Hey, wanna date?

You wanna datenote: article first appeared October 2015

Yeah, I bet that got your attention! Yeah, and I know what the answer is…”No!”  Well, at least that would be (or should be) the answer for those of you that know me 😉

But let’s get back to the article and the real intent of the headline

A few weeks ago my prepper buddy & battle buddy made a statement to me that I thought was interesting. Not the exact words, but he said something along the lines of, “If it doesn’t fall apart by the end of September I am done with being prepared!”

I remember at the time I was a little taken back and I really didn’t respond to that statement, I just continued on to another subject. But, another interesting thing I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks is his interests shifting towards things other than prepping. He doesn’t even really bring up any negative news items like he used to. No, he has not abandoned prepping, he is just taking a little break and focusing more on other things such as family, work, music, his cars, etc. And that is fine with me.

OK, set that little tidbit of information aside…on to the next item I want to share. I frequent another prepper website, mostly Christian folks, patriots, conservative, etc. What has been interesting over the last 6 – 8 months is the shift in their collective attitude. There has been and is much more focus on things other than true prepping. A lot of dreams, visions, conspiracies, and books about the same subjects. And, a whole lot of projection of hard dates for the economy to fall apart, for martial law to be declared, for the stock market to crash, for earthquakes to split the continent, a meteor to strike the earth, etc. What I find interesting is not the event itself, but the fact they were actually setting firm dates for these things to happen. And of course when none of those events occurred you can imagine what came next.

There is/was a mix of responses. Everything from “we got the year wrong” to “they must be a false prophet” to “oh, disappointed prepperswe didn’t read it right,” etc. A few faced the fact that those people that were prophesying those dates just didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.

Now, let me change it up again for a minute and then come back to tie it all together.

In September I was a guest on a Fox radio station in St. George, UT. I was on for an hour-long live segment. One of the questions that Kate Dalley asked me was, “what would happen between now and the end of the year and when did I expect it all to fall apart?”

But, that was not the first time I’ve been asked that question and I will share my answer now.

Why share it now? Because I think it is important to think about this and talk it through. Why? Because I think there are a lot of new preppers out there that are preparing for a cataclysmic event that is imminent. I also think that there a lot of vintage preppers that are looking for some validation to what they have been doing over the years. And, I think there are folks that are looking at the world today and wonder how long we can keep going on like this before it all explodes/implodes into TEOTWAWKI.

Generally speaking I like the idea that people are prepping, I don’t really care what their motivation is, for the most part. As long as they are preparing for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down I am good with it. However, there is a Unrealistic Expectations Dangercliff looming up ahead for some, maybe many, preppers if they are not careful.

Unrealistic expectations.

Yeah, an ugly thing just by itself, but even worse in relation to what I am talking about…prepping.

So normally what happens to people when they get their heart set on something and it doesn’t happen?

What happens to those folks who get all worked up about something they “know” will happen and then it doesn’t?

What happens when good, dedicated people take actions that their family and friends think are maybe just a bit bizarre? And while doing so might have spent money that wasn’t really part of the “extra” category?

My fear is some folks set unrealistic expectations for what they saw coming, wanted to have happen, or worked towards making happen…and then it didn’t happen at all. What will those folks do now?

A well-grounded prepper will be just that…well-grounded, realistic, sensible, and have realistic expectations of what might happen, what will happen, and no calendar for all of the above. Are you well-grounded?

Forty years ago if you would have described an America in the condition it is today, I would have called you politicians todayinsane. Back then if you would have projected a world like we have now I would have wondered which mental hospital you escaped from.

And that would be true for thirty years ago, twenty years ago, and even ten years ago. I never, ever thought we would have the crap police state in americasandwich that we have today in the United States or world-wide. Yup, never in my wildest dreams would I have ever imagined us being in the horrible condition that we have in every aspect of modern society.

Yet, here we are.

What am I getting at? Let me answer you with the same info that I gave during the radio show…

The world can fall apart tomorrow. I fully expect that I could wake up in the morning and the grid would be down, the government would be in full-on martial law, no utilities, no food, and violence everywhere.

Date-004aOr, ten years from now I am looking back and wonder how we could have fallen so far in the last ten years.

Yup, a cop-out answer for sure:

  1. The “fall” could happen any day, especially by the end of the year.
  2. We could continue the slide even further into the sewage pit, and do so for the next 20 years.

My point is…DO NOT SET A DATE!

Don’t fall into the trap of getting caught up in blood moons, some vision, some dream, some prophecy, some panel of experts projection, some Mayan calendar, or any other male cow dung junk like that. Don’t buy into some Rabbi’s interpretation of a Bishop’s vision based on a long-dead guy’s 5th-century dream.

types of disasters, emergencies, grid-downPreppers have to stick with the basics…we are preparing for emergencies, disasters, and grid-down events. When they will happen we don’t know. How bad they will be we don’t know. We just know that they will come and we are better off being prepared for them when they do occur.

Do not think for a minute I am saying the world around us is in no danger of collapsing. I said clearly I think it could happen tomorrow. And, don’t think I am not belittling people who claim dreams, visions, and prophecy. I believe in those things as well, to one extent or another.

What I don’t buy into is date setting by people who have no real authority or special gift to do so. Seriously, who are they to “know” some date when something will happen? And who are you to think they have some validity in what they are saying?

Think about it…Why would you believe someone who says the economy will collapse on November 15, 2020? Or, why would you believe someone who would say the stock market will crash next Monday?

Really? Who the heck are they to make such wild and unsubstantiated claims? And, why would you even want to listen to them, let alone believe them?

I don’t!! Period…I don’t.

Why? Because I think that someone, with authority, can be prophetic in that way. And, it’s because that every Date-005day, normal, average folks have been making these wild prophetic claims for years, decades, centuries, and none of it has really came true. They had no authority to make those prophecies.

OK, before some of you want to blast me with examples, don’t. A person can take a Nostradamus thing and turn it into pretty much whatever they want to make it out to be…and call it true. Don’t go there.

