Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Paracord Dillusion

Paracord is pretty amazing stuff, but certainly not the panacea many preppers believe it to be. As I was ordering yet another 100 feet of 550 from Paracord Planet (color: Creamsicle, if you can believe it), I wondered again if all those preppers who so faithfully wear a half-dozen feet paracorod of around their wrist 24/7 are really on to something.

No. I still don’t think so.

Paracord is nothing more than a common nylon cord that has a loose resemblance to kernmantle climbing ropes in that both 550 and kernmantles have a outer sheath (mantle) and a inner multi-strand core (kern). The sheath protects the core and the core provides the strength. Great idea, but an old one.

The proliferation of ways to carry paracord on your person is astounding. It’s as if preppers discovered the ultimate survival gadget and it’s called “string.” If the scenario you are prepping for includes an absolute need for seven feet of paracord, then good for you. My personal scenario requires a multitude of cordage solutions from those I can weave myself (don't forget your bushcrafting skills), to fishing line to climbing rope to tow chains. And none of those do I plan on wearing around my wrist either.

Again, don’t get me wrong. A hundred feet of anything for eight bucks is a good deal, but those new to preparing really need to broaden their horizons as to all the cordage options out there. My BOB and BOV have real climbing ropes of 8.5mm and 11mm respectively. One is 30m long and the other is 50m. Yes, I do have plenty of 550 around, and often make lanyards for cutting tools that will double as tourniquets (put it where you need it most!), but paracord is nothing special. Hopefully you will believe I don't hate the stuff since my most recent 550 purchase was the lead-in to this installment of the Prepping Professor.

But would I wear it? No, and heres why. Paracord is in the family of cordage which also contains many other great lines. My preference when I have to carry cordage is something much stronger than the paracord such as kevlar line. While much more expensive, kevlar spear fishing line fits that bill quite nicely.

You see, I cut my rope teeth while rock climbing in my youth, and anything sub-ton in strength, in my informed opinion, is only asking for trouble. Most non-climbers and city-type rescue personnel fail to acknowledge the many ways an object’s strength is reduced. Tie a knot in rope and depending on the bends and curves, the knot may have reduced the strength of the rope by a quarter, or even by half! Some knots are better at preserving rope strength than others, so if you have a list of prepper knowledge yet to gain, add that concern to your list in pen rather than pencil.

Here’s something to get you started:

Knot                      % of original rope strength
Flemish Bend        81%
Blood knot             80%
Figure 8 loop         80%
Double fisherman  79%
Butterfly                 75%
Bowline                  60%
Overhand knot       60%
Overhand bend      50%
Square knot           more likely to come untied then to break.

So as you can see, even the sacred Bowline almost cuts the rope strength in half. That means your 550 cord will barely hold the static weight of an average man, but add a six-inch dynamic drop to the equation and you will disappear in a puff of 550 dust.

To take this line of practical reasoning further, all my carabiners are real ones, strong enough to tow a car. I carry and use real mountaineering webbing, straps, rope, cord, and hardware. It still floors me to see survival hardware with the prominent label “not for climbing.” Sorry Charlies, but everything in my bag can be used for climbing.

What I call the “Grimloc Mentality” is a strange mix of combat concerns mixed with hiking lore. Grimlocs are plastic carabiner-like links that break under a particular load, around 80 pounds or so. Why would you want something to break? The answer, I believe, is found in Hollywood horror movies where the evil critter is chasing the hero who inadvertently snags some unbelievably strong article of clothing or shoelace on a tree branch, nail, door knob, or some other supernaturally immovable object. The hero has mere seconds to shed said hooked item or be devoured. The Grimloc mentality is the belief that anything attached to your body must be able to break free when necessary.

And while we are on the subject of breaking, let’s discuss the square knot. More people have been killed by the failure of the square knot than all other knots combined. Although the square (or reef) knot is perhaps 9000 years old, it is phenomenally unreliable, easy to tie incorrectly, slips under load, hard to untie when dry and impossible when wet. And yet it is still taught as a viable knot in the military. Save the square knot for surgical applications where it can do less harm.

