A topic that I keep seeing come up more and more – thanks NatGeo! – is how crazy you have to be to be a prepper. Where is your bunker? Gas masks? Is your IQ higher than your shoe size? What most people don’t seem to understand is that most of us (oops, I’m using a broad brush too, but at least I’m informed) aren’t preparing for the end of the world.Â Sure it is part of our assessment and actions – but it’s not the end all or be all.
Here at Abundant Future we do prepare for those high-impact but low frequency events, but our main purpose is to live a better life and to be self reliant and agile enough to prosper no matter what the future holds. We do prepare for natural disasters, personal disasters, or just to have a better life today through self reliance and personal productivity, but we don’t sit in a bunker on top of a stack of cans waiting for the world to end.
Now for the juicy stuff – the world IS going to end. Depending on the experts you listen to it is between 2.7 and 8 BILLION years away. That is the estimated timeline for the Sun to expand enough to cook off every living organism on the planet and then go supernova, incinerating the entire planet in the process.
I’m not preparing for that, I think that will be up to my great^10000 grand kids to prepare for.
No matter what happens even if we are hit by a mega-solar storm, or have full on nuclear war, or face a pandemic like no one has ever even thought possible; life will go on.Â People are resilient, so lets look at the big picture, get some perspective and start working towards a better life every day.
The new smash hit â Doomsday Castle â is taking the prepping world by storm! It has got to be the best, most informative and most entertaining show on prepping Iâve ever seen. No that isnât sarcasm!
The show pits a very loose nit family together to help realize their dadâs vision of building a castle to protect them in âthe end of timesâ. Ok, might not be a bad premise, but the execution is nothing short of a Hollywood spectacle. The most frequent comments I hear and read from those who watch it areâŚDrumrollâŚ You guessed it, the many variations of âthe daughters are hotâ. (My favorite was a great little snark âI wonder if silicon stops bulletsâ)
The spectacle continues as the drama keeps unfolding â in the lot of them there doesn’t seem to be a want or will to do anything other than be famous and cash in. (The only exception could be the eldest sons weird obsession with wanting to prove himself) The next reality TV star family is here and they want to give the Kardashians a run for their money, showing how dysfunctional and crazy they can be. As sad as it is to say Iâd bet money that within a year at least one of the kids will be featured in some racy video/photo op to make money, ala Kim Kardashian.
In the midst of the side show and the many horrible prepping atrocities there are a few neat nuggets to think about, but mostly it is a great method to learn how NOT to prep.
Going back to the original Doomsday Preppers episode that first highlighted the castle they stated he had already spent over a million dollars building it. Hopefully that was about 900K invested in the land and maybe the last 100K being foolishly spent on the castle itself. Even then I am not too sure he got a good deal for his money.
Not only did he overspend initially but he likes to spend time and money on more silly endeavors:
A drawbridge is too heavy and overbuilt. It might stop a car the first time, but Iâd bet a few blows from a sledgehammer on the lower attachments and it would come down.
A catapult. Catapults were used against fixed fortifications (like a castleâŚ) or massive quantities of attackers. Â It has zero utility as a prep, but just might break apart and hurt someone.
A portcullis with a murder hole. You have to have a strong backup for your overbuilt drawbridge â never mind the windows big enough to drive a semi through that are wide open.
You have to be dutiful and wise with your time and money â these are good examples of what not to do. Instead how about a prioritized list of what you can spend your time and money on, not what is cool or fun or will get you noticed on TV. Donât spent time building a catapult and portcullis when you could be putting up a roof, walls and windows. Or reinforcing the small livable space you do have â your windows looking outside are so crummy that water was leaking through as it rained. How is that supposed to be secure?
You also need to make sure you arenât a hoarder, which it seemed like the father was doing. Generally I draw the line for hoarding at the level of organization/documentation and your ability to properly store it. The first episode showed them having to spend hours or days cleaning up and throwing away large amounts of junk. Had that stuff been properly cared for it probably would have been valuable but his lack of care turned it to useless junk. (The treadle sewing machine was a good idea but when you donât take care of it and someone kicks it to pieces.)
