Survival

“The more complex the mind the greater the need for simplicity of play.”  Capt James T Kirk

Its been a few days since I have had time to update my blog so I thought I would do so with a long post so “be warned those who enter here!”  With the level of activity and constant variety of jobs to be done I feel the need for simple play but there is no time right now it would seem.  Nor is there anyone who wants to play either.  This rain would normally indicate a time to stop and rest, but rain isn’t welcome right now because of the list of things that must be done is not getting any shorter.

The new shed/warehouse/shop has a concrete floor now.  The final pour happened yesterday and it looks truly beautiful.  Concrete will be a welcome departure from rock and asphalt.  The heat in the floor will be a welcome wonder for winter work that doesn’t seem to get done now because of the cold in the other shed.  There is still a lot of work to be done on the shed but its getting closer.

 

I got in one good day of soil sampling on 2012 ground this past week before I had to pull out and head to a Pioneer meeting.  The ground is sampling nice for the most part but is kind of funny in a way for March.  With the lack of snow and shallow freeze/thaw that we get here in southern Illinois in a normal winter the ground is very “fluffy” in a lot of areas.  That is dependent on if there was fall tillage done, but there is a good 3-4 inches of fluffy ground on most fields I have been on.

Everyone says they are ready to go to the field and plant corn, or so they say.  Yet I can gather that most don’t have their seed corn yet and they keep forgetting that its March and not April.  This very mild winter has got everyone mixed up and if it keeps this up till April I suspect we will see a lot of corn go in the ground sooner rather than later.

I did manage to slip in getting another field chisel plowed yesterday evening after I got back from my meeting.  The ground is hard in these wheat fields and its no wonder why.  The wet conditions last summer resulted in ruts from wheat harvest, double crop bean planting and from the bean harvest.  Its ground is packed tight!

A side note is that while the big tractor is working in the field, out of no where come these seagulls.  I have no clue where they came from. They are not hanging out around the farm anywhere, and the lake is several miles away.  Yet they seem to show up within minutes of the tractor going to the field and disappear just a quickly when I shut it down.  They don’t hang around.  Strange birds for sure.

 

BTW in case I didn’t gripe enough its week 2 without any acetylene yet………….

If all that wasn’t enough, we have also been trying to get details on the new business finalized.  That also isn’t getting done as fast as I want but it is going forward and we will be ready to go live soon, I hope.  I guess if I wasn’t so busy with everything else I could get that done as well.

Speaking of simple play. What has happened to my “gun” shows on the outside channels?  I mean even my favorites are not worth watching as of late on TV.   It seems that every show is now doing the same topic week after week.  I mean come on guys show me something new or original, not the same thing program after program with the same bad “experts” talking about and using the trendy words or latest fad in “tactical cool”.  I have no interest in hanging an espresso maker off my AR’s rail.

Worse yet some have fallen into this “prepper” mentality as well.  All I need is another show with the end of the word being  preppers or bunker preppers or salt and preppers or what ever, with some gun play involved.  First off your guys don’t have a clue, second you make gun owners look bad and three you can’t be for real.  I mean anyone who is so scared of the EOTWAWKI would not be on national TV or even a gun show showing the world what you have laid in for an emergency.

Nothing on TV at all anymore.

Simple is what I need, simple play.

Parts of Southern Illinois got hit pretty hard not more than 36 hours ago with a 4 a.m. EF4 tornado that killed at least 6 in Harrisburg and destroyed homes and businesses in three counties.  Over 300 buildings were destroyed in Harrisburg alone including the hospital.  12,000 were without power most of yesterday.  The pictures of devastation flood Facebook and local newspapers as well as national and local TV.

In the middle of all this destruction are good people who are volunteering their time, efforts and energy to help search, rescue and recover the lives of those effected.  To you folks I give you a big “two thumbs up”.  Your work is greatly appreciated.  To those who showed up an had nothing to do because the response was so overwhelming kudos to you for caring and wanting to help.  Again that heart of a servant is what is needed today.

