September 13th, 2018
As The Flo Turns
Hey, and welcome back. I admit I've been doing a lot more video this year than blogging, but what's going on with Hurricane Florence right now needs at least some time spent on it.
For those of you watching, you know that Florence has been downgraded to a level 2 from a level 4, which is a huge relieve; but it's still a very dangerous Strom. For one thing, it's one of the biggest in history in terms of shear size. Hell, the things is almost as big as South Carolina and parts of North Carolina combined! For another, lets face it. 105 mile an hour winds are not to be sneezed at, and there's still time for it to grow in intensity before hitting land yet.
So what should you do if you're in the path? Well obviously much of that depends on where you are.
If you're on the coast, then by now you should have boarded up your house by placing plywood over the windows. You should have tested your generator or purchased a new one if one was in your budget, and, of course, you're planning on staying put. Gas is probably running out at many gas stations as well; so if you haven't bought it yet, why are you wasting time reading this?
If you're "bugging out", then you should already be on the road for someplace far inland. The governor opened I26 out of Charleston up so that all lanes were leading out, unlike the fiasco with Floyd when the lanes were not reversed and some people found in taking them over 6 hours just to get to Columbia; a trip that would normally take and hour and a half. You should also have an idea of where you're going. If you have no plans, well sorry, but most of the hotels are going to be booked solid so good luck getting a room at the last minute. There are a lot of emergency shelters that have opened up, including the fair grounds in Aiken. But be prepared. At a lot of those emergency shelters, you'll be sleeping on the floor because cots are in damned short supply; and so are blankets, sheets, pillows, and every other type of linen you can name. There are also some good Samaritans who are making space available in their own homes. Facebook is a good place to look for them.
But what if you're inland? I'm seeing a lot of things that are blowing my mind here in the Upstate of South Carolina, so let's take a look at some of them.
First, yes, the storm can cause damage a long ways inland from the coast. Hugo saw horrific damage to both Charlotte and Gastonia, both of whom are a fair piece from the coast. But if you look at a topographical map, you'll notice that there's not a lot of rolling hills, or anything other than fairly flat ground between them and the coast. In other words, nothing to break the storm's teeth and take some of the energy out of the wind and rain. By the time you get to Greenville, the winds will be knocked back to 40 or 50 miles an hour or so. Admittedly, that's still some pretty nasty wind. In fact trees will get knocked down, and houses will loose some roofs. There will be power outages, and enough rain (5 - 10 inches) to cause some serious flooding. But that's not enough to warrant some of the panic buying I've been seeing! Stores will be getting supplies in by Saturday at the latest; and if things were bad enough that they weren't, do you really think buying things that need to be refrigerated (like milk, lunch meats, and cheese) are going to be that great an idea?
So what do I think is good planning? First, look at what is around you. For an example, I've been doing a lot of work around my house lately, and there's a "Bagster" style soft sided dumpster in my front yard. I tried to get it picked up earlier this week, but I'm told that with Florence causing so many problems the earliest they can get it will be the 25th. So I've got 3 cubic yards of trash in my front yard just waiting for those winds to pick up and fling around the neighborhood, and trying to get it all moved back into the garage until after the storm is just not going to work. So I',m using big ass tent stakes to tie a tarp over top of it to hold it in place. Any yard furniture I can is being moved into the garage, and that that cannot be is being chained down.
I've got 2 battery powered inverters that are plugged in and charging. Between the 2 of them, I can keep any important electrical items in my house running for up to 8 hours, and if it looks like that will not be enough, I've got a generator I can fall back on. It's not a big one that can poser the whole house like the one I had in Charleston, but it'll do. I've got both cars filled up, and I've got gas for the generator; so if power is lost for more than a day, it's no big deal for me. Plus, as I always do, I've got enough. can goods and freeze dried things to keep me and my family feed for a month. So even if my generator can't keep both my refrigerator and my freezer going, I still will have enough to eat that is also safe to eat. I always keep a spare propane tank around, so again, if we do for some reason loose power for more than a day or 2, I can still fire up my grill to cook a hot meal.
I've got flash lights in most rooms in the house, and I've got both battery powered lanterns and kerosene lanterns; so light is no problem no matter what happens. And I've also still got a an old battery powered radio that works, so keeping up with the weather and news will be no problem. Add on a couple of power sticks to recharge the phones from, and I've got it covered.
But what if you're not prepared? Well, it might be tight, but you can still get most of what you'll need if you're reasonably far inland. Gas stations have been busy around here, but not swamped; so you can still get gas. Grocery stores are reasonably well stocked (most of them got trucks in today after all), and even if they aren't, you don't need two gallons of milk and 5 loafs of bread unless you've got a really large family. 3 cases of beer on the other hand ... Nah, being drunk just makes you careless. And as for things like batteries, lights, generators, those sorts of things; the. guy who runs the Ace hardware right around the corner from me tells me he'll be getting struck in tomorrow morning, and the worst of the winds aren't expected to hit until sometime around 9:00 or 10:00. And if Ace is getting a truck in tomorrow, I'd be willing to bet Home Depot and Lower Hardware are too.. So yeah, it would have been nice to have been prepared well a head of time, but it's not too late.
