xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Prepared Guy

Friday, May 20, 2016

PrepperCon Radio Episode 33, 5 18 16 Survival Myths and Mistakes with Cache Valley Prepper

Don't believe everything you see, hear or read on TV or the internet.  Don't be misled by survival cable TV show 'experts'.  Cache Valley Prepper joins us to help dispel common and not so common myths and mistakes of survival and emergency preparedness.



A survival mindset should not simply be associated with wilderness survival.  Take it with you everywhere you go.



Below is the email collaboration with myself and Cache Valley Prepper in preparation for this show.  I have left the notes in their rough format.  I think you'll find them informative and entertaining.

PG:
Some of these are some pretty heavy Prepper specific topics.  Which is great.  I think we should at least, at the first of the show, touch on the more basic survival myths concerning water, shelter, tourniquets etc.  These will only take a short while.  Maybe we focus on these during the first segment(s) then get serious with these items during the last segment?

CVP:
I was actually wondering about that and should have asked specifically. That makes sense and is perfectly fine. Would you like to confine it specifically to wilderness survival? If so, that would be fine, I have plenty to contribute on that subject and can reuse this content no problem.

Sorry for the long comment, but this an important investment for the long haul. I understand that the heavier subject matter takes longer to discuss ... curse of knowledge. I notice in lectures that when I get heavy duty technical questions, a few of the people light up, but a larger number glaze over. You'll have to guide me as to what degree we are speaking to the masses with the radio show. I don't know the demographics of the listener base and in what direction you are taking it. Those are steering decisions and don't I don't want to tug the show off mission. If you want it geared toward new listeners, I'm totally good with that and don't want be a high-maintenance collaborator with an agenda who overvalues his contribution. In this capacity, I can fulfill my mission while still helping you achieve yours.

PG:
Here are some of my thoughts:
Water: Don't rely solely on boiling to purify water.  You don't have to boil water for 10 minutes to kill all the microbes.  Bringing it to boiling temp does the trick.  Also, boiling water doesn't make all water safe as it doesn't address chemicals and other possible contaminants.  Stagnant or dirty water needs more treatment/filtration. 

CVP:
Absolutely. I have trained with a water quality engineer. You don't always fuel available to boil, nor is it always safe to make a fire, especially in E&E and urban scenarios. I have some tips for boiling, solar, chemical disinfection methods. I built a chemical water disinfection kit that can is perfectly sized for pocket survival kits. It uses two MRE beverage bag which are as close as you'll get to a sterile material (multi-use) in the field and withstands higher temperatures (multi-use) than a Whirlpak bag that I install Gorilla tape-reinforced eyelets in so they can be carried as a water bladder or hung to avoid punctures and package with 2% Iodine Tincture (multi-use) in an opaque 3ml & 6ml eye dropper bottles and vitamin C, foil packed chlorine-based tablets and/or foil packed potassium permganate (extremely multi-use.) I have also built kits to improvise a chlorine bleach stock solution from calcium hypochlorite pool shock granules because of the shelf life issues with bleach. For boiling I use a WAPI to conserve fuel. I can explain these in simple terms, but guide me if I'm getting into techniques that are too advanced. I also have some water purification cheat sheets that I plan to make available for free download and eventually for purchase in various form factors on water-resistant materials and with the mini water kits that explain all this stuff because it's pretty easy to do as long as you have instructions. Without instructions, there is no way the average prepper will remember the procedures and formulas under extreme stress ... I have seen SF guys will 4 million $ in training screw up super basic stuff when operating at far less than 100%.
PG:
Shelter:   Means having a roof over your head. It's better to have a bed and no roof over your head than a roof over your head an no bed.  You'll lose more body heat thru the ground.  Shelter can mean having a good goretex jacket, hat and appropriate clothing, including hiking boots and an emergency blanket. 

