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30 March, 2013

Guest Post: Apocalypse Gardening

Ok, so the world didn’t end in December, but that doesn’t mean that disaster won’t strike at another time. Think zombie apocalypse. When disaster does strike, you don’t want to be one of the people worried about where they are going to get their next meal or the meal after that. You want to be prepared and have a solid plan to survive the apocalypse or any other disaster.

Preparing for such events takes time and discipline but with proper planning, you can make sure you will have enough food to get you through nearly any situation. Having canned good and nonperishables on hand is always recommended for short term needs, but the only way to survive long term is to have your own apocalypse garden up and growing.

Why Garden?

Think you can survive off of just what you hunt, fish and trap? You would be wrong. Fruits and vegetables are a vital part of the human diet for an array of nutrients that aren’t available anywhere else. One of the most important is Vitamin C. Vitamin C may sound like it’s for sissies but even the manliest of men need it in their diets. The last thing you need during an apocalypse is scurvy which is a result of a Vitamin C deficiency. So yeah, like I said, you need an apocalypse garden.

Apocalypse gardens are not necessarily for pleasure, they are to serve a specific purpose; provide food for you and your family in times of need. Because of this, the goal is not to make your garden aesthetically pleasing but to grow as much food as possible in limited spaces. This means you need to grow plants that produce quickly and yield a high amount while being high in nutritional value.

Begin with a Plan

You have a couple of options when it comes to how you construct your apocalypse garden. Square foot gardening probably the only way you’ll be on the grid once the apocalypse happens. If you happen to have a little bit of yard space, square foot gardening will return a high yield of produce. It requires you to plant your plants closer together than you would in a regular garden setting. This is advantageous because densely planted gardens form their own sort of mulch which helps to keep the weed and pest population under control.

Container gardening is another option if you don’t have space in your yard to devote to an apocalypse garden. Even if you do have some yard space, you may want to consider growing at least a couple of your plants in containers so you are able to bring them indoors in adverse weather conditions.

What to Grow

Once you decide exactly how you want to construct your garden, you need to decide what you want to plant in it. Keeping in mind what grows well in your area, make a list of what you would potentially like to have in your apocalypse garden. Here is a potential list:
- Tomatoes
- Carrots
- Squash
- Pumpkins
- Radishes
- Green beans
- Aloe Vera
- Potatoes
- Rhubarb
- Blueberries- or berries of any kind really.
- Parsley
- Cabbage


How much TLC a particular plant needs should also affect your planting decision. Plants that need a lot of attention in order to produce may not be the best choice when it comes to deciding where you spend your energy. That being said, you should probably keep avocados off of your list. You don’t need to go out and purchase huge packages of survival seeds that have been marked up by extravagant amounts. You can purchase seed packages from your local greenhouse for far less and they will work just as well.

What if the apocalypse doesn’t happen or disaster never strikes? Can your fruits and veggies or donate them to local food pantries if you can’t eat everything that your garden produces each growing season.


Author Bio:
Mackenzie Kupfer has been a lover of all things green since the age of six when she began gardening with her Nana. She is currently an online publisher for the outdoor plant stands site avantgardendecor.com. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys attending garden shows, hiking, and of course preparing for the apocalypse.

29 March, 2013

Guest Post: 4 Important Tools for Surviving in the Wild

You need to have the right tools in order to survive in the wild. Whether it’s about cooking your food or finding your way out through the wilderness after being injured, you need to be prepared for it. When you’re stuck in an emergency situation, having a survival kit becomes a thing of necessity in order to make it through the whole ordeal. In the following article we will be looking into a few important tools that you must have to survive in the wild...

#1: A Knife

There’s no doubt about the fact that you will need a quality knife such as the KnifeArt's Emerson blades when you’re in the wild, as it’s a survival tool that helps you stay protected. Besides the protection it offers, having a knife with you also helps in many other areas such as carving a long branch’s end into a neat, sharp point. This will work for you like a spear, helping ward off any wild animals and catching fish. Not only that, a knife comes really handy when it comes to hunting/killing small animals for food and then preparing them to cook.

#2: A Lighter

Everybody who ventures out in the wilderness needs to have a lighter with them as it’s required for comfort, sterilizing and of course, cooking. First off, the most obvious use of fire is that it keeps you warm during a cold night. Secondly, when you’re in the wild, there can be instances when you get something stuck in your foot while walking, requiring you to perform a small operation on yourself. The fire can be used to sterilize the end of the knife for the operation. Lastly, capturing and preparing a meal is only one part of the equation, the other half is cooking it, for which you need fire. Also, having matches with you makes sense as they’re a good backup in case the lighter malfunctions or runs out of fluid.

#3: A Compass

The last thing you want is to get lost in the wilderness. Having a compass is crucial because it not only helps you find your way back to your campsite in case you’re lost, but it also shows you what direction you’re venturing in. For example, you may remember a small pond to the south from a previous hiking trip or a hunting expedition. The compass works as a guide and takes you to your destination, showing you which way is north so that finding your way back becomes easy. In case you’re trying to get closer and closer to civilization/rescue by moving your campsite each day, then the compass guides you towards the right direction as you travel.

