prepare

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Since I am on a radio kick (funny how old hobbies resurface..), I decided to dig my old CB radio from storage. I bought it around 1989-90, and hadn’t turned it on since. I was worried it would go up in smoke when I turned it on, but to my surprise, it worked. I hooked up a 3ft. balcony antenna to it and heard… Nothing but static. Maybe it had not aged so well after all. In radio, the antenna is everything. My little three footer wasn’t going to provide stellar performance. Unless I could get it high enough. I ended-up on my deck, swinging a wrench attached to a nylon string, aiming for a promising branch above the roof. Five minutes later, I was listening to stations from Mexico, Costa Rica, and New Mexico. That was of course using Single Side Band (LSB or USB). There is nothing left for me on the regular AM band. At least on SSB, you hear much less obscenities, and conversations are more “professional.” A CB with SSB modes thus is a good choice for emergency communications (yes, I changed my mind..).

Anyone around Sarasota wanting to chat on SSB, post in the comments below!

As far as radios go, I would suggest that you stay away from “export” models, which have more channels and power than legally allowed. Not only could you get in trouble with the FCC, but you could also create interferences on other legitimate stations or electronic devices nearby. You don’t need more than the legal 12 watts SSB to reach stations thousands of miles away. Forty channels isn’t much, that is true, but I would rather operate legally with these limitations than face a fine I probably can’t afford.

We are now at the peak of solar activity, which creates ideal propagation conditions. We will probably get decent propagation for the next couple years. The solar cycle lasts eleven years. It was at it’s peak in 1980 when I bought my first CB, and again in 1990 when I bought my second one. It is peaking again right now, isn’t that convenient! You can still make long distance contacts during low activity, but it doesn’t happen as often…

Here are the current conditions (look at 11m for CB):



 
My choice of “newest” radio is the Galaxy DX 979.
Galaxy DX 979

Galaxy DX 979


It is a legal radio, CB of course, so you can use it without any license. I’d like to replace my “shorty” antenna by a Solarcon Imax 2000 (24 feet long), but that will have to wait. Like I said, the antenna is everything. For situations like camping or temporary base operation, I would get a “Double Bazooka” wire antenna. For a car, the K-40 is a proven design, and you don’t have to drill a hole in your roof! Don’t forget to get an SWR meter to tune your antenna (if your radio doesn’t have one built-in) or you could fry your transmitter.

A good channel to listen to is 38 LSB, here is a video of an operator making contact from PA to NC:



 
My old transceiver will be mothballed in a Faraday cage, waiting for an EMP Doomsday that may never come. If it did happen, information would be worth it’s weight in gold !? ;-). A good battery and a 12v solar panel would provide power. With all electromagnetic interferences gone, the radio frequencies would be very quiet, but for the few prepared individuals still on the air with working transmitters.

Hornet Gyroplane: Still going… Next step willl be the landing gear. I am waiting for some extra cash to place an order at Aircraft Spruce. The Engine, a Rotax 447 is in my storage unit at the airport. That was a major item financially ($2000). Left to do: The tail (Dominator tail), 5 gal. fuel tank, rotor head, rotor blades (another major item). The rest is small potatoes, hardware, aluminum and such. I spent a lot of money traveling this summer, so the gyro was put on hold. We had such a great time though, no regrets! Keeping at it, I will finish it eventually. I give myself a one year deadline, let’s say before the end of the Mayan calender, October or something. I’ve got to fly that thing before the end of the world 😉

Dagny, my 32ft Steel Sailboat: Big disappointment here. Someone stole all the bronze ports on the boat, ten of them, worth thousands of dollars. I was wondering what to do about the whole restoration, but after this unfortunate event, honestly, I have lost hope to ever finish it. Sometimes you have to cut your losses. I have been paying $340 for storage at the marina every month, and that has taken it’s toll. So, the boat has to go. I am not giving up on sailing of course. Remembering the saying “Go small, go now!” I need to be a little more realistic with my boat building ambitions. So, here is my new boat project. It’s only 15ft long, but a strong blue-water design. It also can fit on a trailer or in a shipping container. No marina fees required here! I can also build it at home, instead of driving half an hour to Bradenton..

Lehigh County Long Rifle: Still going as well. It is a small, manageable project. I am only missing a few parts, so it won’t be long before I finish. I actually picked it up again this week for some sanding on the stock. That will be a great looking muzzle-loading gun. Again, I am not sticking to historical correctness, as the next step will be parkerizing the barrel..

