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Because prepping and community go hand in hand

How to escape 2nd floor bedroom in case of fire

Do y’all have an recommendations for gear or protocol for escaping a second story bedroom in case of a fire between the bedroom and the stairwell that leaves the house?

I searched the forums and didn’t find anything.

I’m thinking a window breaker and some sort of collapsible ladder. 

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Good portable hard drive or flash drive for bug out bag?

I’m trying to find a rugged and reliable portable hard drive or flash drive to include in my BOB for my digital data. The official BOB list does not include any recommendations. Has anyone found any that are built tough and worth looking into?

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Reality check Lismore floods Australia

I received this post and it just confirmed to me that in a emergency situation we can not look for any worthwhile government support , the federal and state government where hopeless and took to long to respond and when they did it was and still is pathetic, at the end of the day it was people pulling together that made the difference, but what they can do now to get there lives back together without some real help I dread to think.

Regards

John

I’m sharing this in the hopes that it will keep this front of mind for those who have not been flood affected.  It was written by someone from Lismore:

Lyn writes…”Today is three weeks since the natural disaster in the Northern Rivers began. If you’re a local and feeling fragile, maybe sit this one out, because I want to talk about what’s happening here. I haven’t really had time to talk to people who aren’t here, but what’s really struck me when I have is that most people don’t seem to have any real sense of the gravity of the situation. The flood in Lismore was two metres higher than any previous records. Two metres is the difference between ankle deep water and water over your head, and that’s on the second storey. The entire city of Lismore is gone. There are no shops, no supermarkets, no library, no cafes, no churches, no McDonalds. Everything went under water. The houses that can be saved need to be completely stripped down to the frame, because the walls are full of mould and E.coli from the water and raw sewerage that enveloped them. But people have no money and no insurance, and there are no building materials even if they did.    Lismore isn’t a quaint little town; there are 29,000 people who live in Lismore – and this didn’t just affect Lismore. You can drive an hour or more in any direction (except east because you’ll end up in the ocean) and you will see the same devastation. Roads lined with house sized piles of destroyed belongings, caravans in trees, washing machines on powerlines, a film of brown on everything, clumps of grass on fences still shaped by the force of the water. The beach I take my dogs to is unrecognisable, the coast line completely changed. The helicopters have subsided but you can’t go anywhere without seeing huge army vehicles everywhere; Bruxner Highway is an endless parade of dump trucks in both directions, and there’s a permanent traffic jam to get into the closest Bunnings. (hardware store)People have told me their stories of being rescued by the SES by boat, by the RFS in a helicopter and by an old bloke in a tinnie. They’ve told me how they had to leave their pets behind, how they refused to, and how hard it was to get a rottweiler in the roof. They’ve told me about spending a week in a community hall with no power, no water, and no food. What little food they had was rationed down to a bread roll in the morning and some chicken soup at night, but there was no pet food, so people were giving their rations to their starving pets. They’ve told me how all five members of their family who live in the same town lost their houses, so they can’t even go and stay with them. They’ve told me how they’ve never had to ask for help before, and how every day they have a bit of a cry. I don’t understand how this can happen. How can someone be rescued by the SES in 5 hours and then spend a week in a hall with no water, rationing food with their two 60kg dogs? Why is there still no support? Why is the community still doing everything? There is some support, sure, but not anything that even remotely befits the enormity of this crisis. There is still no temporary accommodation. The government sent 40 motorhomes that no one knows how to sign up for, and another 40 that are sitting in Ballina because they didn’t organise linen, power or water for them. A city of 29,000 people has been annihilated and the government sent 40 motorhomes. They announced pod homes like in the bushfires, but haven’t bought any yet. There are payments you can apply for if you have a phone, a computer, the internet, all of your personal identification documents and the will. The government has announced a 10 million dollar flood mitigation study and 100 million in small business grants, while people are pitching tents in their condemned houses because they literally have nowhere else to go. A telethon raised 25 million dollars in a night and the resulting $500 grants ran out just as quickly. And rent relief is pretty fucking useless when there are no houses to rent for a hundred kilometres.  I generally have the opportunity to speak to a few people each day who’ve been directly impacted by the disaster. Almost every one of these people has this unquenchable thirst to tell their story, to share their experience and, above all else, to have someone listen to them. The thing that’s consistent across all of these stories is this palpable sense of hopelessness. People can’t see beyond the present moment, because they can’t see how they’ll get there. And I completely understand that, because frankly, right now I can’t see a way either. People here are so incredibly resilient and humble and kind. There is a sense of unity here that I’ve never seen before and, despite all the trauma and tragedy, there has been a gentleness to the last three weeks that is so rare these days.    Today was my second proper day off from “the flood,” and it was really nice to have a break from it, because I’m one of the lucky few who can. But in a way, pausing the recovery just makes you remember what’s lost. Tonight I went and sat at the end of my street with a glass of wine and I watched the sun set over the place I’ve called home for most of the last two years and I tried to cry again, but I still can’t. I regret not throwing myself into the community like this before now, but I’m so grateful I have the opportunity to be a part of it, even if it’s in its darkest, muddiest moments.

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How to tell when to toss cans that have rust on the outside

I scrolled down hoping to find this already, but have to start a new topic. I was going through my cans and found some that have some rust on the lid. These are cans I bought at the beginning of the pandemic. What I think happened was that, in 2020, I was very serious about wiping and washing each can, and somehow I left some moisture on the cans, which then started the rust. Or else, maybe baby wipes aren’t the ideal thing to wipe cans with. Baby wipes with added soap. I am disappointed, but I think I have to toss about a third of the cans that I bought at that time, unless someone has a better idea.  I think the rust probably has not entered the cans, but as soon as I open them with the can opener, I introduce it, right? Live and learn from my mistake, and just leave the cans in the car for three weeks instead, if you are worried about bringing COVID into the house. (I think since then, we have learned more and no one is saying that we need to hose off all our groceries.) Things to consider: 1. I have never had rust before, so it must be the wiping. But, 2. I have not stored in this particular area before so it could be humid, although I don’t think so. 3. ? It’s not a third, it’s a fourth, but still.

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Well use without electricity

Does anyone have a good solution for accessing your well without electricity? We live in the country and have 2 wells which is fantastic. We do have a generator and solar power which can feed electricity for the well, but I want an option without electricity. Something that is maybe a hand pump that could be added to the existing wells. Does anyone have a system you like or love? I would love to hear about your ideas and equipment. 

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How do you label your food storage buckets?

If you’re storing long-term food or staples in airtight containers and 5-gallon buckets, how do you label them? How do you tell which containers hold which food?

For a long while I have been using masking tape and a sharpie – just write the food type and storage date on the tape, and apply new tape as needed. I see some previous threads on this too.

But recently I thought it would be nice to have a more visual element – adding some easy-to-recognize icons and shapes.

I created a quick document using public domain graphics to print icons for different types of food – you can find it here.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Hwm0QAT6t3cCjPS1GJ-C3rswFoq1r-Zcw04ZBzApCAM/

Please feel free to copy, edit, or share.

I would love to hear if anyone else does something like this, or if you find this useful.

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Dinner from the freezer

Obviously, the best food is that which is picked fresh.  You just can’t beat that.  However, in the middle of winter, or spring now, garden veggies that you have put up, without any chemicals or preservatives, are impossible to beat.  That is what is so amazing about having a garden and orchards.

Tonight my wife cooked purple hull peas with chow chow, fried okra, and corn on the cob.  All that came from our freezers.  Desert was peach cobbler using canned peaches in a light syrup that I put up last spring.

