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25 October, 2014

Project Prophesy and the Misery Index: Dark Days Could Be Looming

It seems as though every few months some new financial guru pops on to the scene and gives us dire warnings of an impending collapse of the economic system. All of them are convincing and all of them predict their particular catastrophe to occur in just a few months, so allow me to say up front that I am not necessarily endorsing the claims being made here. Rather, I'm only passing on information that I believe could be pertinent, because it did set my teeth on edge just a bit hearing it myself.

I think the thing that causes this particular prediction to get under my skin a little more than they normally do is because of the gravitas of the individual who is pulling the proverbial alarm. His name is Jim Rickards. He was a member of the team who negotiated the release of the hostages from Iran. Combined, he has spent three decades on Wall Street as an influential international investment banker and hedge fund manager. He was a influential player in the creation of the technology often referred to as the "brains of the NASDAQ." Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency tasked him with attempting to ferret out financial trading with ties to terrorism. And, he is apparently the Financial Threat and Asymmetric Warfare Advisor for both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon. I'm not vouching for his credentials; I don't know the man from Adam. But, needless to say, a resume like that garnered my attention.

His work with the government post-9/11 led him into a cooperative situation referred to as "Project Prophecy," the purpose of which reportedly was to analyze trends in financial markets in order to be able to predict threats such as terrorism or other internal factors. And, it is apparently that same system that has led him to the conclusions he is making now: that this coming April 2015 will likely begin what is being referred to as a 25 year Second Great Depression for the United States.

You can view the interview for yourself, but the long and short of it involves the Misery Index. This is a system that adds the true inflation rate with the true unemployment rate as a measure of just how close society is to a social collapse, and Mr. Rickards says that we are in a very bad spot on that index – worse than we were prior to the first Great Depression. He also claims that the Federal Reserve has tinkered with this system often and it is rarely spoken of when pundits talk in front of the American public, specifically in an effort to keep things under wraps about just how bad it is. Essentially, they don't want to start a panic; and I imagine that is exactly what would occur, because – assuming he is correct – this occurrence is unavoidable. All that can be done now is to prepare and attempt to mitigate the effects.

What affects? Well, aside from talking about a Second Great Depression, he is predicting that the U.S. dollar will fall from its spot as the world's reserve currency. He is expecting it to begin with an almost instantaneous 70% crash in the stock market, leading to what could end up being a $100 trillion collapse over the next few decades that will cause global anarchy.

Again, who knows if this guy has any idea what he's talking about, but – as I stated previously – his resume made me at least sit up and pay attention. As always, my advice is to pray for the best, while fastidiously preparing for the worst. Let's all get our ducks in a row, folks. Could be a wild ride.


24 October, 2014

There's More to Be Afraid of in a Pandemic Than Just the Disease Itself, Part 2

Part One of this article can be read by clicking the link provided.

Before I go any further, please understand that what I am going to write here should not in any way indicate my belief that the current Ebola outbreak will actually amount to a full-blown pandemic. It is something I believe bears watching, however, and it is useful to us in that – Ebola or no Ebola – thinking about what could occur during a fully realized disease pandemic and attempting to prepare for it is something we should all strive toward. Even the most conservative epidemiologists agree that it is not a matter of "if" a terrible pandemic equal to or worse than the influenza plague that rocked the world in the early part of the 20th century will occur, but rather "when." Refusing to prepare for something that is a virtual guarantee eventually is tantamount to stupidity, in my opinion.

Yesterday, here on Backwoods Survival Blog, we talked about the future threat of a pandemic leading to a halting or slow down of the disastrous "just in time" method of shipment utilized by Western societies and its potential to lead to shortages of food and other necessities, resulting in rioting and other violence and what could amount to some very tough times for anyone attempting to make it through to the other side of the disaster. But, unfortunately, that isn't the only thing to fear.

In the midst of a particularly terrible pandemic, it is possible and – in fact – completely legal for the government to essentially ignore our individual rights. Federal statute 42 U.S.C. 264(d) is quite clear on this subject:

"(1) Regulations prescribed under this section may provide for the apprehension and examination of any individual reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease in a qualifying stage and (A) to be moving or about to move from a State to another State; or (B) to be a probable source of infection to individuals who, while infected with such disease in a qualifying stage, will be moving from a State to another State. Such regulations may provide that if upon examination any such individual is found to be infected, he may be detained for such time and in such manner as may be reasonably necessary. For purposes of this subsection, the term “State” includes, in addition to the several States, only the District of Columbia.

(2) For purposes of this subsection, the term “qualifying stage”, with respect to a communicable disease, means that such disease—

(A) is in a communicable stage; or

(B) is in a precommunicable stage, if the disease would be likely to cause a public health emergency if transmitted to other individuals."

