Saturday, February 29, 2020

You Can't Shoot Germs! A Prepper's Guide to the Next Level of Self Defense

Note: I wrote this article before the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak. However, much of the information presented is applicable to the current pandemic.

By Timothy Gamble (March 27, 2019)

Self-defense is a major part of preparedness, as most preppers know. Yet, when we think of self-defense, we think of people who wish to do us harm: thugs, criminals, looters, rioters, and even foreign governments. Against such enemies, guns & ammo can work well. But there is another enemy, and it is one against which guns & ammo are useless - GERMS!

Failing to prepare for those microscopic enemies can be as fatal a mistake as failing to prepare for human-sized enemies. Take your self-defense preparations to the next level by arming yourself and your family against the dangers posed by disease. 

Understand this: In any collapse scenario, disease will play a major role due to the resulting breakdown of the healthcare system, the scarcity of medical resources, and the collapse of sanitation and waste disposal systems. Hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and floss will quickly disappear from store selves, as will "luxury" items such as disposable diapers and disposable feminine hygiene products. Water will likely become too valuable to waste on daily showers and frequent clothes-washing. Lack of food will lead to impaired immune systems (historically, during famines more people die of disease than from actual starvation). 

In self-defense against people, the first line of defense is situational awareness. In self-defense against germs, the first line of defense is our health as it is now. The healthier we are now, the more we will be able to resist, and recover from, disease later. Developing our health & fitness, and that of our family, now should be a top priority for any serious prepper and survivalist. 

I know people don't like to be lectured on their health, especially if we know we aren't doing all we should be doing along those lines (and most of us aren't). Besides, you already know what you need to do: stop smoking or using tobacco in any form; stop abusing drugs or alcohol, lose weight if you're overweight, be physically active & get into shape, eat healthy, consume less sugar, de-stress your life, get enough sleep on a regular basis, take care of your teeth, and get regular medical, dental, and vision check-ups. Simple, but requires a lot of work and sacrifice. 

Having plenty of food and water stored, or otherwise being able to provide it for yourself and your family, is key to maintaining your health in a collapse. Food is not only energy, but is the nutrition that your body needs to repair itself and to maintain its immune system. A 'joke" I often hear overweight preppers make is that their extra fat will enable them to do without much food longer than a skinny person could. Sorry, but that isn't how nutrition works. They may understand the energy of food, but fail to understand the nutrition side of the equation. 

I recommend a good multi-vitamin & mineral be added to your food storage as insurance against prolonged periods of limited food. A small bottle could also be easily carried in your bug-out bag or survival pack. Vitamins and minerals don't go "bad" and are not required by the FDA to have expiration dates (though some companies do put dates on their vitamins, typically 1 to 3 years out). Even as they remain safe, vitamins & minerals will slowly lose potency over time, so rotate your vitamins to ensure they remain fresh.  

Next, we need to figure out how we are going to handle sanitation and hygiene during and after a collapse, especially since modern infrastructure will likely collapse, and resources will quickly become scarce. Stockpile needed supplies before any collapse - everything from bleach and cleaning supplies, to soap and toothpaste. 

Also, learn about alternatives you can use as your supplies run out. Examples: baking soda, sea salt, coconut oil, and various herbal powders can all be used instead of toothpaste. You can make your own soap and other cleaning supplies from many common household products (many recipes can be found on the Internet). The point is to learn now, before a collapse.

     Food Preparation = It will be critical to keep all food preparation surfaces clean, as well as dishes, cookware, and utensils. Washing hands before handling food is a must. Wash hands after handling raw meat to prevent cross-contamination. If you are processing wild game or fish, or butchering domestic animals, keep those areas extremely clean. Learn before the collapse how to safely process and butcher animals. 

      Clothes Washing = If there is no electricity, your electric washing machine and dryer won't work. Now what? A clothes washing wand and a large tub, along with a clothes line or dryer rack, will substitute nicely. Remember: Don't waste  your potable (safe-to-drink) water on clothes washing - rainwater or pond water will work as long as it is relatively clean.
     Trash/Garbage Disposal = Post-collapse, the garbage trucks won't be running. What to do?  Yard waste, vegetable scraps, egg shells, and used coffee & tea grounds should all be used for composting to improve your garden soil. Newspaper and cardboard can either be shredded for composting, or used as sheet-mulch. Many items can be repaired or repurposed. Scrap metal is worth saving, as it may become very useful after a collapse. Rinse the metal off if necessary, and store in piles a safe distance from your home (it may become a good hiding place for snakes, rats, etc.). Plastics and other non-usable trash can be safely buried away from your home. Be hesitant to burn trash during and after a collapse, since the smoke may draw unwanted attention, and since fire departments won't be operating.