#4: A Metal Bowl

Don’t disregard this as a useless tool because it can prove to be really helpful in cooking food, boiling water and even storing smaller objects. When you’re trying to survive in the wilderness and have to drink water from the stream/lake, you can boil it in the bowl it to make it sterile and fit for drinking. This bowl can also be used to cook food and store any leftover food that can be eaten the next day.

Conclusion

Surviving in the wild gets easier when you have access to the correct tools. The tools that we discussed in the above article may look simple, but they’re very useful when the time comes.

28 March, 2013

Guest Post: Research and Planning is the Most Important Thing You Can Do

The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) will undoubtedly change the life of anyone alive today more than any life has been changed in history, if only because we have climbed higher than ever before in history, and now have further to fall. A couple of examples leap to mind: 1) In the 1500’s, many things had to be reinvented that were in existence in the 900’s before the dark ages; 2) In 1990 when the USSR went down, the hi-tech things like atomic submarines sat and rusted and polluted to the extent that Russia INVITED the US to come in and rescue them. The fact that we have hi-tech does not necessarily mean that it will survive; 3) How many people alive today can even imagine how to cope with even the conditions that existed in the dirty 30’s. As one of the people who can remember, I KNOW how few. Damned few. And they are all 75 or older.

In Feb. 1987 when someone jiggled the jigsaw enough that a picture of where we were headed formed for me, I began to prepare. I bought paper gold, thinking I would be rich after. During the crash of 1987, I was serene. As the crash unfolded, I learned a LOT. Gold was not enough, and certainly not paper gold. I had to be able to bug out too, as well as being somewhat self sufficient. Then it became apparent that being in an isolated area was far better. I picked the west coast where mankind has survived for ten thousand years, until I was reminded that the Juan de Fuka tectonic plate I was thinking of residing on was being ground to bits and driven under the North American plate. Besides it was 4,000 miles away and packing and moving there was not going to be accomplished overnight. Ooops. I was missing a whole lot of things I should be thinking about. Some were natural, some were man-made.

Being a glider pilot, I stay aloft by knowing a bit more about weather than the average bear. What I knew persuaded me that, in human terms, great weather change was coming. I studied the real experts, not the five second training, instant screaming types and found a couple of very significant probable trends. No point in moving to an area that was going to turn to desert or an ice capped island just about the time you got your settling in problems solved which will take about five years.

1) The world is adding 300 million new mouths to feed each year. Glider pilots know the easiest way to find rising air is to find a nice black ROOFTOP, or blacktopped highway. The sun heats it more quickly than the surroundings producing hot, rising air. CO2 does retain heat, but the real experts say it only contributes two percent to global warming. Much of the balance comes from the forests being turned to black earth to feed that extra 300 million new mouths per annum. That alone, even in the short term, is enough to effect significant climate change.

2) There exists an ocean desert off the coast of Chile which now just touches Chile’s west coast. Ocean deserts are especially vicious. One land based weather station in that desert has never recorded ANY precipitation in its 100+ year existence. The probability is that that desert will expand within the next decade. The current increasing drought conditions in Texas and elsewhere lend credence to this theory. That desert is projected to expand east half way through Brazil, then due north into the US to about the latitude of California’s north border, then west out to sea. Will the loss of the SW quarter of the USA (and central America) affect world food production? How about those who bug out to the mountains? It certainly will affect weather permanently throughout North America, if it comes to pass that permanent hot desert will create a high which will deflect the jet stream. The jet stream now varies from moving more or less east near the Canadian border to continuing south along the Rockies, bringing precip to the western US before heading east and then north. With the high in place, it would likely track directly east about the latitude of the Canadian border. Not good for anyone living in what may become desert.

3) I also found that there were concerns about the Japan ocean current which runs more or less north-east to North America, then turns north to Alaska, where it cools sufficiently that the water becomes saline enough that the current sinks and begins its long journey back to the equator to pick up more calories of heat. Water can carry huge quantities of calories per cubic whatever. Global warming plus the addition of more fresh water was disturbing the saline balance of the current to the point that the current is in danger of not turning down for the return trip, thus stopping it entirely (The Gulf stream, which flows up the Atlantic coast is slowing too).  Mother nature will still try to move those calories and her only tool to do so will be air, which holds many less calories per cubic whatever. This means she must move a far greater volume, faster. That means unprecedented storms. Fast moving hurricanes will likely become daily events. True, the EASTern slopes of the Rockies will probably benefit as the warm, humid air is pushed up and over the Rockies, cooling it enough that precipitation is the result.

Not that we can be positive these things will happen, but now we know there is a risk, it would be foolish to ignore it. I began to seriously look at every possible future I could think of, both from natural causes such as solar flares to, man-made causes such as financial collapse. AND to make notes. These notes and my ‘immediate risk’ analysis led directly to my novel “Operation Phoenix” available as both a download or as a hard copy at www.AllenCurrie.ca. A free sample read is available.

More to come.