Now, let me say that this is a particularly muddy issue and it is very easy to see things from multiple perspectives. As for myself, I don't like the idea of an infected person running around free with the potential of spreading the disease to anyone with whom they come in contact. Forcibly mandating that that person be quarantined sounds rather reasonable, but who decides just what is to be considered "reasonable" in a given situation?

We are at the stage with respect to the current Ebola outbreak where it is a relatively simple proposition to quarantine an individual or even a family inside their homes. Plenty of support is available from outside, both medical and logistical, for us to be able to see this through. But what about in a larger, more virulent, and more deadly pandemic, in which larger and larger numbers of people are sick? Four years ago, a study was published in which fully 32% of hospital workers responded that they would likely be “unwilling to respond in the event of a more severe pandemic influenza scenario.” So, who exactly do you think it is going to be taking care of people as they are quarantined in their homes? Never minding the fact that the numbers of people ill with the contagion may very well far outstrip the staffing numbers of healthcare workers anyway.

A far more likely scenario would indicate that, as the population of the ill increases, so does the likelihood that those infected would need to forcibly be moved to quarantine camps. But never doubt that Big Brother won't call them "camps," because of the negative feelings and fear that such wording would engender in a populous that would very likely be on the naked edge already, due to stress and worry. So, they can simply come and take you away against your will to a camp full of other sick people.  This is a difficult pill to swallow, but in order to contain the disease I can see where it could become necessary, despite the poor taste it would leave in my proverbial mouth.

And what if an entire town or city becomes potentially exposed? Well, obviously, that entire locality would be quarantined with no one allowed in or out, except for military and medical personnel. Imagine for an instant that you could wake up one morning to find your town ringed by a barbed wire military blockade, an edict enforced that every family must shelter in place in their homes under curfew as medical personnel in full protective gear go door to door testing individuals and being escorted by men with guns. Sound like a Police State under Martial Law to you? That's because it pretty much would be. And those found to be infected would necessarily be pulled from their homes (forcibly if necessary) and quarantined along with all of the other infected citizens.

Sounds like something out of the film "Outbreak," doesn't it?

What worries me further, though, is that CDC regulations make it clear that that agency has the power to detain people who may not even be sick, in order to observe them and see if they do become sick. I don't know about you, but I don't particularly relish the idea of being dumped into a FEMA Quarantine Camp with a bunch of sick, dying, and contagious people simply as a result of me being suspected of *MAYBE* being sick myself. That would tantamount to a death sentence, because I can't imagine the odds would be in your favor to come out of a place like that free from the illness even if you weren't infected when you went in.

Needless to say, those of us with eyes to see are watching the situation very closely. Even if the current Ebola outbreak fizzles (as we all hope and pray it does), though, there will come another contagion at some point that will become a very real and deadly future threat of a pandemic that could bring what I have written in this article uncomfortably into each and every one of our homes. My advice is to make sure all of your ducks are in a row with respect to pandemic emergency preparedness, and be ready to preventatively "bug in" and shelter in place inside your home if the disease somehow pops its proverbial head up in your area.


Prepper Expo This Weekend, 25 and 26 October, 2014

The PrepperFest Expo 2014 will be held in Scottsdale Arizona this weekend. Hours will be 9 AM to 6 PM on Saturday, 25 October and 9 AM to 4 PM on Sunday, 26 October. In attendance will be The Berkey Guy and Dr. Prepper, among many others. The event will include its own farmers market and petting zoo as well as over 160 exhibitors and in the neighborhood of 50 educational seminars.

If you are anywhere near Scottsdale Arizona, consider taking a drive down. It is sure to be a big event.


23 October, 2014

There's More to Be Afraid of in a Pandemic Than Just the Disease Itself, Part 1

Picture this: a disease is ravaging the entire country and perhaps even the world. It could be Ebola or influenza or something we haven't even seen yet. None of that really matters. Regardless of just exactly which microscopic killer we are talking about, what really matters is that the results will likely be the same, depending only on the level of seriousness of the pandemic rather than which disease causes it.

What I intend to impress upon you in these articles is that, no matter how virulent or deadly the disease in question happens to be, there is a real chance you could lose your life (and/or the lives of your loved ones) without ever getting sick. And, even if death isn't in the cards, things could get very rough for everyone whether they are sick or not.

The average person has no idea just how intricate the infrastructure of daily life has to be in order for all of us to go about our business and live our lives the way we are accustomed. It is disconcerting, to say the least, to sit and realize just how infinitesimal the strings happen to be from which our modern society dangles precariously, how many things have to occur every day like clockwork for things to continue on without any problems, and just what would occur were some hitch to be thrown into the system, halting it utterly or – at minimum – delaying it by such a margin that the impact is felt greatly.

