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27 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Noodles and Chicken

Slight change in the schedule for the week, so I'll be reviewing the Mountain House Freeze-Dried Noodles and Chicken Entree this evening, instead of the typical Friday schedule, and trading places with it and the usual book review I normally post on Wednesdays. This particular dish is another of the ones typically talked about by enthusiasts of the Mountain House brand of foods, so I was very much looking forward to finally getting around to trying it for myself. And, as usual, it was definitely a satisfying experience.

The instructions call for 2 cups of boiling water, and then it needs to sit for 8-9 minutes
Final product pictured above. A very satisfying meal that reminded me a great deal of chicken noodle soup (shouldn't really be surprised by that) minus the soup part. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a broken record, serving size is consistently an issue with almost 100% of these mylar pouch freeze-dried meals. This one is supposed to represent 2.5 servings, but – as you can see – all you get from making the entire pouch is one fairly substantial bowl. As always, my advice is to take the serving sizes listed with a proverbial grain of salt, and plan on serving these on a bed of rice or something similar in the event you're actually breaking into your supplies. Two cups of rice with a cup of this on top and maybe a bit of soy sauce for the rice would make a really nice meal, and it would serve the double purpose of making your freeze-dried long-term storage survival rations last a lot longer and keep costs down, since rice is extremely cheap and keeps very well.


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25 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Andromeda Strain" (2008)

Our film review for this week focuses upon "The Andromeda Strain" (2008). As of the moment I'm writing this review, Amazon only has this film available as the DVD version (available for purchase by clicking the name of the film or the graphic depiction of the DVD cover to the left as always). I cannot tell you if there are currently any plans for them to carry a Blu-ray copy. This miniseries is, of course, something of a remake of the original 1971 film (though, admittedly, it's only a very loose remake thereof), and it can be described as being similarly loosely Based Upon the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton. Honestly, I haven't yet read it myself (an oversight I will hopefully correct soon), but in speaking to those who have done so I would say that the typical Based Upon statements truly does mean Based Upon in this case as there are apparently quite a few changes from the original source material. Like I said, I don't know that for sure myself and I'm only taking it from what others have said, so YMMV with respect to your own assessment.

You will also quickly notice, I'm sure, if you follow my provided links to the Amazon site, that this film garnered decidedly mixed reviews. Some enjoyed it, while others hated it. I suppose it's possible that my own opinion is a bit jaded by the fact that I'm a Doomer Fiction fan with a special interest toward anything involving disease pandemics (because that's one of my greatest fears as a Prepper / Survivalist), but I thought it was a decent enough film. Far from the best example imaginable, but not nearly as bad as what some others seem to have thought. That being said, it is a Made for Cable TV miniseries produced by the folks over at SyFy that originally aired on their sister network A&E, so you can't go into this expecting Hollywood-level production values. The cast are some very capable folks. We're talking Benjamin Bratt, Rick Schroder, and Andre Braugher here, though, not Hollywood action heroes that make $20 million per film and win Oscars. Still, in my opinion, those involved did a pretty decent job with the script they were handed, and – honestly – while mostly relegated to TV acting, I think the stars of this one are fairly talented guys and gals. That being said, the script was a bit clunky at times and definitely could have been better. All in all, though, I think it's pretty decent.

The basics of the plot (without really giving away any Spoilers) revolve around a bunch of military and government liaison scientists tasked with investigating and putting down a sudden and deadly disease outbreak that is somehow related to a downed satellite in the American Intermountain West region. These folks are part of a team working under the auspices of a government program known as "Project Wildfire" that involves them being sequestered in a rather impressive underground facility, which includes its own dedicated state-of-the-art decontamination protocols, laboratory space and living areas where they must stay for the duration of the emergency, and is powered by its own small nuclear reactor. Together, these experts must work under the scrutiny of the government to attempt to ascertain both the cause for the sudden plague as well as how to keep it from spreading and, ultimately, to find a cure. Needless to say, being based upon original material written by Michael Crichton means you can expect a little bit of a deviation toward science fiction, but I really thought this was a pretty decent effort for a TV movie.

I think you'll enjoy it.


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22 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini

Anyone who is a regular reader here at Backwoods Survival Blog and has previously read my reviews of the different varieties of long-term food storage products that are currently available for purchase and stocking-up your survival pantry and supplies will, no doubt, already be aware that – with few exceptions – Mountain House brand foods are some of my absolute favorites. One of the particular dishes I have always heard good things about from others has been the Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give that one a try. And, I've got to say, I was mostly happy with what I found.

