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!