Monday, May 9, 2022

YOU are 911

As so elegantly explained in this catchy tune and elaborated on in this recent interview, when TSHTF, the first 'first responder' who will attend to the disaster in your home will be you.  Whether you need police, fire, medical, the gas company, the electric company, or animal control to deal with a crisis, you will be the first line of defense before anyone else arrives to help you (unfortunately in some places, it may be an "if" help arrives rather than a "when").  In this regard...

  • Practice prevention.  The reason the police host community safety days and the reason fire departments install smoke detectors in people's homes, is that preventing a problem by taking proactive steps to avoid the problem in the first place is much better than having to deal with the problem itself.  Secure your home, prepare your property ahead of time for wildfire season, take steps to improve your health, prevent falls and other injuries in your home, wear a helmet when dirt biking, etc.  Preventing a problem is better than having to fix a problem after it becomes a crisis.
  • Prepare.  Assess the most likely disasters that could affect you and then take steps to prepare.  Take a first aid and advanced first aid course to learn how to deal with medical emergencies and take gun safety and tactical shooting courses to learn how to defend yourself as well as to learn the local laws when it comes to self defense.  Earthquake-proof your home if you live in an area prone to earthquakes.  Take a CERT course to learn about community safety, get licensed as a HAM radio operator so you will have a means of communication in a disaster, and watch a YouTube video to learn how to shut off your natural gas line in the event of an emergency; the more prepared you are, the more efficiently and effectively you will respond to an emergency.
  • Gear up.  In order to respond immediately to an emergency, be sure you have the necessary gear on hand ahead of time.  Have a comprehensive first aid kit in order to respond to a medical emergency, have a fire extinguisher to quickly take care of a kitchen fire, have a non-sparking gas shut off wrench near your natural gas meter, have appropriate firearms and ammo to respond to a self defense situation, have a bug out bag packed and ready to go in case you need to evacuate at a moment's notice, etc.
  • Take action.  As soon as disaster strikes, call 911 to have help on its way before you address the emergency.  Assess the situation and determine what's happening and what your response should be.  Take appropriate action to deal with the emergency, keeping your own safety top of mind.  After the dust settles, do an "after action review" of what worked and what didn't work then use this information to fine tune your future emergency response plans.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The Biggest Threat to Your Privacy and Safety May Be Your Cell Phone

For a while during covid, the tin-foil hat types were convinced that covid vaccines were a surreptitious way install microchips into each person on the planet in order to track them.  Who knows if this is possible/was done but I don't think it is even necessary since nearly every person in the world now has a cell phone which has basically become an appendage.  The vast majority of people wouldn't think of being more than a few feet away from their cell phones at all times so what better way to track people than via their phones?  Numerous criminals have been tracked down via their phones either by geofencing a crime scene or tracking specific phones to the point that many criminal investigations now begin and end with cell phone-related analysis.  Here are some things to consider when using your cell phones for your privacy and safety:

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

10 Tips: How NOT to Get Lost

This recent story has dominated local media for the past week.  A couple from half way across the country came to rural Nevada in their RV and disappeared for more than a week.  After a massive search effort, the couple was found; unfortunately the husband had already passed away but the wife was found alive and is now recuperating.  While the details of the event are still sketchy, locals were pretty shocked that they managed to get a giant RV and towed car that far into the remote wilderness where they were found stuck and without a cell signal to contact anyone for help.  Here is how NOT to get stranded if you head out on a road trip this summer:

  1. Leave an itinerary with a trusted friend or relative and schedule regular check-ins with them.  If they don't hear from you at your regularly scheduled contact time, they should take immediate action to start looking for you.
  2. Leave all pertinent information with your emergency contact to make searching for you easier.  Include your full name, email, cell numbers, recent photos of everyone in the vehicle, vehicle info (license plate state/number), photos of your vehicle, etc.  You may also want to allow your emergency contact to access your services like 'Find My iPhone', Life360 tracking app, Find My Android, etc.
  3. Don't diverge from your itinerary unless you let your emergency contact know.  Taking "short cuts" down tiny back roads can end in disaster.
  4. Activate OnStar or other available telematics services for your vehicle(s).
  5. Carry a personal locator beacon with you such as the Garmin inReach which allows you to call for help even if there is no cell signal in your area.
  6. Carry a couple of sim cards with you for two separate cell networks (such as a sim for Verizon and a sim for the TMobile network).  This way if you can't call out on one network, you may still have coverage with the other network.
  7. Don't rely on Google maps exclusively.  There have been numerous articles about people who relied on Google and other GPS mapping services despite common sense telling them they are going the wrong direction (like seeing a lake right in front of them and driving straight in anyway because their GPS service told them to do so).
  8. Carry a map and compass with you (and know how to use them).  Every vehicle should have a road atlas in it for use in an emergency situation in case your GPS system decides to stop working.
  9. Download an offline map program to your cell phone to use if you can't reach your regular cell service.
  10. Consider multiple communication systems as well as back up power systems to use during an emergency.  In addition to your cell phone, keep a HAM radio in your vehicle.  Also, keep your backup batteries charged and maybe carry a solar powered or wind up powered battery charging system with you on your travels

Saturday, March 26, 2022

10 Things from This Month

In no particular order...

  1. It's snake season in the desert southwest.  If you are a runner or a hiker, watch where you step!
  2. This young woman's abduction has dominated local news.  A couple of things to remember, this kind of thing can happen anywhere, even in places where this sort of thing NEVER happens.  Also, it's better to fight an abductor in the public place where he is trying to take you than to comply and have him kill you in some remote place where they will never find your body. Never go to a second location.
  3. If you haven't been stockpiling food, now may be a good time to do so.  This is a good hedge against both food shortages and massive increases in food prices.
  4. A good way to become internet famous (and/or blow up your neighborhood) is to stockpile gasoline in the wrong way.  There are proper ways to store extra gas (and with skyrocketing gas prices this might be a good idea).
  5. Now is a great time to start your garden in many places.  Even if you have very little space to garden, most people can still grow a few things to augment their grocery shopping.
  6. Add some more cash to the money you carry in your wallet and keep at home.  If a cyber attack takes down ATMs and banking systems, at least you will have cash to buy food and other necessities.
  7. Take a break from doom-scrolling, or better yet, take a break from the internet and social media all together.  An entire weekend away from the internet will do your stress level a world of good.
  8. Prepare for wildfires.  Wildfire season used to be an actual season, these days it is a nearly year-round thing.  Even if you don't live in an area that regularly gets wildfire activity, take steps to create a safety barrier around you home in the oft chance that any sort of fire happens in your neighborhood.
  9. While we are on the topic, hurricane season is coming up soon so be prepared for this type of natural disaster if you live in a hurricane-prone area as is tornado season so prepare accordingly.  FWIW, if a hurricane or tornado is predicted, check out Ryan Hall on YouTube for his live weather forecast/storm chasing videos.
  10. Finally, take this advice from Dave Ramsey and make sure your insurance overage is keeping up with the value of your property.


Thursday, March 17, 2022

Are You Ready for an Orwellian Society?

If your Orwellian nightmares have seemingly become more real, you are not imagining it.  We seem to be careening towards the Great Reset at break-neck speed.  An undemocratic, unelected group of "elites" want to tell you exactly how to live and exist.  Want to buy a soda?  It isn't a far stretch to realize that someone, other than yourself, would be able to determine if/when/where you can (or can't) buy said soda.

The cashless society has been creeping up on us incrementally over the past few years with recent changes such as requiring all cash app transactions over $600 to be reported to the IRS or when, in the case of Canada, the government, without due process or anyone being charged and convicted of  crime, decided to freeze bank accounts of people who they found annoying.  Needless to say, having your every transaction monitored by the government isn't a great idea.  This sort of control will be even easier once the government rolls out its Central Bank Digital Currency program.

