Monday, August 24, 2015

Top Knots

There are many different kinds of knots for many different uses and situations.  If you are a fisherman you had better know as many different knots as needed to accommodate the type of fishing you do.  If you are a survivalists you probably know lots of different kinds of knots for lashing.  If you are into climbing, rappelling, canyoneering, caving, etc. there are many knots that you will use that are similar yet many that are specific to each of those sports.

Here is a list of my most used, most reliable knots that I use in many different situations, that if tied and used right will not fail.  There likely may be a better knot for a specific use but being able to tie these in the dark with your eyes closed may just save you in a pinch.  You should have these knots ingrained into your memory and be able to tie them in your sleep.  

Figure Eight, on a bight and follow through.  The figure eight knot is used most times when attaching a climbing rope to a climbing harness.  Don't use a carabiner, tie it directly to the harness using the follow through technique.  This is also an excellent knot to use for rigging.  It's particular trait is that it is not only extremely strong but it is also quite easy to untie after it has been heavily loaded.  Follow this link to see how it is tied correctly.

Use can also use the follow through knot to join two ropes together and there are various other versions of this knot for rigging as well.  

Bowline.  I was first taught this knot as a Boy Scout, as a way to quickly tie a rope around my waist in case I did something foolish and needed to be secured quickly.  There are of course many other uses for the bowline.  It can be used to fasten a rope to a post, pole, tree, etc.,

The Water Knot is primarily used when joining two webbing ends together to create a 'runner' and when rigging with webbing.  You would also use it to create a seat harness in a pinch.  Tubular webbing has lots of other practical uses so you should know how to tie this knot.

The Grapevine Knot, as I learned it, also called the Double fisherman's, is used to join two ends of a rope.  This has many uses in climbing sports but also many other practical applications.  It is a very strong knot but can be difficult to untie after it has been loaded.  It can be used to tie a 'runner' out of cordage or small diameter rope.  You would then use a 'runner' of small diameter rope to tie a Prussic or Klemheist knot.

The Square Knot has multiple uses.  You should know how to tie this knot correctly.  You can use it to tie two ropes together in a non-critical application.

Prussic and Klemheist Knots are made using small diameter rope wrapped around larger diameter rope.  They are used for ascending rope, hauling and emergency breaking.  Do you remember when James Bond in "For Your Eyes Only" used his shoe laces to climb a rope while free hanging from the cliff while the bad guy uses his pistol to hammer loose the pitons in the rock?  Ok, there are a lot of things wrong with this climbing scene but his use of the shoe laces was authentic.  I'm not sure how long laces would last or if they would even hold a grown man's weight but I suppose it would work for some time.

Check out the PrepperConTV YouTube channel for my latest video.

Here's the great web site where I borrowed these images and links.  Why create my own images when animated knots already did a great job.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

10 Priority Prepper Items

I often see "Top 5", "Top 10" lists or even "Top 100" lists of items that preppers should have as part of their preparations or bug-out bag.  Honestly, I could put together a Top 1000 list and you still probably would be missing stuff you need.

This short list is meant to be a reminder that SHTF, TEOTWAWKI, "The Collapse", whatever you wanna call it, is gonna be hard, to say the least.  Here are a few things that I want to urge you to put toward the top of whatever needs list you may have that will make life easier.

1. Leather boots.  I'm talking a good, stiff, thick soled pair of leather work boots or mountaineering boots.  Not the super comfortable 'light hiker' boots which I love so very much that don't require any break in time or effort.  I'm talking about "Pioneer" quality leather boots that you could walk 1,300 miles across the plains of the US in, twice.  The kind of boots that you could easily replace the laces with paracord when they wear out.   The kind of boots that you could use to dig graves with all day long for weeks on end.  Because you'll have to.  When you find a boot that you love and that works for you, buy a few extra pair.  The boots that I prefer are made by Vasque.  I've worn these since I was a teenager just getting into climbing, backpacking, hiking and mountaineering.  Take as much time as you need to try on different boots of all different brands and find just the right boot for you.  I can't over emphasize how important this is!

There is also a place and a need for the 'light hiker' or 'tactical' boot as well.  My preferred brand for this kind of boot is Solomon.  This is the boot that I wear for most of my hiking and adventures.  This boot is not nearly as durable but it is easier to move around in as it is more flexible and comfortable.  It doesn't require any time to break it in and keeps my feet relatively cool.             

2. Lithium watch batteries.  If you're like me, you have to keep track of time.  This won't be any different in SHTF and will probably be even more critical at times.  If you can afford it, buy a quality automatic watch.  A mechanical automatic watch, not the solar or 'kinetic' watches that have sensitive electronic parts.  If not then buy a quality, durable, shock resistant lithium battery powered watch and stock up on batteries for it.  Lithium batteries keep their charge for decades and are relatively inexpensive.  Suunto is the watch brand that I prefer.  I have banged them up while caving and every other activity under the sun.

3.  Socks.  Just like Lieutenant Dan told Forrest Gump; the same rules apply in SHTF.  Take care of your feet... and don't get killed.  When you can no longer buy socks you'll realize that you can never have enough of them.  It is my daily practice to wear the best quality 'hiking' or 'work' socks available.  Yes they are expensive but when a long grueling day happens and you are still on your feet you'll understand why I wear them.  My personal favorite sock brand is Lorpen for the quality and the cost, although there are many other excellent quality brands.  Just like your boots, find the brand and sock, whether merino wool, or other synthetic fabric and buy a bunch of them.  None of those sissy cotton ankle socks for me.