Allen Currie

27 March, 2013

Guest Post: Gadgets and Apps for Emergency Preparation

They say that perfect preparation prevents poor performance, but it is also the case that perfect preparation can prevent the worst happening in the event of an emergency.

Luckily, in the modern age there are plenty of tools at your disposal that can help you out in an emergency – so take a look at these five gadgets and apps you must have if preparing in case of a disaster.


ICE: In case of an emergency


This app is something of a Swiss army knife of the emergency preparation world, putting a host of useful information at your fingertips that could be the difference in a critical situation.

It stores important information for first responders and hospital staff to use in an emergency like insurance details and GP contact details, allows you to call emergency services directly from the app, and offers medication information and how-to guides. - Information here




Two-way radios


The best way to organise and co-ordinate in the event of an emergency, when standard methods of communication might not be available, is a two-way radio. With a decent set you will be able to instantly communicate with a large group at the press of a button to warn of any impending danger. Having to call everyone individually is completely inappropriate in an emergency and there is no quicker way to notify others else and get them to safety as quickly as possible.

A set of 2-way radios are an excellent survival preparedness tool that will serve you during normal times as well as during an emergency. - Information here


Weathered


The key to being prepared for a disaster is to have all the knowledge and information you can beforehand, and that is just what the eWeatherHD app does.

This little treat lets you check forecasts for the coming days all over the globe, offers storm forecasts and weather alerts, as well as earthquake information.

The app also uses Google maps to show tornado, rain, snow, and hail clouds movement, along with a host of other features. There’s nothing like being prepared in advance when it comes to the weather, you simply must have this app installed. - Information here


U.S. Army Survival Guide


This little gem really could be the difference between life and death in some situations.

Based on the Army survival manual, this app gives you access to all manner of information, from what to do if you are bitten by a poisonous snake, what plants are edible if you are stuck out in the wild and how to deal psychologically with the challenge you are facing.

If you find yourself in a tight spot during or after an emergency, there’s little this app won’t be able to tell you. - Information here


The Spot connect



If you aren’t signed up for Twitter or are allergic to social networks then this may be the best thing for you. A mobile phone will help you get out of many sticky situations but if you have no signal or coverage, then it won’t be much use.

The Spot Connect pulls off a rather neat trick in that it will turn your regular phone into a satellite phone and allow you to communicate with others when your phone would otherwise have let you down. This could prove to be particularly handy when preparing for the worst to happen. - Information here


Guest post contributed by Charlie Curtis-Jones who works for the radio communication experts at www.twowayradios.co.uk for enthusiasts who need reliable two-way communications.

26 March, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Postman" (1997)

This time, our Doomer Fiction film review centers on "The Postman" (1997) [Blu-ray] (DVD version).  Before I go any further, I should admit -- right up front -- I'm a pretty big fan of Kevin Costner's work.  The facts are that this film was an absolute failure at the Box Office, as well as being hated, almost universally, by critics; but I guess I would make a terrible critic... like many others they invariably seem to hate, I enjoyed this film.

One issue worth mentioning is that it is dated.  It's a futuristic tale that is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian 2013, where society has collapsed and we, as a people, have descended into a technological Dark Age.  Individual communities are isolated, and large areas are controlled by a neo-Fascist militia.  Basically, we destroyed ourselves through war, followed by sweeping plagues; and society has reverted to something resembling the Old West, but with a decidedly Medieval flavor.

Costner plays a drifter who often earns his meals and board by reciting Shakespeare plays.  Eventually, fate places him inside an abandoned postal truck, and he later lies to gain shelter in a town by claiming to be a real mail-carrier, representing a newly reinstated U.S. government based out of Minneapolis.  Unbeknownst to him, however, his lies begin to give people hope for the first time in years and, eventually, becomes the inspiration needed for the people to stand up in defiance of their oppressors.

It is a very stirring, patriotic film that is truly far better than it is given credit for being.  I have no reservations about recommending it for inclusion in the library of any Prepper / Survivalist.

25 March, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "Lights Out" by David Crawford

This week, I will have the immense pleasure of reviewing one of the first survival-themed novels I ever read: "Lights Out" by David Crawford (Kindle edition).  A pleasure to re-read over and over, despite its length (I actually consider that a plus, not a detriment), this one is still one of my all-time favorites.

The gist: A Texas neighborhood must band together to survive after a terrorist EMP attack virtually destroys the U.S. power grid.  What makes this novel a unique addition among the EMP-related mini-genre of Doomer Fiction is its focus on survival as a community, specifically a single suburban neighborhood being molded into a sort of compound with a secure perimeter.

There are no flights of fancy in this novel.  Every occurrence is realistic and so are the ways in which different characters react and interact.  I honestly find it difficult to put down, no matter how many times I've read it.

Also unique about this novel is the way it originally came into existence.  It was actually published as a serial on Survivalist Internet message boards (receiving over 3 million combined views) before being compiled into a novel for sale.