Don't let trash pile up near your home, garden, or animals. Trash heaps attract snakes, vermin, flies, mosquitoes, and other wildlife, can be breeding grounds for bacteria, and are generally dangerous and unsanitary for a variety of reasons. 

     Bathing/Washing Hands - Even if you cannot bathe daily due to limited water supplies, don't skimp on washing your hands & face or brushing your teeth. Keeping good hygiene practices during and after a collapse will be extremely important to protecting yourself and your family from disease.

     Human Waste - If your septic or sewer system is still working, but you no longer have running water, you can still use your toilets by pouring water into them to flush the waste (this water definitely doesn't have to be potable, so don't waste your drinking water - use rainwater or water straight from a nearby stream or pond). Or consider installing a composting toilet before the collapse, which both allows you to deal with human waste and provides rich compost for your garden (and it really is safe, even if it sounds a little gross). Finally, you can always dig a latrine or outhouse, or simply use a 5-gallon bucket with a toilet seat. Mixing lime, wood ash, and dirt in with the poop can help reduce order. Empty and clean the bucket daily, of course, using the contents for composting (be sure do this type of composting away from your garden and water sources, and other potential contamination points, and keep it covered to prevent flies).

Dealing with dead bodies will be a tragic consequence of any collapse. You probably won't be able to call the authorities to deal with it, so plan now what to do. Some thoughts:
  • The sooner you deal with a body, the safer it will be, as the decomposition process starts almost immediately.
  • Cremation probably won't be a good solution, as to thoroughly cremate a body will require enormous amounts of wood/fuel, and may attract unwanted attention.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling a dead body.
  • Completely cover any cuts and abrasions you may have before handling the body.
  • Wear a disposable surgical mask over your mouth & nose, and wear goggles or safety glasses. A face shield would also work nicely.
  • Wear a disposable apron or gown.
  • As soon as possible after death, wrap the body in a body bag or several layers of garbage bags or plastic sheeting.
  • Graves should be dug away from open water sources (at least 100 feet or more) and deep enough (or covered with rocks) to prevent animals from digging it up.
  • Thoroughly wash yourself afterward, even using bleach to clean your hands.
  • Dispose of the gloves, surgical mask, and apron.
  • Th roughly clean and disinfect all equipment and surfaces that came into contact with the body.
  • Keep notes on who you bury and where, along with information on the circumstances of their death. Once law & order is re-established, the new authorities may ask questions.
Avoiding sick people is lot easier said than done, even in good times, as we have little control over people who choose to go to work, school, or shopping while sick. But, to the extent you can, avoid being around with people who are sick. This is especially true during and after a collapse. This means trying to avoid large crowds whenever possible. It means having enough supplies so you don't have to go out if there is an outbreak in your area. When you do have to be around someone who is sick, take proper precautions like washing your hands frequently and wearing a disposable surgical mask.

Wear a disposable surgical mask in public, in good times and bad. Taking the bus, train, or subway? Visiting a flea market or otherwise hanging around a large crowd of people in tight quarters? Trading with the homestead just over the hill?  Take a clue from the Japanese and wear a disposable surgical mask. This will help you not spread your own germs and help you avoid the germs of other people. (They are also great pollen blockers for those suffering from hay fever.)  This isn't common in the west as it is in Asia, so you'll likely get a lot of strange looks. But, is it really effective? Actually, yes. According to a study published in The International Journal of Infectious Diseases (December 2008 issue, page e328), masks have a protective efficacy of over 80% against respiratory illnesses like colds and influenza.

Despite your best efforts, you or someone in your family or group will likely get sick at some point. What then? How do you deal with a sick person during and after a collapse?
Setting up a sick room (also known as a quarantine room) is a good idea. A sick room is a place in your home specifically set aside for the care of a sick person. This room is apart from the rest of the house (perhaps the bedroom at the far end of the house) and folks know to avoid it unless they are taking care of the sick person. Plastic sheeting and PVC piping can be used to create an entrence area just outside the bedroom door, where the caretaker can prepare to enter and leave the area. The room should be fully stocked ahead of time with needed supplies. A good article by an RN on this topic can be found on the Survival Blog website: Setting Up A Sick Room in Your Home.