What I am asking you to do is be realistic. Go with what you know. Don’t buy into all of these predictions that involve specific dates. If you buy in to the date thing you are likely to be pretty disappointed.

Prepping is a life-long endeavor.

Emergency preparedness is using common sense principles to prepare yourself and your family for the Preppers Waiting for Instructions SHTF ICStypes of events that would/could prove devastating. Well, devastating if you are not prepared. Look at prepping as “insurance” against emergencies, disasters, and grid-down. You pay your premium each month and sleep well at night knowing you are covered.

Wrapping this article up, I am asking you to be balanced and enjoy your life. Be a prepper and allow that prepping to enhance your life that much more, not take it over, and consume you and your family. Be happy, enjoy sunsets, love sunrises, go for great walks with your spouse, throw the football with your kids, and then work on your solar project or build your radio GoBox as time permits.

And, finally, sorry to disappoint you that I wasn’t really looking for a date. I know, I am such a tease…right?

Balanced Prepper life

 

 

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Yesterday & Today : Pain !

Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-down

note: first appeared April 2015

Wow! Normally I have my articles ready days in advance to be published each morning. This morning I held off on it because I wanted to share with you something that came to light yesterday. Health & Physical Fitness.

I am 59, great health, and good physical condition. I do physical training 3 – 6 times a week. My normal workout consists of jogging, walking, push-ups, sit-ups and occasionally weight lifting. When I jog I go for 2 – 3 miles at a stretch. I have a specific routine that I worked on for years to meet the physical demands of my job. Annually I am tested to ensure I am field-ready. I have to walk 3 miles in 45 minutes or less wearing a wildland firefighter pack test45lb weight vest. That is a 4mph pace.

Now, before you roll your eyes and think how easy it is, try it yourself. If you are sub-30 years of age you should be able to do it easily if you maintained a healthy life-style and stayed active. If you are 30 – 40 it shouldn’t be much of a stretch for you if you are in good shape and play sports, hike, bike, etc. If you are over 50 you probably can’t do it, period…unless you have trained and work-out for it. As I turn 60 next week I can easily do it but my hips hurt like crazy during the last mile and for the next day. Yesterday was that test.

My hip hurt more than normal yesterday but I still had a very respectable time. I even beat a number of the 40-somethings. Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downBut we had a work project to do yesterday as well. So immediately after the test I changed clothes and we headed off to the mountains to work on a thinning project. There were large piles of cut limbs and tree trunks waiting for us to chip. Thank means we pull the piles apart, drag the stuff to the chipper. and repeat until the pile is gone. Then go on to the next pile.

Some of you might be wondering why a US government firefighter supervisor is doing such manual labor. Well, when we are not fighting fire we do “project work” to help maintain federal lands to make them more resistant to wildfire. And, if I am going to ask my guys to do it, then I am going to do it as well. I don’t go on all the projects but enough of them to show that I only ask them to do what I am willing to do as well. And to remember what I am asking of them.

So the average age of these guys is in the 28 – 32 age range. And they are all in very impressive physical shape. And the only thing I have going for me is my ego. I won’t be out-done!

So we wrapped it up yesterday about 3:00pm and headed in, cleaned up and went home. Yeah, and then it started…the pain.

I took an Aleve. Then I laid down. Then I got up to eat dinner and took two Ibuprofens. Then I laid back down. I went to bed at 8:00pm.

I got up this morning at 5:30am which is usual for me. But…and that is a serious “but” that I speak of. I was hurting. My hips hurt a lot, my back hurts some, as does my arms. And I am worn out.

So why in the heck am I sharing this with you? Simple…at least it’s simple to me.

During times of emergencies, disasters, but most assuredly during a “grid-down” it will be very physically demanding. Probably far exceeding whatever you might normally be used to. So I make the following suggestions, have an exercise routine that is right for you:Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-down

1 – The #1 thing to do is walk. I would suggest you make a target of walking a minimum of 10-miles per week, in a minimum of 2-mile increments. Walking might well be the #1 thing you will do during rough times, and a lot of it.

2 – Lift weights. No, I am not talking about body-building weight lifting. I am talking about Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downcommon-sense kind of weight lifting. Start with maybe 5lb dumb-bells and doing regular curls, French curls, then overhead press, then tricep lift, etc. Work up to maybe 5 reps of 10 curls each. Do that for a maximum of 90-days and move to the next higher 5lb increment. It’s really up to you, but weight lifting can really improve your health, mental and physical, while improving your core strength.

 

3 – Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downPush-ups. Yeah, good old fashion push-ups are great for you. You don’t have to be some one-armed or one-legged push up crazy person but just do them at your own pace. For me I do mine inclined. I broke my back in three places over 25 years ago in a house fire. Since then I have to do my push-ups with my shoulders at about 2’ higher than my feet to take some of the stress off of my back. Or I can do push-ups from my knees vs. my toes (called a woman’s push-up in the old days). When I am at the track doing my jogging I stop on every lap and do a set of push-ups. So when I am done with my 3 mile jog I have done 90 – 180 push-ups as well.

4 – !!!Stretch!!! This is the single most important part of exercising! I spend about 6 minutes stretching before I do my Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downjog with push-ups. I do the following:

  • Arm windmills.
  • Arm stretching to the front and then to the rear.
  • Next I do toe touches with my feet together.
  • Then ground touches with my feet about should width apart.
  • Then ground touches with my feet spread as far as they will comfortably go.
  • Physical fitness and exercising for grid-down and emergencies, stay in shape for grid-downThen 12” from the ground touches with my feet crossed over each other (outside of one foot laid alongside of the other foot). I do each foot twice.

5 – When I am done jogging and the push-ups I do the same stretch routine and add:

  • Holding a 3” fence post with one hand I swing each leg forward/up and backward/up as far they will go.
  • Holding a 3” fence post with both hands I swing each leg left/up and right/up as far they will go.

