and government wanted us to believe.

Is there a possibility the swine flu will have mutated and come back stronger and different than in the spring? Of course, which raises the question: Why does the government want us to take their new, rushed to market vaccine, if the bug may be worse than before? Won't the vaccine be less effective?

Is there a possibility that the swine flu could make more people sick and effect everything in our lives? Work, services, school and so on? Sure, but again, do you really think the government cares that much about grandma getting the flu, kids going to school or parents staying home and not on the roads going to work? Elderly health care, public schools and roads cost money, don't they?

A crisis like swine flu is good for government. Cities and states can declare disasters and get lots of federal emergency funding. Enough to prop up their starved governments and pass out some raises to unionized government workers. The federal government can finally push some unpopular pet projects like mandatory health screening, travel restrictions, national ID, and restrictions on pesky Constitutional liberties.

Swine flu is good for government. Fear of the unknown is good for government. Fear of a little flu bug is good for a whole bunch of people, just not you or me.

If there is swine flu pandemic, do the usual. Get the supplies and make plans you need from Preparing for Swine Flu posted this past spring. Wash hands, stay home from school and work if sick, keep the kids away from sick kids, etc.

But most of all, read between the lines. Why the panic over swine flu from the government? Hmmmm...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Prepare: One Second After Review

So this week, I finally sat down and read One Second After by William Forstchen. This is a work of fiction about an EMP (Electro Magenetic Pulse) attack on the United States. One Second After made it to the NYT Best Seller List earlier this year which shows Americans have an appetite for this type of work. Sort of like making a list before Christmas gets here.

The synopsis -

Small town, Black Mountain, North Carolina outside of Asheville, population about 6,000, is where the story takes place. The main character is John Matherson, a retired U.S. Army colonel turned professor at a small private college in the hills. The good professor is also a widowed father of two girls, one a teen, the other a twelve year old who has Type One diabetes.

On a normal afternoon, the U.S. is plunged into darkness when the EMP bust takes place. Suddenly, all modern electronics, cars, phones, power, water and everything related is shut off.

Within four days, Black Mountain is suffering. There are thousands of stranded motorists from the nearby interstate in the town straining the few resources they have. The hospital no longer has any functioning equipment. The nursing homes patients are dying for lack of air conditioning, water, medicine and trained staff. Without vehicles, the town's fire department, police and ambulance are unable to send help. There are no shipments of food or medicine coming into town and an unsuccessful trip to nearby Asheville lets the town's residents know not only are they on their own, they actually have to fear their larger neighboring cities.

Matherson, well respected in the community, steps up to a leadership role and describes events over the critical first year. It is not a pleasant picture. Without spoiling the story too much, there are a lot of hungry people, a lot of dying from basic illnesses and injury and a bunch of nasty events including a massive battle against a roving, brutal gang.

How did I like it?

I am a big fan of survival fiction. One Second After is sort of like a modernized version of Alas, Babylon, without all the conviniences. In Babylon, Randy and family pretty much get off unscathed. Sure, their clothing and cars are falling apart, but they still have a secure home, food, and organization.

Not the same in One Second. Things don't go so well for Black Mountain, North Carolina. There are no happy endings. Just one sad event after another. One Second After made me think I was reading a prequel - "What happened five years before the events in Cormac McCarthy's The Road take place".

The purpose of this is very clear from the author's standpoint; Forstchen wants to literally scare the pants off readers so that they will insist their elected representatives do something about this very real threat.

One Second After is also the complete polar opposite of the similar EMP attack story, Lights Out which can be found online. While the characters in Lights Out are dominated by local politics, rescue missions and vengeful neighbors, they never go hungry and even have time to take a daily shower and get medical attention. Forget about that in One Second After (at one point, many of the central characters go a number of months without a real bath. Think lice. Yuck).

OK, so what were my frustrations with One Second After?

First, when the lights go out, when the cell phone dies, when the car does not start, don't continue having a bar-b-que. Get to the darn store and buy everything! The main character allegedly wrote, while in the Army, a paper on the threat of an EMP attack and its affects on the U.S. He should have known better than everyone else. Yet after the attack, he is no better prepared than the town's insurance salesman.

Second, if your kid is sick, don't wait two days before going to the pharmacy! What was the main character thinking?

