There are two ways to sleep well at night ... be ignorant or be prepared.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Next ScramKit Launching--the "ChowHaul"


You may recall that a few weeks ago, the first product in the ScramKit line was unveiled--the Responder Personal. It is a comprehensive, belt-worn resource kit, helpful in just about any crisis situation you could find yourself in.

We are now about to launch the next ScramKit product that really has no peer and that most everyone ought to have on hand. We call it the ChowHaul and it will be available after the first of the year.

When it is available, product images and prices will be posted here and the store links will of course also be provided.

In the meantime, be advised that this is what is coming, and if you would like to be sure you get yours promptly, you'll want to be among the first to respond:

ChowHaul 14.2
(shelf life of 5 years)


14 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 40 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 14 days, or one adult for 28 days.

Contents include:
  • 112 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (four Just in Case units)
  • 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)
  • 4 Jetboil fuel cannisters
  • 120 Katadyn MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets
  • 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)
  • 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade
  • 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag, 36"x16"x16", includes removable shoulder strap

ChowHaul 7.2
(shelf life of 5 years)

7 days of delicious nutrition for two people in one transportable bag (approximately 25 pounds). Includes everything needed (except a water source) for hot meals, including the means for water purification. Provides three full meals a day for two adults for 7 days, or one adult for 14 days.

Contents include:

  • 56 Mountain House freeze-dried entree pouches (two Just in Case units)
  • 1 Jetboil PCS with Companion Cup unit (cutting edge integrated burner and cookware w/ built-in igniter)
  • 2 Jetboil fuel cannisters
  • 60 Katadyn MicroPur MP1 Purification Tablets
  • 2 Renais AB Camp-a-Box Mess Kits (each includes collapse-a-cup, soup bowl, two entree trays, cutting board, salt/pepper/sugar dispenser, stainless steel knife/fork/spoon set)
  • 1 folding pocket knife, 3” stainless steel blade
  • 1 600 Denier polyester cargo duffel bag w/ waterproof PVC back, 30"x15"x14"
Package Deals

FYI, we will be offering package deals whereby a ScramKit Responder can be purchased in addition to a ChowHaul at discounted prices. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Rumors of Wars

I'm 48 years old. From the very point of my coming of age at 18, I was trained in the military ways of waging war ... not so much in terms of venturing out with a Bowie knife between my teeth, but as in how to surreptitiously gain a decided advantage over the enemy using cutting-edge intelligence technologies and insights.

Back in the day, the enemy was clear and well-defined. We were nose to nose with the Warsaw Pact, and during the days of the Cold War, intell was the primary theater for hostilities. Engagement with the enemy was all about dealing with the knowledge that the stakes were as high as humanly possible ... daily, with every weave, duck, and feint.

Today, most say the free ideologies of western society won that war. That communism and the Soviet Union backed down and turned over a new leaf. That we the victors were able to triumphantly beat swords into ploughshares. That mankind somehow crossed over into a higher plane where major hostilities betweeen global powers and subsequent devastation are no longer to be feared.

Well ... count me a cynic on this one ... but I choose not to turn my back, even today, on those who once held me steady in the crosshairs. But my intention here is not to try to convince anyone of the ongoing threat from marxist powers, but rather to address 21st-century warfare risks of all types for Americans at home today.

We all know deep down that we are vulnerable in America, as 9/11 brought front and center. But if you are inclined to prepare for reasonable risks to your household's safety and well-being, then you ought to give credence to the possibility of modern full-scale warfare making a sudden, destructive visitation upon us right where we live--and not just in New York City and Washington, D.C.

War Happens

The nature of men and nations has remained true to form throughout history. Ambition for power drives confrontations. Occasionally, back-channel safety nets collapse and all hell breaks loose.

Today, the mostly long-distance War on Terror passes as the framework for our understanding of hostile threats to our way of life. Yet already, many have forgotten the World Trade Center and the seizing of four airliners that stunned the world. Remembered or not, the world has not quite been the same since.

There was a time in late 2001 and throughout 2002 when media discussions and public service advisories had US citizens considering how to protect themselves from biological, chemical, and radiological terror threats, particularly in large cities. Eventually, fear gave way to suspicious cynicism and political opportunism, until now when any such risk awareness has receded to the bottom of the deck for most Americans still playing the game at all.

Without going there, I will just state, it is common sense to have on hand some basic knowledge and capabilities to deal with NBC (nuclear, bio, chem) exposures to yourself or to your area of operations. Such dangers can come at the hands of terrorists, but they can just as easily be the result of industrial or transportation accidents most anywhere in the country. Consider how you can take a few simple steps to mitigate these risks--the proverbial plastic sheeting and duct tape are a good start. Gas masks, rubber suits and gloves, N95 surgical masks, radiation detectors, and potassium iodide represent next steps worth taking for many.

Combat on American Soil

I'd propose that it is not at all crazy for smart, historically aware people to make some concessions in their crisis preparedness planning for the possibility of violent conflict within our own borders.

Historically speaking, one might say it is inevitable. Whether it is or not, common sense says that we are not immune from violent conflict or from outright warfare breaking out close to home or right on our doorstep.

International strife continues to simmer in many parts of the world, stoked by those intent on creating mayhem and anarchy for their own gain. Ethnic violence rages and in fact is spreading in spite of progressive global enlightenment and liberal sophistication. The USA remains objective number one for those exporting death and fear. We also are the only obstacle in the way of another rising power from becoming top dog on the planet.

I'd suggest that the single greatest deterrent to widespread anarchy in America is our right to bear arms and the exercise of that right by millions of actively conscientious and principled Americans. Got ammo?

Nuclear Sword of Damocles

Finally, there's the everpresent ICBM nuclear weapons that have made modern existence as precarious as a spinning toy gyroscope on a wire. Think those days are history? If you actually ever thought so, you better reconsider. For only the latest eye-opener, see "Putin's Show of Strength Triggers Fear of Fresh Nuclear Arms Race."

It's the granddaddy of all threats and it remains unthinkable for many out there. But don't let that difficult-to-envision scenario stop you from taking at least remedial steps toward preparedness in this regard. Even an all-out nuclear war IS survivable, and that is what war planners in China and Russia count on in their doomsday gaming and planning--to include elaborate measures taken to ensure the protection of millions of their own citizens.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Civil Defense program is ancient history, and if you are thinking that we can intercept ANY incoming missiles, guess again.

So unless you believe slow agonizing death by massive radiation poisoning is preferable to giving you and yours a shot at pulling through in reasonable shape, then you should look into what first steps make sense for you as you start planning your family's shelter.

War Sucks

For all the ribbons and glory, all the parades and USO tours, warfare is something every one of us should be so blessed as to never have to experience firsthand. Indeed that is one of mankind's worthiest prayers to the Almighty.

