Monday, March 26, 2007

The Zen of Preparedness

There are many, many lists out there for last minute survival preparations. Our government posts them on various sites ( and even has plans to publish and distribute last minute preparedness tips in the event that some world crisis develops slowly enough for .gov to react.
Nothing is that slow.

The various Internet sites I visit have lists to hand out to neighbors, lists to give to loved ones and so on in the hopes of doing something to get the sheeple off of their fourth point of contact (butt) and prepare or at least to give them a chance to survive some calamity. Posters on these forums have a particular fantasy game they play called (by me) “ChinaMart shopping spree”.

It goes something like this: A sheeple (unprepared, clueless individual) suddenly wakes up to a rapidly developing situation just in time to go shopping. They have XXXX dollars – what should they buy?

This rapidly developing situation will of course occur just after they get all their newly purchased goods safely home. These items will allow the former sheeple, his/her kith and kin to survive whatever is coming down the pike. The fun(?) then comes trying to develop the best list within the given parameters of time and money.

There are variations to this game. One is the “You are caught far away from home on a business trip when the balloon goes up. You only have what was allowed in your carry on bag. You have XXX-amount of cash and credit. Let’s go shopping!” Another is one where you purchase your survival armory, or perhaps a week (or month or year) of food, and so on.

Why are these threads so popular?
A few reasons. First and foremost, most posters on the various preparedness boards are just engaging in another form of social activity. They surf, read, and post instead of watching some fat talk show host on TV. Hey, that’s cool – let’s just not make more of it than it is. It really amounts to a fantasy role playing game in which they are the central character. The goodness comes when, after surfing these sites for a period of time, a light bulb goes off in their head and they actually start doing something to prepare.

Another reason for the popularity is that preparedness folks (both the kind who merely surf and post – I need a term for them – and the actual preppers) are list makers by nature. I think I understand listing – I just don’t do it. Done correctly, it assures that one thinks out ahead of time one’s acquisitions and then quickly replaces any used or outdated items. Planning, tracking - cool - I dig it.

Another reason, and the impetus for this particular post, is that people place their reliance on stuff. They think of it (although they would strenuously deny this) as a magic wand. Worse, because they rely on stuff, they figure they can get it (or have a loved one get it) at the last minute (like they will have any clue when that is) and still survive – or indeed – prosper.

Thinking like this will get them killed.

One. They won’t have their stuff when they need it. Either because the emergency will come upon them unannounced (they are called emergencies after all) or they will have to fight all the other sheeple for last minute stuff and end up with nothing or dead.

Two. Assuming they do have time to go shopping and are safely back home surrounded with all of their new acquisitions, they won’t have a clue about how to use them or what steps to take to ensure their survival.

This would be a good time to scroll down and read my posts “Wonder Gear” and “Step Away from the Computer”

Is stuff useful? Yes it is. Sometimes it can even make the difference between life and death – if appropriate actions are taken and the individual knows how to use it. I read a survival article in Field and Stream recently where some elk hunter gets lost and decides to build a fire. If I recall correctly, he uses almost all of his matches and is not successful. Matches didn’t help him. I think he ended up lighting a game bag on fire with a lighter or something. He finally used his head. He should have used it in the first place to avoid the situation he was in – but I digress.

It’s not about stuff, people. It’s about mindset. I didn’t say stuff wasn’t important – I just said it is not the key. The person who waits until the last moment to get their stuff (assuming they get anything) will not have the proper mindset to use it correctly. “It’s better than nothing”. Not really.

When it happens it will no longer be fantasy. Lot’s of folks will not make it. You don’t want to be one of them. You don’t want your loved one to be one of them. The time to prepare is now. The time to learn is now. The time to get off your fourth point of contact and meet others, practice new skills, teach old skills, get healthy, get fit, get organized... that time is now.

It’s not about stuff.
It’s about mindset and knowledge.
It’s about getting up off the couch, away from the computer and Doing things.
It's not about planning to be prepared.
It’s about Being prepared – physically, mentally, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
Do not "get prepared" - BE prepared.

That is the Zen of preparedness.

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

When it's time to move - MOVE!