That is it for building projects. I have too much to do as it is and need to stop starting too many things at once. I can finish the above three, if I don’t add anything else…

P90X: I have to say, results were great. Then, I slacked off before leaving this summer, and haven’t picked it up again yet. I put back on all the weight I lost during the five weeks I trained. Shame on me. So, another round it is, starting after my parents leave on December 2nd. What people interested in P90X need to realize, is that it is a lifelong commitment, not just a 90-day program. Although you don’t need to train as much as during the first 90 days, a regular exercise plan is a must to keep whatever you gained (or lost 😉 during that time. Otherwise, you will lose it all as I did. At leat, I know I can do it, and how to do it again. I know it works, and that will be a good motivation to start again. I consider doing P90X a great achievement, as it is anything but easy. I failed however to retain my gains, and I need to fix that.

Systema: Same as P90X, I slacked off.. It is like bicycle though, so I certainly haven’t lost it all. The physical aspect, I need to work on of course, and P90X will do that. I also need to go back to class! Teaching will certainly help too. Since I got requests for starting the pro-bono/class promotion study group again, I am thinking of setting it up again a couple times a month or so. Systema is more than something I do, it is now partially something I am. It is hard to explain to someone who isn’t practicing.. So, what don’t you try it? I am sure there is a class nearby where you live, check out Vladimir Vasiliev’s site, and systemasarasota.com for our local class schedule.

Work: I am getting into iPhone application development! Problem is, I need a Mac. It is a good field to get into because the current pool of IOS programmers can’t keep up with demand, and hourly rates soared to $100 to $200 per hour. Who knows how long that will last, but I need to catch that ride before things calm down a bit. I do want to publish my own apps of course, as well as write apps for whomever hires me to do so. Anyone has a great idea and a development/marketing budget?

Other Stuff: I have been pretty active publishing videos on Youtube. I have been on a “disaster preparedness” kick lately, storing food and gathering survival gear.. No, I am not paranoid.. Maybe my brain is telling me something, which it unconsciously computed from world news and personal observations, mainly “things aren’t going better..” So, I am merely following my intuitions and just taking a few basic precautions.. See my above Youtube channel about that.. You might want to do the same.. Overall, I plan on shaking things up a bit in 2012, as I have been a bit sluggish lately, you may have noticed..

Why am I writing about all this? I guess that since the things I like to do might be a bit unusual, I am hoping to provide from mere mild entertainment to useable good advise. I am curious by nature. It has prompted me to learn a lot of things, many useless, some potentially life-saving, and everything in between. I always liked to listen to what other people have to say, because we all have some interesting insights. By writing and making videos, I am giving back the same way I learn. By getting feedback and comments I also learn more about the things I am interested in. It’s an exchange of information. Not to mention metting interesting people with the same interests. Anyway, it’s time better spent than watching fail videos on Youtube.

Private Life: Should remain private.. Though I can say, everything is just dandy 🙂

I wish everyone a good Thanksgiving!

Gil.

Us humans are masters of self-deception. I know organic food proponents who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day.. The same applies to disaster preparedness. If you deem yourself a “prepper,” (I learned the word only recently), you can’t pick and choose your favorite areas of preparation. Our goal is survival, so health should be our main concern. That implies a healthy diet and regular exercise. You might have the best gear, food and weapons, but if your body isn’t ready, your chances of survival are slim.

I see many individuals storing gear and food in huge amounts, but disregarding the possibility of a bug-out. I am guilty of the opposite extreme. I have no food stored and all my preparations emphasize mobility. That is something I need to balance with enough supplies to stay put for at least a month. It wasn’t so much of a problem when I was single, but now I need to think about a few people. If you must leave your house in a hurry, you need to know what to take with you, and there might be no time then to run around frantically stuffing everything in a bag. Here in Florida, tornadoes and hurricanes come to mind. There might be nothing to come back to, and in case of a tornado, no time to gather essential items. On the other hand, leaving your house might not be a safe option, in which case you need enough food, water, and probably a generator with enough gas. You should be ready for both eventualities.

I remember an interview on the eve of Y2K. The journalist asked a man and a woman if they were prepared and how. The woman had stores of food, water, gear, and was well prepared. The man just said “I bought a gun so I can steal her stuff.” You should have seen her face! She had prepared in the areas she was comfortable with and probably didn’t like guns. Another perfect example of selective preparedness.

Being prepared makes you a target for those who are not. Most survivalists are probably armed, and for good reasons. Do they practice enough? Self-defense is an all-encompassing endeavor. Having a weapon is essential, but can you defend yourself without it? Relying on it is self-deception. You are probably more likely to be caught off guard than ready. Yes, that means you need to practice a real martial art (read my other posts to understand what I mean by “real”), sweat and endure pain and fear on a weekly basis. It’s not comfortable and that is why most people don’t do it. It also means to be in good enough shape to move your body efficiently, more sweat, daily..

