Saturday, February 4, 2023

10 Common Prepper Scenarios

While many people prepare for TOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it), in actual day-to-day life, your preparedness scenarios are going to be pretty common things that happen to a lot of people but which many people don't prepare ahead for.  Of course you, because you are interested in preparedness, are ready to deal with these common problems including...

  1. Today a train derailment sparked a massive fire.  What you do: have your bug out bag ready so you can evacuate at a moment's notice.
  2. Attacks on substations seem to be ramping up.  What you do: have multiple methods to power your house (and test these methods before you need them).
  3. Today it is cold AF across the northeast.  What you do: prepare way before cooler fall weather hits so in the midst of winter, you will be prepared for any freak cold snaps.
  4. A guy fell off a cliff and died while filming a TikTok video.  What you do: situational awareness and spatial awareness are your top priorities always.  Also, you pretty much eschew social media.
  5. The Tyre Nichols case has been all over the news recently.  What you do: you are obviously aware that police brutality can be an issue but common sense and courtesy will get you safely out of most situations.
  6. Road rage cases are also on the rise and in the news on pretty much a daily basis.  What you do: deescalate and/or avoid road rage incidents which could end with fatal results.
  7. Ditto "self defense" claims that clearly aren't self defense situations.  What you do: as a responsible gun owner, you do what you can to avoid using your firearm unless absolutely necessary (and you make sure you have an iron-clad self defense case lest you spend the next several years of your life in court and/or in prison).
  8. More than half the American population can't cover a $1000 expense with savings.  What you do: as a responsible prepper, you ALWAYS have an emergency fund
  9. In another survey, it seems that many young people lack basic home maintenance skills which were common for kids to learn in generations past.  What you do: learning basic home maintenance skills can be as easy as watching some YouTube videos and a bit of practice.  Needless to say, these sorts of skills can be used in everyday life and in emergency situations.
  10. I probably don't need to to anyone at this point that food prices have gone crazy.  What you do: as preppers, food security is often our top priority.

Saturday, January 21, 2023

20 Items You Need to Be Prepared for Anything

In no particular order...

  1. A passport from your home country.
  2. A passport from a second country.
  3. $5000 in cash (dollars, euros, yen, or a mix of these).
  4. A degoogled phone for general use.
  5. A burner cell phone and sim (neither attached to your name) in a faraday bag.
  6. A reasonable EDC kit with dialed in gear to meet your needs.
  7. A foreign bank account.
  8. Multiple sources of income.
  9. A reasonable bug out bag (which will allow you to blend into an urban environment, not a 90l 'kitchen sink' monstrosity).
  10. A firearm and ammo (preferably handed down from an elderly relative with no background check/registration link to you).
  11. Non-lethal protection (pepper spray, taser, etc).
  12. An encrypted USB drive with all of your files backed up on it.
  13. A lock picking kit (and the knowledge to use it)
  14. A HAM radio (and the knowledge to use it)
  15. Some cryptocurrency.
  16. A place to stash your cache items when you don't need them (private, secure, not linked to you).
  17. A micro SD card with your entire survival library stored on it/micro SD card reader
  18. A privacy plan (ghost address, remailing service, buy assets via a corp or trust, etc)
  19. Multiple modes on transit: walk, bike, motorcycle, bus, plane, vehicle, boat, etc.
  20. Knowledge and skills (as wide and deep as you can stuff into your head).

Friday, January 13, 2023

Some Things from This Week

A few things to know this week...