Just amazing!

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One woman’s 18-point survival checklist for fleeing Ukraine as Russia invades : NPR

Found this on NPR two days ago.   Thought it was fascinating and wanted to share with y’all since there are several threads about Ukraine on the forum.

One woman’s survival checklist fleeing Ukraine

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Stop the Bleed course (free)

You may be the very first responder. It’s critical that you know what to do to save a life. A person with a hemorrhaging wound can “bleed out”/die of exsanguination in three minutes.

Check in your community for a free Stop the Bleed course. You may find it online, but it’s better to take in person as you will practice packing a hemorrhaging wound on a realistic model. You will learn when and how to apply a tourniquet.

Also, I was able to get, for free, the basic first aid course for which the American Red Cross charges $100 by joining the county Medical Reserve Corps. About 40% of the volunteers are not medical personnel. Hopefully they will offer it again soon as covid restrictions are being loosened.

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DIY custom maps for print & reference

TL;DR – it is possible to make custom print quality maps, in some cases very quickly (though your first try may not be quick!). That being said it is also possible to waste a lot of time and money making less usable or useless maps. The following is an attempt at quickly “getting started” for technically savvy but otherwise novice users.

Try at your own risk, for what its worth I probably added more detail than strictly needed, I’m not 100% sure how approachable this guide will be but its offered in good faith, your mileage may vary! Once you have this down its really only 4 [main] steps that can be done in less than half an hour unless you want to do something fancier.But first, what I’ll be showing:

Above, a small “zoomed in” section of the final map as exported to a digital PDF file (the “misaligned” building/parcels are a data issue, not a software issue and acceptable for my purposes)

Roughly the same area on the printed poster for quality comparison ordered via Vistaprint (image darkness more a factor of my poor photography skills). Keep in mind this is less than a 5 inch wide segment zoomed in (it’s smaller than my iPhone 13 mini). The text quality is mildly disappointing compared to the original but otherwise this is actually pretty good quality IMHO, showing the ‘warts’ on purpose to be transparent.Above, a zoomed out view of a 36″x48″ poster sized map with the top/bottom cropped to hide my poor poster mounting skills (Again, I should have changed my photo settings, but photography is not the point of this post).To create your own version, in 5-7 somewhat “easy-ish” steps:

QGIS is an open source Geographic Information System (GIS) application. While this application is capable of a wide variety of tasks, one task it is suited for is the creation of maps for printing. This tutorial is a “simple” crash course in creating a custom map suitable for printing on either a home printer or a commercial service such as a Fedex-Kinkos or Vistaprint poster. 

Note: Steps 4 & 5 are strictly optional, OpenStreetMap is often pretty good. Many sub-bullet points are FYI, assuming you leave default settings alone or don’t move/close something by accident this can go pretty fast.

Step 1: Download the application.

QGIS is available for most major operating systems, most users should be able to make use of an easy to use installer though advanced users may want to consider specialty options. Note that as an open source application this software is community driven and supported, including documentation and online help. The user interface may include subtle changes between versions which may result in slightly different workflows. This guide was written for version 3.20.3 on windows but should be broadly compatible with recent versions (users have the option to download older versions at their discretion).

Step 2: Open the application and add OpenStreetMap background layer

Open the application and navigate to the File Menu, select “New”] Make sure that the “Browser” and “Layers Panel” panels are visible If needed these can be added by going to the “View” menu, select “Panels” and make sure “Layers Panel” and “Browser Panel” have checks next to them Note that the panel layout/position can vary and that some panels can have tabs. Panels can be reorganized by clicking and dragging them as desired.

Above, an example of “tabbed” panels in case one is not immediately visible

On the “Browser” panel, locate and expand the “XYZ Tiles” option, OpenStreetMap should be a preloaded option available. Double click this option to add it to the map. This should load a streaming map service (requires active internet connection) as a background reference layer

Step 3: Navigate to an area of interest

QGIS includes a number of navigation tools such as pan and zoom, these should be displayed by default but if absent can be added by going to the “View” menu, selecting “Toolbars” and then making sure that “Map Navigation Toolbar” is selected

Use the pan and zoom buttons to find an area of interest (Pan = first icon, click and drag with mouse, zoom controls are icons 3-10) If your mouse has a “middle mouse button” (oftentimes the “button” is your scroll wheel) you can “pan” while clicking and holding the middle mouse button. You can also scroll with the mouse wheel to zoom in and out. Equivalent trackpad gestures should also work. As you zoom in the streaming Open Street Map reference layer will add more details. Other data sources can be loaded however this is a useful “first step” in many cases.

Above, global scale of OpenStreetMap Layer

Above, zoomed in to the same layer with more detail automatically displayed.

Step 4: Add more data (optional)

Note: Steps 4 and 5 aren’t strictly needed if you’re happy with the OpenStreetMap details. Much more data exists for free and you are largely limited only by your time and patience. Feel free to skip to 6.

The benefit of using a curated service, such as OpenStreetMap is that most of the design and display options are preconfigured and are often “good enough.” OpenStreetMap data can be incomplete, out of date, or otherwise inaccurate based on community support for your area of interest. Adding third party data and properly designing and labeling custom data can be very involved as many customizations are possible. These customizations are beyond the scope of this introduction however a partial example is provided to demonstrate basic functionality.

Locate a third party GIS dataset (shapefile format preferred) from any appropriate source such as an internet data portal. Examples of data portals can include: https://hub.arcgis.com/search – ESRI is a commercial GIS company that provides a variety of hosted datasets, many (but not all) will be compatible with QGIS Many federal, state, and local governments will have similar data portals, a google search for “shapefile open data download” and then key words related to your geographic or thematic area of interest is likely to return useful results, for example multiple data portals hosted by the state of Virginia can be found here: https://data.virginia.gov/ (includes non GIS data too) https://vgin.maps.arcgis.com/home/index.html (more specific to GIS data, note the “arcgis.com” domain, many organizations make use of this software to host their data) When searching for data, each website/source may provide a different user interface, the following points are worth keeping in mind Different file formats of GIS data exist, the most basic/universal is called a “Shapefile” and will almost always be compatible with QGIS “Shapefiles” are usually bundled as anywhere from 1 to 8 different files that all share the same name but have different file extensions. The file with a “.shp” extension is technically the “shapefile” file, however if you do not also receive a file with the “.prj” extension (projection information), the data will be virtually useless without a fair amount of extra work. Generally speaking try to avoid changing the names of shapefile and their bundled support files and store them all in the same relative directory. When downloading data you may (but not always) have the option to select the file format, for this tutorial a “shapefile” format is preferred. Most GIS data exists as either point, line, or polygon vector data, when selecting a dataset look for the type and detail you are most interested in. For example, “building locations” can often be stored as either point locations or polygon files. Roads and streams are often provided as line files, but can be provided as polygons as well.

Above, an example of download options including Shapefiles, highlighted.

Once a suitable file has been located, download it, extract it if needed (shapefile collections are often provided as zipped collections) and store it at a known location on your computer. Extract the 5 files supporting the shapefile to a known location (note, GIS files can get large), such as “D:\Data\GIS\Tutorial” (your location will vary…)

Above, an example of a group of related files, commonly stored in the same place but referred to as if it were a single “Shapefile”

In QGIS, select the “Layer” Menu, then click “Data Source Manager” next make sure “Vector” data is selected, the “Source Type” will be “File” and you will want to navigate to the location where your data is stored. You will see all of the support files for any given Shapefile, select the file with the “.shp” extension and click “Add” Note, large files or slow computers may take a minute Assuming you have all of the bundled support files, most importantly the “.prj” file, you should be able to safely ignore the “options” that are provided After adding the data, click “Close” on the “Data Source Manager” (or simply move it out of the way) and locate the “Layers” Panel, your new layer should be added. If you do not see the layer in the main map window make sure the checkbox to the left of the layer is selected. You can also turn off other layers or click and drag to reorder the layers. You can right click on a layer and select “Zoom to Layer” to zoom to the extent of the layer. When a layer contains very small features spread out over very large areas it may be difficult to see the features, try turning off other layers and panning/zooming as needed.