So if you are going to prepare for âthe end of timesâ (what is that by the way?) you might want to give this show a chance and learn what not to do.
So we are supposed to live a life worth livingâŚ Why?Â Now that is a basic question that is very easy or hard to answer depending on your viewpoint.
You will have to figure out your own âwhyâ but Iâll suggest a few reasons: Itâs Godâs plan. You deserve it. Your family and friends deserve it. The world deserves to be full of people who feel they have meaning. And countless other reasons, pick your favorites.
A person could wax philosophical for hours or hundreds of pages on âwhyâ. Pick up one of hundreds of different philosophy, self help, spiritual or even celebrity expose books and they will give you a lot of âwhyâs. You could spendÂ the rest of your life delving into the meaning of life itself…
My simple answer â every life is worth living. No matter how bad you think things are, or no matter how bad you think things might be â you, everyone, has a purpose here on this earth. If you donât think you have a purpose here on earth, please seek help immediately.
Ok, now that weâve completely glossed over the âwhyâ at a philosophical level, letâs dig into the why at a strategic level.
I like to suggest examining these buckets that will be used in the next few installments at a deeper level:
Friends and community
Leaving a lasting legacy
You can group/ungroup or add as many as you like but Iâll use these as a starting point. You should have a reason to live, something(s) that bring you pleasure, that you are proud of.
By now Iâm sure some of you are asking âwhat does all of this have to do with survival and preparedness?â My answer is: Everything. Followed by a question back to you: Why do you want to prepare and survive? Iâm guessing that most of your answers will correlate back to those buckets above.
Itâs just a thought processÂ to see âwhyâ you are really preparing.Â Itâs not to survive the zombie hordes. Itâs so you can survive the zombie hordes and see your children grow up in safety. Or the goal is to survive and help your friends, community, and church prosper. Or to provide compassion and aid to as many people as you can. The disaster or calamity that you are preparing for canât be a why in and of itself.
If you donât know why you are preparing and why you want to survive I suggest you really think about the core drivers for your actions.
All too often people get too caught up in food storage or tactical training, or sometimes people just âphone it inâ and buy the designer multi-year food packages without ever really knowing why. It is really easy to get caught up in that rat race, but we arenât going to be a part of that, we have a purpose for everything we do.
Ok, so I know why, what now?
You have your reasons why? All of them? Some? A few? Write them down, as many as you can think of with as much detail as you can.
Done? Now for a fun exercise: pick the 2 or 3 most important reasons and highlight them somehow. Next pick the 2 or 3 you wish you were doing better in and highlight them somehow. Donât feel bad if those two groups overlap, after doing this exercise with a few dozen people about half the items highlighted fell into both categories.
So youâve got your most important reasons why.Â Now figure out what can you do today or tomorrow at the latest to improve, even if only a tiny bit, your standing in those areas. Just do it. Donât think too hard about it. Do it.Â Go to church. Call your daughter. Go for that walk in the park. Do something nice for your spouse. Just do it.
Ok, enough for today, Iâll have the next installment on ideas of how to live a life worth living up in the next day or two where we will jump into each of those buckets in detail.
I hope you like this series â if you missed it please jump over to the introduction and leave a comment to be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
And remember: You canât stop living life. You canât let any one thing consume your life. Youâve got to live a life worth living.
What is all the preparedness, self sufficiency, community building, gardening, etc, all about? Why do we work so hard to help ensure survival? Everyoneâs answers will be at least a little different. But the core should be very similar, hopefully at least.
To survive and live no-matter-what.
But is that enough? I donât think so. This reminds me of one of my favorite book quotes:
How about we change the answer to: Survive and live a life worth living.
How do we distinguish between the two? How do we work towards surviving and living a life worth living? First you have to start living a life worth living right now, today, this very instant.
How? You will have to ask your self many questions, such as: What is important to you? What isnât important to you? What is your quality of life, and the quality of life of those you love and care about?
