Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I'm assuming you have a BOB (Bug Out Bag) and I'm pretty sure you have an EDC (Every Day Carry bag) but do you have an INCH?  Apparently this term has been around for a while but it is new to me.  An INCH bag, otherwise known as an I'm Never Coming Home bag, has as its contents...you guessed it...items that you would need if you were never coming home again.

A bit of Googling shows that some people think of this bag as a minimalist set up while others think it should contain everything including the kitchen sink.  I think it should be something in between.

Your EDC bag should include everything you would need during a typical day out: daypack, wallet, keys, cell phone, keys, bottle of water, couple of granola bars, sunglasses, firearm if you choose to carry, spare magazine, etc.

Your BOB should included everything in your EDC plus the things you would need to "bug out" or leave your residence for days, up to weeks at a time, due to a local natural disaster, a family member in a far away trauma center, a mandatory evacuation due to police action or a chemical spill, etc.  The items in this bag should be a simplified version of an overnight bag (change of clothes, toiletries, laptop, etc) along with enough gear to see you to survival for several days on your own (food, water, shelter materials, cooking materials, water purification tabs, etc).

Now the INCH bag, which would include everything you would need if you could NEVER come home again, really doesn't need to contain that much stuff.  When we sold our house and nearly everything in it some years back in order to travel for a couple years, I realized that you really don't need that much stuff to survive, no matter where you are.

If you could never come back to your home, what would you REALLY need?  Aside from the basics (your EDC stuff and BOB stuff), the only other necessities that you would need would include: cash, credit cards, jewelry and small valuables, your important documents (passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, Will, etc), and a back up of your computer files.  You really don't NEED 90% of the stuff in your house.  Most everything you own is easily replaceable.  You need to determine what isn't replaceable and then figure out what you would do if you need to leave immediately and forever.  Pictures, letters, and other documents are easy.  Scan them into your computer and keep a back up of this file.  On the other hand, great Aunt Edna's 500 pound china hutch will probably be left behind no matter how sentimental it is.

Contrary to some "INCH" lists, you really don't need to carry every tool known to man.  I'd rather carry the basics and scavenge anything else I need before I would carry a couple hundred pounds of gear.  I prefer to travel fast, light, and efficiently, with as little material stuff as possible.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Financial Planning for Your Later Years

An important part of preparedness is being prepared for all of the financial problems that can arise as you go along.  You are never too young to start planning, and while much of this post is about financial prep for us oldsters, everyone should keep these topics in the back of their minds (or the forefront, depending).  Note that I am not a financial planner and this is NOT financial advice, this is just the stuff that I am doing.  For information related to your specific needs, please see a qualified, local financial planner...blah blah blah.