Then there are other programs that have been put into place to "protect" people.  Like the Trusted News Initiative (to protect you from wrongthink), the Known Traveler Digital Identity program, and social credit systems like the ones in Ukraine and China (what could possibly go wrong?).

Some things you can do to protect yourself from these things:

  • Walk, bicycle, or drive a pre-black box vehicle so your movements won't be tracked.  Did you know that all new cars will be required to have a "kill switch" installed?  All in the name of "safety" of course.
  • Live in a rural area out of the way of most digital surveillance such as dash passes, license plate readers, commercial and residential video surveillance cameras, etc.
  • Use cash as much as possible.
  • Barter as much as possible.
  • Shop at alternative places like thrift stores, small mom and pop businesses, garage sales, etc.
  • Avoid buying products in a way that can be tracked (ie: online, via apps, at membership stores, with your credit card or cash app, etc).
  • Produce your own stuff from food to clothing to building projects to "maker" type activities.
  • Dare to leave your phone and all other electronics at home when you go out.  Your phone tracks everything about you from your location to your health metrics to your searches to your biometrics (facial recognition, finger prints, voice print, etc).
  • If you must have a phone with you, check out YouTube channels such as Rob Braxman, SumSub, Privacy X, etc. to make your electronic devices more difficult to track.  These channels have info on how to protect all of your electronic devices from spying on you.
  • Erase yourself from the internet and social media.
  • Diversify your assets and decentralize some of your money.
  • Be the Grey Man (examples here, here, and here).

Saturday, February 26, 2022

50 Items for Your Refugee Evacuation Kit

For most people, the idea that they could become a refugee seems like a virtual impossibility.  Even in Ukraine, in the days prior to the Russian invasion, people were living as usual and had no plan to evacuate despite rumblings of war.  Fast forward 24 hours and millions of Ukrainians were heading to the border to seek refuge in neighboring countries.  No matter where you live--yes, even in the US--you should be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice and become a refugee in a neighboring country. Here's what to take with you (remember you will be carrying this stuff so look for lightweight items, multi-purpose items, and leave out items you can do without):