CVP:
Good points all. The poly-backed space blankets are the ones to buy like Adventure Medical and SolKoa over straight Mylar. If hikers would wear clothing based on the nighttime lows in the Mountains as opposed to the days, many fewer would succumb to exposure. Cache County has cold sinks that can be 60 degrees colder than surrounding areas, so I'd add that picking your camp site is pretty important too.
PG:
Survival:  You can't learn everything you need by watching Bear Grylls.  You'll actually more likely get yourself killed faster.  Survival is not romantic.  Survival is about staying out of situations that can get you killed.  You don't need to worry about survival unless you're going on a major adventure of some kind, false.  Even an overnight trip or day hike can quickly turn into an emergency situation. A helicopter or SAR is not always gonna be able to rescue you in time.  

CVP:
lol ... especially that guy ... oh, man. If we knew about emergencies ahead of time, they wouldn't be emergencies.
PG:

Tourniquiets: This is a double agent myth.  Use a tourniquet to stop severe bleeding.  But, don't use a tourniquet unless it's the last resort, that it will do more damage than good. I still see this myth all over the internet.  This has been proven to be false.  Do not apply a tourniquet for bleeding that can be controlled by direct pressure but if questionable use a tourniquet.  Should not be a last resort measure.  Will not do more damage than good. 

CVP:
Absolutely. It's also one of the most easily-improvised pieces of first aid kit. I carry one that I can also use for multiple other applications in case I don't need it for it's intended purpose. 


CVP:
Survival Mistakes That Will Get You Killed:
All guns, no groceries. For newbie survivalists, this a seductive mistake. Guns are sexy, shooting is fun, and all you have to do is slap down some plastic to get them.It's true that a physical threat can kill you in a hurry and that having the ability to defend yourself should be a priority, but there is a tendency to invest a disproportionate amount of total available resources in arms and ammo as oppose to food, water shelter, medical and other equally important preparations. I think they really believe that they can get anything else they need through force of arms. I think about the oldest joke in LDS emergency preparedness is, "Bishop, I don't need food storage ... I have a ward list and a 12ga." I have been hearing this joke for decades. But prepare along those lines puts these guys in the position of being starving and armed ... eying the stores of much better prepared individuals who are often much, much better armed and trained and are expecting them ... and have often been preparing for this eventuality for decades and are very well networked. The reality is that the all guns, no groceries crowd will be trading guns and ammo for food and medicine at pennies on the dollar. Why food? Because meal sized shelf-stable portions of it quickly becomes the gold standard of barter when infrastructure has been interrupted long-term.
Break Glass In Case of Emergency Kit as opposed to a working kit that you use daily that probably contains a few BGICoE items. "Break Glass In Case of Emergency Gear" presents you with some built-in obstacles that make it less-effective. Disposable space blankets are a great example of the fragility inherent in BGICoE gear and how it's lack of effectiveness contributes to avoidable deaths. I'm not talking about the reusable rip-stop combat casualty blankets or grommeted rip-stop camper's blankets, I'm talking about the ones that are Mylar only. Because they are BGICoE, there are built-in obstacles to using them:
  • The first obstacle is BCICoE packaging. You'll never get them back into the package they came in, so you can only use it once ...
  • which increases the cost. It's disposable and most folks have limited financial resources so that becomes an obstacle to using the space blanket.
  • Cost per use makes people less likely to train with it. It's expensive, so you don't want to crack it open and use it. You fight the way you train applies to any stressful emergency situation. If you don't use it training, you aren't likely to use it for real.
  • The sum of these obstacles to  BGICoE gear, cognitive dissonance becomes more of a factor. 
Because they don't open them in training, they often won't use them in an emergency. It might seem obvious if your head is clear because your belly is full, you haven't lost any blood, don't have any broken bones and aren't afraid. You are try and hypothermia isn't setting in. In an emergency, they are seldom operating at 100%. Creates obstacles to use  create Many folks don't want to admit they are in an emergency  as admission of defeat or failure and want to keep pushing as opposed to saving themselves.
Carry your restraint escape gear all bundled together someplace that almost certainly will be taken from you at the outset of capture ... like in your wallet or the watch band of your expensive watch or sticking a handcuff key underneath your Rolex with a glue dot. I am seeing all these kits in wallets or in credit card form factor. You might as well strap to a knife or a firearm because someone who takes you prisoner is about as likely to let you keep your weapons as your wallet or your Rolex. A lot of the guys teaching restraint escape or designing kits are current or former soldiers or LEOs and because they don't take wallets and watches from they people they restrain, that criminals or enemies won't either, but they aren't like you. They have different goals and beliefs than you. They don't think like you.
Carrying your personal survival kit in your pack instead of in your pockets. People get fixated on the go bag, bail out bag, bug out bag, GHB, GOOD bag or INCH bag but bags tend to get separated from us. We set them down to rest, sleep or when we travel or arrive. Critical survival and recovery gear should be carried in your pockets, attached to your belt or otherwise strapped to your body so it is with you when things go sideways. Which firearm is the most effective? The one you have with you when you need it. Just like sidearm won't help you if it's home in your sock drawer, if you have your backpack, you are not in a 
No turnout bag. Every effective first responder has a turnout bag because they have to be able to get ready in a hurry and be sure than they didn't forget anything. Every prepper should have one at least one for each family member too. You have your bugout bag, but what about all the stuff that doesn't go in the bag? I organize them by role. I have a gray one and one for my role as a volunteer first responder and then I have modules for specific threats such as home defense, a medical emergency, a CBRN incident and so on. I also have roll out bags for organizational use, resupply, tailgate medicine and so on.
Myths

