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Monthly Archives: April 2013

Y2K - Not the Real DealI haven’t studied economic history enough to know (or at least to remember) what the causes of the Great Depression were. It might be a good idea for me to Wiki it because I believe with all my heart that we are currently living in a time of impending worldwide economic collapse. I don’t harbor any illusions that my coming to an understanding of the roots and causes of the Great Depression will prevent the onset of the next one, but I know that when we don’t learn from it, history has a way of repeating itself. So it might help me to more clearly see the signs of times if I were to revisit the Great Depression. I’ll put that on my list of Things To Do.

My parents were young adults during the Great Depression. It made a big impact on their lives long after the depression was over. Just as my parents were molded by the Great Depression, a lot of my prepper ideas have their roots from the Y2K scare. (Y2K is the abbreviation for “Year 2000.”) That’s when I first became aware of the need to be prepared for world-changing calamities.

For those of you too young to remember, or if you just weren’t paying attention at the time, Y2K was a scare that was born out of the growing pains of worldwide computerization. Computers run on data. One of the most common pieces of data used in computer databases is a date — month, day, and year — stored as numeric values for purposes of calculating… well, lots of things. Most early computer software was written to allow only two digit abbreviations to define each portion of a date, including the year (for example, June 28, 1907 would be 06/28/07). So instead of storing a year as “1907” it would just be “07”. It was assumed that you were talking about the 20th century.

As we approached the dawning of the 21th century, some forward-thinking programmer was dealing with future events that crossed over into the 21 century and ran into the problem of dating. Anything that was going to happen in the year 2000 or beyond was understood by the software as being in the 1900s.

Every calculation that was based on a date either gave the wrong answer (best case) or crashed the system altogether (worst case). Virtually every significant computer system in the world would be affected by this error — banking systems, public utilities, military applications, manufacturing, government, healthcare, everything! If steps weren’t taken to replace old hardware and software to accommodate date codes that used four digits to define a year rather than two digit year abbreviations, and do date math correctly, there was a real risk of computers malfunctioning on a global scale and the world suddenly reverting to the level of technology of the late 1800s overnight.

Governments and businesses spent train loads of money to update their software and hardware to avert the problem. The result was that Y2K was rung in with traditional fireworks and celebrations, instead of the world going dark as power grids failed.

There were many skeptics in the run-up to Y2K. But let me repeat the first sentence of the previous paragraph: Governments and businesses spent train loads of money to update their software and hardware to avert the problem. People who understood the problem and its implications weren’t skeptics — they were preppers!

I was working at the global headquarters of a Fortune 500 company at the time leading up to Y2K. It was reported around the water cooler that the CEO of the company installed a 15,000-watt generator to keep the power running at his large home in the event of a Y2K blackout.

So there were many skeptics and nay-sayers during Y2K, but the fact remains that businesses, industries, and governments fixed their computer systems (at great expense) so that they wouldn’t become part of the problem. The experts were believers, and they convinced their bosses who held onto the purse strings to become believers, too. They took the necessary actions to avert the disaster.

I see three impacts from the Y2K scare.
First, the emergency expenditures made to update computer systems worked, making all the personal preparations that Y2K preppers did unnecessary. Many uninformed or unaware people thought that Y2K preppers were a bunch of nuts. The success of the business and governmental preps solidified this opinion among skeptics. “There’s no need to prepare for disaster! Even if the threat was real (and many believed it was not), the government will take care of everything. You don’t need to get your panties in a bunch.”

Second, I believe that the massive amount of expenditures made all at the same time to update computer hardware and software has created (or enhanced) a new economic cycle of boom and bust. Let me point out here that I’m not an economist. I don’t pretend to be one. I’ve never read an article that discussed what I’m about to say. I’m just a guy who has lived through some events and put some pieces together.

Here’s what happened in the run-up to Y2K. IT departments were staffed to the rafters, and computer hardware and software companies had an unprecedented boom because of expenditures made to avert the Y2K problem. Everything had to be in place by January 1, 2000. When it was over, it was over. Business and government now all had new computers and software, forcing a very artificial arrhythmia in the normal upgrade cycle for hardware and software. No one was going to be in the market to buy new stuff for another three or four years.