To get there it will be a hard road to walk, at least if you look at a lot of the stats floating around:
1 in 8 adults in the US are on some sort of anti-depressant
Over 1 in 4 are labeled as obese (over 1 in 3 are overweight)
1 in 3 have high blood pressure
Half of the US reports high levels of stress that lead to physical problems (main causes: Money, work, economy and family responsibilities)
The average indebted household has over $15,000 dollars on their credit cards
73% of voters think the country is on the wrong track
I could keep going, but you get the idea. Iâd bet you didnât even need me to tell you any of the above, and could name a dozen more things to add to the list. Itâs those types of things that make people want to get prepared in the first place, if right now is so bad â what is the future going to look like?
Today is bad, so we prepare for a worse tomorrow.
But I think we should turn that right around and flip it upside down. Today is bad, how can we make it better so weâre looking forward to a betterÂ tomorrow?
Over the next few weeks Iâll be posting many follow up parts to this, discussing some key topics including:
Health, exercise and diet
Family and relationships
Faith and religion
Debt and finances
Liberty and freedom
Habits and actions
And more, if I donât list it please let me know what you would like to see added!
Now for the good stuff â Iâll be giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to a lucky random person who leaves a comment on this thread about how they currently are â or are working towards living a life worth living. The winner will be selected on 7/27 and I will email them at the address used to enter the comment and it will be announced here and on my Facebook page. (FYI: entering your email for a comment does NOT sign you up for ANYTHING. If you would like to receive my monthly newsletter you can click here or on the mail icon in the top right.)
If you havenât heard, our national debt (for those readers in the US) is stuck at $16,699,396,000,000.00. It has been sitting at that level for almost 60 days now. No we didnât stop borrowing money, we have borrowed many billions of additional dollars over this period but the treasury is playing different games and books are being cooked. Pretty soon the game will be up, although it might be weeks, months or even years. I, like many others, never thought the game could go on as long as it already has – so who knows how much longer they can keep it going.
How does this and the ever foretold, but never carried out, end of quantitative easing affect the average person? Negatively.
The financial problems we face are going to be a problem for everyone, except maybe the top 1% of the top 1%. They are connected and get knowledge prior to everyone else. So they get to profit by front running everyone else, making money off of(read: stealing)Â everyone elses losses. Â But I digressâŚ
How will it affect the average person? Rise in interest rates? Inflation? Deflation? Recession? D-d-depression? The answer is simple; yes.
Will we see hyperinflation? I doubt it, as do most economists. Even the vast majority of doom and gloom â perma bear economist donât see hyperinflation. Though high inflation or stagflationÂ just might be part of the plan.
But no one (except for that .01% who are changing the rules of the game) will know for sure when and how it will play out.
Get out of debt. Interest rates will rise even more, but donât buy into the âbuy now when rates are lowâ pitch. There is too much pressure on prices when rates go up; so prices come down. Think about it: when most people buy a house or a car, do they look at the cost or the monthly payment? Â (answer: people have been conditioned to look at the payment!)
You also donât know if you will have enough to make your already necessary payments. Or if youâll have a job. Or if youâll be able to afford gas to get to work. Or. Or. Or.
Get out of debt, it makes you more flexible in your future decision making. And donât try to bet on hyperinflation. That is something you shouldnât want to happen, and even if it does you wonât really be able to pay off your mortgage for ânext to nothingâ because you will need that cool $10 mill to buy gas, or pay the tax man! (You really think that if you were to benefit from hyperinflation the IRS wouldnât come and tag you for some huge assessment? Just Google IRS scandal, and that is in relatively normal times!)
Next, work towards self sufficiency and save as much as you can. Grow a garden, start an orchard, cut any non-necessary services and expenses (lawn mowing? House cleaning? Smoking/drinking? Car wash? Anything you can live withoutâŚ). The less you are paying for or depending on others for the better. Our supply chain is too stretched and fragile, you wonât have much warning when random things become hard or even impossible to find. (although I just read Twinkies are back on the shelfâŚ)
Lastly, get in shape, get healthy. Our healthcare system is a huge behemoth and is already about to topple and I believe it will be one of the first casualties in the next wave down. Lose weight, exercise, eat right. If you are on daily medications do everything in your power to limit your need. Almost all ailments can be reduced if you get into good shape. From diabetes to blood pressure to depression, eating right and exercising can help dramatically.
