Saturday, December 8, 2012

Book Review: 299 Days:The Preparation by Glen Tate

The first in a ten book series being released two at a time every few months.  As I write this, the first four are out there.  The story's website: has more detailed information about the author and how he came to write the story.

I have only read The Preparation so far.  It is 257 pages (not including the bonus chapter (see the website for details of those gems)).  The Preparation is the scene setup for the actions to come.  It focuses on the political, economic, and social circumstances that exist in these United States and the author's neighborhoods.  These circumstances lead to a partial collapse of the government and society in general. 

The author touts his story as different because in his story there is only a "partial" collapse and not a "total" collapse as most of the other novels in this genre portray.  Like the  Deep Winter series, this first book is a "how to" on prepping for disaster.  Time is spent explaining how to obtain and store food, how to open the "prepping/survivalist" conversation with others, how to find a group of like minded individuals, where to find information you might need, as well as other topics on the subject.  It's not bad, it's just that the real-life instructions are awkwardly placed.  The author pauses his story to tuck in valuable information for the reader.

The Preparation is written in third person style, but is clearly otherwise in autobiographical style with a stop at the author's childhood memories, a brief stop during his 20's, then the extended stay at current events.  The writing style is quite plain; the author doesn't have or didn't use the eloquence displayed by professional authors like King or Koonts.  (Not that I have that ability, either.  It's just an observation.) 

The Preparation doesn't contain much in the way of action, but you can tell that there will be plenty in the upcoming books.  The author admits to making this first piece the back-story to the rest of the upcoming parts.  Despite this, it's setting up a good enough story I think I'm in for the long haul.  I see myself going all ten rounds.  The message contained within is as plain as the writing style: keep an eye and ear open to what is happening, listen to that inner voice we all have, hope for the best but prep for the worst, and don't waste time... it's coming.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Easy Things to Garden

There are a lot of complex and difficult things to grow that successful gardeners are rightly proud of when they produce.  The items I want to bring forward are things that are easy to garden, that require little or no effort to grow, and that reproduce themselves easily or hang around for a long time.  Since I live in zone 5/6 (right near the line, so it changes depending upon the map you look at) that is what I know, so I will focus on there.  Some of this will carry over to other zones, some won't.

Fruit/nut trees:
- If you have the room, you just can't beat something that, once planted and matured, will produce yearly bushels of food for more than a lifetime.  Annual pruning will maximize production, but even neglected trees produce more food than can be consumed at harvest time.  Preserve or trade the surplus.  Look around your area for what is growing in neighbors yards and nearby farms.

- Usually the quickest producing thing in a vegetable garden.  The secret is to let some of the biggest  ones go to seed.  They will reseed themselves with no effort on your part producing you free radishes every year after that.
     - They quickly produce flowers that will bring in the bees.
     - The seed pods are edible and taste like radish when young.
     - A bonus is that the plant eating bugs in this area love the radish plant leaves to the extent that my radish plants are full of holes, but the beans, peas, tomato, lettuce, etc are left alone.

- The plant everyone loves to hate.  If you let a few go to seed you will get a second crop in the fall, and next year there will be more.  

- A great herb that easily reseeds itself without any help, just let a few plants mature completely.

- The honeybees around here love this stuff: hundreds of small purple flowers. Let it seed itself, as it grows the small, young leaves have a cucumber like flavor.  As the plants get bigger, chop and drop the plants in your way for instant composting mulch.  Let only a couple plants mature in an out-of-the-way spot and you are sure to have more next year.
- As a caution, this can become a weed if you let too many of them mature.  Just cut the stem at ground level (hoe, machete, clippers whatever works), let the plant lie where it falls to help suppress weeds.

Other herbs:
- Oregano and chives will come back every year, rather than reseeding themselves, so plant them in a place where you won't disturb their roots.
- New this year I tried rosemary and thyme, so we'll see how those go.

- Not much to say there, it comes back every year and you can cut off root sections to replant elsewhere to have more plants.

- Strawberries and raspberries are doing well.  Blackberries, blueberries, etc are also said to do well in this climate, but I personally don't have any... yet.