Three months after the world stopped spending money to upgrade computer systems, in March 2000, the “dot-com” bubble burst. Over the next two and a half years, the stock market lost five trillion dollars ($5,000,000,000,000.00) in value. Telecommunications company World.com was one of the most notable to fail, filing the third largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. Coincidence, or cause and effect? The dot-com bubble was followed by the housing bubble in 2007, which is the cause of the Great Recession that started in 2008 which bankrupted our federal government and has never ended. I predict more bubbles to burst in the days to come. The next one may be the personal debt bubble, perhaps led by the school loan bubble. People can’t find jobs, so they take out huge loans and go back to school. When the jobs still aren’t there, they’ll default on the school loans, bursting that bubble. China’s booming economy may be all smoke and mirrors, too. We’ll be posting a shocking video of a story that ran on the TV show 60 Minutes that will make your financial toes curl. (No, not in a good way.) But to sum this second point up, I believe that the expenditures made to prevent the Y2K disaster from happening set up (or at least exacerbated) a series of boom and bust bubbles that will eventually bring down the global economy.

The third result of Y2K is the Cassandra Effect. Cassandra was a figure from Greek mythology. She was human, but Apollo, the god of the sun, fell in love with her and gave her the gift of prophecy. But when Cassandra rejected Apollo’s romantic advances, he put a curse on her so that her prophecies would never be believed by anyone. There were so many skeptics speaking out against the efforts and warnings of Y2K preppers that a book and organization called The Cassandra Project were launched. I don’t know if they still exist, but we need them. The general public has their head more deeply in the sand now than during Y2K. Our culture is dominated by ease, comfort, convenience, instant gratification, entertainment, and a hostile sense of entitlement. Take away any or all of the first things in that list and see how long it takes for the hostility to raise its ugly head. Preppers are regarded as kooks and extremists. Most people still think that our bankrupt government will come to the rescue of the entire country if hard times come. There’s no need to change our personal habits. “Just as in the days of Noah…”

So Y2K didn’t pan out to be the global disaster that it was warned could happen. I believe that’s because it was caught and fixed in time, but with repairs that have caused these three long-lasting repercussions. I saw the potential for hardship that Y2K posed, so I was among those who sounded the alarm within my circle of influence, and I took some baby steps toward personal preparation. They really wouldn’t have served me well or for very long if I had needed them. We all need to do much better now.

But 13 years later my take on Y2K hasn’t changed. I believed then, and I maintain now, that Y2K was a wake-up call, a “dress rehearsal,” for what is to come. Golfers take a practice swing before they step up to hit the ball for real. I got a practice swing during Y2K. Now it’s time to get ready for the Real Deal.

Joseph, son of Jacob from the book of Genesis, is one of my favorite people in the Bible. He was the next-to-youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. Jacob had four wives, but only one true love. That was Rachel, who was Joseph’s mother. It was undoubtedly Jacob’s love for Rachel that caused her son Joseph to be his favorite of his twelve sons.

This blatant favoritism caused Joseph’s ten older brothers to despise him. His father treated him to a coat that was the envy of the whole family. “Why just him and not us?” And Joseph had dreams in which all of his brothers and even his parents would one day bow down to him. He was foolish enough to tell his brothers about those dreams. They already hated him. Why did he have to give them more fuel for the fire?

His brothers wanted him dead, but then his brother Judah (the head of the tribe that Jesus is descended from) found a way to profit from Joseph’s demise. Instead of outright killing him, they could sell him into slavery and split the money between them. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

The book of Genesis has 50 chapters and Joseph is the star of the show in 14 of them. Although his life is scrutinized in Scripture, nowhere does it say anything negative about him. He is presented as a man of sterling character in the face of some unimaginably difficult circumstances, a man who flourishes in every setting, borne along by an unshakable faith in God.

Joseph is cherished by his father, but despised by his older brothers. He is sold into slavery and manages his master Potiphar’s house brilliantly until he is falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife as her revenge for his refusal to commit adultery with her. He is thrown into prison where he is once again blessed by God with success at everything he does, leading to his promotion to Head Trustee. In that capacity, he meets two high officials of Pharaoh’s court who have been imprisoned with him. Through his gift of dream interpretation, Joseph correctly foretells the fate of both prisoners, but is promptly forgotten by the one who is released.

Two years later, Pharaoh has two troubling dreams that no one can tell him the meaning of. Then his jailbird cupbearer remembers Joseph, the Hebrew trustee who interpreted both his and royal baker’s dreams, and both came out exactly as he had said. After years steadfast service to God through slavery, false accusation, imprisonment, and abandonment, Joseph is summoned from the dungeon to stand before the most powerful man on earth and interpret dreams that no one else could decipher.

No pressure, right?