Just beginning the process of setting-up, which takes 8-9 minutes after adding 2 cups of boiling water

When it comes to taste, this one would have to be pretty high on my list of favorites, though there are issues to consider. Chief among those, at least for me (and this one seems to be a running theme with pretty much all of these freeze-dried pouch meals), is the fact that what you see in the picture above is listed as the manufacturer as being 2.5 servings. As you can see, I got one good-sized bowl out of making the entire pouch. Now, that's not really a dealbreaker for me, but it makes it quite a bit more expensive to stock these, and also there is the concern over the nutritional content: taking the amounts listed in the picture you see above for calories, carbohydrates, sodium, etc., one would have to multiply those numbers by 2.5, meaning you're getting a whole lot of sodium in the event you have to live on these for any extended amount of time. With respect to my weekly reviews, I just make a meal out of these and eat them for dinner one night, but I'm thinking stocking them for long-term food storage in the event of an actual survival emergency would have to involve planning on using them as part of a larger meal. I intend to use them, poured over rice. This way, you're not getting nearly as much sodium in your diet and you can actually stretch them to the listed amount of servings supposedly included in an effort to save money. YMMV.


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20 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Station Eleven: A Novel" by Emily St. John Mandel

Changing it up for something just a bit different this week, I will be reviewing "Station Eleven: A Novel" by Emily St. John Mandel (Kindle edition). Interestingly, this is actually a novel that does a very good job of spanning different genres… Well, that may not be 100% accurate. It isn't really that the genres are different, but rather the novel jumps back and forth in time to the before and after picture of a world ravaged by a terrible influenza pandemic. As a result, it qualifies both as Doomer Fiction as well as something more contemporary. It's definitely unique among the novels I am accustomed to reviewing for Backwoods Survival Blog, let's just say that. Personally, I would view this one as being a great candidate to recommend to anyone you or I might be attempting to entice into reading more typical disaster fiction as it would provide them with a view of the post-disaster SHTF scenario we always talk about where society has collapsed, while providing them with a bit of a softer landing in the more contemporary parts of the novel.

The novel quite literally begins with the death of a major character, who – even without living to see the state of the world post-pandemic for himself – somehow manages to touch on the lives of some of those few who do survive. The tapestry of this man's life and relationships also makes up a certain amount of the pre-pandemic story featured throughout the narrative, and his completely unrelated demise actually occurs on the same evening as the onset of the influenza outbreak in Toronto. From there, the story quickly follows a man with a peripheral professional attachment to the first, who receives advance information from a friend of his who works as a doctor at a nearby hospital ER, allowing him the time needed to stockpile as many supplies as he is able from a neighborhood grocery store and go to his brother's apartment. The two men remain barricaded there as they essentially watch the slow but steady unraveling of much of the world on TV (as long as the TV news stations continue to broadcast) and their own local area from the vantage point of high-rise windows.

The story also follows a young child who is present during the death mentioned above, fast-forwarded years into the future into a post-apocalyptic version of the Great Lakes region. She is a child who has grown up in the new world created by the terrible disease that wiped out much of humanity and tore society apart. She walks through this wasteland, a member of a traveling troupe of performers and musicians who tour the small towns and settlements that remain in a caravan of tents and old automobiles (pickup trucks now being pulled by horses) in order to perform music and Shakespearean plays in an effort to ensure the survival of art in a world turned harsh with violence.

Obviously, there's much more to the story than all of that, but I'll leave the specifics of the plot up to you to discover for yourselves. This is definitely a novel I would recommend.


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18 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Towering Inferno" (1974)

Of all of the Disaster Films I have reviewed here on Backwoods Survival Blog, "The Towering Inferno" (1974) Blu-ray (DVD version) is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorites. I'm a big movie guy, a Cinephile, and I'm embarrassed to say that I had actually never seen this film before screening it recently for this review. Let's just say that I am supremely glad to have corrected that oversight, because truly nobody should go without seeing this top-notch example of cinema greatness.

If you're a fan of Old Hollywood at all, then this one enjoys the very special flavor of featuring an unbelievably star-studded cast. Top billing was shared by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, but the film also featured performances by William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Robert Vaugn, and even an older Fred Astaire, a much younger and less murdery O.J. Simpson, and many others, so it's kind of a must-see for that reason as well. Also, it marks the first time that two major Hollywood studios got together and joined forces to put a film together. Aside from all of that, though, it is also a supremely effective Disaster Film which should go a long way toward satisfying the particular sensibilities of those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture.

