Friday, July 31, 2009

Kansas Kitty

And they keep saying there are no mountain lions in Kansas...

My buddy was coming home from hospital mid day.
This mountain lion ran across the front of his driveway and into his backyard. The tail was about as long as the body.

My friend went into his house, picked up his camera and went to the back door - there it was peeking at him around the corner of his shed. He took the pic and only then realized it was standing when he took it.

That pile of pavers is 18" high.
This is a juvenile mountain lion.

This was a residential neighborhood.

Where's Momma?
Where's Daddy?
Where are the siblings?

Hey! Where is Fluffy?
Fluffy, Fluffy - come here, Fluffy!

And he cried, A lion: My lord, I stand continually upon the watchtower in the daytime, and I am set in my ward whole nights: And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground. - Isaiah 21:8 - 9


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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Elderberry Tincture

EDIT: I say later in this article that I am not a doctor. Truth. I have gotten some email since this article was published that says Elderberry Tincture may actually be harmful to those with H5N1 ("bird flu"). What about H1N1 ("pig flu")? Check this link out: HERBALS Is it true? I don't know. I just don't know. Take what you can use, discard the rest.

The powers that be are all saying with more or less stridency that a bad flu is coming down the pike this Fall. My brother thinks it is all just misdirection so we focus on that and lose sight of what is really going on in the world, in our country, in our lives.

I think chances are excellent that this flu will arrive with a vengeance, I think it is quite possible that it will sicken and kill a lot of people and I think it's quite possible that this is, and will be used to distract us from other issues. Yes, "we can have it all!"

I don't trust .gov to keep me or mine safe. I don't think they care about me. I don't think they are staffed by the most competent people. I think there are some bad actors scattered about that probably have evil intent. I definitely don't trust Big Pharma. They don't want to heal - they want to dose. No, they want to SELL and continue selling. Many of the so-called WonderDrugs do not work against H5N1 ("bird flu") Will they work against H1N1 ("swine flu"?) I don't know. One thing that has worked evidently is tincture of elderberry, Sambucol and so on.

Hey, I'm not a doctor. I am not a drug, or tincture, or herbal salesman. I'm just a guy with a family who sees things coming down the pike. I read a lot. And I believe that elderberry tincture just might work. I have made some and I'm going to make some more. I suggest you do the same.

A friend of mine wrote up a great article with lots of photos. It's a "Why" and a "How to" article and it is excellent. It is kind of a pain to post pictures in this blog so instead of doing that I'm just going to give you the link.
Elderberry Tincture

Please go read it.
Then get off your duff and go make some.

See ya out there!

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day. - Genesis 1:29-31

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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Sherry, ALICE, and Personal Growth

This afternoon I was reminiscing about my family’s journey through the survivalist movement and I remembered Sherry. Thinking about her reminded me of how she helped my wife make some big personal strides. So, if you’re out there – Thanks, Sherry.

Back in the mid 1990’s my wife and I decided to “join the movement” in that we took the decision to get out there and start interacting with other survivalists who were, at that point, complete strangers to us. It was a big step for us. We had always been “into preparedness” but we kept our preparations to ourselves. This whole aspect is fodder for other blog entries but today I want to discuss weight and gear.

When we started hanging out with these folks and started joining teams and starting teams (we moved around a lot back then) there was a distinctly military flair to everything. Everyone, including the kids, wore woodland pattern BDUs; everyone wore boonie hats; everyone wore LCE/LBE (combat suspenders and gear – more later) and everyone carried ALICE packs. I’m telling you no matter where you were - from the Southeast to the Northwest - everyone was very similar. The only difference was the rifle – was the group carrying AKs or ARs?

Like many dutiful husbands, I strongly influenced my wife’s decision about what her BOB contained. It was a medium ALICE ruck and probably weighed about 50 or 60 pounds. We used to take hikes carrying our BOBs but we never wore our LBE or carried rifles unless it was a bona-fide training event. My wife was always got tired but gamely struggled to complete her hikes and she wasn’t real happy. Then she met Sherry.