You will most likely be killed by a bullet. With few exceptions, you are statistically far more likely to be killed by microbes as the direct result of violence. Should you learn to defend yourself? Absolutely. Do most people killed in disasters die violently?. Absolutely not ... historically, not even in most wars. Far more die from disease, exposure and trauma related to the event. In the outdoors, you are more likely to be killed by another human than by a wild animal, but accidents and exposure are still greater risks.
Survivalists prepare for a singular threat. The Doomsday Preppers TV show used a formula designed to portray survivalists as all obsessed with single threat to the exclusion of all others. Prior to that show, I knew of very few preppers who were preparing for a singular threat. The vast majority of people who do that are people who learned about prepping from watching TV shows like Doomsday Preppers. Ironically, the show seemed to have backfired on on the producers. They underestimated the ability of their viewers to see through their agenda and ended up bringing large numbers of people around to the fact that they need to prepare. But now there are a lot of new folks who largely learn about emergency preparedness to 
That we can foresee future disasters or emergencies. Mankind has a lousy track record of predicting disastrous events. Taleb noted that you can crack open any history book and it will read as a list of Black Swans ... non-linear events that we failed to predict. He is a risk manager and singles out economists in particular, but history books aren't just full of economic events that we failed to predict. He is right that while we cannot predict nonlinear events, we can measure fragility and replace it with antifragility. What people really ought to become prepared for is for volatility and the unknown. If we know enough about a an event to be able to predict it, it's no longer an emergency ... just one more thing we can plan for.
You only need to prepare for some predetermined amount of time ... like 72-hours, 7 days, 14 days, 90 days. Depending on the nature, severity, scope and duration of a catastrophic event or events, life may not return to normal along your time line. Interdepartmental turf wars have led to huge delays in the past. Other countries are prepared for risks that we are at risk for, yet ignore.
Those are some I see as some of the most relevant. Dumbest would probably be things like ...
EMP isn't really a threat, either scientifically or because it's impossible for anyone but a nuclear power to carry out.
No need to prepare, that's why we have 911 and FEMA.
If you have to defend yourself you should shoot, shovel and shut up.
There is no longer a nuclear threat.
All survivalists have a screw loose.
I'll let you two choose which ideas from the three of us get brought up in the show. If you'd like me to bring some up specifically, please let me know beforehand.
Thanks,
Cache

Follow Cache Valley Prepper on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cache.valleyprepper?fref=ts&ref=br_tf

and Survival Sensei:  https://www.facebook.com/SurvivalSensei/?pnref=lhc

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

EcoZoom Versa. The champion of rocket stoves!


Again, I have to ask.  What the heck is that?  Why it's a rocket stove of course.  Actually its two rocket stoves combined into one awesome cook top!

 http://eartheasy.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=0&q=ecozoom

Check out my short video review of the EcoZoom Versa on the PrepperConTV YouTube channel.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc35gii2Azg

Why have rocket stoves become so popular lately?  If you have not used a rocket stove then perhaps the answer to this question eludes you.  Consider that cooking outside over a fire can be a bit of a chore.  Lots of wood to gather and cut and smoke to deal with.