As the title of the film as well as the art pictured above makes it abundantly obvious, the centerpiece of the film is a raging fire taking place in a high-rise building. The story is actually adapted from elements of two separate novels, one set in New York City and the other in an unnamed city, but the film places events securely in San Francisco, California. The setup that doesn't really spoil anything for you to know ahead of time is that it's an awfully impressive building, the first of its kind and the tallest high-rise in the world. Needless to say, they are holding a highly anticipated Gala event as a grand opening with many VIPs attending, including one of the U.S. Senators from the state of California as well as the Mayor of San Francisco among many others. It is an immense understatement to call it a big deal.

Paul Newman plays the architect who designed this monstrosity and who is finalizing plans to move to somewhere quiet in the country after all of the pomp and circumstance (of which he is a required but reluctant centerpiece) is over. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to him, subcontractors have cut corners in the construction of the building in order to bring the project back within its estimated budget, and those unauthorized changes will soon lead to a night of both tragedy and heroism.

The first few frames of the film will quickly let you know that it is dedicated to all of the firefighters of the world, and it stands as a wonderful testament to the valor displayed by those men and women on a regular basis. Their story is embodied by Steve McQueen, who plays the city Fire Department Battalion Chief tasked with fighting the inferno and saving the lives of those within the building.

Definitely check this one out! I should've watched the years ago, and I am so unbelievably happy to have finally had a chance to screen it now. If you haven't seen it already, you're in the same boat I was and you don't know what you're missing; and, even if you saw it years ago, it is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray. My own personal endorsement couldn't be more adamant.


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15 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores

This week's long-term food storage review is going to represent a bit of variety from the norm as I take a look at and sample Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores dessert. As you might recall, I usually concentrate mostly on meals with respect to these reviews, usually either full entrees or breakfast meals as those are obviously the most important when it comes to actually putting away food storage for years of keeping to eat in an emergency. But, while that still remains true and most of my reviews will still center on those types of meals, pretty much every expert agrees that no larder is complete without some of what we call "comfort foods" that exists largely for morale purposes. After all, a steady helping of rice and beans with the occasional freeze-dried entree will help you survive, but it will also get very, *VERY* boring after a while, so it's a good idea to have something like Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores dessert on hand to mitigate that issue.

Powdered graham crackers added

Once everything was mixed and allowed to set up properly (which took, I think, 13 minutes, if I remember correctly), the final product looked like what you see above. Very much like a big bowl of chocolate pudding with graham cracker crumbs and tiny marshmallows mixed into it. Very good! Honestly, I haven't been eating a lot of sweets lately, and it was so rich it seemed to shock my mouth a bit. This is definitely something I will be purchasing more of for my own long-term food supplies, and as such I'm comfortable recommending it to you guys out there as well.


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13 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Battle Lines (The Survivalist Book 5)" by Arthur Bradley

Continuing on with recent reviews, today I will be writing about "Battle Lines (The Survivalist Book 5)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Obviously from the title, you can see that this is the fifth book in this series that has – over time – evolved into one that I really enjoy reading. You can click on the link above titled Prepper Books (or just click that link I just provided) to look at my reviews of the previous four titles in this series as well as many others. Unfortunately, book #6 in this series (which, I believe, will probably be the final one) won't be out until sometime in June, so I'll be moving on to a few others to review until I can get my hands on it.

As per usual and by way of simply giving you a bit of background, in the event you haven't read this series for any of my previous reviews, the action takes place in the southeastern United States region as well as further up the East Coast in a world where a deadly disease pandemic has killed off astronomical numbers of people, resulting in the expected collapse of society that would no doubt result from such a calamity. Worse still, a certain part of the population who were not immune to the virus actually survived, the disease having mutated them instead of killing them. This adds additional danger to the characters in the story, because not only are they operating in a world where the rule of law and order no longer exists, but they also have to deal with people who have been turned into monsters by the disease.

Enter into that setting a Deputy United States Marshal as our principal protagonist. He is, essentially, a lawman operating in a world without law, and so he is forced to dispense justice often from the barrel of a Colt M4 rifle and/or a Wilson Combat Supergrade 1911 .45 caliber handgun. In addition, however, each novel also follows a secondary plotline, which actually involves the deputy marshal's own father, who began in the first novel as an incarcerated convict being freed by a guard with whom he has struck up a friendship in the wake of society collapsing around them. This individual has a definite moral code by which he lives, and we will later learn is in prison only by virtue of killing two men in a fight who had previously victimized a female friend of his. Needless to say, he's got a temper that has landed him in prison. He ends up becoming an unlikely guardian, mentor, and surrogate father-figure to a young girl lost in the chaos of the world who has her own interesting secret to keep.

