Archive | December, 2012

Hobbies For Preppers

27 Dec

As the New Year approaches, it’s a time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. We can set New Year’s resolutions and clean out some clutter.

With each passing year, we get wiser (or at least older). In the upcoming year, we can grow as preppers by learning new skills. The best way to learn new skills is to take up a new hobby. No matter how skilled you are as a prepper, there’s certainly something new to learn or a new adventure to pursue. Even if it only helps minimally with your prepping, you’ll grow as a person.

The Art of Manliness has a neat list of manly hobbies, which many women might enjoy too.

Metalwork let’s you make new things. Some like to work with welders. Others like to build small parts with a lathe and mill.

Combining outdoor hiking with a craft, lapidary skills have always been valued in societies. For the prepper seeking self-sufficiency, hydroponics is officially listed as a hobby by wikipedia.

A few people make a hobby of trying out new hobbies.

Beekeeping,
Candlemaking,
Archery,
Knifemaking
Gunsmithing
Leatherworking
and Reloading

all have practical applications.

To quote a line from an article on Oprah.com about watercolor as a hobby,  it’s about “Process, not product.”

You can purchase a Buck Special knife inexpensively and be all set. It’s likely your first bench-made knife won’t be as nice. So what? You’ll learn about working with metals, hardening them, and their properties. If you enjoyed the process, you’re next one will be better. If you didn’t enjoy the process, move on to something else.

As Ranger Man on shtfblog.com says
“Prepping is also a hobby that begets hobbies. ”

***
Here’s a link to building your own AR-10 rifle. Sounds tricky, not quite mix and match like with an AR-15.

Gun and ammo sales surge as people anticipate a new ban on semiautomatic rifles and “high capacity” magazines.

Salt’s great on French fries, not so much on the underside of your vehicle.

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Preppers Stigmatized By Sandy Hook Shooting

22 Dec

Yikes. In my last post, I wrote that we shouldn’t stigmatize mentally ill people because of the recent school attack. Little did I know, a few people would use the tragedy to stigmatize preppers.

Here are some recent stories:

Sandy Hook Shooting Thrusts ‘Preppers’ Into Spotlight

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/survivalists-worry-preppers-scapegoated-newtown-shooting-213541985.html

People want to blame somebody for what happened. There’s a lot of anger. But is there really anyone left to be angry at?

***

greatnorthernprepper.com has a great article about online privacy.

***

I watched another episode of Doomsday Preppers. I have a bone to pick with the preppers ranking the other preppers at the end of each segment. A guy has like a two year supply of food for his family and he gets 15 out of 20 points, because he isn’t raising chickens and isn’t self-sufficient. That seems excessively harsh grading!

If you have a two year stock of food, you should get 20 out of 20 points. If you have a garden, chickens, and other homesteading projects, you should get a bonus 5 points for a total of 25 out of 20. Just my $0.02.

Dealing With Deadly People & Sears Rant

20 Dec

For several days now, the news has had non-stop coverage of a school shooting. It’s a sad story. A troubled boy shot his mom and then shot several people in a school. Gun control is a constant theme. Mental illness is another.

Let’s begin by saying the obvious: There are many people who are mentally ill who will never harm another person in their life. As has been correctly reported, the mentally ill are too often bullied, picked on, and harmed by others. We don’t want to stigmatize people with mental health issues. That said, something I’ve read a few times is that we can’t be sure the boy’s mental health problems were related to the violence. Yes, we can. Mentally healthy people don’t gun down classrooms full of kids. There is something fundamentally not working correctly in the brain if shooting up a grade school seems like the thing to do. This isn’t the same thing as just being overcome by rage (called an emotional hijacking) and shooting one person.

Police, prison guards, and social workers regularly deal with people with serious mental problems, often compounded by drug or alcohol abuse. Most of us don’t have experience with troubled individuals. There are several kinds of deadly people in the world.

There are psychotics and there are sociopaths. The most dangerous psychotics might be loners, reclusive, and obsessed with the morbid. We should be careful not to stigmatize introverts, shy people, or loners. Many introverts are extremely gentle. Shy people, almost by definition, care about other people, usually caring too much about what other people think of them.

Some parents must deal with dangerous behavior from a child’s early age. The show 20/20  ran an episode (link to hulu) that chronicled this. It’s distressing to watch, but it gives us a new respect for parents struggling with this.

Some parents might recognize that something is wrong, but fail to evaluate a mental-health problem. It’s sad, but after childhood, some children won’t be able to integrate into society. They’ll need to be institutionalized, both for their own safety and for the safety of others. Too many wind up incarcerated in prisons, when they just move out like a normal young adult into the world.

Even with two parents, a child who grows into an adult who wants to burn the house down or behave in other troubling ways is simply too much to handle for parents.