What is a rocket stove you ask?  To meet the criteria of a true rocket stove there must exist a few essential traits.  It must have a combustion chamber, chimney and an opening at the combustion chamber level where the fuel is added.  Fuel can be wood, charcoal or other biomass.  The addition of insulation to the combustion chamber and chimney as well as a grate under the fire to allow for air to flow in under the fire all make for a superior design and more efficient performance.  These principles ensure that the fire will be an efficient, hot and clean burning fire, with the ability to control temperature with the amount of fuel.  A hot fire means a more complete burn of the fuel which means less smoke.

The beginnings of the rocket stove idea perhaps came from the Dakota fire hole.  A small hole is dug in the ground to contain a fire and then a tunnel is dug to provide air flow to the bottom at the base of the fire in the first hole.  See the image below.  This method creates a direct and concentrated path of air flow to be drawn in from the second hole to the base of the fire which then flows out the top of the hole.



There are many different designs and ways to build your own rocket stove.  Just do a simple internet search and you'll find lots of great ideas.

The EcoZoom Versa has taken all of these principles and combined them into what I consider to be the perfect package.  EcoZoom designed this stove for a specific purpose.  Cooking fires in Africa contribute greatly to pollution.  Wood can also be difficult to come by.  Fueled mostly by small sticks and other biomass, rocket stoves require a lot less fuel than cooking over an open fire.  For these same reasons the Versa or Dura meet my emergency preparedness campfire cooking needs.

We have a few large trees on our small urban lot.  Falling branches is the norm and many get trimmed each year.  I have been stashing branches to be used as firewood.  These small branches are the perfect fuel source for rocket stoves.  I use the small twigs to get the fire started and then feed the larger sticks into the combustion chamber.  It took less than 6 sticks smaller than the diameter of my index finger and 14" to 18" in length to boil a 2 liter pot of water.  Once the kindling got the larger sticks burning well there was virtually no smoke.

I used my infrared thermometer to check the temps.  Inside the combustion chamber the fire measured upwards of 850F with the insides of the chimney around 650F.  To achieve these temperatures with such little wood is impressive!  The outside of the Versa got as hot as 140+F.    I was able to touch the sides momentarily without getting burned but they were quite hot.

I must say that cooking over the EcoZoom Versa was the easiest fire I've ever lit, the simplest fire to keep going and the most pleasant cooking experience with fire I've ever had.  Clean up was no chore either.  After letting the stove cool I simply dumped the ashes out of the bottom of the stove and wiped it off with a paper towel.            

The EcoZoom Versa weighs just over 14 pounds. so I will not be backpacking it in anywhere.  But for ease of use at home during a power outage and car camping the weight is not an issue whatsoever.  I honestly can not imagine a better, easier or more efficient way to cook with fire than with this stove!  When I first saw it I knew I had to have one.  My instincts and experience served me well.  I was not wrong.    

There are many reasons to cook over a rocket stove rather than an open fire.  In an emergency or SHTF scenario you may have a limited amount of fuel.  An open fire not only uses as much as 50% more wood but also produces a lot more smoke.  Smoke is not only irritating and bad for your health but it can also give away your location.  An open fire is also messier and more dangerous.

I've always preferred to cook over a gas stove when camping rather than an open fire.  In an extended emergency propane and other fuels will be costly and hard to get.  Adding the ability to cook over a fire fills an essential void and diversifies your means of cooking.  Having multiple and various means of performing essential tasks is vital.  Cooking included.  Adding a rocket stove to your preparations will increase your ability to feed your family a hot meal during a crisis.  

If the EcoZoom stoves are considered light or middleweight of rocket stoves then these could be considered the heavyweights.

 www.titanreadyusa.com  - Helius,



www.groverrrocketstoves.com




or the super heavyweight www.bearriverrocketstoves.com.