Humbly giving all credit to God for what he is about to reveal, Joseph tells Pharaoh the ultimate good news / bad news story. The good news is that the nation of Egypt is about to begin seven years of record-shattering productivity. There will be bumper crops like have never been seen before and prosperity will saturate the land. The bad news is that those seven years will be followed by seven years of famine that will be so severe that no one will remember the good times that preceded them. Prosperity will be swallowed up by abject poverty.

Wow. Bummer. So what do we do?

What you need to do is not blow it all as fast as it comes in. You can still live well during the good times while you sock away provisions for the hard times to come. God will bless you with enough now to carry you through the famine, but only if you manage it properly. Only if you save it and store it and preserve it and show some foresight and restraint. You’ll be OK if you plan ahead and live below your means today so that you can meet your needs tomorrow.

Noah was the first of the Genesis Preppers that we looked at. Except for liking animals a lot, I’m not much like Noah. Noah was a guy who was good at working with his hands. He built a monster of a ship. For all I can tell, it might have been the first ship of all time, and it was a doozy. He was a real survivalist. He stepped off his ship onto an empty planet and had the skills to begin rebuilding the world. Me? I get confused about which end of a hammer you’re supposed to hold onto.

I bring this up because conventional prepper wisdom holds that there is just too much stuff for one guy to manage on his own. You need to get a team of specialists together to be able to survive doomsday successfully. You need a construction worker, a mechanic, a doctor, a security specialist, a farmer, a hunter, etc. Nowhere does it say that you need a middle-aged desktop publisher. Nowhere does it say that you should look for a guy who knows how to format documents and proofread really well. So when I look at Noah, I’m inclined to say to myself, “You’re not gonna make it, dude. You ain’t got the chops.”

But then I look at Joseph. He was an interpreter of dreams. Like the others, this isn’t a skill that I possess, but I see that it was something that God placed in him and something that he used for the glory of God and the good of mankind. If I just focus on those things, I’ll be OK. And so will you.

Header-ForSquareGraphicGreat questions!

About Us
You’ll find the more interesting version of our stories here. The short of it is that we’ve become convinced that the world is a fragile place and we don’t see it tipping toward stability. We don’t want to be unaware or caught unprepared for future challenges. Making preparations now gives us some assurance that we will have things like food, shelter, and heat whenever life-as-we-know-it changes significantly. And the more we prepare now, the more we’ll have to share with others later.

Are we putting our hope and trust in these things? No. Our hope and trust is in Jesus. But we believe that He’s made us aware for a reason – so that we can prepare wisely. So we are preparing. And we’re sharing our knowledge with others. We’re not experts. In fact, in some areas we’re just getting started. Perhaps that makes us uniquely suited to create such a site – we understand where the prepper newbie is coming from.

If you’d like more on the question “Why prep?” check out these two articles:

About Our Site
Welcome! We’re just launching the site, so there’s a lot of content that is planned, but not yet in place. You’ll see that the menus have many, many pages identified. Not all of those pages have content yet. We’re working on it! We’ll be blogging about twice a week as we fill the site. We also hope to have a “Prepper U” page that takes newbies (and not so newbies) from prepper kindergarten through graduation. But that’s still just on the drawing board. In the meantime, browse around the site and check out the content. Let us know what else you’d like to see or the topics you’d like us to blog about first.

We’ll also be letting you in on specials, sales, and deals by various vendors we’ve used or who have a good reputation. As with everything else in life, prepping takes time and money. Our goal is to help you save both. We’ll do the research so you don’t have to and we’ll let you know when things go on sale.

Wondering how to approach our site? I can understand that. We’ve had quite a challenge organizing it.

  • If you’re brand new to prepping:
    • Go to the Getting Started page and you’ll find an article titled Prepping for Beginners.
    • Then head to the article titled How do I Begin in the Getting Started section.
    • Don’t miss the section titled Proverbs for Preppers – you’ll find Christian studies and devotionals related to prepping.
    • From there, roam around the site reading about anything that peaks your interest or needs.
  • If you’ve been prepping for awhile:
    • You’ll probably want to head directly to the Prepping Topics area. This is the heart of this website. You’ll find articles and blogs about many topics, with more on the way.
    • Check out the Proverbs for Preppers – you’ll find Christian studies and devotionals related to prepping.

About You
We hope you’ll visit often. Sign up to receive our blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. If you find the information helpful, we hope you’ll share it with a friend. And we’d love to hear from you. What areas of prepping would like to learn about?

And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

It’s easy to become fearful as we begin to prepare for a day when life is no longer as it is today. We can look at all the experts say we should do to prepare and see how little we have prepared. And if we’re not careful, fear can creep into our hearts. When you are tempted to become anxious, do two things:

Remind yourself: Our hope is in God, not our preparations. Our hope is in the Lord. Yes, we prepare, just as we buy car insurance – for that time when things don’t go as planned. But our hope is in the Lord.