4. Work gloves.  Again, if you're like me, you don't wear work gloves most of the time when you are working with your hands.  There is a benefit to having calloused hands, to an extent.  I do acknowledge that there are many times when I should be wearing gloves.  An injury to your hand, a cut or an abrasion during and SHTF event could be detrimental.  Wear gloves during questionable activities to ensure that you don't get hurt especially when it is critical will be necessary.  I recommend that you have a large stash of the cheap $10 'mechanics' gloves you can get at your local hardware store.  I admit that these gloves don't last very long but they still make it quite easy to work with your hands.  Also, have some of the more expensive $20 mechanics gloves that are reinforced for more heavy duty work.  You should have an array of different kinds of gloves for differing activities including gloves for gardening and heavy duty work.  There are many different kinds of gloves available including 'tactical' and 'technical' gloves.  Sometimes these can be just the right gloves for the activity, they are super nice but they are EXPENSIVE!  It is my experience that the standard mechanics gloves in their various different configurations, work just about as well as any of those really expensive gloves.  True, the expensive gloves may last longer but at 3 to 5 times the cost are they worth it?          

5.  Headlamp.  Having your hands free to work while in the dark, whether you are in your home preparing dinner during a power outage, reading a book, or searching for survivors in a collapsed home is needless to say, convenient.  My opinion is that the majority of your emergency lighting should be in the form of headlamps.  I will say that this is not the case in a tactical situation.  When your home has no power it can be difficult and costly to light up an entire room to the same level of light that you are accustomed to.  A headlamp that points wherever you look makes for very efficient lighting.  Like all of the other gear that I recommend your headlamps should be excellent quality.  Spend more than a few buck on your personal headlamps and flashlights.  Some of my headlamps and flashlights cost well over $100 but you can buy some good quality headlamps for around $20+.  Don't spend any less and you should probably spend more.  A good quality headlamp should have several light settings from very low to very bright.  You don't want to waste battery power on a really bright light setting when you are just reading a book and only need low light.  You'll also want to keep your lights down low if you are trying to stay unnoticed in your home.  My favorite brand for headlamps is Petzl.  There are also other great brands like Princeton Tec and Black Diamond.  My favorite brands for flashlights are Olight and Fenix.


6.  Pens, pencils, paper, notepads, etc..  A long lost art due to technology is penmanship.  When the electrical grid fails so will most of our electrical technology.  Communication and record keeping will not only be essential they will be vital.  As modern technology fades we will be forced to move backwards in time and thus penmanship may again take an important role.  It will be important to continue recording the events of the collapse and pass that knowledge forward to future generations.  Also, writing and drawing will be and are for me currently a way to relax and be creative.  This is one reason why adult coloring books have become so popular lately.  Keeping a stash of crayons and coloring books for our kids is a great way to divert their attention from the potential stress of a situation.  All of us who have kids, who pick up a crayon and color along with our kids, know that it can relax our minds.  It also help children learn coordination between their eyes and hands.  Simply writing down our feelings in a journal can help to lower stress and resolve emotional problems.      

7.  Music.  Life will be hard in a collapse situation.  Most of us know that music can take us to a completely different place, provide joy and a feeling of peace.  I guarantee that this will be greatly needed in an SHTF situation, especially for kids.  Most of us, including our kids, already have smart phones, ipods, mp3/4 players, tablets, etc with music already loaded on them.  If you have a way to recharge these devices, and protect them from the plausible EMP, you can bring a bit of normalcy to their lives.  A break from the chaos that will be.  Pianos, guitars and other instruments will become more and more important as well.  Don't forget to have classic music loaded on your devices too.  As to Classical I mean Chopin, Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Schubert, Gershwin, the BeeGees, and other good music and audio books.  All other music gets old and repetitive but the appreciation for the true classics never fades.  If your kids have not heard Gershwins classics they truly are missing out and perhaps it will have the same effect on them as it did on Jack-Jack.  Those of you who love the move 'The Incredible' as much as I do will understand that reference.  Obviously the BeeGees was meant as a joke but you get my drift.  Keep this in mind while you are preparing your home and family.

8.  Candy.  Like music and pens and paper, candy is not an essential survival item.  But just add these few items to your basic essential items necessary to sustain life and they can make a tremendous difference.  I keep a stash of Atomic Fireballs as my 'survival' candy of choice.  When I need a little something sweet they always hit the spot for me and I don't usually 'need' more than one a day.  Plus nobody else in my home likes them so they are all only for me.  :-)  Find that one candy that works for you, preferably a hard candy that can last for years.  Some other suggestions for that survival candy could be root beer barrels, lemon drops or other old fashioned candies such as Horehound.    

9.  Hand tools.  Digging graves will be really hard without a shovel and a pick!  Sorry to be so grim and dark but for many reason which I will not expound on this will be an extremely, extremely important task when SHTF!

Do you remember the movie "Holes"?  Hard work does add to your character and is good for the body.  Now think, how many of you, or your kids for that matter, have ever dug a hole... just for the heck of it?  I dug a lot of holes in the dirt hills behind my house when I was a kid and loved it, but most of my kids haven't.  My 7 year old recently took his shovel and dug a hole in the flower bed.  I wasn't upset because he said 'That was kinda fun.' and I understood and remembered back to my childhood. Before the Atari and Colecovision were even thought of that is what we did.  What I am getting at is that things are going to change back to the 'good 'ol days' so you had better start making the changes now.