There are a million other things you can do, but these three are the most important. Heck everyone should be working towards these three anyway!
Everybody always talks about owning the night, and itâs a pretty easy concept to understand. What people generally mean when they say owning a night is that they are in control and those opposed them are powerless against them. In prepper circles this usually means that they have night vision devices to allow them to see at night or other setups, usually some sort of technology, that help give them a great advantage in the dark.
While itâs all good and fun to talk about this concept, and especially the gear, itâs not always easy to get accurate and unbiased information. Iâm not an expert and have never used any of the devices going to talk about here in a sort combat heart use application. So take it as a good explanation of why did what I did.
Start out Iâll break the topics into four groups the first three of which are technologies and the fourth is a tactic, you can use all of these technologies and tactic in conjunction or independently. More is better, and always remember the role âone is none, and to his oneâ. The three technologies I talk about are A. Light B. Light amplification (NVG/NVD) C. Thermal imaging (FLIR) the tactic is just passive and active alarms and monitoring.
Light: pretty simple, flashlights, candles, floodlights, flares, glow sticks, fire, and many more. This can be somewhat counter-intuitive, if youâre using lie you donât necessarily own the night because using light will also aid anybody else, even those who you donât want to aid. It should not be overlooked however because if you control the light you control that portion of the playing field. And that control can be the difference between winning and losing, or noticing and not noticing.
Everybody should have many sources of light with several redundancies, but even if this is your strategy in any sort of grid down situation light discipline is a must. Practicing light discipline in doing a âlight auditâ to see where light can be seen and canât be seen are both important projects. The last thing youâd want to do is to be signaling people âhey look at me!â By having light and a power when nobody else does.
Light amplification: this encompasses the majority of night vision goggles were night vision devices that people normally talk about. These are generally broken out into different generations but for simplicity sake Iâll describe them as three; GEN 1, GEN 3 and then everything else. (there are some places that will reference a Gen 4, but this isn’t a ‘real’ designation and these devices actually fall into the GEN 3 category)
Why? Because I can only recommend, based on my research and observations, GEN 1 and GEN 3 units.
GEN 1units are the cheapest and generally least effective, so why would I recommend these? Because theyâre the cheapest. And because they give you a great bang for your buck, if you get a good unit. I personally have two GEN 1 units made by Yukon, and for the price they work great. Many people say to stay away from these kinds of things and only go for the PVS 14 military grade hardware. But like many others, IÂ canât afford to spend that kind of money on hardware that we hopefully will never have to use. After doing a ton of research online and testing out a few different options I ended up on the monocular version from Yukon, although some of the versions from ATN were also very good and highly rated. If you go this route I recommend a monocle over a binoculars and also recommend something without magnification. Itâs much easier in my experiences to walk at night with a monocle using a âtake your path, then walk itâ and it is with binoculars and working with magnification is always a little trickier than not.
GEN three units,specifically those that meet theÂ PVS 14Â designation, are high-end and usually military grade equipment.Â These are definetlyÂ worth what it costs but at $2000 or more per unit it does cost a lot. There are many people selling these, if you are looking to spend the money most of the reputable dealers will be able to point you in the right direction without too much hassle. I feel there is a lot of bias out there towards the GEN 3units, especially by those who have used them for actual tactical purposes. While I donât have that background I do have a limited budget, unlike Uncle Sam and I need to make sure that I get the best bang for my buck. I also hope that I won’t ever have to use mine for anything other than walking, working or hunting at night. For those purposes it works very well!
All of the other stuff, GEN 2 and Gen x+s and anything in between. I donât recommend the stuff. Why? I personally tested a couple and saw no noticeable difference between them and the GEN 1 at least until I started getting in to the near/over $2000 mark again. If you are going to spend that much, go ahead and spend a little more to get the really good stuff.
WithÂ GEN 1 I suggest getting ancillary infrared flashlights or floodlights to use with them and make sure that the device you getÂ can have the IR light turned off. GEN 1 will allow you to walk and navigate easily, and aid in movement detection. Nothing like the GEN 3, but way better than nothing at all!