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of things that stay or reseed themselves, but it is what I have in my garden that I don't need to plant ever again, but still reap produce yearly for only the cost of summer watering.  I encourage you to try some of these things, or, just let a few of your garden plants go to seed and see if will come back next year. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Increasing Food Prices

A common and persistent theme over the past couple years in prepping and survival blogs has been food prices.  I have seen various numbers relating to the percentage of increase in general food prices as well as specific individual commodities, but every one of them shows "up".  And not just up, but up at a much higher rate than standard inflation should be driving it.  What effect will greatly increased food prices have on us as individuals and our society in general?

If you do an internet search for rising food prices, it seems like all of the MSM (main stream media) outlets have had an article or two on the trend.  When you read these articles you see that they are merely doing lip service in reporting the problem.  All they talk about is how it is caused by higher fuel prices and how it will affect the lower income families by forcing them to apportion a couple more percent of their income to their food budget.

If that was the only result we wouldn't be doing too badly.  But if you look deeper, you find more problems.  THIS article associates higher food prices with the outbreak of riots.  It was after reading that particular association that I really put thought into food prices.  What would that do to me, and those around me?  Could large scale riots really happen in these United States and in my hometown?  I have come to my own conclusions after thinking it over and pondering what my immediate neighbors might do if times got worse.

So the question is WWYD if prices rose enough to impact you in a negative way?  What will you do now to prepare for that seemingly inevitable occurrence?

I, personally, am slowly expanding my pantry and learning to garden.
-A pantry can be built slowly with long term storeable goods for very cheap if you buy the things on sale, or can be built quickly with a large influx of cash.  Even a full pantry is a limited option.
-Gardening is your unlimited option, but it can't be learned overnight.  There are so many local variables to be considered, it is something that must be learned over time with trial and error. 

Some of the resources I use and highly recommend for information and ideas are Jack Spirko, Marjory Wildcraft, Alexander Wolf, and John Robb

THIS is a decent spot to look at some historical prices of popular commodities.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gardening Fail

Okay, I have to admit I'm pretty bummed out.

My wife and I are trying to learn how to garden. I've read a lot, purchased four raised bed kits, put them together, bought a cubic yard of  'planting mix', planted tomatoes, peppers, cukes, zukes, squash, basil, lettuce, spinach, bush beans and carrots. (Based on different 'square foot gardening' principals of what spacing you should do, what should be planted next to what etc.)

I set up a soaker hose system on a timer, got it working well, and then we went on vacation for a week. What could go wrong in one week? We got home from vacation, and I noticed that everything in the garden (well, almost everything) was dead. It had dropped to below freezing three mornings in a row where I live.) This is June, people! It's not supposed to freeze anymore!!! I had a beautiful 'German Giant' tomato that was almost three feet tall. Dead. Other tomatoes, dead. Peppers, dead. Basil, really dead. The only things that lived are the things I planted from seed. Spinach, lettuce, carrots and my bush beans.

I'm thankful that I wasn't counting on this experiment to keep me alive.

So--now I'm thinking of what I can do to prevent this from happening again. I'll buy some 'Wall-O-Waters' from the feed store. I'll convert an old dog kennel into a greenhouse. I've seen plans on where you can have the greenhouse doors open and close automatically. I may have to build something like that for where I live. My buddy CopperKnight didn't lose any of his plantings--but he does live 'in town' where there is a little more heat contained overnight.

What would you do to make sure your garden doesn't get killed off by an unexpected event?

Like I said...I'm glad this is a learning experiment for me. Hopefully if/when the SHTF...I'll have some food to store for the winter.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

If I Wanted to Save America

Not too long ago a video was posted on YouTube called If I Wanted America to Fail.  This video holds a lot of truth about These United States, but presented the information in a negative manner, without answers on how to fix the problems that it brings to light.  Sure, you can read the photo negative of the comments on why America has the problems that we do and see what the solution is, but it doesn't really present things that the individual can do to help. 

Jack Spirko did a segment on it during one of his TSP podcasts where he called the survival podcast community to action to create a video response that highlighted some solutions and some specific actions that each of us can take to make things better.  This is the best video response as chosen by the community: If I Wanted to Save America.

