Self Sufficient Survivor

One of the most important things you can do in life is to be self sufficient. There is nothing wrong with depending on other people, we have done that for the entire existence of our species. We’ve evolved to live in communities and to work together for a greater good. However, in today’s world, more and more people are becoming acutely aware of the delicate political climate, and are becoming what many people refer to as “preppers”.

Preparedness is a good thing, not just for a SHTF (Shit Hit The Fan) situation, but for day to day life. Everything that you can create and provide for yourself is something that you don’t have to depend on somebody else for. Look at your day to day life, and the things that you consume on a regular basis. Let’s say that all of a sudden there was another terrorist attack, and all of the grocery stores and fast food joints closed for several days, would you be able to feed yourself until things returned to normal? What if a winter storm hits and your power goes out for 3 or 4 days, would you be able to keep yourself and your family warm and fed until the power came back on?

When I think survival and prepping, I also try to think about what could “reasonably” happen. In real life as we know it today, it is much more likely that you will experience an earthquake or a winter storm than an alien invasion. Depending on where you live, make sure your bug out bags, get home bags, etc., contain items relevant to that kind of environment, and items that would be useful in the most likely emergency situations. You can probably leave your shark repellent at home if you don’t live near the beach.

Here’s a real life story of how prepping made my life easier. I was stationed at Fort Lewis, WA and lived in Lakewood, WA, I was active duty in the US Army. A big winter storm hit the area, and we lost power for a little over 4 days. It was shortly after Christmas, and for the holiday that year we had bought a real tree. When we took it down, instead of just throwing it in the garbage, I cut it into logs for firewood, including the needles and small branches, because pine trees burn like gasoline, especially the needles when they’ve had a chance to dry. When the power went out, I immediately built a fire, put blankets up around the living room to hold the heat in a smaller area, retrieved my bug out bag, and moved our bed material into the living room floor. We turned on an old radio we had and found out that they were expecting the power to be out for several days. After we heard that, seeing as how there was a foot of snow outside, we moved all of our food out of the refrigerator and into coolers on our back patio and filled those coolers with snow to keep our food cold and fresh. We got a phone call from a friend asking if we needed help with anything and to let us know that they were going to the gym on post to keep warm. Think about that for just a second. A hundred years ago, electricity in the home was pretty rare, and in a relatively short amount of time we’ve become so dependent on it that without electricity in our homes, most people are not able to take care of themselves or their families, and child protective services will take your kids if you don’t have it. After about a day and a half I started running low on firewood. I grabbed my bow-saw and started driving around cutting trees out of the roads and loading them in the back of my truck to take home as firewood. At night I took the battery out of our car, brought it in the house with a 400 watt power inverter and operated a lamp, an alarm clock/radio, cell phone chargers, etc., and used a multimeter to keep track of the life of the battery so I could make sure it still had enough juice to start the car in the morning. We limited the amount of water we took from the tap and had enough hot water to take a quick shower every morning for about 3 days before the hot water heater finally emptied. After about 4 days of my family living in relative comfort, and actually learning to get along without Facebook to take our attention away from each other, the power came back on and other soldiers were able to leave the makeshift homeless shelters set up in the gyms on base and back into their apartments. This is a story of how I, being prepared for real life possibilities, was able to make what was a bad situation for most people in the area, a fairly comfortable one for me and my family, and we didn’t have to rely on anybody but ourselves and the equipment we already had. Keep in mind, I did not live in some far flung, out of the way area, I lived in Lakewood, WA, a town that runs right into Tacoma, WA and not that far from Seattle, with millions of people including several thousand soldiers living all around, so things like this can happen to anybody.

You need to be able to provide for yourself and your family. What can you do in and around your living area to do that? If you live in an apartment you can start a flower pot garden and grow some fresh vegetables. It won’t be enough to feed you all year, but you might be able to grow some things that are hard to find in the stores, and maybe have enough to feed yourselves for a couple of days in the event of an emergency. Do you know how to make your own soap? You’d be surprised how easy it is, and you could create your own custom scented soap that does wonders for your skin. Make sure you have a propane stove/grill so you can cook if the power goes out. Make sure you own at least one gun and some ammunition for it, and that you know how to safely operate and maintain it. You can use it to hunt for food, or in a worst case scenario, to defend yourself from other people who notice you are more prepared than they are and try to rob you. Remember, in most emergency situations, it’s easier if you’re already producing, or able to produce many of the things you will need to get through those first few hours, so you’re not scrambling to the stores before they lock the door to get last minute items.