This exercise routine has done wonders for me! Since doing it passionately week after week my lung capacity has significantly improved. My blood pressure is now 108/68. And my stamina is far better than when I was lazy and wasn’t committed to an exercise program.

So back to yesterday and this morning – If I wasn’t into a good exercise program I can’t imagine what would have happened to me yesterday. Maybe a heart attack. This morning might even be worse. But most importantly it reminded me how important it is to be “prepared” physically and not just have food storage, water filtration and a closet full of guns/ammo.

I will be stepping up my physical training, pushing myself just a little more. Not sure what to do about the hip pain, growing old can do that to you.

Family hiking, bugging out, during grid-downHow does this all affect you? I want you to think about this and see where you are. Is this an area of preparedness that you need to work on a little bit more? Maybe just a little?

Maybe just start by taking a walk with your family a couple of evenings a week.

 

 

 

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Let’s talk about “Crazy Don”…

Wildfire washington state 2015note: article first appeared in late September 2015

In August & September I was in the state of Washington on a wildland fire. It has been a bad year for fires, especially Washington. There were lots of homes threatened and the fire was growing rapidly.

I showed up on the fire and was given my assignment along with some minimal resources. We never really have enough it seems. I got to work and we were making a difference and saving homes but it was fast-paced and challenging.

I mentioned that there was a lack of resources and that included field operations folks like me as well. My duties Wildfire growing and burning at nightquickly expanded to cover an area of the fire that was almost directly at the head of the fire. We did a large burn-out one night that went textbook perfect.

Although very tired, we headed back out there the next morning to continue the “herding” of the fire into an area that was of low value, mostly scrub trees. Our intention was to “hook” the fire once we got it past the last ranch that was threatened. As we headed to the fire we went through a ranch on their road. The same person that met me yesterday came running out to meet me again that morning.

One of the “blessings” of being a supervisor/leader on a wildfire is going in first. At least that is my philosophy; first in, last out.

The day before “Don” had came running out to my truck and we chatted for awhile. I had explained to him why we Crazy Don conspiracy theorywere there, what we were going to be doing, and assured him that we would protect his ranch. Don was, let’s say, “excited” the day before. And he sounded like a burned out hippie about the age of late mid to late 50’s. But all went well, and as I said earlier, things went well for us.

But the second morning Don was insane. Yes, literally insane. He was screaming and yelling at me about everything we had done. He yelled at me that we had set everything on fire. He yelled at me that we had cut a fireline on his property. He yelled at me for being an agent of the government and being controlled by the cattle barons. He told me how he had gone up against the government three times before and beat them…and he would “show ’em again.” He then started trying to engage me about global warming. All the while he was very animated as in flailing his arms, moving around rapidly, and sometimes charging right up to my truck window.

All along I was using every technique that I knew to de-escalate the situation. Nothing I tried worked, his emotions were like a roller coaster, and getting worse by the minute. I suspected drug usage…past or present.

I had told my firefighters to not stop, they were to continue to their work locations/assignments and get started while I dealt with Don.

Then Don started talking about how he was the local thermal vent investigator. He investigated the local thermal CrazyDon002vents, the same types of vents that were underwater in the ocean around the world. But he went on to talk about how the government was lying to everyone about the thermal vents and it was all a big conspiracy cover-up.

Next up on his agenda…the local cattle barons were running the fire. And it got worse from there. But then it took a very bad turn.

Don started talking about knowing where our camp was. That he had dealt with this crap before. He knew where to go and what he was going to do. He was going f*-up some people just as soon as he got to camp, and that would be soon because he wasn’t going to take it anymore.

I rolled my window up the rest of the way and drove off, I wasn’t going to listen to his lunacy anymore. However, since he had made some not-so-thinly veiled threats I was obligated to report the incident to my supervisor, the Operations Section Chief.

Well, that conversation didn’t go too well. As soon as I related the conversation, and that it was the second incident with Don in two days, I was told to pull my guys out of the area. I reminded him that is would almost assure us of losing the fire in this area and the fire growing uncontrolled once again. The order stood, I was to abandon the area immediately.

To shorten the story, we left. Remember, I am the last one out. But I am also not stupid. I talked to my 2nd in command and told him to drive out in front of me but to hold up about 50 yards past the gate while I closed the gate behind me. He was to make sure I wasn’t left on my own with some crazy man headhunting Feds. We had also decided to drive out on a different two-track road to avoid the ranch house area all together…and maybe avoid Don altogether.

We almost made it.

All of our resources had driven out and it was just my 2nd and myself. As we drove up to the last gate we had to close here comes Crazy Don driving like a bat out of hell. He pulled up and blocked the road to prevent us driving out. As he came back to start screaming at me, my 2nd drove around Don’s truck, through the gate and then watched for me.

Crazy Don was screaming at me through my window accusing me of abandoning his ranch because it was on state Crazy Don screaming at meprotected lands and I was a federal resource and hated state citizens. He kept lunging at my truck door and acting like he was high on PCP or Meth. He was threatening me and trying to…well, let’s just say I had my door locked and window cracked open only about an 1”.

When I saw my 2nd had cleared the gate I simply drove off leaving Crazy Don yelling and screaming at my tailgate.

After I got through the gate and around the corner in the road I blocked the two-track while my resources finished traveling to the blacktop road. I followed them out. Low and behold the OpsChief had called Johnny Law who wanted to meet with me. Evidently threatening a Federal employee can be a fairly serious crime.

Now, let me shorten the story a whole lot…

We didn’t return and engage the fire that day, we were told not to be there or anywhere close by. Overnight the fire out of control wildfiremoved a whole lot and we were able to re-engage the next morning. But it was too late, we lost that part of the fire entirely.

Law enforcement had a conversation with Don. Evidently it went well, he was not arrested and no firefighters were assaulted. But the damage was done. Our lack of ability to engage the fire that day probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars, and burned up another 30,000 acres, maybe more. But that is not the point to this article.

So, what is the point?