This installment follows our Deputy Marshal Mason Raines as he treks into a city devastated by an unlikely and unexpected attack in search of more breadcrumbs to further his quest begun in previous novels, fueled by a sense of vengeance, and likely to serve as the climax of the story in the final Book 6. Meanwhile, his father Tanner Raines and young Samantha find themselves forced out of the hopeful sanctuary they settled into in the final moments of the previous novel and back out onto the dangerous roads of an America collapsed into chaos and violence. Interestingly, their travels will expose them to information with a bearing on both the origin of the disease as well as some hope of a future cure and a small community of survivalists, whose ways of doing things doesn't sit well with a man like Tanner. In addition, my least favorite plotline (yet, I'll admit, one that is necessary) exposes the reader to individuals in the highest echelons of what remains of the United States government seemingly gripped by an insanity that has driven a great many of the tragedies in the series and is pushing each and every character to what will, no doubt, be a stunning climax to the overall story.

One final thing I'll say by way of a slight Spoiler is that Mason and Tanner finally do meet up near the end of this penultimate installment in the series. This is something for which I've been waiting for quite a while as these characters have operated independently yet sufficiently close to be in the same places at different times and have previous word of each other's survival. If you find yourself looking for a new series to read, I would definitely recommend this one. The novels are short and to the point, but that also gives them a certain momentum that makes for exciting reading. There are very few dull moments. Also, now would be an ideal time to catch up to me, since the final volume won't be released for over a month now.


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11 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Meteor" (1979)

The 1970s produced a series of very enjoyable disaster films, among the best of which was "Meteor" (1979) Blu-ray (DVD version). That has always been my opinion, though I'll admit part of that might simply be the result of the stellar cast, which includes the always wonderful Sean Connery, Karl Malden, Natalie Wood, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, and even a few scenes of Henry Fonda playing the President of the United States to decent affect. I remember watching this on cable growing up (I was a bit of a toddler during its actual theatrical release back in 1979) and really enjoying it. In addition to the talent of the actors involved, the film has a really exciting plot, and I have to say that it still holds up well even after all these years.

Watching it with today's eyes, the special effects may seem quite a bit outdated. Honestly, as impressive as they are at times when you remember how long ago this was, they truly don't even come anywhere near the polish of the Star Wars films, the first of which actually preceded this film by two years. Unlike Star Wars (which started out largely with a cast of unknown actors that didn't draw a big paycheck until it became a hit), however, I would imagine that a more mainstream Hollywood film like this spent a lot more of its budget on actors salaries and paying writers than it did on the special effects. And there's nothing wrong with that. The special effects are meant to be simply a backdrop to the story, rather than intensely eye-catching, and they serve their purpose well.

What moves you forward and keeps you engaged is the actual plot of the film, which essentially follows a scientist played by Sean Connery attempting to convince Cold War Era-minded military stalwarts (one of which is well played by Martin Landau) to cooperate with Russian authorities in a plan to save Earth from an approaching meteor, knocked out of its regular orbit and into a collision course with the Earth as a result of a comet strike deep within our solar system's asteroid belt. In addition to convincing those who are normally suspicious enemies to divulge guarded secrets and work together against a common threat, all those involved must also execute the plan needed to save us before it's too late.

Watching this film, it will be easy for you to see that it had to have been a huge influence on the makers of both the films "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" in later years. Both of those later projects borrowed various plot motifs from this one, and it isn't overly difficult to understand why once you have enjoyed the experience. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, and the makers of those 1990's era disaster flicks were obviously fans of this one just as I have been for many, many years.


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08 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Cajun Style Rice and Chicken

I'm not ashamed to admit that I entered into my review of Backpacker's Pantry Cajun Style Rice and Chicken with a bit of trepidation. My personal tastes run toward in joining food that is somewhat spicy, but I don't really like it at all once it gets past a certain point and gets really hot. As a result, the word "Cajun" being attached to this one worried me a bit, but I'm happy to say that I walked away with all of my taste buds firmly intact after this experience.

Not my favorite, by any stretch of the imagination, but not bad either. A bit spicy without being overwhelmingly hot. Also, as is often true with these freeze-dried pouch meals, it's a bit hit and miss with respect to serving size. What you see in this photo are the contents of the entire pouch. It is listed as being two different servings, and you could certainly stretch it by perhaps adding something like Ramen noodles or additional rice with this dish poured over it, but if it's just this, then you should count on needing the whole pouch for one adult to have a filling meal outside of rationing.