I'll tell you that Jack and his Survival Podcast have been an inspiration to me for the past couple years.  If you are looking for something helpful to listen to, or even something more than talk radio, commercials, and an occasional song to fill your commute or to listen to while you mow the lawn, give it a shot. 

So, as this is the Survival:WWYD blog, may I suggest that you watch the two videos, especially If I Wanted to Save America if you don't want to watch both, and let's hear what do you plan to do to make your place better.  Start with yourself, your family, your community.  I'll warn you, though, even a small step towards more freedom... more self sufficiency can be addictive and cause you to want even more.  Give it a try, it may just be the best addiction you can have.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do it yourself Faraday Cage

CopperKnight and I were talking a while ago about making a whole room into a Faraday Cage. Something to protect the electrical gadgets we all dearly love in the event of an EMP strike. I saw a great tutorial a while ago that turned an ammo can into a Faraday Box. Very easy to do--just line the whole thing with thick closed-cell foam, and then wrap your electronics in bubble wrap and place them inside.

WWYD? If you were to build one this weekend, what would you place inside?

I'm thinking of a solar-powered/crank-powered AM/FM/Shortwave radio. I have a mini Grundig I bought a few years ago that would be the perfect size to put in there. An 8GB thumbdrive with copies of important information and stuff that could be useful once the power is (hopefully) restored.

Maybe an older digital camera that I don't use anymore. Take the batteries out and keep them separate from the camera. Document things that happen after the EMP strike.

A good LED flashlight with batteries. (removed, just like the camera)

A Brunton solar-powered charging kit for hiking/backpacking. That way I could power up the rechargeable AA and AAA batteries for my devices.

Heck...I'd put my iPad in there but I use it almost every hour of every day.

Let me know what you'd put inside that you'd like to keep safe.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: The Jakarta Pandemic

This is another book in the disaster/post-apocalyptic genre that has valuable information on preparing for a disaster.  The author provides some good food for thought on things to store up at home in case disaster strikes along with some other “advice”.

As can be gleaned from the title, this book focuses on the effects of a serious pandemic.  The setting is a smaller community not too far from a large metropolitan area.  After a pandemic with a high mortality rate strikes, vital services (trash collection, utilities, food delivery, schools, emergency responses) are shut down.  The hospitals are filled up and very ill people are just sent home to die when there is no room or medication for them.  No one will go out and about risking infection.  

The main character has sufficient preps to lead his family through the crisis.  One of the conflict points arises when his neighbors do not have any supplies (food, medicine) stored up and realize he does.  Does our main character share and risk running out himself, or does he fend off his neighbors and friends to save his family?  Perhaps there is a semi happy point between.

A couple other clashes arise when people begin to flee the population centers: 
-The “refugees” beg for assistance that no one can afford give when such actions would lead to exposing one’s family to infection and to a rush of charity seekers when word gets out. 
-Many area homes are vacant as neighbors have died or fled to other locations.  What is to be done when strangers of unknown intent start occupying the deserted houses?  

The book has some good ideas for items to stock as well as equipment to obtain.  In addition, it is filled with moral dilemmas the protagonist faces that we all will also face if a similar situation presents itself.  It seems best to think these possibilities through before we face them in a stressful time and may make rash decisions.  

The story line is good, and much more localized than the Deep Winter series.  In the beginning it seems like the author is trying to sell “Tamiflu”, but he does move away from it as the story develops.  It’s worth the time to read and apply the scenarios to your own situation.

So… now WWYD:
In addition to food, do you have medication stored up?  What about a way to heat your house if utilities are shut down in winter?  If you have a fireplace or wood stove, do you have a way to circulate the warm air?  Will you have to face city folk fleeing TO your area if they are deserting the urban zone?  Do you know your neighbors well enough to guess if they will be a help or a hindrance in an emergency?

The book homepage:
The author's blog:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What to do with Neighbors?

Today's post is about neighbors.  It poses the question of what to do with your neighbors in a SHTF scenario.  Each of us will have different answers based upon our individual situation.