You can get the EcoZoom Versa, Dura or Plancha rocket stoves here:

 http://eartheasy.com/catalogsearch/result/?cat=0&q=ecozoom



FYI.  I choose to call the EcoZoom Versa the "Champion of rocket stoves" because it is superior in every way to any of the rocket stoves I have compared it to thus far.  Superior in features, size, value, durability, portability, ease of use, and quality of build.  I have yet to compare it head to head with the Silver Fire brand rocket stoves which seem like excellent quality products.  However, my basic comparison of the two still gives the advantage to the Versa in my opinion.

See the Silver Fire products here:    http://www.silverfire.us/silverfire-survivor-rocket-stove

Thursday, May 12, 2016

PrepperCon Radio Episode 32, 05 11 2016 Protect: Real Home Security

On today's episode we talk about things that everyone can do to make their homes more secure.  Hardening or fortifying your home can be as simple as adding longer screws to your front door hinges and deadbolt plates.

Here is a link to a previous blog post that I wrote back in 2013 about how to better fortify your home from intruders.

http://www.preparedguy.com/2013/07/practical-home-security.html




Hardening your home is the most effective and least expensive methods to keep criminals out.  These methods include:

Replacing the short screws in your exterior door hinges and latch plates with longer (3") screws to tie them into the house framing which will make a tremendous difference in strengthening the door against kicking.


This is what happens when only short 3/4" screws are used.  A door can easily kicked in.  The door jam is the only thing keeping the bad people out.  Not good.  



Install beefier latch plates for the deadbolt and door knobs.
Ensure that your entry door hard wear is of good quality.
Install additional door locks like the door blocker lock.


These kinds of locks are best as the attached to the house framing and not the door.

Ensure that your entry door is either solid wood or steel with a steel frame, and not a wood frame.


This is what happens to a wood frame door when it is kicked in. It has metal on both sides of the door but the frame is wood,  A steel frame door or solid wood door is much stronger. 

Install security film on sliding glass doors and ground level windows to resist breaking.

Check out this video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Maph1a2qFf4

Install manual locks on your garage door and garage door release lever.



These are just a few simple suggestions on how to keep bad guys out of your home.



Friday, May 6, 2016

PrepperCon Radio Episode 31, 5 4 16 Prepare: Panic and Social Unrest with Survival Medical

How do you respond to a traumatic event?  Do you freeze up or do you know exactly what needs to be done?  Do you run and hide or do you jump in and help?  Do you immediately hit the panic button and hope that someone comes to the rescue?  Every emergency needs that one person who can stay calm, take charge and direct others.  
Preparation, awareness and training will help you to prevail when it comes to the SHFT.  Not only will you survive but you can also thrive.




Jon Roberts of www.Survival-Medical.com joins us again to contribute to the conversation.

Survival Medical makes the only medical kits intended for long term storage.






Sunday, May 1, 2016

LifeStraw Family


I'm confident that most of you who read my blog understand the need for water filters.  Whether you are a backpacker or hiker or are preparing for a large scale event when our water supply will be interrupted, you get it.  If you have spent any significant time away from 'civilization' where you only have what you brought with you to sustain you, you also get it.  Maybe you have experienced a natural disaster when your culinary water supply has been interrupted or your city's water supply has been contaminated.  If any of these situations apply to you, and if you have ever been thirsty (which truly applies to everyone), you had better not take a source of clean water for granted.  This can be tough for many of those who rarely ever leave the comforts of their community to venture out into the wilderness. 

Do you leave the tap water running while brushing your teeth?  Do you use more water pressure and volume than you really need in the shower?  Do you turn off your sprinkler system when it has rained outside so that you don't over water your lawn?  Do you collect rain water from your roof to apply to your garden at a later date?  If you don't do any of these things, or are not conscious about your daily water usage, chances are that you don't truly appreciate the enormously important role of clean water in your life.   


If you don't appreciate how easy it has become to obtain clean drinkable water that won't make you sick then you probably don't genuinely understand how important and even critical a role water filters can and will play for you and your family.

LifeStraw understands how important these topics are as they continuously help families and children in developing countries to have clean water.  Many reputable water filtration businesses do the same.  These are the kinds of businesses I prefer to give my business to.  