Remind yourself: God is faithful and He provides for our needs. He is good. A good way to do that is to remember the times He’s been good to you and read about times He’s been good to others. Here’s an update from a ministry to orphans in Mozambique. I was so blessed and instructed by this testimony. Most of us have our daily needs met many times over. In Mozambique, Bush Bunny Brenda (BBB) ministers in true life and death situations regularly. She can’t just go out and buy what she needs. Often, she is truly dependent on the Lord to provide. Let her story bless you and encourage that God will provide in your time of need.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From the 4/19/2013 Bush Beat Blog, the ministry update of Bush Bunny Brenda Lange

CALLING IN THE BEANS

A TEACHABLE MOMENT

Might sound a bit weird to some of you, but the Lord Jesus tells us in the Bible to ASK ANYTHING IN HIS NAME, and it shall be done as long as we do not ask amiss.

WE ASKED for beans for our orphans, and God is answering in a very unusual way.

THE NEED IS FOR 100 TONS of beans if we are to help the 2,800 orphans that are registered in our program.

Capena, our Project Manager visited the 6 villages that “ordinarily” are able to grow the ENTIRE 100 TONS. It was a bit disturbing when his report showed that they “might” have 10 tons to sell. Too much rain is the culprit, as most of the crops drowned.

THEN GOD STEPPED IN to surprise me with the fruit of my teachings from last year.

Yesterday, the 2 Pastors from the villages of Namara and Pequaria came to tell us that their church members, along with some of the villagers, had almost 21 tons they could sell! This is not a normal growing area for beans, so this took us all by surprise!

When I was teaching in Namara last November (planting time), I showed those members how to walk their fields PRAYING as they planted. Their prayer was to be very specific—ASKING JESUS TO BLESS THEIR FIELD WITH A 100 FOLD HARVEST as they planted their seeds. From these reports it is obvious, they did just that!

WOW, to go from a normal harvest of just enough to feed their families to a SURPLUS of over 21 tons is truly a blessing of the Lord.

My objective when teaching was to help them achieve a maximum harvest that would sustain their family and give them extra to sell.

I had no idea it would be OUR ORPHANS who would benefit from their obedience and the blessing that God placed on them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What a God we serve! I’m so thankful we can trust Him to provide for our needs when life is going awry. Our hope is in God!

If you would like to donate to Orphans Unlimited, you can do so on their website or by sending gifts to:

ORPHANS UNLIMITED, INC.
11152 WESTHEIMER RD., PMB 391
HOUSTON, TX 77042

Preparing for a time when life is no longer as convenient and food is no longer as available as it is today can be quite overwhelming. We’re here to help! You’ll find information on a wide range of topics on this site. But where do you begin? Getting started with prepping is challenging because there are so many areas to evaluate and take action in. This article provides a logical approach to prepping by linking to “the basics” posts.

Prepper Tip: Don’t get overwhelmed, don’t get discouraged, and don’t get anxious. What’s the answer to the age old question “How do you eat an elephant?” One bite at a time, my friend, one bite at a time. That’s how you approach prepping.

Take a deep breath and then dive in. If you’re just getting started in prepping, start at the beginning and move through to the end.

By the way…We’re still working on this page, so not all links are active. We’re confident you’ll find lots of useful info here so we wanted to make it available while we’re working on it.

Why prep?

Paperwork

Storing Water

Storing Food

  • Approaches – This blog introduces the different types of food that can be stored and provides the best place to start.

Security

Shelter & Energy

  • Shelter (Bugging Out or Bugging In – and preparations for each)
  • Heat
  • Light

Sanitation & Medical

Other

  • Communications
  • Financial
  • Transportation

72-hour emergency kitGetting started with prepping can be overwhelming. Once the need to prep took root within my mind, I started to realize just how poorly prepared I was right now. Questions popped up like mad:

  • What do I need?
  • How much?
  • How do I develop a priority list so I have a plan and work toward getting the most important stuff first?

It’s enough to drive you (and everyone around you) crazy. So let’s keep calm, take a deep breath, and take a couple of baby steps toward preparedness. Some people try to prep themselves for global thermonuclear war before they’re even ready to “survive” something as simple as a short-term power outage. We’re going to start small.

Baby Steps that Make Giant Leaps in Your Preps

The most common emergency situations that most people will ever face are relatively minor ones. One of the most common is a power outage. Your electricity could go off for a couple of days because of a storm, a transformer malfunction or any of a number of reasons.

