PREPARED. SPARED. SHARE.

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If you’re into preparedness, odds are you take a long(er) range view of world events than most, in preparation for a day when some disaster will darken your door in hopes of mitigating the impacts from said disaster on your family and friends.

But what about when you’re fortunate enough to be spared by disaster?  Do you just sit on your supplies and be thankful you were spared.  Or do you take a more sinister and darker view, growing paranoid assuming it’s just a matter of time and figure not having to use your supplies this time around just means you’re farther along in your preps for the next time disaster comes knocking?

Courtesy NBC News

 

Well, there is another option you may not have considered.  We have always said that being prepared puts you ahead of the game in most instances and this fact can prove beneficial in a number of ways.  Not only will you and your family suffer less from the impacts of any disaster, but by preparing you put yourself in position to possibly help others.  In turn, this will help community response efforts by taking some of the pressure off the system.

ROCKPORT, TX – AUGUST 26: Jessica Campbell hugs Jonathan Fitzgerald (L-R) after riding out Hurricane Harvey in an apartment on August 26, 2017 in Rockport, Texas. Jessica said is became very scary once Hurricane Harvey hit their town. Harvey made landfall shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, just north of Port Aransas as a Category 4 storm and is being reported as the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since Wilma in 2005. Forecasts call for as much as 30 inches of rain to fall by next Wednesday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

 

One immediate action step you can take post disaster is to help strengthen your community’s resilience by choosing to share some of your supplies to help those in need that were not fortunate enough to be spared by the storm.  Do not fear violating your personal OPSEC (operational security) by stepping up to help others.  This can easily be done anonymously through community agencies such as churches or local governments.

Courtesy IBTimes UK

 

Rotating supplies is a must (FIFO) when you store preparedness supplies, especially food goods.  The easiest way to work through your stores is simply to rotate them into your everyday routine when everything is normal. This concept works for all of your supplies, but especially when it comes to food stuffs.  When a disaster rolls through your area, but you are not directly impacted, you have a tremendous opportunity to bless others by passing along a few of the supplies that you have been blessed enough to have had the opportunity to acquire ahead of time.

The easiest way to implement this positive action step is simply find some of the oldest items in your stored food supplies (and/or other goods if you choose) that you haven’t worked into your everyday meal plan and pull them out.  If possible, you may want to take just a moment to balance your gift with a little variety, but anything you can afford to spare will be a tremendous benefit to the recipient and will be very much appreciated.

Heroes do not always wear a uniform.  They reveal themselves in times of emergency and the reality is they come in all shapes and sizes.  We often call these unseen heroes Nation Makers.  People that saw a need in their community and have taken it upon themselves to do something and help to make the world, no matter how broken and lost, the type of world they want to see.

This is not a new concept, but rather a reminder of an option you may not have considered.  In fact, we have seen it recently following Hurricane Harvey’s disastrous impacts in Houston, Texas and all along the Gulf coast.  Here is a post I saw on Facebook in the days immediately after the category 4 storm made landfall:

 

This is just one example of a scene I am certain played out in many other prepper homes following that storm, and every other disaster too.  It shows the best of what the preparedness community can be in an emergency.

Despite what you may be told by the generic media or led to believe on internet forums, most preparedness minded folks do not view the world as a zero sum game and are not all just out for themselves.  We are normal people with big hearts that care about our families and our fellow citizens.

In a world where you do not have to look far to find the impacts of disaster or feel the anxiety and fear of crisis, there is no shortage of opportunities to step up and help someone.  If you are fortunate enough to be able to secure a comfortable level of preparedness for yourself and your family, I want to encourage you to reach out to help someone in need the next time disaster strikes your community.  In doing so you may find that you can increase your spheres of influence and maybe even introduce someone else to the idea of personal preparedness.  Who knows?  Down the road, they may be the one in position to help another person or family after the storm and in the end, we will all be better because of it.

If you want to better understand my thoughts on personal preparedness, please check out my books HERE and HERE, or wander deeper into this blog.  I hope this website will help you along your way, especially if you’re just getting started.  Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

 

 

I’M NOT COMPETING WITH YOU

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When it comes to my personal level of preparedness or my family’s level of readiness and resilience, you need to listen and hear me clearly when I say …. I am not competing with you.

 

So very often in the world of preparedness, in forums across the spectrum and in every specific area of interest, one of the realities is that those that are seeking to learn more about how to best prepare their families quickly become overwhelmed at the prospect of it all.  This is very common and virtually all of us have been there at one point or another.  This is because tackling the idea of personal preparedness is, indeed, quite a task.  I’m not re-inventing the wheel by pointing this out.  However, I point that out to focus on a more insidious and disheartening obstacle that makes everyone’s journey towards better preparedness more difficult, especially those new to the subject matter.  This obstacle presents itself in a myriad of forms, from the overbearing and extreme doomsday prepper that makes you question your sanity, to the know it all prepper that offers nothing more than a voice telling you that you’re doing it wrong, to the “look at all my stuff” prepper that takes a not-always-s0-quiet glee in showing off their preparedness “stuff” and telling you all about how far behind the curve you are type prepper, to the zero sum prepper that let’s you know in no uncertain terms that it’s you or them.  There are others too.  Some are obnoxious, some are dangerous, and some are ridiculous, but ALL are counterproductive to the greater goal of advancing the idea of preparedness.

 

The “on the ground” reality of my level of preparedness, however great or small, doesn’t diminish or increase your level of preparedness in any way.  Rather, I hope any effort I choose to make to open a window into our journey that exposes all of our successes, as well as my failures, will help you as you travel your preparedness road.  No one can tell you the best way to prepare you and your loved ones for an uncertain future better than you.  My situation and circumstance is not your situation or circumstance.  My weaknesses are not your weaknesses.  My resources are not your resources.  How then can I expect to be able to tell you how to achieve your preparedness goals, and furthermore, why should you listen?  Now, by all means, take a look around, listen and learn from anyone you think has something of value say, show or share.  Take what works and leave the rest behind.  Just remember, at the end of the day, it comes down to what you want to accomplish and how best you can make that a reality.

 

What you’re doing and how you’re doing it should be absolutely comfortable for you.  Forget peer pressure.  It’s easy to get caught up in this trap, especially once you’ve got the basics covered.  Again, this is a common misstep, even among those of us that have given this topic a great deal of consideration.  Remember, no one will have to walk a mile in your shoes except for you, so make sure they wear well.

 

As you look around the landscape of the personal preparedness universe, you will undoubtedly find people with perspectives that you value and appreciate.  I hope you will seek to build beneficial relationships, maybe even from some of the people behind those voices and perspectives, and hopefully you can and develop a community of your people from those relationships.  You can think of this as your tribe.  You can’t, and shouldn’t, do this preparedness thing alone.  It will wear you down.  Building relationships and aligning yourself with folks that share the same moral and ethical perspectives as you, the same character type as you, and even the same general world view as you, will prove to be a tremendous resource in the long run.  Especially if they just happen to have a skill set that you may be lacking.  The cold, hard truth is you have to sleep some time, you can’t be everywhere at once, and certainly none of us know everything there is to know.  A strong community is a tremendous asset at any time, but especially during a time of crisis.  Start building yours today.

 

Finally, please remember to enjoy the journey!  You’re doing all of this work, research, and training to be ready when the occasion demands it of you.  It can become quite the anxiety triggering grind.  I would like to encourage you to look at the other side of the coin and remember that you are providing yourself with entertainment, social activity, physical activity, continued education, and perspective, just to name a few benefits.  And please don’t forget why you’re doing all of this in the first place.  Doesn’t that make everything you do worth it?  Never forget, you can handle this.

 

I am not competing with you, but I sure am pulling for you.

 

If you want to better understand my thoughts on personal preparedness, please check out my books HERE and HERE, or wander deeper into this blog.  I hope this website will help you along your way, especially if you’re just getting started.  Keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms as well.

 

 

 

 

 

Authors on the Air Host Spotlight

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As you may already know, I am the Host/Producer of a preparedness themed radio show called Practical Prepping. Period. on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network.  I was recently asked to give an interview for a segment of the network’s monthly newsletter called the Authors on the Air Host Spotlight and was thrilled to participate.  You can sign up to receive the newsletter HERE.  Below is the full text of my interview.

 

1. Randy Powers, welcome to the spotlight! Please introduce yourself. You know the drill: name, profession, pets, GPS coordinates of your survival cache . . . anything you think the readers might enjoy.

 

Thank you, Terri.  Let’s start with what’s most important.  I’m daddy to a beautiful baby girl named Riley who will become a big sister later this year when we welcome her little sister to the family.  I’ve been married to my best friend for 18 years and we’ve been working to create the world we want to live in, practicing a preparedness lifestyle on our north Georgia homestead for the last 15 years.  I love, and am a student of, history, geology, and sociology.  When it comes to preparedness, I have a particular interest in gaining a better understanding of the macro issues we face as a society going forward, including resource depletion and climate change.

I’m a graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and the University of Georgia. I’ve been fortunate enough to be a working journalist since graduating from UGA with a career spanning 20 years across all forms of media, including radio, print, digital and television. Since 1998, I’ve been working with an international broadcast media outlet with credits as an editor, producer, speaker, media manager, and trainer.  I’ve seen a lot over the years on location and in the newsroom and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be a contributor on three projects that were awarded the prestigious Peabody Award in 2005, 2008 and 2010.

Using the skills I’ve acquired during my career as a journalist, I’ve widened my focus to include disaster preparedness, becoming an entrepreneur as the founder and Chief Managing Partner of Practical Tactical. From this new platform, I work as a personal preparedness strategist, consultant, public speaker and author.

I love to talk preparedness with anyone interested in the subject and I always reply to anyone that reaches out.  I can be contacted directly by email at practicaltactical4you@gmail.com or through his website at www.practicaltactical4you.com, and am very active on social media.  You can find me on Facebook at the Practical Tactical page (https://www.facebook.com/practac4u/) and the Practical Prepping. Period. page (https://www.facebook.com/PracticalPreppingPeriod/) and onTwitter @PracTac4U (https://twitter.com/PracTac4U).

2. Tell us about your show “Practical Prepping.” When are you on? What are the topics of discussion? Who are some of the writers and other personalities that have appeared?

 

Practical Prepping. Period. is really the natural next step for me in spreading the good word about personal preparedness.  Having already been practicing personal preparedness for more than a decade and learning most of what we knew through good old trial and error, in 2012 I was motivated to help others with their journey to preparedness with the hope of saving them a little time and effort as they took steps to better prepare their family.  After blogging and making YouTube videos for a couple of years, and a lot of urging from author Steve Konkoly, I decided to publish the practical, straight forward guide to preparedness I had developed for my consulting business, Practical Tactical Quick Start Guide.  Very soon thereafter, I co-authored a book with Steve on preparedness called Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required, a light-hearted, instructional look at practical readiness concepts that nearly ANYONE can embrace–without seriously interrupting your life or draining your bank account.  The promotion for that book introduced me to Pam Stack, executive producer for the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network.  After a few months of discussion, we decided to launch Practical Prepping. Period. for anyone interested in personal preparedness, regardless of their level of experience, as an alternative to the tsunami of websites and television programs out there that promote the idea that if you’re not prepared for the very worst catastrophe you can image and the post-apocalyptic scenarios that are sure to follow such an event, you may as well not even bother.  We welcome everyone under our supersized preparedness tent and are truly interested in seeing what we can learn from one another.