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06 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Madness Rules (The Survivalist Book 4)" by Arthur Bradley

Today I'll be reviewing the Doomer Fiction novel "Madness Rules (The Survivalist Book 4)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Interestingly enough, I started reading this series several weeks ago, immediately considering it to be sufficiently entertaining, while not really thinking of it as one of my favorites. Now, as I've gotten to know the characters more intimately, I'm still probably not willing to list it as a favorite of mine, but it's definitely more than worth your time as a reader.

To bring everyone up to speed, the setting for this series is basically the American Southeast region as well as the East Coast in the aftermath of a devastating disease pandemic that has wiped-out a huge swathe of the population, resulting in a complete societal collapse, and left many survivors of the pox as genetically mutated monsters. Needless to say, it depicts a world where heroes are few and far between, but the series focuses on two of the few who remain – a Deputy United States Marshal and his own father, a man who is definitely guided by ethical principles but with a temper that has landed him in prison (he is released at the beginning of the series by a guard he has befriended). The latter of those two men spends this series looking after a young girl, whose true identity makes her a person of importance and who he has more or less adopted as a surrogate daughter, and this novel follows that oddly-matched duo as they trek into the dangerous ruins of an American city in order that she might have some of her deceased mother's belongings as a keepsake. As for his Deputy U.S. Marshal son, he has gained a reputation as a man willing to help right the wrongs being so often visited upon people, and he is enlisted to aid in the removal of a family of rogue so-called "lawmen" terrorizing a community in Kentucky.

The only thing that hasn't occurred in the series thus far has been for these different plots to intertwine and bring father and son back together, though they have had some small word of each other's passing at times. I'm sure that will likely occur in the climax of the series, but I don't know exactly how many more books there will be. I will be reviewing Book 5 next week, but it's my understanding that Book 6 won't be released until sometime in June. That gives you plenty of time to catch up with me and enjoy this very good series of Doomer Fiction novels.


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04 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Poseidon" (2006)

If reviewing disaster and survival fiction is the goal, only so much time can pass before one arrives at an examination of "Poseidon" (2006) Blu-ray (DVD version). This film is, of course, somewhat of a loose remake of the original classic disaster film from the 1970s, depicting the plight of individuals aboard a transatlantic luxury ocean liner and their attempts at survival when things go terribly wrong. In the end, watching this one is an enjoyable experience, though I have to say it doesn't really hold up to its predecessor.

That being said, the depth and breadth of what I *DIDN'T* like about the film really all boils down to one single damning observation: the whole endeavor was far too rushed. Unlike the original film, which ran a bit longer than this one and therefore had the time available to provide viewers with a great deal more exploration of the characters, this remake spends almost no time at all putting one in the environment of the disaster and allowing us to get to know the characters about whose survival we are supposed to care so much later. Rather, this installment goes a completely different route, jumping almost immediately into what are admittedly some very impressive visual action sequences. Despite the visually appealing nature of the presentation, however, my opinion stands firm that a longer Director's Cut of this film would probably provide a much more satisfying experience for viewers.

Still, there remained several points within the plot around which my survival-oriented mind wrapped itself, allowing for a bit of thought exercise as to what an individual caught in a similar situation might do differently to attempt survival. Be advised: the next few paragraphs will contain very mild spoilers, if you've never seen the film, so you might want to stop reading here and skip down to the final paragraph. I will put everything you might not want to read in italics to make it easier for you, and I'll also be sure to put the beginning of the final paragraph in a bold typeset. Just jump down to there if you don't want to read the next bit.  

Still with me? Okay. One particular scene comes to mind in which a few characters are attempting to escape by climbing through an empty elevator shaft. Needless to say, things go badly and it ends up with two characters hanging by a thread, one of them holding onto the legs of the other as the elevator above seems ready to crash down and kill them both. As the others are attempting to pull them both to safety, it becomes obvious that a terrible choice must be made to avoid both of them being killed. The character with the best view of the situation understands that he can only possibly save one of them, and so he tells the one guy that he has to kick the man holding onto his legs off in order to save himself. To be perfectly clear, this isn't an issue of choosing one's own survival over that of another; it's more an issue of "Let him die, so both of you don't die, because both of you aren't making it out of this." Still, though, I can't imagine that kind of logic would to do much to assuage the guilt of the guy who has to kick someone off who is begging for his help in order to save himself. In truth, however, doing so was both the logical and correct decision. He couldn't save him, and carrying on as it was would only mean both of them would be killed. Do you think you could make that choice? Could you live with the memory of it? And, if the answer is no, consider for a moment what would happen to your family/group if they lost you as a result of you hesitating over such a decision? Could they survive without you, or would you be dooming them as well?