I would rather be a little prepared for everything rather than highly so in one area. Specialization works in civilized times when trading services is possible. During emergencies, being a jack-of-all-trades will serve you better. We like to be comfortable and avoid doing things that bother us. The most successful people are those who can consistently transcend that behavior.

If you are reading this, I probably don’t need to convince you that you should have an emergency management plan and the supplies to implement it. What I am suggesting is that you examine your plan for missing preparations you conveniently forget about or reschedule to the near future (never).

Members of your family might not care at all about your “antics” and have no idea about what is in those plastic bins you have in the garage. Women are excellent self-deceivers, and kids only care about their world and video games. They might even laugh at you. You are the Lone Ranger here. There might be areas of preparedness that you are avoiding because of what they might say. Be reasonable while making sure you cover everything. Consider that if they say that you have too much stuff, they are probably right. Don’t go from “prepper” to hoarder.

Preparedness shouldn’t occupy all your thoughts and time, but realize that there is a lot to consider, and a substantial investment to make to cover all your bases. The good news is, once you are ready and organized, you only need to keep track of expiration dates on perishable items (including batteries and gas), which doesn’t take much time at all. As to a healthy diet, exercise and martial arts, you will probably gain years of active lifespan. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Introduction:
Trouble sometimes unexpectedly just knocks on your door. Bad things happen to good people, you don’t have to invite trouble to get into it. However safe your lifestyle is, you will never be impervious to nature’s bouts (remember Katrina..), or political unrest caused by politicians you haven’t voted for. Tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, meteorites, war, dissension, industrial accidents, pandemics, all have and will happen again on this earth. People have died because they simply got lost or their car broke down in a hostile (at the time) environment. Have you given any thought on how to protect yourself and your family against the unexpected? Without going into full survivalist mode, there is one main thing you can do: Have a trouble-bag. What is it? You’ll ask me.. Just a bag with a few items that you would need in an emergency situation. The kind of bag you leave in a closet, or in the trunk of your car, until the day you need to “bail out” to save your life. So, let’s see what those items are, how to choose, store and use them.

The Bag:

First thing first, you need a bag. A small backpack will serve you best. I like hydration bags because they have a built-in water pouch and drinking tube. Camelback and Blackhawk have quality products they provide to the military. Plan on spending about $120. A more affordable option is a pack from Wallmart for about $30. Don’t get too large a bag, you might be tempted to stuff it with useless items, and your back won’t like it if you ever need to walk with it. You can always have a second lager “vehicle bag.” You may also want to stop by your local Army/Navy surplus store. They will have a few items for your bag.

The Knife:

Knives are the most basic tools we humans have. It is probably the first one we ever made, and for good reasons! If nothing else, you must have a knife. You really can’t save money on this, it would be like saving by buying cheap brakes for your car.. You can get a decent knife for $50, an a very good one for about $100. No need to spend $500 here, after all, if you’re lucky, you’ll never use it, but too cheap might cost you more than the money you saved… Choose a fixed blade knife, with a full tang and a 5 to 6 inch blade. Make sure the tip is not too thin, that it has a good grip and a guard.
Look at Ontario Knives, Cold Steel, Becker (tough and affordable), Ka-Bar, Gerber, to name a few. I also suggest getting a Leatherman Tollkit, the best multi-tool I ever came across.
Modern knives will unlikely rust when kept in a bag, but a thin coating of oil won’t hurt. Also get a small sharpening store with a rough side and a smooth one. Learn knife sharpening on an old kitchen knife, and before you really need it. It isn’t as easy as it seems, and requires practice and patience. Prefer a cordura or kydex sheath to leather. Kydex can be noisy, I like cordura. Avoid hollow handle knives, which are not as strong (except for the Chris Reeve). In tropical regions, a machete is a must, and will most likely be strapped on the outside of your bag because of it’s size.

Water:

Water is life. Without it, don’t expect to be around for more than a few days. We need at least half a gallon a day, and that is doing nothing. Water consumption will quickly climb to 5 gallons a day when working hard in the sun. After your hydration pack is empty, you need to find, transport, filter and purify water. When you find it, you need to take it with you. Have a few plastic bags handy, they are very useful to carry water. I use coffee filters to remove impurities. There are a few ways to purify water. Boiling: For at least ten minutes. Chlorine: Household chlorine; add 8 drops per gallon. Iodine: 20 to 40 drops per gallon, depending on how dirty it is. Stir, then let it stand for 30 minutes. Water purification pills are available in many drugstores and camping stores. Hydroclonazone: manufactured in France; I like them because it doesn’t make the water taste bad. Read the EPA page for more information on water purification.