It's a long read, coming in at north of 600 pages, so it's best to think of it as a marathon as opposed to a sprint.  It was written as a serial, so the protracted length makes perfect sense.  In truth, it actually aids in the development of believable, relatable characters and a well thought-out and coherent storyline that plays-out over time.  Considering its length and the hours it will keep you entertained, it is well-worth the novel's asking price.

Give it a shot.  You won't be sorry.

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 3 - Episode 15 "This Sorrowful Life"

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.
----------

Sometimes hard choices have to be made. That is a simple, yet profoundly true statement. Even in today's (comparatively) civilized world, life often seems to have a way of placing each and every one of us firmly between the proverbial rock and the hard place, where the only choices available to us are bad choices. The hard truth we must all face is that, in a future survival situation, this seemingly universal theme will be even more pronounced. The everyday choices we agonize over now (Which car to buy? Which credit card to pay-down first?) will blissfully fade away like the unimportant nonsense they truly are; but, unfortunately, they will be replaced by choices of much more gravity and that are -- often -- far more difficult to decide.

That is what Rick and his group are facing in this episode. Deliver one of their own into the hands of a madman who intends to torture her in return for a promise of peace, or refuse and prepare to fight a war they may not be able to win and, without a doubt, will not leave them whole and unscathed, even if they are somehow victorious. Could you make that choice, in return for keeping your family/group safe?  That is a question we all need to ask ourselves in our hearts.

At least in as far as the storyline of the show goes, bending to such a demand is a fool's errand, in my opinion. None of them have any reason to consider the Governor as being anything other than a homicidal psychopathic maniac and/or The Devil incarnate. Even if giving him Michonne was going to quell his particular brand of crazy (which they have no reason to believe it will), just exactly how much time do they think they're buying for themselves?  Even the most optimistic Pollyanna of the bunch couldn't possibly be stupid enough to think he would just leave them in peace forever and everybody could just live in a world of sunshine and rainbows as neighbors.

The Governor is a rabid dog, and the only thing you can do with a rabid dog is put it down.  You don't have to enjoy it (Hell, you SHOULDN'T enjoy it), but you do have to do it; it's the only way to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. I, for one, think they should have done what Glenn suggested a few weeks ago -- a few of them sneak back into Woodbury and quietly put an end to the man. That, at least, might have either bought them some safety or decreased Woodbury's threat potential considerably.

Anyway, the specifics of the choice are unimportant for our purposes, except as an example. As Preppers / Survivalists, who are getting ready for an uncertain future, the important thing for us is to recognize that we may (and I would argue it is more than likely) one day have to make a choice that threatens to render us unable to ever sleep peacefully or look ourselves in the mirror again, in return for ensuring the safety of family and friends for whom we've accepted responsibility. Better get yourself prepared mentally for such a future.




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

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

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



22 March, 2013

Guest Post: Top Compost Kits with the Best Reputations

Did you know that, according to CompostGuy.com, organic matter makes up between 20% and 40% of our landfills? And that when compost is added to soil, it can actually help to bring life back to soil that has been impacted by toxic spills and industry? It is also quite nutrient-rich and can really help take your garden to new levels.

These are all compelling arguments for making composting a regular part of your life. So the next question is, where do you start if you want to begin composting at home? Luckily, there are a few kits on the market that have excellent internet reputations for helping to turn your organic matter into compost.

Bokashi Composting Kit

To clarify terms, “bokashi” is the fermentation process of organic waste. The Sunwood Life Bokashi Compost Kit includes a five-gallon compost pail in which you can collect your waste in the home, as well as a masher to compact the organic waste as you compost. The kit also includes two pounds of Bokashi Bran as a compost accelerator, in order to help speed the fermentation process.

Coffee grounds are a commonly composted product.
Happy Farmer Composting Kit

The Happy Farmer Composting Kit includes one bucket and a bag of compost starter. It is quite simple to use and includes easy-to-follow instructions. The kit recommends that when your compost bucket is full, you add the starter and leave the bucket closed for two weeks to allow the fermentation process to take place. After two weeks, you’ll add the compost to your soil, where it will further decompose and create a nutrient-rich soil for your gardening pleasure!

The kit includes a strainer and a spigot, as the fermentation process generates liquid. Happy Farmer indicates that you can actually use this liquid to clean your kitchen and bathroom drains!

Good Ideas Compost Wizard Starter Kit

This kit is the Ferrari of the composting world! It includes seven cubic feet of room for waste, is wheel-based, and includes accelerator pouches and Coco Fiber, which “helps retain nutrients and balance moisture in composters and will continue to benefit your garden long after it leaves the composter.” Coco Fiber should be added to the compost every time you add green matter to the compost bin. It will help to absorb moisture, odor, and keep those pesky pests away from your compost bin.

The Good Ideas Compost Wizard Starter Kit is black for a reason—the black color attracts heat in sunlight, which aids in the fermentation process.

Take your garden to the next level by integrating compost into the soil.
So, you might next be wondering which foods can be composted. Sunwood Life cites “bread, vegetable, fruit peels, meat, bone, fish, and dairy products” as among the appropriate foods. Tea bags and coffee grounds can be added, as can nut shells, though these might take a bit longer to break down. Gardenorganic.org has a more thorough list of the things you should and should not compost. Interestingly, the list cites hair/nail clippings among the compostable items, and indicates that meat is on the do-not-compost list because it can attract vermin.