List the power tools that you use most often and then figure out what hand tools you would need to replace them if you didn't have electricity available to run them.

And this is not what I am talking about.

10.  Mentholatum.  There's a thousand and one uses for Mentholatum from dry lips to chest congestion.  Having some kind of a moisturizer for hands and lip and other dry skin will always be a blessing.  In addition to Mentholatum another one that you may choose is Vermont's Original Bag Balm.  It goes a million miles and can be used on literally everything including cows udders.  A little goes a long way, it's inexpensive and an old fashion remedy.  Carmex has been around for decades and works well too.              

Monday, August 10, 2015

My guide to AR-15's

I have not touched on the topic of guns for quite some time so for a brief change, that I am happy to make, i'll give you some of my thoughts and advice once again.

There are many reasons why I recommend that everyone who is serious about defending their home and family and is also serious about the right to bear arms should own an AR-15.  This is my 'quick and dirty' guide and I'm not going to provide lots of detail.  Please do your research before you make a purchase, but here's my two bits of advice.  

First, an AR-15 is an excellent choice for home protection as long as you use the right defensive ammunition in that situation.  You will want to choose a round that is meant to expand or fracture upon impact and not full metal jacket rounds.  This will help ensure that if you must fire within your home the round has a minimal chance of leaving your home and if it does it will have lost much of its velocity and will be less dangerous if it does make it out.  Because of the standard 30 round capacity magazines you have a weapon capable of defending your home from multiple attackers without reloading or swapping out magazines.

Second, the AR-15 is a relatively light rifle with a short barrel and can be used in tight quarters more effectively than many other weapons.

Third, the AR is a more versatile platform than most others that can be added to, subtracted and tweaked with accessories and options to make it just how you like it.  With your first AR you probably won't know exactly what you like or need until you put it to use and start training with it.  You'll then find out what works and what doesn't work for you in your unique situation and application.        

Fourth, it makes gun-grabbers mad that they can't control this aspect of our lives.  They call it an "assault" weapon and think it looks scary.  The truth and reality is that the look and the function of the AR-15 are what makes it so versatile, reliable as well as fun to shoot.

Fifth; 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. Enough said.

Now, my advice is the way I have built my own personal AR.  After plenty of research, trial and error and lots of shooting I know exactly what you will want in your first AR too.  Obviously that's meant to be a joke, but I do believe that you can't go wrong with this advice.

The rifle above is a Smith & Wesson M&P-15.  It is mil-spec which includes the forward assist, brass deflector, flash hider/break and front iron post sight.  You can purchase a more basic AR without most of these features but I discourage it.  The ability to shoot lefty or righty without getting brass in your face is, let me say, important.  The front iron sight will get in the way of some optical sights but is easily dealt with and is "bomb proof".  The front sight is the most important.  It can be used as a blunt instrument when fighting in close quarters and it also allows for you to affix a bayonet.

The picture of the AR shown above has pencil barrel profile.  I prefer the M4 barrel as it is has the accuracy of a heavy barrel without all the extra weight. The A2 flash hider also helps to manage recoil.    

This pic shows the M4 barrel and A2 flash hider.

I am a big fan of the Magpul hardware as the rifle is outfitted above.  It's very ergonomic and extremely durable as well as good looking.  You can customize your rifle easily with Magpul accessories including choosing the color of the furniture.  The M&P rifle above is also a mid-lenth gas system.  Either carbine-length or mid-length is preferable to me and extremely reliable with minimal maintenance.  

The short magpul vertical forward grip on the hand guard is the one I use.  I have tried several different kinds and prefer this short length.  I do not hold this forward grip with my entire hand but rather place my thumb over the top of the hand guard and three fingers around this grip.  The longer mid length system and hand guard allows you to grip the rifle in multiple ways including fully extending the forward arm.  It also provides for a slightly longer sight radius which is preferable.

This rifle as is off the shelf, out of the box is excellent!  There are a few modifications that you can very easily make that will increase its reliability.  

First, switch out the wimpy stock charging handle with a BCM or other brand,  This makes chambering a round much easier especially when you are wearing gloves.  

Next, consider switching out the standard bolt carrier group with a coated BCG like ones from FailZero.  This is touted as self-lubricating and has much more wear resistance which also makes it easier to clean.  

Another mod I highly recommended is anti-rotation pins.  It sucks when you are out shooting and one of the pins holding in the trigger group falls out.  Granted this does not happen very often but it is another very easy and inexpensive way to increase the reliability of your AR-15.  It may only be an inconvenience when target shooting and a pin drops out but when it really counts I really don't want to have any problems.  

Rear sight; again, I prefer Magpul.  Either the MBUS or PRO.

Trigger;  Keep it stock.  The mil-spec trigger that comes with most basic AR's is usually a single stage that has around 7 lbs pull.  It's kinda rough and there's nothing special about it... except reliability.  Sure you could drop in a nice smooth two-stage trigger but at what cost?  They are expensive and are not as reliable as a mil-spec.  However, you do need to have spare parts.  After you have some experience with your AR and feel the need for a better trigger I say go for it.  Then you'll have the stock trigger as a back up spare part.  Put this toward the bottom of your list.  You can learn to pull a stock heavy trigger well.