Self sufficiency is important not only for survival situations, but for day to day life. Maybe it’s just me, but I take a certain amount of pride in being able to survive without having to depend on other people. Yeah, a McDonalds double cheeseburger is nice once and a while, but if this country went into a state of civil war right now, or if all of the power went out, I would be able to survive comfortably and feed myself and my family. Can you say the same? Take a look at your environment, and make a plan to improve your ability to operate independently in the immediate aftermath of an emergency, even if it’s only a temporary one, and I guarantee you’ll find a sense of satisfaction in knowing that there’s at least some things that you don’t “have” to depend on somebody else to give to you.

Below is a photo of a campfire my wife built on one of our recent camping trips.  We regularly go camping, hunting, etc. and use those activities to hone our survival skills.  Even my wife can go out into the woods and build a nice hot fire to keep the bugs away and keep us warm, 🙂

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Gun Ownership

Since I have yet to make a statement on this issue here, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to spill my thoughts and opinions about gun ownership for you guys to read and enjoy. I hope to accomplish a couple of things. First I want to give you some background on myself so you know where I’m coming from. I also want to debunk some myths and rumors about guns and gun ownership, that those of you who don’t dabble in the gun industry much may not be aware of. I also want to make my case supporting the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. You don’t have to agree with me, but I want to take this opportunity to make the best case I can using what I know and what I’ve experienced.

Up until about 3 months ago, I was an active duty soldier. I deployed to Iraq, did my thing, and came home. I received an honorable discharge because I had fulfilled my contractual obligation, and chose to come home and be a father to my son instead of running all over the globe and being gone from home for long periods of time. During my service, I became political. I didn’t necessarily attend protests, but as a soldier, an employee of our federal government, I began to become increasingly interested in our government, the decisions they make, and I began to read the history of our government, and of other governments as well. I grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, which is where I now live again now that I’ve finished my service. Growing up here, we always had several guns for various purposes. We would use them primarily to shoot vermin such as snakes, destructive or invasive species, and on a few occasions we used them to shoot violent dogs that showed up on the property. Owning and carrying a gun was nothing new to me, it was not a big deal. At 5 years old I was given my first BB gun. At the age of 10 I was allowed to carry my dad’s .22 rifle with me when I went into the woods by myself. At 16 I was given a 12 gauge shotgun, which I still own to this day and use for hunting certain types of game like squirrel, grouse and turkey. At no point during my childhood, and for much of my adult life, did owning and carrying a gun ever seem like a big deal to me, or like something that should be considered newsworthy. Where I’m from, everybody has a gun. My father paid very special attention to make sure I was trained to safely carry a weapon, how to shoot accurately, and how to disassemble our weapons and clean them.

In recent years however, something caught my attention, and made me pay attention to our 2nd amendment rights more than I did before. Maybe it was a gradual thing that occurred as I moved away from home and experienced life in different places, or maybe it was a news story or a political decision. Either way, I found myself looking around at the rest of the country, and at the people that now surrounded me and wondering, “What in the world is going on?!” Upon returning from Iraq I went to a gun store in Washington state and bought my first pistol. Since I did not have a license to carry a concealed pistol in Washington, I had to pay for the weapon, then come back a week later after a thorough background check had been done, and then I could pick up the weapon and leave. Since that day, unless I am specifically entering a place such as a federal building where doing so is illegal, I have never let my pistol out of reach.

I think, now that I’m talking about it, what may have sparked my interest and motivated me to start doing research on the topic, was a shooting that took place in Washington where a couple of cops were having coffee, and an ex-convict had been released, and for some reason transported to Washington state, which he was not a resident of, where he proceeded to find a gun and kill the first two cops he found in revenge for his jail-time. After that I started doing some digging, and researching, and educating myself on the subject. I was surprised to find out just how many people actually want to ban guns outright. To believe or say something like that where I come from would be considered borderline treasonous.