Above, an example of a state wide polygon file using default display settings.

Step 5: Simple Symbology of custom data (optional)

When adding third party or custom data you will likely want to change how the data is displayed. QGIS has many options for this however this guide will only cover a very simple use case. Data symbology can involve many factors including design and aesthetic preferences so it is difficult to provide “one size fits all” guidance.

Return to, or find an area of interest In the “Layers Panel” click-drag the relevant layer(s) to a suitable order. Typically Basemap layers (like OpenStreetMap) should be on the bottom Usually “point” data should be on top of “line” data, and line data in turn on top of “polygon” data, however exceptions can occur. For any given shapefile layer, right click on the layer and click “properties” With the “Symbology” tab selected on the left, you have a number of options and presets for how the selected layer can be displayed. “Simple Fill” should be a default setting, if not available, remove any other options using the red “minus” button and add a “simple fill” using the green plus button, if needed. Click on the shaded color for “Fill Color” and drag the “Opacity” slider to be transparent (0%) Change the “Stroke” color, width, and style to your preferences (for example a light thin gray line) and hit “OK” Repeat Step(s) 3,4, & 5 as needed based on the data you’d like to show and how you would like it to be displayed.

Step 6: Preparing a Print Layout

Once data is added to a map, an area of interest is visible, and relevant data has been symbolized the result can be put into a print layout for export such as a PDF file. Many options exist however PDF files are fairly common and support a number of useful print options.

From the “Project” menu select “New Print Layout” and provide a meaningful name if many layouts are expected. A new window will open, leaving the old window accessible as well. From the new Layout Window, right click on the blank canvass (the white square that represents the printable area) and click page properties. In the “Item Properties” panel, under page size select the size map for printing you are interested in. A “custom” size is available “Custom” size unlocks the Width and Height options and a number of units such as mm or inches are supported For example vendors like Vistaprint and Fedex-Kinkos allow for poster prints up to 36”x48” Printing and print proofing is its own sub-discipline, that often includes factors such as the printable area, printing resolution of the printer, paper quality and size as well as other factors. Defaults will be used to the extent possible. From the “Add Item” menu bar, select “Add Map” and then click and drag the approximate size and location of the map you wish to print on the canvass layout Depending on the amount of data and internet connection rendering the map on the canvass may take a moment Once added the map can be resized, and limited repositioning of the map position within the canvass is possible using the “Move Item Content” toolbar tool and click-dragging or mouse-wheel zooming Be sure to revert to the “Pan Layout” toolbar tool once the map content is positioned correctly. Using the wrong tool for switching between the map position and the layout tool can be frustrating so it is usually best to handle with care. Most printers can not fully print to the edge of a piece of paper so it is advised to leave a small border of “white space” For more exact control of the map item’s placement on the printable canvass, right click on the map area (make sure the “Select/Move item” toolbar tool is selected!) and click item properties. Under “Position and Size” you can enter in finer details about your placement. A bit of math is required relative to your printable area. For a 36”x48” canvass the following is suggested (make sure to use the upper left “Reference point” if using these numbers (in inches): “X” = 0.5 “Y” = 1.5 “Width” = 35 “Height” = 44 Traditionally Maps have Titles, credit data sources and other design elements. These can be added from the “Add Item” Menu, for example: From “Add Item” select “Add Label” and draw a label at the top of the page for a title Right clicking a map item and selecting “Item Properties” will expose relevant options such as a text box to add custom text (usually filled with “Lorem ipsum” by default) and options for changing font, font size, font color, etc. From “Add Item” select “Add Label” and draw a label at the bottom right of the page for data credit details Data is often subject to copyright and terms of use. This is especially relevant for any map you might share in a public setting (such as a tutorial!) however public domain data and personal use exemption are quite common for open data sources. OpenStreetMap has a generous but specific copyright and requests language to the effect of “© OpenStreetMap contributors (openstreetmap.org)” should be added In this example Virginia Department Of Transportation is listed as the author of the parcel data used and has a custom license that does not specifically claim copyright but rather a disclaimer that amounts to “use at your own risk” As a rule of thumb most data provided by governments will either be public domain or have generous terms of use, though aggregating quality data does take time and money it’s often provided as a public good (your taxes at work!). Exceptions do apply, for example it is technically possible (though probably illegal) to stream Google Maps imagery tiles into QGIS. Just because data is accessible doesn’t mean it should be accessed. Adding a scale bar is recommended for printed maps. Export PDF for printing From the “Layout” menu bar, click “Print…” and note the warning about streaming services, however this option appeared to produce a usable PDF file while testing.

Step 7: Printing large format maps

If you select a normal 8.5”x11” canvass and have a home printer you should be able to print following your normal printer procedures. PDF files can usually be opened by web browsers or free software. In fact starting with smaller maps on a home printer is advised to get a sense of print-related issues prior to spending more on larger formats.

Large Format maps can be obtained from retail printing services that produce poster style products. For example both VistaPrint and Fedex-Kinkos have online tools. Some print vendors may have additional options that allow for oversize prints that are non standard.

As previously alluded to, printing and print proofing is a sort of subdiscipline of its own. VistaPrint provides a “Digital Proof” that attempts to be more representative of actual print quality but you should be aware that a print vendor will simply print the file they are provided. If you provide a file that is low resolution and highly pixelated, to the point of being unusable, you will probably not get a refund. There are steps you can take to mitigate this, for example PDF files can support vector based graphics and text meaning that the hypothetical upper limit of the print quality should be dependent only on the hardware rather than the data file but determining how to most effectively make use of these features is beyond the scope of this guide. As demonstrated the PDF export and resulting print may not always be 1:1 perfectly representative.

All this is to say: be careful, you might spend $60 on a map that looks good as a PDF but prints terribly based on a setting during export.

That being said, this is something I’ve been wanting to do for myself for ages and since I finally found a good/easy enough way to do it, I thought I’d share here.there is a lot of online help available, I may be able to answer a few questions if something I wrote above is unclear but keep in mind I don’t necessarily check here daily.

If you do try this and find it useful, I’d be mildly curious about what other use cases are out there.  If someone has a good idea I might be inspired to do a follow up (no promises though!).

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Survival playing cards

I went looking for these thinking there would be many good options. I wanted something inexpensive that contained some useful survival/first aid information on the faces. Everything I found was either very expensive and/or had terrible reviews. Does anyone know of a good option that I haven’t found?

I did come across multiple printer shops that would print playing cards for you. If I could find free/open sourced/non-copyrighted survival tips and diagrams then doing it myself could be an option.

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Fiction book review: Blue Fire by John Gilstrap

Blue Fire by John Gilstrap. Published March 2022 from Kensington Books.

TL;DR: A well-written, apolitical post-apoc page turner that emphasizes group dynamics more than gear or gun play.  I would recommend borrowing from the library over buying.  The first book in the series is available on Kindle Unlimited.