Crazy Don is the point. He is the whole point to this article.

Don’t be a Crazy Don!

There is a time and place for everything, but not every time and place it the right time for everything.

Roughly translated that means…whatever your beliefs are, know the right time and place to talk about them. Better yet, know the right people to talk to about them.

If you are a “birther”, a “turther”, “chem-trailer”, “blood-mooner” or whatever else you might be; even a thermal vent inspector, know when is the right time to talk about it. Better yet, know when the wrong time to talk about is…and don’t talk about it if the time isn’t right.

Why?

Do you want to be the next Crazy Don?

Crazy Don conspiracy nutWhat did all of Don’s ranting and ravings accomplish? Did anything positive get accomplished?

Or did he just make a name for himself as a crazy, burned-out hippie? And did he get on LEO’s radar? Could he have found himself in serious legal or criminal trouble?

Just think about it. I am not saying to not have sincere beliefs and advocate for certain issues. But just use common sense and be practical about it. Use good judgment in when and where you talk about it. And most importantly, be careful “who” you talk about it with.

It was obvious that Don was fairly anti-government. Did he have a kindred spirit in me?

Let’s say he did for this conversation. Did him going off the deep end in my face help him or hurt him? Was it worth it?

As you well know I want you to stand up, I want you to take action for those righteous things you believe in. However, you have to be intelligent in the way you go about it.

If you don’t…you become just another Crazy Don.

 

 

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Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #2)

EMP Strikenote: article first appeared in December 2015

In part #1 yesterday I laid out the case for the probability of an EMP strike on America. I started laying out the case for the severity of the impact of such a strike. This article, Part #2, finish up on the impact severity, and end with what you can do to mitigate the EMP threat.

It is probably a good idea to read Part #1 first if you haven’t already done so.

Severity –

The experts and planners really don’t know for sure just what the extent of and EMP blast effects might be. Yes, there are books written talking about a 90% die-off in the first year. But, they are writers not experts in EMP warfare, they are novel authors.

I had the opportunity to talk to a 40 year expert that worked for Motorola and was a professor of electronics at a major university. We discussed the EMP potential. He explained to me that all their own testing was different than the hype and scare that we hear about in the media and read about in the books.

He was referring to all the post-EMP books hyping pre-computer controlled cars. Granted, vehicles with all the EMP resistant BOVdifferent computer technology would be far more susceptible to being rendered useless by an EMP strike. So some cars beginning in the mid-70’s began using integrated circuits, actual computer modules were about 3 – 5 years later. Obviously any vehicle without an integrated circuit board or computer module would be far less susceptible to damage from an EMP strike.

He went on to explain that not even the cars with computers that were all “zapped” had died an electronic death. The EMP pulses that they tested with only killed about 60 – 70% of cars with computers. I found that very interesting. He explained that sometimes all they had to do was disconnect a battery and the car would survive just fine. And not all the batteries were automatically destroyed by the pulses either. So the outcome for vehicle transportation may not be as dreadful as some would lead us to believe.

Electronics were a little different in their testing. If electronics weren’t protected they usually got wiped out. But, they also discovered that protecting the delicate electronics wasn’t all that difficult. They found the concept was to direct the energy of the pulse around the electronic gadget not allowing any of the energy to come in contact with the piece of equipment.

When I asked him how difficult it was, he chuckled and said, “Not very.” He told me that placing electronics in a metal box on insulated material should be just fine.

To me the operative word was “should.”

He said there was no way to conclusively say what kind of metal box worked all the time. And the reason is the EMP pulse itself. The energy flows through the air at different frequencies. The key was to block that specific frequency of energy associated with that specific EMP blast. And he also told me that there couldn’t be any gaps in the metal box, a tight metallic seal was paramount.

By then my eyes were kind of glazing over, I was getting lost. Then he said it was pretty simple to test. He said take an FM radio, tune it to a clearly heard station, and turn the volume up. Then place it in your metal box on insulated material. Slowly start to close the lid. If the radio reception died away and you could no longer hear the radio then the box was blocking the energy frequency of most EMP pulses.

He did qualify that by saying that to the best of their knowledge at that time EMP, energy pulse frequencies were roughly that of FM stations. And that is why if you could block the FM reception, you could block the pulse energy. And technically you weren’t blocking the energy pulse. The metal box was moving the energy pulse around the outside of the box not allowing the energy to come into contact with the radio’s antenna.

He also said it would be a good idea to remove the battery and the antenna from the radio. That would further assist in keep the energy out of the radio since both of those items attracted energy. We talked about wrapping the radio in a layer of insulation and he thought it would help if there were no gaps in the wrapping.

Faraday Cages –

We talked about Faraday Cages for awhile, he was not impressed. He thought they were overrated and pretty Farday Cage protection against EMPmuch was just a fancy and more expensive version of a metal box. He even mentioned that a garbage can with no holes or cracks, with a tight fitting lid, and lined with a non-conductive material could accomplish the same thing…maybe even far better.

The idea was simply to keep the energy from entering or contacting the piece of electronic gear that you were trying to protect.

A Faraday Cage was simply a fancy metal mesh box, that might not work as well as a metal container such as a garbage can mentioned a minute ago. We again talked about steel garbage cans with a plastic lining (i.e. a plastic garbage can) as an option. He said that would probably be just fine if the garbage can lid was tight fitting and let no gaps in the lid’s seal. We talked a little more and he liked my idea of using crumpled up aluminum foil as a “gasket” to ensure that there was no gap at all between the lid and the garbage can lip.

Layer after layer –

After thinking it through for awhile I talked with another buddy of mine, a serious and intelligent prepper. And the qualifications to be called such. We talked for awhile about EMP strikes and the potential for damage. Mostly sticking to how to protect radio equipment from damage.

When as was said and done we decided that we would wrap our gear in non-conductive material ensuring that there were no gaps. Then wrap that bundle in aluminum foil without gaps or open seems. So, imagine a bubble-wrap envelope sealed tight with clear shipping tape. Then that bundle is wrapped tightly with aluminum foil with absolutely no gaps in the wrapping.