Here are two thing to consider if you find yourself with leanings towards the Grimloc mentality. First, scuba divers have carried knives since the first diver got caught up in a fishing net. I know you have a knife so should you ever get caught on something that is vastly stronger than you, pull out your knife and cut yourself free. That is a much more realistic and likely scenario than being chased through the brier patch only to have your first aid kit snag on a branch and require immediate ejection.

And the second thing is that more people have been killed and injured because something broke, snapped, came untied, or was incorrectly operated compared to all the wounds and decapitations because something that should have didn’t. Of course you can find, and cling to for all I care, the few exceptions. But that’s your problem.

So all you members of the Church-of-the-550 please realize that paracord is best kept for handy uses like fixing things, tie-downs, lashes, lanyards, and even the occasional tourniquet. But if you plan on using it for any major survival application, rescue, or mountaineering use, prepare to die.

Carrry on.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You Are Your Knife.

All the best planning will still likely result in your experiencing a SHTF event with nothing but your on-person EDC. And of your high tech pocket litter, your knife will be the most important unless the fan is covered in darkness. In that case the knife might be in second place for a few hours. But either way, your knife defines you.
If your blade is a Spyderco Ladybug, you will be able to do everything the Ladybug does well like make small cuts, slice cord and rope, and open boxes and envelopes, keep medium to small-sized bad guys at bay.
However if your EDC happens to be the Benchmade Adamas 275, then you will have almost eight ounces of high power cutting prowess that can withstand 1700 pounds of force before its locking mechanism fails.
But realistically your EDC knife likely falls somewhere in between the Ladybug and the Adamas. Probably with blade between three and four inches in a stout lockback handle. Half of you will have combo edges splitting the cutting real estate between a smooth edge and serrations. Hopefully you are carrying a name-brand blade with of good steel and of proven design.

So what are you if not your knife? You can tell a lot about a person by their choice of knife, and when the SHTF, it will be even more important to judge a book by its edge grind.
I cannot help but feel pity for someone carrying a Rambo blade, you know the knife; huge shiny, big sheath, a real in-your-face blade. And usually with a price tag in the sub-$25 range at the pawn shop. In other words, all show and no go. In fact, the monster blade, unless strapped to the leg of a Seal, Ranger or other Special Operator, is nothing more than a soft steel phallus advertising the owners overall incompetence. Rambo blades are basically an excellent sign that you need to look for intelligence on another planet.
If your EDC knife will be representing you in the event, then the choice you make now might be the most important you ever make. Some preppers have an extensive collection of blades, each with a special purpose; day of wear, or matching grip color, and I'm no different. And all that is fine and dandy, but is the EDC knife you’re carrying right now really the one you would choose if you could only choose one? And if not, why not?
Your skill can make up for some of the limits of your knife, but why give the advantage to fate. Set your minimum standard and then always carry at or above it. 
Personally, I have various blades I carry depending on the maximum I can get away with without attracting undue attention. But no matter what, I always carry as much practical blade as possible. Sometimes that is a Ladybug and sometimes it’s my Adamas, but mostly it’s somewhere in between, again erring on the larger side. By larger, I don't always mean bigger, just better.

Given that an EDC will have double as many things besides a knife, the blade thickness, edge and pry-worthyness need to be considered as well. Although larger or heavier blades will stress the edge of your pocket, I often use the clip the same as an inside-the-waistband holster letting the knife ride just behind my right hip. This carry position is especially useful when wearing shorts or swim trunks for river activities.

You and your knife have one shot at making the best of your relationship, so my advice to you and your fine edged spouse is to make the most of your marriage. 

