Comics, skunks and apples, oh my! Oct. 27, 2010

First, a little funny one for you.  Several weeks ago, at the family yard sale, my 9 year old niece asked what I had around my waist.  "My fanny pack,"  I replied.  She questioned me further, and I showed her the .357 magnum revolver I had in it.  I told her I had it because we had a large amount of cash, and we did not know the people who were coming by.  She understood my logic with no problem.  She has also seen and understands my EDC kit.  This past weekend, she gave me the 10/17 Bizarro comic strip from the newspaper.  I shall now be known to her as Marsupial Man!

This morning, I let the dog out at 5:15, as usual.  Several minutes later, I heard him snarling at the back door, so I flung it open to find him, and the entire area around the back door, smelling horribly of skunk.  The malodorous scent wafted into the kitchen, and infused the house.  So, three showers for me, four baths and a haircut for him, later, I finally got to work about five hours late.  At least the boss is understanding!  Anyway, the point of this is that I found a good remedy to the smell.  We've long known that tomato juice doesn't work (yes, same dog had been skunked multiple times over the years).  Last time, we tried vanilla extract, and it worked pretty good.  I looked on line this morning and found this tip from AA Animal Control from Orlando, Fla.  The peroxide, baking soda and dish soap worked great!  I even took one of my showers with the formula.  The wife went out to the store as soon as it opened and got about 10 bottles of peroxide and 8 boxes of baking soda.  We may now be on some sort of potential meth lab list, but it works.  Both have long shelf lives when kept cool and away from light, and they're cheap, so considerable supplies of each will be in the larder by this weekend.

I mentioned several weeks ago that we had gone apple picking and I had ordered an Excalibur food dehydrator.  Well, the Excalibur lives up to its reputation.  I am very satisfied with it.  I got the 5 tray (it also comes in 9 tray, but it is just the wife and me) with the 26 hour timer.  Working long hours, I like that I can set the timer and the unit will shut off so the food doesn't get over dried. I also like the thermostat so that food dries but doesn't cook.  I did a batch of apples the other day.  I got 14 apples, sliced into 8 pieces each, into the unit.  I set it for the temperature suggested in the included booklet, and about 3 hours longer because we have pretty high humidity.  The apples turned out wonderfully!  So much better than previous batches I had done with the old $25 round unit from the department store.  Those apples were too dry, I had to rotate the tray positions, they had a slight "burn" taste to them, and frankly, stunk up the house.  The apples from the Excalibur were tender, tasty, and left a pleasant smell in the kitchen.  The Excalibur is expensive, but worth it!

Finally, while sitting here typing this, the Midland WR100 Weather Radio went off alerting me to a Tornado Watch in the area until 2 a.m.  It feels good to be prepared and aware.


French Riot - Can It Happen Here? Oct. 20, 2010

Riots, here?

The French government is proposing raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 and making other changes to the pension system there.  The average French worker enjoys over a month of vacation each year and the most years of retirement of the Western world.  To pay for these entitlements, they also have one of the highest personal tax rates in the world (from what I can tell from a little research, it looks like about 50%!)

The proposed retirement changes have brought eight days of rioting across France.  According to CNN, the riots have involved 1-3.5 million people.  The unions have stopped picking up trash.  They've blockaded much of the local and international transportation infrastructure.  Cars are burning in cities and over a third of the nation's gas stations are out.

Could we have riots like this in the U.S.?  We have a history of coordinated or coincidental rioting in our major cities.  Think back to the Seattle and Pittsburgh riots associated with world economic meetings.  How about after the Rodney King police verdict?  Maybe the rioting associated with sports teams winning or losing championships?  Ever heard of the nylon riots of 45-46?  Neither had I until just now.  We are by no means immune to widespread rioting, especially in our urban centers.

So, how can we include riots in the disasters and crises that we prepare for?  In many ways, riot preparations fall under Jack Spirko's Law of Disaster Commonality.  Preparing for a riot includes many of the same things you would do for a hurricane, wild fires, flooding, job loss, etc...

Stay informed.  Riots very seldom happen spontaneously.  Be alert to local and national news that may spark riots.  Labor issues; sensational criminal trials; racial incidents; supply line breakdowns; rumors of any of the preceding...  these are but a few of the potential riot triggers.

Stay away.  Most riots happen "down town" or in urban centers.  They usually spread to the suburbs or to rural areas.  Even if you have to be down town for work or another reason, know were the bad areas are and travel out of your way to avoid them.  If you live in such areas, have either a fall back location or make plans to stay and defend your home from intruders, arson, occupation, etc...  Camping Survival.com recently reminded readers about an affiliated page of theirs that has the story of a young man and his family stuck right in the middle of the 1992 LA riots.  Its a real eye opener.

Stay alert.  Don't be complacent while driving, walking, shopping, etc...  The group of angry youth blocking the intersection probably don't want to help you read a map.  If you see a riot forming or know that one is nearby, take the action necessary to get out of the area or seek secure shelter.  If you are in a car, you have a 2,500 lb. weapon at your disposal.  You don't want to end up like Reginald Denny, the truck driver who was pulled from his truck and beaten nearly to death in the LA riots.