What I can’t stand is how, in a great time of need like this, the politicians and media swoop down to make hay out of misery.  Like flies drawn to a fresh pile of crap in the middle of all the hurting and recovery going on you had the Governor, Lt Governor and all their cronies holding a press conference right in the middle of the destruction to tell everyone they were there and that they cared.  The media circus that has followed is just as tasteless.  Watching the national media reduce a towns life altering event into a 30 sec sound bite while standing the middle of what was someones house is equally as opportunistic as what the Governor did.  Just look at how long it takes for the stories to get buried as the next “big news event” happens.

In a day or two the flies will move on to the next pile for their feeding frenzy and Harrisburg, Ridgway, Marion and other towns will be left to fend for themselves.

Southern Illinois alone, again.

God bless those people in and out of uniform who will continue to show up to work and to give with a servants heart long after the circus leaves town.  For those are whom our foundation of community are built on and why we have and will continue to survive without Chicago and NBC news.

God bless you people of Southern Illinois who give.

Think for a minute where your water comes from.  While you think about that also think about where your power comes from.  Not sure?  Don’t know?  I am not looking for “the faucet” or from “the plug”.  

Water comes from a large source like a lake, reservoir or major stream or river.   Water is pumped, by electrical means from the source through underground pipes to a treatment plant.  Then it is pumped out in main trunk lines, that are under ground, to be distributed to houses and places of business through an even more complex and longer series of pipes.  At some point in the maize of pipes is a device to hold or keep pressure on the liens so that water flows when the tap is turned on and doesn’t sit in the pipes.  This is often a water tower or water tank in which water is pumped into at a great volume and height to keep a constant pressure on the outgoing water supply.

So your water gets to your house by underground pipe that has pressure applied to it by means of a water tower (at some point) and an electrical pump at many levels or locations from the source.

Turn off the power, drain the water tower or break a pipe and your out of water.  Now multiply that by the houses in your town, county and then in the region around you……………..

Think about your electricity the same way except it is all in overhead lines on wooded poles (for the most part) assuming that the major supply lines (those big steel transmission lines) don’t fall down as well.  Think about the last time you were without power.  How long did it take to fix that one pole that broke? Fix that one substation the went down?  Replace that one transformer that took a lightening hit.  Now multiply that time by the number of homes, poles, towns and such in your region.

And we haven’t talked about natural gas, fuel, propane, sewers, storm water, telephones and internet.  All things that travel under ground in pipes or in lines attached to poles up in the air.

It is estimated that it will take MONTHS to restore just basic service of water and power.  In some of the more rural areas it might be a YEAR or more.  Most pipelines that supply the NE US (Chicago alone gets most of its gas supplied though pipelines that run through this area) will have numerous breaks and take months if not years to fix.  Roads and bridges will be impassable for YEARS.

This isn’t a winter storm where the power will be out for a while and then come back on.  It is not a winter storm where you have time to go get milk and bread at the store before it gets here.  This will be a NO NOTICE EVENT.

The economic loss will be beyond comparison.  A 7.0 New Madrid earthquake would eclipse Hurricane Katrina in human and economic loss and not only hit the Mississippi/Ohio Valley hard but would hurt the entire eastern one third of the US.  Basically any service (natural gas, power, highway, rail or water) that runs through the shaded areas blow could be disrupted in a New Madrid event.  Look at the map, that basically blocks the east half of the country from the west half………

The human loss will be unbelievable as well:  Injured, killed and displaced.  During Katrina was the first time I have ever heard the news stations in the US and FEMA refer to people trying to get out of NOLA as “refugees”.  We will have a lot of “refugees” in the red and pink areas of the map above.  I don’t think we can comprehend the toll this event could take on human life.  The folks in NOLA had a chance to get out……….this is a NO NOTICE EVENT.