A short-term power outage isn’t really a big deal, but it can cause a significant disruption in your life. I can deal with sitting in the dark with no TV, but because the lights are out, my furnace is no longer working. Until I save enough to buy that wood-burning stove I’ve got my eye on, I’m going to need to resort to more basic means of staying warm. Electric stoves and microwave ovens are no good in a power outage, so I’ll need a way of cooking food. And I’m much more likely to hurt myself in the dark, so I’ll need some first aid supplies. You get the idea.

The place to start is with a 72-hour emergency kit. You should have one of these for every person in your household. They should be stored in a safe and accessible location, and you should know how to use every item that is in the kit. Having all of these products together in one place in kit form prevents you from scrambling all over the house assembling bits and pieces after the emergency has already occurred. (This became all too real to Sandy a few months ago when we lost power late in the evening on the first day of my three-day trip to visit my sister. She was thankful that, while our kit wasn’t assembled yet, she knew where the most critical pieces were and was able to use them.)

Click here to see an assortment of kits sold by Emergency Essentials, one of my favorite prepper resources (the photo above is a stock photo — it’s not one of of the Emergency Essentials kits).

At the time of this writing, Emergency Essentials sells four different grades of 72-hour emergency kits. The most basic is just called an emergency kit, but the better-equipped models have brand names like Trekker™, ReadyWise™, and Comp™. The one that I think gives the most bang for the buck is the ReadyWise™.

What’s in a good kit?

Let’s take a look at the kinds of things they stock the ReadyWise with. First, you’ll find food in the form of a few MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) and a high-calorie food bar. You can eat MREs as-is, but keeping up your marale is important in an emergency, so they also provide MRE heaters and some hard candy. Next comes water. Besides providing packaged water, they give you a water bottle and some water purification tablets. Getting cold? The kit includes a wool blanket, hand and body warmers, a poncho, and emergency sleeping bag, and a tube tent. For light, they give you a hand-crank powered flashlight that can also recharge your cell phone, a light stick, and a 100-hour candle. To let you know what’s going on in the world, they include a battery-operated radio (and yes, batteries ARE included, but you need to make sure to keep fresh ones in stock just in case). There’s also an assortment of first aid and personal hygiene supplies. All of this comes bundled in a lightweight backpack for easy portability in case you have to bug out and drag it all with you.

I think that’s a pretty darned good 72-hour emergency kit. Could you do better? Probably. In my opinion, no emergency kit is complete without a couple of good knives. This kit doesn’t have any. And I’m sure that you could find a better radio (maybe one that’s powered by a hand crank or solar panel rather than batteries).

A real sleeping bag would be better than the emergency one that they put in this kit — but it’s going to be as big and heavy as this entire kit is, so there are trade-offs. And I’m dead certain that the multifunction tool included in the kit isn’t the best one on the market, but buying the best one will cost you as much as this whole kit does. Do you really need a really good multifunction tool? Yes, I think you do. But do you really need a really good multifunction tool for a 72-hour emergency kit? Nope. That’s overkill. Sometimes “good enough” is good enough.

Looking at ways to improve upon Emergency Essentials’ ReadyWise emergency kit is a good lesson in prepper priorities. We could buy a reasonable priced, quick-and-dirty kit that is very appropriate for the purpose it was created for. We could assemble our own collection of top-of-the-line components. Or we could buy the kit and supplement it with a couple of better-quality pieces here and there. The choice is yours, of course.

Yes, it’s possible to put together a “better” emergency kit than this one, but if you’re the kind of person who likes one-stop shopping, this is a good solution for you, and a good starting point for your preps.

Prepper Tip: One great way to make a significant dent in your prepping needs is to purchase one full kit (remember, it comes complete with a carry bag) and build your second kit. That’s what we often do. It allows you to see everything provided in the kit and base your second kit on the strengths and weaknesses of the purchased one.

Noah's ArkI believe that preparing for the future, come what may, is both wise and biblical. In the days to come, we will launch a series of blog posts that we call Proverbs for Preppers which highlight Scripture’s teaching on making yourself ready for a variety of future events, but today we want to turn our attention to a great role model for preparedness from the book of Genesis — Noah.

Noah was a uniquely righteous man who lived in a time of extreme violence and sinfulness. Of all the people on the earth, only Noah found favor with God. God spoke to Noah and revealed His plans to him. He was going to bring destruction on the entire earth. God instructed Noah to build an ark that would shelter his family and the animals for the duration of the coming flood, and to store an adequate supply of food. Nothing was going to be left on the earth. I could just see Noah on Doomsday Preppers: “I’m preparing for a cataclysmic flood that will destroy the entire planet.”