So take a deep breath. Then take a minute to think. Are you really in that much danger? And what kind of danger are you likely to face? Once you've answered those two questions, then it's time to head to the store. Otherwise, you're just spinning your wheels.
In the meantime, I've got the finish tying down that tarp; and I've got a blog to shoot to post tomorrow. So take care of yourself, and remember! If you're going to do something, even if it's buying a flashlight, do it with attitude!
Hey there and welcome back. I hope you're having a great new year inspite the weird weather we've been having here on the east coast. Many of those in the South in particular have been having a rough time of it the past two weeks or so, and those in the North aren't doing all that much better. Some of my friends in the North tell me that on the worst nights their heat pumps were having trouble keeping their homes above 50 degrees! Let's face it. It's almost like Mother Nature has either developed a serious case of PMS, or she suddenly decided to hand her beer to God and said "Hey y'all, watch this!" So what does one do to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during such conditions?
Let's be honest with ourselves. Most of us prefer to wait for warmer weather to go hiking, camping, and otherwise enjoying the great outdoors. And for those activities that do involve going out in winter weather; hunting, skiing, and ice skating just to name a few, most of us use cabins or ski lodges. And if you're a long time reader of my (admittedly irregular) rambles, then you probably have a store of food and water laid in in case of an emergency that leaves you home bound (or even cabin bound). But what happens if your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road while going to or from home?
First off, let's be honest with ourselves. You can be the best driver in the world, with tons of experience dealing with driving conditions of all descriptions; but the world is filled with idiots and you can never predict what they're going to do next. And even if there's not an idiot in sight, the unexpected can happen at any time. A patch of black ice on a blind curve, an animal suddenly darting in front of your car, a blow out due to a bad tire, or even just a bit of water in the gas line and you may be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with only what you have with you to keep you save and secure.
So what sort of things should you have on hand for such an emergency? And should you find yourself in such a situation, what should you do, or, perhaps more importantly, not do? First and foremost, shelter needs to be your primary concern. The biggest risk in winter survival is hypothermia, and it doesn't have to be below freezing for hypothermia to become a very real risk. Wind, moisture, quality of clothing, all of these and more can have a direct impact on the onset of hypothermia. Indeed, one can start to develope hypothermia in as little as 30 minutes in 40 degree weather. Get wet in a strong wind and below freezing weather, and severe hypothermia could set in in as little as 5 minutes!
So you leave your car and find shelter as fast as possible, right? Ummm, no. As cold as a car can get, it still offers shelter that may be better than anything else available. Besides, a vehicle, even one as small as a smart car, is a lot easier for searchers to spot than a person on foot. But keeping the car running might not be a great idea either. It isn't hard for snow to block the exhaust if you're in a ditch or a snow drift, in which case carbon monoxide levels inside the car can climb just as quickly as running a car in a closed garage. So the first thing to add to you emergency survival kit is a blanket of some kind.
When I was growing up, my father kept an old army blanket in each of the cars. It was brown wool, ugly as sin, scratchy and itchy, and just as uncomfortable as hell; but as long as it stayed dry it would keep you warm in even the coldest weather. Plus it was cheap, and since it was already ugly no-one really cared if it got stained from being kept in the trunk.
A more modern alternative is a so called "Space Blanket" or survival blanket. These things are light as a feather, and take up almost no room; but they're designed to reflect your body heat back at you. As a result they'll do a wonderful job of keeping you warm in all but the most extreme conditions. Admittedly you'll probably never get it folded up tightly enough to fit it back in the pouch it came in (or at least I never have), but you can still get it folded into an amazingly small package. And besides, they tend to be cheap enough that you can easily replace it if you can't.
Another possibility is to pick up a sleeping bag. They're bulky, and much more expensive; but you can get one designed to keep you warm even at 40 below. The choice is up to you of course, but if you live in a northern area then it might be the best idea yet.
The next thing every emergency kit needs is some way to signal that you're in trouble. The simplest way is to tie a rag to your antenna or hang one out the window, but a white rag would tend to disappear in snow. So most experts recommend something orange. Most auto parts stores have orange clothes specially designed for such an occasion, or you can buy orange triangles made to place on cars and roads.
Another more traditional method is to use flares. They burn bright enough to be seen at a distance even on the brightest day, and, as long as you keep them dry, they last for decades. The draw back is that they only burn for maybe 30 minutes or so, which means that you will have to keep getting out of your car or truck and lighting new ones every half hour until you're found. Not always a good thing when the wind chill hits 10 below.
Yet another thing you can do is to keep an emergency/survival lantern in the car similar to the Siege Compact Lantern I did a video on not too long ago. The Siege is compact (about the size of your fist), light, and has multiple settings from a 200 lumen white light that's too bright to look at, to a red light that can be set to flash. Admittedly, the S.O.S. setting, has they call the flashing red setting, is no where as bright as I might personally like; but it can last for 100's of hours as long as the batteries are good. And even at the highest setting, it can still last for 7 or 8 hours; and believe me, 200 lumens can be seen for quite a distance even at dusk, let alone at night.
