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

.

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