Blue Fire, the second book in John Gilstrap’s Victoria Emerson series, begins with a gun fight. Yet unlike most post-apocalyptic thrillers, the fight is not the result of a prison escape or government totalitarianism but rather a failed negotiation. And the aftermath of the brief fight features less blood and guts and more politics. As such, it sets the tone for much of what is to follow.

The Victoria Emerson series begins in Crimson Phoenix. In the opening of that book, Victoria Emerson, a Congresswoman from West Virginia, and two of her sons are awoken by a pair of soldiers tasked with escorting them from Washington, DC to a secret government bunker in preparation for an American-supported strike by Israel on Iran. When she discovers that the bunker will not accommodate her children, she refuses to enter and leaves with her reluctant military escort. The Middle East tensions trigger a wider global conflagration, including nuclear attacks on the United States, which Victoria and company weather in western Virginia. Various adventures ensue.

Blue Fire begins where Crimson Phoenix leaves off, with Victoria and her party helping lead the small town of Ortho as it weathers the challenges of life without power, external resources, or the rule of law. Secondary story lines follow her oldest son, who was away at boarding school at the time of the attack, and the members of Congress in a government bunker, including the former Speaker of the House, now reluctantly turned President.

The books deviate pleasantly from much of prepper fiction, which tends to focus on the survival of individuals and small groups. Typical stories stress individualism and are rife with male, ex-military leads with either heroic powers or startlingly good luck. Blue Fire and its prequel cast all of that aside. At its heart are two contrasting efforts to create order: one by Victoria and her allies in Ortho and another by a National Guard leader who has devolved into a de facto warlord. The characters in the book who are in the most danger are actually those who are most isolated – Victoria’s eldest son Adam and his girlfriend.

All the characters in Blue Fire read like fairly normal people. Even the military members are quite ordinary. The lead officer, Major McCrea, is most needed for his planning and organizational skills. Sergeant Copley is valued as much for his carpentry hobby as his military training. Neither are superhuman fighters. Victoria herself is both skilled and flawed: she is smart, forceful, and driven to get things done, but even her own sons are unsure if she remains in Ortho because she really wants to help or because she cannot give up her love of being in authority.

The books also get points for being very intentionally apolitical. No political parties are ever referenced by name; there is only the majority and the opposition. While the Senators and Representatives described in the book are given home districts, they are always districts that could plausibly be blue or red. No clearly Democratic or Republican political position is ever ascribed to a character. The effect is a sharp departure from the partisan politics often found in prepper fiction. Instead, there is a clear message that the real cause of ineffective government is a thoughtless focus on holding power, posturing, and scoring cheap points. I am sure that many readers will agree.

Lastly, I appreciated the books’ focus on people and skills more than gear. Far too many prepper novels focus incessantly on the names of specific guns, knives, backpacks, and boots. The worst sound like the author is regurgitating parts of a gear catalogue. There is almost none of that here. Gilstrap clearly knows enough about firearms and outdoorsmanship to describe shooting, hiking, and camping accurately. But he also knows that it does not matter much where you bought your equipment, as long as you know how to use it.

In short, Blue Fire (and Crimson Phoenix) will be appealing to a wide audience, including many people who find typical prepper fiction off-putting. But what does the book teach about prepping? My objection to books like A. American’s Going Home is not just that the incessant gear descriptions make for tedious reading. It is that the book sends the message that slogging hundreds of miles with a 50+ pound backpack loaded down with three different cooking systems is the best way to ride out the apocalypse. Other books contain may similarly miseducate the reader, by implying that you cannot survive danger without a rural farm, prior service as an Army Ranger, or a stockpile of silver coins.

On the one hand, Blue Fire’s description of the disaster that befalls America is both vague and a bit unrealistic. Nuclear war is a possibility, and maybe one that feels more salient given the current tensions with Russia. However, Gilstrap, as he explains in an author’s note at the end of Crimson Phoenix, has put aside much of the science about the effects of a nuclear exchange in order to facilitate his storytelling. In particular, the characters do surprisingly little to deal with or avoid nuclear fallout. The story is also told from the points of view of characters with limited information, sparing the author the task of detailing exactly what happened. In short, this book (and its prequel) will not provide edutainment on nuclear disasters.

Where the book really shines is in its emphasis on community and human relations. While other books may prompt the reader to ask, ‘Where will I go in a disaster?’ this one prompts the reader to ask, ‘Who will I know when I get there?’ Or while a typical story may lead you to think, ‘Do I have supplies for my family?’ this one may prompt you to reflect on what you will do with families that do not have supplies. Ultimately, survival is not just a solo activity but a community one. The book gives few readymade answers on how communities can prepare, but it nudges the reader’s thinking in a useful direction.

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European energy prices going through the roof

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10585147/Oil-price-surges-125-barrel-highest-level-2008.html

Gas price rockets leaving billpayers facing £5,000 price capThe price of gas has gone through the roof to record levels today as the West prepares to boycott Russia’s fossil fuels, which raises $1billion-a-day for Vladimir Putin’s war chest.

With global markets in turmoil, UK wholesale gas hit 800 pence per therm today – up from 39p a year ago – amid claims that the monthly price cap planned for October 1 could have to be raised to £5,000-a-year. 

To clarify before the Covid Pandemic and the Ukranian conflict the average Brit was paying £1250 ($1645) a year of electricity and gas.  A month or so ago that rose to over £1900 ($ 2500) a year, and is definately going to hit £3000 ($ 3900) a year at the end of October 22.   The way these issues are affecting energy prices it is now forecast to rise to between  £4000 and £5000 ( $ 5260 –  $ 6500) a year up from £1250.

Millions are going to have a choice soon, HEAT or EAT but not both.

I cannot possibly emphasize enough that if you can go OFF GRID on heat and Light, even partially (like getting a wood stove)  you REALLY should.

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Crude Oil

Supply line news – Impacts of pandemic, war, inflation, and whatever comes next

A thread for news about possible and observed supply impacts of pandemic, war, inflation, and whatever comes next. I’m US-based so please chime in with reports from other regions.

Grain. Although the US doesn’t import much grain, we do bring in about 100 million tons a year, and we are big exporters. That means we are exposed to the world grain price. RU and Ukraine (UA) export about 12% of global calories traded. About 30% of wheat, 20% of corn and 80% of sunflower oil. UA.gov voted to ban exports and RU sanctions will have a big effect.

Chips. (not potato) In addition to the existing supply bottlenecks and huge demand for microchips, it turns out Ukraine produces 50% of the neon in the world and has shut down both factories. So what? Neon is vital to the lasers that make microchip production possible. I have a PV charger on backorder—ostensibly due to the already existing chip shortages.

Fertilizer. In addition to food price increase, RU is a huge exporter of fertiliser and banned export of N back in February and banned other exports thursday. Prices of N increased 22% and K went up 34% on friday alone.  Not to put too fine a point on this, but fertilizer is the thing the Green Revolution was made of and what reset the timer on Ehrlich’s Population Bomb. So in addition to basic staples like grains, those of us who can grow some food should think about our fertiliser needs for the near term… and pesticides as well.

Lumber. Really building materials in general. Lumber price is nearly as high as it was at the height of the shutdowns. But in my experience going to the big box every week, the racks of about everything are better supplied now. If you can possibly put off a lumber purchase I think you will be able to save some money. But that’s just a guess and as I’m remodeling an old house, I can’t really postpone, so there is that.