Regarding the ending, I need to also point out that jumping from the ship into the waters of the Atlantic was a supremely stupid move, unless they had already sighted the emergency life raft within which they would soon be saved. Maybe I missed something in my screening and I'm not making any sense to you, whatsoever, but it wasn't clear to me whether or not they were jumping toward the raft or simply jumping off the ship and encountering the life raft afterward. The reason the difference is important is because standard emergency safety procedures dictate that your main goal if your boat is capsized at sea is to get yourself out of the water by climbing up on top of your wrecked vessel. Even if rescue is on the way, it could take hours for them to arrive, and immersion in water below a certain temperature is a very quick passport to hypothermia and death. When lost at sea in anything other than a tropical climate, getting out of the water as quickly as possible is a really big deal, so, unless they were going straight for the life raft all along, they would have been better off staying where they were. At least, of course, right up until they knew the ship was about to go under. At that point, it becomes immensely important to swim as far away from the wreck as possible so as not to be dragged under by the undertow created by a sinking vessel. By the way, that logic is not in effect with respect to smaller vessels, such as your average sailing yacht, as these are typically equipped with the ability to remain afloat in all but the most disastrous of scenarios, and they are too small to quickly drag you under the way a huge ocean liner most assuredly would. And, lastly, the individual firing a rescue flare before there was any indication of Coast Guard vehicles in the vicinity was a bad idea. Emergency life rafts are equipped with a couple of flares in their emergency kit, but it is not wise to waste any of them until you see or hear another ship or a helicopter approaching.

See how my mind works when I am watching a movie?

Anyway, as previously stated, I have my complaints about this film that mostly center on the fact that it feels incomplete to me. I believe the characters needed to be more deeply explored, and by doing so the filmmakers could have created far more attention in the plot. It is always easier to get into a movie about people trying to survive in any disaster setting if we have first been allowed to get to know them. That's just simple logic. That isn't enough, however, to keep me from enjoying "Poseidon" (2006) for precisely what it is: a disaster-themed action film with some absolutely stunning visual effects. Definitely worth spending 98 minutes of my life.


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01 May, 2015

Guest Post: Enjoy Gardening? Here Are Some Types of Seeds Which Grow Easily

by Christine Rudolph

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It is one of the exciting and fun hobbies that anyone can enjoy at home. It’s also very easy to start without investing a lot. Apart from that gardening also help you make your home and your yard a more refreshing place. You can get fresh vegetables that you can use in your kitchen if you make a vegetable garden. The most common problem which arises is the lack of space if you think you don’t have enough space to plant vegetables on the ground you can do this through gardening container. If you are planning to start your own garden so you have to spot the basic things. Start practicing with the small level and get some experience.

At the beginning start planting within a small plot. Ensure that the seeds you use will be heirloom or non GMO varieties. These seeds can produce continually unlike the hybrid varieties that will produce only for one season. Make sure that the seeds you use are open -pollinated. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated variety. Like heirlooms there are many other seeds which are open pollinated. Before you start gardening think what your family will need for the entire year. Another essential thing which one should focus is to protect the garden form pests. For a healthy garden it’s important to protect your garden from pest activity by using regular sprays and by regular inspection of your garden.

Following are the few basic seeds that can be used to kick start a garden:


It is very easy to grow and early to harvest. You can grow this with very little space, even in a container. Lettuce grows for many weeks in the mild weather of spring and fall. It grows rapidly in the full sun. Lettuce is rich in proteins, iron and calcium. In full sun lettuce grows fastest it also tolerates some shade. Lettuce does well if you give lettuce fertile, well-drained, moist soil with sufficient organic nutrients and a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. There are different varieties of lettuce like cabbage such as crisphead and iceberg and each variety is different in taste, appearance and texture.


Cucumber is very easy to grow. This is a warm weather vegetable. You can increase the harvest by continuous picking. Cucumbers are rich in potassium, vitamin A, C and K. In order to get successful results just plant cucumber in a section of the garden that is moist and expose to full sun. Planting cucumber requires plenty of water. It also requires compost and well-rotted manure into the soil. For planting cucumber a soil of pH 6.8 or higher is required. Even with the small space you can grow cucumber. Cucumber grows well even in small space but make sure it receives full sun light.

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Broccoli is one of the easiest vegetable to grow. Broccoli is rich in proteins, vitamin A and vitamin K. Broccoli is a cool weather vegetable. Planting broccoli requires full sun, plenty of water and nutrient rich soil. Make sure that your broccoli gets least 6 hours of sun daily. Fertile and well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter also play vital role. For planting broccoli, pH of soil should be between 6.0 to 7.0.


Carrot is also very easy to grow as it grows in winter and early spring. Carrot contains high amount of beta carotene and vitamin A. There are variety of carrots such as nantes, chantenay, miniature, imperator and danvers. For planting carrots build up a raised bed by digging the soil to at least 12 inches deep. Add plenty of mature compost for better growth.


Beans have different varieties like pole beans, bush beans, kidney beans, etc. These beans are very high in fiber, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. The good time to plant beans is summer. They should be planted early in the season. The harvesting of pole beans begins and ends earlier than the bush beans. Pole beans relatively give much harvest than any other bean.


Cauliflower is rich in fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. It yields high production but it harvests over a short period. The best time to plant cauliflower is winter season. For planting cauliflower it’s also essential to make sure that it receives at least 6 hours of the full sun daily. It also requires fertile and well-drained soil with plenty of organic matters. For planting broccoli pH of the soil should be between 6.5 to 6.8.


Barley has so many health benefits and it can be used for many purposes like feeding livestock and making beer. Barley contains high dietary fiber and magnesium. The good time for planting barley is the spring and winter. Hence, early plantation yields the best results for barley.


Corn is rich in proteins, calcium and iron. It’s easy to grow. This is a warm weather vegetable that grows well in summer season. It requires a plenty of space because it is a wind pollinated crop. Planting corn requires full sun, fertile and well-drained soil. The optimum soil pH for planting corn is 6.0 to 6.8.


It provides you continuous supply of harvest but initially this plant variety requires few years to get start. It may take 2 to 3 years to get started but it can produce up to 20 years. Planting asparagus requires full sun, well drained and fertilized soil. The optimum pH of the soil should be 6.5 to 7.5.


This is a winter season vegetable. It’s very easy to grow. There are many different types of pea plant like snow, shelling and sugar pod. It’s a fast growing plant. Peas are rich in protein, fibers and essential vitamins. There are different varieties of peas such as sweet peas, snow peas and snap peas. The optimum temperature for planting peas is 45 degree F.


Tomatoes are easy to grow and the best time to plant them is the spring season. Typically, they should be planted in the late spring. They contain high amount of potassium, thiamin, niacin and vitamins like A, C, K and E. Before planting tomatoes make sure that they will receive at least 10 hours of sun light in summers.

Christine Rudolph

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30 April, 2015

Guest Post: Why Starting a Vegetable Garden Is The Best Thing You'll Do This Summer

by Gemma Hurst

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Summer is just around the corner and it's at this time of year when the days are warm and long that many people enjoy getting outdoors and tending to their gardens. Vegetable gardening is growing in popularity and whether you grow from your garden, from a window box or from a community allotment scheme, the benefits of growing your own produce are plentiful. Not only will you save money and feed your family, but it is also great for your mental and physical health and is also enjoyable and easy to get into. Here are some of the ways that growing vegetables this Spring/Summer will benefit your lifestyle, making you fit and well.

You'll eat better

Studies show that people who grow their own produce will have a healthier diet. The obvious reason for this is that you're growing your own organic fruit, vegetables and salads to eat. Root vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and lettuce are all great starting points and are packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital to immune system health, good weight and the prevention of other diseases. But it goes a step beyond this in that people (particularly children) become interested about the food they're growing and eating. They are more likely to take an active interest in food, experiment with new recipes and learn about the health benefits rather than becoming stuck in a rut of bland, convenience food that lacks in nutritional value.

It's great exercise

If you spend a few hours out in the garden you'll have had quite a workout. Hauling watering cans and pushing wheelbarrows is a form of resistance training not dissimilar to lifting weights. Lawn mowing and digging weeds is great cardio and bending and stretching in order to prune plants is a good way to strengthen muscles. In short, gardening is a good form of exercise that is more gentle (and some would argue, more productive) than traditional workouts like jogging or gym sessions meaning it is ideal exercise for anyone regardless of age and ability.

It's good for mental health

As well as being a physical workout, many studies indicate that gardening can actually be a good way to keep your brain active too. Some link the repetitive yet sophisticated brain activity associated with gardening to the prevention of neurological disease such as dementia. With exercise and mood also being directly linked, the physical exertion of gardening a great way to get feel-good brain chemicals circulating throughout the body making you feel pumped up and positive. This combined with a healthy diet is a great way to maintain good mental as well as physical health and leave you feeling happy and well as healthy.

It's financially beneficial

Money worries are amongst one of the highest causes of depression, stress and low mood in the Western world, particularly during times of economic turbulence like we are currently facing. Growing your own food is a great way to eat well for less which will reduce stress and anxiety. You might think that the outlay for a vegetable garden (including tools, soil and plants) seems a lot, but consider how much you spend on shop bought food then think about just how much produce you could reap from re-flowering plants like tomatoes. Best of all, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your produce is organic and untreated by pesticides and other chemicals.

It's good for the soul

For centuries, people have considered being close to nature as a spiritual experience. The peaceful, natural environment of the garden promotes calm and the repetitive nature of gardening in this setting can be a perfect chance to unwind and contemplate. For this reason many hospitals and rehabilitation clinics offer gardening therapy to those who are ill or suffering with issues such as addiction. Vegetable gardening in particular is very rewarding and the act of planting and maintaining a crop then having an end result is a great way to boost self esteem in those who are lacking it. It can also be a very social pastime as as humans naturally thrive from interaction, it can be a good for the soul to make friends in this way.

Author's Bio:
Gemma Hurst is a freelance writer, who worked for many years in business and finance. After becoming a mother, she turned to writing to make a living and she now pens articles on as many different topics - from news and current affairs to money matters.

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29 April, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Shepherd's Potato Stew with Beef

So far, I've been able to keep up and settle into a nice rhythm with doing a review of a different long-term storage food each week (or some other Preppers survival gear), and this week I'll be focusing on Backpacker's Pantry Shepherd's Potato Stew with Beef. I'll also go ahead and admit, right up front, that giving this one a try has been something I've been looking forward to ever since purchasing it. Speaks to my Scots-Irish heritage, I guess. I'll also go ahead and say right now that I wasn't disappointed in any way by the experience.

And, as always, this final photo gives you a good look at the finished product as it is ready to eat. Very satisfying. Another thing that makes this particular dish awesome is that – unlike some of the others – this is one of the ones that really does provide you with enough food to make two different servings. I ate the dish you see in the photo above for dinner two nights in a row out of one mylar pouch. As always with these freeze-dried long-term storage foods, the high sodium content can be an issue, but that’s a problem that is pretty much par for the proverbial course, regardless of brand in my experience. It could definitely be a problem in an emergency situation where you were stuck living off of this kind of food, but then again such a situation would probably result in you not getting as much sodium from other sources. Probably balance out. It is an issue worth thinking about, however.


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28 April, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Judgment Day (The Survivalist Book 3)" by Arthur Bradley

Continuing on with a series I find myself enjoying quite a bit, today I'm going to review "Judgment Day (The Survivalist Book 3)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Over the past several weeks, I took the time to read and review Book 1 and Book 2 in the series as well, so you might want to take a moment and look over the material there in addition to this article. Each review will contain my opinion of that particular installment in this ongoing series of post-apocalyptic Prepper Doomer Fiction novels as well as links through which you can purchase them for yourself, if you choose to do so. My recommendation is that you take the plunge. These aren't the best novels in the genre, but they are very entertaining. They are also rather short, but luckily that translates into each one being a very quick read.

Just so that we are all on the same page going forward, the setting of this series is centered within the American Southeast and East coast regions in the aftermath of a disease pandemic, which has wiped out most of the population. Needless to say, society has devolved into pretty much the exact level of chaos you would expect. The government still functions, but basically only in name and with control of only a few bases. Everybody else is pretty much on their own. The main character of the series is a Deputy United States Marshal and a secondary subplot follows the exploits of his convict father (freed from the penitentiary by a guard he had befriended as everything was effectively falling apart). Turns out, Daddy Convict isn't exactly a terrible guy, just one with a notoriously terrible temper. His prison sentence involved him killing two men in a fight, whom he had originally confronted over them hurting a lady friend of his. Anyway, the newly-released prisoner has to make his way in America's wasteland and eventually finds himself in the role of protector for a young girl whose own identity is another interesting part of the story.

This third installment in the series picks up just after the ending of the second book, and it's largely about the Deputy Marshal character chasing down a group of mercenaries who have carried out a deadly attack that resulted in the loss of many lawmen, perhaps some of the only ones left in the world. The characters in the subplot actually held a lot of interest for me when reading this book, though, as their fictional travels actually take them right up through where I live. In fact, and I won't tell you exactly which location for the sake of observing proper OPSEC, but there is one scene in particular that takes place very close by. It's rare that a novel includes a personal touch like that, so it definitely did its job to keep me interested.

Next week, I will continue to review the next book in this series. My advice is to go ahead and check it out. You won't be sorry, in my opinion.


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