There are many different types and kinds of filtration products available.  Many of which are excellent.  Others, not so much.  Most of which are different and excel at doing specific tasks better than others.  In this article I am focusing on the LifeStraw family of products as they fill particular gaps in our families water filtration needs.

The LifeStraw itself is likely the most simple water filter available.  They pioneered this technology decades ago and have proven themselves around the world.  For the cost, weight and size of the LifeStraw there is no reason for you not to have one in each of your EDC or bug-out/get-home bags. 

For additional capability of taking some chemicals out of your water like chlorine consider using the LifeStraw steel which contains a replaceable carbon filter in addition to the highly efficient hollow fiber membrane technology LifeStraw employs.



For my short hiking trips I choose to carry the LifeStraw 'Go'.  No water filter could be more convenient for me.  As the trail passes by a river, stream or spring I simply dip the bottle in, put the lid on and hydrate myself.  I'll then top off the bottle and continue with my hike. 



For larger volume water filtration needs like cooking and cleaning the LifeStraw 'Mission' and 'Family' water filters are excellent choices.  Every family needs to have a gravity fed filtration system like these!  I can't stress that enough!  The 'Mission' is very lightweight and portable and can easily be backpacked into your base camp.       

The LifeStraw 'Family' makes water filtration at home very easy and convenient because of its container.  Both the 'Mission' and 'Family' are capable of filtering out viruses in addition to bacteria and have a rating of well over 4,000 gallons.  They both also have a unique and easy to use built in way to clean the filter which is an essential part of extending the life span of all LifeStraw water filters. 




There isn't a single water filter that will last forever.  Some claim to be able to last up to 1,000,000 gallons.  This is just simply false and a misrepresentation.  The ratings of the LifeStraw products are very realistic.  You do have to take care of them properly or they will not last as long as the manufacturers ratings.  Be sure to follow their instructions exactly to get the most out of your filters.  Filtering silty water, water that is not 'clear', will result in a shorter filter life span as with any water filter. 

Keep in mind that when it comes to a long term event, when you need to filter water every day, you will need to not only take good care of your water filters but you will also likely need multiples of them.  Backup and redundancy is the way of the prepper.  LifeStraw is just one of many water filtration options available to you, but one of the few that I highly recommend.  

My advice is plan to have at least one high volume water filtration system, and one personal water filter, for each member of your family, whether it be a LifeStraw product or one of the other great systems I have reviewed on this blog, for your long term emergency needs.     

  

  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

It's about... Time?

Let me first state, I'm a watch guy.  Keeping track of time is essential and will be even more so when SHTF.  Everything during SHTF will be more critical.  Including time keeping.  

I am obsessive about being early to, really, anything.  And I'm critical of anyone who is not.  And not just an important meeting where my income is on the line.  If time isn't the most critical and important single item on your daily to do list then you probably don't make a task/to-do list daily.  If you fail to plan then you plan to fail.  Planning is inextricably connected to and critical of time.  I'm not simply talking about work or business but also family.  Our existence on this planet, in this mortal body is painfully limited.  It's ALL about time.   

It's about making plans and executing them according to your plan.  It's about knowing and understanding the variables and learning about what you may have forgotten or didn't know about.  If the plan didn't work out exactly as was planned then adjust the plan and try again.  The greatest variable in most plans is TIME.  

"We live and we die by time.  We must not commit the sin of turning our back on time."  3 minutes, 3 hours, 3 days, 3 weeks.  Pretty important stuff if you ask me.  

Now that I have established the critical nature of time I ask the question:  How do you keep time.  Me?  A wrist watch of course.  Is there any other way?  Oh right, the smart phone.  You can keep your smart phone.  I'll stick with a wrist watch.  I'm old school that way.   

Here is a list of the qualifications I have come up with for the ideal SHTF slash End of Days watch:

Durable:  This watch must be able to stand up to years of abuse.  I always find myself slamming my watch into a door jam or against a rock.    

Reliable:  Also a trait of a durable watch, it has to keep at least relatively accurate time and functions operate consistently and accurately.

Long life:  Must have a proven track record of a very long usable life span, better than a decade of hard use.  