  1. A backpack.  You will be schlepping your stuff at some point in your journey and a backpack makes this easier.
  2. Good walking shoes and socks.  Make sure your shoes are broken in and you are used to walking some distance in them.  Bring both cotton and smart wool socks.  Consider gaiters if you will be walking cross country.
  3. Flip flops.  You will need these at camps and/or public showers.
  4. Two complete changes of clothes besides what you are wearing.  Dark clothing that wears well is a good idea.
  5. Shorts/tank top/bathing suit (good for sleepwear, bathing in public, etc)
  6. All of your important records and documents.  All of these documents should be scanned and kept on a thumb drive you carry with you; these records should also be stored securely in the cloud, and you should bring hard copies of your most important documents (passport, birth certificate, etc) with you hidden securely in your backpack.
  7. A burner phone not associated with you.  It's unlikely in the midst of war that a government will hunt you down via your phone but not impossible depending on how valuable of a target you are.  Leave all of your electronics behind.  Also, bring a written or digital record of your contacts so you will be able to contact friends and family.
  8. SIM cards for cell service both from your country and your destination country.
  9. Cash from your country/your destination country/and other stable country (euro, dollars, pounds, yen, etc). 
  10. Battery bank/solar charger bank/wired and wireless earbuds/charging cord/USB charger
  11. Spare thumb drives/spare micro SD cards
  12. Other assets such as credit cards, cryptocurrency, gold and jewelry (well hidden in your bag), etc.
  13. A sleeping bag and sleeping pad.  You may end up sleeping on cots or floors in refugee camps.
  14. A tent and footprint.  You may end up sleeping outside until you can be settled somewhere so bring your own shelter.
  15. A backpacking stove/fuel/cook set/utensils/can opener.  This way you will be able to eat along the way.
  16. A headlamp/flashlight and extra batteries.  For traveling in the dark.
  17. A weapon (mace, bear spray, firearm, extra ammo, knife, sling shot, etc).  Be careful about crossing borders with weapons that are illegal at your destination.
  18. Water bottles/bladders/thermos/mug.  Carry as much water as you can.
  19. Water filter and water purification tablets.  For when using water from lakes and streams.
  20. Food.  Bring typical lightweight/high energy backpacking food.
  21. Map/compass/GPS device.  Use these items to navigate safely to your destination.
  22. Cold weather gear/gloves/umbrella/rain gear/sunglasses/hat.  Bring clothing appropriate for the weather you will be traveling in.
  23. Bandana/buff/ultralight small and large towels.  These have dozens of uses.
  24. A toiletry kit.  Example here.
  25. Hand sanitizer/toilet paper/trowel.  
  26. A good first aid kit.  Example here.
  27. Insect repellent/sun screen
  28. Prescriptions/vitamins/glasses/denture products/hearing aid batteries/menstrual products/condoms.
  29. Lighters/matches/flint and steel/firestarters.
  30. Fixed blade knife/pocket knife/multitool
  31. Sewing kit/repair kit/duct tape
  32. Assorted plastic bags (ziplocs, small trash bags, large trash bags).
  33. Folding daypack/lock for locker (for when you leave your backpack in a locker and only need to carry the basics).
  34. Money belt/fanny pack (for securely carrying valuables).
  35. AM/FM radio and extra batteries/two-way radios/portable HAM radio (note the laws for using these in countries other than your own).
  36. Playing cards/journal/pen/books.
  37. Paracord/carabiners
  38. For babies: diapers, formula, medications, bottles, diaper cream, wet wipes, toys, etc.
  39. For urban survival: silcok key, breaker bar, bolt cutters, work gloves, lock pick set, folding saw
  40. Goggles/face mask
  41. Signal mirror/lightsticks/whistle/fresnel lens/emergency mylar blanket
  42. Fishing kit
  43. Ear plugs/sleeping mask
  44. Binoculars
  45. Fluorescent emergency signal fabric
  46. Mosquito netting
  47. Potassium iodide
  48. Chocolate/mini bottles of whiskey/cigarettes (treats for you or items to trade)
  49. Emergency candles
  50. Other stuff: folding scissors, zipties, safety pins, rubber bands, snare wire, super glue

Thursday, February 24, 2022

20 Lessons (So Far) from the Ukraine Invasion

If you haven't been watching the news, it's been a wild night in Eastern Europe as Russia invaded Ukraine.  Here are some lessons learned so far...

  1. Maybe prepare for war before the war begins, not the day of.
  2. And there has been a lot of notice to leave the capital city but many waited until after the invasion began.  Leaving too early is better than leaving too late. 
  3. As the situation starts spinning out of control, extricating yourself from the war zone may become impossible. 
  4. Needless to say, many people from Ukraine could become refugees, seeking to enter neighboring countries.
  5. As is to be expected, the president of Ukraine declared marshal law as the invasion began.
  6. And social media is playing a staring roll in the event (examples here, here, and here).
  7. Obviously social media can be used for or against either side.
  8. In fact, social media platforms may become part of the battlefield.
  9. So it is important to use social media wisely during such an event.
  10. But be aware that anything you read or hear about the situation may or may not be true or accurate.
  11. The potential for deepfakes is a new concern for everyone.
  12. As is the even more possible (and dangerous) threat of cyber attacks.
  13. Which is already happening to some extent in Ukraine. 
  14. Social media platforms are lighting up with questions about the possibility of WW3.
  15. Social media can also help the average person facing such a situation with tips and tricks to survive.
  16. Another good use of the internet, Googling how to survive in a war zone will return lots of info on the topic (examples here, here, and here).
  17. Even if you don't live in Ukraine, if things get hot enough, everyone may become a target.
  18. Apparently the threat of nuclear war is is a concern around the world at this point.
  19. But there are several other impacts the war can have, including inflation, rising gas prices, a tanking stock market, etc.
  20. Or maybe this is all politics as usual...