You need to figure out now how to treat illnesses when their is no hospital or doctor available. For my money (literally, since I have bought two print and one kindle editions), the absolute best book on this subject is The Survival Medicine Handbook: THE essential guide for when medical help is NOT on the way, by Dr. Joe Alton and Nurse Amy Alton. Now in its third edition, this book has over 650 pages of well-organized and well-explained information on dealing with disease and injuries when there is no medical help available. An invaluable resource, I consider this book to be an essential core book for any serious prepper or survivalist. The knowledge it contains could literally be the difference between life and death in a post-collapse world. Especially useful in preparing for a post-collapse world is its lists of medical supplies, OTC drugs, training, and alternative treatments to acquire before the collapse.

To vaccinate, or not to vaccinate, that is the question. I'm not going to tell you what to do on this one - its up to you. People on both sides of the debate have very strong opinions when it comes to vaccines. Pro-vaccine people point to the success of vaccinations with wiping out diseases like polio and smallpox, and fervently believe that modern vaccines are safe. Anti-vaccine people point to a lot of anecdotal evidence that vaccines can cause various problems such as autism and infertility, and they don't trust corporations or the government to tell the truth about the safety of vaccinations. And a third set of folks believe that vaccines are generally safe, but that we are way over-medicating ourselves, which could create unintended consequences. Therefore, they are reluctant to take every recommended vaccine that comes on the market. Decide for yourself. Need more information to decide? Check out:

Vaccinations: A Thoughtful Parent's Guide: How to Make Safe, Sensible Decisions about the Risks, Benefits, and Alternatives.  This book discusses both the pros and cons of vaccinations in a fairly even-handed way.

The blurb: "Midwife, herbalist, and mother of four, Aviva Jill Romm sifts through the spate of current research on vaccine safety and efficacy and offers a sensible, balanced discussion of the pros and cons of each routine childhood vaccination. She presents the full spectrum of options available to parents: full vaccination on a standardized or individualized schedule, selective vaccination, or no vaccinations at all. Negotiating daycare and school requirements, dealing with other parents, and traveling with an unvaccinated child are covered in detail. The book also suggests ways to strengthen children's immune systems and maintain optimal health and offers herbal and homeopathic remedies for childhood ailments. Emphasizing that no single approach is appropriate for every child, the author guides parents as they make the choices that are right for their child." Available on Amazon.

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Friday, February 21, 2020

Lessons from the History of Famines

By Timothy Gamble (September 20, 2018)

During famines more people die from violence and disease than from actual starvation. This surprising fact has been noted by Economic Historian Cormac Ó Gráda and others who have studied the history of famines. 

Without getting into the causes and outcomes of famines (Ó Gráda and others have written many scholarly papers and books on the subject), I want to examine what this means for preppers and survivalists:

Disease prevention and medical readiness, along with security and self-defense, are equal to food and water as areas of concern.  

The need to address food and water is ubiquitous within the prepper and survivalist community. It is usually the first bit of advice offered to newbies, and it is probably the most discussed area of preparedness. Many articles and books have been written on the subject, covering everything from food storage, to raising and preserving food, to providing food through hunting, fishing, and gathering wild edibles. 

Taking care of this area to ensure you and your family won't die from lack of food isn't enough. During a famine, you will still be vulnerable to the violence and sickness of those in your area who aren't prepared food-wise. 

Threats from violence during a feminine are obvious.  Folks desperate from a lack of food will turn to stealing, looting, and rioting. But it is more than just the desperate masses you need to fear. Famines are often accompanied by wars and/or political collapse. Local warlords and strongmen often rise up attempting to take advantage of the situation.  These folks typically come from the ranks of the police, military, or criminal gangs, meaning they are surprising well-armed and well-trained, disciplined, with an already established chain-of-command and operating procedures. In other words, they will be much more dangerous than your average group of looters. 