I am of two minds when it comes to the whole gun control “issue”. First of all, I believe whole heartedly in the right of good citizens to keep and bear arms, without question, and without stipulation. However, I also recognize that there are bad people in the world, who will do bad things, and guns make it a bit easier for them to kill more people.

First, I’ll discuss my views on gun control. I don’t believe that there should be any limits on the types or capabilities of small arms (Any gun that a human can hold in their hand and fire) that civilians should be allowed to own. There are already tons of laws in effect that limit the availability of certain types of firearms, and many of those who are advocates of gun control seem to be blissfully unaware of the facts surrounding gun crime or the legislation already in place. For example, in order to purchase any weapon that is fully automatic (fires more than one round with a single pull of the trigger), there are several things you have to do. You have to pay for a federal tax stamp, you have to submit a request for a particular type of license, a background check is run that is more thorough than if you purchased a regular firearm, and if you get denied, you cannot re-apply. If you get approved, you still have to actually find and pay for the firearm you want, you must buy a certain type of safe that meets requirements set forth by the ATF, and the ATF reserves the right to inspect your home, your safe, and the weapon at least once annually. I’ve been in many gun stores in my day and I’ve never seen one that had fully automatic ones hanging on the wall for sale, I guess you would have to special order one from a manufacturer and have it shipped to a licensed dealer. Of all gun crime in the United States, very few of them are actually committed with weapons like the AR-15, which seems to be what anti-gun legislators are trying to ban in the wake of this school shooting, even though footage from that day clearly shows police pulling the rifle out of the trunk of the shooter’s car hours after he had been apprehended, and initial reports cited the use of two handguns instead of a rifle. Most gun crimes are “committed with cheap hand guns” (quoted from Obama during one of his debates with Mitt Romney). I do however concede that there needs to be some measures in place to prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who should not have them, but in my opinion, most of those measures are already in place, and just need to be more rigorously enforced and monitored. There are bad people in this world, there always will be, and they will continue to do bad things. The shooter at the school in Newtown, CT told his psychiatrist that he was thinking of doing something like what he did, a report was filed with the police, and yet nothing at all was actually done to prevent it. We, or at least certain administrators in our government agencies, need to be allowed to compile data on mental health history and use it as a basis for denying access to guns or ammunition. I don’t mean soldiers with PTSD, most of us come home from deployment with some degree of PTSD and turn out to be huge patriots and good citizens. However, if somebody files an official report because an actual threat of violence was made, something should be done to prevent that individual from carrying out that plan, yet in this case, the perpetrator was able to purchase a ton of ammunition online and kill several children. My point is this, we need to re-think our mental health care “system” in this country. Everybody is a little bit crazy, and I don’t think that people who have sought help for issues should be instantly banned from buying weapons; but if they have a history of violence, whether against themselves or other people, or if they have made threats, or if a reasonable person believes they would be a threat to themselves or others, then that should be taken into consideration for preventing them from having access to firearms, regardless of the fact that they have not actually committed a gun crime yet. I also think we need to eliminate “Gun Free Zones”. I walked into a local bank to open an account, and on their door they had a little sticker indicating they did not allow weapons, concealed or otherwise on the premises. I went back, placed my concealed pistol under the seat of my truck, went in and took care of my business. While there I made a statement to the woman that their sticker made me laugh. When she asked why I said, “Because if I was here to rob the place, all that sticker tells me is that nobody in here is armed, I’m not going to throw up my hands in despair and go look for a different bank to rob.” Gun free zones do nothing but ensure the law abiding citizens within that area are incapable of defending themselves when somebody does decide to show up and target practice on our kids.