The show airs live on the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network on the first Wednesday of every month at 9 pm EST.  Taking a whole-istic approach to preparedness, we talk about all aspects of the topic.  This includes everything from wilderness survival to off-grid homesteading.  I also like to provide a platform to explore the “bigger picture” factors involved in preparedness like resource depletion, climate change, energy, the environment, and the economy, in hopes of helping our listeners better understand the macro forces that are driving the impacts the each of us feel and experience on an individual level.

Only July 6th we will celebrate one full year of shows, and I’m proud to say that this has been a very informative and entertaining year!  We have managed to fill show after show with top tier names from the world of preparedness and social commentary, authors and even one Hollywood film producer!  We have welcomed Survivor Jane, James Howard Kunstler, Thunder Levin, Richard Heinberg, Steve Konkoly, Alice Friedemann, Gail Tverberg, Prepper Nurse, Rick Austin, Sean T. Smith, Chris Martenson, Mat Stein, Mason Inman, and John Michael Greer to the show so far and we have no plans on stopping anytime soon!

 

3. Expand on the subject a little bit. There’s a lot of misinformation out there.  What is prepping? Why is it important?

 

You’re right about that, “prepping” has attracted a bit of a stigma as it moved into the mainstream and there is a lot of misleading and down right bad information out there.  As I said earlier, we don’t think of personal preparedness in exactly that way.  We choose to practice a lifestyle of personal preparedness.  By this I mean that we do not take action steps out of fear or as a direct response to the perceived threat of the moment.  Instead, we take a long range view that focuses on constantly working to strengthen our overall resilience against any threat that may arise.  Every decision we make is wrapped around the framework of this world view.

As a topic of discussion, “prepping” really should not carry a stigma because it is something that every one of us does every day already.  Think about it for a moment.  If you go to the grocery store and buy food for you home, you are preparing to feed yourself and your family for the next week.  It’s the same if you put fuel in your vehicle so you can go to work next week.  If you maintain your car insurance or home owner’s insurance, then you are taking steps to prepare for an eventuality that may happen just in case you ever need it.  Everyone is a prepper already and most don’t even stop to realize it.

The cold hard truth of preparedness on any level is that bad things happen to good people every day and there is nothing any of us can do to stop that.  However, you can absolutely take steps to mitigate the impacts of any eventuality with just a little planning and focused preparation.  The great news is everyone can do this and achieve the preparedness goals that are appropriate for themselves and their families.  Regardless of what you may be preparing for, you will never be able to prep for perpetuity.  No matter how deep your larder, those supplies will eventually run out.  That is precisely why we promote the idea that there is more to personal preparation than collecting the preparedness “hardware” of stored food, supplies and gear.  These things are great and often vital, but in order to give yourself and your family the best chance of making it through any upheaval, this “hardware” should be paired with the “software” of preparedness knowledge, skills and experience.  As with most things in life, but especially in preparedness and homesteading, you can’t just talk about it.  At some point you have to be about it.  In our view, this symbiotic relationship between the “hardware” and “software” of preparedness is crucial to the ultimate viability of any complete personal preparedness plan.

4. What are you reading? Both for fun and for your show. Are there any books, fiction and non-fiction, that you’d recommend to someone who wanted to learn more about prepping.

 

Recently I have been reading The Oracle of Oil in preparation for my chat with Mason Inman on the show.  Inman takes a look at the remarkable M. King Hubbert in what is a great example of how bringing the past alive can help us make sense of the future.  For fun, I recently completed Dogs of War by Jonathan Maberry and I am anxiously awaiting the ZULU Virus Chronicles from my pal Steve Konkoly.  As for recommendations, I have a few. Starting with non-fiction, anyone interested in homesteading should have a copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery on their bookshelf.  It’s an amazing reference volume.  The Foxfire Series is also a wonderful resource on this topic and many others.  Mat Stein has a couple of fantastic volumes, When Technology Fails and When Disaster Strikes covers all the bases.  I would also like to humbly suggest the book I co-authored with Steve Konkoly, Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required.  And finally, a work that has been tremendously influential for me that has served as a road map for where we may be headed as a society is James Howard Kunstler’s The Long Emergency.  When it comes to preparedness fiction there is a lot to choose from, but I’ll try to keep it manageable.  My favorite in the post-apocalyptic genre is a true classic, Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank.  Others that are fantastic include Lights Out by David Crawford, Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, One Second After by William Forschten, the Borrowed World series by Franklin Horton, and a series that I consulted on where preparedness was involved, The Perseid Collapse series by Steven Konkoly.

5.  The final question is always what I call “rat out a friend.” Tell us about an author that we should be reading (and if you have a story about the writer, well then, out with it.)

 

An author that you should be reading if you are interested in prepping or post-apocalyptic fiction that you may not have heard much about is D.J. Molles.  The Remaining series is a wild, fast paced and hardcore sprint through a post-apocalyptic world from a perspective I would venture most of us have never considered.

 

As for a story, well I have a pretty good one, but it’s not about Mr. Molles.  It’s about Steve Konkoly.  A little over two years ago, Steve and I had just finished a call doing some promotion for Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required when my wife Alice popped her head into my office with some news.  She was letting me know that she was going into labor with our first child, my baby girl Riley, and that it was time to go to the hospital.  Steve and I were bantering when I stopped mid-sentence and relayed the info to Steve.  His response was instant.  Even though he was many miles away in Maine, it was as if I could feel him pushing me out of the room and on my way to what would turn out to be the greatest day of my life!  He quickly said something like “Get out of here, man.  Go!  Good luck!” and we were soon on our way.  Later when we talked about that moment, Steve just had to laugh saying, “I still can’t believe I was talking to you when you got the call.  Awesome.”  I think that tells you an awful lot about the kind of guy Steve really is.  I’m very proud to call him my friend.

I hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about me and my show. If you’re on Facebook, please check us out and LIKE and FOLLOW the Practical Prepping. Period. page to keep up with everything we have going on, upcoming guests, and much more.

 

UNSEEN ENEMY: THE POTENTIAL LOOMING CRISIS OF THE NEXT DEADLY DISEASE PANDEMIC DEBUTS ON CNN

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In the 21st century, we are all connected. Population growth, mass urbanization, deforestation, climate change and increased travel have dramatically increased the risk that familiar diseases will spread and mutate, and new ones will emerge. As people enter new spheres of biodiversity, they come into closer contact with other species, increasing the risk of viruses jumping from animals to humans, and then spreading more widely.

Unseen Enemy is an essential exploration into the increasing threat of emerging infectious disease outbreaks and their impacts on society. Meet healthcare workers, disease detectives and families who have experienced the horror and devastation of Ebola, Zika and Influenza epidemics and emerged deeply changed.

 

The world’s urgent call to action on pandemics like Zika, Ebola, flu has global premiere April 7.

 

OFFICIAL CNN FILMS PRESS RELEASE:

UNSEEN ENEMY, about the potential looming crisis of disease pandemics, will debut as a CNN Films broadcast for a World Health Day presentation Friday, April 7 at 9:00pm Eastern on CNN/U.S. The film, which is exclusively presented by Johnson & Johnson, will then replay at 12:00am Eastern. All broadcasts will have limited commercial interruptions.

UNSEEN ENEMY is narrated by Emmy® and Golden Globe award-winning actor Jeffrey Wright and is written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Janet Tobias. CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, MD, is an executive producer and consultant for the film. Philanthropist Paul G. Allen, known for his catalytic leadership during the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak, is also an executive producer.

Tobias embedded with some of the world’s top pathogen hunters and medical professionals for more than three years, crisscrossing the globe for UNSEEN ENEMY, to track outbreaks of Zika, Ebola, and influenza. From inside the hot zones in Brazil and Liberia, the film includes doctors who detail their heroic and often hazardous work from the front lines of the outbreak response. Doctors and researchers describe how they encountered the diseases, and how they are fighting the pathogens to save patients.

While the headlines of deadly outbreaks are alarming, Tobias’ film makes the case that successful containment can be achieved with coordinated efforts of medical professionals, researchers, governments, communicators, and the public. Two historic examples support her case. World-renowned epidemiologist Dr. Larry Brilliant, guides viewers through his difficult decisions as he worked on the teams that forcibly vaccinated the last remote villagers against smallpox. Others describe how the global spread of HIV/AIDS could have been stopped if governments and public health bodies had acted more deliberately to warn the public. Dr. Brilliant warns now that there may be 30 emerging human pathogens that have the potential to become epidemics.

“The public plays an essential role in the fight to contain and eradicate diseases like Ebola, Zika, and influenza,” said Dr. Gupta, about his engagement in producing UNSEEN ENEMY. “It’s always been my goal to bring the best scientific and medical information to viewers so they can make informed decisions that improve their health. The situation is urgent, but information can help make us less vulnerable,” he said.

In addition to the premiere broadcasts on World Health Day, UNSEEN ENEMY will encore Saturday, April 15 at 9:00pm and Sunday, April 16 at 2:00am Eastern, with a short, CNN-produced companion special. The special will feature CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper with a discussion on the existing vulnerabilities to disease outbreaks and the tools needed to close the gaps in disease response.

“Because we witnessed epidemics up close during filming, our team came away with hope that we can win the fight against them. Around the world, there are dedicated scientists, innovative technologists, heroic doctors and nurses, as well as survivors, moms, dads, sisters, and brothers, who understand we all have a role to play,” said filmmaker Janet Tobias. “It’s only by each of us doing our part that we will win the battle.”

Profiled in the film to demonstrate the wide range of expertise needed to defeat the next global health crisis are:

**Laurie Garrett, a Pulitzer prize-winning health journalist explains why flu is one of the world’s potentially most serious pandemics and also why public health authorities need to shift current priorities to effectively meet the next crises;
**Soka Moses, MD, a heroic young Liberian physician, left his family to treat Ebola patients at the height of the epidemic that ravaged his nation;
**Peter Piot, PhD, renowned microbiologist and director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, helped identify the Ebola virus in the 1970s and explains why the global spread of HIV/AIDS was not inevitable;
**Peter Sands, a global financier, explains what the next global health crisis could mean to global markets and geopolitical stability;
**Vanessa Van der Linden, MD, is a pediatric neurologist who sounded the initial alarm about a rise in microcephalic infants, following a Zika outbreak. Van der Linden even used a social media app to help gather data about the disease pattern; and,
**Gwen and Terry Zwanziger, parents of a teen who died of flu complications, now urge other parents to become informed about preventive vaccines and advocate for more money for flu research.

Carole Tomko, general manager and creative director of Mr. Allen’s Vulcan Productions, said, “We believe, and we’ve seen proof, that information is aid. In absence of vaccines, human knowledge paired with behavior modification is the most effective way to slow the spread of contagious diseases. UNSEEN ENEMY is a prime example of how Vulcan Productions combines storytelling and technology to ignite audiences to respond to big challenges. It is our hope that this film will inform and prepare individuals, and global society as a whole, for the very real global health crisis we are facing.”