Nickel, Copper, etc. Maybe getting into the weeds here but copper set an all-time high price this month and nickel was up 30%. China uses around half the supply and is driving consumption—because they make electronics for the rest of the world. I personally feel that the reason putin is going into UA now is that they past their peak in oil production on 2019, that is according to the RU oil ministry last year. So he’s gotta get to putting the USSR back together quick while he can. Having said all that, high oil price is going to drive up the price of lots of metals because they are needed for BEVs and renewable energy.  Energy Skeptic talks about these things a lot, she has an article up now talking about the huge amount of raw materials needed to transition away from fossils.

We live in a complicated and interconnected world where everything comes from somewhere else. Stuff is unfolding surprisingly fast at the moment, normality bias makes my cognition slow to respond. Most of the time there is enough slack, at least in my rich world, just in time supply line, that critical shortages don’t appear. But to me prepping is primarily about keeping ahead of whatever supply glitches and shortages.

What do you see coming down the pike?

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C. Crane Skywave and Skywave SSB out of stock – What is the best alternative?

I currently have a poor quality and ancient emergency hand crank radio and was looking to upgrade this aspect of my preps.  

After reading the Best Emergency Radio Guide, I decided to purchase a C. Crane Skywave or C. Crane Skywave SSB emergency radio.  I was disappointed to find, although I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, that the C. Crane Skywave and C. Crane Skywave SSB are both out of stock with a potential ship date that is several months out at best.  

Given what is going on in the world right now, I’m not sure I feel comfortable waiting a few months (or more, knowing the current state of the supply chain) to upgrade my emergency radio.    

The main reason I am looking to upgrade is because of the Russia / Ukraine situation and the increasing tension between Russia and the US / NATO countries.  While I think it’s still relatively unlikely, I believe the possibility of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia is becoming enough of a possibility where I want to be prepared for the situation if it were to occur.  I believe part of that is having a really good radio on hand to be aware of potential incoming threats and to get information in the aftermath of a potential attack.  Besides that scenario, it will be helpful in many other emergency scenarios.  

I am hoping somebody could share some advice as to what emergency radio (C. Crane brand or other) would be best to have on hand in the above scenario, excluding the Skywave and Skywave SSB which is currently out of stock?  C. Crane seems to have a number of different makes / models – so many so it’s a bit overwhelming. 

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Interesting article from 2020 about US Homesteaders

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-7933655/Homesteaders-catastrophists-run-hills-flee-U-S-uncertainty.html

Homesteaders, catastrophists run for the hills to flee U.S. uncertaintyBy Reuters

 Published:  10:01, 27 January 2020 

By Carey. L. Biron

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Cheap housing, deep unease and intense resilience – all forces that are driving a clutch of Americans to swap city life for a fresh start off grid and far from civilisation.

Some are survivalists, among them high fliers who fear a looming, urban catastrophe and the mayhem that might follow.

Others want a greener, gentler life untainted by the malign forces of capitalism and uncertainty of mainstream politics.

Whichever camp, realtors say the new dropouts are not “crackpots” and often include affluent professionals whose run for the hills has boosted rural land values and started to change their property market. “I’ve had hedge-fund managers and billionaires that have made purchases, and they all have concerns about the direction of the economy and social stability,” said John E. Haynes, president of Retreat Realty in North Carolina.

“We’re on that upward trend,” he said. “Inventory of that land on the market is tighter.”

Haynes has worked in real estate for decades.

About four years ago, he rebranded his company to pitch property to a new and growing breed of buyer – those motivated by “concerns about social stability”.

He had a record year in 2019, and was busy in the run-up to the 2016 election, when Donald Trump came to power.

“I’m sensing that again,” he said. “People get uncertain, and they start making decisions on the political environment and what they anticipate.

“So I think 2020 will be a good year for my business.”

TIME TO RUN

Bruce – who values his privacy so would not let his full name be used – is buying 20 acres in remote North Carolina, where trees will become fuel and water springs from the land.

He has lived most of his life in cities, New York included.

But now the plan is to escape the urban jungle – a place of traffic, noise, poverty, crime and much else Bruce dislikes.

“It reached the point where we were tired of being on the defensive,” Bruce, in his mid-50s, said of city life and the hazardous technical setup on which it relies.

“Amazon can deliver groceries in two hours, but will the grocery store have food three days after a large disaster?” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, noting the cataclysmic potential of a major disruption in electrical generation.

“Our hope is nothing like this happens,” he said.

“But should it, we’ll be better prepared to survive in a rural setting, where more food is grown locally, where we have land on which to raise food or livestock, or hunt.”

ESCAPE TYRANNY

Often called survivalists or “preppers”, many escapees twin an expectation of impending doom – or outright social collapse – with a deep disbelief in the government’s ability to cope.

Buying land – or “bugout” property, derived from military slang for a retreat – is a priority, with real estate networks compiling national lists of “prepper lands”.

Most survivalist land purchases are in the mountains of the U.S. northwest, primarily Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

In 2011, a blogger and former U.S. Army intelligence officer named James Wesley, Rawles – he includes the comma in his name – wrote a widely circulated post urging “freedom-loving Christians” to move to the region as a safe haven.

He dubbed the area the American Redoubt and urged followers to “buy land that will maximise your self-sufficiency.”

It is unclear how many heeded his call, but the Economist magazine estimated they numbered in the “thousands of families”.

Idaho in particular recorded a big influx.

The state had one of the top U.S. growth rates in 2015-16, driven in part by escapees from California and neighbouring Washington state, according to Boise State assistant professor Jeffrey Lyons.

Disaffected Californians make up a substantial number of clients for Black Rifle Real Estate, which says online that it helps people “Flee the City to the freedom and safety of Rural America and the famed American Redoubt.”

Broker Todd Savage said his business is at an all-time high, driven by frustration with how many U.S. cities are governed.

“Most of our clients are now looking to sell their postage-stamp size properties … and make what we call a ‘Strategic Relocation’ to a free state,” Savage said in an email.

Driven by new demand, the company is expanding outside of the so-called Redoubt – to Arizona, which Savage said enjoys lower taxes and far looser gun controls than liberal California.

“Arizona is the new Idaho for many seeking relief from the tyranny in California,” he said.

EMBRACE LAND

Conservatives are not alone in the new land rush.

Haynes said his clients in North Carolina are evenly split between survivalists and “homesteaders” – young, liberal, less affluent families seeking peace, quiet and a sustainable life.

“When I started out in 1973, the big thing then was the ‘back to the land’ movement,” said Neil Shelton with the Ozark Land Company, a developer active in Missouri and Arkansas.

What he is seeing now is a “new iteration” of that movement,” he said, and one driven by innovation: the pre-built ‘tiny home’, typically 400-600 square feet.

Small structures have made home ownership more affordable, he said, for some accelerating the new mood of escapism.

“This tiny-house movement is the biggest thing I’ve seen since” the 1970s, Shelton said.

Kim Moore, 63, said she and her husband had bought nearly 60 acres in North Carolina after enjoying a holiday there.

“I’m not a survivalist, but as much as possible, I’d like to live on the land,” she said.

Moore and her husband plan to build a series of small homes and create a “co-housing” community of family, friends and others with similar values.

“I want it to be sustainable, something that isn’t going to ruin the land, and something that’s big enough that all of my friends can join in,” she said.

“It’s something that feeds my soul.”

