Archive | November, 2013

American Blackout (Review)

12 Nov

Just watched National Geographic’s American Blackout. You can view it on Youtube. It’s kind of a one and a half hour promo for their Doomsday Preppers series. They kept advertising that show during the film. I hate when they do that! Don’t put a bunch of promotional crap on the bottom of the screen when we’re trying to get into the film, OK? That just spoils it! American Blackout is the story of a ten-day terrorist created blackout.

To give it a “realistic” feel, they filmed it as if the characters had their cell phone cameras recording the event. A GoPro narration of SHTF. If you like “prepper” fiction and “prepper” movies, you might like it.

A few observations:

Water. It’s really important. Ten days without water is a real crisis. If the government or other emergency workers can’t get water to citizens, because they lack power, transportation, or other resources, people would die. Water is the number one priority. American Blackout got that correct.

Another thing I liked is it portrayed people as they would act if a slowly-unfolding crisis hit. They wouldn’t take it seriously at first. Kids would be kids. “Awh… do we have to bug out today?”

The part about college students successfully getting themselves out of a stranded elevator? Didn’t seem likely. But it was exciting. My favorite part of the story.

At the end, they show the prepper as basically helpless against a larger gang of looters. He’s saved by the power coming back on at the last moment. I’m not so sure. In reality, the situation would have unfolded very differently.

If intruders had breached his home and taken supplies, it’s unlikely they’d let the kid go running back to his parents. What if the parents had a gun? More than likely, the whole family would have been held captive or worse until the intruders left.

Note to self: Watch out for slightly overweight scruffy-looking fellows sneaking right up behind you. They did it to the kid and to the father! They did it in what appeared to be thick brush and in the open. Freaking better stealth skills than Chuck Norris. These are the guys you want on your paintball team.

As long as the family had food and water, there was no real need to confront the looters above. Staying below when things are bad is kinda the whole idea of having a bunker.

If he’s going to go up and confront them… these people have already taken ALL the food they thought the family had… to heck with them… take a position and pop pop pop…If you have cameras from below, why not have a radio and have somebody tell you where everybody is?

My point: A prepper so well prepared he has an underground bunker isn’t going to be taken by surprise by a few scruffy-looking unprepared neighbors. Even more important: This crisis lasted only ten days and the prepper was apparently in a remote part of Colorado. People in those areas are prepared for blizzards. Ten days is nothing to people in remote areas. They aren’t going to come over begging for food after only a few days.


Here’s a better and more complete analysis of what we can learn from American Blackout.

What if you’re in a city and don’t have food and water? What’s the difference between scavenging and looting?

Here’s a good essay about resiliency. Prepper or not, resiliency is the number one trait for a survivor to have.

Here’s a good essay about the NSA’s quest to know everything about us:

“Why does the government, which has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution, find ways to short-circuit it? The answer goes to the nature of government. Even in a free society, government always grows, always expands and always wants to control more human behavior.”

FAA plans for drones to be delayed due to safety and privacy concerns. How cool would it be to build your own nation roving drone?

Does anybody remember the TV Series Salvage 1? A junk man with a dream…

It won’t stop the NSA, but if you’re looking for a brain exercise, try your hand at solving cryptograms. Click on the “play” button at the top. I totally sucked.

Consider This: About 5% of the working age American population collects Social Security Disability. 4% of the American population is on welfare. 7% of the American population is unemployed, with many collecting unemployment insurance. About 8% of the population is employed by the Federal government. About 10% of the population collects Social Security, with maybe half dependent on it for living income. Adding these totals up, over 1/3 of Americans depend upon checks from the Federal government to survive. What would happen to the economy if the Federal government ran out of borrowing ability and couldn’t send out these checks?

Patty Cake For Adults: Proprioceptive Exercises

3 Nov

As we age, we lose our sense of physical balance. Likely, this is because we become more sedentary. Because falls are a significant problem for the elderly, it’s a good idea for us to improve our resistance to trips and falls.

Anyone who’s suffered an ankle or knee injury knows reinjury is a problem.

Watching professional athletes is impressive because of their agility and ability to react in less than the blink of an eye.

What do these three topics share in common? How can younger folks be better athletes? How can older folks improve their safety? What kind of rehabilitation do we need for ankle and knee injuries?

The theme word: Proprioception. The following links explain far better than I could:

If you’re looking for athletic proprioceptive exercises:

“Oh, my God. That was close” is usually what goes through your mind after your proprioceptive sense saves you.

Just when you think the limits of human capacity have been reached…here’s an impressive fellow (one arm handstand pushups):

If you’re working on your balance, it’s only a matter of time before you contemplate something like balancing upside down. Don’t do it. Not for long anyway.

Economic Collapse Preparation

1 Nov

How do you prepare for economic collapse? Here are some ideas:

1) Reduce/eliminate debt. Debt can destroy you. If a person’s income drops and they can’t make ends meet, they often pull out the credit cards. The problem: If you can’t make ends meet now, how are you going to make ends meet when you not only have your current expenses but need to pay for past purchases with interest?

Reducing debt is easier said than done. To achieve it, you’ll need to increase your income or reduce your expenses. The positive: Once you’re debt free, you’ll have more money for getting by and for prepping.

2) Reduce expenses. This will mean you’ll have more money for preparations. If at all possible, live below your means. I’m not asking you to give up all pleasures, hobbies, or fun expenditures. But isn’t there something you can cut back on that isn’t contributing to your life?

