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We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

We Won’t Be Getting “Back to Normal.” Not Soon. Not Ever.

When will we get back to normal?

If you yearn for the days before COVID-19 swept across the planet, I regret to inform you that those days are gone.

This isn’t a warm and fuzzy blog post telling you that everything is going to be all right. If you’re looking for reassurance that “we’ve got this,” I’m afraid I can’t provide it. This article wasn’t written to console or coddle you, so if that’s what you’re seeking, you’re going to want to stop reading right now.

If, however, you want a reality check on what I believe we’re really facing, I’m not going to hold back. You’ve been warned.

We’re not even halfway through.

You may have seen some optimistic reports recently that the “worst” is behind us. It would certainly be lovely if that’s the case, but in my opinion, this ordeal is just getting started. I wrote an article previously about how long we could expect our current state of lockdown to last using the timelines of China and Italy as points of comparison, and based on that, we are 17 days in as of the writing of this article on April 8.

The lockdown of Wuhan is expected to last 77 days. If our own timeline continues to echo that of China, then we’re not even halfway there. We have at least 2 months left and this doesn’t include any new clusters when the lockdowns are totally lifted or any second waves. We’ve barely begun living in our current state of purgatory and this will continue (and most likely worsen) for quite some time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What Will the Future Bring? Here’s How to Survive the Uncertainty

What Will the Future Bring? Here’s How to Survive the Uncertainty

We live in a very different world than we did back in January when the calendar turned to 2020 and everyone was anticipating the great things they’d accomplish in the brand new decade.

Only 3 months ago, we all had futures we imagined…

  • Kids graduating from high school or college
  • A vacation we were planning
  • A new job we were striving toward
  • Retirement so close you could practically smell the beach where you’d spend your golden years
  • The health and fitness goal you were finally going to achieve
  • A positive lifestyle change you were planning to make
  • A relocation to a new destination
  • The advancement of your relationship, whether it was a new one or one you’d been in for a while
  • A summer road trip
  • Getting a new pet
  • An empty nest and what you were going to do with that newly vacant bedroom
  • A new family member

Three months ago, we all had dreams, goals for the future, or at least some idea of what the upcoming year would hold for us.

I’ll bet none of us even considered on New Year’s Eve that we’d spend the first half (at least) of the year dealing with a deadly pandemic. Heck, I sat on a balcony in a little seaside village in Montenegro, toasting the new decade with a friend and some Jack Daniels, watching fireworks over the Adriatic Sea, and planning what European destination I’d be heading to next.

It probably never crossed anyone’s mind that there’d be some crazy new virus that nobody had ever heard of which would leave us under the equivalent of house arrest for months. Few of us imagined that suddenly, over the course of just a few weeks, more than ten million Americans would suddenly become unemployed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

It’s Only a Matter of Time Until COVID-19 Lockdowns Lead to Civil Unrest and Violent Crime

(March 31, 2020)  The United States of America is basically closed for business, leaving citizens jobless, broke, and without options. We’re facing restrictions on movement the likes of which our nation has never seen. The stores that are open have never fully restocked after the “panic buying” of previous weeks, leading to shelves barren of things like meat, flour, toilet paper, and rice.

It’s only a matter of time before these issues combine to become the flashpoint that leads to an explosion of civil unrest and violent crime.

The financial situation

Unemployment skyrocketed, with 3.3 million claims last week, and the Fed estimates that number to climb to a whopping 47 million due to the virus. Many of these jobs may not come back after the Covid-19 virus has run its course through the nation – businesses small and large are going to be defaulting on their April rent payments, and many simply won’t be able to catch up later.

So far, a lot of people in the area where I’m staying seem to be treating this break of business like a surprise staycation. It’s nice to see families out walking together, playing games, and spending time with the people they love.

But this happiness may be shortlived. Despite generous government-mandated disaster pay, unemployment, and stimulus checks, the money may not arrive in time for former employees, self-employed people, and gig workers to pay their personal bills. And when the money does arrive, for many folks it isn’t going to be the same amount they were earning before the shutdowns. Most people don’t have emergency funds, so things will be dire in short order.

Of course, this affects landlord, mortgage companies, utility companies, retail businesses…the list could go on and on.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Covid-19 Economic Crisis Will Change Everything: Short Term and Long Term Effects

The Covid-19 Economic Crisis Will Change Everything: Short Term and Long Term Effects

Whether you think the global pandemic is “just the flu” or you realize it’s the real deal, one thing is difficult to debate – many Americans are already feeling the economic pain being caused by the outbreak and the measures taken to stop it.