However, if you fancy your crisis preparedness program to be in any way comprehensive in scope, then you must account for hostile scenarios of all kinds. You need not obsess over wars and rumors of wars, but as with any other threat, to prepare well is to aspire to greater peace of mind.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Is Cynicism a Prerequisite to Preparedness?

Those on the outside looking in to the online world of preparedness-related forums, resource sites, and blogs could easily come to the conclusion that many preparedness advocates are cynical, despondent, angry, and/or bitter ... and that the rest seem to just be running scared from something.

Unfortunately, there ARE a lot of vocal and visible characters online out there who fit these descriptions.

The good news is that the healthy, happy, largely optimistic types vastly outnumber the others in reality ... bottom line, they have better things to do with their time than to outspokenly troll the web with their views of the world.

Simple Stereotyping

I'm being impossibly simple in my generalizations about people who prepare for potential disaster. But it is a pet peeve of mine that there are a relative few out there who become inordinately representative of crisis readiness. The plain and simple truth is that most of us who choose to be materially ready for crisis, are completely normal, gentle, contented folks who simply want to look out for our families the best way we can.

We understand that bad things happen to good people and that the world is a dangerous and unpredictable place. Most of us have no interest in putting our time and energy into trying to predict the unpredictable. And we know that to go very far down the path of contingency planning too fast is to risk being overtaken by obsessive behaviors. To be aware of those dangers is to be forewarned. It's easy to avoid ... one just needs to take care not to get sucked into any particular doom-of-the-month or the feeling that you must get it all done today.

Effective preparedness is just logical, systematic activity aimed at positioning your household to be able to withstand some of the likeliest crisis scenarios.

Some would characterize the goal of preparedness as being "safe and protected." I would quibble with that a bit and argue that the greatest common tangible benefit is peace of mind. IF the time comes when your preparations are called into service, then obviously we would hope the end result is your family's well-being.

Take It a Day at a Time

"Peace of mind" is an attainable goal for anyone who wants to prepare. It should be realized little by little right from the first logical action you take in that direction. You might equate contentment with that state, as well as balance and strength. It's really a worthy ambition and one that millions of good Americans partake in.

Cynicism or pessimism about the world's future, about our country, about authority figures, etc., are not productive or satisfying avenues to travel in your journey. But you must make that decision for yourself--I suggest you enjoy every day the sun shines on you.

Sure ... know that things can become suddenly bleak for anyone anywhere at anytime ... but since you are positioning yourself and your loved ones for those times, there is no point in further dwelling on the danger today beyond the planning and actions you take to reduce the danger.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Back in the Saddle

Be sure to click on the image of the painting shown here. You will be taken to a site where you can see a wide array of Martin Grelle's beautiful original artworks, available for sale.

For those of you who are loyal readers, I want to say thank you for your patience these last couple of weeks. I've been on travel ... a working vacation actually. We spent some time on the beach in Florida and took the kids to see Mickey's kingdom down there as well.

In the interim, we missed some significant snowfall back home here in Minnesiberia, but unfortunately, the sub-zero temps waited patiently for our return home.

Are You Alone?

While traveling, I was on the phone with a very good customer of mine. We were talking about how, for her, readiness is a difficult and lonely avocation. Her husband doesn't buy into the idea that crisis preparedness is worth their time and money and apparently they have some pretty emotional "discussions" about it. In fact, she admitted that she has wondered if divorce would be the result.

When I mentioned that most folks who are into preparing for what may come are actually in it without the support of their spouse or other loved ones, she was surprised. She believed she was somehow one of a very few out there rowing solo.

It's true ... the majority of folks who find some peace of mind in being prepared, are doing it alone. By choice, most would love to have the endorsement of those close to them, but when systematic risk management still fails to show up on the radar screen of the majority of people, odds are, a lot of the rest of us are going to need to choose--be true to oneself and do what we know is in the best interests of our families ... or give in and not rock the boat. (Or do what untold multitudes do ... find the middle ground by "prepping" in secret.)

About a month ago, I blogged, "How to Convince Others." I'd encourage any of you in this situation to read through that entry again. If you are frustrated by your inability to get the message across to those around you that crisis preparedness is smart and it is a perfectly reasonable and logical approach to modern life, then maybe a slight alteration in your "aura" would help.

Regardless, be assured that you are not truly alone. Millions of intelligent thinkers out there have understood the vulnerability of Americans who aren't personally ready to deal with personal or far-reaching catastrophe. Recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina have opened the eyes of millions more across the country.

My most succinct advice would be to do what you know is necessary in a gradual, low-key way. Remove the emotion--don't argue or fight about it if you can help it. Just do what you can do, and eventually your peace of mind and satisfaction will grow, and just maybe, others will come around when they recognize your calm confidence even when things start to alarm everyone else.

Merry Christmas

I suspect I'll get another entry or two in before Christmas, but nonetheless, I want to be sure to wish you all a blessed holiday with your loved ones. Remember:


Peace on earth.
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Preparedness Books for Gift-Giving or Personal Edification

It's a busy time for all of us these days, I'm sure. So I'm going to keep this entry short and to the point ...

If you're scratching your head trying to come up with a gift for that special thinker on your list, maybe a book would fill the bill. There are some great fiction and non-fiction books out there that folks with a preparedness bent would appreciate:

Fiction

Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse - an excellent, well-researched book with a strong survivalist theme, by my friend James Wesley Rawles. Many folks take notes as they read the book the first, second, or third time through. Unfortunately, this 1999 book is out of print and increasingly difficult to get a copy of. If you find one at a reasonable price--grab it!

The Last Ship - by William Brinkley ... quite simply, a great book!

Alas Babylon - a classic, must-read by Pat Frank.

Earth Abides - by George Stewart ... maybe the first in the genre, one of my personal favorites.

Non-fiction

Crisis Preparedness Handbook - a Complete Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival - by Jack Spigarelli. A great informational resource. Get a copy before you actually need it, when it will be too late.

Origins of the Fourth World War: and the Coming Wars of Mass Destruction - by J.R. Nyquist ... this may be the most important read you'll ever have. I had the opportunity to speak with J.R. at some length recently and was happy to have been able to offer him whatever support I could in his ongoing struggle to get the word out to America that there is something evil afoot. No, this isn't what you might think it is about. Our enemy is real and is deceptively strong. History, intelligence, and headlines prove that we may not be looking in the right direction anymore for the greatest threat to America.

The Pentagon's New Map - by Thomas P.M. Barnett ... an excellent and fascinating read that sheds light on how current government leaders in the west view the world and its future. Regardless of your political perspective, you need to have an understanding of what is driving America today.