Rechargable/automatic  (solar, kinetic, winding, etc.): Although I could stock up on lithium batteries I would prefer to have a watch that doesn't require a regular battery change.  The battery may fail at an in opportune moment and anytime you open a watch you compromise its ability to stay waterproof.  An ideal SHTF watch should be auto winding, manually windable or solar charging.  A mechanical watch would be preferable but you are gonna have to pay out the nose for a quality one.

Compass/Altimeter/Barometer:  These are three very helpful, convenient functions of an SHTF watch.  Not an absolute necessity but definitely nice.  When it comes to trusting my life to a compass I'll take a handheld magnetic compass any day over an electronic one, but having one on your wrist can come in handy if it's proven to be trustworthy.       

Analog display:  A brightly glowing dial will save greatly on battery life.  I find it easier to see the hands of an analog display in many different lighting situations when it may be difficult to read a digital display even with a backlight. 

Rubber wrist strap:  Comfort is important, but so is durability.  I don't like leather or other fabric/nylon straps as when they get wet the stay wet for a long time and it's just annoying to have to try to avoid getting my watch wet every time I wash my hands.

During an SHFT event you may not be able to count on your smart phone working or it receiving data, including the correct time.  Will the power needed to recharge it be available just so you can use it to tell the time?   

One of my first watches was a Casio.  I forget the model but I believe that it was one of their first altimeter/barometer/depth gauge watches.  It was a great watch and it actually still works 30 years later.  I stopped wearing it because the gauges stopped being accurate.  I attribute that to it being one of their first models with those features.  I have a metal housing Casio that I purchased on my birthday 23 years ago.  It too also still works just well.  Both of these watches were not terribly cheap nor overly expensive.  That they still work tells me they are quality products.

One watch that continually comes up in discussion as a great option as an SHTF watch is the Casio G-shock series.  So far it seems to meet all of my qualification for an end of days watch.  I have no doubt that they will last a long time.  There are many different options, looks (analog and digital) and price ranges to choose from.  The analog dial of the Casio Mud Master series of watches lends to a more 'professional' and quality appearance, which means that I can wear it everyday and everywhere.  It won't do you any good if you don't have it with you when you need it.  This particular watch is over $500.  For me and my nearly obsessive desire to keep track of time, and because I am a 'watch guy' I have no problem spending this kind of money for a watch.  There are many other G-Shock models available.  Some under $50.  The Casio brand has been reliable and trustworthy for me.  The true definition of 'quality'.  




Suunto has been a very good watch also.  I love the look and their functionality.  I really beat the crap out of them because I never take them off when I probably should.  Which I'm sure is why I'm on my second one.  Even thought the Suunto has a very large CR2430 lithium battery the battery life sucks.  Battery replacement is easy and inexpensive but still inconvenient.  Critical and inconvenience don't go together very well.  The display can be difficult to see at times because of glare.  If Suunto made an analog version with a solar face rated to withstand impacts like the G-Shock then they would be a serious contender to the Casio Mud Master.  Before my current Suunto Altimax dies (I've already lost one of them) the Casio Mud Master will be my next watch, which I hope will last through the Millennium.  Winking smiley face. 

  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Owning vs. Renting

Information just came out that you all should be aware of whether you are homeowners or tenants.  All of these charts I got from Zero Hedge which came from the Census Bureau.  

I've been in the real estate business for over 20 years.  That's long enough to have witnessed what a 'normal' or un-manipulated (less manipulated at least) market looked like in the early to mid 90's, the insane boom that happened through the first part of the 2000's and what happened with the market collapse of '08 - '09.  

So where are we now?   These charts will be an eye opener to those of you who are not involved in this industry from day to day.

In my neck of the woods, along the Wasatch front in Utah, there has recently been an onslaught of construction of apartments, condos and town homes.  The vast majority of them are rentals. I manage of few dozen of them myself.  The quantity and breadth of these construction projects all along the I15 corridor for about, oh I don't exactly know, 100 miles or so, is staggering to me!  And most of them have been under construction at the same time!  I can not begin to comprehend where the need for all of these rentals came from so quickly!  