In addition to the telecasts on CNN, Unseen Enemy will also stream live for subscribers via CNNgo on Friday, April 7 (www.CNN.com/go and via CNNgo apps for AppleTV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and iPad). The film will be available the day after the premiere (Saturday, April 8) via CNNgo. For additional information about the film and other ways to watch it, please visit: www.takesallofus.com.

Learn more about the film UNSEEN ENEMY.

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2017 ASCE NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT CARD

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Last spring, an article in The New Yorker stated…

“From the crumbling bridges of California to the overflowing sewage drains of Houston and the rusting railroad tracks in the Northeast Corridor, decaying infrastructure is all around us, and the consequences are so familiar that we barely notice them—like urban traffic congestion, slow-moving trains, and flights that are often disrupted, thanks to an outdated air-traffic-control system. The costs are significant, once you reckon wasted time, lost productivity, poor public-health outcomes, and increased carbon emissions.”

 

You may not think about it much, but America’s aging infrastructure is what allows us to live the lifestyle we are so hopelessly addicted to here in the United States. Thinking about our national infrastructure is probably not high on your list of every day priorities, but there are people that take it very seriously. And they are concerned.

 

Every 4 years, the American Society of Civil Engineers releases a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure that depicts the condition and performance of the nation’s infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report card by assigning letter grades to each type of infrastructure. The news was not good when the last report card came out. The ASCE gave the US infrastructure an overall grade of D+, estimating that it would take an investment of approximately 3.6 trillion dollars just to get to a grade of B. You can read the full report for yourself in the 2013 National Infrastructure Report Card.

 

Interactive 2013 Report Card

 

In 2016, the ASCE released FAILURE TO ACT: The Impact of Infrastructure Investment On America’s Economic Future, which laid out what is at stake if the United States does not take action and make the investments needed to bring our aging and crumbling infrastructure back up to standard.

 

The 2017 ASCE National Infrastructure Report Card will be released on Thursday, March 9th at 9:30 am EST. That’s when we will get an up to date assessment by the professionals about the current state of our national infrastructure. You can follow along live with the release of the report card HERE.

Count me among those that are very excited to see what, if any, progress has been made since the last report was issued.
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PRACTICAL TACTICAL NAMED ONE OF THE TOP 75 SURVIVAL SITES TO PREPARE YOU FOR THE END OF THE WORLD

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Lockpick World has named Practical Tactical one of their Top 75 Survival Sites and Blogs!

We are thrilled to announce that the good folks at Lockpick World have included us on their list of the top 75 survival sites and blogs alongside some of the heavyweights and best known haunts of those that run in preparedness circles.

Our goal has always been to help anyone interested in readiness and resilience get started on their journey to preparedness without feeling overwhelmed, while still offering something for the more advanced preppers among us. Joining the likes of JW Rawles’ Survival Blog, Tess Pennington’s Ready Nutrition, Lisa the Survival Mom, Survivor Jane, and Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity on this list must be proof that we’re doing something right and we are grateful to be mentioned with such a distinguished group.

We will continue to do our very best to help anyone interested in preparedness achieve their readiness goals. We strive only to be worthy of your time and we can’t wait to see you out there.

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“THANKS, OBAMA!” THE 44TH PRESIDENT’S EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SPACE WEATHER

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CLICK FOR FULL SIZE IMAGE

 

You’ve probably heard of something called a coronal mass ejection (CME), otherwise known as a massive solar flare, and you probably know it could be very bad for the United States if the we happened to be facing the sun when it impacts earth. A large CME has the potential to have devastating impacts on everything from our global positioning systems (GPS), satellite operations, space operations, aviation and even our power grids, knocking them offline in an instant and destroying critical power grid infrastructure. A CME is one of several extra-terrestrial events that could possibly impact earth that are collectively referred to as space weather. Although much less likely, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) can produce the same impacts, most commonly seen as a result of a nuclear explosion. In a world where international terrorism is a real threat, the possibility of an EMP weapon being used against the United States is a real concern. Experts agree that a direct impact from a large CME or a successful EMP attack is an existential threat to the United States that could instantly bring an end to our modern civilization.

 

A silhouette of the New Jersey.

 

On October 13, 2016, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order — Coordinating Efforts to Prepare the Nation for Space Weather Events that outlined the country’s contingency plan in the event such weather events lead to significant disruption to systems like the electrical power grid, satellite operations or aviation, stating “It is the policy of the United States to prepare for space weather events to minimize the extent of economic loss and human hardship.”

 

 

With this EO, President Obama ordered that the federal government takes steps insure that the national infrastructure is secure in the event of a space weather event. The National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan ( PDF ) was announced a few days later in conjunction with President Obama’s executive order, along with a PDF of The Implementation of the National Space Weather Action plan, complete with a White House official summary. The official pages aren’t up on WhiteHouse.gov, but here is the latest information I could find on those too.

 

 

After years of Congress knowing about the problem and failing to take action, I was pleased to learn that the President did what he could through the executive office to try and protect the critical infrastructure of our nation.  However it is still up to Congress to set aside the funds to follow through and take action in support of the specifics laid out in this order.

 

So what does this mean for me and every one of you concerned about national security and the protection of our extremely fragile power grid infrastructure? The phrase “Within 120 days of the date of this order…” is used repeatedly in this executive order. If you take a look at the calendar, we are at that point right now. I’ve read for years about how everyone knows this is a threat, yet no one is willing to take action. Well, the former President did what he could do in response to a lack of action by Congress and now it’s our turn. Call your United States Representatives and your United States Senators and ask them to take action on President Obama’s executive order to coordinate a national response and strengthen our national power grids against the possible catastrophic impacts of a massive CME or electromagnetic pulse attack. Find your US Representatives and your US Senators and urge them to take action on this very important initiative today.

 

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SURRENDER THE SUN

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SURRENDER THE SUN

I have a vast array of interests that add flavor and color to this wonderful life of mine. A few of those happen to be the idea of apocalypse and what impact it may have on the baseline human condition, our sometimes crazy weather and it’s impacts on this incredible world, and a deep rooted love of history, especially when either of my previous two mentions are somehow involved. In her recent work Surrender The Sun, author AR Shaw has offered up a shiny bobble that I simply could not ignore. So, the real question is would it live up to my wild imaginings of where it may take me?

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Full disclosure, AR Shaw is a friend, a very nice lady and I have read her work before. That is precisely the reason I want to be careful in this review to only speak to the work and my impressions of it.

Given the interests I listed above that originally secured my interests in the book, in Surrender The Sun, Shaw did not disappoint.

Want to end life as we know it?
Let’s do it.
How about a naturally occurring catastrophe?
Yes, please.
What if I told you it’s all happened before and it will happen again?
Awesome. Bring it on.

In this cataclysmic, blizzard driven romp of a story, Shaw does a wonderful job of world building. I could feel my lungs ache and burn in the frigid temperatures as I stood on the lake shore staring out as wisps of blowing snow spun out and across the body of water’s frozen surface. To further my immersion in this white-bleached, wintry wasteland, Shaw effectively weaves a sense of intimate foreboding throughout the tale as I witnessed Bishop standing like a granite mountain as he shepherds flame-haired, Maeve and her party through the seemingly never-ending storm. Both natural and man made.

In short, if you share any or all of the interests I mentioned earlier, take a chance on Surrender The Sun. The story and the world are engulfing and satisfying. The author also does a good job of touching on some of my other interests too like preparedness and just what it would feel like to realize that you cannot prepare your way out of a situation. After all, it seems that is where things would get really interesting anyway, right? There will come a point when reading this book where you will find yourself standing alongside Bishop and Maeve, each of you asking yourselves the same question. Now what?

Jump into the deep freeze and grab your copy of Surrender The Sun today. To keep up with everything going on with AR Shaw, be sure to check out her blog. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN: EAST TENNESSEE WILDFIRES AND HOW YOU CAN HELP!

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I have no doubt that most of you are aware that wildfires raged across eastern Tennessee earlier this week decimating Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding areas along the way. These fires are not the only ones that have been burning across the southeast in recent weeks, but the they are the first to directly impact large and heavily populated cities. This was the scene earlier this week in Gatlinburg and throughout Sevier County…

Apocalypse: Gatlinburg

Fire on the mountain (language warning):

The mountains of eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Georgia are an outdoor lover’s playground throughout the year. If you live in the region, you have probably visited Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, enjoyed the natural beauty of the area and the warm hospitality of their people. We grew up just a few hours away and visited often, never minding the ride to get there, but rather enjoying the magnificence of the view throughout the trip and we always felt right at home once we arrived. It is for this reason and many others that this disaster is personal for us and we wanted to do whatever we can to help. Watch this space for possible updates and any future wildfire relief efforts.

To this end, I spent most of today (Wednesday 11/30) on the phone with several national and local agencies trying to get the first hand scoop from the experts on the ground on the best way to have offer the most benefit to the most people possible. What follows is what I learned.

As of my writing this article, the local chapter of the American Red Cross reports that in terms of their ability to meet the immediate needs of the community in terms of basic supplies (food, water, shelter, clothes, toiletries, etc.), they and all of the local agencies they are talking with are “at capacity” after having seen a tremendous outpouring of support from the state and region. That’s GREAT news! However, the reality is this will not be a 72 hour, five day or one week disaster and that is where we can step up and really make a difference. From every person I spoke with today, the main way we can help is by donating money to support the ongoing efforts that will be required to help Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the good people of eastern Tennessee going forward. With that in mind, my work today led me to three agencies where you can donate funds and be certain that your money will go directly to help the people of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the good people of eastern Tennessee. If you would like to make a donation to help with the wildfire relief efforts that are ongoing in these devastated areas, based on my personal conversations I can suggest the following agencies with full confidence and without hesitation:

AMERICAN RED CROSS – EAST TENNESSEE LOCAL CHAPTER

The East Tennessee chapter of the American Red Cross is currently housing 1,400 people nightly in shelters that have been displaced by the wildfires, additionally providing food, transport and pet care to everyone. For reference, keep in mind that it takes $1000 to provide this assistance to 100 people daily, so know that every dollar you donate will be making a real difference in the lives of every day people just like yourself.

If you would like to donate to the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Red Cross, please send your check to:

ATTENTION LORI MARSH
American Red Cross East Tennessee
6921 Middlebrook Pike
Knoxville, Tennessee 37909

You can follow the East Tennessee Chapter on Facebook too.

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GATLINBURG RELIEF FUND (SMARTBANK)

This fund has been established by the Gatlinburg Chamber of Commerce and will disperse all raised funds directly to local impacted citizens to be used at their discretion. This will put funds directly in the hands of those that need it most.

If you would like to donate to the Gatlinburg Relief Fund (SMARTBANK), here is the link to donate with a debit/credit card:
https://app.mobilecause.com/form/j-ECXA

If you would like to send a check/money order please make it payable to: Gatlinburg Wildfire Relief Fund

Please mail the check to:

SmartBank
P.O. BOX 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868

Check out the donation link on the Smartbank Facebook page:

==================================================================================

TENNESSEE VALLEY COALITION FOR THE HOMELESS

If you would like to take a longer term approach to this disaster and offer help to those that may have lost everything and do not have adequate insurance to help them get back on their feet, the TVCH is a good option. For more information, visit tvchomeless.org and to donate money, call 865-859-0749. If you know of anyone that has lost their home, the Homeless Assistance Hot Line is 888-556-0791.