Optics.  There are lots of great choices for optics.  First, get to know your gun with steel sights.  Then move up to a good quality optic.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  This is also true in optics, up to a point.  This is where it really depends upon your skill level.  If you really need the best of the best then you will end of paying upwards of $2,000 on a scope or you can spend 1/4 of that cost for a scope that will do very well for most people and skill levels.

Get a red dot.  These are best for up close as well as out to around 100 yards or so.  They are small and lightweight.  For an economical but still very good red dot go for the Bushnell TRS 25.  It's only around $100 but is really great for the $.  Consider a red dot if you primarily intend to use your AR for home defense.

For a better built red dot that is still a great value go for the Aimpoint PRO.  At less than $500 you can't go wrong with an Aimpoint.  And they go up in price from there... but most of us won't have the need for a military grade optic like some of the higher end Aimpoints.  

For me, my AR is a multipurpose tool.  It needs to work up close for defending our home as well as reach out a little farther for hunting coyotes and varmints.  To shoot accurately at distance a scope will be necessary.  The problem with many traditional scopes mounted on an AR-15, built the way I have been describing, is that they are no good up close.  Most scopes begin at 3x or 4x magnification.  For these reasons Vortex and other manufacturers make a specific type of scope for this purpose.  With a wide field of view at 1x magnification and the ability to zoom into 4x or more, these types of scopes provide the best of both worlds; no magnification for up close shots with the ability to quickly zoom in to accurately take those longer shots.  

The Vortex PST is a fantastic scope for this purpose and can be purchased for around $500.  You will also need a mounting system.  I prefer a quick release mount.  A good mount will cost you $100 or more.  Keep in mind that having a scope on your AR makes it more versatile but also quite a bit heavier.

One last item that can't be forgotten is a dedicated weapon mounted light.  If you have your AR-15 set up for home defense you must have a light on it!  A clear view of your target at all times, especially in the dark, is imperative.  You don't want to shoot your daughters boyfriend while he's attempting to sneak into the house.  Trust me, you don't.  Just like most of these other accessories there are many different attachments for flashlights and many different kinds of weapons lighting systems.  My advice; keep it simple.  My setup is the Magpul rail light mount for the Magpul hand guard.  It is mounted on the opposite site of my forward arm so that I can depress the on/off button on my Fenix PD20 with my thumb.  This particular light takes a single CR123 lithium battery, is small, lightweight and has a button on the bottom of the light.  You'll want a light upwards of 200 lumens that also has a stobe selection.  I can easily turn on and off this light with my thumb.  When I let go of the button the light stays on.  There are other momentary lights available that stay on only when the button is depressed.  I prefer the opposite so that when I identify my target I do not have to concentrate on depressing the button while firing but rather release the button so that I can concentrate on pulling the trigger and aiming properly.   Make sense?  A light with a lithium battery is ideal.  A lithium battery can sit unused for 10 years and it will still work, and they don't corrode or leak like alkaline batteries do over time.  

The fact is that there are lots of great choices for rifles, sights and accessories.  After considering and using many different types of accessories these are the ones that I am currently using.  There are many great rifle and accessory manufacturers to choose from other than these.  Like me, it may take you a while to figure out which work best for you for your needs but hopefully my advice has helped you to better make your own decisions.  

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

All is well

"What?!  Are you crazy?!" You must be thinking to yourselves.  Hold on!  I agree with you, clearly, all is not well.  But it can be.  Can't it?  Allow me to explain and then elaborate.  But first I must go back into history to illustrate.

In 1846's Mormon pioneers first began the long trek from Nauvoo, Illinois to the uninhabited Salt Lake valley.   This trip was made in wagons, handcarts and on foot and continued with many different 'companies' for several years.  Approximately 10% of these pioneers perished on this so called 'Mormon Trail' (part of the Oregon trail) with one company in particular loosing as many as one quarter of the entire group.  Clearly all was not well with them.  The primary reasons for their troubles came from either being poorly prepared or leaving too late in the season.  With handcarts that would only carry 500 lbs of supplies I can see how it would be difficult to be adequately prepared for the 1,300 mile journey.  I wish to illustrate how we can learn from the past to prepare for the future.  There's no need to let the lessons learned by our ancestors go to waste.

Despite their numerous problems during their journey, as well as the difficulties of creating a new settlement in the middle of the desert once they arrived, one of the things that kept them going was their faith.  One of the ways they carried on with faith was with the help of Hymns, including a particular song that they sang and kept in their hearts as they crossed the plains.

"Come, Come Ye Saints."

Come, come ye saints. No toil or labor fear.  But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear, grace shall be as your day.
'Tis better far for us to strive Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell - All is well!  All is well!      
You can find more verses of this hymn here.

With all of the trouble of the world right now, that we hear and see everyday, does it not lighten your spirit and lift your heart to have the right perspective in your preparations instead of doom and gloom?  The proper attitude in a survival situation is essential!

Many of us who are preparing for the difficult times that we know are coming our way may not in reality be emotionally, mentally or spiritually prepared for how hard it actually is going to be.  We may have plenty of guns and ammo, food storage and supplies but that may not be enough.  I personally do not fully comprehend the extreme level of difficulty and suffering that is possible but looking back to our ancestors helps me to gain some perspective.  This perspective, I believe, will help me to better prepare for what the future holds.