So we've covered keeping warm and signaling that you're in trouble. What next? Well I'm assuming you have a cell phone with you, today's world being what it is; but you still need a way to keep it charged, and as I've already mentioned, keeping the car running might not be a good idea. So you should probably pick up a charging stick to keep your phone charged. One of my personal favorites is the Anker Astro E5. Rated at 16000 mAh, this thing can charge two devices at the same time, and can probably charge them at least 2 or 3 times each before it needs to be recharged. It's main drawback? It can take up to 10 hours to recharge it once it dies. Still, if you do as I do and buy two of them, then you can have one recharging at home while you take the other one with you and then the recharging time doesn't matter nearly as much.
There are a host of other things you should probably add to your emergency kit. Things like protein or energy bars in case you get hungry (staying warm takes more energy than you might think), and bottles of water to keep from getting dehydrated if you're stuck for an extended period of time; but once again this ramble is getting just a might bit long. So instead I'm going to talk about something that most of my Northern readers already know, but some of you here in the South might not. What's that you ask? Why, how to dress for cold weather.
Now let's be honest. How you dress can be as much a matter of personality as anything else, but there are a few things to keep in mind if you're not used to dealing with 20 degree and below weather. The most important thing is that the number of layers matter. Look, my dad got transferred to the Pittsburgh, PA area when I was just about to start high school; and the way I dressed used to drive him absolutely bonkers. I would walk to the bus stop wearing a thermal shirt under a t-shirt, and sometimes a flannel shirt with rolled up sleeves over that. I'd then put on a leather jacket and a cut off jean jacket vest over top of it. If it was really cold, say in the teens, I'd even add a pair of old socks that I had cut five finger holes in under my gloves. All in all, I definitely looked like a guy you'd never want your daughter hooking up with; but you know what? That biker/hoodlum look kept me much, much warmer than the fancy ski jackets my dad was always buying me. In fact, more than once I'd be standing there with my leather unzipped, completely comfortable, all the while kids wearing those fancy ski jackets would be huddled together and shivering from the cold. Sure, they may have looked down their noses at me and sneared at me behind my back, but that would have happened anyway since I was from the South and Roots had just recently come out; and I was as warm as a bug in a rug while they were freezing their asses off. And by the time we became seniors, a lot of them had figured that out and were starting to dress more like me.
Now look. I'm not saying you need to dress like you're from the wrong side of the tracks to keep warm. What I am saying is you don't need to go out and buy fancy ski clothes and parkas just to stay warm on the 2 or 3 days it gets really, really cold. Put on a t-shirt or long sleeve shirt under the shirt you'd normally wear, and then add a sweater or sweat shirt before putting on your jacket. Make sure your gloves are good quality, not thin pieces of crap that look good but couldn't keep an ice cube warm in the arctic. Wear socks that go up at least to calf height instead of ankle socks or no socks at all. And last but not least, get yourself a hat. Look. The rest of you except for your hands is covered, and good gloves will cover even them. Besides, you can always stick your hands in your pockets. But your head is going to exposed to all the elements. That's why the mountain folk used to say "If your feet get cold, put on your hat".
But for now I've used up all the time I had and more. So once again I'll wish you smooth sailing. May the wind always be at your back and the sun never in your eyes. And remember. If you're going to do something, no matter how trivial; if it's worth doing at all, it's worth doing with attitude!
Hey there and welcome back! I'm so glad you could make it. My original plan for today was to talk about Retirement Homes and Assisted Living Facilities, especially in light of the disasters we saw this past summer; but then my wife pointed out that Thanksgiving is next week. So, with the official start of Christmas shopping so close upon us, I decided instead to ramble on about something near and dear to my heart; namely buying gifts for special needs children like my son.
As any parent knows, there's little as truly enjoyable as buying Christmas gifts for your child. But when your child is special needs, then things can get a bit twisted. How? Well let’s take a look, shall we?
Most children are anything but shy about telling you what they want for Christmas (or Chanuakah, or Kwanza, or any other holiday you care to mention). But what happens if your child is non-verbal? Many special needs children are after all, so you have to guess what they'd like by what they seem to like. And that isn't always as easy as it sounds. I've known children who loved Zuma but hated Luxor, just to give an example. And sometimes the gifts can get down right strange. One year my son's favorite gift was a desk lamp like the one Pixar used in the opening of their movie's!
Another thing to keep in mind is that age appropriate toys charts are often useless when trying to figure out what would make a great gift for your special needs child. Now I know this seems like a no brainer, but you'd be amazed at the number of well meaning people who will try to talk you out of buying your 15 year old GeoTrax simply because the age charts say GeoTrax is only for children aged 3-7. Ok, ok. I know. Fisher Price stoped making GeoTrax years ago, but it's still one of my son's favorite toys even though he's now 17; so, at least to me, it makes a perfect example of what I'm talking about. In short, if your child enjoys the toy, who cares if it's "age appropriate".
But maybe you're having a mental block while trying to come up with ideas. Believe me, it happens. It can happen to even the best of us, so don't beat yourself up over it. One easy way to get ideas is to type in "Special Needs Toys" on Amazon, Toys R Us, or even Walmart's web site. You'll be amazed at some of the ideas you'll find. Or check out other blogs that deal with special needs children. There's more of us out there than you might think. And finally, talk to your child's teacher. They'll have seen and heard ideas from more sources than you could shake a stick at.