One of the victims neglected by the media was the mother of the shooter, who by all accounts sounded like a generous women who liked gardening. No parent wants to institutionalize her child. But that may be the only solution. Just like a woman fleeing an abusive spouse, there’s a danger at the time of commitment. It has been reported (but not confirmed) that the mother might have been seeking commitment for the son, which may have been the triggering event.

The magazine Psychology Today had an interesting article about the psychosis of the Colorado shooter.  I strongly agree with a statement the author made, “The price of a free society is the acceptance of a certain amount of risk—we can’t be protected from everything and still be free.”

Sociopaths are a different breed. They aren’t shy or reclusive. Most are quite outgoing. They truly don’t care what other people think about them. They lack empathy for others. The link above has a link to a pdf of a classic book (The Mask Of Sanity) about sociopaths. Sociopaths are often harmless, but a nuisance.

Because they have no sense of other people’s feelings, they’ll do things like steal cars just to drive across town. They often become confidence men or mooches. According to the book The Sociopath Next Door, about 4-5% of the population might have sociopathic tendencies. Some people who suffer damage to a particular part of the brain become sociopaths, literally, by accident.

Gun control is the other topic that has become popular in the news. Before the shooting, there was no push to reinstate the assault weapons ban or limit magazine capacity. It was a dead topic. The recent shooting has changed this.

In a response to an article on emergencymgmt.com, David Nash (TNgun.com) said that it’s important for preppers to be seen as “smart, responsible, individual’s beacons of liberty and good judgment.”

He is right, not just for prepping, but especially now, for gun ownership. If I had to guess, I’d bet about 30% of Americans are strong supporters of the 2nd Amendment. About 10% are adamantly opposed to gun ownership. This leaves 60% of the population that is subject to being influenced one way or the other. So what other people think of us, as gun owners, is important. It’s that large group in the middle that will determine what restrictions exist on gun ownership in the future.

What I dislike is an attempt to rewrite history and portray the 2nd Amendment as a right conferred to the States.

As gun owners, one thing we can all do to protect our rights is to keep most of our weapons locked up and safe. We must have some weapons available for personal defense, but the fewer weapons that fall into troubled hands, the better.

While the tendency is for people to want the government to protect them from acts of insanity, I think many preppers and others want to protect themselves. I read an article that in Minnesota, after the shooting, permits for CCW are up sharply.

***
In a recent post, I recommended Craftsman tools as a possible gift, only the Made-in-the-USA automotive hand tools. Avoid anything made by them with an engine or electric motor. A few years ago, when I needed new tires, I didn’t take my car to them, even though they were the lowest price. They had too horrible a reputation for automotive trickery. I didn’t want them anywhere near my vehicles.

When I got some tools for the holidays this year, they canceled one item, but billed me for it anyway. After six or so e-mails with their support staff, who kept insisting I hadn’t been charged for the cancelled item (even though I had the credit card bill in my hand showing the full charge) I just had the credit card company reverse the charges.

If you’re billed for merchandise you didn’t receive (from any seller), here is what the FTC recommends you do to get the credit card company to reverse the charge.  If you paid with Paypal, you can file a dispute with them. Filing a BBB complaint is another option.

When I stumbled upon this (looking for others b****** about Sears), I nearly fell over. Sears had to settle with the FTC for violating customer’s privacy. Sears had asked people to “join their community” which really meant they installed some tracking software on the customer’s computer.

The FTC charge said, “the software would also monitor consumers’ online secure sessions – including sessions on third parties’ Web sites – and collect information transmitted in those sessions, such as the contents of shopping carts, online bank statements, drug prescription records, video rental records, library borrowing histories, and the sender, recipient, subject, and size for web-based e-mails.”

For those of you climbing back on your chair after falling off, you read it correctly. If you had this malware installed by Sears, they might know your bank balance, your library record, and what you did on other third-party websites. Talk about Big Brother! It’s astounding a corporation would have so little respect for their customer’s privacy.

Despite all this, I still want to snatch up what Craftsman Tools I desire, because many experts predict Sears won’t last long and many of the newer tools are being made in China.

***
I should have mentioned this earlier, but Menards has a sale on 60 Watt and 75 Watt American-made Sylvania double-life incandescent light bulbs. A pack of four is $0.99. For those in the dark, next month, 75 watt incandescent bulbs will no longer be made. The year after that, the 60 watt bulbs go the way of the do-do bird and Twinki too. Most amazingly, our local utility rates are going up 9% next year, because the utility company says people are using less energy so they need to bill us more for it!

Book Review: Prepper’s Home Defense

13 Dec

I just finished reading Prepper’s Home Defense by Jim Cobb. I purchased the book on Amazon, and for $10, I think it’s a great buy for preppers. The book reads quickly and is unique in that it’s about home defense under “post collapse” situations. If you’re ex-Special Forces or SWAT or worked in security planning, you’ll probably know everything in the book. The rest of us will certainly pick up some knowledge that can help us if we’re ever forced to defend ourselves and our homes.