We could go on and on--there certainly are a wide range of preparedness-related books out there. Please feel free to post a comment here with your own recommendations.

For a few more titles listed in my store ... stroll on in.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

ScramKit Gets 'er Done

As promised, the brand new ScramKit product line is born. The Responder Personal is the first comprehensive survival resource kit that actually allows you to have on hand all basic emergency necessities, wherever you are.

It's a full load in a little package:

  • Soft yet tough exterior - Maxpedition™ M5 waistbag in your choice of black, green, or khaki (as available)
  • Personal-size first aid kit (in separately-removable bag)
  • Pocket Survival Pack™ (in waterproof bag), from Adventure Medical Kits, which containing ...
    Rescue Howler™ whistle
    Emergency signal mirror
    Fluid-filled magnetic compass
    Firestarter kit
    Duct tape (2" x 26")
    Scalpel blade
    Stainless steel utility wire (6 feet long)
    Nylon thread
    Nylon braided "paracord"
    Fishing gear: hooks, sinkers, swivel, nylon line
    Heavy-duty aluminum foil (1 sq. yard)
    Large sewing needle & safety pins
    Waterproof paper and pencil
  • Tool Logic SL3™ folding knife with integral whistle and firestarter rod
  • Tool Logic Ice Card II™ credit-card multitool system
  • Tool Logic T1 Tech Light™ LED clip-on flashlight
  • Emergency mylar "space" blanket
  • 2 earloop face masks (surgical grade) in separate ziplock bags
  • 2 pairs of nitrile exam gloves (non-sterile) paired up into separate ziplock bags
  • GP4L digital shortwave radio with built-in regulated LED flashlight (includes earbuds) in a crush-resistant plastic case
  • 16-foot windup antenna for the GP4L radio.

Available for immediate shipping: http://scramkit.com/ (Turn up your speakers to hear the intro.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Christmas Shopping for Preparedness Products

We're into the heart of the holiday-shopping season--no, actually I shall bravely proclaim it, the "CHRISTMAS" shopping season.

For those of us involved in crisis preparedness sales, being tossed into the frothy stir of mall-churned humanity is not as scary as it could be. You see, there's a certain familiarity in the chaotic spirit of it all, since we've been slogging through our own rush of frenzied buyers for months already.

We get busy when folks out there startle to the lateness of the hour, realizing they've been letting their household readiness slip to seriously vulnerable levels. Hurricane Katrina was perhaps the biggest wake-up call of many lately.

Our sales tend to ebb and flow a bit, but they are not so much determined by the calendar as by unexpected developments piercing the collective human experience.

Hurricanes, terror strikes, disease outbreaks, geo-political upheavals ... those are the types of triggers for OUR long hours as we work to provide customers with some sorely needed peace of mind. Believe me, business has been good lately ... and unfortunately that means, a lot of folks out there have been losing sleep over their tiny place in the world.

Practical Gift-buying

Scary times or not, I'm always the guy who buys the most practical gifts under the tree. I CAN do the romantic and whimsical shopping when it's called for, but I really excell at the stuff that will actually get used ... OK, or might get used in the right situation.

Example--the Christmas of '99 is memorable for some reason by those in my family because they every year remind me that I purchased EVERYONE some top-quality long underwear that year--and heavy wool socks. I still think they were well-considered gifts, but I guess that is yet lost on some of these people. (Y2K DID have the imminent potential to invite Minnesota winter into our homes, you'll recall.)

Another family favorite was the jumpstart/emergency power units I gave those with cars a couple of years ago. OK, so the smiles and hugs were not the most enthusiastic ... but at least I'm true to myself. I tell you, I love giving "practical." And I always hope to get it in return.

At least, they all know by now not to be expecting bling and zing from me ... it's going to always be fine and solid contributions to the goal of maintaining a productive environment where "the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."

Seriously, if you're reading this, you're probably hoping you'll get something useful this year. You're the type who appreciates sensibility all around you, since you strive to develop that in yourself and in your household. So you might also be wanting to give sensible gifts.

I say, go for it. You never know when that gift, even if it's shoved into a drawer and almost forgotten at first, could turn out to be the most important gift ever received ... under the right circumstances.

Or what the heck, say the circumstances never warrant your genius for anticipating disaster, and life continues to deal you aces ... that can't be a bad thing.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How to Convince Others

I do wish there was an easy, logical way to persuade others that crisis preparedness is worthwhile. You know ... a one-size-fits-all, three-step process guaranteed to lift the scales from the eyes of the unenlightened.

But alas ...

Common Complaint

If there is one almost-universal complaint I hear from fellow preparedness activists, it is that they are often not able to convince even those nearest and dearest to them that crisis readiness is smart.

For many sailing smoothly through life out there today, the initial, deeply embedded perspective is that only kooks and "racist survivalists" spend any time or money preparing for a disaster that might never come. It's a view that's been cultivated in the public mind by the mass media for decades now. So in spite of the obvious common sense inherent in a balanced approach to being prepped, there is a wall that needs to be breeched for some folks before they'll be able to observe the full horizon.

Indeed, how many of my friends and customers out there have mentioned that they wish they could get through to their spouse, their siblings, buddies, or coworkers, etc.?

The spouse factor alone is seemingly insurmountable for many.

I would estimate that more than half of you who are reading this blog would be hard pressed to convince your spouse or significant other to even have a look at it or at some similarly focused resource. Is that frustrating? Of course it is. In fact, I'm sure most in that boat would be satisfied with just getting a nonverbal, implied, eye-rolling "go-ahead" from their loved one to do whatever is necessary, if not a full fledged, share-the-passion, full-speed-ahead buy-in from them.

Oh, that they could stop having to sneak around, hiding their latest purchases adding to their strategic reserves and stock ... and instead be able to openly share the steadily growing peace of mind their well-considered program is building.

How-To

No, this won't work for everyone, but in my personal experience, this is your best bet. I've been involved in preparedness of various kinds, professionally as well as personally for decades, and with time, you learn that there IS a way to at least get folks to listen to what you have to say.

A few tips for anytime you are first bringing up the issue of preparedness with someone (and perhaps EVERY time you discuss it) ...

1. Lose the emotion. Fear, anger, paranoia ... those are the emotions and "danger signs" many people out there would be looking for in any "nutcase" who would approach them to talk about getting ready for disaster. Show it and the cause is already lost.

Take a calm, non-commital, intelligent tack in which you almost casually relate the view that crisis preparedness is common sense. Be dispassionate, non-threatening ... that's how you need to bring the issue forward. If there is no sign of your companion being in the least bit receptive, drop it. Maybe the next opportunity that arises will be different. Just don't make it an obvious priority in your intereactions with the person.