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If you are interested in doing what you can to help our nearby neighbors get through these very trying times, I hope this information helps you make that happen. Remember friends, disaster doesn’t care about our schedules and does not play favorites. There, but for the grace of God, go I. Disaster can strike anyone, anywhere, at any time. I hope you will do what you can to help.

To keep up with the most up to date information regarding the ongoing disaster unfolding in eastern Tennessee and how you can help further, check out the great coverage from WBIR , WATE and the KNOXVILLE NEWS SENTINEL. Please be aware that unlike the three mentioned above, I have not spoken to all of these organizations and agencies listed on those pages personally.

Andrew Duncan captured drone video of the damage done by the fires in Gatlinburg and Sevier County.

Please help us maximize the impacts of this post! If you have a presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.), SHARE this post with your friends and family and let’s see how much good we can do together.

WENDELL BERRY’S THOUGHTS ON CONSUMPTION AND OLDER TECHNOLOGY

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(By Guy Mendes, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29726407)

(By Guy Mendes, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29726407)

 

Wendell Berry’s nine rules for consumption

1. Be happy with what you’ve got. Don’t be always looking for something better.

2. Don’t buy anything you don’t need.

3. Don’t buy what you ought to save. Don’t buy what you ought to make.

4. Unless you absolutely have got to do it, don’t buy anything new.

5. If somebody tries to sell you something to “save labor,” look out. If you can work, then work.

6. If other people want to buy a lot of new stuff and fill up the country with junk, use the junk.

7. Some good things are cheap, even free. Use them first.

8. Keep watch for what nobody wants. Sort through the leavings.

9. You might know, or find out, what it is to need help. So help people.

 

Wendel Berry’s nine requirements for replacing an older technology

1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces.

2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces.

3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces.

4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces.

5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body.

6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools.
7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible.

8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair.

9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.

You can learn more about Mr. Berry HERE and HERE.

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PRACTICAL PREPPING. PERIOD. LAUNCHES ON THE AUTHORS ON THE AIR GLOBAL RADIO NETWORK

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When you choose to live a preparedness lifestyle and building resilience you have to constantly challenge yourself, test and reset boundaries and change the game. Your willingness to do so could prove to be the difference in making your life all it can be or even in your survival some day.

In 2012, we created Practical Tactical. In 2014 I published two books, the Practical Tactical Quick Start Guide and then co-wrote Practical Prepping: No Apocalypse Required. In 2015, my daughter Riley arrived and our world changed forever. What can possibly top that? Well, nothing. Absolutely nothing. Now it’s 2016 and it is time to get back in the ring, keep creating, thinking, growing and prospering. It’s time to change the game…again.

 

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I am thrilled to announce that we are taking our vision of personal preparedness world wide as proud members of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network as I launch my new show, Practical Prepping. Period.

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Practical Prepping. Period. is where preparedness theory meets the real world. We hope to bring you a variety of unique and wide ranging voices in the world of preparedness that will not only help you strengthen your preparedness when it comes to the basics, but also present a broader view to expand your ideas of what personal preparedness can be as we discuss some of the larger concepts, as well as the factors in today’s world that will make you realize why having a family disaster plan and a high level of individual resilience is a good idea. For example, the “three Es” (Environment, Energy, Economy) and how they work together will underpin our view of the world and our discussions. I feel this is important because regardless of where you are on the road to preparedness, the “three Es” will ultimately have an impact on your path. Other topics certain to be discussed on P3 are homesteading, gardening, first aid, firearms and self defense, climate, philosophy, water and food storage, not to mention spiritual preparedness.

I hope you will come along for the ride and make it a point to join us on the first Wednesday of each month at 9pm for our live shows where you will have the chance to call in and speak with our amazing guest. If that doesn’t work out for some reason have no fear, you can always download the podcast from the Authors On The Air Global Radio Network or ITunes and listen in whenever you get the chance.

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CASCADIA RISING: FEMA Will Hold A Drill To Prepare For A 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake And Tsunami June 7-10 2016

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The Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of North America spans from northern California to southern British Columbia. This subduction zone can produce earthquakes as large as magnitude 9 and corresponding tsunamis.

The Cascadia Subduction Zone off the coast of North America spans from northern California to southern British Columbia. This subduction zone can produce earthquakes as large as magnitude 9 and corresponding tsunamis.

 

Just in case you missed it…and you probably did…FEMA Will Hold A Drill To Prepare For A 9.0 Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake And Tsunami next week.

Just in case you missed it…and you probably did…there is a gargantuan, 700 mile long quake-maker referred to as the Cascadia Subduction Zone that rests at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the American northwest where the seabed meets the North American tectonic plate.  According to experts, this behemoth has the potential to unleash the worst natural disaster in the history of North America should it rupture entirely.

150720_r26752-865Think that can’t possibly be true?  Surely I’m overstating the danger.  Think again.  Remember this article from The New Yorker that we shared with you a while back that warned us The next full-margin rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone will spell the worst natural disaster in the history of the continent.

 

The “Cascadia” has already shown it’s power and it has a violent history.  According to this CNN story, on January 26, 1700, Cascadia unleashed one of the biggest quakes in world history that triggered a tsunami so large that it raced across the Pacific and swallowed coastal villages in Japan.  You’ve probably heard of the San Andreas fault, but it’s nothing compared to the monster that is the CSZ.  The CSZ has the potential to rip off a 9.0 magnitude quake, almost 30 times more energetic than anything the San Andreas could unleash, not to mention the subsequent tsunami that would be generated at the same time.  The CSZ holds so much more power because it is a subduction fault, whereas the San Andreas is a slip fault.  With a slip fault, the two land masses slide past one another causing an earthquake that is fairly short in duration.  In a subduction zone, one of the earth’s tectonic plates is being forced downward into the earth as the colliding plate slides over the top of the first plate.  These plates get “hung up” occasionally allowing stress to build up along the fault as the top plate is pulled down with the lower plate.  When the stress becomes too great, the top plate “snaps” back to it’s normal position releasing a tremendous….almost incomprehensible….amount of energy.  This snapping action creates a terrifyingly violent shaking that can last three to five minutes, far longer than the 15-30 seconds of shaking you may be used to in other earthquakes in California.  As if the shaking weren’t enough, as the plate “snaps” back it simultaneously lifts the ocean above it triggering a devastating tsunami.  The last time the Cascadia ruptured, the coast of the North American plate dropped about 5 feet!  Think for just a second and imagine the size and unrelenting ferocity of the tsunami wave that would have been created by that type of land mass dislocation.

According to the official flyer for the event, “Over 50 counties, plus major cities, tribal nations, state and federal agencies, private sector businesses, and non-governmental organizations across three states – Washington, Oregon, and Idaho – will be participating in the four-day Cascadia Rising 2016 Exercise.”

Cascadia-Earthquake-Zone-Public-Domain

 

U.S Northern Command is getting in on the act as well, holding five other exercises simultaneously.  The final Cascadia Rising 2016 drill plan tells us those five exercises are entitled “Ardent Sentry 2016″, “Vigilant Guard”, “Special Focus Exercise”, “Turbo Challenge” and “Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore”, all of which focus on a scenario that involves a magnitude 9.0 earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone followed by a giant tsunami that could displace up to a million people from northern California to southern Canada.

The United States is a continental country and the Cascadia Subduction Zone represents a North American sized disaster and national threat.  Even if you do not live in the great northwest or have family that does, it would be wise to maintain a wary eye cast in that direction.  When the CSZ fully ruptures again, even if you don’t feel the shaking, every American will feel the impacts.

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MY THOUGHTS ON The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism

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SHAMED

 

“The pain we feel is capitalism dying. It hurts us because we are still in it.”

That is one of the most stark lines in an article on www.medium.com titled The Mental Disease of Late-Stage Capitalism.

On the whole, I agree with this article but not totally. Here are my thoughts on the bigger picture that I think the piece does not look at deeply enough.

In the wake of virtually unfettered quantitative easing we have been left with the greatest wealth transfer in the history of the world to date, which has resulted in the ever-widening gap between the top 1% and the rest of us as those that have access to the new money first (the top 1%) can turn that fresh currency into actual wealth (land, precious metals, etc.), while the every day citizen’s money now does not buy them as much as it used to and they are forced to go into debt to bridge the gap. With this action, the cycle continues and expands as “new money” is created out of thin air with every debt transaction.

With employment landscape having shifted permanently and the ever-tightening reality of resource depletion squeezing the system as a whole like a python,  the average working citizen is really feeling the strain and (for the most part) does not understand why this is happening to them. What happened to the future they were promised? They were supposed to have everything their parents had and then some, right? The infrastructure of the economy past that many believed would always be the way forward is crumbling because the natural capital, the real wealth on which it is based, is disappearing or becoming so prohibitively expensive to attain that it (and the products resulting from the extraction of it) are rapidly becoming unavailable to a majority of the world as well as the average citizen here at home.  Most simply do not understand the larger forces that are impacting their lives on a daily basis and they are left frustrated, angry, and often times, broken.

The article states that…

“We are merely living through late-stage capitalism and our parents lacked the foresight to warn us about it. When a population explodes — as the human one did throughout the last century — eventually all manner of social institutions become over-crowded. From there, it’s simply a numbers game.”

It is true that when an exploding population is looking for work in a shrinking work space the prospects are not good but, to really get a handle on what’s going on you first must understand what made it possible for the exponential population growth we have seen in the first place. That would be everything from better medical care and vaccinations to greater food production and everything in between, all of which has only been made possible by our access to cheap energy, primarily oil. I believe it is clearly evident that while our access to this cheap energy has tightened over the decades (and will continue to do so), the forces unleashed by the original discovery and manipulation have continued to race ahead unimpeded and we are beginning to see what that looks like in the real world. All you have to do is take an honest look around to see the proof.

From a reality based, systemic point of view, we are headed down an ever narrowing and bumpy economic road as a society with no pull offs available to flip a U-turn, so we must find or forge a new road into our future. If we are not willing to accept and adapt to a future that will demand a new approach to economy and commerce, things will only get worse. It will not be pretty. We live on a finite planet and we must shake off the addiction to our virtually infinite wants and perceived needs and embrace a culture of re-localization and community if we are to have any hope of living in the type of hopeful and pleasant future that we would all hope to see and that is still possible to achieve. It can be done and we can certainly be the ones to do it, but only if we are brave enough to be honest with ourselves.