There is also a lot of inconsistencies across the country when it comes to gun laws. In Washington I bought a concealed pistol license. There was no training requirement and the process was not very complicated, I filled out a form, came in and paid a small fee, and in a couple of weeks a section of the form had been cut out, laminated and mailed to me as my concealed pistol license. In Kentucky you have to attend an 8 hour training course, where you must demonstrate competence with the weapon, including demonstrating your ability to dis-assemble, re-assemble, safely operate, and accurately fire the weapon on a range, and when you get your “Concealed Deadly Weapons License” as it is referred to in Kentucky, it’s not just a laminated part of the form you filled out to get it, it’s an official state issued photo ID. This is a prime example of the inconsistency of gun laws across this country. I own an AR-15 with several 30 round magazines. If I were to move to New York, California, or one of several other states for work, then I would have to make several changes to my rifle, including disposing of the 30 round magazines, before I would be allowed to keep it. In my opinion, these gun laws that limit the capabilities of a weapon, capabilities which have little if any effect on its ability to inflict damage and only attack guns that “look” a certain way, are unconstitutional.

When it comes to gun ownership, I am very passionate. Personally I think every American citizen should own at least one firearm, know how to operate it and take care of it, and have at least one magazine of ammunition for it. Whether or not they choose to carry it is on them, but we are quickly becoming a nation of sheep. I see gun ownership as not only an inalienable right, but a responsibility of every sane, law abiding citizen that wants a safe environment to live and work in. There are 3 key reasons I believe gun ownership is important:
– Hunting
– Defense against criminals
– Defense against one’s government

As the man of my house, it is my responsibility to ensure that my property and my family is protected from harm. If an armed man broke into my house at night, and I had no guns, and we called the police immediately, the police would show up just in time to identify our bodies. There will always be bad guys out there, and disarming the prey does nothing but make the job of the predator easier. You cannot save the antelope from the cheetah by cutting off the antelope’s horns.

I am a hunter, as are millions upon millions of people all over the world. Firearms made hunting more efficient than it ever has been in the past, and not just for the hunter. If I shoot a deer with a 30-06, the show is over. Death comes instantly, or in a matter of seconds at most. This makes my job easier, and reduces the amount of suffering on the part of the animal I hunt for food. I have seen licensed and certified slaughterhouses that employ gruesome methods of execution for the poor animals they farm that no hunter would dare use on any animal. With guns, we can choose the type of weapon and caliber that best suits the environment and animal we are hunting so that we can effectively kill the animal in a way that maximizes the amount of food we can retrieve, and minimizes the amount of suffering the animal has to go through.

Finally, I believe gun ownership is of paramount importance for defense against one’s government. If history has taught us one thing, it is this, per Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that will sacrifice a little freedom for a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” The 2nd amendment has absolutely nothing to do with hunting, it is there to ensure the people can defend themselves against their government. Any government official that tells you in order to be safe we have to give up some freedoms is both insane and unfit for the office they are holding. Ask the native Americans how trustworthy the United States government is, how good they are at keeping promises. At wounded knee, at least 150 Lakota men, women and children were murdered by US soldiers attempting to disarm the Lakota people. Think about that, they were more prepared to murder 150 people with machine guns than they were ready to allow them to keep their rifles, and that is one of many atrocities committed by just the government of this country, let alone around the world. Time after time throughout history, governments have grown too large, too powerful, and it’s regular guys like me and you who stood up and said, “Enough is enough” and fixed the problem. If you do not have the means with which to “actually” fight back against your government, then what motivation do they really have to actually listen to you? If they have all the guns, and you allowed yours to be confiscated, then what is keeping them honest? Your words? Those can be easily ignored. Our current administration has already made it a crime to protest the government without first requesting permission from the government. It is the right to keep and bear arms that protects all of our other rights and liberties, and without our right to bear arms in defense of ourselves, our families, our property, and our country, then we are not even citizens, we are just subjects to the will of those in political office.

It’s up to us, as the citizens of today, to stand up and defend these rights, so that our children may also enjoy the freedoms and liberties I know are possible in this great nation. It’s up to us to stop our government from slowly and gradually eating away at our rights and liberties. Today it’s 30 round magazines, tomorrow it’s public protests, if we don’t stop it now, then we won’t be able to stop it later. As gun owners, you need to take this issue to heart, educate yourself, become part of the conversation. Help us make meaningful changes that prevent gun violence but protect our rights and liberties as citizens. Teach and train your children on how to safely handle a firearm, if they’re old enough. It’s really up to us guys, we cannot, we must not fail.