We attended a gathering of over 100 people several states from our home and conducted classes, networked, ate, trained and made friends for life. There were folks there from all over the country and from outside the country. They were by and large the most normal people you’d ever want to meet…if you could overlook the BDUS and guns. One of the classes was on BOBs and what should go in them. Sherry was there and made some side comments that caught my wife’s attention. Sherry was something of a legend in the Survivalist community – she had been there and done that for years, she was around when several then famous groups got their start, and she “knew stuff”. Later that evening she and my wife had a long discussion around the campfire about BoBs for girls. (I’m sure they didn’t call it that but that’s what it was).

The weekend after we returned home as we were restocking our BoBs (very important) my wife made a big pile of stuff she was no longer going to carry. I told her all of that stuff she was discarding was vital for her survival and she replied no it was not. We went back and forth a bit and then she played her trump card – “this is what Sherry carries.” At that time Sherry knew more about this stuff than I did – and I realized that. So suddenly my wife was carrying a BoB that weighed about half of what it used to. ALICE went from overweight to downright svelt!

Most of the teams we were on conducted training every month or so. Every event we attended revolved around classes on a variety of topics. One thing we seemed to do a lot of back in the day was patrolling, moving and shooting, and general Infantry skills. Because, you know – we were going to have to fight off the Godless Communists some day. As I said above, folks wore LCE. This was way before combat vests got popular and everyone knew Alice but no one had ever heard of Mollie. Most folks wore a pistol belt with suspenders and on this rig suspended two canteens, two 3-magazine ammo pouches, a first aid kit (pouch with a dressing or two) a sheath knife, an FRS radio, and sometimes a buttpack, flashlight and so on. This was our “fighting load” our “line two gear” and so on. It was stuff we would need in a fight against an armed foe.

We would give classes on how to properly adjust and wear this gear, we’d hop up and down to make sure it didn’t make noise, tape off things that did make noise and then we would go for long walks in the woods or low crawl in the dirt or use Infantry movement techniques (kinda like flag drills in football) to rush objectives and then live fire and so on. Yeah, it was like that…

Anyway, one day my wife and I arrive at the team training location and everyone starts donning gear. We carried it in kit bags. Instead of putting on her battle harness, my wife donned the gear in the picture. I said something like, “Hon, come on – everyone is getting suited up in the SOP gear – you need to put yours on”.

“Nope – that stuff is too heavy.”

“But Hon, that stuff is vitally important for your survival in combat”

Then she told me, she had water, she had first aid, she had extra ammo and she had a knife and a flash light. No, she wasn’t carrying six extra mags – she decided she just couldn’t handle the weight. In case you can’t see the picture clearly (but it you click on it, it should expand) she had a Camelbak to which she taped a trauma dressing and she carried an extra magazine in a buttstock pouch (which she purchased on her own). She carried a folding Buck knife and a mini Maglight in her pocket as well. Okay, the mini Maglight is not in the pic, but you get the idea…

That was the day I realized my wife had “arrived” in a tactical gear sense – she was thinking on her own. Heck, she “discovered” tactical Camelbacks a decade before our military did!

Soon after that, she quit wearing BDUs and started wearing earth-toned “civilian” clothes. “NAFS” (it’s not a fashion show) she would tell me. I no longer had to dress up Survivalist Barbie and take her to the woods to play – she understood all by herself.

Today I see all manner of Gear Hounds out there in the “movement”. They buy all the latest stuff and deck themselves out at events. Special high speed camouflage, vests, pouches, holsters, optics, yada-yada ad-nauseum. They are for the most part doing what they think is best. Many are imitating our brave soldiers fighting Over There.

You know, when we first sent regular troops into the Afghanistan mountains after the bad Muj, we sent our boys up there on foot with well over 100 pounds of high-speed light weight (and some not-so-light) gear. Extra ammo, water, SAPI plates, helmets, batteries, radios, optics, cold weather gear, goggles, first aid (“blow out) kits, and on and on and on and on until they were in many cases just crushed under the weight of the approach march. A march thousands of feet above sea level. News flash - there is no oxygen up there – especially when one is not acclimated.

They were fighting dudes who wore man dresses and sandals, carried an AK and 2 or 3 extra magazines and a blanket. Sometimes a small canteen, sometimes a knife – but often not. They had stuff stashed all over those hills. They LIVED there – they could breath. It was very hard catching those dudes. These were (these are) men who have been fighting in those hills for hundreds of years – and they still are.

