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

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Brand New Social Network Site - Ning.com

Have you heard of the brand new (launched today) social network, Ning, launched by NetScape co-founder Marc Andreessen? See the Yahoo article.

It's an interesting new juncture of the various popular online tools and toys, so we're working on our own Ning site: http://preparedness.ning.com/

So far, we've added images, a doomer video, a discussion forum, and more. Visitors who join are free to add their own content as well.

I invite all of our friends to drop in and sign up if it looks good to you. And do feel free to add to the mix there.

If nothing else, I see it as a way to reach a whole 'nother group of people with the preparedness message.


Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Freakin' Out with the Spring-Cleaning Freebies Sale

If you consider yourself a shrewd prepper and can recognize a bargain a mile away--well, you may have already smelled this one out ... our limited-time sale in which we are practically giving away the store with a qualified purchase.

Many of our shoppers are packing away large orders in which they are saving money on top-quality survival products at up to 50% off when our various member discounts and special offers are taken full advantage off.

Start at the Freebie page in our store and then go to our other Special Offers as linked in the left hand column in the store. You won't be sorry!


Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

BBC "Doomer" Video

A tip of the hat to "Ardent Listener" at www.Survivalmonkey.com for posting this link at the forum. Check out this 1-hour BBC program that portrays five different plausible "end of the world" scenarios:

http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=6596386933819999876&q=bbc+duration%3Along


Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Friday, February 16, 2007

Safecastle Royal's Free Classifieds

At our preparedness buyers club website, www.safecastleroyal.com, we recently launched an idea aimed at emphasizing the community aspect of the club. Namely, we introduced an online "classifieds" section for our shoppers.

First, we landed several dozen major US affiliate advertisers who are making special offers to our shoppers (club members and non-members). Among those outfits now represented in our classified sections: Napster, Fox's "24" show, StubHub, Sirius Satellite Radio, Starbucks, Restaurant.com, Toolking, Realty Store, Stauer, uBid, Zero Halliburton, E-Loan, Edmunds.com, Northern Tool and Equipment, and many, many more!

So it's cool that our shoppers can get great deals on goods we don't directly offer them in our store, but that ARE available via our classifieds.

But the real reason for the classifieds in the first place was to create a venue for our club members to post their own classifieds--business or personal, graphic ad or text-only--free of charge, no limitations (other than for good taste). It may not be a big thing for some, but for others, it could be a great way to connect with others in our growing community.

Have a look. Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions!


Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Upcoming Moments of Truth Will Make Things Clearer

Occasionally, eventually, we are afforded clear recognition of the truth of a matter if we are patient enough.

But first we have to get through the garbage. The higher level of attention an issue is given today, the more it is obscured in smoke, spin, and political gobbledygook. Everyone has an angle, interest, or ulterior motive, and even reporters and commentators don't pretend objectivity anymore. We can guess at a matter's root causes and effects, but unless we are willing to personally dig and get our hands dirty, pure truth often escapes unsullied.

Big Picture

I'm talking about the big issues of the day. I mean the BIG issues.

Science and moral dogma regarding such things as abortion and stem cell harvesting are seemingly at odds. But are they? Regardless, we may never see the day those issues are satisfactorily clarified in the public domain.

What about the increasing visibility given to the "debate" on whether the holocaust really happened? As time passes, the intent of some to muddy these waters and attract believers gains momentum.

Motivations behind the war in Iraq define another public-opinion dichotomy. Was it supposed to be about WMDs and the war on terror or is it about oil?

Is the war on terror a righteous pursuit or is the U.S. overreacting and overreaching our moral authority in the world?

Are radical muslims who preach the annihilation of infidels the world over representative of the future of the Muslim faith? If not, where are the silent majority in this?

Are Christians to blame for many of the world's ills? If so, is retribution divine? Or is it about court-ordered reparations?

Does Iran want the bomb to destroy Israel and to destabilize the West? Whether or not they do, does the West have the moral and legal right to try to pre-empt that risk?

Can we find someone to take the blame for global warming and to thus pay the bills for trying to fix it? Or is it all a naturally occurring phenomenon?

Will mega-hurricanes become commonplace? Or will storms remain unpredictably dangerous as they always have been?

Are illegal immigrants the death of America or are they sustaining us?

Is communism a threat or a boon to our future?

Are China and Russia ultimately friends or foes to America?

The list could go on forever. Hey ... that's what sells newspapers and keeps advertisers' dollars rolling into the multitude of media outlets.

Sometimes Truth Emerges and Resolves All

When does an issue stop becoming an issue? When it somehow overcomes the surrounding alliances of self-interest and becomes self-evident ... when the truth of a matter becomes apparent to most everyone who is paying attention.

A few of those moments of truth are going to be occurring in the near future.

1. As a matter of fact, today, we may be experiencing one, IF the North Korean nuclear disarmament agreement proves to be the real thing. Suddenly, or gradually, as the case may be, we could see this threat removed from the global gameboard of fear.