Virtually everything the average American eats and drinks is trucked to their local supermarkets from an unbelievably long distance away, and everything is computerized. When you purchase a head of lettuce from the grocery store, the computer contacts another computer and makes note that the store needs another shipped to them, so they don't simply run out. So, what happens if things become so bad that the drivers of those supply trucks as well as the workers who load and unload them are either homesick themselves or taking care of family, or they are simply unwilling to make the trip? There could be civil unrest in their city, resulting in them feeling as though they need to stay home to protect their family, or they may simply be fearing a long trip on the open road when things are going in a very bad direction all over the place. We are dependent upon a system of "just in time" delivery, where items are shipped to arrive just in time to go on sale as the previous stock dwindles, and it is a recipe for disaster.

In this scenario, civil unrest is very likely. In 2010, British security services issued a warning to staff members that modern western societies are just 48 hours – or four meals – from anarchy. Others disagree and claim it is nine meals, but you get the picture. Granted, they are referring to Great Britain, but it is comparable to us here in the U.S. In other words, if food shipments do not roll or are delayed it is likely that there will be violence in the streets. Food riots did occur in other countries across the globe in both 2008 and 2011. And in 2012, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, millions of Americans experienced days with little or no food, gas shortages, etc.

We should have taken these experiences as a lesson, but we didn't, and so things could get quite a bit worse were a pandemic to burn through the population like a brush fire. You had better believe that it will go on for a lot more than 72 hours. Now is when you should be putting aside nonperishable food and other essentials to provide for your family in the event of a worst-case scenario. Preparing for the worst doesn't mean you can't hope for the best; it only means you have insurance against other eventualities.

Please keep an eye out for Part Two of this article being published tomorrow.


22 October, 2014

Ebola: Are They Afraid to Admit That They Are Still Learning Themselves or Is There a Wider Conspiracy to Placate the Public Being Played Out Before Us?

The Blaze ran an interesting article early Monday morning that touched on a subject I have been thinking about a lot recently, namely the subtle changes in language when it comes to how the CDC talks about the Ebola virus in their efforts to keep people informed. I am well aware that some folks may not read that publication or put much faith in it as a result of the source, but this particular article includes actual screenshots of tweets sent out by the CDC and other health officials through official channels that clearly show a discrepancy in what the American public has been told over the past few weeks.

You can read the article yourself at the link I have provided above, but it basically boils down to one of two possibilities: the CDC and other health officials don't really know as much about this disease as they would like us to believe, and they are actually learning themselves as we go along; or, they are being forced to scramble to save face when it comes to public relations, and are essentially changing what they are saying every time a reassurance they have provided proves to be false.

Is the disease spread through the air? For weeks and weeks, the consistent answer was a strict and unequivocal no, but testimony given before Congress on 16 October – in the wake of a second nurse contracting the disease – waffled by changing that to a rather shaky "evidence does not suggest" the disease is spread through the air. I won't dwell on this for too long, seeing as how I have already given my views on this particular subject, but suffice it to say that there is some evidence of viral particles essentially hanging in the air for some time following an infected person coughing or sneezing. They may not refer to that as an airborne disease, but if I can contracted by being next to a person on the bus who sneezes then that is close enough to airborne to meet most people's definition and to make me very uncomfortable. So, take that for what it's worth.

On 8 October, the idea of contracting the disease through an infected person's sweat was something we were told we shouldn't worry about, yet sweat was listed among the bodily fluids through which the disease could pass by the CDC themselves on 16 October. So, which is it? These are the sort of inconsistencies that are steadily putting my already shaky faith in the powers that be in their long-awaited grave.

Again, I can see only two possible explanations: either they don't know what they're talking about and desperately want us to think that they do, or they are purposefully misleading people in an effort to prevent or delay a mass panic that would likely be very destructive. Interestingly enough, if you are a conspiracy-minded tinfoil hat person, you might be interested in the fact that – while all of this is going on – the United States military is forming what is being referred to as a "quick strike team" of five doctors, 20 nurses, and five trainers, who are being made ready to deploy to any location in under 72 hours at anytime during the next month. This, of course, comes to us as the afterthought of a story published by CNN, but it proves that Big Brother is taking the threat of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever very seriously, while quietly assuring all of us plebes that there is nothing to be afraid of and calling us crazy. Also, officials in Guam are updating their pandemic plans – previously geared toward influenza – to include Ebola.

If you haven't already, please read my article about pandemic preparedness from earlier this week and take action to make sure that you and yours are better off, just in case things do go down a dark road and Ebola develops into a full-blown pandemic. Also, tomorrow I'll be publishing an article about what to expect if things really do get bad in the weeks and months to come... there are more dangers than simply the virus itself.


21 October, 2014

Some People Are Actually Listening

I've spoken many times, here on Backwoods Survival Blog, about the importance of making emergency preparedness part of how you live your life. I am the same in my everyday life. Like I'm sure a lot of you have also experienced, some people listen while others ignore you, but I am happy to say that I have reached a handful of people.