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LEVELING UP TO A TRAUMA KIT

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This video is about Leveling Up To A Trauma Kit from a standard individual first aid kit (IFAK). Here’s a list of what is in this kit:

In the Boo Boo kit:

Band Aids
Knuckle bandages
Fingertip bandages
Antiseptic wipes
Alcohol wipes
Butterfly closures
Nitrile gloves
Triple antibiotic salve
Individual eye wash (x4)
Triangle bandage

Trauma kit:

Rolled gauze (x4)
Nitrile gloves
SOFT-W tourniquet
Shears
OLEAS modular pressure bandage
Bloodstopper Compress Dressing
SAM splint (1.5 ft)
3×3 gauze pads
Gerber foldimg knife
Sharpie (black)
C.A.T. tourniquet
Ranger bands
8-10 feet duct tape
Triangular bandage
Mylar blanket(s)
Ibuprofen tablets
6″ light stick
Self-adhering wrap (x2)
Celox z-fold hemostatic gauze (10 ft)

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THE NEXT BIG SOLAR STORM: AN APOCALYPTIC TIMELINE

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Have you ever wondered what might happen in the event a massive, earth directed solar flare were to erupt hurling a powerful coronal mass ejection (CME) at our home planet? What series of events could unfold? What would the impacts be? How do you think we might react? Well, this infographic gives us a look into what that future eventuality may look like.

solarflare-timeline_v3

Courtesy www.futurism.com

 

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FlareToEarth

FRACTURED STATE

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 FRACTURED STATE
You can read the full original post on our Facebook page and check out everything else we have going on over there by clicking the picture or the link in the quote below.
Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 2.12.28 PM

 

We are very excited to share with you that the latest work from our friend Steven Konkoly ( Steven Konkoly – Thriller…

Posted by Practical Tactical on Thursday, March 24, 2016

Be sure to visit Steven’s website for more back story on FRACTURED STATE.

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FOOD SYSTEM SHOCK ~ LLOYD’S 2015

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Lloyd’s takes a look at the fragility of the world’s food production system in the face of ever growing demand.

Read the full report by clicking the photo!!!

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Food System Shock ~ Lloyd’s 2015

 

Lloyd’s of London Food System Shock June 2015

Here are a few sobering key findings of the report.

(Courtesy TWILAND.INFO)

Suggestions: Develop the hobby of gardening. Promote the keeping of backyard poultry in your community. Stock up on dried milk products while they are still available. Know where the flooding rivers might impact your home. Develop the hobby of fishing. Learn how to listen to emergency reports. Join an amateur radio club and learn how to keep in touch without the use of cell phones. Severe weather events often disrupt the power grid, so develop the skills of using solar power. You can be identified as a farmer by the USDA if you sell at least $1,000 a year. Be prepared to protect what you have for your family. …

Key findings

  • A combination of just three catastrophic weather events could undermine food production across the globe.
  • These could lead to a 10% drop in global maize production, an 11% fall in soybean production, a 7% fall in wheat production and a 7% fall in rice production.
  • Wheat, maize and soybean prices could increase to quadruple the average levels experienced during the 20 years prior to the global food price shock of 2007/8. Rice prices could increase by 500%.
  • The scenario indicates this series of events has the potential to lead to food riots breaking out in urban areas across the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, leading to wider political instability and having knock-on effects for a wide range of businesses.
  • While agriculture commodity stocks might benefit, the overall economic impact of high food prices, combined with rising political instability, could severely impact financial markets. The scenario indicates that the main European stock markets might lose 10% of their value and US stock markets 5%.

Food System Shock June 2015

 

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LONG TERM FOOD STORAGE DIY

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When pulling together the nuts and bolts of your family’s preparedness plan, one of the biggest bolts to make sure you turn is long term food storage and it can be a daunting one.  The first thing you have to do is figure out how you define “long term” and then appropriately slot that into your overall food storage plan.  Once you have figured that part out, it really does not have to be difficult to square away your long term food storage.  To prove it, I wanted to share a quick project that I knocked out in just a couple hours.

We continually add to our long term food storage and we do our best to cover a wide spectrum in the type of foods we choose to stock, but for this project I addressed a couple of the staples….beans and rice.  During a recent trip to our local big box warehouse store I picked up some food supplies, I grabbed a stack of food grade buckets at a local bakery for $1 each and ordered the oxygen absorbers and Mylar bags from Amazon.com.  What follows is the quick and easy way I package them for long term storage.  Hopefully you will see that it is a really straight forward process and that you can do it too.

The project list:

  • 2 ft aluminum level
  • standard household iron
  • Sharpie (red)
  • 2 cup measuring glass
  • 1 gallon Mylar bags (bulk)
  • oxygen absorbers (bulk)
  • food grade plastic buckets with lids
  • 25 lbs dry pinto beans
  • 50 lbs long grain white rice

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To begin, I used the 2 cup measuring glass to measure out ten cups of dried pinto beans or 10 cups of long grain white rice into each 1 gallon Mylar bag and dropped in the oxygen absorbers.

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Next, I pulled the top of the Mylar bag together at the top and pressed out as much trapped air as possible, then I folded it over the one inch wide flat edge of my aluminum level and used the hot iron (set to the highest setting) to seal the Mylar bag closed by pressing the one inch strip of the Mylar bag between the iron and the aluminum level across the entire width of the bag sealing it permanently.  After a few hours, the oxygen absorbers pull all of the excess air out of the sealed Mylar bag essentially vacuum sealing the food safely inside.  Once all of the bags are sealed and labeled, I placed the bags inside my food grade buckets with locking lids and then placed an external label on each of the buckets making them ready to go into storage.

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As I hope you can see, this process is not as daunting as it may appear at first and that you can do an awful lot to bolster long term storage food supplies and deepen your larder quickly and inexpensively.  Remember, at every level of your family’s food storage, you want to store what you eat and eat what you store.  Stick to what you know your family enjoys and stack it as high and deep as you deem necessary to meet the requirements of your family’s preparedness plan.  If you have questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.

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THE MYTH OF “SAUDI AMERICA” AND US ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

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For years I’ve been telling anyone that would listen that the idea that the United States of America is going to become “Saudi America” and throw off the chains of our enslavement to the energy (crude oil) barons of the middle east and achieve energy independence thanks to the boom in shale oil via fracking in recent years is a complete and total myth.  A fantasy based in the deeply held desire that the “American way of life” can continue into the infinite future without disruption.  Of course, this view of the future is not readily embraced by most and that is completely understandable given what such a seismic shift in paradigm would mean for the average US citizen.  However, that possibility of a very unpleasant upheaval doesn’t make it any less probable.

Now that we are comfortably into 2016 we can take a long gaze back into 2015 and see a few facts to support my point.  The following two links tell the tale:

U.S. oil output on brink of ‘dramatic’ decline, executive says

(This article is from a few months back.  Crude oil is currently trading around the low $30 range.)

 

source: tradingeconomics.com

 

Anyone willing to take an honest look at the recent fracking boom that has been responsible for the surge in American crude oil production will easily discover that these wells are expensive, short-lived and that the sweet spots in which they are drilled are few.  It does not take a genius to foresee a massive decline in production from these wells and anyone hoping that this could continue indefinitely is simply participating in an exercise of delusion.

To a greater point, the tsunami of articles surrounding this recent fracking boom announcing the death of peak oil were worth almost as much as the paper they were printed on as the chart clearly shows.  The United States reached it’s peak oil production in 1970 has never been back to that point.  Keep in mind that our max production was 10 million barrels of oil a day back in 1970 and even though the recent boom approached that number once again, it really doesn’t mean much when you understand that the United States consumes around 19 million barrels of oil daily.  With a clear decline in the overall flow of fracked crude oil having arrived, it is pretty easy to see and forecast that we will not be exceeding or even reaching that past peak any time soon thanks to both the natural decline cycle of the shale wells, as well as the end of the “free money” economic environment that allowed these often money-losing ventures of fracking to begin in the first place.

The reason any of this matters to you is simple.  The United States and global economies are absolutely tied to and completely dependent upon uninterrupted access to cheap and readily accessible energy (crude oil).  It is the lifeblood that allows economic growth to occur.  As energy resources tighten and decline over the coming decades, economic growth will follow right along with it.  In fact, one can make the case that global economic growth as a real metric has already come to an end.  As this occurs and industrial civilization winds down, economies will fail and people will lose their jobs finding themselves left to watch longingly as the “American way of life” slips further and further into the black hole of history.

I see this as the reality of our future in the long term and it may mean the end of the world as we know it, but this does not have to mean the actual end of the world.  It will mean a new world though.  This new reality can be brilliant, beautiful and amazingly rewarding.  The more you understand what is happening around you now, the easier it will be for you to adjust the coming changes.  By embracing the realities now that the real world will eventually impose on us all, you will have the opportunity to navigate the emotional storms that are certain to come as a result of such a change and position yourself to thrive in a future that you can create.  I hope you will make plans to do so.

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A NEW ADDITION TO THE GARDEN – COLD BOXES

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Gardening season is here! 

Well, okay.  Technically, gardening season is almost here in our neck of the woods.  But as any gardener worth their salt will tell you, dreaming up your garden plan is half the fun!  Just thinking about how you’re going to orient this year’s prized plantings easily helps you push through the final stretch of winter that occupies the weeks before you can actually get to play in the dirt again once planting season finally arrives.

We are especially looking forward to getting back in the game this gardening season because our efforts were obviously subdued last year with Riley’s arrival and we’re chomping at the bit to get things cranked up.  So much so that we decided to add a new piece of infrastructure to our homestead by building two new cold boxes.  Eventually the plans are to build a full size greenhouse, but these cold boxes will certainly meet our needs for now.

A cold box is essentially a mini-greenhouse that allows you to start your seeds, protects your seedlings from frost during the late winter months and allows you to “strengthen” them by exposing them slowly to the elements before eventually transplanting your seedlings into your full size garden.  Cold boxes can also be used to grow smaller plants with shallow root systems if you are so inclined.

We were able to up-cycle a couple of reclaimed window frames from a friend and we knew precisely how to put them to good use.  One of the frames was missing two panes of glass, but this was easily remedied.  I picked up a couple of acrylic sheets to replace the panes and left the job to my wife Alice.  Moments later she had trimmed them up to the right size to replace the missing panes and I added a little weather caulking to seal them into place. The two boxes framed up turned out to be 32″ x 31″ and 36″ x 28″ respectively.  I made a quick trip to my local lumber yard to pick up one 2 x 12 x 12 and one 2 x 12 x 10 to use for the frames and got to work.  A little bit of quality time with the circular saw and the power drill and we were set.

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Up-cycling reclaimed materials, gardening and power tools.  How could this day and this project not turn out great?  These cold boxes will be a tremendous addition to our homesteading infrastructure and we look forward to getting years of use out of them.  I’m certain we will pretty them up a bit in the near future and we will let Riley lead the way on that portion of the project.  I honestly can’t wait to see how they ultimately turn out.  I promise I’ll keep you posted!

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DADDY TIME DIY – BUILDING A TOY BOARD

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One of the main themes that we promote at Practical Tactical is that personal preparedness should not be restricted to one part of your life, but rather be just one part of an overall lifestyle of preparedness that is dictated by your current situation, by what is happening in your life today.

We try to practice what we preach here at Practical Tactical and the main focus of our lives for the last year has been our beautiful baby girl Riley and this DIY project is dedicated to her.  Of course, she is amazing in every way and she keeps us on our toes at all times.  Riley was sitting up at three months, pulling up at six months, walking at eight months and running around and talking up a storm at one year old.  She loves all of her toys and reading time is her favorite, but she is always challenging herself and looking for new challenges.  So with this in mind, I wanted to do something special for my little girl by building her a toy board.  In an effort to keep her little mind working and prevent her from quickly becoming bored, I chose to build her toy board using common household hardware that would not only be fun and entertaining for Riley, but also help her work on her motor skills, dexterity and problem solving at the same time.

