Not Paranoid Just Prepared

Preparing Through Diet, Health, and Fitness

Sep
23

This is a re-post from my Desert Explorer Blog. I posted it there first as a follow up to similar topics I have written about.  It seems appropriate for this blog as well. If we are not fit and healthy, we are at a serious disadvantage in all that we do- and that certainly applies to being prepared. Read on and stay healthy.

I know this is a departure from my usual post topics of the desert, gear, trip reports, and archaeology. In a sense it is a belated follow-up to a post of a few years back about going gluten-free and making other changes to my diet.  As someone who has been going for my entire life, who never stops moving, as a runner, a hiker, biker, backpacker, and so on, my health and fitness define my life.  Diet is an inseparable part of that health, fitness, and lifestyle. And so, this post.

To recap what prompted some pretty drastic changes to my diet, a few years back I started experiencing allergic reactions to certain foods, or so it seemed. The reactions were in no way life threatening, but more of an annoyance. I decided immediately to make some changes- no more gluten, soy, peanuts or dairy other than occasional hard cheeses- more recently I have cut out grains and all added sugars as well.  Since then I have felt great- and often realised that I have never felt better!

But once again some of those reactions started to show up.   I visited my medical doctor who within seconds of my describing the symptoms was already talking about drugs and allergy tests. Since I went to her without any expectations of help, I left in the same mindset- that change was up to me. I immediately went back to doing more research and found that intestinal permeability was a very likely cause of the reactions. And probably had been all along.

Yes, it seems to be another “trendy” problem; intestinal permeability is up there with being gluten free, fermented vegetables, and paleo diets.  But there are times when trendy things make sense, when data support the trends we follow. All of a sudden, everywhere I looked, every book I picked up, every person I talked to told the same story. Intestinal problems seemed to be affecting everyone. I felt very disturbed at this development, both because it affected me, and because I found myself asking what kind of a world we’ve created where we readily accept and eat “food” that is toxic and is killing us! But the eternal skeptic in me understood that we live in a time of producers and consumers. We take what we are fed…at least until we can’t take it any more….

Back to diet and health. As the symptoms returned a book showed up at our house. My son read it first, and would not stop talking about it. It covered so many of his interests- World War II resistance fighters, guerilla warfare, Greek mythology, edible wild plants, diet, exercise, parkour, and natural movement. So I had to read it next. I was immediately so engulfed that I couldn’t put it down. Not only did it convey so many things I really needed to read about, it sent me off in other directions which were equally important to my current research. First published in 2015, Natural Born Heroes is written by Christopher McDougall. The book is centered in Crete during World War II, but it is so multi-dimensional, so full of adventure, and leads in so many other directions, that it will appeal to just about anyone. McDougall introduces the reader to the Cretan resistance during World War II, to the local sheep herders who became guerilla fighters when they needed to, to operatives from Churchill’s Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, and to how they fought together and used the natural environment as part of their strategy to win.  So, how does this relate to my health?

Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall

Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall- another starting point for me in my quest for a healthy, active life.

The author, an athlete and ultra-runner, talks extensively about diet and how it relates to the ability to endure physically. He introduces the paleo diet, the Maffetone Method (more on that in the future), and sugar-free, meat and vegetable based eating. There are so many other topics he delves into- “health as heroism”, the importance of interaction with nature, the history of natural movement, diet and evolution, fat as fuel, the myths of cholesterol and carbo-loading, and the menace of sugar- that there is no way I could cover it all in a blog post. I suggest reading the book! It was another starting point for me, helping take my health to another level.

Next on the reading list is a book about autoimmune conditions. More fun reading, which I will write about soon. In the meantime I’ll be running every day and enjoying my health. For more on our adventures- most of which take places in the Utah  desert- visit the Desert Explorer website.

Bank Closures, the Concentration of Wealth, and Your Money

Jan
13

Our economy is stable and those running it are benevolent and care deeply about all of us. If you believe that, there might be some investment land waiting for you in the swamps of Florida. The graph below is from the FRED website, the Federal Reserve Economic Data database of the Federal Reserve Bank of  St. Louis. In the graph, the decline began in the early 1980’s, during and after the  Savings & Loan scandal, largely perpetuated by Neil Bush, of the Bush monarchy.

You might ask the question, “with all the bank closures, why does it seem like there are still so many banks?”  The answer comes in the now-common phrase “too big to fail.”  For more on that, see Neil Young. Small, failed banks, and even larger ones (see JP Morgan-Chase– the largest bank in the U.S.), have been consumed and taken over by the massive multinational banks whose names are now all-too familiar to everyone.