I hope this has helped in some small way. It's definitely one of my shorter rambles, but I think it's an important one. So enjoy, and I hope you found some inspiration for some great gifts. Until next time, Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Advent, and a Merry Christmas to all of you dear readers. And as always, remember, even when buying gifts, do it with attitude!
Hey there, and welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. It's been a while I must admit. October was a rather hectic month for me, what with 3 gun and knife shows, my daughter's birthday, and changes at my "day job"; but at the same time I've noticed a continuation of some things that concern me rather deeply. Specifically I'm talking about the choice of rhetoric being used by those who are supposedly on our side in the gun control debate.
Okay, I know, I've been guilty of it myself from time to time; especially when I do such things as refer to Mom's For Gun Sense as Mom's With No Sense. I also realize that I may be alienating some of my customer base with what I'm about to say. None the less, I honestly believe it's something that could come backhand bite us in the ass, if you'll excuse my French. Why? Well let's consider a survey I recently received from a group that claims to be fighting to protect the Second Amendment.
This survey started off innocently enough, but in the second paragraph they started referring to "Freedom hating Liberals", "Gun Grabbers", and "Communistic Socialistic haters of America"; just to name a few of the terms used. They also stated that all liberals hate guns and would never even think of owning one, yet later on in the same survey implied that Liberals were starting to stock pile guns for the express purpose of shooting all gun owners as well as starting a violent revolution against the Federal government! Excuse me? They wouldn't own a gun even you paid them but they're buying up all the guns they can get their hands on at the same time? Dude, the logic behind that completely escapes me. You cannot have it both ways!
Still, that little bit of convoluted logic is not what bothered me about the whole thing. Look. America is getting so polarized right now that some families are even going through divorces simply because of political differences, and language like that used in this particular survey is NOT helping matters. It certainly doesn't help convince people who may be on the fence about gun control to see things our way!
Imagine for a minute that you heard a gun control advocacy group referring to us as "Neo-Fascist", "Anarchy Lovers", or even "Anti-Law". Most people would assume that they're as radical as it gets! Yet if you stop and really think about it, those terms are not any different than what some gun rights advocacy groups are using; and many people would are on the fence about gun control have come to the conclusion that we are as radical as it gets as a result. The fact is that the effective gun control groups are currently sounding much more rational than we are right now, and it's going to come back and bite us in the ass if we're not careful!
Let's take my father as an example. Dad was not a hunter, or any type of outdoorsman. He was a good shot, and he owned one rifle he bought to get rid of "varmints". If he was still alive today, he would have concluded that no rational human being would ever believe the "crap" that gun right activists are spouting. He would then have listened to the various gun control groups who avoid such language (at least in public any way), and he would have found himself believing that they really didn't want to get rid of all guns, just the dangerous ones. What would never have occurred to him until someone like myself had pointed it out was that since his bolt action rifle was once a military rifle back around the time of WWI, it was one of those "dangerous rifles" that needed to be taken off the street. But if the person who told him that used "radical" language like that used in the survey that sparked this little ramble, then dad would have been convinced that they were exaggerating things. In fact he'd have remained convinced of that right up to the point that they came for his rifle!
Yes, it's true that gun control advocates have not given up the fight. And yes, we must remain vigilant to keep our Second Amendment rights. But we need to be careful in the language we use.. The fact is that there are a lot of people out there who are like my father was. There are also a lot of people like my sister, who considers herself a Liberal but still owns a few guns; and these are the very people we need to convince to side with us. We need to reach out to them and show them why supporting the Second Amendment is so important. But if we keep using arguments that refer to "Freedom Hating Liberals" and other emotionally charged terms, we will be written off as irrational and radicals by the very people we need on our side.
What's worse is that the words we use do affect the way we think. If we continue to use such terms, we run the very real risk of becoming as polarized, and as radical, as we sound! I mentioned people getting divorced over politics? Well one couple I know is doing exactly that! They got married during Reagon's terms in office, and lasted through Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama. But cracks began to form during Obama's second term, and thing are so bad now in their conflicting views on Trump that they have filed for a divorce! My parents generation would never have allowed difference in politics to ruin their marriage, nor would my grandparents generation; but now it's actually becoming all too common!
The simple fact is that we need people like my father and my sister to be on our side. But if we allow ourselves to think of them a "Freedom Hating", it won't be long until we start seeing them as threats instead of potential allies! Once that happens, we've lost. Let's be honest with ourselves. It may be true that more guns are owned here in America than at any time in the past, but it used to be that most gun owners only owned one or two guns. Avid hunters would own a rifle and maybe a shotgun. People like my father would own one rifle to get rid of varmints. Some people might own a hand gun, but most would only have one or two. Today however most gun owners are more like myself. We own 2 or 3 different rifles for different purposes (a 30-06 or 308 for hunting and maybe a Ruger 10/22 just for fun) and 2 or 3 different handguns. One for concealed carry if we have a permit, one for home defense possibly, and another just for fun. As a result, while more guns are owned by Americans than ever before, a smaller percentage of the population own those guns. So if we start alienating those who don't own guns, or those who own a gun or two but think themselves as moderates or liberals, it's just a matter of time before the gun control advocates will win.
I hope I've given you reason to think about this, and I really hope you understand my fears. But in the meantime I've once again ran way over what I meant to write, so I suppose it's time to putty soap box away for now. I look forward to seeing you back here again soon, and, as always, remember. If you're going to do something, no matter how minor, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!