To paraphrase a line from Blackhawk Down, most of us live dull, uninteresting lives. We are not normally confronted with crises or emergencies. This is probably a good thing. But we do live in a changing and increasingly dangerous world. We may be confronted with extreme situations at some point in the future - situations that will require us to take immediate and appropriate actions if we intend to survive.

I have been in such situations. Many times. Sometimes I was with people like me – people ready, trained, and capable of immediate, and at times – extreme, action. Other times I was surrounded by sheeple. The differences are startling.

You may be familiar with the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way!” That really sums up some of these situations. You may also be familiar with the term “slack jawed idiot.” Well most of the time, the people caught up in emergencies are not idiots – but it is amazing (to me) the number who truly do become “slack jawed”. There is undoubtedly a physiological reason for this – but I digress. The point is, when something happens – you don’t want to be one of those.

Rhetorical questions:

What would you do if you were stuck in traffic and you saw in your side mirror a man with a rifle walking towards you up the line of stopped cars, shooting drivers?

What would you do if you were walking down a crowded, busy street and an airplane crashed into the skyscraper to your front?

What would you do if a car crashed through the plate glass window of the store in which you were shopping?

What would you do if you were attending a ball and someone walked into the room and said, “we have just received a bomb threat”?

What would you do if, while watching a sporting event, a vicious fight broke out in the bleachers to your front?

All of these happened. Some folks took appropriate action. Most did not. The time could come when failure to take immediate and appropriate action – in a strange situation – could mean your death or the death of your loved ones.

What can one do?

Some occupations lend themselves to developing the ability to make these instantaneous life-or-death (yours is the one we are discussing) decisions. These jobs are often stressful and those that perform them learn to adapt to the stress and to a degree, they become inoculated to it. Of course, some also suffer from PTSD...

These jobs would include some military specialties, fire-fighters, emergency room personnel and some (by no means all) law enforcement officers. There are other jobs as well but I’m sure you take the point.

But what is the stay-at-home Mom, computer programmer, office worker to do? How can they better prepare to very rapidly assess a strange and dangerous situation, and then take immediate and appropriate action?

Here are some ideas:

  • War-game scenarios - Ask "what if?" questions and develop answers. This is probably the most important step one can take. Take time to really think about potential scenarios and your desired responses. Play these mental games whenever you are out and about. If you cannot come up with a quick and good answer then assign yourself homework. Research, think, plan, assess and finally – decide.

  • Practice/train - Practice key steps in your various “response options”. You will have identified these steps by going through the war gaming process above. After you identify the tasks, you will need to assess your ability to perform them. If you need practice or training – get it. Maybe this is a practice load up of the car for a bug out situation. Perhaps it entails taking that first aid course at the local community college. You could sign up for handgun classes and obtain a CCW. It could be as simple as taking the decision to become more physically fit.

  • Adopt an inner aggressive attitude - You can keep it covered over in polite company - but develop and maintain that aggressiveness. Many of you may have to develop it by getting involved in sports or martial arts. I teach women's self-defense and it takes awhile for some women to "release their inner warrior". It's there in all of us - it's just covered over by layers of politeness and "civilization". This serves us well until we are thrust back into a more primitive situation. Such situations can involve fighting off an attacker - but they can also involve having to take action while surrounded by a bunch of your normal "polite society" peers, associates and fellow citizens (in a college class, in a board meeting, at the doctor's office, etc.)

  • Generate self-worth - Another thing I teach my students is this phrase, "No one is more important than me or my children". Easy to say - but they need to think it through and BELIEVE it. I tell them that instead of fear, when confronted with violence, they must become filled with righteous indignation. I tell them they are all children of God and have a right to Be. Now this is for a self-defense class but the principles apply. See, we are conditioned to the point where we “don’t make waves”, “don’t act rude”, “don’t be loud.” Most of us are very slow to take hyper-aggressive or violent action. Most of the time, this serves us well. Sometimes it can get us killed.

When it's time to act - ACT.

When it’s time to move – MOVE!

If you have any comments I’d love to hear them. If they really interest me, I may even post them. You can reach me at

Prepared Americans for a Strong America