Monday, January 9, 2023

50 Money-Saving Food Tips

If you've been to the grocery store lately, you know that "inflation" as the government calls it is not 8% but closer to 300% based on price increases in many food categories.  If you need to stretch your food budget to meet ever increasing food costs, consider these ideas:

  1. Garden and grow your own food if you can (it's harder than it sounds).
  2. Hunt, fish, and forage for wild food that is available in your area.
  3. Sign up for SNAP, WIC, free school meals, and other government food programs if you qualify.
  4. Hit up local food banks, food pantries, and meal programs if you are in need of food.
  5. Shop grocery store sales, app specials, and loss leaders to add to your food stockpile.
  6. Skip restaurants, fast food places, Uber Eats, and your morning coffee at the drive-thru and make your own food and drinks at home.
  7. Learn how to cook and bake at home; there are infinite resources for this online.
  8. Switch out meat and dairy for beans, legumes, and vegetables in your cooking--it's both healthier and cheaper.
  9. Buy in bulk--50 pounds of rice, giant boxes of oatmeal, 25 pound of beans, etc. are often cheaper than buying smaller containers of these items (be sure to store them properly).
  10. Learn how to can, dry, freeze, pickle and otherwise preserve food as it comes on sale.
  11. Shop a variety of stores to get the best prices (ie: buy loss leaders at several stores, buy items at membership stores if it is cheaper than at the local grocery stores, shop Dollar Tree if the price is cheaper, etc).
  12. Check out ethnic grocery stores; many of these places have cheaper prices on meat/grains/produce than regular grocery stores.
  13. If you do eat out, try ethnic restaurants, find things you like, then try cooking these items at home (food from poorer countries is often tasty, healthier, and cheaper to make than standard American meals).
  14. Eat less.  Adults need about 2000-2500 calories per day yet many adults easily consume 3000+ calories per day when you add up the food and fancy beverages they ingest each day (thus the skyrocketing obesity rate in America).
  15. Experiment with making your favorite restaurant/coffee shop meals and drinks at home.  There are literally recipes for everything you can think of online, examples here and here.
  16. Get fresh produce from local u-pick farms, farmer's markets, and CSA programs.
  17. If you want to host a get-together with friends, consider making it a potluck or progressive meal so the full cost of entertaining isn't all on you.
  18. If you must eat out, consider eating lunch out instead of dinner (it's cheaper), use coupons, and decide whether a buffet would be more cost-effective than a sit-down restaurant.
  19. Be sure to keep your fridge, freezer, and pantry organized and rotate food into these places so nothing gets left in the back and ends up getting thrown out because it is old and/or rotten.
  20. Drink water.  It's much cheaper and much healthier than drinking milk/juice/soda/etc all day.
  21. Eat leftovers.  If you don't like leftovers, freeze leftovers and have them at a later date so it will be "newish" food.
  22. Cook in bulk and freeze the results for future meals.  This is a great way to pull out a meal at the last minute instead of ordering takeout.
  23. Make friends with local farmers and ranchers.  This gives you an inside track to maybe buying a half cow for the freezer or trading things/skills you have for the food they produce.
  24. When cooking, save scraps.  You can regrow these, use them for animal food, and/or make soup with them.
  25. Buy a $5 roasted chicken from Costco or Sam's Club and use it to make several meals--chicken pot pie, chicken tacos, chicken salad sandwich, chicken fried rice, chicken soup, chicken Caesar salad, etc.
  26. Share food as well as membership club cards.  If you can't eat 50 pounds of rice in a timely fashion but still want the bulk price, offer to split the cost, and the bag of rice, with a friend.  If you can't justify the cost of a Costco membership, see if a friend will take you with them when they make a Costco run so you can shop there using their membership.
  27. Always have (homemade) snacks and drinks with you when you leave the house, this way if you get hungry or thirsty you won't be tempted to stop by a fast food place or the vending machines at work.