Can you say TEOTWAWKI? (The End Of The World As We Know It.) Noah had to pack away enough stuff to prepare for starting civilization from scratch.

Many Bible scholars believe that it had never rained on the earth prior to the Flood. Genesis 2:6 talks about how water came out of the ground to water the plants on the surface of the land. Noah was preparing for rain (and lots of it) at a time when rain had never happened. Is it any wonder that his neighbors considered him to be a mad man? So it is with many of us who prepare for future calamities, especially unprecedented ones.

Note that while God revealed His plans to Noah and instructed him to prepare for disaster, God didn’t do the work for him. Noah had to build the ark. Noah had to gather and store the food. Did God take care of him? You bet He did! But God didn’t hand it all to him on a silver platter. Noah had to do the work himself. And so it is with us today. God reveals Himself to us. He reveals His plans to us. He gives us impressions and convictions from the circumstances that surround us. And then we have to do the work. We pray and seek God through the whole process, but we work while we pray. We’re like Nehemiah’s construction crew, rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to prepare for the Israelites to return from the Babylonian captivity. They worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other hand. They prayed and they took action. They had faith in God to protect them and they armed themselves for war.

There are many Christians who don’t prepare, but instead look to their faith in God to provide for them. Noah had more faith in God than anyone in his time, and his faith was proven by his actions. God was calling Noah to take action. If he had refused to do so and simply relied on God to “take care of him,” it would have been disobedience and sin.

God hasn’t spoken directly to me as He did to Noah, but I believe that God is prompting me through my observation of the signs of the times (Matt. 16:2-3) to get prepared. Since you’re reading this, I suspect that you might be in the same boat as me, or at least beginning to consider it. My prayer for you is the same as it is for myself: that you would hear God clearly, that you would take appropriate action at the appropriate time, that you would be thoroughly equipped and trained to be able to thrive through any difficult circumstances that may come your way, and that out of the abundance of God’s provision and your faithful stewardship that you would be able to meet the needs of your family and to be a blessing to many others.

Semi-Automatic (top) Revolver (bottom)

Semi-Automatic (top)
Revolver (bottom)

In a previous blog I addressed the basics of a revolver as a personal defense tool. In this article we’re going to look at the other type of handgun: the semi-automatic.

If you’re new to guns, most of what you know (or you think you know) comes from movies, TV, and the news. These are probably the three worst sources of information about firearms. Prepare to unlearn most of what you’ve picked up from them.

Semi-Automatics: What They’re Not

If you say “semi-automatic” to newbies, they think “machine gun.” Pull the trigger and a stream of bullets erupts from the gun, continuing to fire until either you manage to get your finger off the trigger or you run out of ammunition. Right?

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Because this is the mental picture that many people get when the term “semi-automatic gun” is used, it’s no wonder that so many well-meaning but misinformed people are in favor of more strict gun control. I would be too — if it were true.

The “machine gun” that we’ve just described is not a semi-automatic. Machine guns are fully automatic. They exist, but they’ve been illegal for civilians to own since the 1930s. This is one of the many reasons why responsible gun owners say that we don’t need new gun laws; we just need to enforce the laws that we already have.

Semi-Automatics: What They Are

What makes a handgun a semi-automatic is that when a bullet is fired from the gun, it loads the next available round into the chamber to be ready to be fired. The recoil from the gun pushes the “slide” (the top part of the gun) to the back and ejects the empty casing of the bullet that was just fired, allowing the next round to be moved into place to be ready to fire. Here’s a pretty good YouTube video that demonstrates how a semi-automatic handgun “cycles” from firing a bullet to reloading the next available round. Watch as the entire process of pulling the trigger, cocking and releasing the hammer, firing the bullet, ejecting the spent bullet casing, and loading the next round is repeated through several trigger pulls of the trigger.

To repeat, semi-automatics are not machine guns. Only one bullet is fired each time you pull the trigger, no matter how long you hold the trigger back. If you want another bullet to fire, you’re going to have to do something to make it happen. After the last bullet is fired, with most semi-autos the slide will lock in the back position, showing you that the gun is now completely empty.

Semi-autos are a bit more complicated to operate and maintain than a revolver because of all the moving parts that are involved in cycling the gun to eject the fired bullet casing and to move the next round into firing position. Nevertheless, they are simple enough that a responsible and mature child of about age ten can be trained to use one safely with responsible adult supervision.