2. No target-lock on any one threat. This is a big problem for many. It's easy not only to inadvertently zero in on one big threat of the hour when talking about crisis preparedness, it's just as easy to allow it to become all-consuming in one's own actual approach to preparedness. When raising the issue of preparedness, be knowledgable, but not necessarily "expert." Talk about crises in general if that is appropriate, unless your partner is needing to talk over an issue that is bothering them today (i.e., perhaps the Avian Flu at the moment).

Most important, talk about solutions, not the challenges. Trying to scare someone into seeing things your way never works longer term.

3. Don't play oracle, proclaiming THE END. Want to be seen as a crank? Set a date and start telling folks that you know something ominous they don't. Throughout history, dates of doom have come and gone as have their promoters. Even if you see some risk ahead, keep it to yourself until it becomes painfully obvious to even the most obtuse.

4. Don't talk about TEOTWAWKI. See #3. "The End Of The World As We Know It" became a common acronym circa the Y2K computer-scare era. Of course, it is also widely applied to post nuclear-war exchanges, and now even to the bird flu potential. My intended points? Life goes on. And change is inevitable and continuous. To try to counter either of those axioms is to ask to be pigeon-holed into a niche where few can be taken seriously.

5. Drop the mystery about your own preparedness efforts. This is actually more of an indirect benefit to preparedness in general than usually a necessary persuasive tactic one-to-one with someone. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning here that folks are more easily persuaded by demonstrated action over hollow words. Of course this runs counter to the tendency many have to protect access to and knowledge of their preparedness resources. But to encourage someone else to embark upon a personal campaign toward greater readiness by being more open about your own efforts, is a powerful way to go about it. Use common sense deciding when it might actually prove to be wise to take this path with someone and to what extent.

Fact is, if more folks were forthcoming about their own preparedness efforts, then the public impression that normal people don't do this would be quickly laid to rest.

6. Limit the reference points you share to sources in the "moderate mainstream." There are a lot of very "enthusiastic" parties focusing on specific, peripheral preparedness-related issues. They are off the beaten path and all have their own adherents ... and they do often contribute in their way to crisis readiness in the general population. However, before you refer preparedness prospects to a website or to a book of interest, etc., be sure you consider the kind of first impression they will likely have, given all aspects of that reference work and ALL the content and themes being projected there.

It is probably going to be most effective to carefully present the preparedness mindset to the uninitiated in a measured way, coming at least initially from recognized, respected authorities. Today, federal, state, and local governments are pushing readiness, as are mainstream media outlets. It doesn't take a trip today to http://www.snakeoilforall to start folks thinking about real-world moves they can take to mitigate the risks to their family's well-being.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Peace

On the eve of Thanksgiving, I've pondered many blessings bestowed on America and our people. Choosing one, I am giving thanks this year for the positive effect of the general "peace through strength" approach, proven amazingly effective over several decades.

No, it hasn't always been easy or cost-free. Many of our own have given their lives to keep building a better world, here and abroad. But through an era when weapons of mass destruction have become prevalent, their utility has largely been held in reserve, effectively contributing to a greater global peace than would have dared to be imagined in the mid-20th century.

Personal Peace

I came across this quote, author unknown, that struck me as being especially relevant to those of us who find comfort and satisfaction in being prepared for whatever may come:

Peace.
It does not mean to be in a place
where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.
It means to be in the midst of those things
and still be calm in your heart.
...
Thanks be to God.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Imminent Preparedness Offerings

These days, as the owner of Safecastle LLC, I've got a few exciting opportunities brewing that translate into compelling offerings for you as discerning preparedness advocates.

ScramKits

First, any day now--a joint-venture partner and I will be introducing a brand new proprietary line of top-quality "bugout bags." They are called "ScramKits"--unique, self-contained units assembled for those who aim to be serious about their disaster readiness--at home, at work, and on the go.

Can't say much more until we launch ... initial available quantities will be limited, so stay tuned.

Pushing NBC Shelters into New Markets

We are also revving up our motors to take our best-available prefabricated steel storm- and fallout-shelters into new markets nationwide. We believe we are experiencing the beginning of a new surge in demand across the country for "steel-plated peace of mind," and we are developing strategies to make our product the recognized shelter of choice for security seekers everywhere.

Our expert builder has of course been fabricating and installing these shelters for FEMA, local communities, corporations, and households for 11 years, all across the lower 48. He's known as the best out there, making a product that will last for 100 years in most conditions. Our offerings meet or exceed FEMA standards in all respects, engineered to withstand storm conditions not even seen on this planet.

One detail of note: We have testimonials in hand that we'll be employing shortly, testifying to our customers safely and comfortably enduring direct hits from destructive storms.

We even have a letter from a customer whose property was subjected to hours of the 160mph eyewall of Hurricane Katrina. His above-ground shelter, installed a few years ago, was not even scratched by the turmoil and flying debris that wreaked havoc across the area, while he and his wife watched TV in air conditioned comfort, their sheltered personal generator humming along throughout.

More details of our plans are confidential, but suffice it to say, the marketplace is ripe for mainstream growth in saferooms and shelters.

New Products, Loyal Customers

We appreciate our growing customer base out there, many of whom come back time and again for our unusual values in preparedness products of all kinds. Right now, some of the very best preparedness product lines on the market continue to experience shortages and are backlogged due to sustained, unprecedented demand. Obviously, there are a lot of folks out there who are suddenly getting on board with the disaster readiness gameplan. Manufacturing and distribution capacities are being strained. But that is not deterring our customers who know what they want and trust that we are the ones who can get it for them.

Our newer large-volume value packs of long-term-storage Mountain House food is a prime example. We offer the best prices out there on our unique extended-period household-sustaining food kits. And although Mountain House is cranking the food out as fast as they can, product demand is keeping our order fulfillment process backlogged and delayed by several weeks. Does that mean some folks are putting off ordering product? Well, if they are, I'm not aware of it, and I'm not sure why they would be. Those who have decided that Mountain House is the best available long-term storage (30+ years) food out there want to get on the shipping lists and get their food stocks in place sooner rather than later, even when that means that a bit of patience is called for.

Another product line we are about to offer our customers--the new award-winning JetBoil personal cooking systems--perfect for emergency food preparation and ideal for preparing Mountain House foods in a hurry and in any conditions. Great for outdoors enthusiasts of all persuasions, we know the JetBoil is redefining adventure cooking and our customers will see it as a must-have.

Busy Times

Those are just a few of the items on our plate these days as we strive to meet the needs of our customers and create new opportunities.

Thank you to all of you who are helping to make it possible. Please let me know of any comments, questions, or suggestions you have.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

What Will Be Your Emergency "Currency?"

History has shown that cash is not always king.