If there was a disaster of some sort that left the area isolated from help for any time, or even if the occurrence made it appear as if you would be isolated, what is going to happen to your neighbors?  I'll assume you have a plan (or at least an idea) of what you would do if something bad happened, but does your plan incorporate the nearby residents?  Even if you have no inclination to help them, you can't discount their effect on your plans.

There are several types of neighbors you have right now.  There are, of course, many more, but these are good for our illustration.  Here are some personalities:

1. Problem children (police are often there, frequent unfriendly behavior)
2. Needy (elderly living alone, disabled, single mom with kid(s))
3. "Normal" family (mom, dad, kids)
4. Unknown (secretive, quiet, new, just don't know them)

Problem children should never be underestimated.  Are they drug users likely to explode if they go any extended period of time without their fix?  Maybe they are just obnoxious blowhards that aren't really a threat.  Do undesirable individuals come and go constantly; maybe there are a few extras at the location when the SHTF event occurs adding to your woes.

Needy neighbors are just that, in need of extra help.  They may be very nice, but how long will they last if their routine is interrupted?  Maybe it's a mom with kids that are just old enough to stay at home alone for a couple hours.  Was mom there when SHTF?  Are the kids home alone?  Do you have an elderly or disabled neighbor that relies on electricity for medical needs (oxygen, battery charger for devices).  Do you have any plans to help them out without request or if they knock on your door?  Do you turn away your neighbor that might die without electricity when your generator is running and powering your house?

Do your "normal" neighbors have any plans or abilities to survive on their own?  Do they have anything stored up, or will they become "problem children" when dad realizes this is for real and he can't feed his kids.

Take a moment to evaluate the neighbors you know nothing about.  If at all possible, try to contact them now, just to say "hi" and have a conversation or invite them to a BBQ this summer.  Removing as much of the unknown factors as possible before there is a problem will help you a lot when making your plans.

What other types of neighbors to you have and how will they react if they are isolated from their electricity, daily grocery store trips, or any other outside world contacts?  You won't always be right in your assumptions, but if you have thought of this before hand, you will at least have some sort of plan to give them food, access to power via your generator, or something more drastic if the need arises.

So... WWYD with your neighbors in a SHTF scenario?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Social Unrest

A mindset important to survival is not just reacting to what happens, but paying attention to what is going on around you and being prepared for things that are not only possible, but are probable and predictable.  To be safe and secure you need to be aware of what is happening in your local area, your state, our nation and in the world around us. 

Here's the story behind the scenario for today's WWYD:

Last year the state welfare office in Atlanta had a glitch that caused food stamps to be issued late.  People weren't told they were getting no more assistance, they were told that there was a snafu and they would be a DAY LATE.  Many people lined up outside the office demanding THEIR benefits.  A couple of people told the news crew that they and their kids hadn't eaten all day because they didn't get their food stamp money.  For more details on this incident here's the news clip:Food Stamps Late

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding the mindset of these individuals:
-the government benefits are theirs and they didn't get their money like they deserve
-they apparently don't have one child's meal worth of extra food in their house, nor the means to buy a 50 cent Cup-O-Noodles at the grocery store.

Today's WWYD:

Your state is having financial troubles and sometime in the near future declares bankruptcy expecting the federal government to clean up behind them.  OR The state employees go on strike and don't show up to work.  In either case, the machine breaks down and state monies aren't disbursed.  The welfare/food stamp crowd from this major city shows up at the office because their debit cards aren't credited their allotted amount and now their family can't eat.  There is no one to complain to because the state office is closed.  A riot breaks out.  The office is destroyed, but the crowd is not satisfied because they still can't eat.  They head to a nearby grocery store where looting commences. The crowd grows as people see an opportunity to run off with everything from a local megamart.  The sentiment spreads throughout the city and now there are several riots in various places.

You live nearby, WWYD?
-Bug out, assuming a large mob can't be stopped as police are overwhelmed and stay away? (see Rodney King riots)  Do you have a place to go and a plan on what to take and what to leave?
-Bug in, assuming your house will be bypassed or you can fend off a large, angry crowd?  What's your plan for defense, not only from people, but also fire supression from Molotov slingers?