To be properly prepared requires us to be aware of current events which are filled with ugly and depressing news.  We then attempt to compensate for fear and despair by buying more and more stuff.  Yes, stuff is important to have, but far more important is to be spiritually prepared.  Now, don't misinterpret my statement.  I believe that it is our responsibility and instinct as human beings and as children of God to be prepared to survive whatever situation we find ourselves in.

Referring back to the hymn;

And should we die before our journey's through, Happy day!  All is well!
We then are free from toil or sorrow, too;
With the just we shall dwell!  But if our lives be spared again to see the saints their rest obtain,
Oh, how we'll make this chorus swell - All is well!  All is well!    

With the right attitude and perspective, that is only truly attainable through your own spiritual preparedness, by your own personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ, all IS well and will be well in the end.  None of us can escape this 'end' but individually I hope that I can do as much good as possible before my end.  I believe that these Mormon pioneers knew these truths which ensured many of their survival.

On occasion I like to play the Xbox game "HALO" with my brothers.  I am sure many of you are familiar with it.  One of the most frustrating times for me in this game is when a new games starts and I am killed off almost immediately.  I am unable to make any progress before I'm terminated.  This happens a lot as I only play about once a year.  Fortunately, in this game we are "spawned" anew and get to try over again and again.  The obvious parallel drawn here is that in the game of life we don't get that chance.  We need to make our first and only chance count.  But if we don't make it to our desired destination, and if we are spiritually prepared, then "All is well".

We have the privilege and capacity to be the most prepared people to have ever lived on this planet because of the technology, resources and wealth available to us.  This unique situation to us makes our generation either the most prepared or the most vulnerable that there ever was or ever will be.  There's quite a dramatic difference between these two conditions.  The difference in spiritual preparedness is also just as noticeable right now with statues being erected to celebrate Satan and monuments being torn down reminding us of God's commandments, the contrast is frightening.  But don't worry, it will get much worse.

Imagine the conditions of these pioneers.  What gear did they take with them over their 1,300 mile trek?  Wool clothing and blankets at best.  Black powder rifles, Inferior steel knives and tools.  Heavy canvas tents.  Heavy wood handcarts and wagons that consistently broke down.  How much better off do we have it now as to technological advancement?!  The stark difference is nearly mind boggling.  Although these same pioneers endured harsh persecution for their religious beliefs their physical trials were possibly even more difficult.  I believe that we now face just the opposite conditions.  Although our physical trials will be very difficult our spiritual and mental struggles will be even more so, thus the even greater need for spiritual preparation, perspective and attitude.

I have often thought that as we see technology take over, the more simple things in life will become more desirable, just as the opposite was true as convenience from technology began to emerge.  I find that this is becoming true as I speak to more and more people who desire to escape from technology and information overload and seek the more spiritual nature of our soul.  We are spirit beings first that were placed in physical bodies that have many limitations.  Both of which need attention and nourishment.  As we recognize what we lack in our physical preparations let us not forget to also pay attention to our spiritual needs.        
Let's take this approach as we prepare ourselves for the coming difficulties.  Fortunately you don't have to wear only wool clothing and leather boots if you are planning on bugging out.  Fortunately we don't have to try and keep our powder dry or cast our own bullets but have the lightest and most accurate firearms and most convenient and powerful ammunition ever known.  We know exactly which guns we need and we know exactly the solar oven we need but do we know exactly what we need to do to spiritually prepare?

It is not my intention to tell you how to spiritually, mentally or emotionally prepare.  That is a very personal search for each and every one of us.  I will say that it is essential to your survival and should demand your immediate attention as you also continue to also build your physical preparations.

As these pioneers made their journey to a physical place they believed would give them the freedom they so righteously desired, they came to realize that their spiritual strength is what made the difference and even saved their lives many times.  I won't go into details with their many stories of struggles and survival but it was their faith and their attitude that "All is well!" that carried them through, made their journey bearable, and brought them closer to God.  The same will be true with us but only if we are prepared.  The time is now to gather the stuff that you will need to survive.  The time is also now to be prepared for if we don't survive.  In either case the truth can be "All is well!".

Images borrowed from the National Oregon Trail Center website.     

Friday, July 24, 2015

Be ready by September

If you are keeping an eye on current events and watch alternative media sources at least somewhat regularly you are probably already aware that there is a lot of talk about what could potentially happen this fall.  More particularly in September.

I won't go into the details, you'll just have to do your own research about what could potentially happen.  But I will say that the correlation and coincidence of events is astounding!  Too many to say that it is purely coincidence.    

Here is a video worth watching that will give you a picture of what I am talking about.

When the time for a decision is at hand the time for preparation is past.  Better early than late.  That's all I'm saying.  I don't have any special knowledge of anything specific that may or may not happen this fall but what I DO know, and that I have been saying for a while, is that the time will soon come in which it will be too late to prepare.

The truth is that there are more than just a few possibilities for chaos at this time.  Systemic breakdown, economic slowdown, financial collapse, Jade Helm 15, world war, you name it.  Take your preparations seriously and make it your goal to be as prepared as you can be by September.  Most likely nothing will happen but the quantity and coincidence of events that are piling up make it too risky to ignore.

I find it more than interesting that some of these systemic problems that have been addressed in the alternative medial for years are actually starting to make their way into the mainstream media.  This can be interpreted as a good sign or a really bad sign.  For conditions to be so bad that even the mainstream media can not ignore them means that they must be pretty bad, but it is good that more people are learning about them.