The Advantages of a Semi-Automatic

So if a semi-automatic handgun is more difficult to operate and maintain than a revolver, and if your misinformed family and friends would think that you own a dangerous machine gun that should be banned (helpful reminder: machine guns have been banned for almost 80 years), why would anyone choose to own one instead of just buying a trusty revolver?

I think the biggest advantage is ammunition capacity — one of the very factors that the gun control advocates has such a problem with. Semi-auto magazines come in a wide variety of capacities, based on the physical size of the gun and the caliber of ammunition used in it. The larger the gun the more bullets it can hold (generally), but the higher the caliber the less it can hold. If you want a small gun for concealed carry, you’re going to have to live with less rounds of ammunition. There’s just no place to put a lot of bullets in a sub-compact gun. If you want to carry a high-caliber gun, such as a .45, you’re going to have to live with less ammo. Those big bullets take up a lot of space, so a .45 generally doesn’t carry many. For both of these options (small gun or large caliber), you’ll be looking at guns that hold seven or eight rounds. But with all the variations of gun size and calibers, there are plenty of choices. The highest standard ammo capacity of any handgun that I’m aware of is the Kel-Tec PMR-30. It holds 30 rounds of .22 Magnum. I want one. It’s a gun you load on Sunday and shoot all week long. By comparison, a typical full-sized 9mm semi-auto will hold about 15 to 17 rounds of ammo.

Why is a higher ammo capacity such a plus? Because handguns are hard to shoot well. You need training before you ever consider buying and using one, and then you need regular practice to maintain your skills. A low-powered rifle, such as a .22, is very accurate at a range of 100 yards or more with very little practice. With a handgun, you have to practice a lot to become a good shot at 10 yards. This is why some folks define a handgun as a tool that you use to fight your way back to your rifle (which you shouldn’t have put down in the first place).

If you’re in a situation where you need to use a handgun for self-defense, you will be under the greatest stress of your life. Even though you’ll be at close range (most self-defense shootings occur within seven yards), the stress can cause you to miss your target unless you are highly trained. Even police officers average a first-round accuracy rating of only something like 50%. If you’re carrying a 5-shot revolver, you’re going to have very little margin of error for stopping your assailant. Forget a warning shot — you’ve just thrown away 20% of your ammunition. (Warning shots are a very bad idea for a number of reasons, which we’ll go into in a future article.) And if you’re defending yourself from more than one assailant, you’ll need to be packing more ammo than a revolver can hold. The weight of fifteen rounds in a semi-auto may not be comfortable to carry, but it’s very comforting to carry.

To Be Continued…

This is running long, so I’m going to wrap it up here, but in my next article on semi-autos I’m going to discuss why a semi-auto can be more accurate than a revolver. This is another reason why someone would choose a semi-auto over a revolver.

Everyone is preparing for something. Some of you are preparing for a storm that could cause you to lose electrical power for several days. Others are stocking up to prepare for the possibility of being laid off from their job for an extended period of time. Other folks are preparing for more exotic calamities like draught, an economic collapse, war, widespread civil unrest, solar flares (the cause of the beautiful aurora borealis in the slideshow above), pandemic disease…you name it.

The possibilities are endless. Sadly, the probabilities of one or more of them occurring in our lifetime is increasing steadily.

Our concern is that the only thing many people are “preparing” for is to stand in line for the government to rescue them when hard times come. Instead of pre-planning and saving for their own rainy day (or week, or year), too many people are planning to make their problem everyone else’s problem.

I understand that line of reasoning. We’ve worked hard, paid our taxes, and seen Wall Street banks and big corporations be bailed out (with our money!) for too long. So now when we need a bailout, we expect the government to be there for us, too. But the government no longer has any money. They broke the piggy bank long ago. They can’t just “go to the bank” and get more.

There comes a time when there is no justice as we’ve known it in the past. There’s “just us.”

I remember Hurricane Katrina. Families relocated by the government to another state. Living in motel rooms or small trailer homes for months and months after the storm. And those were the lucky ones. How many others endured the refugee camp environment of the New Orleans Superdome?

What all of those people had in common is that they didn’t provide for themselves. An overwhelming need arose that they hadn’t prepared for and suddenly their need for food, water, shelter, security, and more became someone else’s responsibility. Their desperate need caused them to lose the ability to make their own decisions and plot their own course, and placed those things in the hands of overwhelmed government agencies. Their desperate need and unpreparedness also caused them to lose the ability to help others.