Some economists argue that this is how free enterprise and the economic system works, that inefficiency is replaced by efficiency and that the market corrects itself. This is true when there is no government intervention. As soon as there is intervention, the notion falls on its face- read about the The Austrian School of economics for more on that. Bailing out the too big to fail banks not only caused the self- correcting market to fall on its face, it bashed its head in from behind with a 2 by 4 first!

Bank Closures over time

Bank Closures over time- 1984-2016.

So, what can we do about it? That should be the question on everyone’s mind.  Whether you believe it or not, your money counts. And when I say “your money”, I do not refer just to the money you have in your savings account. The data says that very few of is have any of that anyway! What I am referring to is what you use as money- your home mortgage, your car loan, your credit cards, and of course your checking and savings accounts. When you have these accounts at Chase or Wells Fargo or Bank of America, you are helping perpetuate the unjust system that will destroy our Republic and eventually all democracy. Sound harsh? Do the research yourself- prove me wrong. Good luck with that.

In the meantime, close your account at Wells Fargo, and open one with you local credit union. Close your Chase credit card and… just don’t use credit cards any more. Truly, this is the smartest move, but it is unrealistic in today’s world. Do some research about which credit cards are more socially responsible and go from there. And my final recommendation, instead of putting money away in a savings account that makes you nothing and the bank 5 or 6% interest, keep the money close at hand and safe. If your savings account is your “emergency fund”, how will it serve you in an emergency if the bank has closed its doors when you need it? Put the money under your mattress, preferably in the form of precious metals. But no matter what, do something! Don’t just sit there thinking someone else is going to save the world. If you do, you’ll end up with our economy- face down in the dirt.

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The Gold Standard, Confiscation, and The Gold Window

Jan
01

There was a time when currency came in the form of silver and gold coins. Later, in the 1800’s, once paper currencies became the norm, the value of the paper was still backed by precious metal in the form of gold in countries agreeing to this standard- the gold standard. The gold standard included the agreement between the countries adhering to it that currency in circulation within countries accepting the standard could be exchanged for their face value in gold. England adopted the gold standard in 1817, and the US officially did so in 1900 with the passage of the Gold Standard Act.

Currency prices in the United States were fixed to the price of gold at $20.67 from 1834 (even before the passage of the above mentioned act) to 1933.  The gold standard was abandoned in 1933 when President Roosevelt “nationalised” privately held gold. Debts around the world were henceforth largely paid in American dollars. But there continued to be a sort of “gold standard” in place for nations wishing to redeem gold for their US dollars. The post-war world needed assurance that US currency was safe and stable, and between 1946 and 1971 this “gold window” allowed countries to redeem one ounce of gold for the fixed rate of $35 USD. This ended in 1971, with President Nixon’s closing of the “gold window.”

Having the price of gold fixed to currencies insured relative economic stability in countries adhering to the standard. Economic disturbances- production increases, inflation, increase in demand- in one country were in a sense buffered in other countries, keeping prices and economies stable throughout the world. Interestingly, during World War I when countries abandoned the gold standard, inflation became rampant. This was by design- without the international gold standard governments are able to manipulate their countries’ economies- for better or for worse. Again in 1971, when the US officially abandoned gold standard, we saw rampant inflation. Of course there are seemingly infinite other factors influencing the world economy today that would take lifetimes of study and writing to explain, especially in our ultra-complex, globalised, digital world. But suffice it to say that currencies backed by gold or silver created more stable, self-regulating, and prosperous economies around the world.

Today, January 1st, 2017, the current price for an ounce of gold is about $1,150 USD, an increase of over $1,100 from its 1971 fixed price. The price of gold has been higher, and of course much lower, but generally rising over most of that time to its present cost. Ups and downs occur, but gold remains a tangible, valuable asset that should not be overlooked.

For current prices, making purchases of metals, and a great radio program, visit the Patriot Trading Group. They are an honest, hard-working company who will answer your questions and help you make the right purchase.

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A Milestone in United States Debt

Sep
16

Parents, family, teachers, our local community leaders and so on are role models for children and young adults as they grow. As adults we continue to find and look up to figures that represent how we would like to live, do business, models of who we want to be. The United States government can be viewed as a parent that takes care of nearly 320 million children. Our parent is nearly 20 trillion dollars in debt- that is just over 60,000 dollars for each and every person in America. The personal debt per capita is not much better- just over 54,000 dollars. I would advise that we try not to follow our parent’s fiscally irresponsible model, but we citizens are not far behind.

View the debt clock here, with extensive breakdowns from many different financial sectors.
See our post on Preparation and Debt to help get a handle on your own debt and spending.