So, do you have a plan?  ”Waiting on the government helicopter to drop supplies” is not a plan………..  there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

Another couple of thoughts from SLE 2011.

The next time you get in your car to go somewhere take the time to notice just how many bridges you have to cross, no matter how small or big they may be.  Notice how many roads go through low areas, especially those roads that are built up.  Notice how many power lines parallel the roads your on, not the little one or two line power lines but the larger 4-8 line power lines, on wooden poles.

Why notice this?

Because in the exercise most of those bridges, roads and power lines would be down and it would be impassable.  And we haven’t even talked about those large trees that might fall over along the same roads.

Well, I live in town…….ok how would you walk to anywhere with power lines down or even sewers collapsed etc.?

All those obstacles are just that, obstacles, to getting relief supplies and assistance to you in a major earthquake.  How long will it take to get to you from the least effected area?  DAYS.

So figure this:  The farther away you are from a major highway the longer it will take “the government” to get to your area to bring relief.

So that 65,000 gal of water that was requested yesterday is going to set on a truck now for the second day as they try to clear a road to get to your town or city.  It may be several  more days before it gets there.  That generator, same thing.  Those medical supplies, those doctors, that Hazmat team…….same thing.

And no Margret, there are not enough helichopters available in the first 72 hours to get the job done either.  Remember its not just your town its ALL OF THEM…….there are not enough helicopters for the job.

Roads, Bridges and Power Lines……………..

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”. 

 

Just a quick note this morning as I head into day 2 of SLE 2011, a state wide disaster drill here in Illinois that has a New Madrid earthquake as its plot.  I have been working with Region 11 as their RACES radio operator.

If an actual event were to happen as the plot has been……..well folks you are on your own so to speak for a good while.  How long?  Three days to 2 weeks?  Maybe even longer.  As one of the participants said as the request for assistance started to flow over the radio “there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.

Which brings me to water.  It seemed like every time I turned around there was a request for water going out over the radio.  Not a case or two but thousands of gallons just for a days supply of drinking water for towns as they discovered their water supply was disrupted by the quake.

Water.

3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water………….

That got me to thinking just how prepared are folks for a disaster?  Do they have water?  Do they know where the hidden water is in their house?  How many ( I bet most) are counting on the government to supply water……..over broken bridges, broken roads and all other disrupted infrastructure…….

What else do they not know or don’t have if there were a disaster?  

“there wont be enough assets to cover this, you had better be ready to go alone for a while”.  

So what comes after water………..today we will find out.

 

This is about 2 years old, but it makes a point I want to get across.  Farm Equipment is a lot bigger than your car, its a lot heavier than your car and its not going to move when you hit it.  ITS BIGGER THAN YOU.  SLOW DOWN and stay alive.

I hate to say this but I see way too many potential accidents waiting to happen every day.  Most are young women or girls who are driving WAY TOO FAST and are either on the phone or are texting  (the texting is illegal, but it doesn’t seem to matter)  with the music loud enough that I can hear it over the roar of the motor of the tractor or combine. (or at leas the base)

If you come up behind us and you cant see our mirrors, we cant see you.  If you try to pass us, make sure to do so where the road is wide and allow plenty of time.  If you meet us head on GET OVER!

I had hoped to take better pictures and more of them, but with time constraints and being by myself, this was as good as I could do.

Today was different.  It wasn’t my usual day from the standpoint of doing the things I normally do.  I spent a good part of the day trying to help out, in the little way I could, those people who have been displaced by the flooding.

Last night at a church meeting Pastor Sammy announced that one of the shelters in Ullin needed shower shoes or flip-flops.  I volunteered along with Greg Poole to go and get 150 pairs of shower shoes and deliver them to the shelter at the Shawnee Community College.  So this morning it was up and off to buy 150 pairs of shower shoes and drive them the 70 or so miles south to Ullin.