  • Emergency fund.  Everyone, no matter their age, should have one of these.  You should have enough liquid assets (cash, money in the bank, etc) to see you through six or more months of living expenses in case you lose your job, become ill or injured and require a long recovery period, etc.  We have this, it hangs out in a savings account not doing much but waiting for an emergency to happen.  Note that when you have no debt and have cut your living expenses drastically this fund doesn't have to be that big.
  • Cash on hand.  Everyone, no matter their age, should have a couple hundred dollars on hand.  This is useful if the ATM is out, the restaurant won't take your credit card, etc. and you need immediate money.  I don't go anywhere without cash.  I don't use it much but it is nice to know it is always there if needed.
  • Car insurance.  If you own or drive a car you need to be insured.  Full coverage is best if you have a newer, more valuable car and don't have the money to replace it should it get wrecked.  Liability only is OK if the car is older, worth less, and you can easily cover the value out of your emergency fund.  We have one old vehicle so we only keep liability insurance on it.  If it gets wrecked we can easily buy a new car but so far this baby is 16 years old and still going strong.  Note that when you don't equate your ego to your vehicle you can drive a good running car pretty much forever.
  • Health insurance.  Everyone needs this as well.  If you get seriously ill or injured you can be bankrupted by one visit to the ER these days.  Getting the right health insurance takes some research and thought, especially when things get complicated (ie: transitioning from an employer's policy to Medicare, trying to figure out Medicare which is a nightmare in itself, etc).  Although I am well covered by insurance, I'm eagerly waiting for single payer healthcare insurance because our current health-insurance-dominated healthcare industry is a freakin mess.
  • House insurance.  This is another necessity.  If you are a renter, get renter's insurance.  This is another area where you need to do your research as you need to figure out how to cover your costs (liability, home replacement costs, content replacement costs) without going overboard.  Note that you should annually review your house insurance policy as many seem to have automatic increases so shopping around if yours seems to be getting too expensive may save you money on this.
  • Life insurance.  You may or may not need this.  Everyone should have enough money to cover the cost of burying themselves and paying off their debts.  If you have no debt, no one dependent on your income, and have plenty of money in your emergency fund, you may not need life insurance.  If you have debts, no savings, and a wife and six kids depending on your income you NEED life insurance.  Term life insurance (IMHO) is your best bet.
  • Long term care insurance.  As people live longer and sicker than they ever have before AND as fewer and fewer families see it as their duty to take care of their elderly loved ones, this type of insurance is more and more important.  How will you pay for your care (nursing home, assisted care facility, etc) when you are old and sick?
  • Debt.  You should have none.  I am very anti-debt even though so many others rave about "low easy payments", "super low interest rates", and all that garbage.  Basically if you never carry debt, pay cash for your vehicles, and pay off your house ASAP you will be miles ahead of most people.  You will also need a smaller emergency fund, can easily get by an a low monthly income, and will be pretty stress free when it comes to your money.
  • Savings.  You should have lots.  It is not that hard to save money if you do it consistently and over a long period of time (and resist unnecessary shopping, spending on things you can't afford, etc).  You should have a variety of savings accounts (emergency fund, vacation fund, gift fund, retirement savings like a Roth IRA, etc).
  • Income.  Whether you are young and just getting started or old and retired, you need to have income, of course.  I am a fan of multiple sources of income.  The more money I have coming in each month from a variety of sources, the happier I am.  If I was only relying on Social Security...well that would be a bad thing.  When you are young, your job is to have as many pots in the fire as you can handle with the goal of building a solid skill set and long-term income.  When you are old, you need to be set up financially to the point that you will still have multiple sources of income including Social Security, a pension, income from retirement savings and retirement investments, maybe some rental property income, royalties are nice, and the occasional part-time job or hobby income is good as well.  Note that as you get older it is a good idea to know all of the financial rules that govern such things as when to take Social Security, how earned income will affect your Social Security, when you must take retirement savings disbursements, etc.
  • Passive income.  The very best kind of income source is to have money come not from your daily work but from an investment you have made of your time or money which is now paying dividends.  The income on your savings is a form of passive income (a dismal source but still it shows how your money can be making money for you).  Royalties from previous projects (music, books, acting, etc) means you are getting paid for something you have done a while ago but it is still generating income.  Investing is a huge whole topic unto itself but suffice it to say, if you put your money into something that will (hopefully) make it grow like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. you will have a continuous source of money.  Note that investing is hardly passive at first as it takes some bit of work to know what you are doing in the field AND, depending on the investment it can be kind of secure or not secure at all--either way you could lose everything.
  • Retirement income.  There is a special sort of passive income for retirees that will keep the money coming in long after you have stopped working.  These include Social Security (it's nice but not nearly enough to live on if that is the only income you have), a pension (these are also nice but there is no guarantee that it won't implode like Enron so don't plan to live on only your pension for the rest of your life), retirement savings as noted above, your 401k, etc.  Whatever you do, don't look into these things when you are 65.  You need to focus on building these from your very earliest years of working so there will be enough to see you into a comfortable retirement.
  • Buying stuff to sell now or later.  Another source of income has to do with buying things you hope will appreciate in value so you can sell them off in the future and collect a tidy sum.  This can range from buying antiques or guns, flipping houses, building up a business, buying jewelry or foreign currency...all of these things require your money/time/effort now but will hopefully bring a profit when it comes time to sell. 
  • Wills, trusts, power of attorney, etc.  These official documents direct how you want things to go after you die.  You NEED these things.  I've seen it happen way too often when someone says "we know grandpa wanted..." but grandpa is dead and the evil aunt sweeps in and takes everything she can get her greedy hands on because it wasn't written down.  Similarly, inheritance laws vary a great deal by jurisdiction--you don't want to leave your kid a nest egg only to have half of it sucked up by inheritance taxes.  The creation and planning of these documents take legal and financial expertise that is well worth paying for.
  • The intangibles.  I say these are intangible but they are just as important as all of the above.  Keeping yourself as healthy as possible, making financial planning your new vocation on a (very) regular basis, keeping up great relationships with your family and friends, keeping up to date in your field even if you are retired...all of these things will add extra security to your old age.
As you can see by this (very) long post, being financially prepared--especially being prepared for the point that you will no longer be able to work and create an income, is of paramount importance.  Start now to plan for any and all scenarios you can conceive of: what if you die long before your spouse, when if the spouse dies long before you do, what if you are ill for a long time before death, how will you transfer money to your kids, do you want to transfer money to your kids, how long will you keep the family farm before the amount of work and upkeep it takes isn't worth it...there are a lot of things to consider here.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