Hey, is that a Benchmade in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

Carrry on.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Gun Show Blues: Prepper Madness on Display

Montana’s oldest, largest and arguably best gun show just wrapped up in town this past Sunday, and like all 56 previous years, it was a real treat to wallow in the depths of gundom.
But there was dark side to the show when it comes to prepping. I’ll admit that those attending and especially those peddling their wares are not a representative cross section of society, however, the writing on the walls was clear: Most folks don’t have a clue how to prep. At least not in way useful to any realistic SHTF event.
Sure, the curve was heavily skewed towards the gun side, but the commentary, advice and general buzz about prepping rarely ventured much outside armament, politics, MREs, knives, and the impending doom of the day. Of course those topics are the most fun to talk about and purchase for, but an interesting observation I made during the show was that there is an inverse relationship between the physical health of the individual and the quality of his/her prepping wisdom. In a nutshell, the fatter the person, the more foolish and self-Infallible they are about prepping.
Go ahead and attack me, but the morbidly obese prepper, you have to admit, is at a significant disadvantage that in most cases is 100% self-inflicted. I’ll admit that there was a kind of sick fascination listening to them espouse their worldly views and solutions upon us consumers not unlike listening to 9-1-1 recordings after the crime, but it was also hard not to feel sorry for them.
The old adage about threes, you know the one, three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food, and the sometimes included three hours exposed to the elements (presumably unfriendly elements at that) are all situations where you can add another three, actually a one-third to be exact. Air, exposure, water, and food are three times more important to a fat person than a healthy person.

Or to put it bluntly, if you are obese, you will die three times faster than if you weren’t so fat. That’s one minute without air, one day without water, and one week without food. All that fat stored throughout your body is not a shed of firewood just sitting there waiting. Instead it is an expensive commodity that requires a lot of maintenance and care, and will spoil rapidly when the temperature goes up or the water intake goes down. The moment the stress of a true prepping event occurs, blood pressure, body temperature and respiration will rise, and all three will kill you faster than a bullet.

The stresses that the extra tonnage puts on your body's organs and mechanics are already two strikes against you so add in a few physical, psychological, and environmental challenges and you are seriously close to failure before the fun even starts.
At the gun show, there were plenty of wonderful folks eager to share their insights into the causes, effects, and prepping solutions for the impending doom. Pressing them for details, it sounded like the heavier amongst us are going to ride out the darkness sitting on their front porch in their super-strength Wal-Mart lawn chair sawing away at the riff-raff with both barrels. It was a tragic comedy of Shakespearean proportions.
So why am I, Professor Prepper, bothering to tell you this? Simple. There is still time to do something about it, and it is by far the single most important prep you can make. And the cheapest!
The American Lifestyle is a major cause of prepper obesity, and yet it also seems to be high on the list of important aspects on this planet necessary to preserve for future generations if given the chance. Well folks, let me say it first: Obesity is un-American! Need me to say it again? I’ll say it all day long! Obesity is un-American.
Global energy consumption per person: the higher the redder.

 Chronic obesity of the self-inflicted variety is a significant drag on our economy, our resources, our military, our security, and frankly, our very way of life. Listening to the obese gun peddlers describe their fixes to my world was nothing short of criminal. You see dear friends, in order to be comfortable in a spherical body that consumes two, three or four times as much as everyone else, the fantasy of prepping for darker times must also include the significant burden their girth places upon us. Our massive brethren cannot run, hike, even walk in many cases. They cannot ride a bike, swim, or even climb up the river embankment if they could swim across it. They cannot kayak, paddleboard, rappel (let alone mountain climb), and certainly they will share their gravitational burden with all those around them.
But they can stockpile guns and ammo and food and knives and opinions.
Please consider the significance of a true SHTF event. The brutal reality will set in rapidly, and in just a few days very difficult decisions will need to be made. The old ways of human and herding animals alike left the slow and old to fend for themselves thus cleansing the herd of weakness. Back in the day, if you packed on a few pounds, you would fall behind meaning there was less for your. You would either get fitter and drop a few, or be devoured by a pack of wolves. Nature's choice.
If you are an obese prepper, you better prep yourself mentally to be left behind. If any three of us cannot carry you, or if you are unable to walk three miles without stopping, or if you cannot ford even a mild river, then you are a liability. The whole point to prepping is to be prepared beyond the standard FEMA party line. The government might accept you as you are because that is the American way. But it is not fair to assume we will risk our life, limb and future because you cannot lay off the potato chips, beer and second helpings of pizza.
Unless you plan on shooting us in the back when we leave you, then forget about the guns for a while and focus on your health.
Take the Prepper Challenge and quit smoking, drop the weight, increase your stamina, and prep like you mean it!