Then use the non-conducting bubble wrap again, then another foil wrap, and then finish them off with a final layer of non-conducting bubble wrap. When we were all done with that, we placed them in a metal box with a tight fitting lid that left no gaps between the lid and the box.

I thought through that a lot. Basically we would be doing what my expert buddy had talked about. End result…redirecting the energy around the piece of electronic gear you are trying to protect.

Now what?

What to do now?” is the big question isn’t it. And honestly, that is up to you. I didn’t say that to be smug or avoid answering the question. It really is up to you.

Here’s how I see it…

  1. If you take your radios and EMP proof them in a metal box, then you don’t get to use the radio. You don’t get the operational practice or get to have fun with the radios.
  2. The EMP pulse, if it does occur, might be on a completely different frequency than what you have prepared for. Therefore your box is a complete failure and your radios get fried anyways.
  3. We may never get hit with an EMP pulse. Remember, it is rated in the low or very low probability category. So you wasted all that time, effort, and money for nothing.
  4. Or you can hedge your bet. The Baofeng UV-5RA radio is very inexpensive. Buy a set to use with all the right accessories, etc., especially the programming software. Get them all set up and enjoy them. Then buy just the radio itself, a back-up  for each radio you actually use. Program them, wrap ’em up, box ’em up for that potential EMP strike. And just to be on the safe and plush side…throw in the old family laptop with RT Systems programming software loaded on it, along with the cable and DVD.
Become obsessive?

No! While the potential for an EMP strike severity could be quite high if we are struck, the probability of being struck is still quite low. So there is no reason to start obsessing over being hit with an EMP.

And honestly, what part of your preps are truly dependent on electronics or batteries? For me it is:

  • Radios
  • Tactical flashlights
  • Solar generators
  • Night vision
  • GPS

Yup! That’s it for my dependency on electronics and batteries. So I have to ask myself the question, “Could I survive without all of the above?”

“Of course I could!” is the easy and accurate answer. Would it be more convenient with them? Yes. But we could get long without them.

So you really have to ask yourself the same questions –

What preps of your depend on electronics and batteries?

Could I get by without those things?

Summary –

As far as priorities go I would put EMP-proofing your electronics way, way down the list. I would say look into it after; a year’s worth of food, water, and garden seed. And then after, considerable medical supplies, weapons, and 1000’s of rounds of ammo. Then put in water filtration and purification capability, a good tents, clothing, and quality tactical gear. Then…and only then, would I consider worrying about protecting my gear from an EMP.

This has been a really long article on EMPs, but I thought it prudent to go through it in detail. But, by now you also have a pretty good idea of what you need to be doing about it.

Now…just go do it!  “whatever “it” may be.

 

 

 

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Will we really be hit with an EMP? (part #1)

EMP Strike electromagnetic pulse note: article first appeared in December 2015

I’ve pretty much stayed away from the whole EMP subject over the years. I’ve been asked about it a bunch of times but given some pretty vague answers. I guess it is time I get serious and share my real opinions on it.

Background –

My EMP opinion has changed over the years. Remember, I worked with intelligence information when I was in the Navy back in the 1970’s. I can tell you that back then during the Cold War there wasn’t any war-based “measured response” option. There also wasn’t any of thought of a weapon to do little damage to conquer the Soviet Union or any East Block country. We were in it to win it! And that meant nuke the crap out of them.

Sure, they knew about EMP effects for nuclear explosions even back then. But that was a distant concern, issue, or topic. What we wanted was to devastate them, their military, their people, their infrastructure, just basically blow em up.

But, as times have changed I have looked at what would Russia want to do to us in terms of war-based destruction. Russia is short of resources, all kinds of resources with the possible exception of fossil fuels. That being the case, I don’t think Russia would want to slick us off like glass with nukes. Well, with one possible exception, if we hit them first. If we would throw our missiles at them first, they would throw everything they had back at us as fast as they could turn keys and push buttons.

If you think about it, why would Russia, or even China, want to turn us into a nuclear wasteland? I simply don’t think Iran Nuke weaponsthey would.In all reality…they would love to have access to our resources…natural and man-made.

Iran on the other hand has the stupid 12th Imman, end of the world thing as part of their Muslim Shia beliefs. Those crazies would nuke us just to fulfill their desire to expedite the end of the world. But, Iran would hit Israel before they would hit us.

The crazies in North Korea, although crazy, don’t do anything without the approval of China. NK won’t nuke us unless China tells them it’s OK. North Korea really doesn’t want war. They know they would lose. But, they want the attention and associated power that comes with threatening war.

We are China’s biggest customer of the goods they produce. We spend huge amounts of money buying their stuff year in and year out. China loves those dollars! Why would they want to blow-up their best customer?

Well, there actually is a point when China might make a move against us. China has been an empire for 1000’s of years. Yes, China is currently a communist country, but it no less an empire now than it was 500 or 1000 years ago. When it comes to international politics China views everything in a very large context. I am talking in terms of 100’s of years to accomplish something, for sure decades.

Let there be no doubt in your mind, China expects to be a, if not the, world dominating empire. It is only a matter of timing for them. When China decides that the timing is right, they will use all appropriate tools available to them to accomplish their goals. And using nukes against us is seen as a strategy, nuclear weapons are nothing more than tools to them. Albeit maybe not their first or most desired option.

That being said, I do not think that China wants to slick us off either. It just wouldn’t fit their history-based reputation. Sure, they want to beat us, and beat us decisively, but I don’t see them going into “annihilation mode” on us. I think they want to subjugate not eliminate. They like our natural resources and ability to grow lots of food.

You also have Pakistan and Turkey as nuclear armed countries. While they are both supposedly secular governments, they are both Muslim countries. Pakistan has really moved towards being a Islamic government, Turkey is now maybe the most Muslim of both countries. When Pakistan completes its total transition to an Islamic state, then I would move them into a similar category as Iran. Same would be true for Turkey. I think it won’t be long for both of them to finalize that transition.