Maybe you are like me.  I live in a quiet, rural area, but I commute over an hour to my job in a very urban city of over 200,000 people.  The city has a lot of poverty and tension, and I keep riot escape in the back of my mind as I move through my day.  Of course, that escape plan is very similar to my plan to get home in the aftermath of a hurricane or a winter storm.  I have my BOB with some food, a change of clothes, and a little gear.  I also know several routes to get home and a couple of safe shelters along the various routes.

Riots can and do happen in America.  But we can and should be prepared for them.

Mosquito Mitigation

I promised in a Facebook post to discuss mosquito mitigation in light of the apparent increase in West Nile Virus this year.  We have three basic things we can do - eliminate, deter, and avoid.

  • Remove standing water on your property.  That is where mosquitoes breed.
  • Build several bat houses.  A single brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in one hour.
  • Get a good, old fashioned bug zapper.  Kills mosquitoes and keeps the whole family entertained!
  • Among the best deterrents is any mosquito repellent containing DEET.  The thing to consider, is that it is a harsh chemical, and there have been rare cases of seizures associated with it.  Please carefully follow directions with it if you choose to use it.
  • There are several essential oils that users say reduce mosquitoes.  They are often combined with rubbing alcohol, witch hazel or vodka (does it make the mosquitoes too drunk to bite?).  Among the oils are citronella, soybean and fennel.
  • Planting marigolds can repel mosquitoes, and can also keep harmful bugs off your vegetable garden.
  • Eating garlic or lemons can deter mosquitoes as well.
  • If you are sensitive to mosquitoes, stay inside at dusk and early evening
  • Wear long pants and sleeves
  • Wear light colored clothing.
There are way too many home remedies and folk traditions about avoiding mosquito bites.  I suggest you find what works best for you and use it.  West Nile seems to be getting worse and more prevalent each year.

I'm In The News

Nope, I wasn't interviewed about If It Hits The Fan.  But, in my full-time job, I was recently interviewed for an article in the Daily Press about threat evaluation and response.  I'm in the last few paragraphs.


Prepper Ponderings Oct. 17, 2010

Just a few brief items today. Things that have caught my attention over the past few days.

Virginia Hunger Symposium
Blue Ridge Community College in Weyers Cave, Va. is hosting the 4th Annual Virginia Hunger Symposium next week.  A member of a preparedness forum that I frequent (The Survival Podcast) is going to have a tent set up at the carnival on 10/23 and is doing a session on Easy Home Gardening, Canning & Preserving Nutritious Foods on 10/27.  Although my grandparents were prodigious canners when I was a kid, I only saw them for brief periods of time each summer and was unable to learn from them.  Canning is an excellent way to preserve the harvest (both produce and meat) and can be fun for the whole family.  I'd really like to attend, but work gets in the way.  I'm hoping that Brad will have great attendance at this class.  If you are in the area, check him out!

If It Hits The Fan goes International!
I just checked my reader stats for the first time.  Wow!  I am truly humbled. I've had nearly 1,000 readers from 10 countries on four continents.  Thank you so much!

Amazing Flood Evacuations
Speaking of international, torrential rains have recently caused widespread flooding in the Chinese province of Hainan, causing 440,000 to be evacuated.  Thousands of homes, roads, farms, etc... have been damaged or destroyed.  I've played a small role in flooding evacuations in the city where I work.  We're talking a couple dozen people, not 440,000.  I can't imagine the resources and logistics involved in such a huge undertaking.  In addition to being an interesting story, its a good reminder to us to know our area's low-lying areas and flood plains, and to be alert to flood warnings on our NOAA radios.  You do have a NOAA emergency radio, don't you? I have the Midland WR100 Weather Radio and have been very pleased with it.

Quoted in the Newspaper
I was interviewed for and quoted in a Daily Press article yesterday about evaluating and responding to a recent rash of threats to courthouses and schools.  I'm in the last few paragraphs on the second page.

Support for If It Hits The Fan
I have several goals with If It Hits The Fan.  First, is to share my knowledge of family preparedness and have dialog with others who are joining me in the daily challenge of making things better for our families.  Second, is to discipline myself with writing.  I am getting ready to start writing a book that will be a parent's guide to school safety.  One of the best ways to be a better writer is to write more.  Third, is to complement another project I have going on, Virginia Disaster PrepVDP is intended to be my consulting and training outlet.  It is still in its infancy, but I hope to have a major roll out in the spring.  Lastly, I hope that If It Hits The Fan, my book, and VDP can eventually start making me a little money.  To that end, there are a couple ways you can help me reach that goal.  I have just become an affiliate of Survival Gear Bags.  If you use the link from here to visit their website and buy some of their great merchandise, I'll get a small commission.  Same thing with Amazon.  Anything that I link to on Amazon is something with which I have personal knowledge or experience.  The other way you can help, is just to spread the word.  Tell your friends about If It Hits The Fan.  Interact with us either here on the blog or on our Facebook page. If you do business with a vendor that I mention, please let them know you heard about them here.