And then we can get back to business.

Carrry on.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Top 5 Prepper Guns. Period.

By popular request, I will again address the issue of the best guns in order of importance to a prepper who is in the situation I am in, whatever that may be.

If you are not in my situation, then you are free to rank guns according to your needs. But this my list is for my needs so don’t get your panties in a bunch because I prefer a 30-06 instead of a .300 somethingorother whisper magnum, or that I am perfectly content with only nine millimeters of diameter while others are absolutely sure that adding one more half-millimeter of bullet radius will be the clear difference between everlasting life and certain death.

So here’s the list:

1. Glock 19.

In case you've lived under a rock for the past three decades, the G19 is a midsized polymer frame 9mm of some 35 parts if you include the magazine. The G19 is the perfect size, operation, and function for the ultimate single gun to have no matter what. Glock Perfection extends from CQC, basic defense, and yes, hunting. The 9mm round is a deer killer, so everything smaller than a deer will also fall down when hit. The hunting accuracy range of a 9mm, Glock or otherwise, is limited to 30 yards plus or minus, but since I can put half a dozen slugs down range in a couple seconds when needed, if we are truly Blackhawk Down Hunting, then a dead deer is a dead deer. I really don’t plan on only having my G19, but since this is an academic exercise, the G19 is my final answer.

2. AR-15. 

Notice the period after the five? This is also my final answer. The AR platform has more than its share of faults, most self-inflicted by unscrupulous capitalists who don’t mind selling substandard machinery wrapped in Red, White & Blue packaging. A quality AR, and yes in  .223/5.56 chambering, will work with plenty of reliability and even when dirty.

If you got a screaming deal on your AR, I hate to break it to you but you probably didn’t. You got a dud. Good ARs don’t need no stink’n markdowns.

Trick out your AR to your heart’s content, but just remember when the SHTF, you will need to carry all that trick all day long everyday so every additional ounce of bling is an additional ounce slowing you down, wearing you down, and dragging you down. Me? I’d trade the weight in bling for weight in ammo. Think about it.

3. Ruger 10/22 Takedown. 

In the off chance you don’t know about the Takedown version of the 10/22, then know it is almost the same as a regular 10/22 except it comes apart in the middle between the action and the chamber. It’s an almost perfect design. But why a Takedown you ask? Two reasons; size and cleaning.

The size is obvious. If you can make something half as long, it will fit in twice as many places. How do you plan on carrying your rifle as you bash through brush, climb up mountains, and carry as a backup to another rifle? And half the size is just icing on the cake. The real treat is cleaning.

Cleaning a regular 10/22 is not fun. Cleaning the Takedown is a snap. You got an open-ended tube on one side, and great access to moving parts on the other. How simple is that? Let me answer, Simple!

Why not one of Ruger’s fine auto .22 pistols? Again, two reasons. First, sight radius. The pistols are wonderful, but for general-purpose medium to longer distance survival shooting, you need a rifle, not something you use to show off your shooting skills in competition. Imagine how fun it would be using your Mark III to fend off attackers while your dominant arm is injured, or trying to hold a bead on some critter while you huff and puff in the sweltering heat. That’s why we invented rifles.

And the other reason? Well I’ll give you 10, but no more than 10 of them. The Mark III auto pistol magazines hold 10 rounds. I've not seen an aftermarket mag of quality that holds more than 10, so if I want that limitation forced upon me, I'll move to California. I have 25 round mags for my Takedown. Yes, they are worse to load then the Mark III mags, but I get 2.5x as many chances, or 5x, or 7.5x with three mags. Since .22 ammo is the best deal on the planet, be willing to exercise your 2nd Amendment as much as needed.

4 and 5. 
There are no four and five. 

If you need more than the top three above, you are in bigger trouble than you can imagine. However, if you really do need to consider more guns, I’d suggest either another AR, or another Glock, a G26 perhaps.  Didn’t see that coming, did you. 