Unemployment claims skyrocketed this week as businesses laid-off employees in an attempt to weather the storm. More than 281,000 people filed for unemployment and those numbers would have been even higher if the influx of claims had not crashed the systems in several states.

In a news release, the Department of Labor said:

During the week ending March 14, the increase in initial claims are clearly attributable to impacts from the COVID-19 virus. A number of states specifically cited COVID-19 related layoffs, while many states reported increased layoffs in service-related industries broadly and in the accommodation and food services industries specifically, as well as in the transportation and warehousing industry, whether COVID-19 was identified directly or not. (source)

At the same time as employees are filing claims, businesses are trying to figure out how to stay afloat. Restaurants are switching to carry-out only. Bars are closed. Retail sales are down unless the business happens to be selling vital supplies like medications, food, and the new gold standard, toilet paper and Lysol wipes.

The Covid-19 pandemic is causing an economic crisis that will have both short-term and long-term effects. This will challenge your adaptability skills, but I want to stress something: life will be different, but that doesn’t mean life is over.  Here’s what you need to know.

Recession or Depression?

This is just the beginning of the economic crisis bearing down on us. As social distancing measures become more widespread, less and less money will be in play – both earned and spent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The S*** Is Actually Hitting the Fan But Somehow It Doesn’t Feel Real

The S*** Is Actually Hitting the Fan But Somehow It Doesn’t Feel Real

So here we are. Right on the cusp of that SHTF event that we’ve been prepping for all these years.

A global pandemic.

A breakdown in the supply chain.

Shoppers who are already becoming agitated and even violent.

We’re watching it all unfold in our hometowns and across our nation right now.

Yet, somehow, it still doesn’t feel real to me. Is it just me who finds this hard to fathom? Am I the only one who still thinks doubtful thoughts? Like “No way. It’s going to be okay. You’re overreacting. It’s a little scare, just like Ebola and MERS and SARS.”

I’ve researched and written about this stuff for years. I always knew it could happen. I was whole-heartedly convinced of these possibilities and yet when this situation began to move irrevocably toward disaster, I find myself, somehow, shocked.

I can’t be the only one who has prepared for this yet still feels stuck in normalcy bias, thinking “this isn’t going to get as bad as you think” even as I watch the events unfold around us pretty much like we in the survival community always predicted. There’s still that doubtful voice in my head, making me wonder about spending even more money on another “last” shopping trip.

Heck, maybe this makes me a bad prepper. A fake survivalist. A fraud.

Or maybe it’s only natural to think that life will keep moving on pretty much like it always has.

Will Covid-19 really be the thing that brings us down? Will the nation devolve into chaos? I’d like to say no with firm conviction. After all, there have been close calls before. But the rational part of me won’t allow that firm conviction, despite the part that says, don’t be silly, everything will be just fine after a brief blip.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Would YOU Get Around If the SHTF? All-Season Transportation Options

How Would YOU Get Around If the SHTF? All-Season Transportation Options

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Transportation

trans·​por·​ta·​tion | \ ˌtran(t)s-pər-ˈtā-shən
Definition of transportation

1 : an act, process, or instance of transporting or being transported
2a : means of conveyance or travel from one place to another
b : public conveyance of passengers or goods especially as a commercial enterprise
3 : banishment to a penal colony

Okay, banishment to a penal colony was a new one for me.

If the SHTF, what is your primary means of  “conveyance or travel from one place to another?” If fuel availability is in question, that lift or ride might not be an option. And your options will change with the weather if you live in a place with distinct seasons.

Keep in mind that transportation isn’t just about bugging out fifty miles to your lodge. You’ll still have to get around on a regular basis for a variety of reasons.

Winter transportation

For me, here in the Great White (i.e. snow) North, if the fuel is not available and the snowplows are not running how do I get around where we average 20 feet (yep, feet) of snow a year? What are your options for bugging out or just getting from Point A to Point B?

Snowshoes

Not the old school, look like wood tennis rackets strapped to your feet. The new modern ones are a mix of metal, composite and plastics. I bought my first pair (similar to these) after taking the dogs out for their daily walk in our first real snow of the season when we moved to the farm. Later I upgraded to this pair.