Recently, I mentioned an email conversation I'd had with a friend who was asking for advice on what he needed to go out and purchase by way of being prepared in case the Ebola outbreak becomes an all-out pandemic and either martial law is declared or if he simply wants to isolate his family and "bug in" for a 30 day period to cut down on the chances of any of them being exposed. Well, he actually isn't the only individual I know in everyday life who has approached me on a similar subject, and I wanted to share with you a few of the pictures I have received from folks who are taking emergency preparedness seriously, even if only because of the current situation.

See a few of the pictures below:

Are you ready?


20 October, 2014

Ebola & Pandemic Emergency Preparedness: Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself and Those You Love (Also Applies to the Future Threats of Other Possible Futue Pandemics)

As I promised you readers in a previous post a few days back, this article will attempt to take a more in-depth look and outline a few things that all of us can easily accomplish in order to better prepare ourselves for and severely limit the odds of our contracting Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.

As it stands, we currently find ourselves in what can only be thought of as a holding pattern. To date, individuals here in the United States who are confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus were healthcare workers, who who got it by treating a patient. As for everyone else who worked in the care of that patient or any of the others, the CDC has stated that if a person doesn't show symptoms within 21 days it means they are clear. So, it will be a few weeks before we can be sure the disease hasn't spread any further, and each new confirmed case that may or may not pop up restarts that clock.

In all honesty, that doesn't sound particularly terrible, but one must factor in other possibilities. For instance, any of the people who were on the plane that the second nurse flew on after becoming infected could pop up as cases, and any of them might have passed it on to other people. So, we truly are in a waiting game. And then, there was also the little situation with one of the individuals seen on television as the 29-year-old nurse was being loaded onto the plane to be transferred from Dallas to Atlanta who was not wearing a hazmat suit. The airline provided an explanation for this, stating that his role was to act as the protocol supervisor. Essentially, because the people in the protective suits have limited visibility, etc., this guy is there to give them verbal cues and things like that. Okay. So, does his clipboard make him immune to the Ebola virus or am I missing something? Is anyone out there keeping an eye on him and with everyone he is shaking hands? Checking his temperature every few hours? Because... if not, then it doesn't seem safe to me, regardless of what they say. If that poor girl happened to cough while being loaded on the plane, then that dude could very well be infected.He probably isn't, but it's that kind of stupidity and recklessness that could turn this into a true pandemic. Hell, the whole reason these two nurses were infected in the first place is because this patient should have been sent to another hospital, and even the World Health Organization is now coming to realize that they dropped the ball.

So, in accordance with all of this nonsense going on and while we hope for the best, let's also talk about how to prepare for the worst in case this thing becomes more widespread. Below you will find the things you need to know.

1. Isolate:

I don't care what anyone else tells you, the most effective way to protect yourself from contracting any illness is to stay away from other people. If Ebola becomes a more serious pandemic, that is the worst time possible for you to be doing the emergency preparations that you should be doing right now. Rather, that will be the time to avoid public places (especially indoors), public transportation, and anybody who appears to be sick, whether you think they may have Ebola or not. This will be the time to hunker down and spend a good 30 days at home with your family.If the UPS man comes to my door during that sort of a lockdown, he's quite simply crap out of luck. He's welcome to leave the package on the porch, and I'll retrieve it and disinfectant hours later when any viral particles are likely dormant.

2. Disinfect:

Wash your hands with soap and water and be sure you're doing it for at least 20 seconds. Do your best to get in the habit of avoiding touching your own eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you haven't washed your hands or sanitized them in a while or if you are in a public place where you might have picked something up. Use hand sanitizer, being sure that you have purchased the kind that is at least 60% alcohol. This is especially true whenever handling anything that has gone through exposure to a lot of people, such as doorknobs and handles in public places as well as money. Don't forget just how many hands a $5 bill passes through in its lifetime. Wipe down surfaces with disposable antiviral wipes.

3. Stuff You'll Need:

– Nonperishable food, but be sure to buy things that you know you and your family will actually eat. If you stockpile 30 days worth of food and nothing happens, all you have is a full pantry. Just like all that stuff into your regular meal plans, and you aren't out anything. Buy a bunch of crazy stuff that is just going to sit on your shelf forever, and the next time something happens you will look back the money you spent, seeing it as a waste, and you may be less likely to get prepared for something that really does occur.

– Bottled water. Personally, I prefer to buy in gallon jugs, which are readily available all over the place including Walmart for almost no money at all.

Batteries. If the power were to go out, you don't want to be stuck between the choice of sitting in the dark or having to go out in the middle of a pandemic and expose yourself to get what you need. Rather, have it readily available.

– Something to put the batteries in. I prefer lanterns with a hand-crank that take a battery backup, but most people can make do with just flashlights. Also, here is another low-cost option.

Hand sanitizer with at least a 60% alcohol content

Disposable antiviral wipes

Medical-grade rubber gloves, but keep in mind that any set of rubber gloves is better than not having any at all.