The duplication issue is not one more gun, but one more consumer of the ammo you have in abundance. I know some preppers with half a dozen different ammo needs in their main plans not to mention another three or four flavors of ammo for their backups, burieds, and Bugouts. If someone gave me an AK, I’d get rid of it. Free military surplus? Forget it. British .303? No thanks; I already have a boat anchor. Seriously folks, just what kind of situation requires a pile of various guns spread out all over your prepping grounds? Enough with the Red Dawn Kool-Aid already!

And I also know preppers who have 5k rounds of .223 ammo but only one gun that shoots it. Same with their pistol ammo. So they are just one malfunction away from having some great bartering material. "How about I trade you nothing for your case of .223? Sounds fair to me since your force multiplier just bought the farm, while mine is painting a big fat red dot on your beer belly."

There is no security in more guns, especially when the cultural and historical diversity of the firearms belongs more in a museum than in a crisis. Less is always more. If you have thousands of a particular round, but only one gun that eats it, then you are not prepping well. This is not the time to get creative. This is the time for redundancy.

And now to the anticipated questions. 

So why no shotgun? Personally because shotguns are a stupid solution for most situations. Before you go all ballistic with my apparent heresy, consider that the gun in your hands is the gun you will use. Shotguns are excellent for many things. But also so wrong for many situations. If it really comes down to it, a shotgun is a poor solution for too many problems. It’s as heavy as a rifle, holds far fewer rounds than anything else, and has a limited range. And what's with the latest trend of double barrels gaining prepper popularity? Give me a break. Are you prepping or poaching? Why not a block action single shot. Or a muzzle loader? Folks, turn off the TV and enter reality. Learn the difference between a good gun and the right gun!

Add to that the weight of ammo, the two-handed operation of a pump, and the fact that regardless of the hype, you will not be swapping between shot sizes during crunch time. Seriously, the shotgun is great when things are slow and good, but if it is me and my AR against you and your shotgun, I’ll just hang out 50 yards away and wait for a clean shot while you panic and spray lead and noise in my general direction. I learned that tactic from the wolves.

Many fine folks espouse the virtues of a shotgun, and they are right about the mechanics of the gun, but in my situation, the limitations of a shotgun far override the benefits of the care and feeding of another gun. And speaking of reality, even that bozo headcase on The Walking Dead whose constant carrying of his Mossberg no doubt boosted 12 gauge sales still got bit by a Z.  And the hundreds of pounds of ammo the guy went through in the first two seasons somehow also escaped being captured on film. Stick a hand full of 3” magnums into your pocket and see how long you’re comfortable. And that’s just six bangs, maybe eight if you have big hands.

What about the bolt action hunting rifle? It's a great gun to have around but if you are traveling light, skip it. Too slow for combat, and unless you are going on an offensive shooting spree, just do your hunting with the AR.

Wheel guns? Too heavy. Too slow. Too few shots. Fun to play with and shoot, but leave them in the safe when it's time to roll.
The AK-47 is, in my opinion, nothing more than a cheaply stamped out rattletrap of a firearm. The reason it is popular is because it's cheap. And the cheap crap ammo for the cheap pot metal AK is dirty and filled with duds. What you would save on cleaning supplies alone would pay the difference between an AK and an AR. If you want to pay for quality ammo that is as reliable as the AK, then you can cross off inexpensive-to-feed from your list of AK benefits. Also, AKs are not known for accuracy, so why would you want a want one? Oh yea, they're cheap.

There is an inverse relationship between number guns and personal security. Many have lost their lives due to miss-operation, wrong ammo, and unreliability in firearms. I know many hunters who headed into the field with their .270 rifle and their 30-06 ammo. It's an easy mistake, but while a deer lived another day, the same won't be true for the prepper. Under stress you don't want to be wondering how the safety works, or if the extra mags you grabbed in the dark are the right ones.