And Yet Another School Shooting

Again on the news today I heard of yet another school shooting.  I mildly wondered 'where?' as I caught the last bit of the news.  You know it is a sad day when a mass shooting barely raises an eyebrow.  Here's some random thoughts:

  • As soon as I heard where the shooting took place I was pretty surprised.  I've been to Roseburg a few times. It's a very small town and a very small college.  Mass shootings can happen ANYWHERE.
  • Cue the anti-gunners and gun control folks.  This happens every time there is a shooting yet people still fail to see that these shootings usually have a handful of commonalities that are never addressed, namely the shooting takes place at a designated "gun free" zone, the shooter usually has a history of mental illness (no info yet in this case), and "no one expected it to happen here."
  • You know how social media is a great way to share useful information?  Apparently the guy's plans were posted on 4Chan and he was given all kinds of info on how to get a higher kill rate.  Lovely.
  • And notice how even though he posted such a thing online, no one informed the authorities.
  • And then notice how politicians hop on the bandwagon (never mind that there were 50 people shot in one weekend in Chicago and no one said a single thing about that).
So I toss up my hands.  Yes, I am keeping my guns.  No, I don't think more stringent gun control laws will make a difference (I mean the ones we have aren't really enforced now anyway).  Yes, everyone who is legally able to should carry concealed (shooting back is the only way to stop a mass shooter). 

Friday, September 25, 2015

10 Things...The Fall Prep List

As of a couple of days ago it was officially fall in the US (hard telling here in Vegas where it is still over 100 degrees each day but I digress...).  Here's some stuff to do:

  1. Go hunting.  Get a gun, get a permit, take a class, go with a friend.  It is a good idea for everyone to know how that hunk of meat gets on your plate.
  2. Get your car ready for winter.  No need to wait until the snow starts flying.
  3. Get your home ready for winter.  How long has it been since your chimney flue was cleaned out?  Dirty flues can cause some spectacular fires.
  4. Get your exercise routine ready for winter.  No need to stop exercising when it gets cold out if you prepare correctly.
  5. Consider fall and winter gardening.  Just think...vegies from your garden all year long!
  6. Prep your yard and garden for winter.  Get your spring yard and garden off to a great start by preparing now.
  7. Try camping in the fall and winter.  It's more fun than it sounds like (plus you will usually have the entire place to yourself).
  8. Prepare now for a winter storm.  Yes it may still be sunny and warm out but winter is right around the corner.
  9. Create multiple streams of income.  An idea...use this extra income to keep out of debt during the holidays.
  10. Make this year's fall and winter holidays the best (and the cheapest/most old fashioned.  Make memories not more credit card bills).

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Evacuation Planning 101

This has been a pretty tough wildfire season with evacuations happening throughout the west coast fire areas.  Following quickly on the heels of the fire evacuations are people having to flee flooding in Utah over the past couple days.  The one thing that has been said so many times during these evacuations are "we didn't know what to do", "we lost everything" and "we didn't think the (name of disaster) would impact us".

No matter where you live, no matter if there are no real natural disasters in your area, YOU MUST BE READY TO EVACUATE AT A MOMENT'S NOTICE.  You never know when a fire, flood, tsunami, chemical spill. law enforcement operation, etc. will happen and you will only have moments to get out of your home and get out of Dodge.

Reams have been written on the topic of evacuation so I won't relist everything here but there are a number of information sheets you should be familiar with in order to make an evacuation plan BEFORE you need it...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A News Round-Up

After 1200+ posts I'm running out of things to write about so today, here's a bunch of random stuff from the internet...

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Crazy People Are Everywhere...100 Prep Tips

I'm not sure if the world is getting worse or, since everyone has a video camera and a social media account, we are just more likely to hear of horrible things happening.  Within the last week there have been more than enough tragedies including the reporters being killed on live TV, a home invasion, and yet another police officer was shot.  I'd say 'what is this world coming to?' but then I would sound like my grandfather.  But people genuinely do seem to be crazier than usual these days.  Here's 100 prep tips to consider to keep yourself and your family safe:

  1. Be in excellent physical condition (it's easier to run, fight, or hide if you aren't 300 pounds and have the joints of a 90 year old).
  2. Know how to fight (earn a black belt in karate, learn krav maga, etc).
  3. Don't allow yourself to be abducted (if someone is going to shoot you, they might as well do it where you are instead of being able to take you to a remote, hidden spot).
  4. Walk and speak correctly (you don't have to walk or speak in an overly aggressive manner but walking or speaking in a timid fashion can make you a target).
  5. Have a concealed carry license.
  6. Carry a concealed weapon (legally of course).
  7. Own a variety of firearms and know how to use them.
  8. Continuously train in a variety of shooting scenarios (close combat, low light, etc).
  9. Always have a firearm (safely) within reach at your home/office (emphasis on safely).
  10. In situations when you can't have a firearm (airport, military installation) be aware of what items you can use to physically defend yourself.
  11. Continually play the "what if" game (with yourself and/or with your family).  What if a mass shooter comes in now, what if a hurricane is heading your way within minutes, etc.
  12. Use reasonable caution at all times (avoid dark secluded places, don't leave your drink in a public place where it could be drugged, immediately get out of situations that don't feel right, etc).
  13. Keep your vehicle in good working order.
  14. Always have more than a half tank of gas in your vehicle.
  15. Have a dash cam in your vehicle.
  16. Keep your doors locked and windows rolled up when driving.
  17. Drive defensively but not aggressively.
  18. Always leave yourself an "out" while driving (leave space between you and the car in front of you, avoid drive thrus if possible, watch for people around your vehicle when at a stop light, etc).
  19. De-escalate road rage situations.
  20. Don't leave anything enticing in your vehicle (don't leave a laptop on the seat, cash and coins in the cup holder, etc).
  21. Remove all identifying information from your vehicle (dealer plate holders or logos, stickers from your alma mater or kid's school, those little stick figures of your family, etc).
  22. No matter where you are, always be aware of everything that is happening around you.
  23. Consider other forms of protection besides a firearm (MACE, bear spray, a stun gun, etc).
  24. Live in a reasonably safe neighborhood.
  25. Put a perimeter fence around your property.
  26. Re-key your house locks when you move in and when others who have a key to your home move out.
  27. Be sure that vital systems are protected (locks on your well house, locked breaker/electrical boxes, etc).
  28. Install beware of dog signs (whether or not you have a dog).
  29. Own dogs to help protect your property and home.
  30. Landscape your property with safety in mind.
  31. Install motion-sensor flood lights around your property.
  32. Install a motion-sensor activated outdoor video security system (record to the cloud).
  33. Install a motion-sensor activated interior video security system (record to the cloud).
  34. Install solid-core exterior doors.
  35. Opt for a solid-core door in place of sliding glass doors.
  36. Make sure all windows have secure locks.
  37. Put anti-shatter window film on all windows.
  38. Make sure all exterior doors have reinforced dead bolt locks on them.
  39. Never leave your garage door open or doors unlocked unless you are going in and out of them.
  40. Install a peep hole in your front door.
  41. Don't open the door to anyone unless you know them and have invited them over.
  42. Install hidden safe(s) in your home for valuables.
  43. Don't brag about the things you have in your home (money, jewelry, electronics, etc).
  44. Use blinds or curtains effectively to keep people from looking inside your home.
  45. Walk around your home during the day and note any security fixes that need to be made.
  46. Walk around your home during the night and note any security fixes that need to be made.
  47. Know your neighbors and enlist them to keep a watch on each other's homes and the neighborhood in general.
  48. Know how to surreptitiously signal for help if needed (a family code word, a signal to your neighbors that has been prearranged, etc).
  49. Always have a cell phone on hand for calling 911 and/or recording events.
  50. Be aware of any potential domestic violence problems in your home/neighborhood/workplace.
  51. Create a safe room within your home.
  52. Don't hide spare keys outside of your home where a burglar might find them.
  53. Install "panic buttons" which emit a loud alarm and call the police during an emergency.
  54. Be consistently inconsistent in your comings and goings from your home and work place.
  55. Bring your garage door opener into your home with you (leaving it in your vehicle can allow a burglar to break into your vehicle then use the garage door opener to get into your home).
  56. Always keep your keys and cell phone with you (leaving them by the door can allow a burglar to break a window, get your keys, and let himself into your home and car).
  57. Don't publicize your material goods (flashing your latest Rolex in pix) or your vacation plans on social media.
  58. Scour your social media accounts.  Better yet, don't use social media.
  59. If you do use social media, "like" or "follow" informative sources (local media, local police and fire, local emergency management offices, etc).