After a quick visit to my local home superstore, I was ready to get started.  Here is a list of the items I picked up for my project during my visit:

 

One 2 x 2 ft pre-cut panel

One expandable key coil with clip

One LED moon light (touch to activate)

One light duty door stop

One door stop

One carabiner

1 1/2 ft plastic yellow chain

One castor wheel

One spinning castor wheel

One combination lock

One sliding bolt door lock

One sliding bolt gate latch

One eye hook latch

One padlock hasp

Several different key chains / stretch loops in different colors

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A little quality time with the power drill and zip-bang-boom, we had ourselves a toy board!

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How you want to build your toy board is completely up to you.  Just use your imagination and take cues from your child.  The items for your board can be picked up inexpensively at any number of locations, so have fun with it.  Few projects will ever be more rewarding than building something for your precious one.

I think ours turned out really well and Riley really seems to like it.  We decided to mount it on the side of a cabinet in an area that Riley plays in often.  You don’t necessarily have to mount your toy board, but we just didn’t want to take the chance that Riley might pull it over on herself and get hurt.  Riley is walking everywhere and loves to take her toys with her so we plan to add a velcro patch to the board so she can have a tear away option for a toy or two as well.  We also plan to let Riley decorate the board soon.  Riley’s hand prints are the leading candidate right now, but we’ll see.

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#RileyLove

 

 

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my daddy DIY adventure with Riley’s toy board.  I hope this sparks a few ideas for you.  Please let me know what you think in the comments below and be sure to share this post with your friends.

Whatever your future projects may be, just remember that you can absolutely get them done and know that the ones you love will appreciate them and you more than you will ever know.

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A WORLD WITHOUT WORK

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Have you ever wondered what the world may look like after societal collapse? What if the world as you know it today simply disappeared? If so you have probably considered what how the priorities and values of today might be reshuffled. Things that seem to matter so much today may not matter at all in this new world. What would have value? What skill sets would matter when commutes, cubicles and consumerism are a thing of the past? Believe it or not, the answer can be found today and Derek Thompson, Senior Editor The Atlantic, takes a look at what a world without work might look like. Check out this video as Thompson discusses this new and probable reality where the old ice breaker “What do you do?” becomes “What can you do?” After societal collapse that is all that will really matter any way.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

NATION MAKERS

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PyleNationmakers

 

Howard Pyle’s 1903 painting The Nation Makers is an image of a mass of humanity surging forward, that mass is composed of identifiable individuals, as in all wars and battles. None of these individuals turn and looking out at us the viewers, instead they are all moving forward into their future. That concentrated action gives us hope that we too will bear our responsibilities honorably.  ~ The Rockwell Center

 

Over the past months I have given a lot of thought to what citizenship means in America today and I have come to realize that with that statement on Howard Pyle’s The Nation Makers, The Rockwell Center captures the very essence of what I have come to realize is the foundation of what makes America great.  Along with our countrymen and women that have chosen to make a career in service to others, there are millions of Americans that do not earn a paycheck for their efforts but are out there doing the hard work of building a better future for themselves and the rest of us every day just the same.  These citizen champions are actively applying their very valuable time and skill sets to bring forth the change they want to see in the world and we are all better for it.  These identifiable individuals moving honorably forward into the future are the embodiment of what it takes to make a difference in this world.  Serving as a mentor, volunteering in their community, sharing knowledge and teaching someone a new skill or simply being a good mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, sister or grandparent, it all counts!

With this perspective as the backdrop, it is with great pride and hopefulness that I am announcing the Nation Makers initiative.  Nation Makers is born out of a motivation to do something in some small way to recognize any and everyone that gives of themselves daily, either at their jobs that happen to be in public service (teachers, nurses, police officers, etc.) or in their private lives as volunteers or mentors in their community because they feel it’s important.  Regardless of how someone chooses to be active in the hard but extremely valuable work of doing what they can to make the world a better place, I believe that the every day heroes that are all around us should be honored and deserve to be recognized.  Everyone loves to have their hard work acknowledged, even when acknowledgement is not the goal.  These folks serve as an inspiration to us all and in having someone take the time to say thank you serves as fuel for their fire for service.  It’s a beautifully symbiotic circle of awesomeness.

A Nation Maker is anyone that gives of themselves and/or their time in the service of others with a good heart in an effort to do their small part to create the world they want to live in and make it a better place for their family and friends.  Anyone observed making this kind of effort qualifies and has earned the right to be a member.  It is up to each of us fellow citizens to recognize their efforts and award them with the title.

I wanted to create a way for any of us to honor and recognize anyone that is actively attempting to create the change in the world they wish to see, so I designed and created a tactical morale patch that can be given to anyone that meets this simple criteria as an honor that can be displayed as a badge of pride.  By giving this gift, we the givers have the opportunity to say thank you to the receiver for all they do and tell these every day heroes exactly why we appreciate their service, what the patch is all about and why we have chosen to give it to them.  Friends or perfect strangers, anyone can be awarded the Nation Makers patch.  Hopefully, we can become more in touch with our communities and maybe even make a few new friends in the process.

The key to this initiative lies with you.  In order for this idea to have the kind of impact I hope it can have, you and I have to make it happen by identifying Nation Makers in your community and recognizing them by presenting them a patch.  That is why I am making the Nation Makers patches available for sale through our website.  Simply order the number of patches you need and then award them as you see fit.  In an effort to multiply the impact of one good act further, we will donate one dollar from the sale of each patch to groups that are doing good work to help others at a national level like The Franklin Project, Team Rubicon and First Response Team of America.  Of course, this effort will have much more impact if the response to the initiative is strong.  The more patches we sell, the more people we can recognize and the more money we will be able to donate to these wonderful groups.

In the end, the Nation Makers initiative is an effort to do good.  By recognizing those that have dedicated their lives to the service of others, we are supporting their efforts by proving that their work is resonating with others and our neighbors, our communities and our nation are better for it as a result.  I hope you will join me in this effort.  After all, any one of us is every one of us and we can all make a difference.

 

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VALLEY FOOD STORAGE REVIEW

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A deep and well balanced food supply is a critical part of any family’s preparedness plan and my family and I recently decided to look around for a long term option to add to our food storage. As luck would have it, I awoke one morning to find that a representative from Valley Food Storage had sent me an email asking if I would be interested in trying their product. After visiting their website and nosing around a bit I decided to give Valley Food Storage, a small and relatively new company that hails their product as a ‘healthy, great tasting, long lasting’ option for anyone with a preparedness mindset, a try. I cannot in good conscience suggest any product without trying myself first and I asked the good folks at VFS to send us some meal options to review.

I received four dishes from VFS to sample: Chicken Teriyaki, Mango Habanero Chili, Pasta Primavera and Irish Pub Style Cheddar Potato.

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Chicken Teriyaki
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Mango Habanero Chili

Pasta Primavera

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**We added some mixed vegetables to the pasta primavera dish just for fun.**

Irish Pub Style Cheddar Potato
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During the review process for the Valley Food Storage products I learned something new. Certain oils have short shelf lives which can impact the stability of your long term food storage. In two of the samples sent to me, palm oil was listed among the ingredients so I began to wonder. In doing my research on for this review I found this info on the shelf life of palm oil:

Palm Oil / Red – Unrefined/Organic
Shelf Life of 2 years
(Environmentally sustainable sources only)
Botanical Name: Elaeis guineensis
Origin: USA
Extraction Method: Cold Pressed
Color: Deep orange/red
Obtained From: The palm fruit
Contains: Very rich in carotene and anti-oxidant tocotrienols

After reading that I went directly to the source and asked a Valley Food Storage rep about this. Here is how they addressed the Palm Oil question….

Customer Support: Palm Oil does last up to 25 years there is certain things required to help it last that long. FDA actually says if the oxygen is removed and has less then .7% oxygen count from it and nitrogen flushed it can last up to 40 years however we guarantee the 25 years. And we do have less then .7% oxygen count as well as we nitrogen flush.

That was enough to answer the question for me.

After trying these four dishes sent to us by Valley Food Storage for review I can say without hesitation that VFS offers a quality product at a very competitive price when it comes to options to consider when rounding out your long term food storage as a part of your greater family preparedness plan. You can’t beat healthy, great tasting food that has a guaranteed shelf life of 25 years that won’t break the bank. Be sure to check out the social media pages for Valley Food Storage as well. They are always announcing fantastic SALE prices on their products. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube, as well as always on line at Valley Food Storage.

 

A FRIENDLY VISIT SHOWS EVERYONE CAN HOMESTEAD

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We recently visited our friend Gary at his home to celebrate his daughter’s (also a friend) birthday. We’ve known this wonderful family for a few years now and although we don’t live right down the street and see each other every day, this visit like every visit was full of fun and good times. It didn’t take long after arriving before I was pleasantly reminded of just how interesting visiting Gary can be. You see, Gary is like us in that he has chosen to do all he can to wrestle back some control of his life back from the system by doing whatever he can to build resilience into his every day life by embracing the homesteading lifestyle at every opportunity. For Gary, this includes everything from growing as much of his own food as he can, to keeping small stock in the back yard and this visit revealed (to my great excitement) that he has branched out making his own wine and whiskey, complete with his own miniature whiskey still that lives on under the carport!

 

 

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As we walked around Gary’s average sized suburban property he shared a good number of fun and interesting things that he’s currently got working and I was interested to see them all. The chickens and rabbits were still doing just fine, but now they have been joined by the pigeons which we found bedding down for the evening in their happy little coop. The turkeys, which I had enjoyed very much when we were there the last time, we gone having graced the family’s table a while back. The front and side yard gardens were in good shape despite having a bit of transitional look to them, which is great because it shows that they are constantly changing to get ready for whatever comes next in a never-ending cycle of growth, harvest and rejuvenation. I think I enjoyed hearing about the mushrooms Gary was growing over by the fence the most. Planted them right in the logs himself. Awesome. When we headed back inside, Gary showed me the various wines he was waiting on, showed me how his whiskey still operates and explained how he ages the Shine with a bit of oak to mellow it out a bit. Before I knew it, Gary was showing off his bread bowl and exposing me to homemade kombucha for the first time. Tasty and good for you too. That’s a win-win if you ask me. From there we discussed the motivation for doing all of this “different” kind of stuff. I know why Alice and I do what we do and finding out what motivates other folks interests me. So of course, I asked whether he was doing any bartering with any of these “goods” and Gary grinned widely and simply stated, “Well, I haven’t paid for a haircut in ten years.” Now I was the one grinning.

 

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The composting area and butterfly garden.

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There’s more to this average suburban space than meets the eye.

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Raised garden beds fill the front.

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Here are the rabbit hutches and the chicken coop.

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These are the pigeons being raised for meat.

 

I wanted to share all of this with you for a couple of reasons. First off, Gary’s a good guy doing good things for his family, his community and the world in general and that should be recognized. The way he is going about all of that makes it even better, choosing the natural/organic way whenever given the opportunity. What’s more, Gary is very willing to share his knowledge with others whenever he can, giving freely of his time simply because he believes that what he is sharing is worth the effort. Kudos!