Fire:

Life without fire can be pretty miserable. Put a couple regular plastic lighters in your bag. I also have a magnesium fire starter. It is a block of magnesium about three inches long, with a striking insert on the side. You shave a little pile of magnesium, strike the insert with your knife, and the sparks ignite the shavings. The hight temperature will ignite almost anything. You can get one for $7, and it will last forever.

First Aid:

The first thing to put in your bag is whatever medication you must take on a regular basis. Next should come a disinfectant like Betadine, along with bandages, gauze, antibiotic ointment, burn ointment, scissors, tweezers, tape. Some off-the-shelf medications might prove useful: Aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication (to avoid dehydration), insect repellent and anti-histamine cream (Benadryl), clove oil (tooth aches), and sunscreen. See ready.gov for tips on first aid kits. Include latex gloves for your safety. Put everything in ziplock bags to keep it dry.

Signaling:

Sometimes you don’t want to be found, but sometimes you need to make yourself visible to rescue crews. A signaling mirror is a must-have in any trouble bag. If you have the money, you can get a signaling laser. Glow-sticks will glow for up to eight hours for the color ones. The white ones are nice to have and provide comfort on a moonless night. There is nothing like a good fire of course, for signaling, warmth and safety. A smoke grenade might also be a good item to have, if your bag is large enough.

Food:

In an emergency, you need quick energy to carry through the ordeal. Candy bars will give you the quick boost you might need at first. Search on the web for the “ER Food Bar” which is a 2400 calories emergency ration (available from Quake Kare). Have a three-day supply in your bag. They have a shelf life of five years.

Weapon:

Carrying a weapon is a controversial subject. Adding one to an emergency bag isn’t really practical, because of the weight of the gun and ammunition. Note that a good slingshot with steel pellets will, with a bit of practice, bring small game to your food supply without the penalty of a heavy and bulky handgun. It is also important to differentiate a hunting emergency gun and a self-defense gun. Without going into details, for self defense, I would choose the AK-47 hands down. For survival, I would suggest a Ruger 10-22, the Springfield Armory M6 Scout (.22 and 410 shells), or the TC Contender Pistol with .22 and a .45LC/410 barrels. The .22 caliber, although not a “stopper” has the advantage of being light, so you can carry more ammunition in a small space. If you do get a weapon, you will need to train with it on a regular basis. Seek an instructor to teach you safety if you are not accustomed to handling a firearm. I would not bother with optics or other gadgets. I would however include a cleaning kit. Not really a weapon, but related to hunting, I also suggest some fishing line and hooks, just in case. If you know how to make a snare, also have some thin wire for trapping.

Misceleanous:

Flashlight: Get an LED flashlight. Batteries will last much longer. You can back-it-up with a coil/magnet powered flashlight, which never needs any batteries. They cost more (Don’t buy cheap chinese imitations). NightStar has the best ones.
Hat: Protect your head. Depending on your climate, ou need to protect yourself against cold or the sun.
Mosquito net: It goes over your hat, and seals around your neck. It will protect you not only against mosquitoes, but also against crawling insects while you sleep.
Tie wraps: Used to tie electric wires together, they are very strong, and will tie anything together.
Nylon String: An overall useful item.
Toilet Paper: No explanation needed here…
Sleeping bag: Sleeping bag technology has made leaps and bounds in reducing the size of light bags, which now fit in the palm of your hand while compressed. You may attach it outside your bag, as you probaly won’t have the space inside. Also, outside the scope of this article, you may want to look into one-person emergency tents. Many do not work well however, you need to do your homework carefully.
Hygiene: You can buy air-travel size items like toothpaste, shampoo, soap, and a toothbrush. These are not life-sustaining items, but they will keep your morale up by staying clean. Also have a spare pair of socks and underwear. Staying dry is an important part of survival outside of your home.
Poncho: A light plastic poncho will help keep you dry. Being wet and cold will make you miserable and a target for hypothermia.
Survival manual: Read it before you need it. You should know about the subject and not need to have the book with you, so you can show-off your knowledge to your girlfriend/boyfriend in an emergency.
Compass: Remember that a compass is useless without a map. Learn dead-rekoning, it is fun and something to do on a boring week-end. Hand-held GPSs are really small these days, but the signal can be turned off, and that will leave you stranded if you don’t know how to navigate.

Conclusion:

I am not an expert, just a safety minded person who has been around.. So take my advise at your own risk. Reading this won’t help you if you don’t actually start a trouble bag. Your significant other might laugh at your “paranoia,” but that will only last until shit hits the fan and you save the day. Keep a record of your perishable items with their expiration date. Change the water in your hydration pouch on a regular basis. Keep your bag handy at home, or better, in your trunk. Suggestions to improve the above list are welcome as “comments.” I do not pretend to know it all. Have fun shopping and be safe!

Gil.