So what about the EMP thing again?

Remember, I look at “threats” as “risks.” And I then look at all of it in terms of “risk mitigation”. Risk is judgement based on probability and severity of the risk actually occurring. I look at an EMP strike the same way.

Probability –

I see the risk of us being hit by a nuclear weapon that generates an EMP as low…very low at this time actually. The reason I give it such a low probability is their fear of retaliation. Russia and China have no desire to exchange a nuclear strike with us. Iran would probably love it but they aren’t ready for that yet. Pakistan and Turkey probably aren’t ’t too far behind Iran but they are maintaining a resemblance of normal behaviors. North Korea, well, they are complete nuts jobs in that country, so I don’t expect them to actually launch a nuke at us.

So based on all of that, I see the probability as pretty dang low. However, 20 years ago I would have given it a zero chance. 10 years ago, slightly more than zero. When Iran did the nuke deal with Obozo I believe Iran’s potential use of a nuke against another country went to 100%. Their use of a nuke against us is maybe at 50%. Iran nuking Israel………..just a matter of time. It’s not an “if”……it’s a “when.”

So now I have to rate the probability as on the chart.

Severity –

Here is where it could get ugly. If anyone launches a nuke at us and it actually detonates on US soil, it will be devastating regardless of where it hits. It will be the blow against us that challenges, and perhaps negates, our super-power status. If we are hit, and we don’t hit back, we will be re-categorized to the group that includes France, England, Italy…maybe worse. If we are hit and we hit back, then we can expect WWIII. And should that happen, an EMP is the least of our problems.

So let’s look at the severity if it is just an EMP. By the way, it would be more along the lines of North Korea going rogue and hitting us with an EMP without China telling them to. However, there is a potential scenario where China would tell them to hit us with an EMP just to weaken us and test out retaliation resolve.

Whatever the reason we were hit, the outcome would be very damaging. The damage would be two-fold. 1) the EMP-Strike hits our power gridactual direct result damage to infrastructure, 2) the economic fallout.

Economic Collapse from an EMPThe economic damage would be far worse than the direct damage. The stock markets would crash, the economy would nose dive. It would be economic Armageddon for awhile. Mostly due to banking being out of business. Yeah, completely out of business. Modern banking is all computer based with that information being transferred between customer and banks, banks and business, etc. entirely by electronics (i.e. the Internet). An EMP would fry most large-scale electronic systems, including the Internet and telecommunications.

EMP Strike effectsThe direct damage is a little less clear. EMP damage is directly related to a few things:

  1. The size of the weapon as described in “megatons”
  2. The altitude above the surface of the earth
  3. Your relative location to the blast area

The absolute worse location to be at the time would be directly under the atmospheric blast. As the zone expanded outward, the impact would lessen. But, that would be in direct relation to the size of the detonated weapon. The bigger the weapon, the larger the affected area. However, the further away from the blast you were, the more diminished the impact would be.

Now is when it gets blurry. And I will cover that tomorrow when I finish this 2-part series.

 

 

 

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That day……9/11

note: post originally appeared in September 2013, edited in 2019

This morning while I was eating my breakfast I was watching some footage of the events on 9/11/2001; I just started crying. While I was taking my shower getting ready for work I just broke out in heaving sobs. I am holding back the tears even as I write this. It is so very very emotional for me that I still have a hard time coping with the anniversary each year. I rarely talk about it, and I normally call in sick on each anniversary; not this year.

On September 11, 2001 –

I had worked the previous day’s shift at Station #18, I had worked a shift for another of our Captains. We had run a couple calls that night and I was fairly tired, my plan was going to shower and get some sleep for a couple hours then just kick around the house a while.

I had just gotten home, thrown my station uniform into the dirty clothes hamper, turned on the news, and headed into the shower. I came out of the shower and saw a building burning on the news, I sat down on the sofa to get the details. I knew that due to the height, complexity and staffing of the building it was going to be a bad day for many people, a lot of people would not make it out alive. But I had no idea what was to come.

As I watched and listened I saw the second plane hit the other tower. Immediately I knew what was going on. Not because I am some braniac but the spirit bore witness that it was a terrorist attack. I immediately put on a fresh station uniform, then thought I better throw an extra uniform set into my bag. I headed out the door as I would head to a fire call from the station…rushing, apprehensive, worried, determined.

When I got to the station about 5 minutes later the entire on-duty crew was there watching TV of the events. The look on their faces was horrifying, mine probably looked the same. We did our customary “bro hug” and watched and listened as our nation was attacked. Over the next 20 minutes the crew that I had worked with the night before showed up for duty. Within another 20 – 30 minutes my normal crew showed up. Within an hour we had almost 3 full shifts of firefighters in the station.

Within another couple of minutes we had a call come in from HQ that we were to go into lockdown, a deputy was on the way to guard us and our area was the next target due to McDill AFB and CentCom HQ.

We immediately sent a couple FFs to the store for food, secured the property, and organized response crews, checked in our reserve engines, and set-up a sleeping schedule to ensure 100% manning of all equipment for the next week. We were doing what we were trained to do while tears were being shed, tempers were boiling, and feeling a complete lack of ability to do anything more productive.

Then the first tower collapsed. We were absolutely stunned and horrified; we knew what that meant. To us that meant that innumerable brother and sister firefighters were just killed trying to save the victims of the burning buildings. We had already seen the footage of people jumping and falling to escape the flames but this brought it close to home, too close. Somehow we just knew what was next…we started organizing our rescue equipment and other gear to head to NY. We knew it wouldn’t take us too long if we drove straight through. We knew we would be needed. We packed our gear.

Then we saw the next tower fall; more dead firefighters. I cannot tell you the emotions that were running through us knowing that hundreds of us must be dead. And worse, trapped, still alive hoping and waiting for us to come save them, to pull them out of their trap, to do our job as their brothers and sisters. But weren’t there for them, they died, trapped, alone.