Secondly, I wanted to share Gary’s adventures because it speaks to a larger fact that we believe is very important yet most folks seem to not realize. Anyone and everyone can be a homesteader, regardless of your circumstance. You do not have to have 50 acres to live the homesteading lifestyle, merely a desire to grab your daily reality by the shoulders and retake control over your personal situation while doing what you can to meet the basic requirements of this life. If you do that, whether you’re growing your own food or developing skill sets that will help you meet your basic needs, you’re a homesteader.

So take heart friends and believe me when I tell you that you can do it too. If you want grow some of your own food to increase your food security, or develop a secondary revenue stream for you and your family to build some financial resilience, or learn a new skill set that will have some actual value should we wake to a tomorrow that is drastically different than the world we know today, I say go for it and know that you can do it. We support your efforts, we believe in you and we cannot wait to welcome you to the community.

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ON SERVICE

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YOU DONT NEED A REASON

My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.  ~ John F. Kennedy

 

One of, if not the most famous quotes in American history, President Kennedy’s words have resonated with me throughout my life.  From a very early age, regardless of what my personal goals or intentions were, I always had this idea of a purpose greater than self in the back of my mind.  Now make no mistake, my rearing has a great deal to do with this perspective, but I guess nothing crystallizes my deeply held notion of others before self more clearly than President Kennedy’s famous words.  There have been times during my life that I wondered exactly how I was supposed to best answer this clarion call and I have struggled to find that answer, but even when the best path forward was unclear I always understood which general direction I was supposed to be heading.  I know this because I have always applied this idea to every aspect of my life.  Whether acting as a son, a brother, a teammate, a leader, a husband and even now as a father, I ask myself, what can I do to help?  How can I best be of service to those in my life in a given situation.   Later in life, during my college years, I was exposed to the idea of the Servant Leader and it changed my life.  To this day, I strive to live out the ideals that Robert K. Greenleaf first laid out in his writings on the nature of servant leadership and character and through this effort I have found that it is I that have been blessed.

United States 4-Star General (ret.) Stanley McChrystal, a man former Defense Secretary Robert Gates described as “perhaps the finest warrior and leader of men in combat I (have) ever met.”, points out that only 1% of Americans serve their country via traditional avenues like the military and asks the question, “What does it mean to be a citizen?”  What does it mean to be a citizen in America or any other country for that matter.  In the United States there are many benefits to citizenship to be certain, but qualification for citizenship basically breaks down to two qualifiers:

  1. Do you have the right to vote?
  2. Do you pay taxes?

The reality here in the United States is that there are years where 50-plus percent of the citizens do neither.  This brings us back to General McChrystal’s original question, “What does it mean to be a citizen?”  Do we owe our country anything in return for the privilege of citizenship?

For General McChrystal the answer is yes and he offers a simple solution:  National Service.  This position is what motivated General McChrystal to lead the effort in the creation of the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute in 2013.  Learn more about their story and hear from General McChrystal himself HERE and HERE.

The Franklin Project envisions a future in which a year of full-time national service—a service year—is a cultural expectation, a common opportunity, and a civic rite of passage for every young American.

Here is a two-page pdf flyer that explains the power of a service year and the importance of the work that The Franklin Project is doing.

I happen to agree with General McChrystal that the very idea that is at the center of the foundation of what made America great, the concept that we are all looking out for and working toward the greater good of our community and the country as a whole, has somehow become disconnected from our people and is rapidly eroding right beneath our feet.  That is why I fully support The Franklin Project in their efforts.  Listen to some other folks that believe in the idea of service have to say on the subject…..

I believe that it is only through the blessing of service to others that we can truly realize the power of our own humanity.  This power is truly great and it really can change the world.  General McChrystal and The Franklin Project are working at a national level with the idea of a Year of Service, but I want to encourage you to think about this in a different way and bring it down to street level right where you live.

There are people all around us that are taking action on what has been laid upon their heart, enriching the American tapestry by doing their part to make their community, their state and their country a better place.  They are working as volunteers, mentors, coaches, police officers, firemen, teachers, nurses, doctors, librarians and after school leaders.  They are our elders that take the time to share a bit of what they know with a younger generation.  They are sharing knowledge and teaching skills like amateur radio, basic first aid, community disaster response, gardening and basic preparedness.  All across our country, there are individuals doing amazing things…large and small…every day to help create the world they want to see.  Folks that are becoming the change they believe is necessary to make the world a better place for themselves and others.   Some of these people are more obvious in their efforts because they wear a uniform or a they have a title, but there are far more of us out here in the fields doing real work that also classify as the every day heroes our world needs to save the day and forge a new way forward.  As Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  In other words, there is no one way to make the world a better place.  No one has an exclusivity on good ideas or the desire to help others.  Just get started.  Today.

There aren’t many holidays or parades for our every day champions of the common citizen.  I believe that each and every person that is out there doing the hard work of building a better future for themselves and the rest of us deserves to be recognized for their efforts.  In an upcoming blog post I will be making an announcement that will lay out a way that you can do exactly that.  A way that each of us can recognize those in our personal lives, as well as in our communities that are going above and beyond in the pursuit of a better America.  Please keep an eye on this space for that announcement.  Until then, if you would like to further gain a better understanding of my position, my motivations and offer another perspective on why I feel the way I do, you can check out this video.  And this one too.  Talk to you soon.

YOU DONT NEED A REASON 2

 

 

PRACTICAL TACTICAL NAMED A ‘TOP PREPPING RESOURCES’ WEBSITE

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BEST 250 PREPPER WEBSITE

Talk about a wonderful way to start the day…..

I woke up to an email this morning to find out that Happy To Survive has named Practical Tactical among the top 250 prepper websites with top prepping resources on the interwebs.  This marks the second time we have been ranked among the best in the business when it comes to helping you and yours become more prepared for whatever may come down the road.  We are especially proud of being included in this group as we are rubbing shoulders with some of the folks that we consider to be the very best at what they do, which is helping others increase their level of preparedness and personal resilience like Peak Prosperity, Resilience, Willow Haven Outdoor, James Wesley Rawles Survival Blog and Prepper Website just to name a few.

 

This recognition means so much to us for a number of reasons, but mostly because it gets right to the heart of what we strive to make Practical Tactical all about….helping others become more prepared and resilient in their every day lives.  Our work with Practical Tactical is not a full time deal.  My wife (and partner in the venture) and myself both maintain full time jobs, raise our baby girl, as well as entertain our vast number of other interests that make our life experience worth living and for us that is the key to preparedness.  Prepping does not have to take over your life or darken your outlook on the world.  Rather, we hope to show you that being prepared is something anyone can do and that it, in fact, frees you from the stresses of worrying over the circumstance that you are NOT prepared and allows you to get out there and enjoy all that this wonderful life has to offer.  The list states that it is cobbled together in no particular order, but just to be included among such a fine group of individuals and projects is a wonderful honor in itself.

 

You can find the complete list here.

 

 

 

 

THE REAL COST OF FOOD WASTE AND INSECURITY IN AMERICA

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You may have heard me talk about the amount of food that is wasted in the United States before and the impact that it has on real Americans every day.  The numbers are sickening and nearly unbelievable:

  • 40% of the food produced in the US does not get eaten
  • $165 billion in food thrown away every year or 20 pounds per person every month
  • 49.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households in 2013
  • Average American households are wasting 15-25% of the food bought

As if that information isn’t awful enough, I’m writing about this in this space because of the underlying and bitter reality that makes it possible. Just stop to think of all of the (depleting and non-renewable) natural resources like water and fossil fuels (oil) that are being used to grow, produce, harvest, ship and store all of this food that eventually ends up some landfill somewhere and morphs into a climate destroying methane bomb. Every choice we make has a consequence in the zero sum game of natural resources. And ‘sell by’ dates? Grade A, peanut butter and jelly flavored Bull****. These things look official but are actually about as real as the idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow part of the United States Government!

So what about us? We have very minimal waste in our household. We grow as much of our own food as possible, preserve what we do not eat immediately by canning, freezing and proper dry storage, we compost all of the kitchen cuttings that the chickens do not enjoy to build soil for our gardens and we target shop when we need to go to the store so that we do not buy/spend carelessly which helps us lower our total household food waste.

I wanted to share this video just to bring more awareness to how the process goes here in the US and how we currently use our dwindling and evermore precious natural resources when it comes to food production. Some waste is inherently unavoidable, but I think we all should strive to be closer to our food or at least have a better understanding of the costs associated with how it gets to our table. If this can happen, then maybe we will start to ask more of the process and care a bit more for our fellow citizens on a societal level and just how much our ‘throw away’ society is really costing us.

I encourage you to watch this report from John Oliver on Last Week Tonight and please consider what you can do to help our children, those among us that can do the least for themselves, escape food-insecurity by visiting these organizations:

No Kid Hungry

Feeding America

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Food Waste (HBO)

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BURIED TREASURE: DIY ROOT CELLAR IDEAS AND PLANS

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Abby Quillen, Ghergich & Co and CustomMade bring us this wonderful infographic that details three different ways to create your very own root cellar.  You need a place to store all of those veggies your garden is producing anyway and what better way to get that done than by flexing those DIY muscles?!?

 

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Buried Treasure: Preserve the Harvest in a Root Cellar

Buried Treasure: Preserve the Harvest in a Root Cellar
Infographic by CustomMade

 ALMOST DONE!!!

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The BOLT Concept

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If you’ve bounced around our website, read any of my books or the books I’ve consulted on (Steven Konkoly’s Perseid Collapse series) or ever listened to any of the podcasts where I’ve been a guest, you have certainly heard of the BOLT Kit.  Simply put, the BOLT Kit is the realization of the vision of what we believe the bug out bag should be.  The difference between every other bug out bag you’ve ever heard of and the BOLT Kit is a focused relocation philosophy that is underpinned by a plan, the gear and a skill set necessary to make it a success.  You can find a more detailed look at the BOLT Kit and what makes it unique here.

 

As great as that original post and the previous paragraph are, this post is about the relocation concept and philosophy that allow the actual BOLT Kit to function effectively.  As I stated in the earlier post…

 

At Practical Tactical, we believe in developing a plan in advance of the chaos that will keep you from becoming a refugee should you ever have to leave your home due to an emergency. We think of it as the software to go along with the hardware (read as gear) of preparedness. If you leave your home or primary residence without a definite destination and a well thought out and practiced plan on how to get there, you have instantly become a refugee and that’s a bad spot to be in. During a time of crisis, history has shown us that the life of a refugee is cold, hard and short. Whatever you do, you do not want to become a refugee.

 

In and of itself, that’s pretty self-explanatory.  Don’t go anywhere unless you know exactly where you’re going, how you’re going to get there and oh by the way, make sure you’ve practiced your plan.  But stick with me as we take a deep dive on this idea and look at it a bit closer.

 

So events have conspired to force you to leave your primary residence and it’s time to go, but where are you headed?  We believe that there are several reasons you may have to leave your home that do not announce themselves as the apocalypse by crashing down in the capital letters with a dramatic score of music.  In other words, there are a wide range of incidents that could force you from your home that are not the end of the world, but more of a personal, local or regional crisis type such as a house fire, a flood or a protracted period of severe weather or severe weather impacts (think crippling ice storm that lasts for weeks or the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy).