I don’t want to be like that. I don’t want to be put in that situation. I don’t want to live like a refugee. And I don’t want you to, either. I can’t guarantee that developing an emergency preparedness plan, stocking some extra food, and learning some new skills will save you and your loved ones from everything that might come your way. You could be out for a night at the movies and return to find your house burned to the ground. But I strongly believe that doing something to become more prepared for the things that you think may adversely impact you is better than being doing nothing and finding yourself helpless to meet your own basic needs.

The people of New Orleans were warned repeatedly, days in advance of the coming storm. Some didn’t believe the warnings and went about in business-as-usual mode. Others just didn’t seem to care and allowed their problems to become someone else’s problem. But others heeded the warnings and took action. Which would you rather be?

I believe that the warnings are sounding all around us today. I believe that it’s time for all of us to take some steps to get ready for the approaching day.

 

Salt shakerWhen planning your long-term food storage, don’t forget to include basic ingredients such as sugar, spices, and salt. These can all become very valuable for bartering with people who overlooked stocking up on the basics, and they can make your own life much more normal during periods of long-term scarcity. How much do you need to stock? More than you think you do. Today we’re going to focus on salt.

Salt is one of the things that made civilization possible. Sure, it makes food taste good, but its real value is in it’s ability to preserve food. When you can preserve surplus food, your chances for survival through a tough winter, summer drought, or other disaster or emergency go way up.

Today we take salt for granted, but for thousands of years it was hard to come by. Traders established “salt roads” or well-worn trading paths through countries that didn’t have access to salt. Wars were fought over salt. In some places they were paid with salt. That’s where we get the expression, “He’s not worth his salt,” and others like it. The story of salt’s impact on the human culture and commerce is fascinating and we recommend Mark Kurlansky’s book, Salt: A World History. (This guy has written a lot of interesting looking books, including more than one book on salt, books on cod, and baseball. He’s also co-written a book with Food Network and Travel Channel stars Andrew Bourdain and Mark Zimmern.)

In the right proportions, sea salt has small amounts of essential nutrients that the body needs: iodine, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, and zinc. We all know by now that too much salt has adverse health consequences, so keep that in mind as you plan your emergency food strategy. Your body may need some extra salt during times of emergency stress and manual labor, but don’t let that become an excuse for overdoing it. Some freeze-dried entrees are overly heavy with salt. We’ve found that using the entree as a topping for pasta, rice, or potatoes not only cuts your salt intake, it also stretches your food supply.

Today, we manufacture so much salt, and so many different kinds of salt, that it’s easy to take it for granted. But imagine there is no more salt. Well, there is salt, but it’s in the ocean. How do you get it out? For a look at the modern process, check out this on-site tour from: www.theKitchn.com.

Can you harvest your own salt? Sure. And the good news is, it’s easy. The hardest part is that you need to find a source of clean seawater. That’s a lot easier for people living near the coast than for most of us. Beware: Seawater is not the same everywhere. Ensure you’re using clean water that contains no runoff or chemicals. This eliminates public beaches and seawater from harbors or near industrial operations. Collect your water as far away from civilization as possible. You’ll get about 2 cups of salt per four gallons of water, so even though it’s a time-consuming process, the return is worth it.

Boiling method:

  • Clean seawater
  • A strainer, cheesecloth, or cotton fabric with no soap residue
  • A large kettle or pot
  • A fire source
  • Strain the seawater through the cloth and the sieve to remove any large particles (like sand). Bring the strained water to a boil in a large pot or kettle. After the water boils for a minute, reduce the fire or heat until the water just simmers. You’ll be simmering water for a long time, so be patient. When you see salt crystals start to form in the bottom of the pot and there is just a little water left, remove the pot from the heat source. In order to not burn the salt it’s a good idea to finish evaporating the water in an oven or kiln or by letting it dry in the sun.

Or

Evaporating method:

  • Clean seawater
  • A strainer, cheesecloth, or cotton fabric with no soap residue
  • Large glass trays (like Pyrex baking dishes)
  • Strain the seawater through the cloth and the sieve. Pour the strained water into glass trays. (Don’t use metal or you’ll end up with bad-tasting salt and a corroded tray.) Leave the trays in the sun or by the fire and allow the water to evaporate.

Whichever method you choose, when the water is gone you’ll be left with large salt crystals. Break them up and store your salt in clean glass or ceramic containers.

Do you live too far inland to make harvesting your own sea salt feasible? You still need to stock up. Here’s a link for a good long-term storage option. It’s for regular iodized salt, not sea salt.

For information about preserving food with salt, check out this site: http://www.ehow.com/how_2123649_preserve-food-saltcuring.html.