Thus security and self-defense needs to be a major area of concern and preparation on your part. This includes not only hardening your home, as well as guns and ammo, but also training and developing standard operating procedures. Situational awareness is also a crucial skill to learn. First aid is a skill everyone in your family or group should have, including the ability to apply a tourniquet and dress a major wound (such as from a knife or gunshot).

I recommend the book Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin for more information on security planning, training, and tactics.

Medical preparations for a famine include developing good health beforehand, practicing good hygiene and sanitation during the crisis (which includes stockpiling hygiene, sanitation, and cleaning supplies), learning and taking preventative measures, and learning how to deal with common medical conditions that may occur. This last suggestion includes stockpiling what medical supplies and medicine you may need, and knowing possible alternatives such as wild medicinals and foods, herbs, & spices with anti-bacterial or other curative properties. Having a medical professional or two in your group would be a tremendous blessing, of course, but even if you don't, someone needs to be made the group "doctor." This person should be given the primary responsibility to learn both advanced first aid and as much medical knowledge as they can before the crisis ensues.

A great medical resource all preppers and survivalists should have, in my opinion, is The Survival Medicine Handbook by Joe Alton, MD, and Amy Alton, ARNP.

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18 Easy Tips to Save Money

By Timothy Gamble

Looking to save money to pay off debt, build savings, or buy prepper supplies?  Here are 18 easy tips to save money:

1- Avoid impulse purchases by shopping with checklists, and sticking to the lists.

2- See something you want that isn't on your list? Don't buy it. Write it down and add it to your list for next time. Chances are good that after you have had a day or two to think about it, the impulse to buy it will go away.

3- Avoid impulse purchases by paying with cash, not credit or debit cards. This way you will immediately see & feel the pain of the purchase.

I'm harping on impulse purchases because I'm convinced most people greatly underestimate how much they really spend on these typically small purchases. This is an easy category to save money on IF you are willing to take an honest look at your spending habits.

4- Avoid shopping for fun or entertainment. Don't go to the mall or shopping center just to have something to do.

5- Avoid social shopping with friends. People tend to talk each other into things, not out of them.

6- Do not watch infomercials or home shopping channels.

7- Do not catalog shop unless you are looking for something specific.

8- Shop for quality not quantity. Something that costs more because it is of better quality, and therefore will last longer, will be cheaper in the long run than something that initially costs less, but will wear out or break much quicker. 

I've bought cheap clothes at Walmart that literally started to unravel and even get holes in them after the very first washing. They may cheaper than better clothes, but that are NOT less expensive in the long run because you have to replace them so often.

9- Stick with classic styles and colors, rather than styles that are "in" at the moment. Avoid fads.

10- Consider renting something instead of buying it if you will only use it once or very occasionally. Examples may include things like carpet cleaners and pressure washers.

11- Cancel newspapers and magazines that you don't read thoroughly or truly need professionally. Most will even refund the unused portion of your subscription.

12- Make use of your local library for newspapers, magazines, books, DVDs and CDs. Only buy those that you cannot get for free at the library or that you will use repeatedly.

13- Use coupons whenever possible, but only for items you would buy anyway.

Caution: I've found that generic and store brands are often cheaper than the name brand even when using a coupon. Example: on a recent trip to Walmart, I had a coupon for 50¢ off two cans of Barbasol Saving cream. I did not use that coupon because the regular price of the Equate brand of shaving cream was still cheaper even if I had used the coupon.
14- Use sales fliers and the Internet to comparison shop. Prices can vary widely from store to store on the same item.

15- Warehouse stores (Sam's Club, Costco, etc.)  are good ways to save money, but don't assume they are always the cheapest option.  Often times a generic or store brand elsewhere will be just as good and less expensive than a name brand at the warehouse store.

16- Avoid the use of credit cards, charge accounts, rent-to-own, and other forms of debt. You will not only save on interest and other fees, you will most likely buy less in the first place.

17- If you have credit card debt, be extra diligent to make payments on time. The late fees and higher interest rates due to missed or late payments really add up fast.

18- Hang out your clothes to dry. Dryers are among the most expensive appliances to run in terms of energy cost.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Spread Constitutional Literacy!

By Timothy Gamble
Spread Constitutional Literacy by giving away pocket copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  It's an idea that I've been promoting for the past several years. 

Pocket Constitutions are available from Amazon (currently for $1 each with free shipping for both prime members or when ordering 25 or more).  You may also be able to order them from political and educational organizations that occasional offer them for sale.  I am an Amazon Affiliate, so ordering them through my links to Amazon will help to support this site in a small way. 