At first, I highly doubted their merit, would I use them more than a few times and then they would spend the rest of their days in a forgotten corner in the attic.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DoD: Covid-19 “Likely” to be a Pandemic Within the Next 30 Days

DoD: Covid-19 “Likely” to be a Pandemic Within the Next 30 Days

In a document obtained by Newsweek, Department of Defense officials said that Covid-19 will “likely” become a global pandemic within the next 30 days.

This comes after a 23-year-old soldier stationed in South Korea became the first member of the US armed forces to contract the illness.

“The DoD is concerned not only the impact COVID-19 has on mission readiness, but the risk to inadvertently spread the virus to the U.S. by returning members who may have been exposed,” a senior Pentagon official told Newsweek

…When asked for comment, Jessica R. Maxwell, a DOD spokesperson, said the DoD has “contingency plans in place and are taking steps to educate and safeguard our military and civilian personnel, family members and base communities in preventing widespread outbreak.” But ultimately, “Commanders of individually affected geographic commands will be and are issuing specific guidance to their forces as their situations may require.”

…The use of the term “pandemic” in the briefing documents described a global outbreak, whereas an “epidemic” would be confined to a country,” a senior Pentagon official told Newsweek. During a pandemic, a large number of people in several countries or continents are affected, according to the CDC. (source)

Arguably, it’s already a pandemic since it has reached every continent except Antarctica. Many people in the United States are paying attention and ratcheting up their preparedness for possible quarantines and other measures.

The National Center for Medical Intelligence (the NCMI) raised the Risk of Pandemic warning from WATCHCON 2 to WATCHCON 1, according to the document obtained by Newsweek. WATCHCON 2 is used in the event of a “probable crisis” and WATCHCON 1 means the crisis is imminent.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Here’s Why I Don’t Really Trust the Official American Coronavirus Numbers

Here’s Why I Don’t Really Trust the Official American Coronavirus Numbers

A lot of folks have distrusted the numbers coming out of China since the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. That uneasy feeling was justified when it was discovered that many patients weren’t being counted because they were never tested.  Once an alternative testing method was temporarily approved, the number of infected people skyrocketed. This was only temporary though because Chinese officials reverted quickly to their previous method of only relying on the nucleic acid test, which is infamous for false negatives. (There are reports that suggest certain infected people tested negative as many as six times before a positive test occurred, according to MedicineNet.)

Looking at China’s official response and looking at the American official response, I see some troubling similarities that make me wonder if our own numbers are accurate at all.

Hardly anyone is actually being tested in the United States.

First of all, very few tests have actually been performed in the United States. As of Feb. 26, 2020, the CDC reported that only 466 tests had been performed in the US and the criteria for being tested is so narrow as to render the statistics useless.

This was proven to be the case with the patient in California who was finally tested after four days and found to have Covid19, even though she has not been to China or knowingly been in contact with anyone from China.  Why wasn’t she tested sooner?

Because she didn’t fit “the criteria” laid out by the CDC for testing.

Hospital administrators said they immediately requested diagnostic testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the procedure was not carried out because the case did not qualify under strict federal criteria: She had not traveled to China and had not been in contact with anyone known to be infected. (source)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Why Covid-19 Could Be the Deadly Pandemic That Changes Everything

THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Why Covid-19 Could Be the Deadly Pandemic That Changes Everything

It has been almost three months since the Wuhan coronavirus, now known officially as COVID-19, emerged in Wuhan, China. This novel coronavirus is the latest candidate to be the next major pandemic. We’ve learned a lot about COVID-19 in that time, and unfortunately, there is still so much we don’t know.

One thing that has becoming impossible to ignore, however, is that this not a drill.

Like all outbreaks, it’s impossible to know for sure if any particular one will become the next deadly, global pandemic until it either happens or doesn’t happen.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 is shaping into what appears to be the one that folks will be reading about in a hundred years in the same way we look back in history at the Spanish flu.

What We Thought We Knew

When the first cluster of 41 patients was identified in early December 2019 in Wuhan, China, early data suggested that the virus was only of real concern to the elderly, infirm, and those with comorbidities, such as diabetes and heart disease.

These would be standard expectations of a viral respiratory illness, similar to the flu. However, further inspection of that cluster only showed about half with serious illness fit that profile, meaning the other half who sought hospital care were younger, presumably healthier adults.

This novel coronavirus also had an early reported case fatality rate of about 2%, as reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). A mortality rate of 2% is concerning, but not all that alarming. It’s a little higher than the typical influenza case fatality rate. But, it wasn’t close to the case fatality rate of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), another coronavirus that can be fatal to humans and has a case fatality rate of 34.4%.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Cost of Covid-19 Quarantine: Would You Be Financially Prepared?