2. Yesterday, there was a report that an internal EU memo concludes it is now too late to stop Iran from going nuclear. That is not to say that the crisis is averted or can be ignored. This issue will find resolution soon, one way or the other. Iran may yet follow North Korea's lead ... or it could all become a focal point of a large scale military conflict. We will likely find out by the end of the year.

3. The civil war taking place in Iraq between Muslim factions and promulgated by terrorists there will either be doused by the reinforced US forces, or it will become evident that we must abandon the country to its fate.

4. In the maybe-soon category, H5N1 may be showing itself for the danger or the dud that it really is. Give it another year, but if it remains a rarely human-infectious virus, the world should be largely prepared at that point for the worst it may yet dish out.

5. Also maybe soon, there will come a conjunction of events and realizations ... that will cause a large segment of the general population to embrace preparedness as an important, proactive measure in the face of risks that will become more up-close and personal. How this comes about exactly is truly a matter of conjecture, but there are so many risk factors that are simultaneously being elevated now that chances are growing we will be seeing at least one major event that will provide a stimulus for significant public reaction. Authorities will of course try to manipulate and spin the situation to try to manage public reaction, "for our own good." But many will see the truth of the matter and will respond en masse. For the record, that will NOT be the time to be prepping. Prepping is about being ahead of the curve.

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Got masks?

Many thanks to Michael C. for forwarding this article below on to me.

In the U.K., where the Bird Flu has suddenly appeared, N95 masks are at a premium.

Last week, I received an inquiry from Singapore on 1000 cases of 3M N95 masks.

I mention this as fair warning, folks ... if you plan to be acquiring protective masks in the near future, wait no longer. Although there is not a shortage of masks in the U.S. at the moment, that could change in a heartbeat. This is what preparedness is about--being a bit ahead of the curve.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1323547.ece

February 04, 2007
NHS staff face year-long wait for safety masks
David Cracknell Political Editor

MINISTERS are considering stockpiling face masks for NHS staff, carers and even the general public to protect them in the event of bird flu mutating into a form that spreads to humans.
Anyone caring for the elderly, people infected with the disease or showing symptoms would be supplied with the disposable masks first.

But, according to minutes from the latest planning meeting, it is “unlikely” that ordered stocks will be ready until next year.

The Department of Health may also decide to order enough for the entire population, as the French government has done.

However, the minutes of last month’s meeting record that “the [department] would not be recommending the use of masks by the general public” at present because of the “limited science base” suggesting they will prevent further infection.

At the meeting concern was raised that this decision could provoke a backlash. “[Our communications strategy] will need careful preparation and handling, especially in view of the likelihood of our French neigh-bours wearing protection in public,” the document says.

It adds: “Abroad, it is France who has adopted a policy the most radically different. By the middle of 2007 the French will have stockpiled surgical masks to provide for their symptomatic and well general population during a pandemic.”

The latest plans come after the government has already drawn up an extensive strategy to cope with a major outbreak of bird flu, including burying the dead in “plague pits” and widespread closure of schools.

A confidential Home Office report has acknowledged that families may have to wait for four months to bury their dead. The paper said it was “prudent” to predict that as many as 320,000 people could die from the H5N1 strain of the virus if it mutates to humans.

[snip]

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Saturday, February 03, 2007

"World Braced for Huge Surge in Bird Flu Cases"

Wow. It doesn't take much to start drumming up alarmist reports out there about bird flu now, does it? The red flag in this case is that H5N1 has appeared in the British Isles for the first time--on a turkey farm.

Of course, I have to imagine it will be the same in U.S. newspapers when H5N1 lands on our shores.

This article from the Guardian Unlimited in the U.K. is certainly worth reading, if for no other reason than to realize that we're actually likely approaching another huge surge in preparedness activity. A few more scary headlines like this will likely mean a few shortages and backlog issues on some items for all of us.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/birdflu/story/0,,2005605,00.html

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com

Thursday, February 01, 2007

U.S Issues Guidelines in Case of Flu Pandemic

Important to know and to prepare for ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/01/health/01cnd-flu.html?ei=5065&en=cdb820c97dd329e6&ex=1170997200&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print

US Issues Guidelines in Case of Flu Pandemic

By DONALD G. McNEIL Jr.

ATLANTA, Feb. 1 — Cities should close schools for up to three months in the event of a severe flu outbreak, ball games and movies should be canceled and working hours staggered so subways and buses are less crowded, the federal government advised today in issuing new pandemic flu guidelines to states and cities.

Health officials acknowledged that such measures would hugely disrupt public life, but they argued that these measure would buy the time needed to produce vaccines and would save lives because flu viruses attack in waves lasting about two months.

“We have to be prepared for a Category 5 pandemic,” said Dr. Martin Cetron, director of global migration and quarantine for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in releasing the guidelines. “It’s not easy. The only thing that’s harder is facing the consequences. That will be intolerable.”