Greg got called into work so I was off on my own.  First stop, Wal Mart, to see how many pairs of flip-flops I could score before moving on to the next store.  I grabbed a cart and headed to the shoe department, which has been moved since the last time I was there.  I had to wander around a bit until I found the shoes and then the flip-flops.  Once I was there, I began loading the merchandise.

I spied a rather large selection in the men’s part of the shoe department.  So I positioned my cart against the rack and began to just pull them off the shelf and into the cart.  Pretty easy until I got down even with the cart, then I just had to pull them off and stack them in the cart.  Once the shelves were empty, I headed to the women’s section and repeated until the cart was overflowing with shoes.

Now came the hard part…getting them to the check out without losing them along the way.

I made it to the check out aisles with more than a few strange looks and even one comment about me having a shoe fetish from some guy.  Once at the check out, I had to pile them all on the counter to get them scanned.  At that point I told the nice lady at the checkout that I would go get another cart full and be back quickly.  She assured me that she would be right there, still scanning the shoes.  Back with a second cart full, the final tally showed that I was 8 pairs short of the 150 I needed.  So back to shoes and to grab the last few pairs they had.

Ok, so now I had two full shopping carts of flip-flops checked out and headed to the parking lot hoping they would fit in the trunk of the Corolla. They did, barely, and it was off to Ullin.

 

Ullin is about 18 miles or so North of Cairo.  Cairo is where the major flooding is, but as I got close I could see some of the farm land had good amounts of back water on it.


 

First obstacle after getting off the interstate was that the main road was closed due to back water being over it.  A quick call the Red Cross, who is running the shelter, to get some directions netted me an “ask a local” after they couldn’t find a map that would get me from where I was to where I needed to be.  So after asking a local who was very kind and gave me good directions, but acted like I should know how to get around, I was off.

I will let the next few pictures speak for themselves.  I drove past mile after mile of flooded farm land, only saw one house that was in or under water on my detour route, but saw several that the water was close to. The back water was high and there were lots of acres of water everywhere.

I arrived at Shawnee Community College to find a healthy contingent of the Red Cross and Baptist Relief workers tending to a gym full of displaced people.

I felt kind of out of place when amid the volunteers, they were working the phones for propane, food, and other “big important” items compared to flip-flops.  I announced that I had brought 150 pairs of shower shoes.  A quick glance by a few of the volunteers, a smile and a “where are they” comment later and we were out in the parking lot getting them out of the trunk and into the hand of the relief workers to be sorted and then passed out.  At that point, my duty was over and I followed my bread crumbs back through the country detour I had taken and then home.

Lesson learned:  It’s not the size of the item needed that makes it important, it’s the size of the need that makes it important.

 

What does your humble farmer, agronomist and blogger do during these downpours and rainy days when the other work is caught up or he is just tired of watching it rain? Well he works on some of the Ham Radio projects he has laying around cluttering up the floor of his office, that’s what!

This last weekend I was running my CAP radios for a practice communications exercise as well as monitoring areal photo recon missions of the flooding at this end of the state. So between radio contacts I gathered up a couple of projects that had been laying here in the floor and got them finished up.

First was the construction of some J-pole antennas for 2 meters and 70 centimeters(440). I need to rebuild my communications array on the top of my tower and the new antennas are needed to replace a broken one and one that needs to be retired. So instead of buying a commercial one for hundreds of dollars, I got out the old pipe cutters and went to work.

Here are a few of the antennas. I ended up making two for 70 cementers and three for 2 meters. The ones that don’t go on the tower will go in my emergency go kit for ARES/RACES. I hope to be able to repair the one I take down that is a dual band 440/2mtr but I suspect it is pretty much done for on 440.

I also took the time to complete another cutting board portable setup for my 2mtr/440 Kenwood. You can read all bout my Cutting Board Portable setup for HF here.

As usual I start with a lexan/plastic  cutting board and an aluminium tool box/brief case.  The cutting board comes from “a large discount retailer” and the case I got at Menards.