– An antiviral disinfecting cleaner, either of the commercial variety or you can simply mix nine parts water to one part bleach.

Disposable Thermometers

Heavy-duty trash bags. Be sure to mark anything hazardous as such to protect others.

– If there's any chance you'll be taking in mail or packages that need to be disinfected, be sure to have protective gear. Personally, I'm not going all out and purchasing a full hazmat suit, but N95 HEPA masks, protective goggles, heavy-duty trash bags, and some sheet plastic could definitely come in handy.

I'm sure after publishing this I'll come up with 100 other things I would've liked to have added (and I may very well come back here and add them to this article as needed), but that should give you a very good start toward being prepared for Ebola as well as any other viral pandemic that could be a future threat to us.


19 October, 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 5 - Episode 2 "Strangers"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.

This episode picks up with the group of survivors traveling through the wilderness on foot, following the destruction of the cannibal enclave known as Terminus. And, as one might easily glean from the title of the episode, the major theme throughout is trust – specifically, the dangers inherent in trusting the wrong people and even in one's own natural sense of complacency. Those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist community often talk about the need of observing proper operational security when it comes to using discretion regarding the subject of sharing the details of our emergency preparedness efforts with those whom we might consider to be outsiders. It is good policy to always be careful, because one can never be sure which of these people could prove to be a problem in the future.

Best case scenario: at the onset of any emergency, you might find yourself beset by droves of people who haven't bothered to do any preparing on their own. And, in the worst-case scenario: there are those out there who do see the wisdom in preparing, only they are too lazy to do it for themselves and are instead content to wait around, knowing there are better prepared people from whom they can simply take what they need when the time arises. That may sound crazy, but believe me that I have met a few of these type. Also, there is simply the threat of violence that could arise from the first set of people who come to you, seeking aid, but aren't willing to leave when they find out that you only have enough for yourself and your loved ones or they aren't content with whatever charity you have prepared ahead of time to be able to distribute.

Needless to say, it's better simply to prepare "on the down low," trusting only those who you are sure you can trust and for whom you are willing to accept responsibility if needed in an emergency.

The truth is that, especially in a societal collapse / TSHTF sort of situation where it will be difficult to double check the stories that people give you, you can simply never know what someone you meet may be hiding. You have no way to know what they have done in the past, or what they are capable of doing again, so trust is something that should be held in a strict reserve until such time that it is earned. And, to be honest, that is a policy that we should all be practicing even right now. I have personally learned the hard way to maintain a healthy skepticism regarding human nature and pretty much everyone I meet, until such time that they prove to me what they are made of.

With regards to trusting in one's own sense of complacency, Rick does his best in this episode to make his son understand that he should keep himself in the perpetual mindset that he is never truly safe. Of course, there are times when the level of danger is lessened to the point where the characters can relax even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, but what Rick is trying to impress upon Carl is that allowing yourself to feel completely safe is dangerous. Feelings of safety lead to one letting their guard down, and, in a situation where danger can arise at any second and from any direction, letting your guard down can get you killed. Even though it is highly doubtful any of us will find ourselves in the midst of this kind of zombie apocalypse, there will be danger in the event of a societal collapse. Daryl states implicitly in this very episode that people are more dangerous than Walkers, and it is that sort of people that you and I could one day find ourselves faced with. Therefore, the lesson Rick is trying to teach his son is something we should all try to learn.

Other interesting tidbits in this episode included the idea of foraging both at your local firearms retailers for weapons and ammunition, as well as the option of your local food bank for obvious reasons. The character Gabriel, introduced for the first time in this episode, tells the group that the food collected in his church's canned food drive (upon which he has survived, locked inside his church all this time) was originally destined for such a food bank that served the entire county.

Might be a good idea to locate these locations on a map and mark them. If you do this now, it would be easy enough to use Google Maps and simply print them out. Either way, be sure to place these inside two layers of Ziploc baggies to keep them from being destroyed in the event of rain or other moisture while in storage. Laminating them would be awesome, but Ziplocs will do the trick on a budget. Another lesson to glean from this episode is that, if you find yourself surviving on the road, use local phone books to get the addresses for these kinds of places, so that you can hit them and forage for supplies on your way through an area.

And, lastly, this episode includes some rumination regarding the need to think about something greater than simply surviving. In the world in which these characters exist, they're going to try to make the trip to Washington, DC in the belief that there will be infrastructure there and that one of the characters may know a cure. In the real world, however, and in my own preparations, it is simply a desire to turn my plans for survival into plans that will allow for the building of a community. I'm sure those plans are different for all of us, but we all need something for which to strive.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:

18 October, 2014

Brief Email Conversation with a Friend about Ebola Preparedness

Recently, I received an email from a friend of mine with whom I have had extensive conversations about emergency preparedness and who is – thankfully – not one of the Sheeple. This guy gets it and has already started down the path of getting better prepared, but he wanted me to give him some advice about what would be needed in order for he and his family to "Bug-In" and quarantines themselves at home for a period of 30 days in the event the current Ebola outbreak escalates into a full-blown pandemic and we see martial law instituted, etc..