In an innovation, the new guidelines are modeled on the five levels of hurricanes, but ranked by lethality instead of wind speed. Category 1, which assumes 90,000 Americans would die, is equivalent to a bad year for seasonal flu, Glen Nowak, a C.D.C. spokesman, said. (About 36,000 Americans die of flu in an average year.) Category 5, which assumes 1.8 million dead, is the equivalent of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. (That flu killed about 2 percent of those infected; the H5N1 flu now circulating in Asia has killed more than 50 percent but is not easily transmitted.)

The new guidelines also advocate having sick people and all their families even apparently healthy members stay home for 7 to 10 days.

They advise against closing state borders or airports because crucial deliveries, including food, would stop. They did not offer guidance on wearing masks, but Dr. Cetron said the C.D.C. would issue advice on this soon.

The guidelines are only advisory, since authority for measures like closing schools rests with state and city officials; but many local officials had asked for guidance, Dr. Cetron said.
The federal government has taken primary responsibility for developing and stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs, as well as masks and some other supplies.

Today’s guidelines are partly based on a recent study of how 44 cities fared in the 1918 epidemic conducted jointly by the C.D.C. and the University of Michigan’s medical school. Historians and epidemiologists pored over hospital records and newspaper clippings, trying to determine what factors partly spared some cities and doomed others.

While a few tiny towns escaped the epidemic entirely by cutting off all contact with outside, most cities took less drastic measures. These included isolating the sick and quarantining homes and rooming houses, closing schools, churches, bars and other gathering places, canceling parades, ball games, theaters and other public events, staggering factory hours, barring door-to-door sales, discouraging the use of public transport and encouraging the use of face masks.

The most effective measure seemed to be moving early and quickly. For example, said Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian and one of the study’s leaders, Philadelphia, the worst-hit city, had nearly three times as many sick and dead per capita as St. Louis, which had was hit weeks later by the virus moving inland from the Eastern Seaboard and had time to react as soon as flu cases rose above averages.

“No matter how you set up the model,” Dr. Markel said, “the cities that acted earlier and with more layered protective measures fared better.”

Any pandemic is expected to move faster than a new vaccine can be produced; current experimental vaccines against H5N1 avian flu are in short supply and based on strains isolated in 2004 or 2005. Although the government is creating a $4 billion stockpile of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, it is only useful when taken within the first 48 hours, and Tamiflu-resistant flu strains have already been found in Vietnam and Egypt.

“No one’s arguing that by closing all the schools, you’re going to prevent the spread,” Dr. Markel added. “But if you can cut cases by 10 or 20 or 30 percent and it’s your family that’s spared, that’s a big deal.”

School closures can be very controversial, and picking the right moment is hard, because it must be done before cases soar.

Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America’s Health, a health policy organization, noted that in poor city neighborhoods, 30 to 60 percent of all children get breakfasts or lunches crucial to their nutrition at school.

“What are you going to do about that?” he asked.

Dr. Markel said it might be possible to keep the cafeterias open and transport food to points where parents could pick it up, a move that would also keep cafeteria workers and bus drivers employed.

Several public health experts praised the C.D.C. guidelines, although there were some quibbles with aspects of them.

Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, said he saw no point in fretting over exactly when to close schools, because his experience in meningitis outbreaks convinced him that terrified parents would keep their children at home anyway.

“I don’t think we’ll have to pull that trigger,” he said. “The hard part is going to be unpulling it. How do the principals know when schools should open again?”

Other experts pointed out that children out of school often behave in ways that are nearly as contagious. Youngsters are sent to day care centers, and teenagers gather in malls or at each others’ houses.

“We’ll be facing the same problem, but without the teaching,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “They might as well be in class.”

Also, he noted, many employed people cannot afford to stay at home and the financial stress from not working could increase domestic violence. And he said most states and cities lacked the money to carry out the suggested guidelines or to stage drills of them.

Dr. Cetron argued that caring for children in groups of six or fewer cut transmission risks. He also argued that parents would keep many children from gathering.

“My kids aren’t going to be going to the mall,” he said.

The historian John Barry, author of “The Great Influenza,” a history of the 1918 flu, questioned an idea underpinning the study’s conclusions. There is evidence, he said, that some cities with low sickness and death rates in 1918, including St. Louis and Cincinnati, were hit by a milder spring wave of the virus. That would have, in effect, inoculated their citizens against the more severe fall wave and might have been more important than their public health measures.

The guidelines did not suggest using the military to enforce quarantines, as President Bush said he might do when he first mentioned avian flu in 2005.

Dr. Levi said that using the National Guard to set up temporary clinics or move pharmaceutical supplies might make sense.

“But they’re not there,” he said. “The people who know how to run field hospitals are in Iraq.”

Get Ready, Seriously ... www.safecastleroyal.com