The Cost of Covid-19 Quarantine: Would You Be Financially Prepared?

As the world tries frantically to contain a rapidly spreading outbreak of Covid-19, schools, public venues, tourist attractions, and workplaces are being closed in an attempt to keep even more people from contracting the illness. Quarantines and self-isolation protocols are also being instituted across the globe for those who may have been exposed.

Of course, everyone knows that millions of people in China have been in lockdown for more than a month. People are told to stay home, many businesses have ceased to operate, and Chinese New Year celebrations simply didn’t happen this year. China’s debts are all coming due now, at the worst possible time as the financial loss for the country has been astronomical. For example, car sales are down 92% and Lunar New Year celebrations and travel that usually earn a billion dollars were canceled.

And that tourism hit affects far more than just China. In 2017, Chinese outbound tourists spent $258 billionaround the world. The airline industry is bracing for a $29 billion dollar hit. All in all, this virus could end up costing the global economy more than 1.1 trillion dollars, a number that is practically unfathomable.

While the numbers cited here are outrageously large, obviously, these losses aren’t only going to affect “the economy” and “the businesses.” They’re going to have devastating effects on normal folks who just want to go to work, pay their bills, and keep living their lives normally.

A great deal has been written about the economic hits on a global scale as well as the shortages we could soon expect as production in China grinds to a halt, but what about simply being able to pay your rent when your workplace or business is ordered to shut its doors?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When US Hospitals and Military PUBLICLY Brace for a Coronavirus Pandemic, You Should Pay Attention

When US Hospitals and Military PUBLICLY Brace for a Coronavirus Pandemic, You Should Pay Attention

If you trust the numbers coming out of China (I don’t) it appears that they’re getting their coronavirus epidemic contained. Yesterday they reported the lowest number of new cases in ages, with 349 newly confirmed patients, in a dramatic drop of more than 1300 fewer cases than Tuesday.

Xinhuanet, the official Chinese government propaganda news outlet reported:

NHC spokesperson Mi Feng made the remarks at a press conference in Beijing Wednesday, citing the epidemic data in the province over the past week.

The daily count of newly cured and discharged cases in Hubei, excluding the capital city of Wuhan, has exceeded the number of newly confirmed cases for four consecutive days as of Wednesday, said Mi.

He also noted that the number of newly confirmed cases has decreased significantly since Feb. 13 in areas besides Wuhan, and the increase in the cumulative number of confirmed cases has remained flat. (source)

Of course, there’s plenty of evidence that China has toyed with the numbers all along, so it’s difficult not to take this “good news” with a grain of salt.

Particularly when hundreds of potentially infected people disembarked the Diamond Princess yesterday to make their ways home to 50 different countries via a wide variety of public transportation options.

And particularly when our own government is busily (and visibly) preparing for the potential of a massive outbreak in the United States.

We didn’t even see these kinds of preparations when we were being warned by the CDC to get ready for an Ebola outbreak back in 2014. Mercifully, we dodged the bullet on that one but it certainly wasn’t because of well-thought-out protocols and procedures. The entire thing was handled so poorly that it could have resulted in disaster. Perhaps we learned from that?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Permanent Record: A Book Anyone Who Uses the Internet MUST Read

Permanent Record: A Book Anyone Who Uses the Internet MUST Read

Most of us recall the day in 2013 when the outrageous invasions into our privacy by the NSA were suddenly brought to light. Soon it was discovered that a young man named Edward Snowden was the person who had blown the whistle on the things he’d seen while working in the Intelligence Community for the National Security Agency.

The articles, while thorough, don’t show the entire gamut of just how deeply invasive the NSA actually is. Nor do they fully convey Snowden’s decision to go public.

In his recently released book, Permanent Record, he gives you insight that is too deep to be covered in newspapers.

It’s an excellent read.

The book is very well-written in a conversational style. Snowden digs deep and discusses his despair to discover how some of the programs he created were being used. He paints such a vivid picture of his angst, I felt discomfort for him. Who among us would really be able to give up everything in the attempt to right an egregious wrong?

Snowden’s job put him in a unique position to see the abuses of which most of us were blissfully unaware. Even the most paranoid among us probably didn’t fathom exactly how much information was being stored about us.

