Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Urban Survival - Limited Space

By Tim Gamble

A rural homestead may be the ultimate prepper dream for many folks, but others may choose city life for a variety of reasons. Urban preppers face their own unique set of challenges. One such challenge is limited space - both outdoors and indoors. 

Most apartment and condo dwellers have no space for gardening, raising chickens, or other homesteading activities (thus their frustration with a lot of typical prepper advice). Even home owners in the city typically have very small yards without much room for those type activities. Additionally, the limited storage space inside apartments and condos creates a real limitation on how much food, water, gear, and other stuff they can store. 

However, it is possible to overcame these space limitations. My suggestions for doing so can be summed up in three words - minimalism, prioritization, and creativity

Minimalism - The minimalist lifestyle is about eliminating the unnecessary and superfluous, and doing more with less. This will ultimately free up both space and time (and probably money). Declutter you life. Hold a garage sale. Sell it on eBay. Donate stuff to a charity thrift store. Fill up the dumpster. Doing so will free up an amazing amount of storage space. But where to start? Here are a few suggestions: 
  • Reduce your wardrobe, shoes, belts, ties, handbags, and other accessories. Chances are you have a lot of stuff in your closet (and your kids' closets) that you no longer wear or need. Maybe even stuff that no longer fits. Clean it out.
  • Reduce your collections of books, DVDs, and CDs. Decide what you really want or need, and get rid of the rest.
  • Throw out clutter such as old magazines and catalogs, as well as all those receipts, appliance manuals, and warranties that you've accumulated over the years. Same goes for all those useless Christmas gifts you've received over the years. I mean, how many coffee mugs with funny sayings do you really need? 
  • Get rid of toys, games, books, puzzles, stuffed animals and other junk that your kids have outgrown, broken, or otherwise don't play with anymore. Now is not the time for excessive sentimentality.
  • Get rid of all exercise and sports equipment that you don't use. Be honest, are you really ever going to use that home gym you bought 5 years ago, used twice, and ever since its been collecting dust? 
  • If you are a collector - comic books, bobblehead dolls, collector plates, porcelain figurines, snow globes, or whatever - it is time to reconsider your hobby in light of your need for space (and probably money).
Prioritization - This is crucial for the urban prepper. You can't afford to waste space or money on non-essentials. Figure out what is really important and focus your time, efforts, space, and money on those things. Make lists based on those priorities and stick to those lists. This will also help you in your minimalist activities. Once you figure out what is important, get rid of the rest.  Prioritized lists will also help you avoid impulse buying,  saving you both space and money.

Creativity - Get creative with how use utilize the space that you do have. Do container gardening on your porch or balcony. Grow herbs and salad greens indoors. Find out if there are any community gardens in your area you can join. See if your church could start a community garden. Put your bed on risers to create more storage space. Use flat storage boxes to store stuff under the sofa. Create overhead storage areas. Use water bricks to store water, dry foods (beans, rice, pasta, dog food), or even small supplies (batteries, first aid supplies, ammo, etc.). They are made to stack easily, and can even be turned into tables, nightstands, and other pieces of furniture (thereby serving a dual purpose).  Another possibility is to rent a nearby storage unit. A final suggestion, watch little house videos on You Tube. They have come up with some amazingly creative ways to use space and create storage.
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Friday, May 24, 2024

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

By Tim Gamble

This is a follow-up to my recent post "So, You Want To Be a Survival Group Leader?" (link to that article on this website).

If you want to be your group's or community's leader, you should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. You will not magically turn into a leader once SHTF happens, no matter how you plan to exert your dominance. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. The good news is that leadership skills can be developed. Start by understanding the difference between being a leader and just a boss. 

A leader and a boss have the same starting point. They both have a purpose, goal, or mission that they want to accomplish. They both set about accomplishing their mission by utilizing others. That is where the differences start.
 