 

In these types of events, heading off the grid may not be in the cards for several practical reasons.  The situation could be that despite this event that has thrown your world into chaos, life still goes on all around you and you still have to head in to work or your children still have to go to school.  Who knows.  It could be something as absolutely commonplace as you’ve decided to sell your home and you have to be out of the residence before your new home is ready and you need to stay in the area to finalize the sale.  This is why having a scalable approach built in to your BOLT plan makes a lot of sense.  If the situation dictates you can still fully activate your plan, but if it’s not some teotwawki level event you have given yourself several totally viable BOLT hole options.

 

As a part of your overall all BOLT plan, you develop BOLT holes appropriately distanced from your primary residence according to the incident level and threat you are facing that extend out from the location of your primary residence in concentric circles.  Imagine a ringed target.  Your home is the bulls eye and there are BOLT holes placed along each of the outward expanding rings of the target.  Based on the severity of the incident, your BOLT holes are correspondingly further out on the pattern from your primary location and ideally will cover all 360 degrees of the pattern.

 

BOLT map concept

 

LEVEL ONE:  If a pipe bursts and floods your home or a septic system backs up and renders your primary residence unlivable for a few weeks, you could have a BOLT hole set up just minutes from your location where you have arranged to stay with a neighbor, a family member or a close friend or maybe your plan is to check in to a local hotel for the duration of the event.  If your home is completely destroyed in a tornado or a hurricane and the duration of your crisis event is possibly measured in months and not days or weeks, you may want make other arrangements.  LEVEL TWO:  The next level of your plan would go into effect if the entirety of your local area is impacted by an event like a contaminated water supply or an earthquake that destroys most of the local infrastructure.  In a case like this,  your BOLT hole would need to be farther from your primary residence to take you outside the threat area.  Family and friends are always an option if they are located in the region that fits the plan, but you should always explore all of your options.  As you can see, this concept can have as many rings as you deem necessary (LEVEL THREE, LEVEL FOUR, etc.) based on your situation with the ultimate destination of your BOLT plan taking you to your final and most long term BOLT hole location.  Because no plan holds up to first contact,  you can arrange to preposition a cache of supplies at each of the stops along the way that will supplement your original BOLT Kit and help you make it to your next BOLT hole should the ever evolving situation and facts on the ground dictate you continue to move.

 

I hope this sharpens the BOLT concept for you as you develop your disaster plan.  Keep in mind that in order to successfully effect your own survival…whatever the situation…you must embrace the idea that there is more to the story than your gear or even your plan.  To give yourself the greatest chance of success, you must develop a solid plan, outfit your kit based on that plan and support it with the skill set necessary to use that gear, then put it all to the test in real world practice.  If you are resolute in your motivation and meticulous in your preparation, you will sleep well knowing that you and your family will be ready whenever the balloon goes up and that peace of mind is what the daily hard work of preparedness is all about.

 

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OUR PERSONAL THREAT MATRIX

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When the topic of preparedness is the focus of the conversation, the inevitable question from everyone we talk to is “What are you afraid of?” or “What worries you most?”  Not always in an attacking manner.  Some folks are genuinely interested.  Our answer is always much the same.  We do not live in fear of anything because we have a plan supported by skill sets, knowledge and personal capital.  That doesn’t make us some house of bad asses, it just means that we have cultivated a confidence over the years based on experience that we will face whatever comes head on and we have every confidence that we will bear it and beat it.  With that said, there are things in the background that act as motivators for us to take steps to prepare that go beyond all of the common sense reasons (severe weather, unexpected job loss, an injury that puts you on the shelf for a while, etc) we believe it is necessary to embrace a lifestyle of preparedness.  In no particular order, these are the things my wife and I view as “big bad” reasons to practice preparedness as a family:

 

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Pandemic – It has happened before and it will happen again.  Don’t take it from me, just check this outHere’s another.  For me, this was probably the first “bigger picture” threat that really grabbed my attention.

IMAG1418Resource depletion (societal strains and impacts) – Whether it’s the rampant loss of quality top soils, access to clean water, oil (the master resource) or any of the others, the resources that are vital to the stability and continuation of our civilization are becoming increasingly more difficult to procure which is straining our society and it’s people and there is a constant creeping tension surrounding this fact.  This stark reality surrounds us and you don’t have to look very hard to see cracks in the foundation of our republic already appearing.

EMP (Electromagnetic pulse) or CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) -The threat of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is not a new one, but it has become clear that deploying an EMP weapon over the continental United States would rank among the primary goals of any of those engaging in state sponsored terrorism due to the projected devastating impacts of such an attack.  A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) could also spell disaster for our aging power grid here in the US.  Like a pandemic, it’s happened before and our cosmic address places us in the shooting gallery so it’s no surprise that we have had a few near misses and close calls. We can all sleep soundly knowing that there is a 12% chance that we will find ourselves directly in the firing line of a massive solar flare and resulting coronal mass ejection by 2020.

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So there you have it.  Of course, beyond the basic seasonal weather events, I’m curious what motivates you and your family to prepare.  Please tell us about it in the comment section below.  Also, keep up with everything Practical Tactical by subscribing to our mailing list and be sure to LIKE, SHARE and FOLLOW us across all of our social media platforms.

WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: OBSERVE YOUR WORLD

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There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about a really complete preparedness plan, not the least of which is weather. Obviously this means getting prepared to ride out the storms that roll through from time to time for all of us. The occasional severe storm that brings a tornado, hurricane, snow or ice storm, flooding and so on. But have you ever given any thought to how you might deal with weather in a long term survival situation like after a devastating seasonal storm knocks out all communications in your area for an extended period or, if you allow yourself to really consider how bad things could be, after a collapse? Your answer could turn out to be a matter of life and death. That’s why I wanted to share a few ideas on tools and concepts that will help you better understand the weather, and why it’s important to round out your complete preparedness plan.

I’ll touch on a few of the high points here, but I hope you will watch the video to get the full picture of what I’m talking about.

PREPAREDNESS LIBRARY

Being interested in preparedness, we should all have one and no preparedness library is complete without some titles on weather identification and history. Whether you are old school like me and like the feel of a book in your hand or you prefer to download your books, PDFs and other information on jump drives and designated tablets or laptops, I would strongly suggest you include some of these materials in your collection.

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WEATHER TOOLS

A couple of basic tools you will want to include in your DIY weather center are a barometer, thermometer and a rain gauge. With just these three items you will be able to forecast changing weather and establish weather trends. You can get a small and rugged barometer for your BOLT Kit in case you find yourself on the move.

WEATHER HOMEWORK

Now that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of your local weather, the next step is to document what you’re seeing so you can use this information in the future to help you make better decisions based on weather conditions. Here are three simple actions steps you can take immediately to better understand your weather.

1. Create and keep a weather log and an accompanying journal about the weather readings you observing.

2. Get familiar with your local weather history by talking to people that have lived and worked in the area for a long time. There’s nothing better than real, on the ground intel from people that have lived it.

3. Contact your local county level government officials and ask for Hazard Vulnerability (or Risk) Assessment for your area. This is usually not classified material of any type and as a taxpayer you should be able to obtain a copy free of charge.

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PREPAREDNESS APPLICATIONS

When it comes to preparedness, there are many applications for weather information in your particular area. Whether it’s determining when it’s time to put the garden in, whether or not the fish will be biting or if there is a strong storm moving in, the more informed you are the better chance you will have of being successful in your efforts and keeping your group and yourself safe.

WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: OBSERVE YOUR WORLD

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It’s not the fall that gets you….

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It’s not the fall that kills you; it’s the sudden change of direction at the bottom.

It’s not necessarily the disaster that kills you.  It’s the severe dislocation of normal societal systems and the chaos and peril associated with it that comes in the two weeks, to a month, to six months following a major disaster that’s really going to determine whether or not you survive.  I say this because as a society, we are completely and totally dependent on our wholly integrated, just in time delivery systems to supply us with the basic necessities required for life.  Our water, our food, the energy we use to power everything that makes this super sized, got to have it right now society of ours whir, it’s all at our fingertips.  The unpalatable truth of our reality is that most people have completely lost touch with all that it takes to procure these basic necessities of life for ourselves.  The really frightening part of this situation is that most in our society do not or will not recognize the fact that by a whole boatload of metrics we are already falling, but because fresh water still flows from the tap, there is food on the shelves when you go to buy and there is still relatively inexpensive gasoline at the pumps when you go to fill up, people are able to turn a blind eye to the nation’s ills because they believe they do not impact them personally.  This of course is a fallacy, but normalcy bias is a powerful thing and the majority chooses to simply not acknowledge the problems they see all around them because it’s just easier.  Never mind looking to the future and where we may end up if we continue on our current trajectories as a nation, most folks only care about next weekend.

The unfortunate truth is that you will stop falling at some point and that’s when things get ugly.  That is when reality demands a cold, hard stop to the continuations of life as we know it and we are forced to make a new way forward.  Or we don’t.

When faced with this new reality, most people will have a very difficult time because they do not have the tools or the skill set necessary to take care of themselves.

So what do I say?

1. Embrace a big picture, long range viewpoint in an effort to see the unhinging before it happens.  This will give you a chance to spot when trouble is ahead and begin to take steps to get better prepared to handle it.  Educate yourself about the most probable threats for your area to start and grow your threat matrix from there.

2. Develop a plan to navigate these disruptions that best fits your circumstance based on your capabilities whatever they are.  Everyone can prepare.  Don’t waste your time worrying about a hurricane if you live in a desert.  Focus your planning and tailor it to suit your needs.  Furthermore, it does not matter what your limitations may be, there are very useful ways for everyone to become better prepared.  Remember, knowledge doesn’t have to cost anything to attain and weighs even less.

3. You can’t know the future for certain, so learn practical skills and don’t just acquire stuff.  There are more than a few folks out there that want to sell you the latest gadget or piece of gear, but if you don’t know how to use all that stuff it will do you no good.  Skills learned, practiced and verified in the back yard or on a family camping trip will most likely be way more valuable in the long run.  Acquiring these skills will make you flexible and adaptable and you will be able to use them any time.

4. Know your tribe.  You may be a verifiable bad ass, but none of us can effect sustainable, long term survival by ourselves in the long run.  Figure out who in your circles is of a like mind now before the storm rolls in and begin to take steps to strengthen those relationships.  You will want to surround yourself with people you know you can trust, that are hard working individuals that understand the importance of team concepts, that most likely share your general world views and who will excel in any area that you may not be as strong.  You will be glad you did.

 5. Enjoy life, but keep your eye on the ball.  Most of us prepare because we want to be able to take care of our family should we ever find ourselves in a bad situation and every one of us should be proud of that fact.  With that said, don’t allow yourself to become so focused on your preparations that you lose sight of why you’re working so hard to get ready in the first place.  Remember to make time to enjoy your family, friends and loved ones now while the world is still rolling along.  There may be dark days in the future, but while the sun is shining get out there and embrace the good times with those you care about.  Take a vacation, play with your children and take your wife or husband out to a nice dinner.  Live your life!  Isn’t that what it’s for?  Preparedness will never fall completely out of focus for people like us because it is a fundamental part of who we are, so don’t worry about that.  While you’re out there doing the hard work of preparedness day after day, just be sure to remember to take a little time to enjoy the good stuff.  Those people you are working so hard for will appreciate and love you for it.

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