You work nearby, WWYD?
-At what point to you head out towards home to get away?  Do you have various routes planned in case one is blocked? Do you have a way to stay at work and keep safe?

Bonus WWYD:

You have been paying attention to the news and know that they money won't be coming, so you have a couple days notice that something might happen.  WWYD to prepare?

Road Trip

Here's the scenario: You're going to drive for about a 1000 miles through mountainous terrain. There's still snow up in them-thar hills... WWYD?

I'm getting ready to head to see my in-laws for a week. My wife and I will be driving instead of flying this year as the cost to fly is ridiculous. It's almost a thousand miles to their place and we'll be driving over two mountain ranges.

Not wanting to end up a statistic like that poor family a few years back...I've got food, water, wool blankets, extra clothing (specifically WINTER clothing), first aid supplies, fire-making supplies, shelter material (a tarp and some paracord), a hand-held GPSr, and a real honest-to-goodness road atlas. Just in case the GPSr craps out.

Mind you, I'm not planning on taking a shortcut or leaving the main road...but you never know. Like I said in the earlier post. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Her folks know we are driving down, they know when we should arrive. My neighbor who is house-sitting knows when we are supposed to return. If we don't show up on either leg of the journey...someone will know that something isn't right.  It's always good to have people know when and where you are supposed to be.

What would you do?

What would you take?

What would you say is the most important thing to have in the vehicle?

Have a great weekend. If I get a chance I'll try to update the blog while I'm on vacation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Weather: Hope for the best...prepare for the worst

I live in the Pacific Northwet. Errr...sorry...I mean the Pacific Northwest. Essentially that means it can rain on you even if the weatherman says it's going to be a nice day. may even snow on you. You just never know.

With that being said, I work in an office building. We have two fire-drills a year. They take on average about 30-45 minutes to conduct. One in October, and then one in April. Those aren't the best months of the year here. People know this. It's not a secret. But you'd be amazed at how many times I've found myself outside, in the rain, with all of my coworkers who are shivering and all crowding under one umbrella. Me? I'm the 'weird' guy in the jacket with an umbrella. And my backpack. Just in case it's not a drill. If the building goes up in flames...guess what? I'm heading home with all of my stuff.

It baffles me. Seriously. I have my jacket hanging on the back of my chair. I have my backpack under my desk. As soon as I hear the alarm I grab my backpack, throw on my jacket and head down the stairs with the rest of the group. It's not rocket science. It doesn't even take me more than 30 seconds to do that. If I don't need the jacket? Guess what? I take it off! *sigh* Sorry. I'll get off my soapbox now.

What I'm getting at is that the people I work with are just not prepared. For anything.

WWYD? If the fire alarm went off in your building right now, what would you do? Take your stuff? Leave it behind? Depending on where you live it might be cold, warm, tornado season, etc. You need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Get a dollar-store poncho. Put it in your purse/backpack/briefcase. Throw in some gloves. A fleece beanie. Even a cheapo umbrella. (If you live in a warmer climate throw in a sun hat. And a bottle of water.) People may look at you weird seeing you carrying around things you aren't wearing...but they'll sure be jealous when you're standing outside in a light snow waiting for the Fire Department to let you back into your building.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book(s) Review: Deep Winter by Thomas Sherry

For a while now I have been on a reading kick of dystopian or post-apocalyptic novels.   I thought it might be a good idea to review a few of them focusing on the ones that contain useful information for survival situations.

Since I just finished reading the trio, I thought it a good idea to start with Deep Winter.  Let me preface my review by saying I enjoyed the story quite a bit.  I have several criticisms of the books, but overall I was drawn in and found myself reading the book even a few pages at a time when I had only a few minutes.

Thomas Sherry wrote a trilogy of books titled Deep Winter; the first- Deep Winter, the second- Shatter, the third- Remnant. The books deal with a family in a disaster scenario and how they survive.  The series moves progressively through a family and its neighborhood surviving, to rebuilding a devastated county, then into some country-wide structuring.   During the course of the story the protagonist and his family are put through a devastating earthquake, global pandemic, volcanic eruption, roving bands of criminals, economic collapse, rogue local and national politicians, global war, global nuclear war, and civil war.  All of that and I may have missed a calamity, I'm not sure.