Here’s a photo my wife took the other day of me and my son walking in the woods. He knows not to touch my guns, but by exposing him to them, and letting him see me carry them, I hope to remove the stigma that so many of today’s children have. Maybe when he’s 16 he won’t shoot himself on accident playing with my gun while I’m gone to work because a gun will not seem to be some mysterious, magical thing he’s only seen in cartoons or movies. I take fatherhood very seriously, and I take this issue very seriously. Thanks for reading.

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Packing for Camping

Packing for Camping

Getting everything packed up for my camping/hiking/mushroom hunting/exploring trip tomorrow, and thought I would show off some of the modifications I’ve made to the AR for an overnight stay in the woods. Family and friends have seen a lot of new predators moving into the area in recent years that didn’t used to be here. The local game officials killed off one herd of wild hogs, but I’ve seen signs of another group. People have seen mountain lions moving in and out of the area, and even had their dogs killed by it. I figure my AR-15 is the perfect outdoor survival rifle for this area. Because of the hills and the forest on our property, very rarely does a shot ever present itself at more than 200 yards, and even at that distance it’s not really an immediate threat, so I went with a 16″ barrel instead of the full 20″. It’s small and light enough to carry around all day without much issue, and the round is powerful enough to kill the things I’m worried about, but not so powerful that it knocks me down, so if I’m in danger and I miss with the first round I can continue firing until the threat is neutralized without tearing my shoulder to pieces. The rifle itself is a Windham Weaponry HBC model AR-15. I added rails to the fore-end in place of the regular A-2 style hand guards, added a foregrip, a light that’s bright enough for me to see down the iron sights in the dark (I prefer iron sights), and a plastic muzzle cap to prevent any rain from falling down into the barrel. The rails I bought at a gun store in Washington state, I don’t even remember the brand, but the top rail comes all the way back and makes contact with the rails under the carrying handle, so if I ever add optics to the top I don’t have to worry about there being a gap between the front and rear rails. The fore-grip I used on my M249 in Iraq and just brought it home with me. The light was actually given to me by my uncle and came with his airsoft kit, but it just so happens that it fits on a set of real picatinny rails as well as just the airsoft gun, and to run on only 3 AAA batteries it’s actually pretty bright. The magazine is a standard capacity Magpul PMAG.

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Made in America

Just posted this on a forum I frequent in response to a story about “Made in America” making a comeback, according to Wal-Mart execs.

I make a conscious effort to buy American made products for two reasons.

1) China has very little regulation in most of their industries. One such example is that your “leather” goods from China could be made out of anything from dogs to rabbits with thick fabric laid underneath it to make it feel like it’s high quality leather. I have personally researched this, I’m not talking out of my ass. Foxconn factories even put nets around the bottom floor of their buildings to stop employees from committing suicide by jumping off the roof. Instead of improving working conditions, giving them more time off, or higher pay, they just put nets around the building to catch them.

2) A little bit of patriotism.

Even the “cheap crap”, that is made in America, has to abide by our laws and regulations, and is subject to inspection. In my experience, even our “cheap crap” is of a higher quality than cheap crap made in China. The problem is that almost nothing is made here any more. I went into a western store to buy a good pair of boots the other day. I picked up a nice looking pair of boots that had a $500 price tag on them, and normally when boots are priced that high it’s because they’re made in America. I looked inside, and they were made in China. So in other words, the work has been outsourced to China, but the prices haven’t gone down. Even the “John Deere” boots were made in China. I left without a pair of boots. I wanted to buy a Red Ryder BB gun a month or so ago, and they too are made in China. You know, the American icon of BB guns, the Red Ryder, the one that was in the movie about the little turdhead whose parents kept yelling, “You’ll shoot your eye out!”. Those, of all things, are now made in China, and it shows because the one I picked up had a loose part somewhere inside it rattling around.

I just want my fellow countrymen to start “making” things again, and for major retailers to start carrying those goods.