I mounted the radio and two speakers for each side of the radio.  Then I added a grounding strap to the radio.  The last bit was to mount the display head to the desk mount and then place it with the cutting board.

The radio will now fit on my desk with my other radios and can be broken down in a matter of seconds and put in the briefcase for safe transport to any location where it might be needed.  This is great for camping and portable operations as well as RACES/ARES activities.

Well anyway, there is a day in the life of a farmer/ham radio operator.

And its raining again……..

Continued form the VA Disaster Drill inspired blog………

Well Part III will be short and sweet so to speak.  The four lessons learned at the VA Drill are pretty straight forward I think.  Yet we in EmComms and Emergency Managers in all services can’t seem to learn them. 

It is assumed that when the “balloon goes up” or the “alarm sounds” that communications will be there and it will work.  Why?  Because it has always worked and because it is always there:  a circular argument.  In other words communications is taken for granted.  

And because it is taken for granted, in a lot of Emergency Services groups have designated Radio Communications to the glass case with “break in case of emergency”, only to be used when their cell phone quits or internet connection is lost.  So there is no use of the asset and no one to exploit the asset until “everything else fails” and you become the comms expert because “you’re the guy with the working radio”.  

You can see this with most EmComms groups:  They “train” for a mission that either doesn’t exist or for a served agency who has them in the glass box and doesn’t know their true value because they don’t exercise them in a realistic method. 

You see this with most disaster plans:  When a agency or entity sees that their might be a need for an alternate emergency communication method they don’t consider everything needed to fully utilize that asset.  Case in point, the Region Hospital “doomsday radio box”; containing an HF, VHF and two VHF hand held radios, lots of great toys in a nice waterproof box.  Yet there is no power supply, woops forgot that, and in most cases, no one who knows how to use the radios! 

You can see this in our preparation for emergencies when we do drill by how we drill.  We don’t play it for real.  We ignore lessons learned from the past.  We can only work from the cookie cutter approach of one shape for all disasters.  So when a problem occurs we don’t know how to react, correct or compensate for the problem when it is for real. 

Am I being down on all EmComms?  No.  I am just relating what I have seen as a result of the assumption that EmComms will work because it has been taken for granted, assumed it will work because it is part of the plan, that someone will be able to pull a rabbit from a hat and make magic on the day when it is needed and that when those problems come up we will have trained for those problems and be able to concur them.  

I am saying that the SET exercise on this Saturday is realistic; it is patterned after a real event.  It includes some of the EOTWAWKI things that happened in Kentucky last year. And yet as I listen to ARES folks, Ham Operators and Emergency Services people most of who still talk about pre deploying assets or where to deploy or how to deploy I am saying that there are still a bunch of people who don’t get it. 

 Learn from past experiences, make your training real, work with your served agency in real time, understand how to exploit your asset and most important COMMUNICATE with those whom you will be working with during the real thing. 

PLEASE train like you will play.  It will make all the difference in winning on game day vs. having showed up and becoming a spontaneous volunteer.

As I said in the first part of this series, Lessons 3 and 4 were realized after the fact or after the exercise was done.  When there is time for reflection on things said and things done and you can connect the dots you do end up with a gee whiz moment. 

Lesson #3 comes from a conversation with one of the drill participants after the drill.  In talking about the drill he commented that the scenario wasn’t very realistic.  OK I thought, so you didn’t like the training, or that things didn’t go your way and therefore it wasn’t planned right.  So I bit and asked “why not?”  May 8th was the answer. 

For those who don’t know, May 8th 2009 was the “inland hurricane” that marched down, for the better part, St Rt 13 in Southern Illinois.  Very intense wind and rain in a circular motion like a hurricane complete with an “eye”.  This individual commented that the drill scenario was a building collapse based on an earthquake.  (At this point, I was waiting to connect the dots…….) If there were an earthquake strong enough to bring down the building, then it would also bring down the trees that line the road to the facility and power lines that boundary the facility.  Just like May 8th.  He went on to explain that on May 8th the facility was an “island surrounded by down trees and power lines. No one could get in or out of the facility”. 