A Tale of 2 Hurricanes.
Hey, and welcome back. As I sit here at my computer, people in the Florida Keys are even now feeling the onset of Hurricane Irma, which has once again reached category 4 status. According to some sources, they are already feeling gusts of wind up to 50 miles an hours near the Florida/Georgia State line, and gusts up to 70 miles an hour at the Miami airport. It's also one of the largest hurricanes on record with a diameter of over 350 miles; which means that it will hit the entire state of Florida, not just one coast or the other. Even here in Greenville, SC, an easy 300 miles north of Florida and just over 3 hours from the nearest coast, we're looking at the probability of 6 inches of rain and winds up to 45 miles an hour come Monday. And on top of all this, Hurricane Jose is rambling through the Caribbean and has recently been upgraded to a category 4 as well!
So what to do? Well, to honest, if you live in Florida and you haven't already prepared, you're pretty much screwed. Those in northern Florida may still have time to get the hell out of Dodge, but those in southern Florida who haven't evacuated yet may as well just hunker down and hope for the best. Still, those who live in Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina still have time to do something.
First thing is to get anything that might become flying debris when the winds top 30 miles an hour needs to be brought inside or secured. You certainly don't want your lawn furniture, garbage cans, or grill to come through your windows; and this advice should probably be followed by people as far north and as far inland as Asheville, NC. If you can't get them inside, or at lest to a sheltered area (say, under a deck for instance), then chain them down. One of my friends lived through Andrew and he's got a picture of his neighbor's 14 foot fishing boat hanging in mid air, trailer and all, as the winds peaked. The only thing that kept it from flying away is that it had been chained to a 3 inch metal pipe set in concrete to keep it from being stolen.
Next thing I'd look to are the windows. Just because you got everything in your yard cleaned up doesn't mean all your neighbors did, and what about broken branches and uprooted plants? If I still lived in Charleston, I'd be putting 3/4 inch plywood over all of my windows (and yes, I did keep plywood precut to fit over each window and numbered so that I knew which piece went over which window in the garage. Keep in mind people that I've lived through 4 hurricanes during my years in Charleston, so I had things down pat). After all, once winds reach 120 to 130 miles an hour, it doesn't always need debris to break a window. If a window is even the slightest bit loose in it's casing, the wind alone can break it at those speeds! If I lived in Orangeburg, or even Columbia (a good hour and a half from the coast), I'd consider placing a modified St. George's cross of duct tape on my windows, especially if the storm was hitting the east coast. That's 6 pieces, from corner to corner and then down the middle from top to bottom and again from side to side. This won't keep your windows from breaking, but the odds are a lot smaller that your windows will break that far inland; and if they do break the duct tape will keep the pieces of glass from flying all over the house.
Next to look at is power outages. We can take it for granted that most, if not all, of Florida will lose power today; but what about Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina? I think Atlanta will lose power for at least a bit, and Alabama could be in serious trouble that way. As for South Carolina, the jury's still out; but it's probably safe to assume that at least parts of South Carolina will lose power as well. When I lived in Charleston I had a small generator, just large enough to keep my freezer and the fridge going; but I sold it when I moved to Greenville. After all, the chances of loosing power for long periods of time here are some what small. What I do do is I have a jar I filled with water and placed in the freezer. Once the water froze, I then placed a coin on top of the ice. If I should loose power, once the power comes back on I can check the position of the coin. If it's still sitting on top of the ice, then the power wasn't out long enough for anything to thaw out. If it's sunk a bit, then I know to replace sensitive items (like ice cream and chicken), but most of the food will still be good. If it's sitting on the bottom however, then it's time to toss everything and start over. Still, I can replace everything in my freezer for maybe $350.00, while a generator like what I had in Charleston would run $600.00 or more. Considering that in the decade I've been in Greenville I've never experienced a power outage long enough to cause the coin to drop more than 1/4 of the way down, that's pretty good odds.
Ok, I had to make a run to get some meds for my wife, and now they're saying that Irma may not die out completely until it hits Kentucky. People, this is one serious storm here! The eye is going to stay in the gulf, yet they're predicting 6 feet of storm surge for parts of Charleston on the Atlantic Ocean.
So I've covered the biggest things for those who are well away from the coast, but what else might be needed? Well if you don't have a good first aid kit, I'd run to the nearest drug store or Walmart before I even finished reading this ramble! Seriously folks. Winds of the type we're looking at even this far north coupled with 6 inches of rain or more makes for a lot of opportunities for accidents. If you're reading this after the fact, I still urge you to get a good first aid kit. Maybe even one like this one. One I hope to add to my web site soon is Elite First Aid's Rapid Response Bag, which is the one I personally keep in my truck.
Finally, since once again I'm going well past where I meant for this to end; it's too late for Irma, or even Jose, but if you live any where near water you really need to have flood insurance. No, your home owner's insurance will not cover all the damage from these storms. Any damage caused by the wind and rain will be covered, but any damage the insurance company determines to be caused by flooding, specifically water that comes in under the doors rather than from a hole in the roof, is not going to be covered. Believe me people. I found this out the hard way. You do not want to find yourself trying to cover half the damage to your home out of pocket because the damage was caused by flooding, not unless you're rich enough to buy another home with out a mortgage; and precious few of you can do that I'd think.