Two things I especially like about the book are that it is realistic and that I couldn’t find any really bad advice. That’s rare for defense books. Two other books I have near me as I write this review are an older edition of the USMC Hand-To-Hand Combat Manual and Kill or Get Killed by Rex Applegate. Those are great books too. Each one, though, has some nonsensical advice.

While the USMC book is overall excellent it perpetuates the myth that by hitting somebody in the nose, you can drive bone splinters into their brain. Martial artists and doctors can explain why this doesn’t work. Kill or Get Killed is a police book. It’s great but it has some disarming techniques guaranteed to get you shot full of bullet holes.

The problem is that almost none of us (maybe nobody) has enough actual experience in lethal hand-to-hand combat to absolutely weed out all the nonsense. So bad advice permeates self-defense literature. Cobb’s advice is basic, but it’s solid.

One example of Cobb’s excellent advice is about age-appropriate self-defense. He gives us the case of a four-year-old child. That child won’t have the power to disable her attacker. Hitting the attacker in the n**s will only enrage the attacker who will probably pummel the child out of anger. At that age, Cobb wisely recommends the child focus on things like screaming and trying to run away.

Experts often have to decide whether to tell people what they want to hear or what they should hear. I feel Cobb tells readers what they should hear which is a credit to him. No high-flying face kicks. You’ll fall and crack your head open. Training a family pet to be a lethal guard dog isn’t the best idea. Knife fights aren’t romantic. And, Cobb says we can’t rely on our Ninja throwing stars of death.

The book probably won’t appeal to the new breed of ITGs, or Internet Tough Guys planning to beat back hordes of mutant zombie bikers with their nunchucks (properly called Nunchuku as Cobbs corrects us). It will appeal to average guys who want to learn more about protecting their family under extreme circumstances.

Moderate preppers will benefit the most from the chapters about basic security planning, structure hardening, and perimeter defense. This said, as a moderate prepper, I don’t believe I’ll ever need some of the information. I don’t think I’ll ever need to worry about “sniper target selection” and don’t anticipate running a patrol or a foraging “excursion.” I have a couple of sandbags, but have them to keep Rhino ramps from sliding. I don’t believe things will get so bad that I’ll want to bring sandbags into the house to stop enemy fire. But if things ever did get that bad, I’ll be glad for the information in Prepper’s Home Defense.

Cobb has an excellent website at SurvivalWeekly.com.

***
In a horrible story, a man pushed another man in front of a oncoming subway train. Here’s something I bet most of us haven’t prepped for: What Should You Do if You’re Pushed Onto Subway Tracks?

Here’s a good basic article about turning off your utilities:
Nuts & Bolts with Nick: Getting To Know Your Home Utility Shut-Offs

This is a well-thought out article about risk. It talks about severity and frequency as two factors to think about. The Zombie Apocalypse would be severe, but unlikely. A nasty snowstorm, much less severe, but much more likely.

Prepsteading? (article on TNgun.com) The idea is to be as self-reliant as possible, to reduce the impact of disasters.

***
In general, I don’t discuss political topics in this blog. Those are just too tangent to the topic of prepping. But, it appears there’s a hidden plan to attach a national law creating an online sales tax to the newest defense authorization bill.  This creates a private organization led by politicians which would have authority over collecting online sales tax for the states.

This is interesting because there is a new political push to ban online ammunition sales, although it appears to have little or no support from the American people.

Some states like Tennessee have a special tax on ammunition. And, in Chicago a fellow by the name of Toni Preckwinkle waned to tax ammo to reduce crime. Now these things probably aren’t related. But, it looks like the perfect mechanism for tracking online ammo sales and reporting them to some hidden authority. Companies selling ammunition online would fall under the authority of this new tax organization.

What does this mean? Prepare to pay sales tax next year when you purchase ammo or any other taxable products online. Bummer.

***
Even if the government isn’t tracking you online and trying to scare you, criminals are. Here are some links about a new “Ransomware.”

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/technology/for-pc-virus-victims-pay-or-else-665240/

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-57553975/ransom-payments-on-rise-for-malware/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2230545/Viruses-disable-hold-computers-data-ransom-making-criminal-gangs-5M-year.html

What is Ransomware? Criminals abroad claim to be some official police agency, like the FBI. They claim your computer has been engaged in some illegal activity and demand that you pay a bogus “fine.” The hackers disable your access to your PC. Everybody should learn how to protect themselves from online fraud. Backup your important data. Learn how to do a “safe-mode” reboot and run antivirus or anti-spyware programs to remove malicious code.

If you turn on your PC tomorrow and your PC is frozen by a malicious hacker, what is your plan to restore your system? Do you have a boot disk and some virus/anti-spyware removal software on a CD?