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Article, couple who built self-sufficient home out of clay and straw

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10191339/Couple-built-home-clay-say-theyve-paid-no-bills-DECADE.html

Couple who built self-sufficient home out of CLAY and straw, and now live off the grid with their two kids, reveal they haven’t had to pay bills in over a DECADE – saving them $70K A YEAR

Misty Murph’Ariens, 36, and her husband Bryce 46, met as chefs in Hamilton, Ontario and loved visiting his grandmother’s rural cottageIn 2009, they bought a piece of farmland for $37,500 and spent $10,000 building a house out of clay, sand, and strawThey get food from farm animals and their garden, electricity from solar panels, and water from a well on the propertyThey earn some money from a small local catering business but get around by cycling, walking, or on horseback because they have no carMisty homeschools their five- and seven-year-old daughters.

A family that lives in an impressive off-grid self-built ‘clay’ home have paid no bills for over a decade — saving them $70,000 a year.

Misty Murph’Ariens, 36, and her husband Bryce 46, have become homesteaders — self sufficiency experts — since moving into a remote Canadian forest 15 years ago.

Now with their seven-year-old daughter Sage and five-year-old daughter Aurora, the Murph’Ariens is almost entirely self-sufficient, getting their food from a vegetable farm and a collection of animals, their electricity from solar panels, and their water from a well.

The couple met while working as chefs in Hamilton, Ontario but quickly realized they weren’t suited to living in the big city.  

‘From the moment we met we instantly knew we wanted to live an alternative lifestyle,’ Misty said.

They went for a visit to Bryce’s grandmother’s cob cottage in rural Durham for 54 weekends in a row, falling in love with the far-out location.

‘Bryce’s grandmother’s cottage was so peaceful and we were constantly disappointed when we had to leave and go back to the city,’ Misty said.

In 2006, they moved there permanently and immediately saw a change in their wellbeing. 

‘I’ve always suffered with intense migraines but when we moved to the countryside they started to become less and less frequent,’ Misty said.

‘Six-months after moving they’d stopped completely, and I’m convinced it was the noise and the city environment which had been the cause of my discomfort.

‘Rural living immediately made sense to us, and the idea of being completely self sufficient was really appealing.’

They spent three years learning how to lead the homestead lifestyle before going out on their own and buying a piece of farmland in the local area for $37,500 in 2009.

It was covered in trash and abandoned materials, which they spent weeks clearing. They then spent four months building a cob house — a natural material made of clay, sand, and straw — for just $10,000.

Every summer since the move, they have expanded and improved their home. 

Their daughters are homeschooled by Misty and taught a traditional syllabus with the addition of key primal skills, animal care, and building techniques.

To earn money, Misty and Bryce run a small catering business in the local community, but with no car, they get around by cycling, walking, or traveling on horseback.

Bryce claims the reason their family is financially stable despite their lack of consistent income is their low cost, self-sufficient lifestyle.

‘We’ve worked out over the years that our annual living costs amount to approximately $15,000 — and that’s with raising two kids,’ he said.

‘We try to be as self sufficient as possible, farming and harvesting all the food we eat.

‘We do get the occasional shopping delivery to the nearest road, but that’s only for a very select range of essential items,’ he said.

Most of their food comes from their own cows, chickens, and ducks, as well as a vegetable patch.

The garden grows all the traditional orchard fruits and produces a variety of nuts and vegetables, which they harvest on a weekly basis. 

They cook their meals on a wooden stove, use solar panels for electricity, and collect water from a well. 

The pair estimate that their lives cost just $15,000 a year to fund — a whopping $70,000 CAD less than the average four person household in their province.

‘I think the difference with our lifestyle is not so much what we do, but why we do it,’ Bryce said.

‘Of course we do have to acquire money, but the focus of our day is finding the most sustainable and fulfilling way to live.

‘Whereas most people are spending the majority of their time working to afford the necessities of life, we spend our time working to acquire these necessities directly.

‘Granted, it’s not a life for everyone, but it works for us and, as a family, we’ve never been happier.’

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Hospital go bag

When both parents started going into the hospital a couple of times in rapid succession, we put together Hospital Go Bags with items needed for comfort, privacy, and entertainment. The document package stayed in our cars as well. We did use the bags thereafter.

Hospital Go Bag

Leave personal medications and tobacco products at home. Clean out wallet of credit cards and large amounts of cash. Leave jewelry at home. Hospital has no responsibility for stolen valuables. Policies may govern if you can have electronic devices. If you’re uncertain whether to bring a valuable, ask yourself if you’re willing to lose it. If not, keep it at home. With a small amount of money you can buy newspapers, etc.

If something goes wrong with a day surgery, you may be admitted to the hospital for a time. It’s best to plan for that contingency.

Inventory of the bag contents. Date when last inventoried.

Gov’t issued photo ID and insurance card

List of emergency contacts (phone numbers, hard copy), including primary physician, ride home, clergy

Healthcare documents such as personal health history (with allergies, conditions, medications [name, dose, administration times], doctors, immunizations, history of major illness and surgeries), dietary restrictions, Advance Health Care Directive (meds and procedures you either will accept or not accept), Power of Attorney for Healthcare, General limited or durable Power of Attorney, Living Will, optional Do Not Resuscitate (Allow Natural Death) order. Recent reports, x-rays. Bring documents in a single bag or envelop.

Crutches, walker, cane, other assistive devices for use after surgery.

Mobile phone and wall charger, extension cord. Hospitals may have a policy if electronic equipment interferes with patient monitoring equipment. Check before going if possible.

Dental hygiene items (brush, paste, floss)

Personal hygiene items: nail clippers, comb/brush, shampoo, conditioner, skin lotion, deodorant, lip balm, shower shoes (flip flops). Shaving kit. Feminine hygiene products.

Special needs products such as denture cream.

Eyecare (contact lens kit, glasses, cleaning cloth). Glasses may be easier to deal with than contacts.

Eye mask, ear plugs. Contrary to what you believe, you are not in the hospital to get rest. Staff may awaken you at such hours that it is difficult to sleep. Be prepared to complain. They can do better.

Full change of clothes, a couple of changes of underwear

Light robe? Non-slip slippers

Entertainment of some kind, cards, puzzle books, book/magazine to read, religious book

Notebook, pen. Note details of any incident, any verbal instructions that are not documented. Journal?

Photos of family, friends.

For kids, favorite (stuffed?) toy

Any other staff-recommended items for a planned hospital admission.

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Article, Not exactly gloating, stockpiling ‘preppers’ have a moment

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-8114115/Not-exactly-gloating-stockpiling-preppers-moment.html

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) – Curt La Haise has put up with plenty of razzing from friends over the years who have called him paranoid for stockpiling an eight-month supply of food in his basement and having enough fuel to power his generator for almost an entire winter.

They’re not laughing anymore amid panic buying that has cleared store shelves across the U.S. and growing fears that the new coronavirus will force many Americans to self-quarantine for weeks in their homes.

“Now my friends are like, `What should I do, what should I get?´” said La Haise, who operates a firearms and safety training business near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. “Prepping doesn´t look so bad now.”

For those in the often-mocked “prepper” community, this is quickly becoming their “I told you so” moment. But many are resisting saying that, even if it’s in the back of their minds. What they hope is that they’ll finally be taken seriously and that more people will follow their lead.

“We’re not laughing. We’re not saying,`I told you so,’ when people are out there fighting over toilet paper and hand sanitizers,” said Paul Buescher, of Northfield Center Township, Ohio.

Buescher is one of 32 members of a group in northeastern Ohio that shares a farm packed with enough canned and dehydrated food and water to last for years. He said he is now getting calls all day long asking for advice.

Survival supply stores can’t keep up with the demand for food kits and medical supplies.

“Every single business that has to do with emergency preparedness is overloaded,” said John Ramey, founder of a Colorado-based prepper website called The Prepared.