One would think that with all of these rental properties being built at the same time that competition would be fierce and rental rates would drop as these building owners and property management companies compete for a limited amount of tenants.  Nope!  That's not what I am seeing here at all.  As these charts show, rental rates continue to rise.  Not only here in Utah but all over the nation. 

Once again I am at a loss.  This reminds me of another time.  During the early to mid 2000's I was also at a loss as to what was happening with land and home prices.  From the early 90's to early 00's my Father and I ran a small land development business at which previously we were quite successful at developing larger 'luxury' lot subdivisions as well as starter home lots for tract home builders.  During that period prices were rising so fast that we couldn't buy anything!  We were being out bid by other developers, and not by a little bit.  Everyone who had or knew someone with a piece of land got into the development business.  This forced us out of the business.  One would think that with such a hot market we could have done very well.  To keep it short, we didn't understand what was happening and it hurt us.  But at least we didn't get caught with a lot of inventory when the crash happened.  

During this time I was very confused and in complete amazement at what was going on.  I didn't get it.  After the economic downturn, recession, housing crash, whatever you wanna call it happened the light in my head finally went on.  I realized that I wasn't the one who was crazy.  It was in actuality everyone else that fueled the insane rise in the real estate markets which eventually lead to the crash who were crazy.              

You wanna see crazy?!  THIS is crazy!  As the Zero Hedge article indicates, this is where the inflation is hiding!  Rental rates have been climbing much faster than are reasonable.  I have been a first hand witness to this insanity.  Before the crash the inflation was found in the single family home market and now it is found in the rental housing market.

These two charts show the result of the housing crash of '08 -'09.  Home ownership began to decrease and rentals increase, but at a much sharper curve than the decline in home ownership.  Where did this come from?!  Look to the student loan bubble maybe?  The increase in government housing assistance programs?  The increase in refugees and illegals maybe?  This is just my speculation.   
















Part of the "American Dream" has been the dream of home ownership.  These charts show that part of the American dream is no longer available to many families or they no longer have the desire to become a part of the American dream.  Again, why is that?  Is the economy not as good as our government says it is?  (No speculation here, It just isn't.)  These extremely low interest rates don't seem to be making as much of a difference as they used to.

What happens next? Well, just like the previous housing market boom didn't last, neither will this current boom, this insanity.  The last crash was felt most by both the individual homeowner as well as the speculator.  What that means and entails this time around I don't exactly know, but it can't be good.  A glut of vacancies and a sharp decline of rental rates?  Most definitely.  Owners of these rental properties defaulting on their loans?  You bet!  Many would have you believe that this will mean more opportunity after the next crash.  Personally, I don't think so.  I won't elaborate but if you are curious about what I really think send me a message and I'll share my thoughts with you.

Additionally, what is also very troubling to me at the same time, which is not shown in these charts, is that I see the exact same things happening as did before the housing market crash of '08 - '09.  Home prices have again gone through the roof and have spiked even more so recently.  In my view they are again overpriced just as they were prior to the housing market crash.

I'm not an expert at these kinds of analyses.  I am simply sharing what I see going on in the markets as an active real estate professional, and prepper.  New housing starts are down 7% and 8% nationwide the last two months in a row.  The ultra high end luxury apartment and homes market has taken a turn for the worse in places like New York and California.  These are the areas and the markets where it all starts.  Take note.

As Zero Hedge indicates in their article the current home ownership rate is near a 50 year low.  Another part of the American dream is that our children should live better, more rich lives than the generation before them.  With fewer and fewer people and families living in a home that they own themselves this is becoming more difficult and less of a possibility.

So, what do I tell my clients about all this?  I continue to believe in home ownership.  Not because I make commission but because home ownership affords so much more freedom and pride than just being a tenant.  A home is not an asset and debt is not a tool.  Don't buy them for that reason, especially now.  Financing is as easy to get now as it ever will be.  Although home prices are inflated there is no time to wait to buy a home.  Don't speculate, don't buy too much house.  Buy a home you can easily afford where you can stay for a long time if necessary.  Every family needs a roof over their heads that no one can take away.  There is nothing like the freedom, pride and security that comes with home ownership!  


http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-04-28/where-americas-runaway-inflation-hiding

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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