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Hit My First Deer

So earlier this evening, about 8 PM eastern time, I was driving to town to check the mail in our post office box.  As I was driving down the road I was going about 35-40 mph and a small cat ran across the road in front of me.  I tapped the brakes to give the cat a chance to get across the road.  He jumped into a thicket on the right side of the road that came right up to the side of the road.  As soon as the cat disappeared into the thicket, it must have scared a deer because a deer jumped right in front of me.

I saw a piece of plastic go bouncing over my windshield, but the car “felt” fine.  There were no mechanical problems, so I drove to the nearest driveway and turned around.  My intent was to shoot the deer since I hit it in the head, neck and shoulders, and assumed the injury would be near fatal, and I didn’t want it suffering in a ditch.  As I walked around the car, I realized the damage was a bit more extensive than it felt immediately after the impact.  I walked up and down the road with a lantern and didn’t see any signs of blood, or of the deer, so I guess it just shook it off and ran away.

This is the first time I’ve ever actually hit a deer.  I see them all over, but I’m usually pretty good at avoiding them.  This one just appeared, and did it so fast that I didn’t have time to react.  I wasn’t scared or anything, in fact my first thought was just, “Ummm, OK, that just happened.”  Anyway, just thought I’d share, 🙂

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Infinity

Some random thoughts I had while at work today.

What if “time”, as we think of it, doesn’t really exist?  What if all moments that ever have and ever will occur in time, are all taking place right simultaneously in an infinite number of parallel dimensions?  What if “time”, as we think of it, is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things because all things that ever have and ever will happen, are happening right now in an infinite number of parallel dimensions that we just happen to be bouncing between as we move along through our lives.

What if our entire universe, as vast as it appears to us to be, is insignificant in its existence, in its impact on reality?  I’m not talking about our solar system or our galaxy, I mean “everything”.  What if everything we see, know, and experience, is existing in a random spark of static electricity in some infinitely larger universe?  Kind of like in the kid’s book, “Horton Hears a Who”.  What if there is some infinitely larger universe beyond our ability to comprehend or see, and a being reached for a doorknob, and as he did a tiny spark of static electricity shot between him and the metal doorknob, and in that split second of electricity, exists our entire universe?  What if our sense of time is just much slower than that of the beings in the larger universe that spawned ours?  We could be existing in a momentary spark that is doomed to go out.  Again, I’m not just talking about humanity, this planet, or this galaxy, I’m talking about “everything” we know and see and experience, our entire known universe.  What if our known universe really is floating around on a speck of dust, and we’re just too small to be affected by the external stimuli acting on that piece of dust?

What if, everything we’ve come to know as reality, is a lie?  What if our conscious minds really occupy another body which we would find totally alien, and we’re just plugged into this illusion of existence as part of some big social experiment?  What if you’re the only “real” person, and the rest of us are computer generated AI, put here to create an illusion for you to live in for a given amount of time?

Just some random thoughts I had while at work, thought I’d share.

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Some Tricks to Spotting a Spam Email

Spam e-mail is something we all hate, that much is a fact.  However, it isn’t always obvious that an e-mail is fake, and sometimes you have to know what you’re looking for.  Below is a photo of a real spam e-mail I just found in my spam folder a few minutes ago, that, at first glance “looks” pretty legitimate.  Below are some things to look out for when going through your e-mails:

— Obviously bad grammar and spelling
— “From” address displayed in your Inbox view doesn’t match the “From” address displayed when you open the e-mail.
— Hyperlinks say one thing, but actually point you to another site.
— E-mails that ask you to “verify your information”, for a service that have already done so with.
— E-mails that ask you for your password.  If the e-mail is really from the people who own your account, they have administrative access to their own servers, and would not need your password to gain access to your account.

Be very conscious of the websites you visit when you click a link as well.  One time I got an e-mail that looked very legitimate from ebay asking me to change my password because it had expired since I hadn’t logged in for a year.  That seemed fine, and I clicked a link and was about to click “Submit”, when I noticed I was on “ebay.net” instead of “ebay.com“.  I e-went to ebay.com, e-mailed their complaints dept. and sure enough, it was a phishing attack that almost worked on me.  It’s a dangerous world out there everybody, watch your backs and be careful what you click on. 🙂

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