Most preppers say they are about self-reliance and common sense and are quick to distance themselves from the “doomsday preppers” who are depicted on television shows awaiting the day most of the world’s population is wiped off the map.

“The vast majority of this is beans and Band-Aids, not bullets and bunkers,” Ramey said.

Jim Cobb, a disaster readiness consultant and editor-in-chief of Prepper Survival Guide magazine, said he has seen a few fellow preppers gloating on social media about people who are crowding stores in search of disinfectants.

“I hate the thought of alienating any of them because they think were a bunch of elitist goofballs.” he said. “We’re trying to take advantage of the opportunity that for once they’re not laughing and pointing fingers at us.”

While most people who have tested positive for the virus experience only mild or moderate symptoms, there’s a greater danger and longer recovery period for older adults and people with existing health problems.

Experts say it’s most important to practice safe hygiene: Wash hands frequently, cover sneezes and coughs, and stay home if fever or other symptoms arise.

As for the preppers, they have their own recommendations for anyone who is unsure of what to do next:

– Be ready to stay at home for at least two weeks. Have plenty of food and water. Don’t forget about your pets and medicines. That includes over-the-counter products for fevers and coughs.

– Yes, toilet paper is important, but so are hand sanitizers, disinfectants, sanitation wipes, eye protection and gloves.

– Get your finances in order. Make sure you can pay your bills and have cash on hand.

– Maybe most important, relax and don´t panic. And pay attention to the news and what’s happening around you.

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Millions in ‘zero-Covid’ China are in lockdown as virus cases TRIPLE

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10607901/Millions-zero-Covid-China-lockdown-virus-cases-TRIPLE-surge-infections.html

Millions of people across China have been plunged into a lockdown on Sunday as cases of Covid-19 tripled after a surge in infections in the north east cause the worst outbreak the country has seen in two years. 

A total of 1,938 new cases of coronavirus have been reported by authorities in China on Sunday, which is three times the Saturday figures. 

Tighter controls have been put in place for those looking to access Shanghai, with services in the eastern port city, of over 24 million people, have been suspended after their cases rose by 15 to 432.

Anyone wanting to enter Shanghai requires a Covid-19 test to enter.  

The nationwide surge in cases has seen authorities close schools in Shanghai and lock down central neighbourhoods in the southern city of Shenzhen. 

Neighbouring mainland cities Jilin and Changchun, in the north east, contributed to around three quarters of the total, reporting 1,412 total cases.

Entry to Changchun, which neighbours Jilin city and is within the Chinese province of Jilin, has been suspended, with families also told to stay at home.  

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Apartment window protection

Hi Preppers, We live on the 7th floor of a pre-war apartment in NYC. My question: Is there a way for us to put protection on our windows on the interior of our apartment in the event of a hurricane (or civil unrest or…)?  Even better, if these shutters are not hideous and fast and easy to deploy? Any ideas? Has anyone put up the bolts for hurricane fabric? Thank you!

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Long term experience with reccomended Novoo waterproof power bank?

Hi all, I have been working through making a bug out bag. Because money is an issue, I was thrilled that the reccomended power bank wasn’t an arm and a leg. Looking into the reviews on Amazon though it appears that a lot of people love it at first but around 6 months it starts to fail and around a year when it is no longer in warranty it stops working entirely. It is tricky to guage how common that experience is- how many people actually come back to amazon in a year when something fails? Does anyone have any personal experience good or bad?

Alternatively, does anyone have a different power bank that has held up long term for them? (I have been mulling over spending the extra money and getting an otterbox power bank instead- they seem to have a longer lifespan looking at the reviews on Best Buy that tell you how long someone owned something when they submitted the review and much easier to get replaced if they fail. Not clear if they are compatible with a solar charger though.)

Thanks everyone!

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Book Review: “Deep Survival” – Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why

(image credit: “mountains” by Enrico Strocchi is licensed under Creative Commons – CC BY-SA 2.0)

“Deep Survival” by Laurence Gonzales

If you’re looking for a book that explains strategy and tactics to build mental resilience and make it through tough events, this is a good one. I’ll cover the highlights so you can get started.

Laurence Gonzales is a pilot and journalist who has spent several decades writing about risk and survival. He has read thousands of accident reports, and has interviewed experts from many fields that involve danger, risk assessment, and staying calm under pressure: fighter pilots, firefighters, mountain climbers, wilderness rescue guides. “Deep Survival” is his synthesized analysis of: Why do some people beat the odds and survive?

Part 1: Mental Models and Why We Fail

In Part 1 Gonzales outlines how accidents happen – how our brains work to create mental maps and models of the world, and when these can be right and wrong. He notes when the world can become too complex for humans to understand, and several failure modes that cause us to make mistakes – making assumptions, not updating our mental map when something changes.

The top skill for survival is self-control, and the ability to stay calm. Staying calm helps us to perceive and act clearly rather than rashly. Laughter helps with this. Laughing makes the feeling of being threatened more manageable. It also spreads quickly and unconsciously between people. When you laugh you can feel more relaxed, which helps you to stay calm and focus.

Gonzales discusses our brain’s ability to create “emotional bookmarks” – shortcuts to skip to and perform a certain action without thinking, so it is able to act faster. This can be both good or bad – if your brain has bookmarked the correct action or a harmful action – e.g. removing your breathing regulator while diving. This is why practicing skills helps so much – your body can learn how and when to take the correct action even – or especially – when you’re not thinking. Often this can mean the difference between success and failure.

Another problem getting in the way of survival is not being open to new information or changes. A survivor must expect the world to keep changing, and keep their senses attuned to “What’s up?”. You have to be able to keep processing new information about the world, and let it inform your mental model. Being actively curious helps with this.

When in doubt: don’t.

The last topic Gonzales covers is knowing how to read your environment, and how to react if things get unsafe. You want to learn and build a general understanding of the systems, world, or tools you are working with, and need to be able to recognize and admit when the environment is too large, or too complex. You might be right on the boundary edge of failure and danger, but not realize it. Humans tend to let their guard down when we think we have reached our goal. It is easy to be fooled and think we have things under control.

His overall assessment: “The most efficient preparation is general physical, mental, and professional readiness nurtured over years of training and experience”.

Part 2: Useful Tactics to Think, Act, and Survive

Some people are better at updating their mental model than others. They’re called survivors.

Gonzales spends seven chapters detailing tactics, attitudes, and mental tools used by successful survivors to persevere and get through their situation.

The most important skill is keeping an up-to-date mental map of the current situation or environment. If we are not able to create a mental map, our brain treats this as an emergency, and triggers a physical and emotional response. “Being lost is not a location; .. it is a failure of the mind”. Training and practice beforehand help with this, as we better understand the systems and environment.

Gonzales discusses the importance of quickly moving to the “Acceptance” stage in any situation, so you can avoid wasting time denying reality, and focus on calm, forward progress. “Perceive, believe, then act”. The best survivors spend almost no time getting upset about what has been lost, or feeling distressed about things going badly. They take charge of things within their power, and leave the rest behind. They usually don’t take themselves too seriously, and are therefore hard to threaten.

A large part of maintaining the correct mental model is being open to new possibilities and change. Gonzales covers keeping a humble “beginner’s mindset” and developing “active passiveness”: the ability to accept the situation you are in without giving in to it. Several stories demonstrate how survivors commonly experience a bit of split personality that separates out the emotion from simply focusing on the task at hand. They can skip fully processing or worrying about the events until later, once they are safe. Often this helps to be slow and calm, and think through scenarios before acting rashly.