How did we get into this mess? Who is responsible? Where did money and debt come from? Read on-

Safe and Secure Storage and Shelter

Mar
23

I recently picked up a copy of the book The High Security Shelter – How to Implement a Multi-Purpose Safe Room in the Home by Joel Skousen and Andrew Skousen.  The book covers everything from creating a small storage area in the back of a walk in closet, to creating a hidden safe room in the back of a garage, to converting an existing basement into a full size, long-term shelter. The Skousens discuss storage areas, cooking, water storage and  filtration, electricity, bathrooms, sleeping spaces, air filtration, and many other related topics. There is an appendix which lists recommended products and services, including websites and other contact information. There is even a section called “Preparedness and Stockpile Lists”.

Best of all are the actual drawings- elevations and plans, of everything from closets to full size shelters, including “furnishings” such as bunk beds, tables, and storage areas. The drawings give basic layouts, sizes, and ideas for single person and family size shelters. I will use them as a basis for my own drawings, adapting and changing them to fit my needs and current ideas.  The book is a great place to start if you are wondering about what can be done to enhance your security, whether it be a place to store a couple of firearms and ammunition, or a long-term shelter for your entire family.

 

 

Food Storage- A Very Brief Introduction

Dec
21

There is so much to be considered when it comes to food storage that it can stop a person in their tracks. Even the thought of trying to explain the process in one blog post is daunting, but I will do my best. Start with your notebook, and a budgeted amount for storage foods. I mentioned the notebook in another post. I have mine broken down into sections, one if which is food. There I have my needs broken down further by the place I will buy them. How did I calculate the amount of food I need? Good question. There are plenty of websites out there with static charts, and even some that will calculate based on age and number of people, how much food you need for a given period of time. I recommend the various food guides put out by the LDS church as a simple place to start- see the 3 month list specifically. Finally- and don’t worry about this now- I have a spreadsheet that has monthly goals in it based on my budget and including my entire shopping list for the year. For example, January’s needs might consist of a bucket of dried soup mix from Costco, a cash allowance for “the mattress”, and extra filters for the Big Berke. You can just lay this out on paper, by month, once you have an idea of your budget and what your priorities are.

Understanding Storage Foods
First, storage foods come in different forms- there are foods from the grocery store- both canned and dry, then bulk food- larger amounts of things such as rice and beans, then foods specifically designed for storage- sealed buckets, bags of freeze dried or dehydrated food, and MRE’s. The obvious benefit with this category is the ability to tear open a package and eat, or only needing hot water for the meal. Then comes seeds and gardening, storage of foods you’ve grown, and drying and canning. There are recipes for cooking stored foods to consider. Storage food recipes can be very different from typical recipes for fresh foods. And how will you cook you foods? I recommend starting simple- canned goods, one pot foods such as pasta, oatmeal, or rice. As you expand to more complex dishes you will need more ingredients and the means for cooking them. Don’t forget to consider the amount of water you will need to cook, and clean up afterwards. Last there is the question of where and how to store your foods. I store canned goods in their original, flat boxes. I use 5 gallon food grade buckets with Gamma Seal lids for bulk items such as rice, flour, and sugar. The buckets sit on the basement floor, everything else is on wire shelving.

There are a few basic rules that should be applied when stocking your pantry. First, buy foods you usually eat- don’t plan on trying new foods or new recipes when you are in a less than optimal situation. And don’t purchase foods just because they are a good deal- don’t buy 50 pounds of inexpensive, dried parsley unless you really like dried parsley. As part of your preparation you need to cook with the foods you are buying, especially if you are buying bulk dried beans for example, and have never cooked them before. All stored foods should be dated and rotated out as you purchase newer goods. Remember the first rule- buy foods you usually eat- this is how you keep your pantry fresh.

Buying Food For Storage
The simplest way to start your preparedness pantry is to purchase extra, non-perishable foods the next time you go to the grocery store. Look for canned foods that are on sale- this is one way to move yourself along with your purchasing. Do your regular shopping, but if you spot something you normally use and it is on sale, add it to the pantry. You can use this method to supplement any lists you have come up with.

If you have a Costco membership you have a great resource for large packages, canned goods, and bulk items. They offer plenty of storage foods online as well, 5 and 6 gallon buckets of everything from dried beans or vegetables, to pallets full of buckets to keep a family fed for a year or more. Most of these have a 20 or 25 year shelf life. Be careful though, make sure you try the meals you buy before you invest in multiple buckets, or a pallet full. Read the ingredients list for the bulk items or meals you are considering, especially if you are dealing with allergies or a limited diet. Many storage foods are relatively healthy, but many contain preservatives, or excessive sugar or salt. Read the reviews on the foods as well- there are usually plenty of them.