Upon leaving the facility I noticed that the trees are still lining the roads and the power lines are back up in the air on new power poles.  

Lesson #3:  If you don’t learn from past experience and incorporate that into you training plan, then you’re doomed to repeat the experience of the past in a future event. 

 Did we learn anything from May 8th?  In many instances I am going to say no. 

Lesson #4 is that communications is more than just radios.  No I don’t mean cell phones or faxes.  I mean if you’re not talking to your support agencies or served agencies or other entities with assets that you might plan to use in the event of an emergency then don’t be surprised if they don’t show up when you need them. 

My point here is that if you plan to call on Entity X for support in an emergency, then Entity X needs to be part of your training.  That also means that X needs to have the right set of boots on the ground during the training, not just a “representative”.  Better yet they need to show up for the training and be a part of it.  

Same thing with ARES or RACES.  If your working a drill for a served agency, then your counterparts in the served agency need to be there with you training.  Many times I have been to a drill where we have pretended that the served agency or asset is there.  In other words we are practicing for a situation in which they don’t know about nor might use us for.  Wasted time……….. 

I am real worried that many ECOMMS groups are not communicating with their served agency or asset.  I mean talking face to face, not RF to RF.  

Tomorrow I combine all four lessons to comment on the upcomming SET exercise.

The VA disaster drill I participated in with the ITECS group gave cause to think about several things ARES/RACES/CAP Comms related.  Overall we didn’t do much and there wasn’t much comms during the drill.  That’s not a problem in my book because time for observation means time to learn. 

Two observations that I made during the exercise were driven home pretty clearly and need to be explained to those who believe and don’t believe in the need for radio comms.

Two more observations gained from the exercise, but not realized until after the exercise, also drove home some pretty important points that need to be addressed. 

Then these four observations made for a reality check with regard to the Illinois ARES SET exercise, the new Illinois RACES program and to CAP communications in general.  So in this first part of most likely a three part blog I will address the first two simple observations from the exercise. 

Lesson Learned #1:  When confusion sets in, the fecal matter hits the forced air impeller and the “usual” methods of communications break down, the “guy with a radio” is the automatic go to man (or woman).  While not a “gee wiz” moment by any means it was a point driven home very clearly when in the middle of the exercise, when all was going wrong (as it appeared to me just watching) the ER nurse came running up the ITECS trailer and said she “needed us to call an ambulance”.  When we told here we were there just for support of the training and not really there she said “well, you have the radios, your communications!”.  I think we broke her heart when we told her that she needed to go about calling an ambulance via the “scenario game plan”. 

If there are no phones and no Internet and no radios that work and you hold a radio and look like you know what you’re doing, you just became the go to guy in an emergency.  The question is if this new found faith in you valid?  Can you use your radio, do you know who to contact, when to contact them and how to contact them?  Do you possess the tools and most importantly the training to be the go to guy when that badge is pinned to your shirt, like it or not and ready or not? 

What happens when you’re the only one who has a working radio?  Hams who had working radios became the go to guys during the IceQuake in Kentucky not to long ago.  Operating from their homes or vehicles these Hams became the ones who kept things together when all systems failed.

Take Home Message:  Train and prepare now………before your designated as the go to guy.

Lesson #2 All the comm assets in the world are pretty useless if no one knows how to use them.  Better yet all the comm assets in the world are useless if no one know how to use them effectively.  I said we were there to support the exercise with comms.  We passed out radios, no one used them.  We set up antennas; no RF went out of them.  People didn’t know who had a radio and who didn’t.  When you have an asset that no one is using or know how to use then your asset it pretty much in the way. 