Here is a short list of some of my recommendations that you should do to be ready, just in case;

1.  Have at least three months worth of food storage and 2 weeks of fresh water.  Fill your cupboards primarily with the stuff that you eat every day.  Don't forget the TP, extra batteries and other essential household supplies.

2.  Learn how to bake your own bread and have 3 months worth of ingredients.  You'll need an alternate way of baking bread too.  I have an ECO HERC oven by Titan Ready USA as well as a dutch oven either of which will bake bread very nicely.  I also have a stash of charcoal briquettes and tea light candles.

3.  Keep some cash on hand.  ATM's and banks do not have enough cash for everyone.  Most US dollars exist only as 'one's and zero's' in a computer.  If there's a problem with credit there will be a run on cash and you may not be able to get any.

4.  Trade some of your dollars for precious metals, silver in particular.  What good is cash in the bank when it earns you virtually no interest and is at risk of loss?  At the very least silver is an excellent way to preserve and store wealth.  Silver is highly undervalued at a time when all paper instruments are highly overvalued.  If you don't hold it you don't own it... and it just may go to the moon!

5.  Get everything in order.  If your car needs new tires or a new battery, don't hesitate any longer.   Take care of needed home repairs,  Get that surgery scheduled you have been in need of.  Do now what you may not be able to do later.    

6.  Have at least one firearm and an adequate supply of ammunition.  Learn how to be safe and proficient with it.

7.  Don't plan on taking any trips of any significant distance.  Plan on staying close to your home base.  Whenever I go anywhere my plan is based around the possibility that I may have to walk home.  So I carry with me what I would need.  I call it my bug-home bag.  If you do take a trip my advice is go prepared.  Plan on walking home.

8.  Consider your gas tank empty at 1/2 tank and have a 5 gallon can or two filled and stored in a safe place at home.

9.  Learn to do without... technology.  It could be a good time to print out those pictures that are precious to you that only exist digitally.  Print out important journals that you have saved only on your hard drive(s).  Build a physical library of important books and instruction manuals.

10.  Make sure you are out of the market or that you hold only what you really want and are willing to hang on to long term.  Anything that exists only as a paper asset or digitally is at risk.  Concentrate on building tangible physical assets rather than stock or bonds.

Most importantly, don't worry and don't stress.  Like I said before. Most likely nothing will happen of significant consequence BUT it is far better to be prepared than not.  Your preparations will give you peace of mind for you and your family.

There are many more things you can do to prepare.  This short list is just a few of the more critical ones.  Check out my previous blog posts to learn more of my advice.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Interest rates as a means of control

So the federal reserve says that they will be raising interest rates soon huh?  For those of you who believe that I urge you to think again.  The fed does not want to raise rates and will never raise rates until their purposes have been accomplished.  Purposes, you say?  What possible purpose could there be of spreading 'free' money all over the world beyond stimulating the growth of the economy?  To answer that somewhat sarcastic questions I ask you another questions.  For what reason(s) is anything ever free?  What strings were attached the last time you got something for free?  What was the actual price you had to pay when you last got something for free?  Free carpet pad with overpriced installation?  Buy one overpriced pair of shoes and get another one free?  Get a free Subway sandwich but only after accruing points having made many other purchases first.

You and I both know that virtually nothing is truly free.  The first pair of shoes you bought were overpriced so that the store could afford to give you another pair for 'free'.  Subway had to make a nice profit on you from all of your purchases before they could give you a free sandwich.  There are many more examples of this that I won't take the time to go into.

Sure, the Fed continues to keep saying at each FOMC meeting that they are going to raise rates but those of us who are clued into the truth about the federal reserve understand that their talk is all for show.  Have you seen how the markets react after each FOMC meeting?  Just the hint that the Fed is going to raise rates in the near future sends the markets up.  They don't need to raise rates to make the dollar stronger.  At least not for now.  All they have to do is hint about it and the main stream media and wall street jump as if it has already been done.  This strategy will not work for much longer.

The real reason interest rates are at essentially zero, in my humble opinion, other than because the economy is not actually growing, is specifically for the primary purpose of getting all people, cities, governments, municipalities and countries into debt and thus into servitude, under their control.  Who are "they"?  They are them who's product is debt.  Those who tell us that debt is a way of life.  The only way of life.  They are the same ones who brainwash us everyday with temptations of 0.00% interest rates on your new VISA credit card and low down home loans.  While at the same time they are destroying the middle class which virtually guarantees that you'll stay indebted to them forever.   

It is a fact that the US economy can not grow unless debt is expanded.  Both consumer debt and government debt must continually grow while the government attempts to inflate away their debt.  The fractional reserve banking systems that has taken over our world necessitates that additional debt be continually created just to cover the interest that is due on all the money created out of thin air.  I know, it makes perfect sense right?!  Ug!!!    

The fed could have and should have raised rates as soon as the recession was officially over.  Not that the recession ever really ended.  Zero percent interest rates were never appropriate.  Even Janet Yellen herself has called the low interest rates "inappropriately low".  Years and years of cheap money has done irreparable damage to the entire worlds financial system.  Cheap money has caused production of commodities and other products to expand greatly which has lead to overproduction and excessive supply.  This is leading to deflation, the number one enemy of the fiat banking system.  These guys know EXACTLY what they are doing.  