The Wall Street gun marketeers are trying to convince Americans that they need for more and more different guns in your family. A .380 is great but a 9 is better. And a 10 is better than that. And a .40 is even better. Or maybe that's the other way around. Unless, of course, you have a .45 that is. But those are all pistols and rifles are better so get some of those as well. And then there is the shotgun, er, make that shotguns. Buy! Buy! Buy!

If your prepping guns have a combined weight more than you, then you are in serious trouble.  Luckily there is still plenty time to remedy the situation. Well, at least at the moment.

Carrry on.

Placebo Prepping

The lovechild of capitalism and prepping is the gadget that will save your life.

Of course the gadget won’t save anything except in prepping fantasies. But you can’t tell that to the marketers who are stuffing their pockets with preppers’ hard earned cash as they sell security in a bottle that can sure fool the average prepper. 

It is obvious that the security, and very survival for that matter for the individual prepper, has nothing to do with their pile of gadgets. But the inverse is true. The prepper’s preps can drag down the prepper  by restricting their thinking, and worst of all, allow them to carry the false belief that a magical multitool will lead to salvation.

The commercialization of prepping has given the lightly-informed such a false sense of reality that preppers will become a danger to themselves and others. Let me say that again. Preppers will be part of the problem.

The reason is simple. If you are spending money on a prepping gadget then you have some belief that a particular scenario will transpire where said gadget will be essential. But there is a human tendency to use the tool at hand to address the problem rather than the tool that was designed for the job. Extend this to reality and you have preppers counting on their guns and tube tents to save the day. Everyday. Any day.

The preppers attempt to force-feed their preps into whatever situation arises is a manifestation of the Bugout delusion.  Of course the nature of prepping is this very conundrum, but when a prepper becomes enamored with a particular prep, like chemical weapons suits, bunkers, bug out, or world’s best survival knife, then the place or thing is now driving the equation which in turn drives the sanity of your decisions.

Your suburban bunker is a great idea...for me. I'll just let you stew in your own juices for a couple days, then track down your air supply and plug it. Oh, you thought of that did you? When then hows about I build a big bonfire on top of you shelter. Did you think of that. How's that air conditioner working? Yea, I thought so. Too bad you didn't bug out like you should have. Your mind's weather must have been partly clouded with a chance of failure. 

Many prepping Americans have forgotten that Nature is not a democracy. Even if 100% of voters choose something else, nature does not care. And that includes human nature. And if you cannot separate the reality of nature from your prepping desires, then you are doomed and will likely take others down with you.

If avoiding food insecurity is your primary prep, then you better hope that is the real challenge. If you spent your retirement savings on guns and ammo, then you better pray a civil war breaks out. If you pimped your bug out vehicle, then there must be a place to go and you can drive your BOV there.

Placebo Prepping occurs whenever you step over the lines of practicality and into the realm of Prepper Super Hero. If you dream of the perfect bug out, bug in, armed standoff, or new prepper-based super society, then you are a placebo prepper.

Frankly, I have serious plans to initially avoid all other preppers when the SHTF. Why? Because there is a disproproportinately high number of nutty preppers out there who are substantial liabilities to themselves and anyone around them. I do feel bad for them, but will not be first in line to help them.

So many preppers think there will be safety in community. Not this guy. No way. I will base my apocalyptical friendships upon performance after the fact, not before. Anyone can say that they are a prepper, but that is not a ticket into my compound. All it takes is a spin around YouTube to see what challenges await you. While there are some sane preppers sharing realistic, quality knowledge, the vast majority of so-called preppers are doing equipment reviews about something they know nothing about for a scenario they know nothing about for a purpose they have never studied academically.

As Professor Prepper, I am frequently asked why I trust the science over the latest conspiracy theory or magic number. Well, not exactly in those words, but you get the point. The reason why I trust my preps to science is because science does not care what anyone thinks. It is not clouded with opinion, covert funding, advertising, marketing, and personality conflicts.

However, when all the problems of the world are mixed with science the result is…any guesses…The Mainstream Media. Not that the MM is bad. It just takes some decoding. Given that reporters and corporate America do not disclose how vested they are in most news, the reports are filled with inaccuracies, both intentional and not. But there is plenty of details when one sources news from many perspectives especially those not from this country.