In the event of systemic failure on a large scale, traditional means of payment in commerce and trade often become devalued. As an example, in some communities devastated by Hurricane Katrina, a barter economy almost immediately sprang up, to the point where cash was not the currency of choice.

It was reported that gasoline, cigarettes, and beer became the commodities in greatest demand via barter transactions. I suspect that if those communities had been isolated long enough, some other genuine necessities would have risen in comparative value over those items. Think "supply and demand."

Trade Doesn't Halt After a Disaster

Even if you believe yourself to be fully prepared for disaster, I suspect you could still quickly find yourself in serious need of some item or service that was unanticipated. Perhaps it would be specialized medical needs, mechanical parts, or a ride to safety. No one can ever be fully prepared for all possibilities.

That means besides simply stocking up on food and water and prescription meds, the prudent preparer also considers the need to have on hand alternative forms of currency. Depending on what it is, it could serve as needed in the role of household sustenance, neighborly charity, or as a barterable commodity.

The possibilities are endless ... and it might be wise to have several options on hand--quantities based on personal preference and the amount of time you want to abide ...

1. Of course, some good old foldable U.S. currency IS advisable to have on hand in every household. For although it might become less valued in long-term scenarios, it will be far more likely that a shorter term crisis situation would call for this traditional means of payment. (Note that you probably don't want to count on credit card, cash card, or check-writing to be accepted, especially if there are power outages.) Just make sure you have your stash adequately hidden and secured.

2. At the opposite extreme, precious metals such as government-minted gold and silver coinage are seen by many as a longer term, safe store of wealth, easily recognized as a historical basis for trade, readily quantifiable and transportable, etc. If you choose to hold precious metals for the purpose of crisis preparedness, it is advisable that you literally, physically have them in your possession ... again, safely secured.

3. Practical skills and expertise in any number of areas, along with needed tools, can be a tradeable commodity in challenging times. Of course it could be difficult to control the demand on your time in some cases. For instance, medical professionals may be overwhelmed in some locations in worst-case events.

4. Water, and the means to draw it and purify it could prove to be in extreme demand in many events, as city water systems can fail or be compromised. In the massive power failure experienced in the northeastern U.S. and Canada in 2003, the municipal water supply for Cleveland, Ohio, immediately failed, putting at risk a million local residents. A short-term solution is to have pure water stored for your family. Beyond that, if you have a means for purifying water, you could find yourself well ahead of the Joneses, making new friends in the neighborhood you never even knew lived there before. Further, if you have a well with a hand pump or the ability to generate power for an electric well pump, you could find yourself in business and able to acquire whatever necessities you might require in trade.

5. Food quickly becomes a high-demand item in medium and longer-term situations since refrigerated and frozen food that so many count on today can spoil ... in addition, the means for adequately preparing those foods would often be lacking. In fact, we see in the recent hurricane aftermaths how an unbelievable number of families don't bother to have on hand a few days of food of any kind to weather a breakdown in the local grocery and restaurant supply chains. Again, if you have stored, convenient foods in quantity, you are ahead of the game.

6. I hate to mention it again, but substances that people can become addicted to will always be in extreme demand when they are not available at the local markets. Beer, booze, tobacco, and coffee are items you might consider having on hand in some reasonable quantity, even if you don't use them yourself, as commodities for trade.

7. Gasoline is a commodity that can certainly become highly valuable should local supplies become interrupted. The problem is that it is tough to store safely and for any great length of time. It's a good idea to have several gallons on hand for personal emergency usage (treat the gas with PRI-G or the equivalent, rotate it periodically, and keep it outside of your living space and away from sources of ignition). Whether you have a few gallons or you opt to store more, be sure to research and follow local laws and regulations for safety's sake.

8. Anything and everything else can become objects for trade in the right conditions. Consider the scenarios where examples such as these might be in high demand: toilet paper, over-the-counter pain medications, first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, hand tools, plastic sheeting, cleaning and disinfectant products, personal hygiene items, disposable gloves and masks, firewood, lumber, ammunition, vegetable seeds, lighters, matches, and the list goes on and on.

I'm not advocating you go out and "hoard" anything with an eye toward one day making a killing in an impoverished environment. But simply use some common sense and be aware that even economies are transformed in disasters ... better you are aware and ready.

As I alluded to early on, some of these items would be in such extreme need in some cases that it would be immoral to withhold them from anyone in dire need of them. Most folks would be only too happy to help in their communities in any way possible in a true disaster. Being prepared means you are in that position to help as opposed to being one of the ones seeking someone else willing to give aid.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Salute to 26-Million Military Vets Alive Today

"Ten-hut!"

Active duty and prior service veterans, stand at ease.

The rest of you, listen up.

Today, November 11, is Veterans Day. Historically, it was the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour that the armistice was signed to end WW I. In 1954, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day, in honor of all Americans who dedicated their lives to the cause of freedom.

The Presidential proclamation read: "Now, Therefore, I, Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon all of our citizens to observe Thursday, November 11, 1954, as Veterans Day. On that day let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain."

Today, there are 26-million American veterans who are alive to be saluted. That's less than 9% of the resident population. One in 11 out there made the decision to sacrifice themselves in the name of freedom and the American way.

Of course many more never came home--with over 600,000 American military wartime deaths since WW I.

The Backbone of American Readiness

The U.S. military is THE backbone of American readiness ... not only in terms of responding to threats and conflicts, but also in being there in times of need ... recent example: Hurricane Katrina rescue and evacuation efforts were largely accomplished by men and women in uniform. When the need is the greatest, it is our greatest who respond.

Stand tall, vets! Your willingness to put it all on the line for something bigger than yourselves is what has kept our nation and our people at the forefront of history and allowed mankind to overcome its toughest struggles.

http://www.military.com/veteransday

Paralyzed Veterans of America

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Is Soul-less Western Society Any Match for Passionate, Radical Islam?

It would be clear to most folks that France and the other western European countries, all in all, are far more secular today than most any other nations around the world.

For decades, the joint trends toward European socialism and economic union and parity have been systematically gutting the diverse, traditional cultural traits out of the midsection of European life. Among the vital victims ... nationalistic self-identity, foundational religious belief systems, and value sets that include pride, responsibility, and honor. Italy, where Roman Catholicism remains a core institution, may be less distant down that path.

Most sadly of all, there are no nations today that are effectively resisting the trend toward global, economic homogenization ... it's just that some are more deeply immersed in the drowning pool than others. That point magnifies the potential significance of this observation ...

Sweeping into the Void

If debates on morality--the pros and cons, the ins and outs--were once upon a time the exclusive realm of philosophy eggheads, today we are sentenced to actually live out the futility of life in the abstract without even a basic moral value set in western society. The utopian eggheads have seized the day and we are all now in an inescapably sterile petrie dish.