Third, why is it in books that the main characters can't wait to have a formal meeting with as many other characters to discuss what happened? Sure enough, Day One after the EMP attack, there's Professor Matherson having a meeting with the town mayor, police chief, etc. What's there to talk about? Get to the store!

Not me. Day One, Two and Three after the event are going to be spent getting my hands on as many resources as possible and securing my location. "Sorry, my calendar is full tomorrow Mister Mayor. I will be at the Food Lion buying all the rice and peanut butter before you folks figure out there won't be any more groceries coming in. I will be happy to pencil you in a week from Tuesday though".

Fourth, it takes the town about a month to realize they better start growing some Victory Gardens for food. Duh.

Fifth, chickens are for eggs. Get all the chickens together. Put them in one spot. Guard them and feed them. Let them lay eggs. Make many omlettes. Do not start killing the chickens to put them in a pot. Same with cows and milk.

Cigarettes are a good thing to stock up on now for trade and barter. So is a 50 lb. bag of rice and extra dog food.

There are some very poignant moments in One Second After. The scenes with his youngest daughter. The death of a couple of central characters. The sadness which becomes every day life.

Everyone should read One Second After. Everyone should start getting prepared today for this event. Unlike nuclear war from the 1980's, there won't be a build up of hostilities or even twenty minutes to take cover. Just the whole world different and backwards in time in the blink of an eye.

Note: One more thing that occurred to me since writing this review. i would love if someone like Jerry D Young or Gary Ott (online SHTF fiction writers) would take a swag at a story like One Second After. Often, both writers write much more optimistically than I think reality would be. I would be neat to see one of these writers take One Second After from the middle of the story and look at the ending from a different perspective. Worth a thought.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Prepare: What Happens After A Nuclear War?

I found this link in a forum which was discussing the very same topic. It is quite possibly the best and most thoughtful write up on the subject I have read. It is over five years old, but still very relevant in fact more so today.

I like to research things which may have an impact on me and mine. The problem with the effects of nuclear war is that most of what is written online follows these lines..

"Nuclear war will mean the death of THE WHOLE WORLD!"
"The result will be nuclear winter and the destruction of the ozone layer".
"A single bomb will destroy all of New York City, will spread fallout for hundreds of miles and will contaminate the soil, water and air for thousands of years".

Nearly all the above has been proven false. That is why finding that link and the write up was sobering and disheartening, but the truth was refreshing.

In business, we have "take aways"; what did you learn that you left the meeting with?

Here are my take aways from the above essay.

1) Have a good supply of food. This has been said over and over again in every scenario. Stored food for immediately afterwards (up to two years) and the ability (land, seed, fertilizer, livestock, skill) to produce more from then on.

2) Natural triage of the survivors will happen. Those who can save themselves or who can live without any assistance will the best off. Those waiting for and wanting outside help will not make it.

3) Who will go to the top of the "must save list" will surprise some, but not me. Child bearing women and healthy children are at the top of the list. Rebuilding the population will not be a fool's errand, but mandatory or all will be extinct in short order.

4) Skills which contribute to the survival of the group are the most valuable. Medical, technical, agricultural.

5) The 2nd Amendment as carried out by citizens will protect and preserve society. Spells it out very clearly.

6) Survival of the strongest does not necessarily mean "a big guy with a gun" but often the brightest and best organized. I call this the "survival of the adapter".

The downside of the post is what the author calls the inevitable fallback of civilization to the 18th and 17th century standards. He says this will be due to loss of technology (batteries, computers, fuel, vehicles even ammunition will run out), loss of resources (assets in the cities and on the ground will start to deteriorate the day after), and loss of knowledge (people scrambling to transcribe digital data into paper and ink written form).

Regardless, what will happen after a nuclear war has a dramatic impact on what you and I do today to plan for it.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Prepare: Job and Work Survival

No, this is not job survival as in "disaster hits while at the office", but rather some information on working and continuing to be employed while SHTF Lite takes place around us.

I have several times online about people who are out of work and how they have been unable to find work where they live. They have my sympathy; I have been out of regular work since February. I work three jobs on contract basis to support my family.

However, there is an outlet some people are unable or unwilling to take. Move.

Throughout history, the great migrations, both in recorded and ancient history revolve around people having to move due to famine, drought or lack of money/work.

We have become so accustomed to living and working where we are for as long as we please, we have forgotten how our ancestors lived. They often were forced to migrate to new jobs, work, fields and elsewhere to feed their family.