We were organizing the vehicles with a couple other stations when we got the word from HQ that we were not allowed to go. Someone evidently told them we would go with or without their permission. We got word that any missing vehicle would be reported stolen and any firefighter that went would be gone from the department.

More than a few lockers and walls were punched out of frustration, anger, and utter despair.

Calls started coming in for us to respond as if it were a normal day at the fire station. Our station would normally run 4 – 12 calls per day, today was not any different to our residents and businesses, we still had a job to do. But it was different, different to us. We didn’t understand why people couldn’t understand that.

Three days passed with us holed up in our station. The deputy left the next day, it was his day-off and they wouldn’t pay overtime, not enough of a threat. I understood that…kinda.

When the estimates started coming in about how many firefighters died in the collapses we were simply in disbelief, denial, shock. How could nearly 400 of us die in one incident!! How could that many die burning to death, being crushed, being trapped, running out of air and suffocating. All of them dying alone.

We had broken hearts full of immense grief – I can’t explain it much beyond that.

9/11/2001 was the day a big part of my heart was ripped out. I nearly lost my soul during that time. I still can’t really deal with it very well, even now. I’ve never really talked about it before, not even with other firefighters to any degree. Most of us never talk about it other than acknowledging it, then changing the subject.

One day, one day – I will have the opportunity to know who did it, why and face those responsible. I have no idea what I will say or do, I hope I handle it with the love of Christ.

One day, one day – I will meet those firefighters that died on 9/11. I will beg them to forgive me for allowing them to die alone while we stood by helplessly. I will hug them and thank them for the sacrifice they made, their unselfish commitment to duty to their citizens…for their honor, courage, and bravery.

Maybe one day I will get back that piece of my heart and my soul might heal. I might be able to understand to all one day. Till then…..I will shed tears, feel guilty, have bouts of rage, beg God to help me deal with this, and try to get past it.

Thank you for listening to me. I have spent nearly 30 years fighting fires, in 4 years till I retire and I needed to tell someone about this. I am tired.

Today: 9/11/2019 – I am still crying when I go over that day. I am not over it. I’ve been retired for nearly two years and the wound is still raw, the hurt is still real. I fear it will never go away. When I wrote the original article six years ago I sobbed uncontrollably at points. Today as I read it, correct spelling/grammar, and add pictures…well, I still cry. Sometimes life isn’t fair, sometimes evil people do wicked things, and sometimes hearts don’t heal. This is one of those times. I hate it!

 

 

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Why do I like “junk silver” so much?

Precious Metals for preppers - grid-down, emergencies and disasters - gold & silvernote: first appeared in July 2015

That was a question that was posed by a website visitor not long ago. Thank you John for asking that question, I appreciate it. John wrote that question as a “comment” on the website lately. His question was pointed and deserved more than just a casual reply. Hence, this dedicated article to the subject of “junk” silver.

Junk silver is a misleading term, although popular and used to identify a whole class of precious metals available to folks. In my opinion there is essentially three types of silver available to the average person; 1) silver bullion, 2) investment grade silver, 3) junk silver. I will give a brief description of each that is my opinion:

  1. silver bullion for emergencies, disasters and grid-downSilver bullion is silver that has been mined, refined and poured into some shape, usually bars. The mine or refiner will stamp into the bar the weight and the assayed purity. You can also call this type of silver “bulk silver” because of its form. The purity for silver bullion is supposed to be .999 but there is no guarantee of that beyond the reputation of the seller.
  2. Investment grade silver. These are the silver rounds available from well-known, well-respected mints with extremely good reputations. I include the government mints from the US, Canada, Australia, etc. There are some excellent private US mint walking liberty, standing liberty American eagle rounds 1oz silver bullion for emergencies, disasters and grid-downmints as well. But for the purpose of discussing “investment grade” silver I will stick with those that I know and trust. This type of silver can be used to fund an IRA. Which means that there has to be a high degree of trust and confidence in the purity and value of the silver. Most of the investment grade silver comes in the form of one ounce silver rounds. An example is the US Mint Walking Liberty coin (a.k.a. American Eagle). These are widely regarded as the number one silver round in the world in relation to investment grade silver. The US Mint also makes quarter ounce Walking Liberty rounds as well.
  3. Junk silver. This covers a wide range of options spanning over 100 years of US coins. As I said earlier, junk silver is a misnomer. The coins I am referring to are coins minted by the US government to 90% silver coins, US coins, junk silver for emergencies, disasters and grid-downbe used as currency. Prior to 1964 the US government actually made coins that had value to them, not just some vague fiat currency that is used today. The coins I am speaking of were made from 90% silver, the other 10% was cooper.

 

So let me explain what I think of each in terms of buying for emergencies, disasters and for “grid-down.” I won’t go into explaining why or how much, I already wrote an article on that called “Silver & Gold…..Really?” < click here to read the article >

First up, bullion. Don’t buy it. Yup, just that simple. In my opinion you have no idea what you are buying. How do I Silver-04know? I bought some. Remember, I don’t write about anything I haven’t done, tested and have personal experience with. I want to speak from personal experience. Back to silver bullion…

So a few years ago I bought several “bars” of silver, a couple of 30+ ounce bars and a smaller 10 ounce bar. I liked them, they looked kinda cool, not perfect, a little rustic looking. They had cool imprints on them stating the purity and exact weight in Troy ounces. I liked them.

Then I started thinking about it, how did I know that they were actually what they were represented to be. The guy I bought them from had a good reputation and I trusted him. But how did I know who he got these bars from had a good reputation? In other words, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So I sold the silver bullion off. The guy I bought it from had a money back guarantee from me. He is totally satisfied with the deal he got, and so am I.