***
Camera OpSec. The founder of McAfee antivirus was recently arrested. How was he found? A photo of him was taken with a iPhone 4S and posted online. It contained this information: “Latitude/longitude: 15° 39’ 29.4 North, 88° 59’ 31.8 West,” at 12:26 p.m. Monday.” A Google Maps search showed he was standing by a pool when the photo was taken. Preppers concerned with “operational security” should be careful not to post pictures online taken with a cell phone if they contain embedded “metadata” that will reveal the location of the photo.

http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/12/oops-did-vice-just-give-away-john-mcafees-location-with-this-photo/

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2012-12-04/business/35624999_1_iphone-data-smartphone-hacker

***
Here’s a neat site I stumbled on:
http://makestuffwithyourhands.com/
He makes arrows, chain mail, knives, ear rings, and fishing lures. Ear rings and fishing lures, strangely enough, somehow, seem to go together!

And for the extreme tech-savvy do-it-yourselfer: Build Your Own Predator Drone

***
This story is about one of those needless firearms accidents I wrote about in the book. A father accidentally killed his son. He removed the magazine from his 9mm pistol, but failed to clear the chamber. As I wrote in the book, you really need to understand the basic operation of a semi-automatic pistol before you carry one. Accidents like this are too frequent.

***
Watching the new documentary about the Dust Bowl, I learned about one more American water source that could be in peril in the next thirty years. The Ogallala Aquifer supplies 40% of Texas’s water. It supplies about 80% of the population above it with drinking water. Conservation initiatives  are underway. Without improved irrigation methods, conservation, and with growing demand, it’s frightening to think that in thirty years, Texas cities could run out of water.

Well, that’s it for today.

Charlie P.–author, The Prepper Next Door

The Prepper Next Door is Now Available On Amazon’s Kindle

8 Dec

The Prepper Next Door is now available as a Kindle eBook for $9.95. I’d say it’s a great stocking stuffer for Christmas, but I’m not sure how to put an eBook into a stocking.

Because eBooks are searchable, there is no index in the Kindle edition. The print edition has an extensive index. To make finding information easier, the eBook has an extensive table of contents with numbered subsections. This is something several readers said they wanted.

As an example, the Chapter about prepper guns now has 24 subsections after the main introduction. The sections are:

Chapter 8 Guns
8.1 Learning To Shoot A Pistol Accurately
8.2 How A Semi Automatic Pistol Works
8.3 The 45 Automatic Pistol (1911-A1)
8.4 Trigger Control (Learning To Shoot Continued)
8.5 Accurate Air Pistols And 22s For Practice
8.6 Point Shooting
8.7 Selecting A Defensive Handgun
8.8 Single Action, Double Action, And DAO Triggers
8.9 The Glock Pistol Design
8.10 Weapon Serviceability &  Revolvers
8.11 Pistol Stopping Power & Bullet Selection
8.12 Buying & Storing Ammo & FFLs
8.13 Holsters & Drawing Your Pistol Safely
8.14 Carrying A Concealed Pistol
8.15 12 Gauge & 20 Gauge Shotguns For Defense
8.16 Defensive Rifles & The 7.62 mm NATO
8.17 The AR-15 & How Gas Operated Autos Work
8.18 5.56 mm & 223 Remington
8.19 The AK-47 & Rifle Shooting
8.20 What About Weapons For Hunting?
8.21 Weapons For Target Shooting And Practice
8.22 Reloading Ammo & Caliber Selection
8.23 Purchase Useful Accessories
8.24 Guns For SHTF or WROL

Shorter chapters have fewer or no sections. I still prefer paper books to eBooks.

***
While searching for something else, I discovered Amazon is selling the Buck 110 Folding Hunter Knife for $29.99 with free shipping. That’s a pretty good deal.

***
TheLordHumungus has a nice video about basic tools preppers should acquire:

He focuses on basic versatile tools that are used around the house. While buying new tools is always fun, I kinda looked forward to the day when I had all the tools I’d need and wouldn’t need to purchase any more. That never really happened. As I learned more, I found there were more and more tools I wanted. They were more specialized and more expensive. The proper tool for a job can make it SO much easier.

A good example is removing the harmonic balancer on a car to get access to the timing chain. You really need to make your own special tool to do this or purchase one. Otherwise you risk damaging the balancer. All the tool consists of is a plate and screws. Three screws will grab the balancer. A larger screw will drive the plate away from the crankshaft, taking the balancer with it.

To push on the new balancer, you should use an installer, which is just a threaded rod, a nut, and a washer. Once you learn to use specialized tools like this, you’ll come to appreciate just how useful they are.

If you inherit tools and you don’t know what they do, don’t give them away or sell them. If you become a serious do-it-yourselfer, one day you’ll say, “Oh, crap. I had one of those and I gave it away!”