All good tips as you begin your composting adventure. Happy composting trails to you!

Have a great compost kit to recommend? Please share it with us.


Cara Aley is a freelance writer who writes about everything from matters of entrepreneurship to green living. She is currently VP of Operations for Two Degrees, a one-for-one food bar company.

21 March, 2013

Guest Post: Can Civilians Buy Body Armor?

Over the last few years body armor has grown in popularity just about everywhere in the world!  Nowadays people in a range of job sectors are protecting their bodies from potential harm and risk while working.  But it doesn’t stop there!

One question that’s asked a lot in this industry is:

“Can Civilians buy Body Armor in the United States?”

Short Answer is: Yes

Long Answer is: Yes, but the U.S government prohibits the purchase, owning, or use of body armor for convicted felons.  Anyone caught wearing, buying or owning body armor when you have a conviction without explicit consent, from either your local jurisdiction or the US government, will be reprimanded and the armor will be seized.  In Connecticut, you cannot purchase body armor online and have it delivered to directly your door.  Connecticut body armor law states you must buy any body armor face to face.  In New York, although you can freely purchase body armor now, the State is seriously considering passing legislation to ban the purchase of armor by civilians.

What do civilians want with body armor?


It seems more and more civilians are now purchasing body armor in their local gear stores, gun shops, or even from online websites such as safeguardarmor.com, for everyday use or even just for their own hobbies.  In the U.S., gun sports have become a massive business and, because of this, we have seen a rise in sales of body armor for civilians in 2011-13 -- it has become part of the hobby to actively protect yourself when handling or standing near guns and rifles.  When you’re carrying a gun or when you’re around people that carry guns, gun enthusiasts and preppers purchase personal armor to give them that added security from potential ballistic accidents.

Another reason that the purchasing of body armor from civilians has increased is because of EX- Law Enforcement, Security, Military personnel or trained defense instructors who may have moved on to training others in self-defense, tactics, and shooting.  They have a strict obligation to instruct their students correctly on health and safety during training, especially when it comes down to handling dangerous weapons and guns.  These ex-service personnel then instruct others on how to properly work with and wear tactical gear (including the use of body armor) in preparation for either a future career, hobbies, or -- again -- for personal protection and defense purposes.

In certain areas around the world, the potential risks for being hit directly or by a stray bullet is quite high, so if you have to live in one of these high risk areas, then you would again probably turn to protecting yourself with a bullet proof vest.  As you may know, personal armor can be worn overtly or covertly, dependent on your clothing and occupation.  Great thing is the engineering of new materials, used in modern day armor, has meant it has become very lightweight, unrestricting, and highly protective.  As a result, it can be worn as a normal piece of everyday clothing comfortably and, because of it is concealable, also discreetly.  As much as it’s become a hobby to some, body armor is seriously useful and could save your life, so treat it with a degree of respect!

20 March, 2013

Guest Post: Top 3 People You Should Know If the World Ended Tomorrow

Most of us have thought about what would happen if the world ended tomorrow and what we would have to do to survive.  We have even created shows like Doomsday Preppers to prepare you for the worst and The Walking Dead as extreme cases that could happen.  Our parents use to worry about bombs falling from the sky, but our generation has to worry about the zombie apocalypse.  There is always someone that you’ll have to know as a resource for help.  Here is a list of the top 3 people that you should know today, in case the end of the world is tomorrow.

#1 Gun Enthusiast/Bowman/Outdoorsmen


Eventually the shelf-life of the food at your local grocery store is going to expire, and you’ll have to rely on the lay of the land.  These people have the resources for protection from human, animal, and whatever threat may occur while trying to survive.  Although these people may be rash in their decision making, they can prove to be very handy.

#2 Nurse


Things rarely go as planned without someone getting injured, especially during the apocalypse.  Any nurse with extensive education or experience has the knowledge and resources to take care of illnesses and injuries in most situations, even in the case of Hershel Greene.

#3 A Boy Scout


They have all the resources and knowledge that can help anyone out in any situation.  A boy scout is like the ultimate human pocket knife.  Boy Scouts are one of the oldest and most respected organizations that help children gain knowledge and responsibility that they will need to excel and succeed in any situation.

If the world ends tomorrow, who will be your resource?

19 March, 2013

MOVIE REVIEW: "Flood" (2007)

This week's film review examines "Flood" (2007), based on the novel of the same name by Richard Doyle.  I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the book, which is probably for the best -- film adaptations to novels rarely hold-up in comparison, as far as I'm concerned.  And I am thoroughly happy *NOT* to have a reason to dislike this picture.

This just in: British people know how to put together a decent disaster film.  This flick from across the pond could easily hold its own against the typical Hollywood-fare and resoundingly trounce a good number of them.

The basic concept centers on the confluence of high Spring tides and a monstrous wind-driven storm-surge that is too much for the Thames Barrier to handle.  Enter stage left: lots of wet, drowning British folk and a lot of drama; and what you end-up with is a very decent, above-average addition to the Disaster / Doomer Film genre.