A boss drives others by depending on his position (authority) to make them obey his orders. This is often accomplished through fear and intimidation. It is Do as I say or face repercussions. At work, the repercussion might be public chastisement, a bad evaluation, the withholding of a pay raise or promotion, or even being fired.. In a survival situation, the repercussions may range from public criticism  to being thrown out of the group. Worse are those who seem to want to maintain their "leadership" by showing favoritism to "good" followers and disfavor to "bad" followers. Establishing your dominance by withholding food & supplies from "bad" followers while doling out favors to your preferred followers will keep people in line. Not really.  More likely, it will cause resentment and an eventual uprising against your tyranny.  

By contrast, a real leader depends on the goodwill he generates in others to get them to join him in his mission.  He develops this goodwill by inspiring others with his example and generating enthusiasm in them for his vision. People follow a leader not out of fear of the consequences, but rather because of their respect for him and their belief in his vision. Rather than punishing "bad" followers, he works with others to develop them and to find the best way to use each individual. Even in large organizations like a multinational corporation or an army, the top leader does this to the next rung of leadership under him, who in turn develop the next rung of leaders, who in turn develop... and so on until even those at the very bottom are being developed and utilized according to their individual abilities. 

I once worked for a man who was a truly great leader. He reluctantly had to fire someone not just because of their incompetence, but actual criminal activity on the job. It was how he handled the firing that demonstrated true leadership. The firing was a last resort after trying hard to help this individual. The day after he fired the person, he called the rest of the staff together and apologized to us for having to do so.  He accounted for it as his failure - first for hiring the wrong person, then for being unable to successfully develop him. He also took the opportunity to express his vision for the company, using words like "we" and "us" much more than words like "I" and "me."

Someone who is just a boss would never have apologized or taken the blame upon himself. Instead, most bosses would have used the fired worker as an example to the rest staff as to what could happen to "problem" employees. It is the Do as I say or face repercussions method of establishing their authority and dominance. That may work in the short run, but it will be temporary at best. 

Be a leader, not a boss. 
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Monday, May 20, 2024

Health Update - More Cancer

By Tim Gamble

I just want to give a quick update on my health, as a third type of cancer was recently diagnosed. 

As you probably know, I was diagnosed with colon cancer in  March and had part of my colon as well as my gall bladder removed. The tumor had pressed against my liver (but thankfully had not yet spread to it) creating a large abbess that also had to be cut out. During this operation, it was also discovered that I was developing a cancer of the appendix. Luckily, this one was caught very early on. The good news is that I am healing nicely from my surgeries, and it appears they got all of the cancer.

Click to Enlarge
A few weeks ago, I was also diagnosed with a third cancer - melanoma. A lesion formed just under my left ear. They removed it last week, and the lab results show that they got all of it. However, they had to remove a large section of my skin (larger than a quarter) and needed to pull up skin from my neck to cover it. This necessitated cutting two long incisions (see the photo) into my skin so they could lift up that section and tug it up into place before sewing everything back together again. 

During all this, I haven't felt much like posting new material. My apologies for that. But as my health problems improve, I plan on returning to more frequent posting of articles, and maybe doing some videos too. Thank you for you patience with me during this time.

Prayers are always appreciated. 
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Saturday, May 4, 2024

All Bible Contradictions Debunked

By Tim Gamble

Answers in Genesis posted a video to their You Tube channel debunking all the so-called Bible contradictions in less than 30 minutes. I think they do a really good job in the video, but watch it and judge for yourself:

DEBUNKING Every Major “Bible Contradiction” in 26 Minutes


Answers in Genesis website: https://answersingenesis.org/

This is not my video and I was not involved in its making. Feel free to leave you comments in the comments section below, but I will not answer questions or debate these issues. If you have questions based on this video, those questions should be more appropriately directed to the makers of the video. Thank you.

Friday, May 3, 2024

So, You Want To Be a Survival Group Leader?

By Tim Gamble

So, you want to be a survival group leader? Perhaps you are planning on being your group's leader during a disaster or a post-SHTF scenario. 

Leadership is about a lot more than just having a title or occupying a certain spot on an organizational chart. Being an effective leader isn't easy, and you won't transform into one overnight. Develop your leadership skills now, before the SHTF.