  28. Unless you have an expense account, bring all of your work/school meals from home.  Again, this saves money and is healthier than cafeteria/restaurant meals.
  29. When grocery shopping, keep track of the price of each item you add to your basket on your phone's calculator.  Often times, sale and discount prices don't ring up correctly at the register and you end up paying more than you should.
  30. Try dumpster diving for food.  Many people are immediately repelled by the "ick" factor of doing this but others have turned it into an art form
  31. You can pick up a bit of free food at grocery stores (Costco always has food samples), some community meetings offer snacks as well as open houses, weddings, etc.
  32. Use apps that pay you back with credits that can be used for food items like Ibotta and Fetch.
  33. Swing by mom's, dad's your grandparent's or auntie's homes around meal time and you will more than likely end up with a free meal as well as food to take home.
  34. Google $1 a day eating challenge and low cost meal challenge for ideas on ways to eat well on the cheap.
  35. Check your credit cards and see which ones give you cash back or bonuses for using them at grocery stores and use these to purchase your food (be sure to pay the card off each month!).
  36. Make your own beverages--from beer to wine to soda to teas to juices--these are often cheaper (and more fun) to make at home.
  37. Pay attention to unit pricing when shopping for grocery items (sometimes the bulk size can be more expensive than the smaller size on an ounce-by-ounce basis).
  38. Buy useful food prep items at the thrift store--bread machines, blenders, cast iron pans, popcorn makers...these and many other items you use to cook with cost pennies on the dollar at a thrift store compared to buying them at a big box store.
  39. If you must have coffee--and many people MUST have coffee--make your own, as cheaply as possible, at home.  Consider a drip coffee maker or French press instead of using a Keurig or expensive espresso maker.
  40. Check the discount sections at the grocery store first.  Buying discounted meat, produce, and bakery items can be much cheaper than buying these items at full price.
  41. Raise your own food like chickens, ducks, goats, pigs, or even cows.  Obviously you will need a good bit of knowledge and real estate to raise a cow but there are myriad videos on YouTube about raising backyard chickens even in the city.
  42. Learn how to use spices.  Spices can make a blah meal great and are a cheap way to take your cooking to the next level for not a lot of money (note that ethnic stores often sell spices for a fraction of the cost of spices at the regular grocery store).
  43. If you are trying to both pay down debt and save money on food, consider getting a second job at a restaurant or other business that provides free meals to employees (I know a few people who work in casinos who eat ALL of their meals for free in the employee dining room where they work).
  44. If you are missing ingredients for the recipe you are making, consider substitutions instead of running out to the grocery store.
  45. Try shopping at co-ops and other discount stores like WinCo (cash only), Aldi's, and Trader Joes; these places are famous for being cheaper than regular grocery stores.
  46. If the stores you shop at have bulk bins, see if the bulk bin prices are cheaper than buying items off the shelf.  Rice, oats, spices, beans, etc are often cheaper in the bulk bins than in the pre-packaged section.
  47. Buy dried beans and cook them instead of canned beans, it's much cheaper this way.  Note that cooking beans, meats, and grains in an Insta Pot is a very fast and fuel-saving way to cook them.
  48. Try to only shop once a week and do so defensively.  Grocery stores are designed to separate you from your money so get in and get out as quickly and inexpensively as possible.
  49. Pick hobbies that get you food--mushroom hunting, fishing, wine making, truffle hunting, etc.  There are dozens of hobbies where the end result is food so this is a great way to have fun and increase your food stockpile.
  50. Eat down your food stores occasionally.  This is a good way to save money (like when someone is laid off and can't afford food) and use up old food (like cooking for a large event when you need to feed a lot of people).

