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31 October, 2012

Guest Post: When Emergencies Are A Fact Of Life

When my husband and I sat down to brainstorm the basic skills a modern homesteader needs, emergency preparedness was near the top of the list.  But our reasoning had less to do with a future catastrophe and more to do with the reality of living back in the woods where you're always the last one to have your power restored when trees take down the whole county's grid. 

Since moving to our farm six years ago, we've had perhaps half a dozen relatively major power outages, the longest of which lasted ten frigid winter days.  We weren't prepared, so I spent a lot of time cooking outside over a fire and melting snow for drinking water.  I defrosted the top of our wedding cake months early to cheer us up --- we were going to save the delicacy to eat on our first anniversary, as tradition dictates, but I figured I'd rather our marriage last through the outage.

At night, we read until our flashlights gave out, then settled down into a nest made of all our blankets and sleeping bags to stay warm.  It took us several days to be able to hack our way through fallen trees and get off the farm for more supplies, but since we grow most of our own food, that was less daunting than the long, cold winter nights.

Afterward, we made major changes.  We installed an efficient wood stove inside so we'd stay warm no matter what and we invested in some high quality sleeping bags for the same reason.  I picked up a few solar flashlights to make light less dependent on electricity and washed out milk jugs to store drinking water.  Nowadays, the worst that happens when the power goes out is that I lose a round of eggs developing into chicks in the incubator.

Which brings me back to our brainstorming session, the result of which was The Weekend Homesteader: A Twelve-Month Guide to Self-Sufficiency .  My new book presents one fun and easy project for each weekend of the year to guide beginners onto the path to self-sufficiency, and I've included three emergency preparedness chapters.  In general, though, the book espouses a philosophy I stole from author Sharon Astyk, who writes frequently about the Anyway Principle.  If you're simplifying your life and becoming more self-sufficient anyway, you won't need to do anything special when the lights go out.

Anna Hess homesteads with her husband, two spoiled cats, a hard-working dog, and an ever-changing number of chickens on their farm in southwest Virginia.  They write about their adventures on their blog at www.WaldenEffect.org.

Active Defense Concepts for Homesteads

Below you will find a snippet of and a link to the last in a 3-part series of articles by Max Velocity, whose book I recently reviewed and who was recently featured as a guest author here on Backwoods Survival Blog.
Active Defense Concepts for Homesteads - Survival Blog With A Family Focus: For this kind of defensive situation you will be well served by the ability to detect, observe and accurately engage enemy at the longest range possible by day and night.

This is easily said, but would take throwing money at it to get all the equipment you need to best do it.

In terms of firearms, I would recommend tactical type high capacity magazine rifles for the main work, backed up by handguns and pump action 12 gauge shotguns. The shotguns are good for close work and if the enemy gets in to the building, last ditch stuff...  

[Read More At Link Above]

Worst Case Scenario: Hurricane Sandy Is The Biggest Storm Ever To Hit The Northeast

A few days old and, therefore, behind the curve as to some of the info related, but a worthwhile read nonetheless.
Worst Case Scenario: Hurricane Sandy Is The Biggest Storm Ever To Hit The Northeast: The biggest storm to ever hit the northeast United States is creating a tremendous amount of havoc up and down the eastern seaboard. It is hard to describe how gigantic this storm actually is. From end to end, Hurricane Sandy is more than 1000 miles across. It is twice the size of the state of Texas, and meteorologists are calling this storm a "worst case scenario". It is currently coming ashore in New Jersey, but this is just the beginning. A winter storm approaching from the west is going to combine with Hurricane Sandy, and the combined storm is projected to hammer the northeast with wind and rain all the way through the end of the week. Meteorologists all over the nation are saying that they have never seen anything like this...

Murder, Rape, Robbery and Assault Skyrocket In Bankrupt Stockton, California

Murder, Rape, Robbery and Assault Skyrocket In Bankrupt Stockton, California: As more towns and municipalities across the country are forced into bankruptcy due to reckless spending and lowered tax revenues, residents of once quiet neighborhoods are waking up to the reality that life as they know it is changing drastically.

In Stockton, California, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, your chances of becoming a victim of a violent crime such as murder, rape, robbery or assault are 1 in 70, which is nearly four times higher than the national average.

Your chances of being the victim of a property crime are even more likely, with 1 in every 17 residents of the city facing the prospect of having their house broken into or car stolen this year...

Firearms for Catastrophic Disasters

Firearms for Catastrophic Disasters: ... weapons – especially firearms, do have a place in a prepper’s lifestyle. But these firearms need to be chosen with the same care we spend on making sure we get the best quality storage food for our money. We have to compare quality, price, our needs, our wants, and all the added costs to get a firearm that works in our program.

To me the most important aspect of a gun is reliability. I know that if I have to use my firearm in a emergency it’s a BAD DAY, and since the statistical probability of a BAD DAY is low, I don’t want to tempt Murphy with a firearm that cannot shoot 3 rounds in a row on the range without a malfunction. Get a gun that goes bang every time with NO exceptions. Cool guns with neat little stories or exotic ammunition is cool to show your buddies, but a disaster gun needs to be practical and reliable.

The next is that it needs to shoot ammunition that is common. That means something you can get at the local hardware store or wal-mart...

Storing Spare Radio Gear – Preparing for Long Term Storage

Storing Spare Radio Gear – Preparing for Long Term Storage - With Varying Frequency – Amateur Radio Ponderings: Almost every one of us has some spare radio gear. Sometimes it is gear we would like to set aside and store for a “rainy day” or hoping that our youngsters might want it. Of course there is also gear set aside purely as back-up if our main gear took a lightning strike or was otherwise damaged.

I asked several preparedness types, a couple ex-military gear service techs, and looked around for other’s recommendations – all distilled into a protocol...

UN Gun Control Is Back!

Dickmorris.com: After a wave of outrage stopped President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from signing the proposed UN Gun Control Treaty (called the UN Arms Trade Treaty), the treaty advocates are back with a devilish new strategy!...

30 October, 2012

Hangin' In

Well, we're still here and still have power.  Actually, we went dark for a few hours last night, but it came back on.  We got around 6-inches or so at my place, much less than folks in other areas.  We did have a bunch of trees fall on the property, one of which damaged my van.  As promised, here are a few pictures (click to enlarge):

My poor, poor van.   :(

Big Brother’s New Toy: An EMP Cruise Missile

Big Brother’s New Toy: An EMP Cruise Missile | Shenandoah: Just when you thought it was safe to leave your electronics out of the Faraday cage for a day or two, along comes Boeing with a new toy for Big Brother; a cruise missile which emits a microwave burst of energy which creates an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) as it flies by disabling all electronic devices. In a story from Gizmodo, a test was conducted last week and per the article by Jamie Condlieffe:

The CHAMP tests took place in the Western Utah Desert on October 16th. As it flew by a two-story building, its on-board microwave system shut down every piece of electronic equipment running inside the place. In fact, the test went so well that it disabled all the cameras recording the event, too.

Great. So now do not only have to worry about VIPR trucks driving by our homes and snooping to see what we own, now they have a missile which can take down the internet in an area or destroy your electronic devices whenever they feel the individual in question is a threat to the government...

Further Homestead Defense Considerations

Below you will find a snippet of and a link to the 2nd in a 3-part series of articles by Max Velocity, whose book I recently reviewed and who was recently featured as a guest author here on Backwoods Survival Blog.
Further Homestead Defense Considerations - Survival Blog With A Family Focus: From the principles of defense it is clear that we need to establish a plan which provides early warning, all round defense and mutually supporting sectors of fire.

We also need to create depth, which is best utilized outside the building rather than with fall back positions inside the house.

We can create depth using external fighting positions to keep attackers away from the house, which will also aid mutual support. A key thing that will really help defense of a house is to have a second or more positions outside of the main building that can provide fire support, thus these positions support each other by keeping enemy away from the house and each other...

[Read More At Link Above]

Homesteading Wherever You Are

New Life On A Homestead - Blog Archive Homesteading Wherever You Are - New Life On A Homestead: I think a lot of people have common misconceptions about what the term ‘homesteading’ means. Many assume that you have to live on a chunk of country land with several farm animals and a large garden to be considered a homesteader. But the Urban Homesteading movement is on the rise, giving a new meaning to the term ‘homesteading’ and new freedoms to city dwellers who thought they’d never have a chance to live more self-sufficiently where they are.

There are common characteristics between all homesteaders, no matter where they live. We all have a strong desire to eat home-grown, nutritious food; REAL food, enjoyed the way God intended. We enjoy gardening, whether it’s on a large plot of land or in containers on our back patio...

Prepper Put on No-Fly List, Stranded in Hawaii

Prepper Put on No-Fly List, Stranded in Hawaii Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!: What does it take to get your name on the no-fly list in America? Apparently you only need to be classified as a “prepper.”

When 34-year-old U.S. citizen and Mississippi resident Wade Hicks boarded a military flight to visit his wife, a Navy lieutenant stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he did not think it would be a one-way trip. Stopping off in Hawaii to refuel, upon reboarding the plane, Hicks was quickly escorted back off again by armed guards. He was then taken to a secure interrogation room where Hicks was informed he would not be flying anywhere because he turned up on the no-fly list.

Hicks has since been stranded on the island state without a way home...

Obama Goes Off-Teleprompter on Gun Control

Obama Goes Off-Teleprompter on Gun Control – Patriot Update: The president has kept his gun control agenda under wraps during his first term, although in another off-teleprompter moment last year, Obama told the head of the Brady gun-ban group “we are working on it … we just have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

But with his debate remarks the president has handed the NRA the opening to say “we told you so” — not only on so-called assault weapons, but also on handguns...

Report: Unsafe Food Putting Lives At Risk

Report: Unsafe food putting lives at risk - CNN.com: Despite sweeping reform of food safety laws intended to make what we eat less dangerous, the number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% since last year, according to a report released Wednesday.

Tainted cantaloupe, unsafe mangoes, meat and the recent peanut butter recall -- which so far has infected 25 people, mostly children, in 19 states -- has left consumers struggling to keep up with the dizzying list of ever-changing toxic edibles.

Approximately 48 million people get sick from eating tainted food each year...

29 October, 2012

Thinking Ahead


I'm writing this at just past Midnight on 29 October.  My purpose is to let you know that I've scheduled the blog to automatically post articles (including this) later today (29 October), Tuesday (30 October), as well as Wednesday (31 October).  I'm doing this because of the storm that is currently headed my way.

Forecasts are changing with every report, but it looks like we're almost assured to see some significant accumulation.  The reason I'm thinking ahead and scheduling the blog to do its thing with or without me, however, is because the snow is expected to be "heavy and wet," which means there's a good chance we may lose power.  If none of that occurs, I'll pop in from time-to-time and update everybody.  Maybe I'll post some pictures.  If we do get put in the dark, however, just know that we'll be roughing it, secure in the knowledge that you fine folks will still be receiving some content from us; and, if you haven't heard from me by the evening of 1 November, then that means we're still in the dark.

If you too are in the path of Hurricane Sandy and the Frankenstorm blizzard she's due to meld into, be safe and be prepared.


Simple Man

The $100 Billion Storm: 17 Things You Should Know About Hurricane Sandy

The $100 Billion Storm: 17 Things You Should Know About Hurricane Sandy: Meteorologists are warning that Hurricane Sandy could potentially be the worst storm to hit the east coast of the United States in 100 years. Do you remember "the perfect storm" back in 1991? That storm was so bad that Hollywood made a blockbuster movie starring George Clooney about it. Well, this storm is going to be much worse. When I first heard about Hurricane Sandy, I didn't make that much of it. I figured that the east coast would get some wind and some rain and that they would whine about it a bit but that everything would be just fine. But then I started looking into this storm a bit more. It turns out that this storm is even larger than Hurricane Katrina was...

Considerations For Long Term Retreat or Homestead Security

Below you will find a snippet of and a link to the first in a 3-part series of articles by Max Velocity, whose book I recently reviewed and who was recently featured as a guest author here on Backwoods Survival Blog.
Considerations For Long Term Retreat or Homestead Security - Survival Blog With A Family Focus: We cannot predict now exactly what conditions will look like after a collapse and as such I urge you not to make too many assumptions based on your particular idea of what such a post-SHTF situation will look like.

The purpose of this article is to give you the general principles and techniques of defending a location, which you can tailor and apply as necessary and appropriate.

It is best to adopt a mindset of flexibility and gather mental and physical knowledge and ‘tools’ in order to be able to develop your response and put some of these measures in place as you find them necessary and appropriate...

[Read More At Link Above]

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing

Will The Bottom Fall Out? 15 Signs That Layoffs And Job Losses Are Skyrocketing: If you still have a good job, you might want to hold on to it very tightly because there are a whole bunch of signs that unemployment in the United States is about to start getting worse again. Over the past several weeks, a substantial number of large corporations have announced disappointing earnings for the third quarter. Many of those large corporations are also loaded up with huge amounts of debt. So what is the solution? Well, the favorite solution on Wall Street these days seems to be to lay off workers. In fact, it is almost turning into a feeding frenzy. Since September 1st, we have seen more job cuts announced than during any other two month period since the start of 2010. These announcements represent future layoffs and job losses which are not even showing up in the unemployment numbers yet. So needless to say, things don't look very promising for the end of 2012 or for the beginning of 2013. If this race to eliminate jobs becomes a stampede, will we see the bottom fall out of the employment market?...

Armed Posse Patrols Timber Land in Sheriff's Place

Them sound like my kind of folks...
Associated Press: There's no room in the county jail for burglars and thieves. And the sheriff's department in a vast, rural corner of southwest Oregon has been reduced by budget cuts to three deputies on patrol eight hours a day, five days a week.

But people in this traditionally self-reliant section of timber country aren't about to raise taxes to put more officers on the road. Instead, some folks in Josephine County, larger than the state of Rhode Island, are taking matters into their own hands — mounting flashing lights on their trucks and strapping pistols to their hips to guard communities themselves. Others have put together a virtual neighborhood watch, using Facebook to share tips and information...

Drug Pushers

Big Pharma kills thousands every year and fosters debilitating dependency in millions (billions?) more.

The Chinese Professor

28 October, 2012

Ideas Needed, Please!

It may sound crazy to be thinking of such things with a blizzard breathing down our collective necks in my parts, but I always try to think ahead. 

Some background: We currently garden in containers.  Eventually, I plan to build a small greenhouse with raised beds, but I have no idea when that will happen.  Also, while I don't necessarily mind planting store-bought plants, I also want to cultivate the skill of planting from seeds.  As anyone who has ever gardened in West Virginia knows, our productive growing season is comparatively short in these parts, so I need to be able to start seeds indoors, then transfer outside to the larger containers after the last frost.  Here's my dilemma: I have a plethora of pets, who enjoy eating indoor plants, especially the cats (they try to eat fake plants even).

So, what I need is some sort of enclosure that can sit on my window seat in the sun that will protect my fledglings from hungry feline maws, yet still let the sunlight in.  Preferably, I'm looking for something I can just buy or jerry-rig easily from purchased items.  In other words, I've already considered building an ugly rig from wood or PVC and covering it with chicken wire, but I'm trying to avoid that.  Any ideas?

P.S.-- I'm cross-posting this in several places, including Facebook, in an effort to get a nice cross-section of ideas.  Feel free to utilize the comments section below.

UPDATE: Upon posting this question, I was pointed toward these by a one of my Fraternity brothers on Facebook. I may be going this route, unless one of you fine folks can come up with something better.

BOOK REVIEW: "Flood" by Stephen K. Baxter

I have a confession to make: I dig what I call Doomer Fiction.  That probably shouldn't be a big surprise, considering that I run a websites about survivalism / emergency preparedness / homesteading, etc cetera; I point it out, however, because I know many, even in our eclectic community, prefer to decompress with lighter fair.  Not I.  The only thing I probably enjoy more than Doomer Fiction is Sci-Fi/Fantasy, but, even then, it has to be really good Sci-Fi/Fantasy.

Anyway, my most recent Doomer Fiction read was "Flood" by Stephen K. Baxter (Kindle edition ), which I finished just a few days ago.

Basically, the book presents a fictional portrayal of a hypothetical scenario based on real scientific theories (always my favorite!); these being that there are vast amounts of water trapped deep within the Earth's crust, left over from the tumult that occurred as the planet formed -- enough, in fact, to dwarf the above-the-crust oceans of which we humans are aware.  You can guess the rest easily enough, I'm betting: geological shifts open fissures in the ocean floor, resulting in these previously trapped waters fountain-ing (I'm fairly certain that's not really a word) up into our world.  As expected, the oceans rise exponentially all over the globe over the proceeding decades.

All in all, it was a good book, but the final product seems to fail to capitalize on such an awesome premise.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't make myself care about the characters.  I basically spent the novel paying more attention to the news that trickled between the characters about how the flood was impacting different areas of the world and the interactions between governments, corporations, et cetera, than in being engrossed in the plight of the people supposedly experiencing it.  It was also unique in that the disaster plays-out over a period of 36 years from 2016-2052, rather than the typical fast-crash post-apocalyptic aftermath we often see in Doomer Fiction.  Also, you can tell it was written by a British author: more than once I found myself having to Google an atlas of England to pinpoint where the story was taking place when reading parts of the book where England was the setting, such is the detail regarding the towns/cities/regions described.  Not that I consider that a bad thing; I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Would I buy it again or recommend it to others?  Yes, but with the caveat that it probably won't be the book you drive all your friends crazy about until they've read it too and can discuss it with you.

Guest Post: The Top Five Bushcraft Knives and Multitools

For a survivalist the right tools are absolutely essential and this includes bushcraft knives and multitools. There are lots of knives and tools available on the market at various prices and offering different features and advantages. Here we are going to take a look at what may well be the top five bushcraft knives and multitools currently on the market:

1) Morakniv Clipper Companion Knife

The Morakniv Clipper Companion Knife is a simple but effective survival knife, made with Swedish company Mora. It has a four inch stainless steel blade, which is fitted into a black and military green handle. It comes with a military green plastic sheath which has a handy belt clip so you can carry it with you when you’re out in the woods or on the old homestead. It’s an economical knife and often comes in very handy.

2) Victorinox Soldiers Knife

The Victorinox brand is well known among survivalists, campers and, indeed, soldiers. This company has produced the famous Swiss Army Knife for over a century and its development has continued during this time, culminating in the excellent knife that is still used by soldiers all over the world. 

3) Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife

Bear Grylls is a British explorer who now has his own line of bushcraft tools, including some high quality knives. The Folding Sheath Knife is handy and compact, with a half-serrated carbon stainless steel drop point blade that folds away into a rubber covered plastic handle.

4) Leatherman MUT

This multitool is ideal for military personnel as it features cleaning rod and screwdriver attachments are sized to work with military sighting adjustment. This is not the cheapest multitool on the market, but when it comes to vital tools you want to be sure that yours will do the job you want it to do. This stainless steel survival device is suitable for soldiers and civilians who use weapons or simply spend a lot of time in the great outdoors.

5) Gerber Radius Multiplier Multitool

For economy and a variety of useful implements the Gerber Radius Multiplier Multitool is well worth considering. With an ergonomic soft grip and range of key features it will suit most survivalists very well. It features easy-access blades, spring-action pliers, scissors, screwdriver attachments and more.

Follow the link to RV Ops bushcraft supplies to find out more about the best bushcraft knives and multitools about and how they could benefit you.

Marines, Police Prep for Mock Zombie Invasion

Marines, police prep for mock zombie invasion - Yahoo! News: ... Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.

In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment...

Uplifting Walmart Story

I saw the following story shared on Facebook recently, and thought it worth passing on.  We live in a world that is often jaded, heartless, and soul-crushing... but not always.  :)

"I'm a cashier at store 1883 and feel like I need to share this story. Tonight at the end of my shift I shut my light off and started ringing out my last customers of the day. They where a young married couple in their early 20's with an infant girl. As I was scanning their items a man starts to come in my line asking if I was closed. As much as I just wanted to go home I said yes but ill take you. He thanked me and waited patiently while the husband and wife tried different cards to pay for their groceries, diapers, and other baby items. Decline after decline the women was visibly shaken. As they started to go through their bags to put stuff back the man stepped up to the debit reader and swiped his card. They didn't even realize until I handed them the receipt and said he just paid for it for you. They where in complete shock, the wife teared up while thanking him as the husband shook his hand and thanked him. I also teared up and told him what a wonderful man he was and that was the nicest thing I have ever seen. Instead of taking credit His response was that I had made it happen for letting him check out at my register after I was closed. What an awesome selfless person, an angel on earth!!"

27 October, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 3 - Episode 2 "Sick”

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

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.

The third episode of the new season premieres tomorrow night, Sunday, 28 October.  Expect me to review it by, say, Tuesday the 30th or thereabouts.  You might have noticed that I've skipped a day or two in posting these past few reviews versus the bang-bang-bang, day-after-day approach I was following before.  This is because I'm finally caught-up, and so I purposely spread-out the last few.  Starting with episode 3 in a few days, these reviews will come only once per week after each episode, probably either on Tuesday or Wednesday (Thursday at the latest); in the end, it all depends on my Grad school schedule and which days are my "days of rest," so to speak.  My classes are in accelerated 8 week intervals, and I'm finishing one up right now.  After that, I get a week off before beginning the next 8 week course on 5 November.  Most of that isn't really important to you except that I'm saying I won't know which days of the week will be due dates for work and which days will be my "free" days just yet.

Anyway, to this week's installment...

Episode 2, aptly entitled "Sick," picks-up exactly where the previous episode left-off.  Rick has just amputated Hershel's leg with a hatchet on a dirty prison cafeteria floor in and effort to save his life after the older man was bitten by a Walker, which is usually followed by the onset of a terrible fever and, subsequently, death followed by zombification.  Only time will tell if the very decisive field-amputation will save Hershel or if he will die anyway from extreme blood loss and the infection I imagine is forthcoming.  I gotta say that his future looks a bit bleak to me.  They were decidedly *NOT* in a spot that appeared to be conducive to surgery.  The characters are faced with trying to keep his bleeding under control, even as they have also come face-to-face with yet another issue: there are a handful of surviving prisoners who have been hunkered-down inside the cafeteria/kitchen/pantry area for months, and they represent an unknown (and perhaps dangerous?) element with which Rick's group will now be forced to deal.

The first goal, however, is getting Hershel back to safety and so they use a table as a gurney upon which to get him back to the cell-block they currently call home.  Unfortunately, they are followed back by the convicts.  This creates an interesting parallel for those of us in the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community to consider.

Obviously, everything about these discussions refers to a long-term societal collapse TEOTWAWKI scenario; that's the nature of the world in which the show's fiction exists, and so it, therefore, colors our examination of the topic.  In that, one universal truth will always remain: even the most self-sufficient retreat homestead is not *COMPLETELY* self-sufficient.  There will always be a need to dispatch foraging parties to obtain those items we ourselves cannot grow or create ourselves.  For most of us, these are things like fuel, salt, etc.  The thing I'm getting at here is that, during such excursions, we need to be cognizant of the threat that we might inadvertently lead some dangerous element back to our retreat/hidey-hole.  I've said it before and I'll continue to say it; this show's premise of zombies rising from the dead to feed on people might be ludicrous, but we need to be looking at it as being allegorical of real-world dangers.

You and I will never encounter a real zombie, but we might be faced with worse.  At least zombies are stupid and can't shoot back at you.  I'd much rather face idiot zombies pouring out of Atlanta, for instance, than members of gangs like the Crips, Bloods, or 30 Deep that operate in that same city, or the Hell's Angels or Mongols Motorcycle Clubs out of California.  Those represent real threats that are barely held in check now.  If law and order went by the wayside, such organizations would quite simply represent something akin to what the armies of Genghis Khan represented in the ancient world: an overwhelming force that would move into whatever area it pleases, rape, murder, and pillage until they get bored, and then move on to their next victims.  The only way for folks like you and I to survive unscathed in such a world would be either by keeping a very low profile or situating ourselves in such a stronghold as to present them with a hardened target they'd rather not waste their time on when they could be fifty miles away raping and pillaging easier marks.  That may sound heartless, but, in such a situation, your responsibility will be to protect your family and those you have accepted under your care.  If you have the means to help others, you should always do so, but I doubt many of us have private armies at our disposal, and, make no mistake, 30 bikers carrying shotguns is an invading army, or at least what will pass for one WTSHTF.  Being that few of us possess the wealth necessary to build ourselves a castle (if I ever hit the lottery, I shall), we will have to settle for lying-low and remaining unnoticed by the ravaging hordes.

Back to the story.

As Hershel is looked-after by the others (especially Carol, whom he has been training as a sort of field-nurse so that she could assist him when Lori's baby comes), Rick goes to deal with the convicts who are by now being held outside the cell-block entrance by Daryl and T-Dog.  Before he goes, however, he orders Glenn to stay close to Hershel in case he dies, the implication being, of course, that it will be up to Glenn to put a deceased Hershel down if he reanimates as a Walker.  Rick asks if he will be able to do it with Maggie (Hershel's oldest daughter and Glenn's own love interest) there and offers to have him trade places with T-Dog; to his credit, though, Glenn accepts the potentially unhappy responsibility.

One thing that stuck in my craw regarding the scene where they are trying to figure-out how to get Hershel's bleeding stopped was something that was said about cauterizing the wound.  Glenn suggests building a fire, so that they can burn the wound closed, and Carol says no for two reasons:

1.) The shock could kill him, which is possible, I suppose, but he's already in shock and on the verge of bleeding to death anyway from having a chunk of his leg bitten out by a Walker and then having Rick hack said leg off with a hatchet, all within the past 5 minutes.  Also, he's unconscious, so I'm not sure it would even cause any further shock; and,

2.) Burning it closed wouldn't stop the arteries from bleeding internally anyway, which I think would only be true if you, very stupidly, only burned the frayed flesh from the cutting zone (which really ought to be debrided with a sharper, more precise instrument like a hunter's filleting knife while the old codger is still unconscious and won't feel it), and you somehow completely missed burning the exposed arteries themselves. It is my (perhaps misguided?) understanding that surgeons routinely clamp closed and burn the ends of veins and arteries to stop them from bleeding during real-life operations.

Someone with actual medical knowledge needs to comment on this and set me straight if I'm wrong, but I think Carol is mostly incorrect on both counts.  Further, I believe her assertions that they need to just "keep it dressed and let it heal on its own" would have killed Hershel if this had been an injury sustained in real-life.  Since when and on what planet does a simple wound dressing have the magic capability of stopping an arterial bleed?

Outside the cell-block, the five convicts (Axel, Big Tiny, Andrew, Oscar, and Tomas) are, to put it succinctly, a problem.  None of them have any clue as to the extent of the zombie apocalypse and ensuing societal collapse.  We learn that, when things started to beak down in what was believed to be a prison riot (more likely it was actually the zombie plague itself hitting the prison), one of the guards did right by them, locking them in the cafeteria area with an extra set of keys an a pistol.  And that is where they have been, locked-away for either 292 or 294 days (depending on which convict's tally you believe is accurate).  This little tidbit, by the way, is one of the few mentions we've had in the series that allow us to extrapolate approximately where we are in the overall apocalyptic timeline.  To put those numbers into perspective, that would mean if the zombie apocalypse portrayed on this show were to begin on 15 May, 2013 then this scene in the prison would be taking place on either 3 March or 5 March, 2014.

The convicts are hesitant to believe that there is no rescue coming, that the government has fallen, or that there is no way for them to call and check on their families.  Worse than that, though, is the fact that Tomas attempts to assert authority over the prison, calling it "his house" because they were there first and because the cell-block where our guys have settled was actually the same cell-block where he was housed as an inmate.  Rick shows a deference, once again, to proper OPSEC procedures; when Tomas asks how many people are in their group Rick refuses to be specific, saying only that they are "too many for [Tomas] to handle."  Our boy Rick seems to be getting this whole survivalist thing pretty down pat these days!

Tomas persists in trying to push Rick's group out of the prison, at one point offering to allow them to camp in the yard down by the water, to which Rick replies that they intend to use that field to plant crops (planning ahead!) and asserts that he and his group have rights to the cell-block they cleared by virtue of having been the one's to clear it and the entire yard of Walkers in the first place.  Things get pretty tense with threats of violence from both sides, before a compromise is reached: in return for half of the food that remains in the pantry (which is initially claimed to only be a little left, though that proves untrue), Rick, Daryl, and T-Dog agree to assist the convicts in clearing-out a cell-block of their own to settle into.  In the end, Rick adds that they have a deal, but if he sees them anywhere near any of his people, then there will be blood between them.  Even this early on, it's obvious that -- of the five convicts -- Tomas is going to be the real problem.

Back at Hershel's sickbed, Lori is a big help in taking care of him.  At one point she mentions the need for them to locate the prison infirmary to acquire antibiotics, painkillers, sterile gauze, and other supplies within earshot of Carl.  The boy will later go off and locate the infirmary alone, killing two Walkers in the process, and returning with a duffel bag full of the things they need.  Lori (being his mother) is grateful, but understandably aghast that he would go alone after seeing what happened to Hershel, who was with a whole group when he was injured.  In response, Carl reminds me why I had trouble with him last season as he mouths off to her, and is told that he shouldn't talk to her like that by Beth (upon whom he seems to have a crush).  Angry, he runs out of the room.  Lori has been a complete train-wreck as both a wife and a mother for 2 seasons already, but it's obvious now that the divisions in her marriage also extend to her relationship with her first-born as well.  The Grimes's are not a happy family.

As for Hershel's daughters, the youngest Beth seems almost foolishly optimistic that he will recover, even going so far as to preemptively cut-off the right pants leg from his clothes in anticipation of him being up-and-about; whereas, the oldest Maggie is more realistic about his chances.  She worries what will happen to him even if he does awake, being unable to even walk "when all [they] do is run."  She tries to prepare her little sister for the worst and even has a touching private conversation with her unconscious father, telling him that he doesn't have to keep fighting if he'd rather let go; that if he is worried about her and Beth, they and Glenn will look after each other, and she thanks him for all he has done for her.

In addition, there is a gnarly subplot where Carol, in anticipation of having to do the proverbial heavy-lifting when the baby comes now that Hershel in not at 100% capacity, enlists Glenn to help her kill a female Walker and drag it through the fence.  She mentions that Lori had a C-section when she gave birth to Carl and the odds are good that the same would be required with the new baby.  Hershel had experience in such things (I assume, when delivering foals, since he was actually a Vet before the zombie apocalypse), but she herself has none; therefore, she experiments on a Walker, practicing cutting into the abdomen and uterus so that she doesn't cut the baby when/if she has to perform a C-section on Lori.  To be quite honest, it's one of those little things that this show tosses in you face from time to time that sounds crazy... until you really think about it.  Then, suddenly, it makes perfect sense.  While she's practicing on her not-so-fresh cadaver in the yard, two things occur: first, we see that she is being watched by some unknown human entity outside the prison; and, secondly, Hershel stops breathing briefly, but is resuscitated by Lori, despite the dangers inherent in giving mouth-to-mouth to someone who could become a Walker at any moment.

Upon hearing the deal Rick has struck with the convicts, Lori worries about the dangers of living in such close proximity with them.  Rick asserts, unequivocally, that he is not giving up their new safe-haven, regardless.  Lori pushes Rick as to what their options are and he tells her, flat out, that it's either the deal he has worked-out or the convicts have to die.  To his surprise, she says that she supports whichever option he thinks is best; that, despite all the bad things between them, she wants him to know that she does not believe he has even done anything out of sheer malice, and that he should do whatever he must to protect their group with a clear conscience. 

Rick and Daryl then spend some time trying to give the convicts a crash course in Walker killing.  They explain that the revolver the convicts have in their possession must only be used if they find themselves with no other choice, due to the fact that noise attracts them and riles them up; and they have a particularly difficult time making them understand that the only way to take a Walker down is by going for the head/brain.  The convicts initially insists on using methods that more closely resemble prison riot tactics and shankings, even after being clearly instructed otherwise.  Eventually, they get the hang of it, but there are other more disturbing complications.  Despite his size, Big Tiny (the largest of the convicts) gets spooked by the Walkers and breaks formation, resulting in him getting scratched.  As they are, basically, telling him that he's probably screwed and are talking about isolating him, he is brutally beaten to death by Tomas right in front of everyone.

Here is another bit of a gripe I have with the practices of the folks on this show.  Okay, everybody is infected; we get it.  But, that doesn't change the fact that a bite or a scratch is known to cause fever and death.  To me, that knowledge ought to, at least, translate to some basic precautions being taken when it comes to bodily fluids.  Yet, in this episode alone, we see Tomas getting himself drenched in blood as he hammers away at Big Tiny; Lori and Carol sitting around with Hershel's blood drying all over their hands, even as they wait to see if he is going to develop a fever or if Rick's quick amputation saved him; and, Daryl is constantly holding crossbow bolts in his teeth (the same ones he regularly retrieves from the gooey skulls of dead Walkers).  I mean, c'mon folks.  Really?

Rick and company are, needless to say, troubled both by the ease and brutality with which Tomas just murdered a man he'd spent the past 10 months or so calling a comrade and with the wild look in his eyes when he did it.  This dude is obviously dangerous.  Rick makes it clear that if "he makes one move," he'll have to deal with him to which Daryl responds "just give me a signal."  Not surprisingly, Tomas does soon make a move.

In the prison laundry, they come across a locked room full of Walkers and Rick instructs Tomas to unlock only one of the double-doors, so that they can control how quickly the Walkers come through.  Instead, Tomas opens them both, causing a far more chaotic fight.  During the melee that ensues, he narrowly misses Rick with a swing that may or may not have been an accident (though it's clear that Rick doesn't buy that it is) and then shoves a Walker into Rick, who falls and lands with the Walker on top of him.  He is rescued and helped to his feet by Daryl and a look passes between the two men that is clearly the signal they discussed previously.  After the fight, there is a brief but tense standoff that culminates in Rick burying his machete in Tomas's skull.  Andrew, the smallest of the convicts and Tomas's closest supporter (and possibly his lover?) then attacks Rick in retaliation, but causes no damage and runs off with Rick in pursuit, as Daryl and T-Dog hold the last two in place with their weapons trained on them. 

Rick chases Andrew into a courtyard full of Walkers, then locks the door behind him, leaving him to a grisly fate.  This is definitely not the ineffectual Rick Grimes of days past, but that may prove to be both a boon as well as a problem in the months and years to come.  The Rick of days gone by was a good man, and I believe he still is a good man even now, but he has definitely been forged in the flame of the world in which they're all now stuck trying to survive and has come out the other side hardened.

In all truth, he needed hardening; in fact, I've said before that he needed to become a little more like Shane, and I still stand behind that claim.  His whiny, directionless, bickering crowd of hangers on were, not only annoying but also, destined for certain death until he put his foot down and said it was either his way or the highway.  Kudos to him for that.  There's a reason why, for instance, military units are not governed by consensus, and a big part of that is because, in situations where one wrong move can mean multiple deaths, there's rarely time to sit and debate issues or wonder if people are going to do as they're told.  Someone, quite simply, has to take command.  Add to that the fact that a vast majority of people are psychologically predisposed to be followers (even if they aren't conscious of it or if they don't like to admit it), who are far more productive when taking instructions from a higher authority, and you get a more successful situation with a single individual (or, at least, a small committee) in charge of things.  The danger, of course -- both to Rick and his people and to any of us who find ourselves in similarly harsh survival situations -- is that the appropriate toughening-up goes too far, making him (and us) brittle, cold, and unfeeling.  In such situations, keeping those for whom you're responsible safe is the paramount concern.  No other aspects of living are possible until survival is ensured, but why live if there is nothing to live for or if you're being forced to subsist beneath the boot heel of an authoritarian monster?  The trick, as with all things, is to find the middle-ground.  I don't think Rick is there yet, and I would wager that a major theme of this season will be his development as a character, struggling to find a way to be the tough leader everyone needs him to be without going too far.  Needless to say, I think that Rick is now far less interested in doing what's necessarily right, concentrating instead on keeping his core group safe, regardless of the cost to fellow survivors.

Returning to where Oscar and Axel (the last two living convicts) are being held on their knees, he must then decide their fates.  Both men claim they had no knowledge of the plot against Rick.  Axel blubbers a bit, saying that he was in for "liking [his] pharmaceuticals" and Oscar was a B&E, neither of them violent.  Oscar is tougher, on the other hand, refusing to beg for his life, and I believe earns some modicum of respect from Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl.  In the end, Rick spares them and honors the original deal for them to have their own cell-block, separate from his people, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see both of them eventually earn enough trust to become part of Rick's group.  Also, I see Rick's deciding ti spare them as a sign that he's still a good man.  If he believed for an instant that they posed a threat to his people, he'd have killed them both and been done with it, just to keep the threat out of his rear-view; instead, he recognized them for what they were and let them live.

When all is said and done, the guys return to the others in time for Hershel, having shown no signs of fever, to regain consciousness and take Rick's hand in a silent thank you for his quick decisive action to save the older man's life.  The jury is still out for me as to whether he'll fully recover.  That cafeteria floor was an awfully dirty place to perform an amputation, much less using an unsterilized hatchet meant for cutting wood.  I mean, infections are often still an issue even in First World hospital settings.  We shall see, though.  If nothing else, Rick saved him from the fever and certain death that accompanies the Walker plague, and they learned a valuable lesson regarding amputations being able to possibly save some others in the future.

Later, Lori tries to have a heart-to-heart with Rick about their marriage, but he doesn't have the words, except to tell her that he doesn't believe she is a bad mother and that everyone appreciates what she did, reviving Hershel.  He cannot look at her as he says these things, but does manage to place a hand on her shoulder, and, judging by her reaction, this is the first time he has touched her with anything resembling tenderness in a long time.

In the previews for the next episode (airing tomorrow night), we learn that we are going to be seeing Andrea and Michonne again (they were absent from this episode).  They look to be coming into contact with a community of survivors called Woodbury (a sign is briefly visible) who refer to them as "guests," yet disarm and question them.  Could someone from Woodbury be the person who was spying on Carol?  Perhaps most intriguing, we catch a brief glimpse of Merle Dixon (older brother of Daryl and absent since the rooftop in Atlanta in season 1), who has also apparently found his way to Woodbury.

Guest Post: Organizing Ideas for Small Households

Editor's Note: The following article is being presented here because of the numbers of our readers who live in travel trailers, RVs, and small cabins/houses/apartments and for whom space is always at a premium.  Enjoy!

In case you live in a small, one-story house or a tiny duplex apartment with just one closet, a pantry and a couple of cabinets, you need to be really smart in terms of finding storage solutions for your personal possessions. Especially if you are a bit of a hoarder. Be sure that piling stuff behind doors, in bins, etc., will not solve the problem. You might think you are doing your best in order to hide them, but they eventually reappear over and over again. Also, you need to do some serious thinking if you don’t own the place and don't wish to buy plenty of high-prized organizational tools you would not be able to take with you once you move. Fortunately, there are some smart and easy tips that can be used in order to make your dwelling feel more spacious and comfortable.

Closet Spaces

1. DIY Shelves

If your closet only has one or two shelves (or even worse – none at all), try installing some yourself. Not only will this provide you with way more space, but it also makes things easier to put in order. After all, four or five shelves can store plenty more clothes than just one hanger.

2. Over-the-Door Shoe Racks 

Shoes are really difficult to keep in order. They tend to get scattered so easily. A shoe rack is a smart way of keeping everything neat and using the full capacity of your closet space. Also, these kinds of racks allow to be used for the purpose of storing many more things than just shoes. For example, you can use the first row for scarves, the second one for hats, third for flip flops, fourth for shoes and so on.

3. Store Under the Bed

In case you cannot fit everything in the closet, look for even more alternatives. A good solution is to use the closet for seasonal items and to keep the ones you are not currently using under the bed. Of course, you can't simply throw them there. Rather store them in the suitcases you already have and tuck them under the bed.

Kitchen Storage

4. Wall Storage

Most smaller kitchens don't have more than one or two drawers which definitely doesn’t provide sufficient space for all your pans, pots, graters and so on. A way out of this is to install hooks (even plastic ones will do the job) on the walls and hang your kitchen appliances on them.

5. Shelves

Again, the shelves can come in handy. Try putting them above eye level in order to save even more space.

Bathroom Storage

6. Racks

Bathrooms are known to store plenty of objects – from hairdryers and hairbrushes to sponges and various other toiletries. And since not all bathrooms possess the required amount of space to store them all, you can simply put a rack in one of the bathroom's corners. Or, rather, try fitting it within a hand's reach from both the sink and the shower. Except for the electrical appliances, of course, keep them away from water!

Putting a small space in order is neither impossible nor expensive. As long as you are well prepared and know how to do it all. Yes, you can buy professional-looking organizational tools, or even hire an expert to install them for you, but you can save a lot of money by doing it all yourself and by using stuff you already have. Plus, it will not cost you too much and is bound to make your living space more comfortable.

Grace Bailey is a desperate housewife and a passionate writer. She enjoys writing about Home Organizing and Cleaning. Learn more house organizing and storage tips.

Another Firearm Suppressor

As a bonus after yesterday's article, here's a video of a suppressor that utilizes an oil filter:

26 October, 2012

'Frankenstorm' Could Bring a Lot of Snow to West Virginia

'Frankenstorm' could bring a lot of snow to West Virginia - Latest Updates - Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV: Federal forecasters say when Hurricane Sandy turns in to what some call “Frankenstorm,” it will smack the East Coast harder and wider than last year’s damaging Irene.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday that wherever the storm comes ashore, there will be 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges. Up to 2 feet of snow should fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Forecasters expect wind damage, power outages and flooding...

BOOK REVIEW: "Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival" by Max Velocity

Recently, I got the chance to read the book "Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival" by Max Velocity (Kindle version) and I thought it would be prudent to post a review here on the blog.  By way of background, the author claims to have spent time in both the U.S. and British military, including work in the Special Forces arena.  While I cannot speak to the veracity of such claims, I can say that they are bolstered by the simple fact that he surely seems to know his stuff.  He also expresses the fact that he is a Prepper in his now-civilian life, so he fits right in with us around these parts.  Needless to say, he brings a certain skill-set to the table that a lot of us lack, and, for that reason alone, giving his book a read and being sure to add it to your permanent post-collapse survival library is a must.

Very simply put, this book represents an absolute wealth of tactical information for protecting one's self, family, and retreat during an all-out societal collapse scenario, in which law and order are the responsibility of individuals within their particular spheres of influence, rather than of a large over-arching governmental bureaucracy.  The author has taken military tactics and adapted them to procedures that can be followed by normal, everyday people, and, for that reason alone, it is a must have... especially for those of us lacking in military and/or tactical law enforcement training of our own.  All in all, I would recommend it as an excellent resource, and I am proud to have a copy for my own personal survival library.

How to Make a Maglite Sound Suppressor (As Seen On AMC's "The Walking Dead"

If you've been watching the new season of "The Walking Dead" on AMC or reading my reviews/discussion posts for each episode, you may have noticed that a few of the characters are using sound suppressors for their guns this season, one of which is made from the metal shell of a Maglite flashlight.

As promised yesterday, you'll find a link below for instructions on how to make one.  As always with this sort of thing, research the laws in your area/state before building something like this, even if it's just meant for fun.  Suppressors are illegal to own in some places, and, unlike the folks on the show, you and I still have a functioning government that may not look kindly on such activities.  Consider yourselves warned and this statement as my official disclaimer of legal responsibility.
How to Make a Maglite Sound Suppressor | eHow.com: A sound suppressor used on a handgun muffles the noise it make firing to help preserve the hearing of the owner. You can make a sound suppressor for your handgun, also known as a “silencer,” from the metal shell of a Maglite flashlight. You will need a few supplies from a hardware store or hobby shop and some tools found around the house, including a power drill. You must be aware of all local and state laws governing the use of a silencer to avoid prosecution...

37 Facts That Show How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families

37 Facts That Show How Cruel This Economy Has Been To Millions Of Desperate American Families: Have you ever laid in bed awake at night with a knot in your stomach because you didn't know how your family was possibly going to make it through the next month financially? Have you ever felt the desperation of not being able to provide the basic necessities for your family even though you tried as hard as you could? All over America tonight, there are millions of desperate families that are being ripped apart by this economy. There aren't nearly enough jobs, and millions of Americans that actually do have jobs aren't making enough to even provide the basics for their families. When you have tried everything that you can think of and nothing works, it can be absolutely soul crushing. Today, one of my regular readers explained that he was not going to be online for a while because his power had been turned off. He has been out of work for quite a while, and eventually the money runs out. Have you ever been there? If you have ever experienced that moment, you know that it stays with you for the rest of your life. If you are single that is bad enough, but when you have to look into the eyes of your children and explain to them why there won't be any dinner tonight or why they have to move into a homeless shelter it can feel like someone has driven a stake into your heart. In this article you will find a lot of very shocking economic statistics. But please remember that behind each statistic are the tragic stories of millions of desperately hurting American families.

Over the past decade, things have steadily gotten worse for American families no matter what our politicians have tried. Poverty and government dependence continue to rise. The cost of living continues to go up and incomes continue to go down. It is truly frightening to think about what this country is going to look like if current trends continue...

Mystery in Gulf of Mexico: Why is Oil Leaking from Deepwater Disaster Site?

Mystery in Gulf of Mexico: Why is oil leaking from Deepwater disaster site? - CSMonitor.com: Oil is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at the rate of about 100 gallons per day near the Macondo wellhead, the site of the oil spill over two years ago that became the worst environmental disaster in US history.

The US Coast Guard reports that the oil has been leaking since at least Sept. 16, when satellite images first revealed a sheen of surface oil located about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast and in the vicinity of where the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010, killing 11 people.

Five million barrels of oil, or 205 million gallons, were released into the Gulf in the three months following the explosion...

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife by Survival-Goods.com

25 October, 2012

'Frankenstorm' Threatens Eastern U.S.

'Frankenstorm' threatens eastern U.S.: An unusual nasty mix of a hurricane and a winter storm that forecasters are now calling "Frankenstorm" is likely to blast most of the East Coast next week, focusing the worst of its weather mayhem around New York City and New Jersey.

Government forecasters on Thursday upped the odds of a major weather mess, now saying there's a 90 percent chance that the East will get steady gale-force winds, heavy rain, flooding and maybe snow starting Sunday and stretching past Halloween on Wednesday.

Meteorologists say it is likely to cause $1 billion in damages.

A cold front moving from the Great Lakes will end Pittsburgh's balmy weather abruptly this weekend, with a forecast high Saturday nearly 30 degrees cooler than today. Rain is possible from Saturday through Tuesday, with snow mixing in at times starting Monday night, said meteorologist Lee Hendricks, of the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh...

Letter RE: "REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 3 - Episode 1 "Seed" (Season 3 Premiere)"

With regard to the above mentioned post from earlier today, I received a comment from a reader that I wanted to expound upon in my answer, rather than do it in the comments section of that post.

Reader Harold R. stated:

"How about some insight instead of just recapping the entire show. You aren't reviewing anything fromt the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community you are basically just replaying the episode in your own words. Give me some info I've seen the same show you have..."

My Response: Harold, thank you or writing!  As to the post(s) in question, perhaps recaps/discussion would have been a better category for these posts than reviews, which is why I add the caveat paragraph at the beginning of each.  As for insight from the episode, perhaps you missed:

1.) The lengthy paragraph-long discussion RE: the homemade, jerry-rigged suppressors that Rick and Carl are using (which is being expounded upon in its own post tomorrow);

2.) The stuff about the dog food being a perfectly-edible source of protein that they should have eaten;

3.) My pointing out that the Rick character is improving as a leader and why;

4.) My briefly touching on Carl being an easier kid to handle when he feels as though he's being treated as a grown-up (this possibly being important for those of us with mid-range aged children to remember);

5.) My briefly pointing-out the ingenuity of the characters using the arrows done in spray-paint on the walls, so as to be able to find their way back in the virtual maze of identical corridors;

Granted, the rest of the article is basically just a recap of the story, but here's the issue: If I post only the stuff above with none of the accompanying story, then none of it will make sense to anyone who (unlike you and I) haven't already seen the episode.  Also, there is the fact that some episodes are lighter than others with respect to content that's important for us to discuss here, but recaps are still needed, so that those who aren't watching the episodes won't be completely lost.

If there was any other aspects of this episode that you (or any reader) feels should have been discussed further from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist movement and that I somehow overlooked, please feel free to point it out in the comments section below.  There's no reason why the comments can't act as a forum for group discussion.

Assessing Doomsday: How Cyber War Could Attack U.S. Infrastructure

Assessing Doomsday: How Cyber War Could Attack U.S. Infrastructure: U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did his best to scare the pants off of the American people last week. In a briefing with reporters, he warned of the growing danger of cyberwarfare and its potential to cripple critical infrastructure in the United States. With the rise of so-called state-sponsored cyber attacks in recent months in the form of viruses called Flame, Mahdi, Stuxnet and now Shamoon, how much does the U.S. have to worry about malicious hackers terrorizing American infrastructure?

If you believe Panetta, the answer is a lot.

The Defense Secretary painted a very grim picture of the cyber threats that could do damage in the U.S. - leading to significant damage and loss of life. Panetta noted to reporters that, “cyber-actors are probing America’s critical infrastructure networks,” and are targeting control systems for electricity, water, transportation and chemical facilities...

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 3 - Episode 1 "Seed" (Season 3 Premiere)

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

Season 1:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6

Season 2:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5
Episode 6
Episode 7
Episode 8
Episode 9 
Episode 10
Episode 11 
Episode 12 
Episode 13 

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.

The premiere of season 3 picks up our group of survivors several months after where we last left them.  In fact, the Winter has passed, and we are to understand that they have spent the ensuing months moving from deserted location to deserted location, scavenging for food, fuel, and supplies along the way.  We see a designated fire-team (including young Carl, who has become a good gun-hand) move quietly room-to-room to clear a house of Walkers, while the others wait outside.  Lori, by the way, is very, very pregnant now, apparently near full-term.

At some point, someone has rigged some sort of homemade suppressors for their handguns, which will undoubtedly help with the fact that, up until now, shooting one Walker carried the risk of attracting hundreds more.  Not sure how they managed to make the suppressors, as they appear to be machine-cut metal, or from where in the world they might have found to scavenge such items.  Perhaps that will be addressed in later episodes.  Rick's, in particular, looks to be made from the body of a Maglite flashlight!  Needless to say, I had never heard of such a thing, so I Googled it; apparently, it is possible -- expect a dedicated article about that little tidbit tomorrow!  The other suppressor shown looks like it might have been made by sawing off the handle of a mini-aluminum baseball bat and machining a borehole down the center, which, I'm thinking, is likely more Hollywood prop department fantasy than it is real-life utility, especially in the middle of a zombie apocalypse -- I'm not sure how they could have made it or if it even would work, but it does look pretty cool.  As for the rest of the group's weapons, most seem to have become very proficient with manual weapons, such as sharpened garden implements and fireplace pokers and the like.  Daryl, of course, is still a bad@$$ with his hunting crossbow.

Once the site is cleared, the rest of the group is drawn inside via signal, everyone careful to keep very quiet.  Obviously, they're in a pretty bad way, all in all.  This is evidenced by the fact that Carl is set to open one of two cans of dog food he found (the only food in the house) and eat it, before his father takes it away from him, plainly very frustrated over his inability to provide better for everyone.  Daryl also shoots an owl (not typically a game bird), which is found roosting in an upstairs bedroom -- further evidence that the group is struggling for food sources.  They're also seen eating what look like ketchup packets.  In the end, their rest is a short one.  Walkers soon converge on the house, forcing them to retreat out the backdoor, but not before Maggie scavenges an ax from the house's environs; they've obviously gotten pretty good at recognizing what items could be an asset.

In my opinion, they should have eaten the dog food.  It isn't made from the best quality meats (lower quality than human grade anyway), but it is a source of protein and is edible by people with no ill health effects, other than perhaps being unpalatable.  I would have cooked the owl, cut it up into little pieces, and made a stew out of it, the three cans of dog food, and whatever wild edibles might be about.  Or, rather, I would have stuck them in my backpack to do what I just described at a later time, whenever we could find a secure enough place to build a fire.

Later, they halt their convoy on the road for 15 minutes in order to look at a map of the area and plan their next move.  Rick assigns Carl as the point-man, on guard at the front of the column during their break, and it's obvious that having a job to do and being treated as something more than a little kid agrees with Carl.  In fact, the group's security protocols seem well laid-out in general; even as Carl is on point, Hershel's youngest daughter Beth (who, I swear, they seem now to referring to as Betsy for some reason) watches the rear, armed with an axe.

They've apparently been zig-zagging around the area all Winter in an effort to avoid increasingly large, roving herds of Walkers, who are now boxing them in.  Again, Rick echoes his position from the finale of last season that they cannot keep jumping from house-to-house and need, instead, to find a place to hole-up, though this time he's speaking more in regards to a place where they can spend a few weeks until the baby comes.  Hershel is intent that Lori won't be able to take too much more of their hopping around in her condition.  They plan to double-back, then push West.  First, though, many go to refill their water jugs from a nearby creek (saying that they'll boil it later), as Rick and Daryl look for any wild game that might be around.

It is as they hunt that they discover the prison we saw in the final seconds of the season 2 finale.

It is infested with Walkers that can be seen milling aimlessly in its enclosed yard, but the chain-link fence walls and gates topped with barbed-wire and the observation towers are all intact, and Rick has the forward-thinking vision to see that it just might represent precisely the kind of place he has been looking for and preaching to the others that they needed to find.  They cut through the chain-link to gain entrance to the area between the outer- and inner-walls, resealing the breach behind themselves with wire.  I guess it's a good thing that Walkers are dumb as stumps and not exactly the types to be untying knots.  Running around to the inner-gate, the plan is to close the main-gate of the prison itself, preventing any more of the Walkers from up there from filling the yard; then, they need only pick-off the ones already in the yard and they will have gained for themselves a secure field in which to camp long-term.

Glenn volunteers to me the one to run through the infested yard to close the gate, saying he's the fastest, but Rick has other ideas.  He assigns Glenn, Maggie, T-Dog, and Beth to make a racket and draw as many Walkers as possible over away from the main avenue, and to kill as many as they can through the fence from the safety of the other side (between the inner- and outer-fences).  Daryl, Carol (who Rick says is becoming a petty good shot), Carl, and Hershel are to climb the three accessible towers to cover Rick as he, himself, runs for the gate.  Again, we see Rick being a good leader, both in his decisiveness, planning, and his willingness to accept the most dangerous parts of their activities for himself to complete.  There is a concern that the group is low on ammo, and so Carol, especially, is told to take her time and choose her shots wisely.  In the end, the plan works well and the group gains control of the secure prison yard, the first time they've had so much safe space since leaving the farm.

That night, around the fire, plans are made to gather the bodies (and, presumably, burn them) and possibly dig a canal under the fence to bring fresh water in from a nearby small lake; and Hershel comments that the soil is rich -- if they can get some seeds, he envisions they'll have no trouble growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and soybeans there.  Meanwhile, Rick obsessively walks the perimeter over and over, making sure the barrier isn't compromised in any way.

Those who doubted Rick's leadership before now seem to be bought-in, saying that he has kept them safe longer than Shane likely would have been able.  Tension remains, however, in the marriage of Lori and Rick, who insists his wife should eat part of the ration set aside for him (even though she protests), and, yet, will barely even speak to her (and, when they do talk at all, it is terse).  Rick insists they all turn in early and then lays out for them his plans for one more deep push the next day into the prison itself.  Noticing that most of the Walkers they've seen were dressed as either prisoners or guards, he surmises that the prison might have fallen to the plague early, leaving its supplies intact (including the infirmary, commissary, and at least the location of and means with which to access the facility's off-site armory).  It will have to be hand-to-hand, as they are dangerously low on ammunition.

Next, the story moves away from the main group, and we see an impressive woman clear a small neighborhood store of Walkers using a Japanese katana sword.  This is the previously hooded figure who saved Andrea in the season 2 finale.  She loots the store of a few packets of aspirin, and we soon learn that her name is Michonne and the meds are for a very sick Andrea whom Michonne has left sheltered inside an old (non-working, of course) meat-locker.

Back at the prison, Rick, T-Dog, Daryl, Glenn, and Maggie venture into the prison's main-gate, moving in-unison and back-to-back, as the others repeat the distraction maneuver from the day before and kill Walkers through the fence from the safe side.  Soon, they encounter Walkers who were once guards, dressed in full riot gear, making them considerably more difficult to kill, but they manage to prevail and soon clear-out an empty cell-block with actual beds in which to shelter.  In the meantime, however, Daryl notices that some of these new batch of Walkers they have encountered were dressed as civilians, thus possibly casting doubt on Rick's earlier hopes.

Elsewhere, the fevered Andrea urges Michonne to leave her behind and save herself, but Michonne refuses.  The place where they are holed-up is a little storefront that used to cold-store hunter's deer carcasses for them and butcher the meat, and it is surrounded by Walkers who apparently have not come in because Michonne has her two pet Walkers chained-up inside the entrance.  I recall a scene from season 1 where someone chopped-up a Walker body and covered themselves in gore, so that they could pass among Walkers unnoticed; I think Michonne may have stumbled across this same phenomenon, which would explain why she drags two of them around with her that have been relieved of their arms (no scratching) and lower jaws (no biting), rendering them unable to harm her.  The two women and the pet Walkers eventually leave together, sick or not, because Andrea fears that, if they stay, she'll die there.

Back at the prison, the main group has settle into the cleared cell-block a bit.  Carl has apparently developed something of a crush on the young, yet still far older than him, Beth/Betsy, and Lori is experiencing anxiety over her pregnancy.  She hasn't felt the baby move in awhile and fears she's lost it, her mind going to terrifying scenarios where, if everyone is infected, then the baby might become a Walker and tear her apart from the inside.  Hershel tries to calm her down, but she makes him promise that, if the baby lives and she dies in childbirth or if she and the baby are both Walkers,he won't hesitate or try to save them, thus putting others at risk.  She wants to be put down immediately in such a scenario, and she's also torn-up by the fact that Rick and Carl both hate her for putting Rick and Shane at odds.

Later on, a group comprised of Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Glenn, Maggie, and Hershel go on a scouting mission to other parts of the prison, leaving an initially-disappointed Carl behind as a last defense for the others, in case the worst should happen.  This is a kid who is at his best when trusted with responsibility, even if it is just a means of keeping him away from the more dangerous activities.  The party explores through the darkened interior of the areas beyond their relatively secure cell-block, marking their way back with spray-painted arrows on the walls (ingenious!).  They continue on until any further progress is blocked by them rounding a corner and coming face-to-face with a large cluster of Walkers.

In the ensuing flight back to safety, Glenn and Maggie get separated from the others.  As the group back-tracks to try to locate them, Hershel gets bitten on the leg by a Walker that he believed to already be dead.  Rick, in an effort to save his life (remember, everyone may be infected, but Walker bites and even scratches cause fever and death), chops off the wounded limb with a hatchet, hoping to stave off infection.  Hershel loses consciousness from pain and blood loss as everyone tries to find a way to staunch the bleeding, and, just then, Daryl looks up and sees other survivors, alive within the prison, watching them and, apparently, equally surprised to see them.