So take care the next few days. My prayers go with all of you about to be effected by Irma or being effected by her, and I hope to see you back after things have calmed down somewhat. Take care, and as always, remember. If it's worth doing, do it with Attitude! See ya.
Hey there, and welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. I hope you had a great weekend.
I can imagine many of you are looking a the tittle of this little ramble and wondering just what the hell I'm talking about. "Rational Prepping" some of you are asking, "Is that even a thing?!". Well yes, yes it is. I know many people still think of the prepper community as a group of paranoid, ultra conservative nuts who are absolutely convinced that we're heading for some kind of Zombie Apocalypse complete with a melt down of the "Rule of Law and Order", but in all honesty most of us are really rather rational about things. Most of us are not stock piling huge amounts of ammo in fancy underground bunkers with full cutting edge security systems and built in generators, nor are we spending obscene amounts of money on mountain cabins that could double as modern day forts. What we are doing is looking at the world around us and trying to prepare our families for those things that can and do happen, and seem to be happening on an increasingly regular basis. "Oh come on, what are you talking about" that I just heard is probably coming from that new reader I see hiding in the back corner, so let me show you.
By now anyone who is paying even the least amount of attention knows about the damage done by Hurricane Harvey in Texas last week, but how closely have you really been paying attention? Did you know that it's estimated that the financial cost of the damage is likely to exceed 190 Billion dollars? Or how about the price of gas? I know you've noticed the price of gas has gone up sharply in the past few days. Well that's because almost 20% of all of our oil refineries are in Texas and have been shut down because of Harvey. And it's not just gas prices that are going to be effected! Other items that directly depend on oil refineries for their production include asphalt, fertilizers, linoleum, soap, perfumes, insecticides, and vitamin capsules, just to name a few. Nor was our oil refineries effected by Hurricane Harvey. 60% of our production of ethylene was shut down by the disaster.
Ethylene? Just what in world is that I hear some of you saying. Well I must admit that I had no idea what ethylene was either until a chemical engineer I know sent me an article about it, the same article I shared on my FaceBook feed over the weekend; and it turns out that it can have an even bigger impact on the average American than loosing our oil refineries! Most of our plastics are made from ethylene, including plastic milk jugs and baby diapers. It's also used to make PVC so the production of the most common type of water pipe used in the U.S. will be scarce for the next few months to a year. PVC is also used in the production of doors, windows, signs, electrical cable insulation, and the inflatable rafts you take to the lake or the pool. Ethylene is also used in the production of the plastic used for hang packaged items, as well as antifreeze for our cars, various coolants, clothing, textiles, tires, kitchen wares, carpets, and food containers used at most restaurants. Still other uses are in making detergents, paper, adhesives such as tape and glues, and emulsifiers used to keep various chemicals from separating. No wonder the estimated cost of Hurricane Harvey is 190 Billion Dollars! Let's face it people, we are going to be hurting for the next several months, and Christmas could prove to be rather lean for much of the U.S. Nor may that be all. After all, Irma is wondering through the carribean even now and many meteorologist say that she may prove to be even stronger by the time she makes land fall.
So what is one to do in such a situation? Here is where rational prepping comes into things. If you live in an area where hurricanes are likely, you probably already have many things lined up and in place for such emergencies; but rational preppers understand that because things in todays world are so interconnected a hurricane in Texas will impact everyone in the U.S., even if they live in Maine or Hawaii! So, allowing for the fact that it's probably too late for you to smooth things over this time as much as most of us would like, what do you do for the future when it happens again?
First thing is to build up a reserve of both money and food. Financial experts have been telling us for years that we really should have enough money squirreled away to pay 3 to 6 months of bills in case of an emergency. Admittedly they are mainly talking about some emergency that results in the loss of a job, such as injury or serious illness; but such a slush fund will make the increased prices we will be looking at for the foreseeable future much easier to handle. So how do you save that money? Well I'm no financial expert, but it can be done. The way I'm doing it is by autodraft to a stock fund, namely a fund run by Vanguard. $50.00 a month is automatically taken from my checking account and deposited into a money market account run by Vanguard each month, and when the amount in that money market account reaches 6 months worth of bills, I transfer 3 months worth of bills to an index fund. Viola. Forced savings with little pain and no action required on my part except making sure I don't accidentally spend that $50.00 before it can be transferred. For more ideas you can check out various financial sites such as The Motley Fool and, my current personal favorite, The Penny Hoarder.
As for stock piling food, I'm really not talking about any thing extreme. Simply set up a rotation system and keep 1 to 3 months worth of can goods and frozen food on hand. No real need to lay in a stock of emergency food supplies that have a shelf live measured in years instead of months (though if you want to buy such items such as Wise Foods from me at one of the shows I vend at through out the South I certainly won't complain!). This allows you to have a supply of food on hand you can dip into when prices start forcing you to cut back on what you're buying each week at the grocery store; and when the price companies pay for milk jugs go up because they can't get the ethylene to make them, well ...