I won't be mentioning support very often, so don't worry about this becoming ad-centered.


Who needs a car radio? Oct. 14, 2010

I have about a one hour commute to work.  It takes a bit longer to get home.  How can I use that time productively?  When I first got this job, I listened to How to Win Friends & Influence People (An Unabridged Production)[8-CD Set]; The First-And Still the Best-Book of its Kind-To Lead you to Success which really was helpful as I transitioned to a new industry.  If you are in business and haven't read or listened to it, give it a shot. For a couple years, I listened to two local talk radio shows.  They were interesting, and I'm actually sort of friends with the hosts, but every day it was really getting to me.  Today I still listen to them in my office, but not in the car.  Now, I am all podcast, all the time on my commute.  It is not a big investment.  One does not need the latest and greatest IPOD, but you certainly can if you wish.  I use a Creative Zen Stone Plus for about half the price.  It works great for my needs. 

So, what do I listen to?  First is a guy who I consider to be the inspiration for If It Hits The Fan and who really led me to organize and mature my prepping thoughts and actions, Jack Spirko and The Survival Podcast.  Each day he does a roughly 1 hour show and he covers all aspects of the "modern survival" lifestyle.  I've gone back and listened to every episode (he's over 500 now!) and learned something from every one.  I also frequently listen to one or more segments of Dave Ramsey's radio show on podcast.  Like many of you, we are fighting the debt battle with our snowballs.  I consider debt freedom to be an essential part of the prepper lifestyle and get a good dose of motivation from Dave every couple days.  I really like the debt-free Fridays where listeners call in with their success stories.

I have recently started broadening my podcast listening. On BlogTalkRadio, James Talmage Stevens now runs Preparedness Radio several nights a week.  I'm actually so new to it that I don't know the schedule or many details, but what I have heard so far is informative and entertaining.  My friend Jeff Gleason has The Berkey Guy Show that deals not just with water purification, but with all aspects of survival.  On his most recent episode, he reviewed a couple of books that I need to get, and answered some listener questions.  He's only done four episodes so far, but he does a good job.  Give him a listen.  I just found Carolyn Nicolaysen, who comes on right after Jeff.  She runs the Totally Ready blog.  Her guest the other night was a prepper who made it through the Baltimore blizzard this past winter.  We got a smaller dose of that same storm, and it was interesting to hear that side of it.  She also interviewed one of the pioneers of the survivalism movement, Ron Hood.  A very enjoyable show!  I'm looking forward to exploring other shows on Preparedness Radio.

So, don't waste time on your daily commute listening to lousy music or raising your blood pressure with talk radio.  Give prep-related podcasts a try.  I'll bet you come back for more!


Back in the saddle! Oct. 13, 2010

Wow, I haven't posted anything in about a month and a half.  That sucks!  What have I been up to you might be asking...  I've accomplished several prepping-related objectives, and have some new projects getting started.

A couple weeks ago, we went to Carter Mt. Orchards, across the street from Jefferson's Monticello, and picked about 30 lbs. of apples.  Finally got off my duff and ordered the gold standard in food dehydrators, the Excalibur 3500 Deluxe Series 5 Tray Food Dehydrator - Black.  I got the 5 tray with a timer.  I don't think I need the 9 tray one, and the timer was worth the extra money because of our long work days.  Haven't done anything yet, but plan to get it operating this weekend.  I'll give you a full report.  I'll also experiment with different foods to see how they all do.  If you've been hesitant to step into the world of dehydrating, check out Tammy at http://www.dehydrate2store.com/.  She has tons of recipes, tips, etc... for the novice or expert.

I've been asked to teach Introduction to Incident Command to 60 of the security and administrative staff at a neighboring school district next month.  I know from experience that most school personnel are woefully ill prepared for responding to a disaster or crisis.  Think what you will of FEMA and their leadership, but I will say that they have some great training resources and the Incident Command System works for everything from a small brush fire up to major disasters.  The fire services use it great.  Generally speaking, law enforcement is not up to speed on it.  Other public and private agencies and organizations are coming around.

I've made some new friends in the preparedness industry.  If you are in the market for the best water filter out there, please check out my new pal, Jeff Gleason (aka The Berkey Guy) at http://www.directive21.com/ for the entire line of Berkey water filters.  If you need gear of most any sort, please check out www.campingsurvival.com.  I won one of their t-shirts in a Facebook drawing.  The back says "It wasn't raining when Noah built the Ark."  Kind of sums up our mindset pretty good.  Of course, there are always our old friends at www.survivalgearbags.com for your BOB and 72-hour kit needs.  If you buy from any of these fine folks, please mention that you read about them on If It Hits The Fan.

That's it for today.  I'm going to work on doing much more frequent, but briefer postings, with the occasional long, detailed and researched post thrown in to the mix for good measure.  If you have any topic you want me to address, or any questions, please post them in the comments.