  60. Have a lock down/home invasion plan with your family. 
  61. Create a safety plan in case of a workplace shooter or other likely disaster.
  62. Learn how to de-escalate conflicts at home and at work.
  63. Ensure that your child's school has a variety of safety plans in place (earthquake, fire, school shooter, etc).
  64. Practice hiding (this is a common part of play for kids but most adults haven't done this in decades...and it can come in handy in an emergency).
  65. Always have an escape plan including a variety of ways to escape from your home, neighborhood, city, and workplace.
  66. Always place yourself strategically (near the door in an elevator, on the edges of crowds, away from building fronts and alleyways, etc).
  67. Utilize your cell phone effectively (text instead of calling, download useful emergency apps, video everything, turn off the sound if you are hiding from an aggressor, etc).
  68. Avoid big purses or bags if possible and instead carry your stuff on inside pockets where you can't get pickpocketed.
  69. Pay attention to your city/neighborhood crime map.
  70. Take specialized classes to increase your skills (survival, shooting, kidnapping prevention, etc).
  71. Do your banking and bill paying online as much as possible.
  72. Avoid ATMs at night and in bad areas.  Even "good" areas require a heightened sense of awareness.
  73. Make your home look as boring/average as possible on the outside (not too fancy, no expensive items on display, etc.).
  74. Make your home as uninteresting to a burglar on the inside as well (no clutter, checkbooks and credit cards locked up, cash not laying around, expensive items hidden away when not is use, etc).
  75. Make your trash similarly boring (cut down TV and computer boxes, don't advertise the fact that you have cases and cases of beer in your home, etc).
  76. If you must have a garage sale or sell things via Craigslist, try to make these sales at a location other than your home (in a public place, at a community garage sale, etc).
  77. Don't invite people into your house (trustworthy friends and family are fine, neighbors you don't know well, repairmen, etc not so much).
  78. Don't deal with the criminal element (hanging out with criminals and lowlifes puts a target on you as well).
  79. Don't give your personal information out to anyone unless you instigated the contact (you can call the IRS for assistance and provide your info but if the IRS calls you, don't tell them anything...this is a common scam).
  80. Shred any papers/documents with private information on them.
  81. Have a "missing kit" for all family members (include the person's important info, a DNA sample, a recent photo, etc).
  82. Take reasonable precautions at work (if you must work alone keep your office door locked, park in a safe place, make your office defensible if necessary, don't leave valuables at your office, secure your computer and files, etc).
  83. Be prepared to evacuate/flee at a moment's notice, from work, from home in the day, from home at night, from your vehicle, etc.
  84. Have multiple ways to call for help (via a text or cell call, through social media accounts, with a HAM radio, etc).
  85. Keep your personal information to yourself (your net worth, your investments, your social security number, the kinds of medication you take, your annual income, etc).
  86. Mind your manners.  There are rude/drunk/mentally ill people everywhere; don't engage with them.
  87. Stay out of trouble (if you are pulled over by a cop be polite, professional, and nonthreatening, don't cruise known drug areas, don't participate in activities that lead to trouble like rioting or violent protests, etc).
  88. Raise your kids right.  Loser kids bring around their loser friends, they will involve you with the legal system, and cause other unnecessary problems for yourself and others.
  89. Teach your kids personal safety skills.
  90. Report any crimes immediately.
  91. Be proactive in ending common social violence situations (stalking, bullying, dating violence, etc).
  92. If you or a family member needs mental health care, get it ASAP.  Not only can a mentally ill person cause problems for other people, but they are more likely than others to be on the receiving end of violence, fraud, and scams.
  93. Be able to "bug out" if needed.  You may need to escape a stalker, flee a dangerous neighborhood, or leave the workplace for a while so be prepared (with gear, money, and a way to keep money coming in no matter where you are).
  94. Avoid urban areas.  Rural areas often have much less violence and problems than urban areas.
  95. Take proactive steps to protect more vulnerable family and friends (children, the elderly, the ill and home-bound, etc).
  96. Learn basic first aid (such as immediate steps for blast injuries, firearms injuries, shock, etc).
  97. If you are a high value target (wealthy person, famous person, bank president, etc) seek out specialists to help develop and refine your personal safety plan.
  98. Take steps to secure your home when you go on vacation (stop the mail, hire a housesitter, have the neighbor mow the lawn, etc).
  99. Be cautious when you travel (up your awareness, secure your hotel room with a chair under the door and a small window alarm, be wary of traveling in areas outside of where tourists go, etc).
  100. Use common sense (this ranges from not picking up hitchhikers to not using gasoline to start a bonfire).