Of course, basic physics cannot help but make an impact on most any grand experiment, even in social science ... most obvious--into any open vacuum will rush the nearest diffusable mass.

Today, the Muslim value set is engulfing an empty Europe. Unfortunately, there is no room for cross-cultural tolerance or immorality in this emerging force of nature. And the hollow remnants of what once drove a great European epoch in history have NO strength or ballast remaining to withstand the opposing momentum.

The Point

Western society today is farther along in its decline than we may have realized. We are right now being challenged in increasingly violent confrontations on our own territories to find some firm footing where we can stand our ground against an explosively driven culture focused not only on dominating, but destroying all other cultures.

Can there be any hope that it can be done? We cannot even get beyond the philosophical conundrum of defining "enemy" in any certain terms or whether we ourselves are worthy to exist as we understand ourselves. Meanwhile the "poor insurgents" at the gates thrill to blow themselves to smithereens to further their holy pile-driving mission.

It's all a bad dream, this recent history of ours.

Perhaps, but that doesn't mean it can't be fatal. Western culture fell into a deep, dark slumber and eventually we went comatose when we slowly but surely rejected all traditional values and common sense, to include the Judeo-Christian values that gave birth to the 19th and 20th century golden age of enlightenment and increasing plenty for ever growing numbers of people around the globe. Today the economic machinery continues to grind along but we the former masters of destiny lie beneath it, numb, motionless, and vulnerable.

When capitalism was allowed to become THE hollow foundation of it all, displacing the morality of right and wrong, we lost the tensile strength that would continue to hold us up against the winds of time and the oppression of challengers.

Time to wake up.

Executive summary: No moral fiber, no internal standing against attack. Return to and rebuild the immovable force of a spiritual and moral infrastructure or be pulverized by the irresistible object of a passionate onrushing enemy.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Do You Feel It?

A distinct foreboding ... is it weighing heavy right about now?

Without a doubt, there are a lot of folks expressing a bad feeling about things today. In fact, there a lot of people doing more than expressing their feelings ... they're getting downright belligerent.

Whatever it was that first dialed you in on the preparedness wavelength--the tsunami, a hurricane, earthquakes, the war on terror, maybe the bird flu headlines--today it's clear that anxiety in the global population is approaching a whole new peak.

Are you playing on key in that orchestra?

Cultural Demolition

This week, it seems we could be witnessing the emergence of a whole new French revolution on the other side of the pond, and it's making all our European friends nervous. What most amazes me about it at this point--that there remains a stalwart, blind refusal by many authorities there to acknowledge that this is at all an "Islamic" issue ... that it is instead, a class or poverty problem. I suspect that if this fire is quenched for the time being, it will be by a deluge of official blame swallowing--for allowing conditions to exist where people can become dissatisfied with their lives. Reparations anyone? Of course, that won't do a thing toward forestalling the real simmering conflict that threatens at some point to fully dissolve Europe as we know it.

Neither Here nor There

Fact is, over here, I've been concerned for some time about the state of our own social fabric in the U.S., and this is not at all an Islamic thing. Nor do I think it a class or poverty issue.

For years now, across demographics, tempers and outlooks have been fraying around the edges. I truly believe it's really only a symptom. The deeper, core issue that is eating us up from the inside out is about a loss of mutual respect, and an absence of self-respect due to a void we have hollowed out within.

While tolerance and compassion are popular buzzwords in society, the reality in personal interactions is that even simple courtesy is now unusual. In public life, in the media, in commercial entertainment, conflict and brutality are celebrated. Morality is denigrated.

Traditional values and wisdom gained through centuries and generations have been torched. Anti-authoritarianism and anti-conservatism are guiding lights for increasing numbers. The empty vessels are being filled to the brim with venom.

Politics? Never pretty ... but today old rules are only there to be broken.

Leaders? Conventional wisdom says greed and ego are the only motivations, so the ones accepting responsibility are tatooed over with the big crosshairs. Why would anyone of character want to try to endure the crossfire today?

Everywhere we turn, self-indulgence is god. Salvation by way of damnation ... the foundation of all good ad campaigns ... Madison Avenue reigns supreme. Market share is the currency of life.

Spirituality? Hah! It is vile if it is not in fact properly evil first.

Build Your Strength

So what do we do? Start with number one. Prepare yourself and your household for times that promise to only plumb deeper levels of despair.

Ideologies of anti-God / pro-secular chaos beat paths toward total anarchy, followed by a merciless annihilation of all that still coarses true.

If you are to endure and remain well-rooted, increase your inner resolve. Do not be easily steered. Tightly embrace the ways that guided your parents and grandparents ... that provided a righteous role in history for them ... that allowed you the blessings so many are determined to undermine for your children.

Heroes are not called for. Solid fathers and mothers and brothers, sisters, and friends are what are needed. Be an example.

Be true.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

H5N1--Contact Your Local Government Authorities

In my previous post, I indicated that I was comfortable with where my household preparations are in terms of the threat of an Avian Flu (H5N1) outbreak in the human population. That much IS true. Where I am uncomfortable in that regard is where my city and county governments are in relation to this potential threat.

Fortunately we live in a country where we as citizens have the ears of our governmental decisionmakers.

I was in dialogue this morning again with my city manager. To date, our city has their disaster contingency plans largely rooted in the Y2K build-up. It seems our particular local government is at this point pretty satisfied with their capabilities because of the work they put into that.

However, I have been encouraging them to again be proactive for this very serious threat on the horizon. In fact, I am offering my own time and energy to assist in planning and procurement if they will decide to stay ahead of the curve and not wait till the virus is actually going head to head in the human population ... at which point there will be nothing anyone can do anywhere to make adequate logistical moves. By then, the recent post-hurricane buying frenzies that quickly depleted critical supply lines will seem like a fond memory.

THE Most Important Preparation You Can Make for H5N1

The way I see it, there's not even a close second in terms of preparing for a pandemic ... the most important steps that need to be taken are the ones local government authorities must take to ensure their citizens are adequately provided for in terms of food, water- and heat-utility contingency plans, medical care and emergency response capability, and quarantine enforcement issues, among others.

The time to do all of that is right now. If tomorrow's headline reports H5N1 is spreading human to human in Asia, then it's already too late to do much of any consequence in preparing locally in the U.S.

If your government hasn't done their job in this regard by that point, your local situation is going to be worst-case ... and that is very bad news, regardless of whatever personal preparing you have done.

Ultimately, YOU are responsible for how your government will take on this challenge, if at all. There's not anything you can do that would be more constructive than to contact your local governmental authorities right now. Make sure they know that you expect them to pay attention to the threat. Better yet, volunteer to be of whatever help you can be in planning your local response to a burgeoning pandemic.