To keep this in perspective, there is the story of Frank. Frank worked hard his whole life and saved whatever he could. He skipped many things he wanted to do. He wanted to go to Alaska for a hunt. He didn’t. He wanted to take his wife to Hawaii. He didn’t. He had plenty of money for his retirement. He was going to start living the good life. He retired. He died the next day after he retired. You don’t want to be recklessly spending. You don’t want to be Frank either. Find a happy balance.

3) Start a small business or find ways to earn extra cash. Moonlight. Build a second marketable skill or undertake a new course of study. This can give you money to pay off debt and spend on your other preps. It can give you a source of income that isn’t dependent on your current job.

4) Ask yourself: How secure is my current job? Would another position be better? Some preppers might not like to hear this, but from a prepping standpoint, one of the best jobs might be a government job. Government employees receive good benefits, and they’re likely to be paid. Even in the current government shutdown, employees were given pay for the time they were off. Private businesses are more likely to take a ruthless cost cutting (i.e. job cutting) approach to a drop in their sales.

5) Update your resume. Keep it interesting. Keep references current. Many people give up their job search after a few months. You’ll have a better chance getting hired if you keep seeking work! Be persistent. Network with people who might know who’s hiring people in your fields. The longer you remain unemployed the more likely your career will suffer in the long run. Consider this scary scenario: Tomorrow, you lose your job. What plan of action do you have?

6) Stock up on consummables. Food especially, but also soap, toothpaste, garbage bags, and anything you regularly use. You’ll be protected from inflation. Only stock up on the things you REALLY use, not the things you think you MIGHT use.

What are your key staples? Two cheap foods I like are Spaghetti and Tuna Helper. A jar of Spaghetti sauce can be purchased for $1 when on sale. The noodles for $1. For about $1 per person for two people, you have a warm and tasty meal. Same for the Tuna Helper. Buy your supplies when they’re on sale to get the most bang for your buck. If you forget what things cost, keep a price book so you’ll know when an item is a steal.

7) Keep cash available. They’ll always be something you’ll need to pay for with cash. Some preppers think cash and financial assets will be worthless in a financial crisis. It’s more likely they’ll just be devalued.

In many economic collapses, it’s not that things aren’t available. It’s that people lack the money to purchase them. One example: Germany: “While there were few shortages of food, millions found themselves without the means to obtain it.”

7) Learn skills that help you get by with less money. Do-it-yourself repair and gardening are two examples. The less money you must shell out to others the better. Could you have a family member cut your hair to save a barber visit? Do you use coupons to save money?

8) Build connections to others, especially people who have skills you lack. In an excellent analysis, the Russian economic collapse is compared to what collapse might look like in America. An important point: In many cultures, people are surrounded by extended family. In America, it’s more likely we’re “stranded among strangers.”

Those connections are important for personal well being, but from a more mercenary perspective, the more you’re connected to others, the more help you can get from them. Obviously, don’t be a mooch. Reciprocate and help them too!

If you live in the city, do you know a rancher who’ll sell you a slab of beef or cattle for butcher at a great deal? Do you know somebody who does electrical wiring? Plumbing? Auto repair?

There are countless ways personal connections help. If you need to purchase a vehicle and a car dealer is a close friend, he might let you get a car from a dealer only car auction.

Unless you’re close family, there are some things that don’t work as well. The more “professional” the service, the more likely the person wants to be paid in cash: Dentists, doctors, lawyers, etc., don’t want to trade for their services. Because they don’t hang out with plumbers, mechanics, and electricians, they often pay through the nose for those services in return.

9) Forget the guns. If you read my book or have spent time on this blog, you’ll know I’m a long-time gun guy. I strongly believe in owning guns for personal protection. But in most economic collapses, if you have a carry pistol and a shotgun with a hundred shells, you’ll be more than adequately prepared.

What about selling guns in a crisis? It could work. But if financial bad times really hit America, huge numbers of guys will be selling guns on gunbroker and prices will fall drastically. They’ll need the cash to pay the rent.

10) Take care of health issues you can today. You might not have health insurance in the future. Don’t worry so much about stocking medical supplies as much as prevention and general health.

Two areas come immediately to mind: Dental care and immunizations. Neglected teeth can create a whole host of health problems. The bacteria in your mouth can affect your whole body. If you’re short of funds, visits to the dentist are one thing many people postpone. The more proactive you are now, the better.

With disastrous sanitation conditions in Syria and a lack of healthcare because of war, Polio has returned.

If people can’t pay for garbage collection and forego immunizations, diseases once thought nearly eradicated could return here.

If you’re at that age, get a colonoscopy.

11) Get in physical shape to better deal with stress. Take up a physical activity if you lack one. If you don’t like exercise, spend more time mowing your lawn and doing other activities around your home. A Swedish study showed NEPA, or Non-Exercise Physical Activity, played a significant role in keeping people healthy. “Performing home repairs, cutting the lawn, car maintenance, skiing, hunting and gathering mushrooms or berries” were some of the beneficial NEPAs associated with Swedish culture.

12) Prepare yourself mentally for economic hardship.
Said simply: Economic stress sucks. Poverty sucks. It’s a vicious cycle that takes a toll on the mind. Studies have shown a person struggling with financial problems can effectively lose 13 IQ points due to the stress.
If you’re stressed out about being able to pay the bills, you won’t sleep well either. That hinders the mind’s ability to repair itself.

Under these circumstances it’s difficult to keep a positive mental attitude and a productive mindset.  The better job you can do of this, the better off you’ll be.

Because you’re on this blog page, you’ve already taken an important step to being better mentally prepared for an economic collapse.

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning (link to prepper book on Amazon.)