Thermal imaging: Forward-looking infrared, FLIR, looking at a completely different light spectrum than youâre used to. These devicesÂ look at heat signatures, just like the Predator does. The best way I’ve been able to explain it is to point people towards classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Predator. Okay so maybe thatâs not the best way, but itâs an easy one, and its a pretty fun movie too.
To me, this is the most effective way to own the night and a lot of the experts will agree with me. FL IR comes into its own by being able to pick out heat signatures of people and animals or things such as fires or cars, at a distance usually measured in the hundreds of yards. Itâs very hard to hide from thisÂ technology. (Not impossible, but hard) Using thermal imaging to scan your surroundings will allow you to pick up anybody or anythingÂ approaching you very easily. Very often you wonât even be able to see them with your naked eye but the thermal signature they give off makes them stick out like a sore thumb. This also works in the middle of the day. If you ever have a chance to play with one try couple of exercises like hiding in thick brush were you canât be seen even though somebody knows where you are, your thermal image will stick out no problem. Or try to have somebody come through grasses in a field or other vegetation, once again concealing your whole person from normal eyesight, and youâll easily be picked out with the thermal imager. The two biggest drawbacks of FLIR are cost and the fact that you can’t look through glass. (no peering out your window like you can with NVG)
A short and great FLIR vs. NVG example, although the limitations they are showing on NVG wouldnât (or shouldnât) be found on a PVS14, but would be an issue with gen 1s.
These capabilities are whatâs moving a handheld thermal imager to the top of my list of things about me, the very top. For the same priceÂ as a single PVS 14 Iâll be able to have my two GEN one monocleâs and a thermal imager.
The tactic of alarms and monitoring: I just wanted to bring this up very briefly to help round out the discussion. If you are having some sort of problem or are afraid of some sort of problem; whether itâs two or four-legged creatures,Â alarms and monitoring solutions should be set up. Whether their electronic like a motion detector or electronic alarm, or if theyâre just very basic can of rocks tied to a trip line. They should be used to help alert you to the breach of your perimeter. These help back up any other method youâre using and should always be used to that end.
Thatâs about the extent of my knowledge, once again I didnât say I was in expert, but hopefully what I put here and links to these videos that Iâve provided can really help you get up to speed and make a good decision.
Not only are these tools useful in a prepperâs sense but they can be a lot of fun, if for when you get any of these devices I highly suggest going out and playing with them. Yes, playing. If you are so inclined I also suggest training and practicing, but sometimes you just need to go out and play with your toys. Speaking of that I just got a new knife back from Cassel knives here in Indiana, handmade by a true craftsman and I’m going to go outside and play with that. Hopefully I wonât be playing with my first aid kit too.
This part of the book explains inÂ thought provoking waysÂ Zion Preppers philosphy, tenets and reasons for prepping.Â Even after reading dozens of similar books, thousands of articles, and being a prepper for going on 6 years now,Â he was able to break Â down a lot of logic into very simple to understand ideas that helped expand my understanding of what prepping is.
Part 2: Introduction to Fire
This is the part of the book that really shines! It is an A-Z survival fire handbook and would be a great addition to anyones survival library. You can find a lot of the information goes along with the YouTube videos he has postedÂ Fire VideosÂ but with easy to follow instructions already laid out for you. This will come in handy as both a learning/training aid (I can’t wait to start making a fire piston from his blue prints that are included!) and also as an invuable resource should a crisis ever arise. Instead of hunting, printing and collating a bunch of different articles I now have a one stop, neatly and professionaly presented source of information.
(Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book but have no financial interests in it.)
Alright everyone, you can now buyÂ copy of California Dreams on Kindle for .99 (sorry, I had to take it down from the website in order to take part in the Kindle Select program.).
California Dreams tells the story a veteran named Mike during a life threatening encounter in the national forest of California.Â As he fights for survival a timely visit from a friend could be the only thing Â that saves him.
I was inspired to write this story over Memorial Day weekend 2013. That
day is a solemn day of remembrance not a “Happy Memorial” day that
several celebrities and figure heads liked to proclaim this year.
To help pay respect to those who are serving or have served the United States the
author will be donating *ALL* royalties from this story to Operation