The subject matter of this film also touches on an issue that has hounded me ever since the debacle that was Hurricane Katrina.  What kind of a moronic species are we that we routinely build population centers in known, historic flood plains?  It is insanity.  We're actually stupider as a species now than we were thousands of years ago -- even the Romans knew that, if you wanted to build on a flood plain, you better make 1000 slaves carry baskets of dirt around to raise the ground-level higher.  London, for its part, was originally a Roman city known as Londinium, but, back then, the city rested almost entirely atop two hills well above the reach of the Thames.

We are morons in comparison.

18 March, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: "ARkStorm" by Ron Foster

This week's book review of "ARkStorm" by Ron Foster (Kindle edition) represents a bit of a mixed-bag from a critical standpoint, and I will explain why that is the case in a moment.  First, some background: The ARkStorm in the title refers to a weather phenomenon known as the Atmospheric River 1000 Storm.  Basically, an atmospheric river dumps tons of rain and causes crazy flooding -- the 1000 refers, essentially, to a theoretical model of a really, really bad one that only happens about every 1000 years.

Now, imagine such a storm slams into California, flooding the central valleys and resulting in the evacuation of cities like Los Angeles.  Imagine just how much fun it would be to be evacuating and have your family's car sandwiched between a car full of Crips and a car full of Bloods on the clogged Interstates leading away from such population zones.  Needless to say, it would not be a good situation.

The positive parts of the novel are that it's an entertaining story for the disaster fiction genre, based on a scientifically-plausible theoretical natural occurrence.

The negatives are that it's difficult to enjoy that story, because the novel is poorly written, and it appears to not even had the most rudimentary editing process.  In fact, it doesn't appear to have even so much as been proofread by a colleague, friend, or family member before being published.  The punctuation is misused atrociously, and that is where the author bothers using any punctuation whatsoever.  There are, within the pages of this novel, run-on sentences that are the length of full paragraphs, not containing so much as a single comma.  It made what would otherwise have been an enjoyable story very difficult and laborious to wade through, honestly.

To be fair, however, the version I read was the Kindle edition.  I cannot speak to what you'll find in the paperback.

Also, and this is just a pet peeve, but the word "Prepper" isn't -- at least, in my circles -- some sort of badge of honor.  It's simply a lifestyle choice chosen by otherwise average people.  I know plenty of Preppers, but, if I walk up to one of them, I don't yell out, "How's my Prepper friend?"  He/she are just my friend who happens to be a Prepper.  Attaching the word to every other sentence is just corny to me.  YMMV.

REVIEW: The Walking Dead: Season 3 - Episode 14 "Prey"

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.
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Without a doubt, things are heading toward a climactic conclusion in the weeks to come.  This week, we witness yet more of the Governor's de-evolution into madness, as he prepares what he calls his workshop -- and what those of us who are still sane would refer to as a torture chamber -- against the rapidly-approaching day when he intends to slaughter Rick's group.  One can only assume that it's Michonne he intends to take his time with, as she is the one who took his eye and put down the Walker that had once been his daughter Penny.

Even Milton can recognize his growing madness.  He still feels loyalty toward him for the things he did before he became the Governor we now see; and he also doesn't see a better option for a leader waiting in the wings to take over, should the Governor fall.  He warns Andrea, however, begging her to carry the alarm to those at the prison and talk them into escaping.  For her part, she'd rather just kill him, but Milton rightly points out that all that would result in is her being gunned-down as well and the leadership of Woodbury being passed-down by others who would still insist on wiping Rick's group out.  And, so, Andrea finally escapes Woodbury, but not before also planting a seed of doubt in the minds of Tyreese and his sister that the Governor is not what he seems -- a truth they discover for themselves very soon.

I can't really say much else without giving away serious spoilers that would ruin things for any who haven't seen the episode, but suffice it to say that the entire episode centers on Woodbury.  We don't really see the group at the prison at all.

As Preppers / Survivalists, the thing we should take from this episode is a sense of the dangers inherent in becoming involved with a group, the leadership of which we haven't fully vetted.  You never know when the charismatic leader you're tempted to follow might be a closet psychopath.


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

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

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



16 March, 2013

Preparation for Survival: It's All in the Details

Building a cache of home-defense and hunting weapons along with a serious stash of ammunition is a given for survivalists. Your survival rifles and handguns have limitations: They require regular maintenance. Preparedness means thinking of everything, including those little parts that break down in our weapons and frustrate us or, in worst-case scenario, put us in danger. You need to be able to sustain yourself for an unlimited time.

As GameAndFishMag.com says, "Any maintenance is better than no maintenance." And most experts recommend that you clean your guns every time you use them; however, a cleaning can vary from a simple wipe down to a full disassembly. First rule is to ensure that the weapon is not loaded, the magazine is removed and the chamber is empty. Second rule: Double check. While you're inside the gun, take stock of the details.