The official document: National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

A relevant link: Story on President Bush's Speech Today on the Likely Pandemic

Another link of interest: Homeland Security Chief Puts the Burden and Responsibility for Being Prepared on People

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Check-in

Just a quick mind-set check today ...

Feeling good. No great worries.

As always, I'm keeping an eye on the horizon. But with my household's crisis preparations in order, I'm comfortable enough with current global, national, local, and personal situations.

On the longer-term radar screen, I've flagged the H5N1 avian flu threat as one to keep an eye on. But again, we're squared away for having on hand what our family would need if the worst happens in that regard, so all we can do is wait to see if anything comes of it ... and if it does, we're about as ready for it as we can be.

Farther down the list of potential threats ... winter is right around the bend here in Minnesota. It's not normally anything to whimper about, but this year we do have some interest in how high heating costs will be. We have some alternatives in that regard at our place so we'll be OK, but of course we're hoping natural gas prices will be lower than projections for the sake of all in the northern climes ... so it doesn't become a back-breaker for too many.

And oh yes ... on a personal level, my dear wife has some issues, as do all employees there, with her longtime employer--Northwest Airlines. I won't start spewing in that direction here. But of course, the economic outlook / personal financial stability is a key focus for most of us. We'll be needing to make some adjustments here one way or the other, but God willing, we'll be fine. I have a few different income streams, but the one that is of most interest and holds my greatest focus is my crisis preparedness business--Safecastle LLC. Preparedness in general out there in the US population is gaining momentum, and it's rewarding to be able to play some tiny part in it.

Is it time for one of your own situational self-assessments?

Stay safe. Be prepared. Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"People Had Ample Time to Prepare"

Once again we see how, in spite of the best "parental" FEMA intentions and the reasonable extent to which logistical prepositioning was done, folks in a disaster area are left sucking wind if they were ill-prepared to take care of themselves for a time. (Yes, "reasonable" prework AND post-storm efforts ... how much should people out there really expect to be babied anyway? -- Sincere apologies to those who indeed suffered losses of all their preps in Hurricane Wilma ... but I suspect much of the current demand is by folks who have no business seeking governmental assistance at this point.)

Certainly the downwind recovery efforts from any major hurricane are always going to be tough. But the lesson to be learned over and over again is that a little personal preparation can go a long way.

Even "minor" hurricanes demand that folks in affected areas be situated under the assumption that for a few days at least, they will be without power and/or a means of getting food and water.

How much is it to ask of folks to have a few days worth of food and water in their homes? That should be a minimal threshold of readiness for all of us wherever we live, at any given time. But in the crosshairs of a hurricane, it's criminally insane to blow off the logic in getting yourself squared away if you're not already.

Check out this short news article ... Miami: Emergency Supplies are Dwindling.

Governor Jeb Bush said that people waiting in line for hours seeking relief should have done more to prepare for the storm. "People had ample time to prepare. It isn't that hard to get 72 hours worth of food and water."

Emergency-Food-Provider Capabilities are Again (or still) Straining to Respond

Still another lesson for all of us ... how quickly our just-in-time supply lines are emptied of capacity of the most urgently needed items when a surge in demand is realized.

Emergency foods of all makes and models out there in the U.S. have been on backorder since Katrina. Wilma will once again tax our capability to provide buyers of emergency foods what they need in the short term. And if another disaster strikes soon, we'll be heading into a period that I would characterize as a longer-term supply crisis.

If you are in need of bolstering your own emergency food stores, I'd advise you get on someone's waiting list now. Don't wait. It's possible the list will get longer yet before it shrinks back to normal.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Modulating the Cycles of Anxiety

First, to our friends, relatives, and all the rest in Florida--our prayers are being offered up for your safe passage through Hurricane Wilma and the aftermath. Certainly you are encouraged to contact me for any assistance I might be able to give in your recovery efforts.

Folks who are fairly new to crisis preparedness are susceptible to potential-threat-immersive breakdown. It's not an insignificant danger, as anxiety always takes a toll, and if you fail to manage your exposure and/or learn to cope, you can easily lose control.

This much is a given ... there are ALWAYS many risks and threats to your safety out there to be aware of. The news media and government authorities will often elevate one or more into clear focus at any given time in ways that are necessary to provoke desired (and occasionally unanticipated) reactions in public opinion and in organizational or legislative activity.

Sometimes, Mother Nature plays headline editor, as we have seen this fall with the record hurricane season that is still not finished. Major earthquakes periodically jolt us into being reminded of the seismic activity continuously underfoot. Of course, last year the tsunami in the Asia Pacific region raised our awareness of another natural danger to those living near the planet's coastal shorelines. And let us not ignore the current fearsome threat soaring through the highest echelons--a potential Avian Flu pandemic.

One of the worst everpresent dangers out there is mankind itself. Among such consequences of living together in a progressive society, we deal with the specter of technological/industrial accidents, terrorism, ethnic and cultural strife, international arms proliferation, and growing gang-related crime, to name just a few.

No Telling WHAT Could Ruin Your Whole Day

Of course those are just some of the big-picture disasters one might be concerned with. There are a whole range of personal-level eventualities that could one day touch our lives and cause grief or hardship.

The thing is, it's quite possible that one who is vulnerable to anxiety (isn't that really all of us?) can easily be sucked into the vortex of fear, as the latest elements of danger swirl about our consciousness, to then be added to the growing pile of worries accumulating at our feet.

Voracious newshounds are particularly vulnerable--the news industry is all about bad news. If there isn't a terrifying story happening, then there's always one to be manufactured about what COULD happen.

It's not easy to walk the line of being aware and prepared while keeping it all from becoming an internal driver in your life that will one day eat you from the inside out. You need to be able to erect a wall within that will allow you to keep an eye on the world, and make responsible, informed decisions that can mitigate your household's future risk ... while isolating it all from your emotional center of being.

Ideally, it should be like business. Business is business, preparedness is preparedness. Nothing personal, but we want to simply do what needs to be done, then go home at the end of the day to our real life--the one that is already in motion, occuring all around us in real time.

For many of us, crisis preparedness is a necessary evil. We know bad things happen and it's actually an effective therapy to have adequate gear, knowledge, and plans in the backroom should they ever be needed. But just like many other "feel-good" choices out there, it can be overdone and can potentially take control of our lives.

We don't want to live in the backroom with our gear and our fear. Keep it in its place and then go do what you've always done before--enjoy life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Future Revolutions

Preparedness is all about anticipating future possibilities. You don't need to determine whether events or developments are probabilities or longshots, you just want to know that there is a reasonable chance of their occurence, thereby justifying in your own mind a logic in positioning yourself appropriately. In this blog entry, I depart a bit from the standard disaster-planning angle. Instead, I offer up a different view of the future that might be worth considering. The way to prepare for that potential future is to commit to a personal principle of open-mindedness; fighting the urge to pre-conceive the world as you want it to be (while maintaining the ability and willingness to stand up for what is right).