The book is threaded with solid, real-life examples of survivors getting into and out of tough spots, with stories of their mental process. Whether it’s a mountain climber breaking their leg at 19,000 feet, yet being able to separate emotion and repeatedly take small, correct actions to return; or a river rafting guide having enough experience and wisdom to recognize when conditions got too dangerous and say “No, not today”, saving the life of their group while two other parties perished. The stories are gripping and informative.

Gonzales concludes with a powerful synthesis summary of two lists: How to stay out of trouble; and what to do once you’re in trouble anyway. I am sharing here a partial list in the hope that it is useful and thought-provoking. As Gonzales says – some concepts and advice can be applied to any stressful situation; not just ones where your life is threatened.

Tips to stay out of trouble

Know your stuff.

Take training that is available, including basic survival skills. This may improve your ability to react or predict Do some homework and understand what environment and conditions you’re going into; this helps to inform your equipment, route, strategy Essential tools of adventure: Planning, Caution, Training, Learning good decision making skills

Commune with the dead.

Read and learn about what other people have done, and learn from them See if you can avoid making the same mistakes

Perceive, believe, then act.

As the environment changes, you must be flexible and open to new information. You need to perceive what is actually happening, what is changing, and then react to it Survival is adaptation based on a correct reading of the reality around you You should have a plan, and a backup plan. But hold onto them with a gentle grip, and be willing to let go You want: Focus, Control, Courtesy, Humility, Confidence

Don’t rush.

e.g. Move at half normal speed Avoid impulsive behaviour. You may be able to get away with a few mistakes if you can adjust your behaviour and take corrective action in a timely fashion Stop. Observe. Think. Plan. Act.

Be humble

Just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t mean you’re good at all things Don’t get cocky or think you can’t get harmed Keep a beginner’s state of mind; be open to change and possibility

Practice focusing on the positive.

Don’t waste time blaming others; just deal with the situation you are in This mentality helps you to be a rescuer, not a victim It is helpful to work on and develop this attitude regularly, and before you need it By embracing the natural pain points that happen in everyday life, and thinking “What can I do about this?”, you are practicing and preparing for a survival situation

When in doubt, bail out.

Trust your gut; avoid bad situations when you can This is often the hardest thing to do “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air, than to be in the air wishing you were on the ground.” Applies to pilots, mountain climbers, etc. Sometimes it is better to turn back and get a chance to do it again, rather than push on and never come back This takes patience

Tips to deal with trouble, once you’re in it

1. Look, see, and believe.

Keep taking in information from your environment Ask “What’s up?”. This is fast, and keeps us questioning, taking in new information Move to the “acceptance” stage for your new situation quickly, so you don’t waste time or energy

2. Stay calm.

Use fear to focus. Turn it into action, or anger and action Use humour to stay grounded and going. Guard against emotion

3. Think, analyze, plan

Get organized, and set up small, routine tasks you can do to help Create small, achievable goals for yourself, so you can accomplish things Celebrate even small successes Act with the expectation of success Listen to rational thoughts and make forward action

4. Take correct, decisive action

Be bold yet thoughtful while carrying out tasks Just focus on: what is the next correct action? Break down very large tasks into small, manageable pieces of work Do those tasks well Deal with what is within your power, from moment to moment; hour to hour; day to day Leave the rest behind

5. Celebrate your success!

Take joy in completing all tasks, no matter how small You want to create an ongoing feeling of motivation and positivity

6. Count your blessings

Be grateful for the things that are going well This is how people turn from survivors into rescuers Often people imagine they are doing the work to help someone else. Even if that other person is not present

7. Play

You want to stimulate, calm, and entertain your mind Give it time to rebuild and de-stress You can use music, poetry, math, anything that helps Or just give yourself one small task for focus on The more skills and areas you have and are exposed to beforehand, the better Have a mantra you can repeat, or something that motivates you E.g. dedicating each 100 steps to someone you care about Play leads to invention. Invention may lead to something new that may help

8. See the beauty

Pause and see the wonder of the world around you Have some appreciation for nice things This helps relieve stress But also helps you to pause and take in information

9. Believe you will succeed

Survivors consolidate their personalities and fix their determination

10. Accept and store bad information

You can hide it away until later. Don’t let it bother you or take up thought “surrendering” to the situation, and moving on anyway

11. Do what is necessary

Be determined Have the will and the skill Survivors don’t expect help Are coldly rational Obtain what they need And do what they have to do

12. Never give up!

There is always one more helpful thing you can do Survivors are not easily frustrated, or discouraged by setbacks Accept the world you are in Be ready to start the process over again: break down the reality into small, manageable bits, and begin to make progress on them Survivors always have a clear reason to keep going on See opportunity in adversity Afterward, learn from and be grateful for the experiences that you’ve had Read More
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Good news for US Type one insulin dependent diabetics

New partnership provides affordable insulin for all in the USA

its all free in the UK but our american cousins pay a fortune for their insulin, so this should hopefully help many.

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An historic deal has been agreed between JDRF International and partners, to deliver lower-cost insulin across the USA from 2024 to everyone – regardless of insurance status.

The cost of a vial of insulin has tripled in the USA over the last ten years, with prices currently ranging from between $175 (£130) and $300 (£224) per vial, which could cost a person up to $1,000 (£750) a month. 

An estimated one in four people who are insulin dependent say they skip or ration their insulin because they cannot afford to pay this inflated price, potentially leading to severe consequences for their health, medical emergencies, or even death. 

This groundbreaking partnership between JDRF International – who are based in the USA – and other funders, means that Civica, a nonprofit generic drug manufacturing company, can manufacture and distribute biosimilar insulin for no more than $30 (£23) a vial, or $55 (£40) for a box of five pen cartridges. This is as much as 90% lower than existing costs. 

To make this happen, JDRF International has agreed to underwrite the initial development costs, meaning that Civica is able to provide this low-cost option to people who need it. 

Civica will develop biosimilars to three of the most commonly used insulins in the USA, to reach the most people possible: glargine (Lantus®), lispro (Humalog®), and aspart (Novolog®). Biosimilar insulin is highly similar to existing insulins that are already licensed for use and are just as effective. 

These affordable insulins will be available from 2024 to allow time for development, clinical trials and FDA approval, amongst other logistical factors. Everyone – regardless of their health insurance status – will be able to access this affordable insulin at this cost. This distinguishes this programme from many other existing routes of access for affordable insulin. 

JDRF UK’s Chief Executive, Karen Addington, said: “We are today proud of the impact that JDRF achieves: this partnership will help resolve some of the systemic health inequality for people living with type 1 diabetes in the USA. 

“It is our hope that this initiative then has the potential to go on and save lives across the world. We know that this news today will resonate with so many of our supporters and stakeholders who live with type 1 or work to prevent, treat and cure type 1 diabetes.”

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Quantifying safety

After Putin’s threat of nuclear war last week, I would have hoped it would remind many unprepared people that they can never be 100% safe. Also it made me think that we often seek things out because they make us “feel safer”, but that can be irrational.

If you spend $10,000 crime-proofing your home but live in a very low-crime area, you might be only $100 safer. But if you’d used it to pay down debt or saved/invested it, you’d be at least $10,000 safer. As someone who isn’t wealthy and lives in an apartment in a city, I’m mindful of the potential for me to waste money on gear that might ultimately have little value. The water, energy, hygiene, and food preps I have seem to be of the highest value, but perhaps I could do more though it might be best to invest those funds.

So how do others quantify safety? I’m genuinely curious how other people do the calculus of prepping, including the basics of physical and financial health.

Best wishes to all.

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