Recoil Springs

If the recoil on your gun becomes weak, you might need to replace the recoil spring, which is a simple process. Brownells.com carries recoil springs from 6-pound to 26-pound sizes. Check your manufacturer's website to find the recommended size range. For example, the standard government-model 1911 takes an 18.5-pound spring. Replacement tip: Springs usually have a closed end and open end; insert the closed-end first.

GameAndFishMag.com advises to clean the spring before replacing it. In semi-automatic shotguns, for example, the spring in the butt stock is a magnet for oil and dirt. If the auto load function isn't working, this could be a reason.

Rubber Seals

O-rings are common rubber seals that are used in machining, automobiles, medical devices, heating and cooling, and weapons. The purpose is to create a seal between two hard surfaces, whether they are static or dynamic, so that gas and liquids do not leak out or seep in. These little rings are made to withstand severe temperatures and repeated use, but they do break down over time and with use. Again, your manufacturer's website should offer a guide to the size of the o-ring your weapon requires.

Schematics

If you can't find a parts list on the manufacturer's website, look for a detailed schematic. Even the most experienced gun owners can use schematics for disassembling and reassembling their gear. There are helpful videos on YouTube that offer great step-by-step guides for cleaning and repairing guns, as long as you have an Internet connection. In a world without power and electronics, paper rules. GunPartscorp.com has a library of more than 2,000 schematics that include parts lists, and they sell for $1.50 to $3.50 (or .99 if you buy parts from the site).



Tools

You've stocked your toolbox with every size screwdriver and screw, cleaning kit and lubricant. Add to that a strong, multi-purpose folding utility knife. These come in handy if your gun jams and your fingers are too big to extract a jammed casing. Smith & Wesson's Border Guard folding knives include added features, such as ambidextrous thumb grips and glass breakers and sell for around $70. Another benefit of having a knife on hand at all times is that knives never run out of ammunition and require no maintenance.

Except for the utility knife, the other suggestions on this page are inexpensive preventive steps to take to ensure that you can maintain your weapons. A few dollars spent now on recoil springs, o-rings, lubricant and schematics will net a big return on investment tomorrow.

15 March, 2013

Guest Post: End of the World Predictions that Failed

What is humankind's obsession with death and total destruction? One after another, predictions of the end of times have come and gone like clothing fads. Whenever one prediction comes and goes, another one is soon to follow. These predictions have spawned from scientific evidence to those who claim to have cracked God's code in the Bible. Why is humankind so bent on awaiting the end of the world? Is it because times are hard and we are faced with a world of uncertainty and we have grown to embrace despair? Whatever the reason, we are sure to face more of these predictions as time marches on.

1. 2000 - In December of 1999, thousands of people flocked to the grocery stores in order to purchase any supplies they could find in order to survive the impending doom of the computers crashing on a global scale. Candles, batteries, water, canned foods, and more were purchased in large quantities because of this fear. January 1, 2000 arrived and those same people had a surplus of goods. While it is good to be prepared, waiting until the last minute is foolish.

2. Harold Camping - One of the most notable of biblical predictions were those made by Harold Camping. Although he had once predicted the end of the world happening in 1994, he is most notable now as the man who predicted May 21, 2011 as judgment day. Five months of destruction were to happen and on October 21, 2011 the world itself would end. What makes this an especially sad prediction is the number of followers who sold off everything they owned in order to spread the word - only to become homeless when all was said and done.

3. Mayan Prophecies? - One of the most notable of spiritual predictions is that of the Mayan calendar that was to signify the end on December 21, 2012. Again, the date came and went with not a single disruption in the world. However, a great deal of theories fueled this belief as no one knew for certain how the world was going to end. Talks of the fabled planet Nibiru spread like wildfire throughout the Internet. The comet Elenin, solar flares, and more all seemed to circle around the Mayan "prediction" of the end. However, the calendar never said it was the end of times. Their 5,000 year long-count calendar did what ours does every December 31st - start over.

4. Peter of Rome - Next up is the Saint Malachy prophecies of the new pope. Apparently, this new choice of pope for the Christian faith will signify the coming of the antichrist. As this happens a few decades after Nostradamus had predicted it, could this be yet the newest destruction fad?

In all reality, no one really knows when the end of times will happen. It could be centuries from now as a nuclear winter envelopes this planet and kills all life. It could just as easily happen before you finish reading this post as an asteroid the size of a house careens towards the planet at three-quarters the speed of light - which would destroy most of the life on this planet as well. That is why it is so important to be prepared no matter what the next fad is.


About the Author:
Ken Myers is an expert advisor on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

14 March, 2013

Guest Post: Krav Maga for Self-Defense -- The Basics

Can you defend yourself if you’re attacked?
Krav Maga is a hand-to-hand, reality-based combat system. It is gaining popularity as a non-competitive self-defense training system.

The practice involves a mix of jiu-jitsu, boxing, wrestling, Muay Thai, plus various survival, grappling, and fighting techniques.

There are no rituals involved: The practice is built around instinctive moves and simple principles. Given that, Krav Maga can be taught at a level appropriate for all ages and for both males and females.