Science is pure. The confusion is found with the explanation of science. Since most preppers believe that by wearing their prepper hat in public they suddenly become experts about macro economics, solar astrophysics, large-scale volcanology, electronic engineering, public policy, law enforcement, nuclear physics, ecology, biology, chemistry, geology, psychology, sociology, etc. etc. etc. not to mention bushcraft, wilderness survival, emergency medicine, mountaineering, map reading, weather reading, canyoneering, river navigation, route finding, hunting, fishing, etc. etc. etc....

Don’t you love it when a prepper in a video has to take a detour to the hospital? There are some wonderful examples in Doomsday Preppers. Talk about real prepping, hospitals are the epitome of prepping! Instead of criticizing the so-called “sheeple,” preppers should be learning from them. Hospitals have prepping plans vastly more detailed any the conventional mainstream prepper. As do cities, road departments, airports, banking, etc. Stockpiling MREs, flashlights, multitools, guns, and cheap daypacks is not prepping. That is mindless hording.

Think about it. And remember, shorthand for Place Bug Out is spelled Placebo.

Carrry on.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Apocalypse (or Why Nouns are Deadly!)

A funny thing happened on the way to the apocalypse. Since you’ll never guess what it was,  I’ll just tell you. Half of those productive members of society who considered themselves ahead curve (also known as preppers) are literally drowning in their nouns, while the other half who have been prepping on a steady diet of verbs are doing just fine.Great in fact.

For those new to the prepping aspects of the parts of speech, let me enlighten you about the dangers of nouns and the important survival features of verbs. First of all, nouns are heavy, expensive, and proprietary. Nouns take up space, have a shelf life, and are easily stolen. Nouns limit one’s thinking, and reduce your options. In a nutshell, nouns are deadly.

When you see a biohazard symbol, do you first think of it’s message as a verb or as a noun? When a real biohazard SHTF event occurs, those verb-seers will already be on the road away from the danger while the noun-lovers will be standing at ground zero debating the metaphysics of the situation, and what other nouns should be included in the discussion.

Verbs, on the other hand, are universal. Verbs transcend time and space, and work in any language, culture or environment. Verbs are essential, ingrained, installed, and automatic. And best of all, verbs simplify the problem we have with all the survival nouns by reducing it to it's most basic level.

So what does this mean for the prepper? Conceptually it means that all the nouns marketed to those with a bend towards survival are really just indicators of what we should be doing. They are not actually what we have to do. Big difference. Huge!

For example, pick a survival product. Any product. And then search for reviews whether on YouTube, a blog, discussion forum, or Amazon. Unfortunately, most so-called advice is a discussion about the noun in terms only a noun would understand. You’re probably thinking, “Of course it should be. That’s the point of the review.”

But is it really?  I think not.

The noun (or item, or product, or thing or whatever) is a conduit towards a verb. And the verb is what’s most important. Nouns can enhance verbs, but they cannot replace verbs except when marketed to preppers with more money than vision. The problem is that the noun is not the solution. Instead the verb is the solution.

A noun can split firewood. In fact any number of different nouns can achieve the same pile of broken logs. But the verb is the point of the firewood. If you fixate on a traditional chopped-log fire in a traditional pit, stove, or fireplace, you will miss all the other manifestations that the verbs of burning wood encompass. What is the end product? Heat? Light? Reduce brush? Nostalgia?

Nouns can be applied a protective situation, but they cannot protect you. Protect is a verb.
A noun is a pathway to a verb, but if one looses sight of the verb, they will be in for a cold night, empty belly, or gunshot wound. And that is the problem with the reviews of nouns. In most cases the author of the review is forcing the noun to preform, but then stumbles when explaining the value of the noun. For example...

" need to clean an animal real quick." 

"It's a must that when you're going out in the woods you gotta have a good knife."