I received an email from a friend in Wisconsin who could not find IT work in his field where he lived. I pointed out that Texas was not suffering as badly as the rest of the country and had he considered looking for a job there and relocated. Absolutely not was the response. Texas was full of backwards hicks who elect George Bush governor. How dare I ask him to consider living there. Besides, he had friends and family in Wisconsin.

Here's the deal. Get over yourself. If you have children dependent upon you, you get off the pot, and get on the road to where the jobs are. Don't move until you have an offer, but for crying out loud, take a look elsewhere for work.

When I was unemployed for a good part of 2002, I looked literally everywhere. New York, Ohio, Oregon, Georgia, etc. I only cared about a decent job which would pay for itself by relocating. I was willing to pay my own expenses for the move as long as the job I was going to be somewhat secure.

If you are going to survive, sometimes you have to "Bug Out" to find a job or work. Think about our neighbors to the south who illegally cross the border and are willing to risk arrest to find work. Will they replace us because they are adapting and we are not? Something to think about.

Good luck,

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Prepare: Cooking and Food

Do you have a "every time I am at the grocery store list"?

This is a list of things you get every time you set foot in the store. It is a great way to build up your food storage.

First, set a budget, $5.00, 10.00 or 20.00. Not more than that or it will put a huge dent in your finances before you know it.

I generally go the grocery store twice a week. One day is "Big Shopping Day". That is where I fill the cart with the usual staples like meat, bread, milk, and so forth. I always use a list and always use coupons. I generally hit two or three stores before I am done. All the of stores must be within a couple of miles of home or the gas costs eats up the food savings.

Once a week, I have to go "pick up a few things". Sometimes it is something my wife needs for a meal or for baking. Other times it is more milk or bread although I try to keep three weeks of perishables on hand at all times.

When I go the store, I pick up a few things every single time.

- One 1lb bag of rice or one bag of noodles (elbow).
- Two 1lb bags of dried beans.
- Two cans of something, usually with protein like canned beans or tuna fish.
- Two cans of fruit.
- One four roll of toilet paper which ever is on sale.

All in all, I usually never spend more than seven dollars on the above. Sometimes it is a little over five.

All of these purchases go into the pantry. The rice and beans go into 5 gallon buckets in their plastic bags after they spend the night in the freezer. The cans go on the shelf.

This builds up a nice little supply of back up food with long shelf life. After a month, you have enough food for a family for three days or longer if you do it right. A year of this can mean a big dent in a month's supply of food. And it only cost about ten dollars a week. That's a fast food meal or a movie ticket.

When it comes to food, I am not a gourmet. It drives my wife bats because I eat very simply. I like bread, meat, potatoes, and little else. But I do like to cook. Cooking is a skill which all of us need before (to save money) and after (to eat, live) the SHTF. Aunt Bee is not coming over to make me a chicken dinner every night.

Because of I am all thumbs in the kitchen, I like cookbooks, the older the better, to prepare foods. New cookbooks have too much "soothing diversity and cultural awareness of foods and the sustainability they bring to persons throughout the world".

Not for me. I like a book which presumes one knows where their food came from and accepts facts such as cows and chickens are for eating.

One of my favorite cookbooks was written in the 1930's and is called French Cooking in Ten Minutes
Don't get me wrong. This is not "Filay Minyon and Snails". This is simple food, prepared quickly, for little money and with a small amount of equipment. The author based his writing on the way people lived in France in the 1930's. Most only had two burner gas or coal stoves (think Coleman stove anyone?).

The book contains recipes which take a few minutes to make and contain basic ingredients nearly everyone has at home. And the meals are filling and complete. And the author is politically incorrect by today's standards. He tells readers how to properly kill a trout ("whack its head against the side of the kitchen counter") before cooking. Why calves brains are so good cooked in butter. Why you should "stick up for yourself" and eat sausages and tuna fish for lunch if you want.

It's a great basic cooking book which can help a useless eater like me in the kitchen, or that young person you are sending off this fall to work or college. It's cheap too. A good buy in my book.

The world is heating up. I was pretty depressed last week, but feel alot better this week. I think we are about to turn the corner. Don't get me wrong. I am prepping for the worse, but I think the end game scenario is changing while we speak.

Some of the "powers that be" are working in their exit strategy now. Keep that in mind!

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