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Privacy in 2023

On the one hand, there really is no such thing as 100% digital privacy anymore, mostly because anything that you do digitally can be hacked by someone, or the government, or inadvertently by yourself.  A couple of interesting examples from a real-crime TV show series include the guy who told his friend he murdered someone, the friend (rightly) went to the police, then as often happens, the police had the friend call the guy up to try to get him to confess to the crime while being recorded.  The murderer told his friend that phone lines weren't secure so he should download the Signal app where they could communicate freely.  The friend downloaded the signal app and the murderer did talk freely about the murder not knowing that everything he said was being recorded by the police while the friend was using the signal app in the presence of the police.

In another case, a teenager murdered his mother.  The teen told the police his mother went to take a nap then he went to take a nap and when he woke up he found his mother dead.  Unfortunately for the teen, every single thing he did on his phone was accessible to the police.  It showed that the kid was using his phone almost the entire time, looked up how to hide a body, and when the police saw that the in-home surveillance camera system was missing, the cell phone showed a path, within inches, of the kid walking to a specific point by the lake, taking a moment, then turning around and going back to the house.  Needless to say, the surveillance system was found in the lake right where the location information on the cell phone said it would be...and it showed the kid murdering his mother.  The moral of these stories: everyone leaves a digital footprint these days that can be trapped, tracked, and if needed, used against them immediately or at a later date.

Many people think that since they aren't criminals and always follow the law, they don't need to worry about privacy but nothing could be further than the truth as covered in this video.  While total privacy is probably a foregone idea, there are many things you can do to give yourself a bit of privacy even if you don't really need it.  Consider: 

  • Pay for as many things in cash as possible.
  • Use a deGoogled phone (Rob Braxman and Side of Burritos on YouTube cover this topic thoroughly).
  • Use Linux on your laptop instead of Windows or the Apple OS.
  • Do not use unnecessary apps on your cell phone.  Period tracking apps for women in states that outlaw abortion are an obvious conflict when it comes to privacy.
  • Everything you post on social media can be found and used against you.  See any contentious person who goes viral in the media these days and you will see copies of their tweets and Facebook posts from years ago resurrected to add fuel to the proverbial firestorm they are currently experiencing.
  • Scrub metadata from pictures and emails.  One guy who was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was pretty freaked out when fans used his social media posts and location data on pictures to find him on the trail.  While these people had no ill intent, the guy was weirded out and if, for example, someone wanted to murder him, he would have been a sitting duck without even knowing it.
  • There's literally no end to the ways that AI (artificial intelligence) will be used with your digital data in the future.  Currently it is used to make deep fake funny videos but it can also be used to make compelling, yet totally untrue, evidence against a person in a criminal trial too.
  • Additional privacy can be had by using a private email, a VPN, Brave browser, TOR browser, cryptocurrency, etc.  The caveat, however, is that technology changes so quickly that a secure service today may be hacked tomorrow and you could be screwed (see also the LastPass mess). 
  • The tldr for this topic: be careful of everything you do digitally, take reasonable precautions to make your online activities secure, change your passwords regularly, consider old fashioned entertainment options instead of being online 24/7, and check out the YouTube tech channels on the sidebar that deal with this topic.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy Prepper New Year!

Happy New Year to all!  With 2022 in the rear window but 2023 not looking much better when it comes to inflation, government overreach, the surveillance state, ongoing weather emergencies in many parts of the country, the border crisis, the virus du jour, and several other concerning issues, it's time to refocus on the basics of being prepared for anything that may happen.  For those who make new year resolutions, maybe add some of these to your list:

  • Exercise everyday.  You may lose all of your preps and all of your gear but if you are fit and healthy, you will be miles ahead of the vast majority of Americans when it comes to survival situations.
  • Eat the basics--fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and the odd serving of (non-factory farmed) meat.  The US has huge health problems, mostly due to a lousy food industry.
  • Take control of your money.  Get out of debt, use cash while you still can, diversify your assets, and invest in useful things like knowledge, tools, and skill building.
  • Avoid having your every move and thought surveilled.  We will delve into this in future posts.
  • Be prepared for every possibility.  There is no good reason to run out of gas in your vehicle, not have any extra food at all in your home when a storm hits, have to go to a payday lender for a financial emergency, etc.
  • More doing and less chatting about it online.  Besides the obvious downsides of social media, people need to get off the internet and head out in the field and actually do stuff.  Long walks or hikes, starting a nice bonfire for the family to roast marshmallows, going fishing, using your HAM radio regularly, etc.
  • Guard your mind.  This should probably be at the top of the list.  Between social media garbage pushed for likes, bots and AI trying to manipulate your thoughts, advertisers using every last detail gleaned about you by big tech to influence what you buy and what you do, and the non-stop "entertainment" of video games and apps, people barely have the time or inclination to create an original thought of their own.  Disconnect.  Often.