Why? Because the spirit of the noun is hollow and without intrinsic purpose. The only purpose of a knife is to verb something. Many reviewers of survivalist products attempt to discuss the object, but end up admitting (intentionally or not) their lack of authentic interaction with the object. Or just as often they stretch their quick, clinical play with the product into a litany of gross assumptions about its true performance as a noun, but rarely as a verb. That is because nouns are easy to review while verbs are not. Verbs require experience. Verb require realistic comparables.  Verbs require deep knowledge. However, we do need the noun for its relationship to verbs, so not all is lost.

The amount of advertising designed to scare preppers into buying nouns has exploded in the past couple years. From blades to backpacks to food to firearms there is a never-ending supply of nouns to buy, store, hoard, and steal. And tomorrow there will be a new list of essential nouns that you cannot survive without.

But verbs provide comfort, confidence, and solutions. Verbs arrive in the form of purpose, and that’s what all prepping is about. You need to be able to describe your objective with verbs and then implement them with whatever nouns you have on hand.

Verbs provide the prepper with balance. A true bugout bag is actually filled with verbs. Nouns have to be managed, maintained, protected, carried. But verbs...verbs will save your life. 

Carrry on.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

This SBR Really Will Save Your Life!

The mentality behind fat people with guns seamlessly extends beyond YouTube humor and into the prepping world, especially with the big guys behind the gun counter. The funny thing, or perhaps sad is a better word, is it won’t be a firefight that claims the lives of our girthish survival brethren, but rather clogged arteries.

No amount of prepping will protect you from bad health. What might, however, is a quality SBR.

No, not a short barreled rifle. Instead SBR is Swim, Bike, Run. Think about it: Triathlons are the ultimate prepping sport. From the mountain man versions that pit a significant number of objective hazards against the athletes, to the city versions that gives a realistic picture of the physical prowess of the fit masses.

But alas, an unfortunately large number of PINOs (preppers in name only) spend their days fantasizing about a shopping spree for their bugout vehicle, or planning what isles to run for when they are first in line to loot the local Home Depot. The real secret to survival, my friends  is to pimp-out your true bugout vehicle, your body.

You don't have to set your sights on the Ironman to make this worthwhile. Instead, be able to sustain a few hours of substantial effort when needed. If a flight of stairs is a formidable enemy, then you are not going to last a week in a real maelstrom. A week!

Swim. Swimming is an essential skill that will be needed for fording rivers, moving around lakes, evading man and animal alike, and simply living to tell the tale after a water landing. With two-thirds of the earth covered in water, your faulty expectation of open highways to everywhere just improved my chance of survival.

Bike. Bicycles are one of the world’s most efficient forms of transportation. Mind-bogglingly simple in design, the bicycle has undergone extensive evolution over the past 150 years resulting in the mountain bike. Not the cheap big-box version, but the profoundly refined rolling magic of a serious mountain bike. With even limited fitness and a half-century  of good living under your belt, 60 miles in a day on a bike many not be comfortable but is realistic. And bikes are silent to ride, easily portaged, simple to operate, require little maintenance, are packed with interchangeable parts, and best of all, much less expensive then a quality SBR of the gunpowder type.

Run. Need I say more? In it’s purest form no equipment is required. While my ideal prescription for survival includes some long distance trail running, if your health is better than the typical city dweller, you can train-up rather quickly even after TSHTF. All you have to do is test your limits of athletic suffering in order to put realistic limits on what you can do now and in the future. Don’t just run to hunt or evade in your dreams, run in your neighborhood. Now!

In all honesty, you really have to appreciate the tenacity of the obese prepper. If you play episode roulette with Doomsday Preppers, more often than not the show highlights an overweight (sometimes massively so) prepper who’s preoccupation with food, toilet paper, and firepower is noble but misplaced. Their horrendous girth, slow reaction time, and high operating costs in terms of time, calories, space, and medication definitely make them a personal threat to their own prepping scenario, and often to those around them as well.

Sorry to bear the bad news, but there is no amount of ammo and gasoline that will make up for a bad diet, little exercise, and self-inflicted poor health. A brisk walk of 15 minutes a day will do more good for your prepping than a warehouse full of MREs.*

*Apply this advice only as needed.

Carrry on.