Having a supply of food on hand for an emergency just makes sense. Don’t wait till something happens to start planning and preparing- do it now. Any advanced preparation you make will be helpful, if not essential to survival some day. Even if you don’t have time to make a detailed plan, a budget, or shopping list today, at least start stocking up. When “it” happens (fill in the blank yourself for the “it”), you don’t want to be standing in a breadline, or searching grocery store shelves only to find them empty. We’ve all seen plenty of images of these unfortunate people in recent months and years- make sure you don’t become one of them.

Preparation and Balance

Dec
18

There is plenty that can be said about being prepared in life, ready for anything the universe might throw at us- climatic extremes, economic hardships, general societal unrest, or graboid incursions for example. At the same time there must be moderation and balance in our preparations. The other parts of our lives cannot be neglected, not just yet at any rate. While there may come a day when we can walk away from jobs, house payments, credit card bills, and soccer practice, today is not that day. There has to be preparation without panic, and without interfering, financially or otherwise, with our “normal” lives.

Preparing for an uncertain future can be a daunting task, especially for those just beginning. There are infinite resources online listing everything you could possibly imagine that needs to be done, learned, practiced, and procured for the unknown that lies ahead- a weekly shopping list for the grocery store that will eventually amount to a year’s worth of stored food, expert recommendations on the calibers of weapons that should be on hand, how much ammunition you will need for the rest of your life and your children’s lives, the proper ways to store water, wash your clothes with a plunger, and brush your teeth. Wondering where to start? First, don’t panic.

Start with an empty notebook. And start at the beginning, with the basics- food and water, shelter and warmth, and protection- I’ll go into these more in my next post.

Before you start buying and storing you have to back up a step and take an honest look at your finances and budget. This is really another topic in and of itself, but it must be addressed. If you don’t have money to spare, you can’t prepare. The funds must come from somewhere, and if you don’t have a budget, you need to make one and add a line for preparation costs. The LDS website is one of my favorite resources for preparation. They have a great food storage list, recommendations on how to start your pantry, they even sell storage foods, and most important they offer sound advice on getting a handle on finances and debt. Suffice it to say that most of us are under the illusion that we live in an affluent country, that we all have excess wealth, and in our strong economy things will always get better. The truth is that most of us are in debt well beyond our means, and will remain that way. Our economic system is broken and teetering on the brink of collapse and our personal debt is an integral part of it. We are subjects of the state, under economic servitude, bound by a system of economic neo-colonialism. Be that as it may, a budget must be made and funds allocated for preparation.

So take a look at the LDS link above. Lay out your finances in front of you, and create a budget. Figure out how much you can allocate to this new life insurance policy you are about to create. Once you have a solid number in mind, it will be time to look at where the money should go.

More recommendations for some light reading…

Metals

Dec
16

First post, so why not a few words about metals. It seems like a good place to start, with metal prices jumping around so much theses days. With the right metals in my “portfolio”, I feel I am prepared for any eventuality, as we used to say. Metals such as gold and silver have had and held value, in varying degrees, for many thousands of years. The chances are that they will continue to hold value, no matter what condition the world at large may be in. My thoughts on metals include:

1) Putting less money into my IRA and more into actual, physical silver and gold. That would be coins and bars, tangible items that can be stored locally. Or even junk silver, small denominations that can be used as coins at face value, or for their silver value as barter. I prefer to take possession of the metal, but there are precious metals IRA’s, where you can purchase it and have it stored for you, at a cost of course.
2) Rolls of coins from my local bank. Do you put a few dollars away here and there? Think about the devaluation of currency, and how many countries have had zeros dropped from the back of their bills. Now think about coins. It may be relatively easy for a government to remove and replace all it’s paper money. But how feasible is it for the same government to remove and re-mint all it’s coinage? Not very. Get rolls of nickles, dimes, quarters, and half dollars, 10 or 20 dollars every couple of weeks, or whatever you can afford. If paper money is recalled, chances are that coins will not be, and that their value will remain unchanged.
3) Brass and lead. Not the commodities, but the type that is manufactured to be used in bullet-throwers. Never considered paying for goods in 12 gauge shot shells or .22 rounds? Think again. Read William Forstchen’s recent works for an interesting fictional account of a world where it happened.
4) Blued steel. Um, yes, things to launch the bullets from. The safe should contain a variety of firearms if at all possible, for various applications- birds, deer, rabbits, and so on. If you can afford it, think redundancy (2 Remington 870’s instead of one)- you’ve got backup, spare parts, or a valuable tool that can be traded.

There you have it, a quick rundown of my metal investment strategy. Some may think it sounds kind of crazy, but I assure you I’m not paranoid, just prepared.