His personality shines through on the page. He was in his late 20s, in a relationship with a woman he truly loved. He was on the fast-track to success, and he was making money hand over fist.  And still, the things he saw during the dark hours of his work shift in “The Tunnel” preyed on his conscience until eventually, he felt that he had to act.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

No Power, No Running Water, No Toilets: Millions of Americans Are Living in Third-World Conditions

No Power, No Running Water, No Toilets: Millions of Americans Are Living in Third-World Conditions

Scattered around the nation, there are parts of the country in which millions of Americans are living without the basic amenities that most of us take for granted.

I’m not talking about high-speed internet or frivolous things. I’m talking about electricity, flushing toilets, and clean running water.

But this isn’t a problem that only exists in one state or to one demographic. It’s happening across the nation more and more. Let’s take a look.

Millions are living without running water.

new report says that more than 2 million Americans in West Virginia, Alabama, Texas and the Navajo Nation Reservation in the Southwest are living without clean running water or indoor plumbing. They’re drinking from polluted streams. They’re carrying buckets of the same water home for washing. They’re urinating and defecating outside with no wastewater treatment.

Race and poverty are the strongest predictors of water and sanitation access, according to the study. Native American families are 19 times more likely than white households to lack indoor plumbing, while black and Latino homes are nearly twice as likely. Meanwhile, federal funding for water infrastructure is just a small percentage of what it used to be, the authors wrote.

“Access to clean, reliable running water and safe sanitation are baseline conditions for health, prosperity, and well-being,” DigDeep CEO George McGraw and US Water Alliance CEO Radhika Fox said in a statement. “However, they remain out of reach for some of the most vulnerable people in the United States.”

The 2 million figure includes 1.4 million people with homes who lack access to hot and cold running water, as well as a sink, shower, bath or flushing toilet. (source)

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Survive the EXTREME Stress and Despair of SHTF

How to Survive the EXTREME Stress and Despair of SHTF

The different events one has to endure when facing a difficult and prolonged situation usually take a toll on our body, and of course on our psyche. I have changed, had some noticeable declination in my health, and although have been able to deal with it, I don´t feel the same I used to be. There are plenty of reasons.

And maybe exposing my personal experience, I can help someone else to avoid a negative change. It is complicated and quite uncomfortable to do it, but maybe it will be therapeutic, somehow. (I hope so!). I know there are plenty of readers supporting me and my family. Or what´s left of it though.

Stress will challenge you.

It will make your mood to be…swift changing, at best. It will make you get emotional in the less expected (and awkward) moment, making you feel uncomfortable as a minimum, and making your decisions much harder to take. If you allow it will erode your relationships with all around you: spouse, children, parents, friends, acquaintances. I never was a talkative guy at the beginning of any relationship with someone, friend, nor anyone, though. A lot of trust and knowing the other person was needed first, for me to talk with confidence and fluidity.

Constant worrying about many things has such an effect on your character. It affects you deeply, and those effects remain for too much time. I´ve been feeling them for quite some time.  The effect I hated the most is in the relationships with our children.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How to Deal with Rolling Blackouts: Notes from South Africa

How to Deal with Rolling Blackouts: Notes from South Africa

Editor’s note: By now, just about everyone has heard about the difficulties occurring in South Africa. The violence is palpable, the corruption is an everyday fact, and utilities such as water and electricity are no longer a given. Not only that, but the cost of these utilities has become prohibitive, so conservation is a necessity. Backup power, such as solar or generators, have become a necessity for many families.

Now people in California are dealing with rolling blackouts due to PG&E’s new policies during wildfire season.

In this article, a regular reader from South Africa shares some of the tips for starting out with generators and backup power that have made it easier to deal with the continuous rolling blackouts and outrageous prices for electricity.  ~ Daisy


Living in South Africa we have had our share of rolling blackouts nationally. The cause: nefarious activities. The result being us forced to find ways to ensure we are not affected as badly.

The problem is better now, but it has highlighted that it is not just a South African problem, but in actual fact a Western world problem. We all are totally reliant on a massive aging infrastructure that can come tumbling down like a house of cards, with or without help.

Another problem is the cost to keep the national system operational. In some areas, it is not a priority to resolve the regular failures.

For getting started with backup power, remember that NEEDs vs WANTs –  a huge price difference.

  • UPSs – with like 2 up to 8 100ah batteries. Good for a number of hours depending on use – most cost-effective solution
  • Generators – works for some, but cheap ones cost more as they damage some electrical appliances over time.
  • Solar inverters and panels – power failures, what is that? And you save a lot of money afterward IF YOU DO IT RIGHT.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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