A personal garden isn't a bad idea either. Admittedly this is the wrong time of year to be planting one, but you could start planning one for next spring. Many experts tell me that planning out your bed in the fall is actually a good idea, so take a look at web sites dealing with gardening such as Burpee, or possibly HGTV. And don't write off this bit of advice just because you live in an apartment, condo, or high rise. My grandpa was an avid gardener all his live, and even when he moved into an apartment he still gardened. He just changed over to container gardening by placing planters and nice looking pots on his balcony and widow boxes out side his windows. Admittedly I have something of a brown thumb instead of my grandpa's green thumb, but there's plenty of places to get advice on this.
Now there's plenty more things I could say, but once again this ramble is starting to resemble a chapter in a book more than a blog entry so I'll call it good enough for today. Hopefully I've given you a few things to think of and some useful bits, but it's time for me to head off into the real world now. Take care dear reader, I hope your Labor Day is a great one, and remember. If it's worth doing, worth doing at all, then it's worth doing with attitude!
Hey there, and welcome back. I know I haven't been rambling on as much as I perhaps should lately, so I thank you dear reader for hanging in there and being patient with me.
I was watching a YouTube video this morning while waiting for my son's bus to arrive on "Fake Experts" (I think it was by a man named Paul Harrell), and it got me to thinking. Mr. Harrell is right that there are a lot of so called "experts" out there that really don't know what they're talking about, and I have, whether I meant to or not, set myself up as something of an expert on the various things I ramble on about here. So why then dear reader should you trust me? Am I really as much as an expert as I come across as? I mean, look at some of my rambles! I talk about knives, I talk about guns, I talk about self defense and bugging out, and I talk about Autism and special needs kids. I've even rambled on occasionally about dementia! That's a lot of things! So why should you listen to me about any of them?
Well to be honest, I don't really consider myself a true expert on any of them. "Whoa!" I hear you saying. "If he's not really an expert, why am I wasting my time reading his blogs and watching his videos?" Now I must admit you may have a point, but please, hear me out first. I may not be a true expert in these things, but I do have a fair amount of knowledge; and truthfully, do you always go to a true expert? Let's take the emergency room as an example since that's where I made my living for 37 years or so.
Let's say you have a kidney stone. Now any woman who's had kids and had a kidney stone is likely to tell you they'd rather have another baby without the benefit of an epidural than another kidney stone. In fact, some have used those exact words even. So being in rather severe pain, you head off to your local emergency room; trusting that the doctors and nurses there will be able to take care of your problem. But in all honesty, none of the people who work in the E.R. are likely to be true experts on kidney stones. For that you really need to go to a Urologist who has spent 6 years over and above what was required to make it through medical school learning all about the urinary system, kidney, ureters, bladder, etc, and all the things can go wrong with them. In contrast the Emergency Room doctor has had three to four years of residency after medical school learning how to treat patients in the emergency room; and his or her training had to include not only kidney stones, but broken bones, strokes, heart attacks, cuts and lacerations, blunt force head trauma, internal injuries to the chest and belly, etc. In short, an E.R. physician may be a little more focused than your general practitioner who does your yearly physical and follows your over all medical care, but not by much. So why then do you go to see the E.R. doctor when you have a kidney stone? Because even though the E.R. doctor is not a true expert on kidney stones, he or she has seen them often enough that they know what to do to keep you going until that pesky stone either passes or you can get into to see a true expert!
So how does that apply to me. Well, let's take a look at that part of my life that is applicable to what I talk about. First, I do have 37 years of experience specializing in emergency medicine, first as a paramedic and then as a CT Tech who worked in multiple Level 1 Trauma centers during my career. Trust me when I tell you that it's almost impossible to figure out how to put you back to gather again if I don't know how you can be taken apart in the first place; and in my years of seeing the worst people can do to each other on a daily basis I've gained much more experience in how people can be hurt than I ever wanted.
Secondly, I studied American Kenpo for many years. In fact, before I had to leave the dojo due to being treated for cancer, I had gain a rather high degree Brown Belt, high enough that there was only one more belt between me and my Black Belt test. These years of study included fighting in tournaments, and fights in class as well as mock drills where we went out in the community and faced opponents pretending to be muggers and the like. So I know how to fight and defend myself. I may not like to fight, and since I'm not a Black Belt I cannot teach in my own school; but I do know how to fight. As an aside, I must also say that no style of martial arts is better or worse than any other. The teacher and the fighter using it is what makes it effective or useless. Believe me, I've seen Kenpoists who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag, and completely untrained fighters who could probably go toe to toe with Jackie Chan and hold their own.
Another point I'll bring up is that Kenpo, or at least American Kenpo, is somewhat different from many other martial arts in that we do not learn how to fight with swords, sai, nun-chucks, or other weapons. We do however, learn from the beginning how to defend ourselves from knifes, sticks, and guns. Once you reach a certain point however, you cannot really get better at defending yourself against these weapons unless you also learn how to use them. As a result many of us also learn Kali (or Escrima depending on where your style came from). We may not be in the same class as say, Doug Marcaida, but many of us do learn it, and some of my instructors could probably hold their own against even that most worthy opponent.
In addition, I've loved knives since my days in the Boy Scouts, and I've got something of a modest collection, as well as being a knife vender both here on my web site as well as at various knife and gun shows around the south. I also run a reasonably successful mobile sharpening business, A Sharper Attitude; and I have been teaching myself how to make knives for about a year or so now. So yes, I do know knives.
