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02 September, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "The Independents (Holding Their Own Book 2)" by Joe Nobody

Holding Their Own
Today I'm going to take a few moments to present a Prepper book review on "The Independents (Holding Their Own Book 2)" by Joe Nobody (Kindle edition). This is a direct sequel to the novel that started the entire series, which I have reviewed here positively a while back. One thing that I can say about this series so far, which is actually a failing on the part of a lot of writers, is that Joe Nobody has managed to write main characters for whom the reader actually cares.

This second installment begins only a little while after the end of the first novel, Bishop and Terri having settled into their little West Texas RV retreat after a harrowing journey across the state from their home in a suburb of Houston. After the troubles they faced in trying to get to their retreat in the midst of a financial and societal collapse, they definitely deserved a little time to live in peace, but the reader won't have made it through many pages of this one whatsoever before it's obvious the outside world is going to encroach on them yet again. And this particular encroachment comes in the form of a somewhat dramatic appearance of a familiar face for our protagonist; one who carries with him information of a sufficient weight that the fate of the entire United States depends on it. Needless to say, drama ensues.

I won't go into a lot of detail on this one, because I don't want to be one of those websites that simply spoils everything; it's best if you read the material for yourself and get the full enjoyment. What I will say, however, is that the background of this story involves a situation where the weakened federal government faces an opposition movement and the threat of a possible civil war. Bishop and Terri find themselves drawn into this larger conflict as well as one on a smaller local scale that involves the rescue of someone who is dear to an old friend. Definitely a good read and a worthy sequel to the original novel. This series is gathering momentum toward what I'm sure is going to be a very interesting and enjoyable story, so needless to say I'll be continuing to review further installments.


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01 September, 2015

Hope You Weren't Banking on Tamiflu to Save You During a Pandemic

Why Tamiflu isn't going to be able to stop the next big influenza pandemic that is a 100% certainty to hit us eventually.
... because, if so, you might want to rethink that strategy. Long touted as a big weapon in the human arsenal for fighting pandemic influenza, this antiviral is supposed to significantly lessen the symptoms/the amount of time symptoms are suffered by an infected person. In fact, several major governments – including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – have supplies of the drug stockpiled in the event we are hit by another worldwide pandemic (which is actually an eventual statistical certainty to which we have to look forward).

Unfortunately, a new study conducted by a not-for-profit organization has discovered that, while it does lessen the amount of time a person experiences symptoms of the flu, the Tamiflu antiviral apparently comes with its own set of side effects and actually doesn't make a statistical dent in the number of people who end up hospitalized as a result of the illness. Apparently, Big Pharma is being blamed by some in the medical community for not being 100% transparent with respect to the results of certain trials, but quotes are being bandied about that call into question whether or not this drug and others like it actually have the touted affect on symptoms or the mortality rate being suffered by patients. In fact, a professor of evidence-based medicine at Oxford University who is affiliated with the global nonprofit group who conducted the recent study is quoted as saying, "There is no credible way these drugs could prevent a pandemic."

Definitely not what I would call great news, considering we should be moving into Flu Season very soon here in the U.S. after a particularly rough one last year. And, if what's going on in the southern hemisphere is any indication of what we could have in store for us, Australia has had what they are calling a "horror flu season" this year. People are getting hit by a revived strain that wasn't included in the seasonal flu shot, so even people with the shot had no protection from it. Which is pretty much how I imagine the next worldwide influenza pandemic is going to occur as well.


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31 August, 2015

REVIEW: Fear The Walking Dead: Season 1 - Episode 2 "So Close, Yet So Far"

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.

Ever wonder if there's anything to be learned from survival Doomer fiction like The Walking Dead? I think so.
Once the catastrophe presents itself, the natural inclination will be to bug out to a safer location. The problem is that will be everybody else's inclination as well, so it's important to keep your ear to the proverbial grindstone and not be caught having to quickly load whatever groceries are possible into the car and take off amidst all of the other refugees. Interestingly, the family in the show actually did a pretty good job of trying to be ahead of the curve in this respect, but it wouldn't be a television drama if such well-laid plans had actually worked out for them. 

Also, it's worth considering that bugging out itself could present a certain level of danger. Not only are there the hazards of the road in a potential emergency situation to deal with, there's also the potential – in the case of a disease pandemic – that people bugging out and migrating to look for safety might actually spread the contagion further. This is a point where one would have to decide between bugging out or sheltering in place, carefully weighing the strengths and consequences of both potential plans for survival. It's also important that if you do decide bugging out is the safest option for you and your family, but the situation necessitates you becoming separated, that you set a rendezvous point to ensure that you and yours are able to get back together later rather than one party unnecessarily having to wait for another to return from some errand. 

Ever wonder if there's anything to be learned from survival Doomer fiction like The Walking Dead? I think so.
When things begin to truly go downhill, don't count on being able to depend on emergency services personnel. Regardless of their personal work ethic and calling to perform public-service, normal human instinct will dictate that they concern themselves mostly with taking care of their own family first. This probably won't happen until things get truly bad, but it's almost a certainty that it definitely will eventually occur. Studies have been conducted that have proven many simply won't report to work past a certain point a truly serious emergency.

And, one must prepare themselves for the possibility that even people known to them as friends could represent a threat in an emergency situation. This is especially true in the context of a disease pandemic as pictured in the show. Never mind the threat of zombies; all communicable diseases  spread through contact person-to-person, so contact with anyone exponentially increases your chances of becoming infected. Couple that with the fact that some people could turn to violence in the wake of a disaster scenario, and one is left needing to prioritize in favor of taking care of family and those close friends for whom you have accepted responsibility to the exclusion of other people, whether you happen to know them or not. 

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]

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

My previous reviews for this series: Episode 1

My previous reviews for the parent series The Walking Dead can be accessed by clicking the links below:

30 August, 2015

Considering The Expat Life

Is Belize a good option for an Expat Prepper?
I was having a conversation with a friend recently, who has plans on moving to Belize upon his retirement from a federal law enforcement posting. The conversation drifted toward what he understood were the laws down there, because individual rights and liberty are typically very important to me. I was curious, because honestly I've considered making a similar move in the years to come, and these are the kinds of things I need to know before I do something like that.

With respect to gun rights, his impression was basically that owning them legally in Belize requires you pay a $500 per weapon licensing fee and a $75 per year personal firearm owner's licensing fee. Also, apparently there are different licenses based on why you want the weapon. That's disconcerting, but not a dealbreaker, I suppose. It was what he told me about the restrictions that *DOES* bother me, however. Apparently, you can't own a shotgun larger than a certain gauge or a semi-auto handgun chambered in any round larger than 9mm. He didn't know about rifle restrictions, but with the other limitations in place I can't imagine it would be legal there to own something like an AR-15 or a Mini-14. And, if you plan on moving there and bringing your guns with you, you have to deposit them at the airport and you can only pick them up after you have established residency and paid for the proper permits.

So, unfortunately, sunny Belize might not be in my future it seems. Being that they are treating gun ownership as a privilege, rather than a right, I would be worried about the possibility of some local official deciding that my reasons for wanting to own them wasn't good enough and denying me. Plus, even with a favorable exchange rate, it would not be fun to have to pay $500 U.S. for each weapon owned before being able to go pick them up when they are already your property. Plus, several sources online said that the $500 fee per weapon was also yearly, people are typically only approved a license for one sidearm for self-defense, and the permit process can take as long as seven months!

I want to live somewhere where the government just barely exists enough to keep things from going completely Mad Max, but is way too weak to actually enforce any kind of crazy Nanny State meddling nonsense regulations like we have here in the U.S.. There's a reason why it seems all of the crazy Mormon fundamentalists run to Mexico and build compounds whenever they want to have a whole bunch of wives... it's because Mexico is all but a failed state. They have a government, but the further you get away from Mexico City the less likely you are to have to worry about government busybodies being all up in your business. People make moonshine, grow marijuana, practice polygamy in compounds guarded by dudes with AR-15's, whatever, and there's nobody really around to say much about it. This is, of course, only true in some of the more rural and out-of-the-way places, but they do exist there much more so than here in the States. All you have to worry about is not running afoul of the drug cartels, but they pretty much leave you alone too if you don't cause any issues for them.

Of course, the flip side to that is that law-enforcement down there is horrendously corrupt and pretty much completely unreliable the further you get from places like Mexico City and Cancun and all of the other major touristy places. You're pretty much on your own to protect yourself. But, then again, it's really like that here also; people just don't want to admit it. 

The average person lies to themselves and lives in this bubble of cognitive dissonance believing all they have to do is pick up the phone and call 911 and they will be protected. The real truth is that an unbelievably small percentage of police work involves stopping crimes, especially violent crimes. It's not even their fault. It's just that stuff is almost always over before the cops can get there. Police work is 99% investigating what happened *AFTER* somebody gets murdered or raped or whatever. 

It's really up to the individual to protect themselves even now, so why not live somewhere where that is simply understood and also comes with the benefit of there basically being no government busybodies making it their business to meddle in all of your affairs on a daily basis?


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29 August, 2015

Best Five Books For Living Off The Grid Or With A Prepper Mindset

One thing that can definitely be accurately said about those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture is that we are all voracious learners. Often this education is achieved through reading, probably because that's a very economical way of gaining new information, and we are also notoriously frugal when it comes to financial matters. To that end, I thought it would be pertinent to list what I consider to be the five best books for living off grid and/or with a Prepper mindset with a couple of additions as honorable mentions.

What do you think of the list below? Feel free to let me know in the comments as well as sharing any other titles I might have excluded. Also, please note that the descriptions below are quoted from the official pages at Amazon.com for each title.

The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens
The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Edition: The Original Manual of Living Off the Land & Doing It Yourself: "The bestselling resource for modern homesteading, growing and preserving foods, and raising chickens, The Encyclopedia of Country Living includes how to cultivate a garden, buy land, bake bread, raise farm animals, make sausage, can peaches, milk a goat, grow herbs, churn butter, build a chicken coop, catch a pig, cook on a wood stove, and much, much more. This comprehensive resource is the most authoritative guide available to a sustainable lifestyle and living off of the land..."

produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter 1/4 acre of land
Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre: "Mini Farming describes a holistic approach to small-area farming that will show you how to produce 85 percent of an average family’s food on just a quarter acre—and earn $10,000 in cash annually while spending less than half the time that an ordinary job would require. Even if you have never been a farmer or a gardener, this book covers everything you need to know to get started: buying and saving seeds, starting seedlings, establishing raised beds, soil fertility practices, composting, dealing with pest and disease problems, crop rotation, farm planning, and much more. Because self-suf´Čüciency is the objective, subjects such as raising backyard chickens and home canning are also covered along with numerous methods for keeping costs down and production high. Materials, tools, and techniques are detailed with photographs, tables, diagrams, and illustrations."

Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Revised Edition: "Hesperian's classic manual... is arguably the most widely-used health care manual in the world... Useful for health workers, clinicians, and others involved in primary health care delivery and health promotion programs, with millions of copies in print in more than 75 languages, the manual provides practical, easily understood information on how to diagnose, treat, and prevent common diseases. Special attention is focused on nutrition, infection and disease prevention, and diagnostic techniques as primary ways to prevent and treat health problems."

How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It: Tactics, Techniques, and Technologies for Uncertain Times: "... In How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It, James Rawles, founder of SurvivalBlog.com, clearly explains everything you need to know to protect yourself and your family in the event of a disaster-from radical currency devaluation to a nuclear threat to a hurricane. Rawles shares essential tactics and techniques for surviving completely on your own, including how much food is enough, how to filter rainwater, how to protect your money, which seeds to buy for your garden, why goats are a smart choice for livestock, and how to secure your home. It's the ultimate guide to total preparedness and self-reliance in a time of need."

Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables: "Anyone can learn to store fruits and vegetables safely and naturally with a cool, dark space (even a closet!) and the step-by-step advice in this book... Root cellaring, as many people remember but only a few people still practice, is a way of using the earth's naturally cool, stable temperature to store perishable fruits and vegetables. Root cellaring, as Mike and Nancy Bubel explain here, is a no-cost, simple, low-technology, energy-saving way to keep the harvest fresh all year long. In Root Cellaring, the Bubels tell how to successfully use this natural storage approach..."

Honorable Mentions

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series): "... Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies — working an average of two hours a day during the growing season..."

Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills: "Anyone who wants to learn basic living skills—the kind employed by our forefathers—and adapt them for a better life in the twenty-first century need look no further than this eminently useful, full-color guide. Countless readers have turned to Back to Basics for inspiration and instruction, escaping to an era before power saws and fast-food restaurants and rediscovering the pleasures and challenges of a healthier, greener, and more self-sufficient lifestyle..."