I'm going to write a much more extensive pandemic preparedness article in the coming week, but I wanted to share this very toned-down version that I spit out to him in a series of short emails. I think it may be important, because it mostly includes fairly inexpensive items one could pick up in a single trip out to Walmart and Lowes. As I said, it wasn't meant to be extensive, but rather a beginning that he could get started on quickly. I also haven't really edited it at all, so please excuse the issues of grammar and things like that, remembering that these were actually emails shot back and forth between two friends who have known each other nearly 20 years:

My friend's emails appear in italics and centered with my responses directly below in bold


... what do we need to make it on a month long lockdown in the house?

Can't get to what I need right now, but I'll send you a few links this evening. If you're gonna be home with power and water, though, it's mostly just food. Gotta figure out what you consume in a given month.

Have to plan for the power going out though. If this thing goes airborne, then you're looking at martial law. Locked in house. Food and water are not an issue. We started stock piling that yesterday

I'll send you some links this evening, but quick and dirty: go to Lowes this evening and buy a couple of the $16 Utilitech lanterns and a slew of batteries. I have 2 and gonna buy a third for here.

Stock up on hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, maybe 2 bottles of bleach. Those surgical masks from Walmart that people with compromised immune systems wear during flu season. Bottled water, cheap by the gallon at Walmart. If there's a chance the plumbing could go out, hit the camping section for a camp toilet. It's basically a bucket with a toilet seat for a lid. Trash bags and air freshener. A battery-powered or hand-crank (or both) radio. *BATTERIES*. Lots of them. Food that won't spoil without refrigeration. A camp stove and a bunch of little propane canisters for it. It'll be turning much colder soon: think about a propane heater like the Big Buddy and canisters for it (you can buy an adapter separately that let's you use the big propane canisters made for grills). You could conceivably keep your phones charged by using the car, but you can also get hand-crank radios and lanterns that have USB ports for a phone to be charged.

and playing cards. You forgot the playing cards

Lol. Good call. And maybe a boardgame or two. Also, while buying cans of Pork N Beans, soup, and Spaghetti Os, don't forget comfort food for a pick me up. Lunch cakes, chocolate. You get the idea.


Anyway, that was pretty much the conversation. Just thought I would share it here as a quick and dirty option for some folks looking to get a jump on pandemic preparedness for not a lot of money. As always, your comments are welcome, and please be looking out for my much more detailed pandemic preparedness article this coming week.


17 October, 2014

The Whole Ebola Situation Just Got Worse

Apparently now there is some corroborating evidence coming to light that makes it sound as though the current Ebola virus strain might actually be airborne at this point. You can ignore this information because of the website that published it if you still haven't caught on to the fact that network news media is a tool of corporations seeking profit and that alternative media is the only *REAL* news left to us. But what I would suggest is that you concentrate instead on the direct quotations contained within the text where medical experts and even the CDC's own documents and criteria are quoted.

Basically, they're playing fast and loose with the wording. Technically, it's not airborne... unless you happen to be in the same room with somebody who's infected and they cough or sneeze. Then, you might be screwed, which sounds awfully close to being airborne to me. Also, the nurse in Spain was the first person outside Africa to contract it. She hadn't been to Africa. It is surmised that she must have contracted the disease when she was helping to treat two missionaries who had returned from Africa and have since died from Ebola. The scary thing is that she walked around with this infection for a while, experiencing a fever as her only symptom. How many people did she infect during the period before she was properly diagnosed? Then, consider that there is evidence of transmission between pigs and monkeys that were kept separate, no contact. And you're hosed if you happen to shake an infected person's hand they sneezed or coughed into and didn't disinfect. Ditto when it comes to doorknobs or any other surface they might have touched right before you.

The fact is, and despite what individuals in positions of power would like us all to believe, it boldly is a much more serious pathogen then how they are making it sound. There is a reason that this bug is classified as a biosafety-level 4 (BSL-4) pathogen. It is no joke. Previously, the CDC had stated that any hospital with isolation capability would be capable of treating Ebola patients, but they quickly had to backtrack. It seems that the recently deceased Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas was the only one so far to be treated in a normal facility, rather than a specialized unit following BSL-4 protocols. And so it shouldn't surprise us that it was at this facility where mistakes were made, resulting in the infection of a healthcare worker caring for that patient.

So, what happens if things go badly and this does turn into an all-out pandemic? Because, apparently, running down to your local ER is going to do you very little good and will probably just result in you infecting other people. But, then again, I suppose you could then be shipped to a hospital with the proper gear, training, and facilities to handle Ebola patients... but you probably shouldn't count on it. Another very scary thing about this outbreak and its chance to develop into a full-blown pandemic is that there is exactly one facility set up to handle things the way they should be, and they can do a pretty good job of taking care of a whopping 10 people.