Some previous reviewers have found tedium in the minutia presented by the author, especially in the first book.   Deep Winter is a book of survival instructions thinly veiled as a story.  The author walks us through how to live during hard times mainly by focusing on the "things" needed to get along in life.  He also presents some tactics for safety and defense as you try to go about your daily life without the standard infrastructure we have all become accustomed to.  The main character relies on his family, his faith, his knowledge, and his vast array of "stuff" stored on his property to get him and his neighborhood and friends through the situations.

Shatter takes place after the majority of the disasters have befallen the United States.  The main character helps the larger community drag themselves out of the situations presented.  In this book there are fewer technical details of individual survival and more of the broader "community organization" and how to get an area back on its feet.  Lots more politics dwell within as the focus in on the county more than the immediate neighborhood.  Also presented are some of the longer term possibilities without infrastructure (medical and manufacturing shortcomings as examples).

Remnant follows Shatter by seeing our hero (having moved from community survivalist into county restructuring) jump to military leader.  Most of the book focuses on a military unit as it moves across the country trying to help communities rebuild themselves in the face of civil war.  The very end is reminiscent of the "reflecting" scene from Lights Out if you have read that.  

Over all, I was happy to read the books.  The author is obviously from the Spokane, Washington area and someone from that area will probably get more out of the book as the characters interact in the climate, neighborhoods, culture and landmarks of Spokane and the surrounding communities.  There is a lot of good information to be gleaned as Mr Sherry takes the main characters through many "WWYD" type situations.

What review would be complete without a link to the author's blog: Deep Winter Blog.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

EMP Strike. What Would You Do?

Electromagnetic Pulse

Hi folks. Here's the scenario:

An EMP has rendered all non-shielded electronics useless. Cars. Radios. Cellphones. You name's toast.

You live 30 miles from where you work.

What Would You Do?

  • How do you get home?
  • Do you stay at work?
  • What do you eat?
  • What do you drink?
  • What do you wear?
    • What if it is below freezing?
    • What if it is over 100-degrees Fahrenheit?
  • How do you protect yourself?
  • How do you navigate?
    • What if major roads are closed? Do you know alternate routes to get home?
  • What about family?
    • How do you meet up with them? Do you have a plan?
  • What about friends?
    • Do you have like-minded friends who you can join up with? There is safety in numbers.

That issue has been bothering me lately. I read the .pdf e-book 'Lights Out' by HalfFast and it got me thinking. What do I do if we have an EMP strike here? I live 30 miles from where I work. I work in the city and live in the country. That's a long walk. Granted, I could do. It would take me two days most likely. Sadly it's mostly uphill. I would have blisters and a sore back--but I can do it.

I would choose not to stay at work. I like my coworkers--but I don't want to stay and take care of them in a SHTF situation. I'm not being mean...I'm being realistic. My main focus is to take care of my family and my close friends who I consider family. I also think looting would begin pretty rapidly after a major power outage. The sooner I'm out of the area the better.

I have a Bug Out Bag under my desk at work. Nothing fancy. A change of clothes, a few granola bars, extra socks, tennis shoes and a hat. I obviously need to beef it up with more stuff. Here's what I'm thinking of adding:

  • A poncho
  • Paracord (With the poncho I could make a simple shelter to get out of the elements if I needed to stop and rest.)
  • Water purification of some sort (Most likely Micropur tabs. I'm lucky enough to live near lots of rivers and streams.)
  • ASP tactical baton
  • A tritium compass
  • Coast Guard rations
  • Fixed blade knife
  • First aid supplies (bandaids, tylenol, VetWrap, sunscreen, etc.)
My buddies and I have been talking about keeping an old bicycle at work to help us get home faster. I could keep one in the basement of the building I work in locked up in the corner. I would need an air pump and some patches just in case. The thing I was worried about is what happens when people try to take my bike on my way home? Do I fight? Do I surrender the bike and proceed on foot? Depends on how many of them there are I guess.

Hopefully I've got you thinking what you would do if you were presented with this situation. I'd love to hear what you think.

Thanks for reading,