Entire books have been written and university-level courses are taught on the subject of leadership. This short set of tips is only a brief introduction to the topic:

1) Planning on being your group's leader? Be honest: are you a leader now? Do others think of you as a leader? 

If you are planning on being a leader, you're doing it wrong. You should be a leader now. Not just in your eyes, but also in the eyes of those you lead. If folks don't already see you as a leader, you have a lot of work to do before you actually become one. (Also, having food, supplies, and guns isn't going to automatically make you a leader for those who don't once SHTF.) 

2) Planning on being your group's leader? Lead by example. 

Leadership by example is really the only true leadership. The saying "Do what I say, not what I do" is pure rubbish and is meant to poke fun at those folks who seem to have that attitude.


3) Good leaders don't just lead, they develop others into good leaders. 

True leaders develop others into leaders. You need to be able to spot leadership potential, and to nourish it into fruition. For some, this may be difficult as they tend to see other potential leaders as competition.


4) Good leaders communicate very clearly. Always clearly define your goals and expectations. 

This one is huge, in my opinion. Bad leaders often fail when it comes to clear communications. This could be due to a lack of self-confidence, poor communication skills, uncertainty over what actually needs to be done, or even an effort at CYA in case something goes wrong (if something goes wrong, they can blame others for "not understanding" their instructions).

5) Good leaders know how & why to delegate. It both frees up the leader's time and helps to develop others.

Poor leaders often fail to delegate correctly, and tend to micro-manage unnecessarily.

6) Good leaders know mistakes will happen. Never publicly criticize or shame someone for making a mistake. 

Mistakes happen. Unexpected events occur. Good leaders know this and aren't taken by surprise when it happens. Publicly humiliating the transgressor accomplishes nothing. Remember the mantra: "Praise publicly. Correct privately."

7) Good leaders accept responsibility for their mistakes and the mistakes of those under them. "The buck stops here."

This is often a missing part of leadership today. It seems like no one wants to accept responsibility for anything anymore. Good leaders do.

8) Good leaders know they must inspire trust in those they lead. 

If folks don't really trust you or your decisions, you are not going to be able to lead them effectively.  Give your group members reason to trust your character, your abilities, and your vision. You cannot demand trust. It must be earned.

9) A good leader knows he sets the tone for those around him. 

The leaders on sports team are great examples of this idea. Good leaders exude a aura of confidence, determination, drive, and positivity that infects their teammates.

10) A good leader never "shoots the messenger."

Bad news is always upsetting, but a good leader never takes it out on the one delivering the bad news. Leaders who do tend to shoot the messenger often are lacking in self-confidence, and this fault will quickly become apparent to the entire group.

11) A good leader adapts his leadership style to the needs of those around him.

A good leader knows he has to adapt to the needs of those he leads. This may mean that the good leader must suppress his own ego and change his approach before he can effectively lead.

12) A good leader maintains realistic expectations.

Expectations are a balancing act. You can be unrealistic in your expectations both by expecting too much and too little. Developing the ability to read people and accurately judge their capabilities is very important.

13) A good leader is consistent and fair.

A good leader does change his mind, orders, and expectations when it is necessary, but never at a whim or without good reason. And when he does, he communicates clearly the new orders and the reasons for them. Inconsistency creates confusion and mistrust.

A good leader is also fair, and doesn't single out individuals for special treatment (good or bad). A good leader doesn't foster a "good ol' boys club" or engage in nepotism.

14) A good leader is willing to listen to honest feedback.

A good leader NEVER considers himself above criticism. But, that criticism must be respectful, given at an appropriate time, and not public. Disrespect or open defiance is not acceptable.

15) A good leader is never a bully. Bullying others into doing what you want is NOT leadership.

Have you seen the movie "Ender's Game" based on the Orson Scott Card book by the same title? In it there is a character named Bonzo who was commander of Salamander Army at the Battle School. Despite being smart and talented, Bonzo was a complete jerk who relied on fear and intimidation to rise to the rank of commander. He was NOT a leader, but rather just a bully (in reality, he would have washed out of any military or business leadership program long before becoming a commander). In the end, Bonzo got himself seriously hurt when he started a fight with another student who stood up to his bullying tactics (watch the movie, or better yet, read the book for more details).


Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is on the U.S. Marine Corps Professional Reading List.

16) A good leader makes those around him better.

Think Magic Johnson or Larry Bird. Those two NBA stars were famous not only for their great abilities, but also for making their fellow teammates better. More than just setting a good example or a positive tone, a good leader actively seeks to make those around him better.


NOTE: For a great discussion on leadership by The Maine Prepper and The Patriot Nurse, watch their video How to Be a Leader: Fundamentals and Principles on You Tube. You will recognize many of the ideas presented here.
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Sunday, April 28, 2024

Simple Steps To Protect Your On-Line Privacy

By Tim Gamble

The Bad News: Everybody wants your data - the government, corporations, nosy neighbors, social justice warriors, hackers, scammers, and other bad guys. If you are transmitting electronically, your data is available to anyone with the resources and skills to get it. You will never be able to perfectly and completely hide your data.  

The Good News: There are things you can do to make it more difficult for others to get your data. You'll never get 100% protection, but you can get to 95% protection. Here are some useful steps to help you get there:

1) Password protect ALL your devices. This includes your smart phone, your tablet, your laptop, and your desktop, both at work and at home. Sure, passwords can be annoying to use, but devices can get lost or stolen. Use passwords (or facial recognition or thumbprints or whatever). 

2) Keep your operating system and other software up-to-date. Software updates often include security patches to protect against the latest threats. Don't do the updates, and you won't be protected.

3) Secure your browser. Suggestions: turn off third-party cookies, configure for only HTTPS, turn on the Do Not Track setting, use the Privacy Badger extension for Firefox, Chrome, or Opera browsers, use private browsing mode, and keep your browser updated. How to do these things is different for each browser, so if you don't know how just look it up on the web. Instructions for each browser are easy to find. (My favorite privacy browser is Brave.)

4) Use a privacy-respecting search engine. Examples include DuckDuckGo, Qwant, Brave, and Startpage. SwissCows is another good one, and is a family-friendly option that automatically blocks most adult sites. Do not use Google, Bing, or Yahoo. 

5) Don't overshare on social media. This really is the #1 threat to your privacy, and you do it to yourself. Be aware of what you post and how others may use it. Talk to your family members about what to share and not share on social media. Consider what information may be available in the background of your photos (your street address on your mailbox or front door? Your car's license plate? Expensive items in your home?) And for goodness sake, don't check in at every restaurant and other business you visit, thereby making yourself super easy to track (and letting folks know when you are not at home).

6) Be wary of using public Wi-Fi. Anyone could be watching that internet traffic. If you do, avoid using it to send private information such as credit card numbers, and consider using a VPN.

7) Be wary of possible scams. Never give personal or financial information, pin numbers or passwords to any website that you aren't certain is legitimate. Be especially cautious of links in unsolicited emails and text messages (I never click links in text messages or emails, even if I know the company, instead I go to their websites manually.)
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Saturday, April 27, 2024

Are preppers selfish?

By Tim Gamble

There are those people, more than a few, who don't like the idea of preparedness and self-reliance. They have many reasons, all of which fall flat, in my opinion. But one of the more ridiculous reasons is that preparedness and self-reliance are somehow "selfish." I've heard this absurd criticism a number of times over the years, and it is what I am addressing in this very brief article.

If you have ever listened to a flight attendant give emergency instructions, you may have noticed that they tell parents traveling with a child to put the oxygen mask on themselves first, before putting one on their child. The airlines don't say that because they hate children. Instead, they say that because if a parent is to help their child, they must first be able to do so. A parent unconscious from a lack of oxygen will be of absolutely no help to their child.

Likewise, we will be of little or no help to our family, friends and neighbors, if we are the ones in need of help ourselves. In fact, our own helplessness may make matters much worse for our community. Far from being selfish, building self-reliance and being prepared may be among the most generous things you can do.

Be generous. Become a prepper.

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