Still feel good about the things that the CDC are telling you? Well, good for you. But remember, it is their job to do everything in their power *NOT* to cause a panic. And what that really means is that by the time they would ever tell you things are bad, it will already be too late.


16 October, 2014

The Very Idea of a Pandemic Is Terrifying

I'll be honest with you: the idea of pandemic disease is the one possible future threat that frightens me the most. There's just something about the idea of something that can invade your body without your knowledge, wreak havoc, and ultimately be your demise, while – even worse – using your bodily systems as the Petri dish it needs to possibly mutate and become even more dangerous, and use you as the vehicle through which it spreads itself to the people you love and have sworn to protect. In the long list of things that are often talked about in the Prepper / Survivalist community, I can't think of anything scarier than a particularly virulent pandemic plague loose in the world like a wild brushfire. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time might remember that the impetus of my awakening to the need to be prepared was the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but it has been the threat of pandemic disease that has always gnawed at me, kept me awake at night, and kept me on the track of emergency preparedness.

With all that being said, it should be no surprise that I have been voraciously digesting all of the coverage of the recent Ebola outbreak. And I have to say, despite all of their reassurances that the situation is not serious, I still keep hearing about things that make me very uneasy. For instance, Congress apparently set aside money for the Department of Homeland Security to stock supplies that will be needed in the event of a pandemic, so they've got a bunch of things like hand sanitizer, antiviral medications, respirators, etc. sitting in warehouses somewhere in the event that it is needed. Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly: it seems that a lot of the perishable items in that stockpile have either expired or will be expiring very soon.

Granted, most of you reading this blog know just as well as I do the falsity of expiration dates. Odds are nothing in those supplies are completely useless, but even the medications that are still safe to consume after their expiration date tend to lose potency and effectiveness over time. So, there's a good chance that if things turn ugly we might at least have a chance at getting some antiviral drugs into our system, but there's no way to know if the dose we receive will do anything for us. I don't know about you, but it irks me pretty badly and frightens me a bit that the Department of Homeland Security hasn't been more on top of that sort of thing.

But it seems they have a difficult time prioritizing their threats. We all know that terrorism and the like are very serious issues that require the attention of the department, but pandemic disease has the potential to kill far more Americans. Even as bad as the attacks on 9/11 were, we lost over 3000 souls... if a pandemic hits this country, we will lose far more than that even in the best case scenario and many of those will be very young children whose immune systems are unable to fight off the disease effectively. Yet, when it is time to dole out funding, pandemic preparedness takes a backseat to the other threats. It is mind numbingly stupid.

And, as if we didn't already have enough to worry about: if this thing develops into a bigger crisis it will also create a terrible strain on the already beleaguered economy as well. Pay close attention to how this thing unfolds, folks. The next few months could be very interesting.


15 October, 2014

A Terrifying Example of the True Idiocracy in Which We Live

A recent quote from one of my Professors:

"Sadly, a high percentage of Americans do not know basic information about the Constitution.

Here are some examples:

'What is the supreme law of the land?' Seventy-percent of the 1,000 citizens polled by Newsweek could not answer the 'Constitution.'

Sixty-one percent didn't know that the length of a U.S. senator's term is six years, 63 percent couldn't name the number of Supreme Court justices on the bench (nine), and 86 percent didn't know that 435 members fill the U.S. House of Representatives.

And finally, fifty percent could not name an amendment to the Constitution, and twenty percent said the Constitution has never been amended."

I may weep for our future. A culture this stupid is destined for extinction..


14 October, 2014

The "Everyman" Every-Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit

I must say that, of all the aspects of emergency preparedness, coming up with an everyday-carry (or EDC) kit for myself is something that I have never given a great deal of thought toward, but that is about to change. Have a look at the following very informative article below. I will personally be using it as a guidework for a DIY kit that I'm going to create for myself in the next few weeks and months. And, needless to say, I will document my assembling of his kit here on Backwoods Survival Blog.

The "Everyman" Every-Day Carry (EDC) Survival Kit: "I've seen dozens of Altoid Tin and similar survival kits here on Instructables and elsewhere. Many of them are quite good, while others--both home built and off-the-shelf--are left lacking some key components. EDC kits are as varied as the people who create them, but there are some key features and "must have" items they have in common...no matter if you're traversing the urban wilderness or truly miles from civilization..."


13 October, 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 5 Premiere - Episode 1 "No Sanctuary"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.