Hey – I know high speed gear is cool. I know we love to take pictures of ourselves wearing it and post them to the net (at least take them in the back yard and not in your living or bedroom please…). But I offer you this: Consider just what it is you are carrying and why exactly you are carrying it. Consider what your real physical condition is. And then consider lightening the load some more.

It worked for Sherry.
It worked for my wife.
It works for the locals running around the hills in Afghanistan.
It will probably work for you too.

Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. Psalms 55:22

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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Body Mind

I rarely have other’s material on this blog but every now and then I find something that I just have to share. The piece below was written by my friend Bad Chadio – a brilliant, scary man who has been and done. Enjoy.

Western cultures have traditionally maintained a significant separation between mind and body. As a result, many service members train their bodies and then attend to mental fitness, if at all, as a separate activity. When you improve the connection between body and mind, you can more effectively develop your mental skills – skills that can give you an edge on the battlefield (especially since your mind and body have a significant physical connection). Ensuring that there is a good connection between mental and physical fitness can increase performance and reduce work related stress.

Last week on TV I saw a performance by the brilliant fingerstyle guitarist Pierre Bensusan. He told a story of being offered a contract to perform in Spain. The only condition in the contract was that he improvise the entire show. Being a master of improvisation he signed, but as the date of the show approached he became increasingly nervous. Finally, he sought the counsel of a friend. “Look at it this way,” said the friend, “you won’t forget anything.”

What a relief it is when the burdens our minds create...disappear. To be sure, much of mental skills work in the military – and in the performing arts – is about “using your mind on your mind,” and that certainly can be effective. But it’s not the only way to master the mental obstacles to optimal performance.

Why do we take on the challenges of a physically demanding nature, challenges that call on us to use – and learn – these mental skills? Why do we willingly take on the suffering, the disappointments, the adversity of tough challenges, long deployments, and brutal training? (For the hotties that flock to us after we return, I know, but besides that?)

One of the reasons, even if we’re not aware of it, is frequently this: The body is the Great Equalizer for the mind. When the mind is too dominant, we’re out of balance, and then we often pay the price – with anxiety, runaway thoughts, and so many other kinds of distress. But when we draw on the power and wisdom in our bodies, we can restore balance, bring mind and body closer, and relieve the burdens that our rampant minds so often create.

In Western cultures philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, and Descartes had a huge impact on the particular kind of dualistic view that separates mind and body. But in the last 50 years, Western civilization inches, and now crawls (or perhaps toddles) toward a more integral view of personhood. Fortunately, it’s been Toddling “under the influence” of Eastern philosophies, among other forces. So when I use the phrase “power and wisdom in our bodies,” I’m not talking about wattage and facts. I’m suggesting that your consciousness – your experience of yourself – is not located only in your heart rate monitor or GPS. Your emotions, sensations, past experiences, self-awareness, and even your thoughts all have a physical component. Discovering and living the physical in everything you experience – what is sometimes called being more in your body – can be the key to better mental fitness, and a better experience/performance under stress. But how?

Mind-Body Techniques
Led by doctors such as Herbert Benson, mind-body medicine began to guide what he calls the “third modality” in health care – in addition to pharmaceuticals and surgery – for maintaining health and well-being: self-care. And so over the years, health care practitioners, researchers, and the people they’ve worked with identified a number of things you can do to better integrate mind and body for performance, including:

Improving Your Emotional Awareness
Emotions affect health, energy, and strength, and of course the reverse is true as well. If you have even occasional difficulty answering the question, “How do you feel about that?”, you may need to look to your body for the answer rather than your mind. For example, when you’re anxious or stressed or fearful, where do you feel it in your body? Does your chest tighten? Does your breathing get shallow? Do you get knots in your stomach? Biofeedback can build your awareness and skill here. As you strengthen all the pathways to and from your emotions, you give yourself a better chance to handle your emotions, experience them, and use them.

Grounding Yourself
No, I’m not talking about banishing yourself to your room) If you want to be more in your body, becoming more conscious of your physical connection with the Earth is a great way to drive your consciousness downward from your head. In other words, gravity works; so sometimes, when you’re sitting, standing, or walking, practice paying attention to the contact of your feet (or shoes) with the ground. And finally, there’s nothing more grounding than paying attention to your breath – the place, perhaps, where Body and Mind meet.