If any of you doubt what I am saying then take a look at what is happening in Greece.  Did the IMF forgive ANY of the Greek debt with their latest "bail out" agreement?  Did they give up anything at all to benefit the Greek people?  The answer is loud and clear; NO!  Reducing Greek debt would be a good thing for Greece, the IMF and as all nations holding Greek debt.  Greece's economy would grow which may make it possible for them to actually pay off a lower level of debt which would then benefit all parties.  BUT this did not happen and will not happen because the IMF and the international bankers only want control.  The IMF will now be taking control of Greek infrastructure and assets which will make conditions even worse in Greece.  Without assets the Greek government will not be able to raise the revenue necessary to even pay the interest payments due.  So, Greece will be back in not just the same place but in much worse condition as soon as the bail out funds from the IMF run out.

Now, suppose that the IMF did provide some debt relief for Greece.  What would have been the result?  Other countries that are indebted to the IMF like Greece would also petition for debt relief.  Providing debt relief would thwart the purposes of the world banks, central banks and the elite.  Debt is their product and there are no returns or exchanges allowed.  The IMF just made this perfectly clear with the latest Greek bail out.   Not only would debt relief be like giving refunds on open box merchandise after 30 days but it would cause everyone else to race for the exits as well.  This would cause a collapse of not only the Euro and the EU but shortly thereafter the entire world financial system.  Now that we see that the 'powers that be' will not allow debt to be forgiven, except for where otherwise permitted by law, you should assume the same for yourselves.  

My advice to you... Run for the exits!  Get out of debt now by whatever means you can.  Do not fall into the trap of acquiring debt just because you are tempted with extremely low interest rates.  Live within your means at all times even when you watch the Jones's drive home in the newest luxury SUV towing the matching ski boat.  Get yourself out of the system and put your hard earned wealth into real assets, not paper 'assets' or vehicles that depreciate and break down.  Remember, this is being done to us on purpose.  The banks and the elite are intentionally burdening us with debt as a means control.  Being in debt is servitude.  You can not truly be free if you are subject to rulers.  The fed will not raise interest rates until the entire planet is under their control, including you and me.  (Ok, that may be an exaggeration but hopefully you get my point.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Everyday Bug-Out Vehicle

I have a problem with the typical bug out vehicle that you may see hard-core preppers advocating all around the internet.  A big, old, ugly, lumbering beast of a vehicle.  Of course there are many different versions of what could be called a bug-out vehicle as well as many reasons why you might want to build one.  My version of a bug out vehicle is one you might not have considered.  Do you need a bug-out vehicle built from an old surplus military rig or '70's EMP resistant vehicle?  Maybe not.

Here are some of the qualities that I require, or rather, need, in my own bug-out vehicle.

Reliability/Dependability.  Sure, a 1970's bronco could be considered reliable in it's own right but compared to a Toyota from the same era it doesn't hold a candle.  Imports including Toyota and Nissan have long proven to be the most dependable SUV's and trucks on the road,  Newer American made vehicles like the F150/250/350 have also proven to be tough and reliable.

Move quickly and quietly over rough terrain.  In an SHTF scenario you'll need to depend upon speed, agility and stealth.  A full size, solid axle V8 vehicle with a flowmaster type exhaust and big knobby mud tires is not what I would consider agile nor stealthy.  Worn mud tires and a loud exhaust meant to show off your big block V8 engine grunt will tell potential marauders that you are coming from miles away.  Keep your vehicle exhaust stock to keep it as quiet as it can be.

Be appropriate for everyday driving.  In an emergency you may not get the chance to switch vehicles from your daily driver to your bug out vehicle.  For me they are one and the same.  I've got to be able to carry all 7 of us safely to and from school as well as on the weekend trip.  Three point seat belts and head rests for everyone.  AC and a good stereo too.  :-)  

Capable.  It should be obvious that any bug-out vehicle must be four wheel drive.  The traction difference between front wheel or rear wheel drive only and a 4 x 4 rig is like the difference between night and day, or even more dramatic.  If you were to get stuck because you don't have a 4 x 4 then your bugging out attempt is over and your chance of survival drops dramatically.  Getting slowed down by rough terrain would also make you vulnerable to those who would take your preps away from you.  A capable rig does not mean that you have to be able to drive it through a mud bog or a boulder field.  Most stock trucks and SUV's are capable enough to get you through more obstacles than you can imagine if you have the knowledge and experience of how to drive them.

Towing.  The most reasonable way to prepare to bug out is to have your daily driver and then equip a trailer to tow with all your supplies.  Yes, your bug out location should already be stocked up with supplies but there will always be more that you should take with you.  A camping trailer or a simple enclosed trailer will do nicely.  There are off-road trailers available that are more capable with more ground clearance that are a great option depending upon where you plan on going.  Parking a camo painted blazer on the side of your home may alert your neighbors in your suburban neighborhood that you are a bit of a kook, whereas your daily driver with a few mods and a white utility trailer wouldn't stand out at all.        

To ensure that a vehicle remains dependable it must remain as close to stock as possible.  To improve speed, and agility you'll have to make some modifications without compromising reliability.  

To make your rig more capable without compromising reliability I suggest the following modifications.