The goal of Krav Maga self-defense techniques is survival. This means students are encouraged to use only the force needed to survive. In other words, harming the attacker is not the primary concern.

Strikes


Various types of strikes are the foundation of Krav Maga. Different kicks and punches are used to strike sensitive body parts of the attacker. This includes the groin, stomach, and eyes. Besides using the feet, palms, and heels of the hands to deliver punches, students also learn to deliver elbow strikes.

Besides learning to deliver strikes, students also learn to defend themselves from similar blows. In order to hone skills, scenarios are practiced in group settings.

Chokes and More


Krav Maga teaches students how to defend against such common attacks as chokes, headlocks, and bear hugs. These attacks are practiced from various angles and positions. For instance, a choke can come from behind or from the front and the victim may be pulled or pushed while being choked. In some cases, a bear hug may include lifting the victim off the ground.

Krav Maga teaches students how to respond to numerous versions of the attacks in an aggressive manner. Plus, the student is taught that the initial defense is appropriately followed up with a counterattack.

Guns add to the dangers of an attack.

Weapons


Defending against gun and knife attacks is also a part of the training covered in Krav Maga. Hostage scenarios are covered as well as self-defense techniques related to gun situations that require redirection of a weapon, taking control of the weapon, or attacking and taking control of the weapon.

Scenarios involving knives can be anything from a knife to the throat to a knife in the distance. Therefore, a number of methods of defense are practiced.

Drills


Krav Maga techniques are practiced in what are often called ‘training drills.’ Obviously, the drills are designed to depict realistic encounters, but another thing that makes them unique is the fact that the drills are often conducted repeatedly. One line of thought is that if the defender is able to react appropriately when feeling tired, stressed, or feeling out of sorts, he/she is very likely to do the same or similar actions in a real attack.

When learning Krav Maga, students are reminded of the importance of keeping the body in motion and the ‘how and why’ related to deflecting blows from attackers. Like other methods of self-defense Krav Maga has some valuable benefits that are sometimes overlooked.

Besides physical preparedness, students are also taught to be aware of the significance of their surroundings. Plus, they learn to be more mentally and emotionally prepared to identify and even avoid attacks before they occur. That can be an advantage for anyone.

If you have experience with Krav Maga. please share your story in the comments section below.


Debbie Allen is a freelance writer who writes about everything from how to choose the ideal roofing contractors to how to save money on dental insurance.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of sattva at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

13 March, 2013

Guest Post: Spring Veggies -- What to Plant in Your Garden for the Upcoming Spring

Spring IS coming. Really! The calendar says so!
Spring is coming, and it's time to start thinking about what types of veggies to plant in your garden. Read on for our favorites.

You say "Tomato." I say "To-maw-to." Okay - so it’s not a vegetable. It’s a fruit. But is there a more coveted piece that comes out of your garden? Salads, slices on almost anything, soup, pasta sauce, sautéed, grilled, stewed, raw. Ohh, the possibilities with tomatoes are endless, and that’s why we love them!

They have to be choice #1 for the upcoming gardening season. And what’s not to love? Your neighbor will fawn all over you for sharing a couple of these juicy treats, and everyone will get a boost of antioxidants, heart healthy lycopene, and Vitamins A, C, and E.

Lettuce all be healthy: That’s a little cheesy, but lettuce and spinach are so darned easy to grow, and you’ve got insta-meal at all times when these two are popping up in your garden. Vitamin A and folic acid are bountiful in lettuce, while spinach allows you to get a strong dose of calcium and iron. Blend them for a great salad, or use the large leafy pieces to roll up some veggie or chicken salad wraps.

Peas pass the pepper? Peas are loaded with Vitamins A, B and C, and again, they are in the “easy to grow” category. Think of the ways they jazz up a fresh meal: stir fry, steamed, sprinkled raw atop a salad, or tossed high into the air while you practice catching them in your mouth. Impress your family. C’mon! You know they’ll laugh!

A picture of health and perfection: Treat yourself well!
Have you Bean to the Farmer’s Market? Most of the locals have tons of green beans because of the masses that are produced. You can choose to grow green bush beans or pole beans, and really, they are about the same in both texture and flavor.

You’ll get some nice benefits from the fiber, potassium, and Vitamins K, A, and C, too. Play around with colors, as well; they come in the obvious shades of green, but yellow or purple beans add a nice splash of color to your healthful table.

Squash the idea that you don’t have enough room for Zucchini: Yes, the yellow or green squash does, indeed, take up a bit more space, but these two are so low in calorie and high in healthy benefits that it’s worth the real estate in your garden. They are packed with manganese, potassium, and folate, and the bright colors lend to a beautiful plate.

The ideas for your personal garden are limitless. Go with what you and your family will enjoy the most, and be sure to retain the highest amount of health benefits by not overcooking them. The less you cook them, the brighter the color will stay, as well. Create your own rainbow of hues in the garden, and enjoy!


Photo Credit: Southern Foodways Alliance
Photo Credit: nociveglia

Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who writes about education, the economy, and healthy living. She also often writes as a guest writer for Reputation.com.