I am in no way putting down the ITECS team, trailer or equipment.  Quite the contrary, I am saying that when you have these kinds of tools and trained people and they are not utilized then you are missing the  boat.  Yes, ITECS was there for support but even the radios passed out for support were not used. 

Communications has to be part of the plan.  As part of the plan, people have to know how to use that asset.  They have to know who has that asset and how that asset is to be used.  You can’t assume that everyone will know who has what and where and how when its time to do it for real.  That’s more than push this button to talk.  No they don’t need to know the rocket science behind radio theory, just who has them, who knows how to use them and what they are to be used for. 

Take Home Message:  Plan the work and work the plan.  Designate people to know the asset, use the asset and exploit the asset in a time of emergency. 

As I will explain in Part 2, Lesson 1 and 2 have a great bearing on what happens with Lesson 3 and 4.  And all 4 lessons have an impact on what happens when you suit up and play for real……….TRAIN LIKE YOU PLAY.

Train like you play and plan for problems so when they happen they just become part of the plan!

I will find a way to fly the flag upside down on this site from now on.  If you don’t know what an upside down flag is, you had better look it up.

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It was sometime during the Katrina mess that I heard a reporter on one of the national news outlets refer to Americans from the Gulf Coast as “refugees”.  That I think was the first time I have ever heard Americans referred to as refugees.  I realized that most Americans, especially those in big cities, expect to be taken care of by the government. 

That point was driven home recently at a meeting I was at were it was explained that 40% of Americans don’t pay ANY taxes and only receive money from the government.  These 40% are referred to as the entitled people.  They expect an entitlement or a handout from the government.

The recent earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Aisia and the scenes of helplessness, looting and “wheres the government” replies from the people to the press have reinforced my thinking in being prepared for disaster when it might strike.  Two books I have read in a few years past came back off the bookshelf to be reread to make sure I was thinking correctly. 

Surviving a Disaster by Tony Nester is a short 57 page book that is excellent in getting ready to leave a disaster after it happens.  I cant say enough good things about this book.  It covers how not to be a refugee in my thinking. 

The other book is Organize for Disaster by Judith Kolberg.  This book is taken from the other end, on how to reconstruct your life after a disaster.  It deals with how to organize your belongings and information (like important papers etc) before a disaster strikes so that you can live after the disaster. 

Both books are excellent an get five stars from me.

Prepare now so that some day some reporter doesn’t refer to you as a refugee.

Here is a short video I did on the Glow Green glow stick that I got a HomeDepot. It is pretty good for the money, replaces the chemical glow sticks that “give up” after a few hours of use or not being used for that matter. Plus it has a flashlight.

Great for ARES go bags, Bug out Bags, 24 hr packs etc.


Well after going to Ridgway to work on Saturday morning it was home to enjoy a beautiful day getting ready to go camping. I don’t know when we will go yet for the first trip, but I know we ran out of firewood last year so it was time to put the kids to work to get some split up. I have been cleaning out a water way and it was making some pretty good wood. It seems like it takes a lot of logs to make a small pile of logs but it turns into a big pile of split wood.

There is nothing more relaxing to me than to sit around a campfire at the lake and just stare at it.

When I was at Ft Knox for PJOC in 1982 the PJ’s had us practice making fire. We had fire building races and such that were pretty fun and educational as well. (for those that don’t know, PJOC stand for Para Jump Orientation Course. It was a orientation course of the US Air Force Pararescue men, the guys who go in behind enemy lines to rescue downed pilots. PJ is the nickname for the Pararescue men.)

The PJ’s and our SERE instructor called our campfire “survival tv”. It has one channel and everyone watches it. How true it is.

A campfire is not only used to cook by and to warm by but it is also very calming and therapeutic in many ways. Often people who are lost or separated from their groups in the wilderness comment that building a fire made them not only warm but also made them relax and calmer.

Just look around the “survival tv” set the next time your camping and see the looks, the stares, into the fire, and see the calm expressions on the faces of those that sit around it.

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