Tonight's episode was the much anticipated season five premiere, and it was full of action. In fact, it may represent an example of one of the most action-packed episodes in the series, which was a refreshing change from the sedate atmosphere of last season. With all of that said, here are my thoughts:

We last left Rick and company as prisoners of the people at the compound known as Terminus, and that's where this episode picks up. As we saw before, Terminus is not the hopeful paradise these characters were looking for, and we find them imprisoned in an abandoned railway car, improvising weapons to use against their captors at their first opportunity (i.e. weapons they have fashioned from their belts, earrings, etc.). As it turns out, however, their captors are accustomed to dealing with prisoners and handling them, so not only do their weapons do them little good (initially), but we also see a terrifying side of the people at Terminus which has only been hinted at previously.

I do my very best not to end up simply describing everything that occurred in the episode, since it is preferable by most people to see it for themselves and not be spoiled on the Internet, so I won't say what exactly occurs to get them out of the mess they find themselves in. Rather, as a member of the Prepper / Survivalist community, I find it more useful to center on a discussion about Terminus. It isn't hard to figure out, from the clues we were shown in the closing moments of season four, that the people of Terminus are cannibals. This is a tried and true plot device of virtually all Doomer Fiction. The cannibals always seem to show up eventually. And, to be honest, it's a particular aspect of the things that we discuss, read, and write about that I would really like to believe to be impossible... but, then, I remember everything I know about human nature, and I am disheartened in my faith that in a truly apocalyptic / societal collapse situation, such behavior would occur. In fact, we know that it has been practiced throughout human history in times of great hardship, so we would be fools not to believe it could (and very likely would) happen again.

Somehow, though, the behavior being practiced by the people of Terminus is even more terrifying in how they go about things. One thing I truly enjoy about "The Walking Dead" is that a running theme throughout the entire storyline of, basically, every season has been and the writers of the show have never shied away from the basic truth that we were all taught as children, watching "Scooby Doo" - the real monsters are always other people. Terminus is a perfect example of that, but it's so much more as well. They go about their particular brand of cannibalism in such a way that it is almost clinical in its utter lack of passion. They have essentially adopted the mindset that, since the collapse of society, each person must either choose to be the cattle or the butcher, and they go about their evil deeds much in the same fashion that a butcher would deal with livestock. In my mind, this makes their actions even more disturbing.

The writers of the show also utilized some interesting time jumps in this episode to give us enough background to understand just exactly how Terminus became the slaughterhouse we see it to be. Sadly, it seems it really did start out as a refuge for survivors. The only problem with that plan occurred when untrustworthy people accepted their invitation and took over the place, raping and killing at will. Eventually, the people of Terminus escaped, fought them, and retook their haven, but it is obvious from what they have become now that they would have been better off had they died. They allowed the things that happened to them to completely steal their humanity, turning them into something not entirely unlike a cult which lures in unsuspecting people in order to rob and consume them like livestock. Needless to say, the lesson we each need to learn from this type of subject matter is one that I have preached many, many times, and that is the importance of operational security. These people advertised their safe refuge in an effort to bring in other survivors and build a community. A lofty and commendable goal, in truth. But, in return for their humanitarian efforts, they saw their haven taken from them and their people raped and murdered; and, in the end, it destroyed them. Be very careful who you allow into your circle when it comes to your efforts toward being prepared, and, even if you have a mind toward charity in emergency situations (as I do), be smart and use proper discretion with regard to how you choose to dole out that charity. Always be cognizant of the dangers posed by outsiders. In a societal collapse situation, the threat represented by other people will be the greatest threat we all face.

Another very important theme that plays out throughout this episode is that one must be willing to do what is necessary in order to survive. Needless to say, the people of Terminus are a shining example of taking this ideal in a very bad direction. The difference being, of course, that the only people they were justified in killing were those individuals that victimized them, not the countless others they have murdered and eaten since. The flip side of this ideal, however, is presented to us in the person of Tyreese, who is still traveling with Carol and the baby, but seems initially unable to bring himself to kill even a Walker. Carol basically tells him he has to get over it in order to survive, but it isn't until one of the people from Terminus threatens the baby that he can bring himself to kill again. The moral we must all take from this is that it doesn't have to involve violence, but the fact is that in any type of true societal collapse / TSHTF situation there are going to be things we will have to do in order to survive that we may not be able to imagine ourselves doing right now. And that's okay. But, if you have the foresight to be preparing (which should describe most of the readers of this blog), then I would say that your preparations are lacking if they do not also include the mental preparations required to bring your self to do what is necessary for you and your family and friends to survive.

One nitpicky complaint: no matter how much fun it might be to show it as a plot device in Doomer Fiction, the scene where Carol shoots a hole in the large propane tank - from a pretty great distance, no less - is *NOT* indicative of reality. The gentleman on MythBusters proved quite a while ago that putting a hole in one of these tanks is damn near impossible. I won't speak to caliber and whether or not that could make a difference, because I do not remember the calibers they tested on MythBusters, but the best they were able to get was a pretty big dent in the metal, if memory serves.

The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below: