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30 November, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 3 - Episode 7 " When the Dead Come Knocking"

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.  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.


We begin this week's episode with Merle interrogating Glenn.  It is obvious that Merle is terribly bitter about the way he was abandoned by the group in Atlanta.  I can understand his anger in a way, but, like pretty much every other troublemaker, he somehow fails to see that it was his own recklessness that got him handcuffed on that rooftop in the first place, which is what precipitated him being accidentally left behind during the rushed escape.  And, like a true $hitbag, he isn't above using torture and threats against Glenn's girl Maggie to extract the information he wants. 

Most of all, he wants to know the location of the group's base of operations, presumably so that the thugs from Woodbury can sack them and steal all of their supplies.  This Woodbury bunch is the kind of survivalists that none of us wants anything to do with, if we're smart.  They are basically a stationary version of the Mongols, taking whatever they want or need to survive, and killing whoever stands in the way.

They are essentially the personification of a scary dude I read a post from on an internet bulletin board once: basically, he said his only preps were a shotgun and a bunch of shells for it and the address of one of his Prepper "buddies."  The implication, of course, being that he would just kill the other dude and take all of his stuff.  Truthfully, it was probably just a bad attempt at a joke, but you never know.  I wouldn't doubt for an instant that there are people who have just those sorts of thoughts, which is another reason that being circumspect is almost always a good idea.  Proper OPSEC is critical.

At the prison, we return to the story at exactly the point where we last left-off: Michonne has arrived, standing outside the gates among a crowd of Walkers, effectively camouflaged by the gore she is covered in after killing one messily last week.  Rick realizes that she isn't a Walker, but they just stare at one another through the fence. 

She grimaces and makes a sound, favoring the gunshot wound in her leg, and the Walkers realize she isn't one of them and turn on her.  She kills two and wounds another, but she isn't doing so well because of her wound.  After a few moments, she blacks-out, sure to die at the hands (and teeth) of the rapidly approaching horde.

It is interesting to note that Rick makes no immediate or decisive moves to help her, despite Carl pressing him as to whether or not they should.  Rather, it is Carl himself who appears to have made the decision to intervene without waiting for an answer from his Dad before diving in.  Rick then gets involved as well, and he and Carl clear-out the immediately dangerous Walkers and grab the supplies she was carrying (the baby formula, etc. dropped by Glenn and Maggie).  Urged by Hershel, Rick checks Michonne for bites, but finds only the gunshot wound, so they bring her into the prison complex.

The deal is that they intend to treat her wound, but she is kept out of the cell-block the group is using as a base-camp.  Basically, she's safe inside the prison walls, but Rick doesn't want her near his people or their supplies; she is, after all, a complete stranger.  I give this notion an enthusiastic thumbs-up.  This way, they can be charitable without allowing an unknown entity, whom they have no reason yet to trust, an opportunity to get too close and pose a threat. 

This is an example of very good OPSEC as well as a refreshing bit of humanitarianism in a world gone totally primal.  Granted, Rick isn't exactly nice, but she's safe for at least as long as it takes to properly treat her wound and they're feeding her, none of which is strictly their obligation to do in a dog-eat-dog world.  They also intend to supply her with some food and water for when she leaves.  The flip-side of this altruism is that Rick doesn't intend to let her go anywhere, until she's told him how she found them.

Just afterwards, Michonne witnesses the tearful reunion of Carol with the rest of the group, so she can see that they seem to be mostly decent folks.  Her expression never betrays her true thoughts, by the way; that's something you must understand if you're going to ever really get her as a character.  Michonne is always calculating and taking in information about others.  She's the type who hears a hundred words for every one she speaks herself.

She tells them that she overheard Glenn and Maggie talking about the prison and saying that it was a straight shot from where they were.  She also informs them of the abduction and that their people were assuredly taken to Woodbury.  She describes the Governor as a "pretty boy, Jim Jones type," which has the virtue of being both accurate as well as hilarious.  Rick wants to know what kind of muscle the Governor has working for him and if a rescue might be doable, to which she replies in the affirmative: Woodbury is secure from Walkers, but they ought to be able to slip in.

A critical mistake on Glenn's part occurs later on in his being interrogated at Woodbury.  Beaten to a pulp already, he's trying to put on a brave face, saying that his people are going to come for he and Maggie.  In attempting to artificially inflate their numbers, however, he mistakenly lists Andrea as being part of their forces, not knowing that Merle knows for a fact that Andrea is no longer with them.

Angry that he can't break Glenn, Merle lets a Walker loose in the room to kill him, saying that he wants him to know how he felt on that rooftop in Atlanta.  Despite being duct-taped to an old wooden office chair, Glenn manages to keep the Walker at bay long enough to smash the chair against the walls and kill the Walker with a shard of wood.  Glenn officially became a man today, y'all.

Eventually, unable to break Glenn, the Governor takes a crack at Maggie, forcing her to strip off her shirt and bra with the threat that, if she fails to comply, he'll bring her Glenn's hand.  His dominance asserted, he then threatens her with the prospect of rape, but, to her credit, she too refuses to break.  Later, however, she is brought (still nude from the waist up) before Glenn, and she does finally tell them what they want to know when they threaten to murder Glenn right in front of her.  She tells them that they took the prison and that there are only ten of them. 

Back at the prison, preparations are made for the volunteers to set out on a rescue operation, leaving behind only Carl, Hershel, Beth, Axel, and Carol.  Daryl tells Carl not to worry about his Dad; that he will keep an eye on him.  I gotta say I'm really starting to like Daryl.  He's surely my favorite character at this point, which is a dicey proposition in a world where people get killed-off so easily.  He doesn't appear in the comics at all, I'm told (I haven't read them yet), so his fate is wholly in the hands of the TV writers. 

I really like how he's stepped-up to be kind of a big brother to Carl; and, when thanked later by Rick for taking charge to get formula for the baby while he was preoccupied, Daryl says simply, "It's what we do."  He's a standup guy, and I'm very intrigued to see how things play-out between he and Merle when the brothers are reunited.

Speaking of Carl, he and his Dad finally have a talk as everyone is gearing-up to roll out.  Rick apologizes for Carl having to be the one to put his own mother down, and lets him know that he trusts his judgment on what to do if something goes wrong.  Oh yeah: they finally name the baby -- Judith, after Carl's 3rd grade teacher.

One or two miles outside Woodbury, they park their car and move in on foot to avoid patrols.  They are soon confronted with a large number of Walkers in the woods.  This, I assume, is the "Red zone" we heard Merle mention last week and that he assumed would take care of Michonne, allowing him to lie to the Governor and claim he had killed her. 

The herd is too many, and so they run, seeking shelter in an old cabin.  The only problem is that it's already occupied by a hermit, who is obviously also either crazy or just completely unaware that the civilized world has taken a header in an all-out zombie apocalypse. 

He keeps yelling, threatening to call the cops, seemingly unaware that yelling is a bad idea and there are no cops to call.  He soon makes a break for it, running for the door that, if opened, will flood the cabin with Walkers.  Michonne kills the poor gooney-bird, before he can get them all eaten, and the others throw his corpse outside, escaping out the back door while the herd is preoccupied devouring him.

Having left Glenn and Maggie together after getting what they needed, the Governor meets with his top people in his apartment/office to discuss the situation and what they have learned from Maggie.  There is some doubt as to whether she's telling the truth; such a small group having done something that the Governor's people believed was impossible.  The Governor himself worries that, if she's lying, then it means a large force has moved in close to Woodbury's proverbial doorstep. 

He also acts a bit paranoid, forcing Merle to state that his loyalties lie with him right then and there, on the spot.  Apparently, he's suspicious because Merle was among those who said the prison couldn't be cleared (did the Governor want the prison initially, before settling for the town?), and now a group with his brother at its core has done it.  A small group is sent to scout the prison to reconnoiter what they're up against. 

I don't like the idea of hostiles prowling-around the prison with only a skeleton crew holding down the fort.  That could be bad.

Meanwhile, Rick and company arrive outside the walls of Woodbury to prepare for the rescue, and this is where the episode ends.

Next Sunday (2 December) is the Mid-season Finale, precipitating a few months-long break before the show returns, likely in mid-February. 

The assault should be interesting to watch from a tactical perspective.  The rescuers are armed with tear-gas and flash-bangs taken off the bodies of dead guards at the prison, but, even with that advantage, I can't see a frontal assault on that wall as being anything but suicide.  Assaulting a lightly-fortified position or one where the enemy is expecting an attack typically requires at least a 2-1 advantage, and 3-1 is better, in order to ensure success.  In medieval times, successfully assaulting a castle required an advantage of 10-1.

If I were in Rick's company, I would argue for some kind of distraction to draw away the attention of the defenders.  Meanwhile, another part of the force will have sneaked-around from another angle.  When the distraction hits, the other group springs into action, hopefully from a position already within the Woodbury perimeter.  Then, everybody high-tails it out separately, either regrouping at the car 1-2 miles away or hot-footing it (which would suck).

There was also another less important Woodbury subplot that played-out throughout the episode wherein the Governor asks his new flame Andrea to assist Milton with an experiment.  Long story short: an old man with no remaining family and end-stage cancer has volunteered to allow Milton to use him for an experiment. 

His hypothesis is that Walkers retain part of their old selves (trace memory and human consciousness) after they turn.  Milton plays music and asks the old man questions to which he responds by raising his hand off the bed for a True answer; they've been doing this as a routine for a while, and now they're waiting out his deathwatch to try it again after he turns.  Andrea is the muscle, in charge of putting him down afterwards.

Upon reanimating, it's clear that the Walker is unable to respond as the man he once was might have.  Milton, however, claims that he is trying to raise his hand to signal understanding, but is impeded by the restraints they put on him as soon as he died.  He attempts to undo the restraint, and Andrea kills the Walker as it lunges for Milton. 

Both are shaken, and it's clear that Milton is unhappy with the results of his experiment.  Later, the Governor is also visibly unhappy when Andrea tells him what happened, though he says nothing. 

I suppose that since he has his Walker daughter trussed-up in a straight-jacket somewhere that he was hoping for better results.

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

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


Government Sets Its Sights on Private Retirement Accounts: “Giant Effort to Redistribute the Wealth of America’s Older Citizens”

Government Sets Its Sights on Private Retirement Accounts: “Giant Effort to Redistribute the Wealth of America’s Older Citizens”: A new effort by the Obama administration, Congress, the Treasury Department and labor unions aims to fundamentally alter how Americans plan and save for retirement.

Warnings have been popping up over the last several years about the possibility of re-appropriating the $3.5 Trillion sitting in private retirement and spreading those funds around to Americans who are deemed less fortunate.

This couldn’t possibly happen in America, right? At one time, most Americans also believed heath care mandates that force Americans at the barrel of a gun to surrender portions of their earnings into a universal system for all would never happen. Well, it did.

And now, those who would control and regulate every aspect of our lives are making a new push; one whose efforts will ultimately end in the seizure and redistribution the personal retirement savings of every American who has ever put money into a 401(k) or IRA.

This is no longer in the realm of conspiracy, but rather, public record...

UK Social Workers Take Foster Children Away From Conservative Couple

UK Social Workers Take Foster Children Away From Conservative Couple | Video | TheBlaze.com: A UK couple had their three foster children taken away after social workers decided that the couple’s support for the supposedly “racist” policies of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) made them “unsuitable” caregivers, The Telegraph reports.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Ukip, it’s the conservative wing of British politics. If you want an understanding of the group’s principles, look no further than Nigel Farage, founding member and party leader...

...The Ukip advocates lower taxes, limited government, freer markets, and immigration reform. However, to certain social workers in the Labour-controlled Rotherham borough, supporting the above makes you an “unsuitable” foster parent.

The parents claim they were made to feel like criminals and that they had a “black mark” on them for supporting the conservative group. And now it has culminated in the loss of their foster children, one boy and two girls.

Unsurprisingly, Farage unloaded on the Rotherham borough’s decision to take the children away, calling it “a bloody outrage” and “political prejudice of the very worst kind.”

Tim Loughton, the former children’s minister, agrees with Farage...

Guest Post: Bird-Watching In Your Own Backyard -- A Hobby That Keeps You Close To Nature

Editor's Note: I chose to publish this guest article, because it provides details about a very nature-centric hobby, allowing for hours of healthy, outdoor fun.  I also have ulterior motives, however: attracting wildlife to your retreat could provide uplifting fun now... later, it could help provide a protein-rich food source during lean times.
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Bird-watching is a great hobby. No matter where you happen to be you can indulge in this activity. But true enthusiasts of the hobby take matters into their own hands. They don’t wait to see what birds happen along, instead, they create ideal environments to lure in their feathered friends.

This is actually very easy to do. With a little research you can effortlessly find out what types of plants and other foods you can add to your outdoor space to attract various birds. The process of creating a bird-feeding garden is a fun project, and the result will be a beautiful addition to your yard that offers hours of bird-watching entertainment.

Feeding Stations for Birds

One of the first things you will want to add is at least a few bird-feeders. These can be homemade bird-feeders or store-bought. Keep in mind that different types of birds will be attracted to particular feeders. This depends not only on the type of seed you add but also on the design of the feeder itself.

One way to create your own feeder is to use a coffee cup and saucer. You will also need a piece of PVC pipe and weather-proof glue. The idea is simple. Glue the cup to the saucer, and then glue the saucer to the end of the PVC pipe. The pipe should be inserted into the ground deep enough to ensure that it is stable.

Fill the cup with a quality bird seed and watch for feathered guests to arrive. Placing a few of these around your garden will add a chic but whimsical touch. One word of caution, because the cups are exposed to weather you will need to replace any remaining seed after it rains.

There are specially designed bird-feeders for some types of birds. For example, hummingbird feeders are designed to hold a mix of sugar and water.

Natural Additions That Attract Birds

No bird-feeding garden is complete without the addition of some beautiful plants. Plants can be used to entice the birds to nest or perch, and to provide food sources. Once again, a little research will make choosing your plants easy. It will also simplify the process of finding a place to buy plants online.

You can create a bird-feeding garden that attracts a wide variety of bird species or you can choose to create an idyllic environment for one or more bird types.

Let the Fun Begin

After you have your bird-feeding garden set up and all the bird-feeders are filled, you can sit back and enjoy the show. Consider purchasing a pair of binoculars to view the birds from a distance and a comfortable chair for up-close viewing. Bird-watching is an inexpensive hobby that gets you in touch with nature. It’s fun for people of all ages.

29 November, 2012

Another Example of Society's Thin Veneer

This is a bit outdated, being a few weeks old now, but it just came to my attention and represents yet another example of a violent predator reaching through society's thin veneer of civility and law and order to victimize others.  This particular instance occurred during the blackout that accompanied Hurricane Sandy.  The offender committed a series of home invasions, one of which involved raping and nearly murdering a woman.

A more recent example, as reported by CNN, left a Florida teenager dead.  Basically, this guy asked a car full of teenagers at a gas station to turn their music down, and they reacted rudely... as teenagers often do.  He claims that he was threatened, but it's important to note that none of the teens actually got out of the car; it was just a lot of talk.  He also claims to have seen a brief flash of a gun barrel.  Mind you, he didn't verify that he was being threatened, he just thought he saw a glimpse of a gun.  His reaction: he indiscriminately unloaded "eight or nine" shots with his own firearm into a car full of teenagers.

Let me just say this: if he really was threatened, then he was well within his rights to take some kind of offensive action, so we'll have to wait and see how the case develops.  I still have a hard time believing he was justified in firing what was undoubtedly all or most of a clip into a crowded car.  Right now, though, facts don't seem to be in his corner in any way.

He didn't pull his gun and make it clear that he would defend himself if his life was threatened; he just opened fire, killing one of the kids in the car.  No evidence of a gun was found in the teen's car, by the way, and there's no evidence yet of any of them being in a gang.

According to another article, his lawyer is claiming that it "was never his intention to kill anyone."  I would be interested in hearing just exactly what she and her client imagines might happen from firing most or all of a clip into a crowded car of kids.  Are we supposed to be impressed because he didn't reload and shoot more?

What is most telling, though, is how he reacted afterwards.  He and his girlfriend went to a hotel, fearing that they had just had a run-in with gang members who might return for payback.  That I can understand.  Hearing about the shooting and the dead teen on the news the next morning, though, did they go to the police?  No.  They went home, and the cops arrested him later.

I study criminal behavior in graduate school, and the one thing I can tell you is that, if the CNN article is correct on the order of events, then that is not the reaction of a person who thinks they've done the right thing.  Period.  He knew he had just committed a gross criminal act, and now he and his attorney are trying to back-track and make it appear justifiable.

The correct reaction of a law-abiding citizen would have been to go to the hotel, briefly call the attorney and then immediately call the police, reporting that he had just had an altercation with what he believed to be gang members and that he had fired shots in self-defense before fleeing to the hotel as a temporary safe haven against feared reprisals.  He did none of that.  He simply unloaded a handgun into a crowded car full of teenagers, then fled like a base criminal.

Like I said, maybe it will turn out that he was threatened.  We'll have to wait and see.  Either way, though, his reaction was not the reaction of someone who believed he had the law on his side, regardless of what he is saying now.

If people are willing to act this way now, what's it going to be like when they have no fear of having to answer to Johnny Law for their deeds?

Folks, having faith in the inherent goodness of people and all that nonsense sounds nice and all, but believing that will get you killed or worse.  People are animals with animal instincts that are held in-check only by our fragile society.  Some are genuinely good, true, but some are not, and you and yours will live longer if you foment a healthy distrust of the motivations of others.

Don't cut yourself off from other people, but make them earn your trust, and be always on your guard against those that you have no reason yet to believe are anything more than predators.


*UPDATE*: It looks now as though Michael Dunn will definitely be attempting to use Florida's "Stand Your Ground" statute to defend his actions that resulted in the death of 17 year-old Jordan Davis.  The fact that the law is about to try him for second-degree murder instead of patting him on the back ought to be a good indication of the merits of his claim.   

"Stand Your Ground" laws were designed to allow citizens who are in danger to defend themselves, not so a person can overreact to a vaguely perceived threat and respond by unloading a handgun into a car packed with teenagers, then run off and hide without calling the police. 

Even if his claims about seeing a shotgun brandished (only a vague glimpse in the larger vehicle's rear-view mirror, by the way) are true (police found no gun, but it could conceivably have been dumped), he still sunk himself by acting like a criminal afterwards.  People don't act guilty if they truly believe they're in the right.  Period.

He fired eight shots into a car full of kids, yet he "didn't intend to hurt anybody" and thought he had just scared them?  He feared for his life, thinking they were gangbangers and might return, so he fled the scene to shack-up at a local hotel.  That part, in my opinion, is excusable.  But then, the next day, he flees town to return to his home 159 miles away.

That isn't an innocent person.  That's a fugitive fleeing justice, folks.  Sorry.

And now, brace yourselves: we'll be hearing many more cries about repealing "Stand Your Ground" laws, and likely gun control in general, in the weeks and months to come.


Will The Peak Of The Solar Cycle In 2013 Produce Technology Crippling Solar Super Storms?

RE: this subject, please see my recent review of one of the finest novels I've ever read pertaining to electromagnetic pulse and its after-effects on our modern society.
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Will The Peak Of The Solar Cycle In 2013 Produce Technology Crippling Solar Super Storms?: Our sun is becoming increasingly unstable, and most people have no idea the complete and utter devastation that a massive solar storm could potentially cause. A giant solar storm could potentially take out satellites, GPS systems, electrical grids, communication networks and pretty much anything else that runs on electricity or that relies upon electronics. And considering how dependent our society has become on technology, we are talking about an event that could possibly bring about the end of the world as we know it. Right now, solar activity is increasing as we approach the peak of Solar Cycle 24. But the worst is yet to come. Scientists are expecting a significant increase in coronal mass ejections and geomagnetic disturbances as we approach the peak of this solar cycle in 2013. A number of scientists are warning that there is a chance that we could even see an event similar to the solar storm of 1859 that fried telegraph machines all over Europe and North America. Other scientists are warning that our sun is starting to behave so unusually that it is becoming very difficult to predict what may be coming next. If our sun starts to behave even more erratically, that could mean big trouble for all of us. If our sun fails, there is no backup plan. We only have one sun. Most of us take the stability of the gigantic ball of fire that our very small planet is circling for granted, but what if it becomes apparent that we can’t take that for granted any longer? That can be very frightening to think about...

Texas Schools Teaching Boston Tea Party As Terrorist Act

Dear Texas, I expect better from you...
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Texas Schools Teaching Boston Tea Party As Terrorist Act - CBS Houston: The most historical instance of protesting against taxation without representation is now being taught in Texas schools as a terrorist act.

As recently as January of this year, the Texas Education Service Center Curriculum Collaborative included a lesson plan that depicted the Boston Tea Party, an event that helped ignite the American Revolution, as an act of terrorism. TheBlaze reports that in a lesson promoted on the TESCCC site as recently as January, a world history/social studies class plan depicted the Boston Tea Party as being anything but patriotic, causing many people to become upset with the lack of transparency and review for lessons...

Turn Them Over: Feinstein Moves To Ban ALL Assault Rifles, High Capacity Magazines, and Pistol Grips

Turn Them Over: Feinstein Moves To Ban ALL Assault Rifles, High Capacity Magazines, and Pistol Grips: The agenda no longer needs to be hidden from public view. With President Obama winning another term and democrats taking control of the Senate, the move to fundamentally change America from within has begun – with a vengeance.

We’re all aware of the restrictive gun laws in the State of California which require low capacity magazines for handguns, fixed magazines for “assault” rifles, and a whole lot of running around just to be granted the right to carry a concealed firearm.

Now, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who has championed gun control in her state for decades and co-wrote the original assault weapons ban enacted by the federal government in the 1990′s, wishes to bring even more stringent federal mandates to the land of the free.

What is being proposed by Feinstein is the most significant attack on the second amendment in history.

It would essentially ban thousands of firearms and require gun owners to turn them over to the Federal government...

28 November, 2012

DIY Greenhouse

Recently, I blogged about my dream of building a chicken coop at my homestead once the house remodel is finished and I can turn my attention to the outside.  Well, another of the projects I have planned for eventual implementation is a nice, spacious greenhouse (or maybe two smaller ones).

I intend to utilize the old windows that we're replacing for this project and have been storing them in a shed out back against the day when I can make it happen.  I plan to also build a woodstove in the center of it out of an old 55-gallon metal drum.

I am, however, very intrigued by the plans on this site that claim they built the greenhouse in the picture above for $50 (though, they scrounged for materials and say it would be about $200 if you bought it all -- which still ain't so bad).

Further links within the article also show you how to construct a door and how to better support the roof, so you can avoid the collapse experience he lived through in a moderately heavy snow.

Who knows?  Once I'm out of old windows, maybe I'll build me one of these too.


Guest Post: Organizing Empty Food Containers and Lids

Editor's Note: Be advised that I have chosen to publish this article and several others similar to it, because of the number of my readers who live in small cabins, travel trailers, etc. where space is at a premium and proper organization is key.
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Food containers are ideal for packing your dinner/lunch/breakfast leftovers in order for them to be enjoyed later. They are also perfect for lunch boxes for work. However, these containers fill up any drawer way too fast and take up too much space if not organized properly. Here is how to keep your collection in order.

Empty the cabinet or drawer where the containers are usually kept. Vacuum and wipe the bottom of the cabinet/drawer in order to get all the dirt and food residue away. Put fresh drawer lining and shelf paper if you wish. Spread all containers you have atop the kitchen counter and carefully inspect them.
 
You will have to make the very hard decision of what to get rid of. Throwing away personal possessions is never easy, but if there are some containers which aren't in a good condition anymore (cracked, crooked due to heat, etc.) you will have to dispose of them. However, since they are plastic, you are going to have to do the right thing and consider recycling. There is an upside to this, as the less you have, the easier it will be to organize them. Also, even if some containers are still good for use, but for some reason you are not using them, let them go. Give them to a friend or relative.

Put away anything that is different from a food storage container. Keep things separated so that it is easier to find what you need when it is time to do so. Just because a certain object is plastic does not mean it belongs with everything else. Mixing bowls, measuring cups need all to go to a different storage place. Store things according to their functionality rather than the material they are made of.
 
Get a matching set. If your space and budget allow you, obtain same type containers with multiples of most used sizes. Matched sets stack more easily and neatly than unmatched, assorted containers. Consider trying how the containers stack prior to buying them. Do they nest neatly or do they leave lots of space in between.

Choose a proper cabinet or a drawer. One that is big enough. Make it a designated area for the purpose of storing these containers only.

Nest and stack. 'Build' multiple stacks which are not taller than the space. Each stack should be made up of containers with similar shape – round containers in one stack, square ones in a different one and so on. Needless to say, the biggest ones should be on the bottom of the stack, and work upwards towards the smallest.

Put the lids in order. Store them vertically, as you would do with books, along the inside wall of the drawer. Again, in order to more easily find what you need, store them roughly by size.

Various small containers should be corralled, so to speak. If you would like to use all sorts of miniature containers, instead of throwing them in a separate drawer, rather put them in one of the bigger containers.

Containers with a 'full time job' (used for storing flour, sugar, nuts, etc.) need to be put elsewhere. In other words, keep empty containers in one place and full ones in a different one.

Make it a habit of yours to keep things in order. Once a certain container is emptied, washed and already dry, put it away where it belongs. Otherwise, things will start to get messy.

Remember, when you buy food containers, invest in sturdy ones, such that will last longer than just a couple of months, even if this means wasting a little bit more money. Also, do not use containers that come as packaging – sour cream and margarine tubes. They are made of thin and cheap plastic and will not last long.

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Grace is a marketing expert by profession and a writer by soul. She really enjoys writing easy house removal ideas and sustainable lifestyle.

Cooking Outdoors Using the Amazing Little Solo Stove

Cooking Outdoors Using the Amazing Little Solo Stove: Have you ever thought about how you would cook on the run? What I mean is this: you are ordered – or need – to evacuate the shelter of your home and are not sure where you are going. You may need to camp out and you are most definitely going to have to fend for yourself.

The bug-out-bag is ready to go will all kinds of gear including some paracord, a good knife and whistle, Mylar sleeping bags and a tent, water purification tablets, first aid items, plus some freeze-dried food pouches. Life is good, right?

Now wait a second. How are you going to cook your food and what are you going to cook it in?

Today I am going to share with you the results of testing the amazing little Solo Stove and offer up some suggestions for including such a stove and some related gear in your bug out bag...

In His Final Speech Ron Paul Warns Of “Continuous March Toward Fascism”

In His Final Speech Ron Paul Warns Of “Continuous March Toward Fascism” | Market Daily News: In an over 45 minute long marathon address on the House floor yesterday, Congressman Ron Paul said farewell after a 36 year long career in politics, including 23 years in office. And he did so with a stark warning to lovers of liberty everywhere.

“If it’s not accepted that big government, fiat money, ignoring liberty, central economic planning, welfarism, and warfarism caused our crisis, we can expect a continuous and dangerous march toward corporatism and even fascism with even more loss of our liberties.” Paul urged.

“All branches of our government today are controlled by individuals who use their power to undermine liberty and enhance the welfare/warfare state-and frequently their own wealth and power,” the congressman continued.

The Congressman described the federal government as “bloated, corrupt and wasteful”, adding that “Our Constitution, which was intended to limit government power and abuse, has failed.”

“The Founders warned that a free society depends on a virtuous and moral people. The current crisis reflects that their concerns were justified.” Paul added...

27 November, 2012

Some Useful Info RE: Raising Chickens

Something I've always wanted to do ever since I woke-up to the need to prep is to raise chickens.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better source of protein available from a livestock perspective without having to have the huge tracts of land required to support cattle.

In my opinion, chickens trump other small livestock because of the small amount of effort (calories of energy expended) required to keep them versus, say, pigs or goats; and, unlike other small livestock, chickens have the advantage of providing you with a protein-rich food source without having to slaughter your stock: eggs.

Anyway, my dream has yet to materialize.  With the number of predators in my area, free-range isn't really an option, and we still need to get some other work done to the house itself before starting on outside projects.

I have done my homework, however, against the day when the dream of raising chickens becomes a reality, and so I thought I'd share some links to some useful information and books with you readers.  Hope you enjoy!

Best Chicken Coop Plans: Full Information with Many Pictures and Designs

Building Chicken Coops For Dummies

Raising Chickens For Dummies

Chicken Coops: 45 Building Ideas for Housing Your Flock

Building Chicken Coops: Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin A-224

Backyard Chickens' Guide to Coops and Tractors: Planning, Building, and Real-Life Advice (Members Backyard Chickens.Com)

How To Build a Chicken Coop - Your Step-By-Step Guide To Building a Chicken Coop

Are Black Friday Riots A Preview Of The Civil Unrest That Is Coming When Society Breaks Down?

Are Black Friday Riots A Preview Of The Civil Unrest That Is Coming When Society Breaks Down?: If Americans will trample one another just to save a few dollars on a television, what will they do when society breaks down and the survival of their families is at stake? Once in a while an event comes along that gives us a peek into what life could be like when the thin veneer of civilization that we all take for granted is stripped away. For example, when Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey there was rampant looting and within days people were digging around in supermarket dumpsters looking for food. Sadly, "Black Friday" also gives us a look at how crazed the American people can be when given the opportunity. This year was no exception. Once again we saw large crowds of frenzied shoppers push, shove, scratch, claw, bite and trample one another just to save a few bucks on cheap foreign-made goods. And of course most retailers seem to be encouraging this type of behavior. Most of them actually want people frothing at the mouth and willing to fight one another to buy their goods. But is this kind of "me first" mentality really something that we want to foster as a society? If people are willing to riot to save money on a cell phone, what would they be willing to do to feed their families? Are the Black Friday riots a very small preview of the civil unrest that is coming when society eventually breaks down?...

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How to Build a Rain Barrel Storage System


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How to Keep your Cell Phone Working During a Power Outage

My favorite is the one involving the BioLite camp stove. That thing is just awesome.
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How to Keep your Cell Phone Working During a Power Outage | Eartheasy Blog: When the power goes out during a storm, we rely more on our cell phones and smart phones to stay in touch with emergency responders, neighbors and relatives. Unfortunately, without a backup charging system, portable phones and mobile devices can be useless just when we need them the most.

A basic cell phone may last 4 – 5 days on a charge if used conservatively. Smart phones and tablets are mini-computers and need daily charging. If you live in an area of frequent power outages, keeping a simple prepaid cell phone for emergencies may be the simplest way to ensure cellular communication. And having a phone with removable batteries and a supply of extra batteries charged beforehand is simple and reliable.

Here are some tips for conserving and resupplying power in your cellphone during a power outage...

Senate Bill Expands Warrantless Federal Searches of Private Online Info

Senate Bill Expands Warrantless Federal Searches of Private Online Info: Senator Patrick Leahy has rewritten the Electronic Communications Privacy Act Amendments Act of 2011 to allow more than 22 agencies to access a citizen’s Internet accounts, after law enforcement agencies criticized far more consumer-friendly legislation.

The bill authorizes access to email, Google Docs files, Facebook wall posts, and Twitter direct messages without a search warrant. Under the bill, the FBI and Homeland Security can gain full access to a citizen’s Internet account...
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Senate bill rewrite lets feds read your e-mail without warrants: A Senate proposal touted as protecting Americans' e-mail privacy has been quietly rewritten, giving government agencies more surveillance power than they possess under current law.

CNET has learned that Patrick Leahy, the influential Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, has dramatically reshaped his legislation in response to law enforcement concerns...

26 November, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: "The Jakarta Pandemic" by Steven Konkoly

The novel I've finished most recently for this book review series is "The Jakarta Pandemic" by Steven Konkoly (Kindle edition).  Before I even bother going into any detail, let me just say that purchasing the Kindle edition of this book might very well represent the best $3.99 that I have ever spent, so I encourage each and every one of you to check it out.  The paperback version is more expensive, but it's worth it.  I've paid more for trade paperbacks that paled in comparison to Mr. Konkoly's work.

As far as the story goes, it follows a suburban Prepper family in the Northeast U.S. during a severe, worldwide influenza pandemic that originates in Jakarta (hence the title) in the near future.

One thing I need to say upfront is that these are city-folk with money.  The husband is an Iraq war vet who is working as a Big Pharma Rep. as the story begins, and the wife works for a big accounting firm.  They have solar panels and a battery bank, and they have easily a year's worth of food and medical supplies stored in a locked room in their basement that they refer to colloquially as "the bunker."

They have a small arsenal of firearms, but this is not a Rawles book by any stretch of the imagination.  The husband owns an AR-15 assault rifle, a .45 handgun, and a Mossberg shotgun; the wife has a 9mm that she touches maybe three times in the whole book.  Also, they're vegetarians.

I tell you all these things, not to point them out as weaknesses, but simply to make you understand that this isn't your everyday survivalist fiction.  This is a story about a Prepper family hunkering-down and surviving in their home in the midst of a dangerous, but ultimately temporary emergency situation, and it's a very good story.

In all honesty and putting aside the fact that most readers don't necessarily enjoy the upper-middle-class existence of the family in the book, it will probably come off as more "real" to many folks than stories about survival groups gathering on large rural ranches with huge arsenals of guns.

The novel is split between three sections: the early onset of the pandemic; the period during which the family self-quarantines themselves inside their home; and the span where things get the most dangerous, and the family's very survival is in question from threats more dangerous than the flu. 

The real problems arise when rampant absenteeism and hospitalizations caused by the pandemic results in the unraveling of such linchpins of modern life as electricity, on-time food deliveries, and easily-accessible medical care. 

Mounting scarcity causes neighbors to turn against neighbors, and big cities are consumed by rioting and lawlessness.  Our characters get most of that news from afar, however, until refugees from further south begin to invade their sleepy suburb in Maine -- some of which are of the type that you do not want as neighbors, especially when the police aren't necessarily a quick 911 call away.

All in all, it's got action and the characters are easy to relate to and care about, which is a big deal for me as a reader.  Also, the chapters are short, quick reads, giving the whole experience a fast-paced quality that reminded me of a Dan Brown novel.

Check this one out, folks.  You won't be sorry!  :)


The Classified Report DHS Doesn't Want You To See: "The Electric Power Delivery System... Could Be Severely Damaged By A Small Number of Well-Informed Attackers"

The Classified Report DHS Doesn't Want You To See: "The Electric Power Delivery System... Could Be Severely Damaged By A Small Number of Well-Informed Attackers": In 2007 the National Academy of Sciences completed an extensive review of the national power grid infrastructure in a 164 page report titled Terrorism and the Electric Power Delivery System. In it the NAS detailed a wide array of physical, personnel and cyber vulnerabilities that could pose a significant risk to the national security of the United States.

Even though the report was originally written for public release, notes Madison Ruppert of End the Lie, the entire document was almost immediately classified by the Department of Homeland Security and hasn’t seen the light of day until this week. That release came after five years of committee reviews, reversals, deliberations and pressure from the Academy itself.

The contents of the report make it clear why DHS wanted to keep it out of public view, as it illustrates severe deficiencies within the whole of the national power grid infrastructure.

So serious are the problems, that a coordinated attack by just a few people in just a few critical components could wreak such havoc that the effects would be measured in hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives...

Public Health Proposal Considers Mandatory ‘Smokers License’

Nanny State nonsense in full force, ladies and gentlemen.  The future looks to be a scary proposition.
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Public Health Proposal Considers Mandatory ‘Smokers License’: ... This is what passes for a debate in public health circles, where no one questions the government’s duty to protect us from our own risky choices.The only argument concerns the best method of achieving “health for all.” Worries about creeping totalitarianism are limited to the possibility that public perceptions of it might impede the march to a world in which no one sacrifices health or longevity for the sake of pleasure or convenience.

In this case, Chapman imagines an electronically monitored system in which smokers would pay progressively higher fees for rations of one to 10, 11 to 20, or 21 to 50 cigarettes per day. The annual fees would serve as a stick, penalizing smokers for their habit, and a carrot, since they could be recovered (with interest!) by smokers who surrendered their licenses and committed themselves to a tobacco-free lifestyle...

They Are Going To Make It Nearly Impossible To Pass On A Farm Or A Business To Your Children

They Are Going To Make It Nearly Impossible To Pass On A Farm Or A Business To Your Children: If you have a farm or a small business, would you like to pass it on to your children when you die? Well, unless Congress does something, it is going to become much, much harder to do that starting next year. Right now, there is a 5 million dollar estate tax exemption and anything above that is taxed at 35 percent. But on January 1st, the exemption will go down to 1 million dollars and the tax rate will go up to 55 percent. A lot of liberals are very excited about this, because they believe that the government will be soaking wealthy people like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. But the truth is that a lot of farms, ranches and small businesses will be absolutely devastated by this change in the tax law. There are many farmers and ranchers out there today that do not make much money but are sitting on tracts of land that are worth millions of dollars. According to the American Farm Bureau, approximately 97 percent of all farms and ranches in the United States would be subject to the estate tax if the exemption was reduced to just a million dollars. That means that the children of these farmers and ranchers would be faced with a very cruel choice when it is time to inherit these farms and ranches. Either they come up with enough money to pay the government about half of what the farm or ranch is worth, or they sell the farm or ranch that may have been in their family for generations...

25 November, 2012

Twinkies Bakers Say They'd Rather Lose Jobs Than Take Pay Cuts

Good luck finding another piddly-@$$ kitchen-service level job that pays anywhere near that well in this economy, morons.  For the record, I know cops that make less than $35k/yr and colleges around here only start their Associate Professors off at about $40k/yr after going thousands of dollars into debt with student loans to earn Master's degrees and Ph.D.'s.  These glorified kitchen workers make me sick.

I'm a bit of a rare bird these days: I'm a labor-union-friendly Republican, but this is just ridiculous.  I hope they all end up working at Wally World for $7/hr with no benefits, I really do.
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Twinkies bakers say they'd rather lose jobs than take pay cuts | Reuters: After several years of costly concessions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) authorized a walk-out earlier this month after Hostess received bankruptcy court approval to implement a wage cut that was not included in its contract.

With operations stalled, the company that makes Twinkies and other famous U.S. brands said last week that liquidating its business was the best way to preserve its dwindling cash. It won court approval on Wednesday to start winding down in a process expected to claim 15,000 jobs immediately and over 3,000 more after about four months.

Interviews with more than a dozen workers showed there was little sign of regret from employees who voted for the strike. They said they would rather lose their jobs than put up with lower wages and poorer benefits...

There Is a Disaster Coming. Get Ready For It.

McGrath: There Is a Disaster Coming. Get Ready For It.: Do you think the government will be there for you in the middle of a crisis?

If they can’t handle the emergency response after a Category 1 hurricane, what will this country look like when the economic and fiscal crisis comes to a head?

What happens if the US dollar comes under attack from foreign creditors who choose to no longer accept it in trade? How will we as a nation import oil and food in such a scenario?

What if monetary easing by the Federal Reserve causes price increases so drastic that current employee wages or nutritional assistance allotments provide only a couple of days worth of food?

What if states and local municipalities are so broke that they withhold pay from government employees like police officers and emergency medical responders?...

The Value Proposition: Bulk Foods vs. Freeze Dried Meals

The Value Proposition: Bulk Foods vs. Freeze Dried Meals: One of the dilemmas every prepper faces is how to derive the most value out of their food storage budget. None of us want waste and none of us wants stuff that tastes bad. Of course the easiest and most economical thing to do is to stock up on the proverbial beans and rice, adding supplementation with oatmeal, powdered milk and a variety of condiments. With these few items, delicious meals can be prepared simply and there will be adequate nutrition to sustain oneself especially if garden fresh fruit and vegetables are also available...

Google: 'Government Surveillance is On the Rise'

Google: 'Government surveillance is on the rise' - CNN.com: The tangled David Petraeus scandal highlights how easily the U.S. government can access citizens' private e-mails.

The FBI's request to access Paula Broadwell's personal Gmail account was one of 7,969 similar requests Google received from the U.S. government in the first half of 2012, according to Google and news reports. The company said it complied with the requests, either fully or partially, 90% of the time.

According to the latest Google Transparency report, Google fielded 20,938 requests for private account data from governments around the world between January and June of this year. That's up from 18,257 such requests during the last half of 2011, the company said.

"One trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise," Dorothy Chou, a Google senior policy analyst, writes in the blog post announcing the latest report -- the sixth Google has released in the last three years...

24 November, 2012

More Crisco Candle Stuff

Several weeks ago, I posted a pic I'd previously seen on Facebook, showing a unique emergency candle idea using a can of Crisco.  Well, apparently I wasn't the only person who saw it, because our friends over at reThink Survival quickly followed-up with an actual self-test of the idea that resulted in success! 

Later, several others followed-up with ideas of their own.  One was a method of making emergency candles using small, resealable Ball jars and ending-up with candles small enough to easily carry in a bug-out bag.  The second letter involved some ideas about using emergency candles as a cooking aid.

Now, our friends over at reThink Survival have weighed-in once again; this time RE: using a Crisco Candle as a radiant heating source and experimenting with alternate wicks. 

What an awesome series of posts!  :)


When Law and Order Break Down: "People Are Afraid Right Now. You Can See It In Their Faces."

Societies thin veneer of civility is dissolving.
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When Law and Order Break Down: "People Are Afraid Right Now. You Can See It In Their Faces.": Cities from coast-to-coast are facing unprecedented budget deficits that have left government officials with no choice but to strip police forces to a bare minimum. We now regularly hear about new ‘records’ being broken in the resulting crime waves that follow.

Law enforcement officials in Chicago, for example, have said that their city has deteriorated into a domestic war zone with gang violence leaving scores of people dead on a regular basis. Murder, rape, robbery and assault have skyrocketed in bankrupt Stockton, California, suggesting that local governments are quickly losing control.

In New Jersey, the city of Camden may soon be granted the dubious distinction of being the poorest and most violent city in America...

UN to Seek Internet Kill Switch Next Month, Documents Show

UN to Seek Internet Kill Switch Next Month, Documents Show: As Americans focused on the U.S. presidential election, the United Nations and a wide swath of its autocratic member regimes were drafting a plan to give a little-known UN agency control over the online world. Among the most contentious schemes: a plot to hand the International Telecommunications Union a so-called “kill switch” for the Internet that critics say would be used to smash free speech.

The ITU’s proposals to “reform” the Internet, drafted in secret and quietly published online last week, revealed a broad plan to rein in what, up until now, has been a largely unregulated tool allowing people all over the world to freely express their views at little to no cost financially. Unlike dictatorships such as the communist regime ruling over mainland China and the governments of Muslim-dominated countries, most Western-style governments have been unable or unwilling to regulate the Web apart from minor restrictions on subjects such as child pornography and the like.

However, that could all change soon...

The Death Knell of Liberty

‘The Plan’ – Agenda 21: The Death Knell of Liberty: The death knell for freedom has been tolling for some time, and only now are people starting to hear it. It started tolling faintly, decades back, and has slowly progressed in volume, until today its tolling is impossible to ignore.

The United States of America — that “shining city on a hill” — had a good run of it, and made a gallant effort at establishing liberty for all. But as the old saw would have it, all good things must come to an end.

Liberty, after all, is an aberration in mankind’s history — a light that has flared here and there over the centuries, only to dissolve back into the darkness.

America is barreling towards becoming a bit player on the world’s stage, and its vaunted middle class — once the envy of the world — is on the verge of being eliminated. For the good of the planet, for the good of Gaia. for the good of the collective — freedom is being replaced by servitude, capitalism by socialism, and property rights by “sustainable development.”...

55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America This Holiday Season

55 Reasons Why You Should Buy Products That Are Made In America This Holiday Season: This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy. You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride. It is a matter of national survival. If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country. If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate. Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars. More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead. If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe. As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth. Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day. We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late...

23 November, 2012

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 3 - Episode 6 "Hounded"

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.  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.


Before I begin, I need to say right up-front that this particular episode offers very little by way of the kinds of survivalist details that I usually discuss in these posts, being mostly heavy on character development.  Several subplots are interweaved together, giving us some insight into what's going through the heads of the characters and what motivates them.

I'm also going to be trying something new this week for those of you who have already watched the show and would like to bypass all of the play-by-play: I'm going to BOLD the text that pertains to any discussion of Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist stuff, so it'll be easy to skim down.  Let me know if you like that idea in the Comments section.

The episode opens with Merle and three other men from Woodbury tracking Michonne through the woods upon orders from the Governor.  She is aware of their pursuit as well, leaving them a grisly message to turn back the way they came.  Needless to say, Merle isn't the type to give up that easy, though.  As he scans the woods and calls out to his quarry, pistol in hand, she suddenly drops from the trees and dispatches two of her four pursuers with quick efficiency and extreme prejudice.  She escapes, but takes a gunshot wound to the leg from Merle.

Not gonna lie: her jumping out of a tree to land in the clearing among the hostiles was a bit corny for my liking.  It was like something out of a cheap, direct-to-video martial-arts flick.

Merle and his one remaining side-kick continue on, continuing to have run-ins with Michonne and Walkers drawn-in by all the noise.  Later, Merle decides to go back, arguing that, since Michonne is heading into what they refer to as the Red Zone, she's as good as dead anyway.  The other guy wants to continue and refuses to lie to the Governor and say that they killed her, so Merle blows his head off.

As for the folks at the prison, the story there picks-up right where last week's installment left-off: Rick on the mysterious phone call that jarred him from his nearly catatonic Walker-punishing rampage.  It is the voice of a young woman who is unwilling to give Rick any identifying information about her or where she is, except to say that it's somewhere safe (good OPSEC!).  Rick asks if her group might be willing to take he and his people in, swearing that they will be useful members of their community.  She answers that it may be possible, but that she needs to clear things with her group first.  Rick asks for the responsibility to make his case by talking directly to the decision-makers and pleads that he and his people are "dying here;" she says she'll call back in two hours and hangs-up.

If you're smart -- and, since you're reading blogs about Prepping and Survivalism, I'm going to assume you are -- you've already lent some thought to forming a survival group for when TEOTWAWKI lands in our lap.  If you're smart *AND* proactive, you've already laid some groundwork toward that goal as well.  The fact is that surviving alone is harder than surviving with others.  True, more people means you'll require more resources, but having extra people also means extra hands to help acquire those resources, either through foraging, hunting, or gardening.  Plus, how do you ever intend to sleep without the knowledge that someone else is on-guard?

Good survival groups are built around people with useful knowledge and skillsets and who are willing to work hard.  That's what Rick is trying to use above to convince the other group to take them in.  Just off the top of my head, I can list the fact that they are, pretty-much, all experienced shooters now (except for the convicts, and both of them are useful for manual labor); Axel is mechanically-inclined; Rick has law-enforcement experience; Daryl is a life-long hunter; and Hershel is a veritable goldmine, being both a farmer as well as Veterinarian (next best thing to an M.D.).  That is just to give you an idea of what kind of things I'm referring to and the kinds of skills you need to be fomenting now in order to increase your worth to survival groups, if you haven't already gotten yourself setup with some like-minded friends or family members for WTSHTF.

My situation as an FYI example: I own a 3-story, 100+ year-old home with 2 separate basements (lots of storage) on 5.5 acres, bordered by wooded (railroad-owned) land on two sides and situated on a hilltop (no flooding).  It's moderately isolated and features gravity-fed toilets (they'll flush as long as there's water to pour in them).  There's a year-round freshwater spring on the property a short walk from the house, and I installed a wood-burning stove as a heat source that isn't dependent on grid power.  We only actively use the first-floor as living space, so there's plenty of room to spare.  The people I have selected know to pack-up and head my way in an emergency; and they know to place priority status on packing non-perishable food, weapons, ammunition, batteries, candles, hand-tools, sleeping-bags and other camping equipment, etc.  I *AM* my group's safe haven, and, while I still can, I am amassing a survival library and learning how to garden from seed; preserve foodstuffs by canning; homebrew mead, wine, and beer; and other useful skills.  Future plans include one or more greenhouses and, hopefully, a chicken coop on the property.  Others in my group include military vets, experienced hunters, a life-long mechanic, a Registered Nurse and a Certified Nurse's Assistant.  I'm currently working on both a Physician's Assistant and a trained, active Paramedic.  You get the idea. 

Back to the story: Rick is soon seen briefly returning to check on his people (especially Carl), all cleaned-up and changed into clothes that aren't covered in gore.  He reports having cleared-out the area of the prison around the boiler (where Lori died), but refuses offers of assistance in removing the bodies.  Apparently, he isn't wanting anybody around during his phone negotiations.  Also, he doesn't even ask about the baby.

He verifies with Daryl that everyone has a gun and a knife, but Daryl informs him that ammunition is an issue.  In response, Glenn and Maggie announce that they're planning a foraging run, having found an old phone book that lists some likely places where they might be able to find both ammunition and more canned/powdered baby formula.  Also, Daryl reports that the generator shack is clear and that Axel is working on getting things running for use in an emergency.

Two things: weren't the generators working fine just yesterday (episode 4) when they killed the saboteur Andrew and shut them down on purpose?  And, obviously Axel and Oscar are now part of the group, as I previously predicted would happen; Oscar is right there, sharing a meal with them all when Rick walks in.

Daryl also reports the intention to continue clearing more of the lower-levels as well (good perimeter security!)  We later follow Daryl and some others on these forays, during which he finds signs of Carol's passing and, eventually, locates Carol herself.  She is alive, but exhausted, and Daryl carries her to safety.  Also, Daryl shares a bit of a big-brotherly moment with Carl.

Later, we also see Michonne nearly run into Glenn and Maggie at an abandoned shopping center where they are foraging (something we'll all be doing one day).  She keeps her distance, however.  Merle, on the other hand, approaches from the opposite direction.

Recognizing Glenn, Merle seems friendly, asking about his brother Daryl; things go south, however, when Glenn refuses to take him back to their hidey-hole at the prison, offering instead to send Daryl to meet with him (good OPSEC!).  Merle ends-up taking Maggie hostage and forcing Glenn to drive them to Woodbury, all of which is witnessed by Michonne.

I've got to say that I still don't understand how they let him get the drop on them when they both had their handguns trained on him.

In Woodbury, Andrea professes were wish to stay in Woodbury as a contributing member of the community, volunteering to work guard-duty on the wall so as to maintain her proficiency with a weapon (training!).  Her start is a rocky one: she is assigned to learn the use of the bow from a young woman, but breaks the rules and jumps the barricade to kill a Walker hand-to-hand after her instructor's first two tries fail to take it out.  She is eventually brought before the Governor, and admits that she really enjoyed the fights from the previous episode.  They later bond further and end-up in bed together.

Merle later lies to the Governor, claiming to have killed Michonne and lost all three of the other men in the party, and presenting him with Glenn and Maggie as prisoners.  He tells the Governor that they must be set-up pretty well by the looks of them and that he will get the location from them.

I smell an ugly interrogation brewing in Woodbury next week.  :/

Regarding the phone calls Rick is receiving, they seem to be probing areas that he himself is sensitive to talk about.  In all, he speaks to four individuals, but it turns-out that it's all in his head: the voices are his own mind talking to him in the form of his dead wife (the final call) as well as Amy, Jim, and Jacqui, all of whom died back in season 1.  In my opinion, this is Rick's way of dealing with everything that he has experienced, but, strictly-speaking, it does represent a mental disconnect; a break from reality, no matter how brief.  

Different people handle stress in different ways, and some are unable to effectively handle it at all.  We live in the most highly-medicated culture ever to exist on this planet, a certain percentage of which includes psychotics and schizophrenics who are only able to walk the streets thanks to modern medicine and Big Pharma.  Just decades ago, these people would have been locked-away in asylums; now, they're standing next to us on the street -- what do you imagine is going to occur in a SHTF scenario when their crazy pills runs out?  On the decidedly less dramatic hand, we will also have to contend with depressive personalities and folks who suffer from severe anxiety disorders, currently held in-check via medication.  Look for suicides to sky-rocket in frequency.  The fact is that stress-related mental issues and breakdowns, such as Rick's in this episode, are something that we may all be forced to deal with eventually.

After his "spell" passes, Rick returns to the group and finally holds his daughter, whose name we still don't know, by the way.  Later, Michonne arrives at the prison, carrying the foraged supplies dropped by Glenn and Maggie.  She had overheard them talking about the prison and headed there after they were taken, I assume by following highway signs.

It should be interesting to see Daryl's reaction next week to the news that, not only is his brother alive, but Merle has kidnapped two of his friends.


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

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