And finally, as I've mentioned frequently in my rambles, I have a son who is on the Autism Spectrum and a mother who suffers from vascular dementia. I do not have any special training in the treatment and care of either of these diseases (or conditions if you would), but what I do have is years of experience dealing with it on a daily basis. True, if you know one person on the spectrum or one person with dementia, you know one person with that condition. Everyone is different, and my experiences may not be the same as yours. Indeed, they almost certainly won't be. But what they will be is something that may be similar enough to give you an insight or idea that you might not have found somewhere else. In addition, just knowing that you are not alone in your struggles, that someone else, namely me, is going through something similar can often be a boast in it's own right.
So there you have it. These are the reasons why I think I deserve your attention. The question now is, do you think my reasons are enough to trust me and my, sometimes overly wordy, rambles? I hope so. Indeed I hope so with all my heart. But in the meantime, I've once again ran over the time I should have allotted to this and so I must go. Take care of yourself, and I hope I've convinced you to keep reading my rambles. Either way I hope to see you again soon, and remember; if it's worth doing, worth doing at all, then it's worth doing with Attitude!
A lITTLE CATCH UP
Hey, and welcome back. I sure hope you like the new looks, but while I was doing a bit of remodeling I kind of got behind on a few other things; such as my rambles. So here are 2 video rambles I did while redesigning things here.
Hey there, and welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. I thought that today we'd look at the Prepper movement that's become so big here in the States.
As long time readers will know, I've tried to avoid calling myself a prepper for some time now. Why? Mainly because it has so many negative connotations attached to it. I mean think about it for a minute. When most people think of preppers, what image comes to mind? For many it brings to mind an image of a wild eye nut job who is eagerly awaiting the coming of the Zombie Apocalypse and the attending break down of the Rule Of Law. They assume that preppers are convinced that our government is going to break down completely, or at the very least be replaced by a dictatorship of some sort. And I'll admit that some of the more rabid and vocal preppers out there don't help the matter with their mention of SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan) situations. But for most of us who can be considered preppers, it's really more of a case of living the Boy Scout motto of Always Be Prepared.
Okay, let's be honest here. There's a lot of things that can throw your life for a loop; it doesn't have to be something that realistically is kind of unlikely. Hell, just take a look at my own life for an example. I was raised in Lexington, Ky and lived through the night of 148 Tornadoes back in 1974. I worked at a level one trauma center in Charleston, SC and lived through 4 hurricanes. I served as an EMT in Pennsylvania and still remember the floods that hit Johnston and Indiana, Pa, causing well over $1 million in damages; and last but not least, I dealt with the California style wild fires that ranged through western North Carolina, Tennessee, and South Carolina last fall. In every case people went without many services we take for granted for days or even weeks. In the case of Hurricane Hugo, it was months!
So what do you do? You can just go about your life blindly assuming that nothing like any of these things will ever happen to you. And in all honesty, most of you would be perfectly ok. But then again nobody in western North Carolina, Tennessee, or Upstate South Carolina ever thought we'd have to deal with California style Wild Fires before last last fall; and look at what happened! Thousands had to evacuate, and thousands more lost power and water for weeks. Even more had to deal with brown outs as power companies tried desperately to compensate for power plants that had to be taken off line. Or look at Hugo back in 1989. It caused flooding as far inland as Columbia, over a hundred miles from landfall and effected an estimated 1.8 million people. In all honesty, I was one of those people who never thought something like Hugo could possibly happen to me (a very dumb way of looking at things considering my history), and I can guarantee you that I will never find myself as unprepared again as I was then.
Nor is natural disasters the only thing that could cause a break down in services. Take the Ebola scare a couple of years back. The fact is that we were very lucky back then in that the CDC and the appropriate officials caught the danger and took immediate action. As a result, we here in the U.S. were never in as much danger as the news media made it sound; but what would have happened if they hadn't acted so quickly? Just one or two people who had been exposed landing at a major airport could have easily resulted in a major outbreak. In sections of Africa, whole towns were placed under quarantine conditions before it was brought back under control; think how that would have effected your life if it had become necessary here. Many of us would have been mighty hungry before it was over as stores ran out of supplies and new stocks were turned away by armed police enforcing the quarantine.
So yeah, it can get pretty bad really, really quick; and it isn't really as unlikely as most of us would prefer to believe. So what do you do? Well first thing is to think honestly about what you'd do if the unlikely but possible happened. Do you have what you'd need to keep yourself and your family alive and well? Or would you find yourself desperately trying to keep the lions at bay as your family deals with one emergency or shortage after another? If you did need to evacuate, how long would it really take you to gather everything you'd need to take with you? For that matter, do you even know what you'd need? If it takes too long, you might find yourself in the same situation some home owners in Michigan find themselves in following the severe flooding of June 24.
So so think about it. Disasters happen more often than most of us want to admit. So the question is do you want to keep your rose colored glasses on, or do you want to join me in reluctantly admitting you are a prepper, albeit a sane one?
But it for now I've reached the end of my time for today so I'll put away my soap box. I hope you found some small amount of value to my rambling, and I hope to see you back again soon. And remember, if you're going to do something, no matter what it is, do it with attitude!