Being conscious about what you put in your body
Paying more attention to what you eat and drink – the choices you make, the impact those choices have, but also the actual moment-by-moment experience of eating and drinking – can be a great way to narrow the mind-body gap.

Continuing to discover your physical potential
There is amazing transformative power in physical, body-focused experience. You can use your physical training in overcoming adversity or work related stress. You can use your fitness regime to learn what’s possible for your mind and body to achieve. Yet as you stretch your physical limits, perceived or real threats to your body may raise visceral fear and anxiety, perhaps evoking the fundamental mortality that underlies every moment of life. But in facing that challenge by drawing on everything within yourself – from mind, body, and spirit – you go through a crucible and a stronger person emerges.

Bottom Line
Many of the most successful competitors, at any level, are set apart from others by mental strength. And your mind will be much stronger when it has a good connection, good communication, and good balance with your body.

The five core skills of mental fitness are: Goal-Setting, Self-Talk, Managing Emotions, Concentration, and Communication. Ensuring that there is a good connection between mental and physical fitness can increase performance and reduce work related stress.
But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. – Job 23:13


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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Why Should We Accept You?

We have a discussion going on over on the forums that is based on a scenario where you and your family are displaced during a TEOTWAWKI situation and are moving in the stream of humanity to points unknown.
You are a refugee.
"You got nothing."

Up ahead, an apparently competent and well off group is interviewing people - looking for potential members. The scenario called for you to have 30 seconds to describe why the group should take you in and 30 seconds to ask any questions you may have.

We received a lot of interesting responses.
We received a lot of responses that avoided the issue or claimed it was too unrealistic.

Those folks missed the point.
The point of the post was just to get folks to think about themselves as someone else might perceive them.

I posted this in response:

What DO you have to offer to a group?
Why SHOULD a group let you in?

I personally don't care - it is an exercise for you to do some self evaluation.

"What are my strong points?"
"What can I bring to the table?" (as a person - not your barn full of supplies although sometimes that is helpful)
"What are my weak points?"
"What can I do to quickly improve my skillsets/abilities?"

I get a fair bit of mail from folks looking to join groups and asking advice. I get less mail asking how to form a group.
It comes to this: If you had a group, would you let you in?

Life is a journey - we should constantly move forward.
It's hard to move forward if we don't know where we are.

Self assessment is hard.
Thinking the hard thoughts is unpleasant.
Imagining the possible - when it is terrible - is not something we are good at. We put up psychological defenses, we "yeah, but" or "that's not possible", or "it would be hopeless" as coping mechanisms.

We fight the question.
The question/scenario and how it was framed is not the key point.
YOU are.

Elite performers do consider the ugly possibilities - and then take steps to mitigate them.
I want everyone to be elite performers.
I realize we will not all be - but we can all do better - MUCH better.

A typical response was something like:
How could a person have a chance?

By way of example for this one point (but conceptually applicable to the whole) we have this: I have medical people in my crew but I don't have an Emergency Medicine or Family Practice Doctor. We have goodly supplies of medical gear - for our future doc to use.

We don't have a blacksmith or enough musicians - but we have tools and instruments.
We don't have a gunsmith - not a real one.

As far as "good people" who are needed to man guard posts, tend critters and gardens and what not - their value depends on the group's ability to feed them.

Someone asked with exasperation, “How can one ensure one's family's security when they have nothing and are with a group they don't know?"

First we have to decide if our family is better off with the group or alone. I submit that a family is MUCH better off with a good group than they are alone. It is fantasy to think we can do stuff alone. Societies have been built over millennia for a reason.

So then the problem becomes how do we determine if it is a “good group”. In the problem I posed – it was a good group (but people keep fighting the problem to avoid dealing with themselves). But it is a good point – how do we determine that?
You get 30 seconds.

If you decide you are better off with the group and then turn out to have made a bad choice how do you ensure your family’s security? Well, how do you?

These are not new problems; these are not novel situations – mankind has been experiencing similar predicaments forever. And it’s not just ancient history: look at the Balkans, look at Sudan, look at Georgia.

I encourage you to take some time (just a bit, no need to dwell here) thinking the hard thoughts.
Embrace the Monster.
And then get out there and take some steps to improve your (potential) situation.

And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. - Matthew 26:39

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 Joe

You can also join us to discuss this and other issues at Viking Preparedness Forums

Prepared Americans for a Strong America