So bullion bottom line…I don’t feel that I would truly know what I was buying. In the worst case scenario, grid-down, I try to barter/buy with by silver bullion and it turns out to be virtually worthless. How so? Well, there was a case not long ago (2012) where gold bars had been drilled out and back-filled with tungsten. Gold and tungsten have almost identical density/weight. It supposedly fooled a number of people.

There is such a thing as silver plate. That is a process where they fuse a coating of silver over another metal. It appears to be silver, coz it is on the outside, but the inside is another, less valuable, metal. I have no idea how I would be able to tell the difference. So the bottom line for me is…I just don’t and won’t buy silver bullion. Nor would I accept it in a barter situation during grid-down.

Next up, investment grade silver. I love this stuff! Yeah, I am a little obsessive about investment grade silver, I just Silver-05love Walking Liberty rounds. They are beautiful to look at and have a certain “feel” to them that just lets you know that you are holding something of value. But beyond the feel, the Walking Liberty rounds are recognized around the world as the most trusted silver coin. So you know you have one Troy ounce of 99.9% pure silver…and that guarantee is backed by the US government. Come on…don’t snicker.

It is easy to spot these coins and if you ever held one, you can easily spot another. Yes, they could be forgeries, but would be hard to copy the quality, weight and workmanship. To me that means that you would know exactly what you have and have confidence in that fact. And I think it would be virtually impossible to create fakes once the grid fell.

Come time for grid-down and you were trying to barter one away you would know you have true value. That in turn would give you confidence in your position and give you a strong hand in the deal. If you were the one who would receive the coin you would have a high level of confidence that you were receiving a high-quality, verifiable value for the goods/services your were trading to the other person. But there is a drawback, not all is perfect with the one ounce round.

Suppose your deal didn’t come out exactly to the ounce? I mean that you were trading 1 pound of wheat for 1-1/4 ounces of silver. The person buying your wheat has US Mint Walking Liberties and you are willing to take that in trade. So you get one, one-ounce coin, but what about the 1/4 ounce?

The two of you decide to use a cold chisel to cut a round, removing ¼ of it to finish the payment. Do you get exactly a quarter of the coin?

So there is the problem…coming up with exact amounts that are less than one-ounce increments. But, don’t worry Silver-06there are some solutions to that as well. There is also “quarters” and they are exactly what they sound like, ¼ ounce versions of the Walking Liberty one-ounce coin. They are not made by the US Mint. They are made by the Highland mint and recognized just as highly as their larger 1oz cousin.

A very astute trader during grid-down might know that the US Mint didn’t produce the quarter ounce coin but they will still know it is just as reputable. Now you have the ability to get your purchase/barter to within 1/4oz of silver. If you are wanting to get even closer…there is a solution for that as well.

Finally, junk silver. I kind of like the term “junk silver” but the term is misapplied. There is nothing junk about silver. Silver-07But, I don’t control the English language, I don’t even speak/write it so well, so I just go with the flow. As I was saying earlier, prior to 1964 US coins had a high silver content, 90% more or less. And that gave the coins themselves actual meaningful value. When the value of the silver outpaced the coin’s currency value, the government began to lower the value of the silver. Eventually the government eliminated all of the silver from the coin. They just hated the idea that United States currency actually had value in and of itself. Besides, they realized they could mint a 1oz, $1silver coin and sell it for 50 times what its currency value was.

So what about all those 90% silver coins that are still out there? Well, they are still out there for the most part. And they are valuable.. Now, remember they aren’t .999 pure silver like the invest grade silver I was talking about earlier. The junk silver coins are .900 pure silver, the rest is copper. And since the silver content is lower, the value is lower. Here is a chart of how much silver each coin contains –

Silver Dollar  (pre-1936)                   : .77 – .78 (troy ounces)
Silver Half-Dollar (1964 and earlier) : .3617 (troy ounces)
Silver Quarter   (1964 and earlier)   : .1808 (troy ounces)
Silver Dime (1964 and earlier)         : .0723  (troy ounces)

But, it is still silver!! You, as John did, might ask, “Why buy ‘junk silver’ when you can buy good silver?”

Valid question and there are a couple of reasons:

  1. Junk silver coins are already broken down in dollar, half-dollar, quarter and dime denominations. That makes it really easy to identify sub-1oz amounts. When the value of your trade/barter/deal needs a specific value in silver, using coins (junk silver) makes it easy to identify that exact amount. I can imagine that post-apocalypse folks identifying values in “silver dimes” as a standard valuation.
  2. Investment grade silver usually carries a hefty premium over the spot price of silver. However, junk silver coins can be bought below spot if you are watchful. What I am referring to is eBay. Search for eBay auctions that are for junk silver coins. Look for two kinds of auctions; 1) auctions that end at weird times like 2am on a Weds, 2) odd combinations of coins like 2 quarters, 10 dimes and a half-dollar. These auctions are often time passed over by the folks trying to scoop up larger quantities and who are a little more professional in their approach to buying silver. The “odd time” eliminates a lot of the folks that want to bid right at the end to avoid driving the price up. And that should be a great hint for you as well; wait until the very last couple of seconds before submitting your bid. That avoids running up the bids. But make sure you submit your “maximum” amount the first time. eBay will only run it up to your maximum but also, only enough to win the auction. So you might get it well below your maximum bid. I would go with spot price as my maximum bid.

So there you have my case for buying junk silver. Now, remember that I have also bought investment grade silver as well. I think there is a time and place for each. The investment grade stuff is for protecting my retirement. It is the hedge against inflation or the dollar getting ruined. Yes, it will be very useful during grid-down and I explain all of that in the article “Silver & Gold…..Really?”

I hope that answers your questions and explains my philosophy on junk silver.

One interesting little side-note: if you look at silver dimes they are supposed to have a serrated edge to them. There was a time that some folks would scrape the serrated edges off the dimes and collect the silver from those scrapings. And then continue to spend the dime when they were used as coinage. In today’s world I think there are some folks who still think they can get away with it. So when buying silver coins look closely at the edges to make sure they are intact and no one is trying to sell you a less than full-weight, intact coin.

 

 

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