You ever wake-up to one of those "aha" revelations that suddenly put things into a whole new perspective for you?

This morning was one of those moments for me, though admittedly at the time, it seemed a bit more clarifying than it does now. Still, it is worth addressing here. I figure this personal realization was largely the result of two things that I had been exposed to in the previous 24 hours, somehow bringing about a bit of a subconscious convergence of information ...

First--I had read (or at least scanned) the current Time magazine issue's, "The Road Ahead," one of those panel-of-geniuses-discussing-future-trends kinds of articles. I found it particularly obtuse and unsatisfying. But nonetheless, it got me once again stewing over our global direction.

Second--last night I was able to watch much of a PBS program, "Three Presidents, East of the Blue Ridge" on how Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe, "enlightened" Virginia neighbors and friends, had become core founding fathers to ideas that changed the course of history. Interesting points addressed included the fact that they embraced the newest technologies of the time to run their plantations. So also, they together actively endeavored to combine classical insights with the latest range of knowledge, creating a degree of higher awareness that brought about the birth of a new nation.

Continuing Revolutions

As much as many of us would like to believe that we can hold fast to the ideals that over 230 years ago created the United States of America, time itself proves otherwise. I mean to emphasize that we are no longer a nation in and of ourselves ... and popular ideas and practices are not the same as what they were 20 years ago, let alone what they were over 200 years ago.

We are today inextricably interconnected among global cultures everywhere via commercial technologies. Of course, most significantly it is the global economy that is spreading and solidifying that connectivity more everyday (for an excellent look at where we stand today, see "The Pentagon's New Map").

Personally, I've never been a fan of globalization, but by now there's no turning back. To deny that we are global citizens on the fast track to erasing all types of nationalistic boundaries is to put oneself at a serious disadvantage in dealing with reality. It's not coming; it's here, and we're getting in deeper as we speak.

A World Without Borders?

International boundaries will remain on our maps for a while. Maybe for a long while. But the reasons for their being there are diminishing and their practicality will one day be universally challenged.

Perhaps we can still prevent the United Nations from becoming anymore of an albatross to our existence than it already is, but one way or the other, we're finding our way into a whole 'nother understanding of our time and place. (Heck, you need look no further today than how wars are not even about nations at odds with each other anymore. Assymetetrical warfare of the 21st century is about enemies confronting each other over ideas via economic and cultural tactics, confrontations in neighborhoods some of them share, and attacks in cyberspace.)

Let's face it--technologies, maps, cultures, and governments are historically ever-changing. Today, technologies are enabling an exponential acceleration in our societal evolution, and ultimately national boundaries are obstacles that will be fully overwhelmed and erased. Most people in America today still get bogged down in the nationalistic aspect of globalization, as there ARE supremely important issues of self preservation and self determination at stake. But unfortunately, denial is not an adequate strategy or defense.

United "States of Awareness"

This is where my light bulb was illuminated. Maybe the following new context for life has already been obvious to others, but to me, it's become an imminent possibility that opens up a whole different way of anticipating what our tomorrows may be like--or at least our children's tomorrows. And given current realities, I do see it as being a very real revolution.

Let's assume that life goes on for a few years uninterrupted by any MAJOR international conflict, or by a global pandemic that totally reshuffles the deck, or by a major asteroid strike, or a deep economic depression, etc. Corporate interests and investor profits continue to dominate governmental agendas. The economy and the environment make periodic demands of us to make adjustments in how we deal with day-to-day life. We as people are motivated by self-serving causes.

In other words, "the business of big business" continues to fuel the global economy, while the people of the planet buy into all the latest technological marvels. Apart from occasional limited-attention-span diversions, the global population becomes more and more self-absorbed, often enabled by the technologies out there that they can plug into.

In a sense, consumerism and technological advances often centered on the entertainment industries become unifying experiences for the peoples of the world. Inevitably, as they already have been, traditional cultural barriers continue to blur. "Crossover" relationships between people of various backgrounds are increasingly enabled by the internet and similar connections, and markets and constituencies become less about geography and more about common interests.

Think about that. It's already evident that one of the most powerful results coming about out of the internet's discussion forum and blogging cultures is that people of similar beliefs and interests find each other, sometimes magnifying their individual power to accomplish things by more than a factor of two, just by virtue of the connection between them. When larger groups bound by a shared passion come together online, potential for dynamic action becomes significant, even across artificial borders.

But while there are obvious unifying possibilities in technology, so too are there possibilites, even tendencies, for inflating the inevitable clashes ... with the chance for conflicts of epic proportions.

Bottom line, I'm talking about influence over the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Are we susceptible to purposeful mind control through our media? Yes. Unquestionably, that will always be a risk. But we may be most vulnerable to our own viewpoints, if that makes any sense.

Wars of Words and Ideas

I suspect that a reasonable conclusion is that this coming together of minds from around the world will not result in a single homogenized perspective. Indeed, I believe the greater potential is toward a proliferation of fervent special interests and a subsequent empowerment and enflamed wars of words and ideas ... wars that can erupt anywhere and everywhere, flashing across traditional borders.

It's a human trait ... we naturally are attracted to other people who think much like we do. We tend to congregate and reinforce those common viewpoints, often to the exclusion of strong counterpoints, or at least straining our capacity to tolerate them.

Talk politics or religion or ethnicity or even money and taxes--these are the kinds of topics that can spell trouble. Interest groups of this ilk naturally find inspired passions among participants. It doesn't take much to stoke the fires of discontent within a like-minded group if there is adequate fuel to pour.

Does it matter if the group is not a physically gathered mob? I believe there are many folks who can draw energy from online associations, for good or for bad. In the right situations, if a cause is justifiable in the minds of those who support it, the power of online suggestion and reinforcement can be considerable. The end result? Potentially, widely scattered unrest that can, if prevalent enough and focused enough, quickly bring about system failures throughout society and perhaps even pockets of anarchy. I suspect the greatest danger from something like this would come about as a follow-on to some other event that previously weakens the society's infrastructure.

Unify or Divide?

My main point is that as physical, geographic boundaries become less relevant, and national loyalties fade away, people will find common bonds with others who share interests and passions and viewpoints. As they develop those personalized bonds, they naturally become more exposed to emotional manipulation on various levels.

Potential for the development of countless, interspersed "nations" of special interests mainlining specialized information designed to incite discord creates a dynamic for the future that is worth thinking about.

Is it farfetched? I think not.