Lift.  Increase the height of your rig by 1" to 2" to accommodate heavy duty springs, slightly larger tires and better quality, larger diameter shocks.  This will increase the load carrying capacity and make your vehicle handle better with heavier loads.  Most rigs can handle up to 3" of lift without compromising the angles of the drivelines and axles/CVs.  Do some research for your particular vehicle to determine what is best.  You can go higher but you might compromise the driveability of your rig and compromise dependability.  There are lots of great quality kits available if you do wish to fit bigger tires, depending upon which rig you have chosen.

Shocks.  Switch out your stock shocks to a higher quality more off-road capable shock like the Bilstein.  Longer shocks will be required when installing a lift kit.  Bilsten makes more than a few versions from the mild to the wild.  There are also many other manufacturers that make replacement performance shocks.  Larger diameter and longer shocks will give your rig more suspension travel, more control under heavier weight and allow you to move at higher speeds over rough terrain under control.

Tires.  With a 1" to 2" lift you'll be able to fit a slightly taller and wider tire on your rig.  A taller and wider tire will give you a wider track and larger tire footprint.  This is especially important when driving on deep sand, mud or snow when flotation is important.  Mud tires are awesome off road!  For the ultimate traction purchase a set of mud tires.  However, mud tires are noisy.  Especially as they get more and more worn.  This will hurt your ability to be stealthy at speed on paved roads.  Mud tires are also not as agile as an all terrain as they are made to fold and conform to rocks for increased traction.  Choose an aggressive all terrain tire that will keep your road noise down but is still tough enough for serious off-roading.  The BFG AT KO2 is my tire of choice.  There are only a few other tires that are just as tough.  For me, this tire provides the best combination of street performance and off road traction and durability. And it's pretty awesome looking too.   You need only increase your tire size by one or possibly two sizes.  Fit as much tire on as possible without any rubbing under compression or while turning.  

Wheels.  Consider buying a new set of wheels with your new tires.  Most of the time larger tires will still fit appropriately on the stock wheels.  Most stock wheels are designed for the tire to stay completely within the wheel well of the vehicle, which means a narrower stance.  Adding width is a must when adding height to your vehicle.  Select a wheel that has additional offset, that will widen the stance/track of your vehicle.  You need only add a little bit of width so that the edge of the tire matches flush with the edge of the vehicle or slightly beyond.        

Locking differential.  Adding a locking rear differential to your rig keeps both wheels turning regardless of how much traction either wheel has.  With an open differential if one wheel were to loose traction by either being on a slippery or loose surface or is lifted up off the ground, all of the power from the drivetrain would be transferred to the wheel with the least traction.  Locking the differential ensures that power is transferred evenly to both wheels.  If your rig has a traction control system you already have the means to control wheel slip.  A locking differential is more effective but with some practice you'll learn how to drive with your traction control system almost as effectively as having a locking differential.  Many Toyota off road vehicles have electronic locking differentials in addition to traction control systems which is the best of both worlds.

The vehicle that I have chosen for my bug-out / bug-home / tactical / utility (whatever you wanna call it) vehicle is a 2005 Toyota 4Runner.  Here's why.

It seats 7 people which is what we need to accommodate our family.
It is small enough to be agile on narrow mountain roads.
It is as reliable and dependable as it gets.
It has a 265 hp/330 lb ft torque V8 engine that is rated to tow 7,000 lbs.
It has a 20 gallon gas tank which give us the range we need to get out of dodge.
It is full time four wheel drive and has traction control and locking center differential.
I have equipped it with a 2.5" lift using heavy duty replacement coil springs and coilover shocks.  These particular coilover shocks are essentially a tamer version of a full-on off road racing shock.  The larger diameter shock body allows me to hit large bumps without slowing down while retaining control.
I switched out the narrow stock 17" wheels for a wider offset wheel to give it a wider stance for stability.
It runs 265/75R16 BFG AT KO2 tires.  Just one size larger than stock.  That's pretty much as tough a tire as you can get.  It has a three ply sidewall to resist punctures and aggressive side lugs to help when in deep mud.  Don't forget the full size spare.
I installed a hidden receiver hitch on the front of the vehicle to carry a Warn winch.  I elected not to install a steel bumper as they are quite heavy and reduce the agility and load capacity of the vehicle.
Add heavy duty skid plates to protect the vital 'organs' on the underside of the vehicle.  

This vehicle will get me anywhere I need to go and it can do it with relative speed, stealth and agility.

Now I know that there will be those of you who say that it is not EMP protected.  This may be true but my current bug-in plans do not necessitate an EMP resistant vehicle.  I have read that an EMP will not harm most vehicles anyway.  Whether this is true or not is beside the point as our current plans are to bug-in.  I am also of the philosophy that if you don't get out early, really early, you probably won't be able to get out at all, unless you happen to own a tank and a refueling station along the way.  If you plan on bugging out, do it really early, even now.  Move to a rural area and start your life there where you can then bug-in.

My priority with building this vehicle was to have fun in the mountains which also makes it an excellent bug-out vehicle.

Since I do not live in a truly densely populated area like an 'inner city' area I don't have to think about how I'd get out of there.  Frankly if I did i'd probably feel panicked every day thinking about when the right time would be to get out.  Get out now if you are not comfortable with where you live.    

Those of you who feel the need to purchase a surplus military vehicle that will cross the continent, more power to you!  You may be the one we all need to hitch a ride with some day.  For most preppers I think my advice should do you well.

The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a prepared guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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