Pocket Constitutions  make great giveaways for:
  • Back-to-School 
  • History and Social Studies Classes
  • Halloween Trick-or-Treat
  • Spring and Fall Festivals
  • Campaign Events and Political Rallies
  • Business Events and Promotions
  • Scout Troops
  • Churches and Sunday School Classes
  • Bible Study and Prayer Groups
  • Clubs and Civic Organizations

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Planning Your Escape: Considerations for Bugging Out

By Timothy Gamble (September 15, 2018)

Most people's Plan A should be to "bug in" or "hunker down" during an emergency. But, things may become dangerous in your area (wild fires, power plant accidents, rioters & looters, government actions, etc.), so plan now for your possible escape, should it become necessary. When will you bug-out? Where you will go? How will you get there? What happens if your primary path is blocked? Do you know alternative routes? What should you take with you?  

Here are some considerations for planning your escape:

1- Know when to Bug-Out. This is probably the hardest part of your planning.  The best advice for most people in most situations is to stay put as long as possible. Hunker down where you are, unless and until it becomes too dangerous to do so. You don't want to face the open road during a highly chaotic and dangerous time unless you absolutely have to leave for your own safety.

To put it in simple terms:  Bug-out when doing so is less dangerous than staying where you are.  But, how to know when that is? How do you strike the balance between leaving too early and leaving too late? 

The key is applying situational awareness and the OODA loop (link to my January article) to the developing situation. Pay attention to what's happening, not just on the national level, but especially what's happening on the local level. Local news & talk radio will be more useful to monitor during a crisis than national broadcast and cable news channels. Having the ability to monitor local police and emergency dispatch will also be very useful. Check out Broadcastify for a way to monitor local dispatch via the Internet. Other apps and websites are available. You can also get a hand-held or desktop radio scanners for when the Internet is out.

Use commonsense and rational thinking (don't be overly emotional) to analyze what is going on in your area. The goal is to bug-out when things are obviously going south, but haven't yet spiraled completely out-of-control.

"But what if my Plan A is to bug-out?"  Okay. I get it. Many people feel they have to (or want to) live in a big city or other unsuitable location for riding out TEOTWAWKI.  If your Plan A is bugging-out, then do so as early as possible to avoid the traffic jams, limited fuel supplies, and chaos of the last minute escape.  In your case, it is etter to bug-out too early, then to bug-out too late. You can always return home after you realize it wasn't SHTF after all.

2- Plan a Bug-Out location. Obviously, the best bug-out location is one which you already own and have developed for your needs. But for most of us, that is difficult to do. The next best choice is probably a friend or relative's place. 

Maybe your Uncle George has a fishing cabin in the mountains. Or Great Aunt Ida lives alone in that huge old house on the outskirts of a  small town in the Ozarks. Or Cousin Eddie has a small farm in Kentucky. Talk to them about using their place as a bug-out location. You could even stockpile some food, clothes, and other supplies there ahead of time. You don't even have to move into the house with them. Perhaps you could park a camper or RV in their driveway or backyard.  

Other potential bug-out locations include national or state parks, church retreats, and for-profit campgrounds. 

3- Know how to get to your bug-out location. This means knowing how to get there using at least two different routes (in case one is blocked for some reason) without using GPS or google maps. Practice driving all routes before you need to bug-out for real. Keep directions, maps and a road atlas in your vehicle.

You should also learn the potential "hot spots" in your local area, and along the routes to your bug-out locations. By hot spots, I mean areas that are more likely than others to be dangerous. Examples include heavily urban areas and college campuses which will likely see looting and/or rioting early on. Bad neighborhoods, already dangerous high crime areas, will only be worse during SHTF. Areas with a heavy Muslim population, or near mosques, will be dangerous for non-Muslims (forgive my political incorrectness).  Busy intersections and areas where traffic already snarls during normal rush hours, will likely be impassable during SHTF. Road construction is another potential hot spot, as one or more lanes may be blocked by equipment and materials. 

4- Make sure your vehicle is in good shape, and fueled up.  You're bug-out plans will fail if your vehicle breaks down, or if you run out of gas. Keep your oil changed on a regular basis, and quickly make any necessary repair. Make sure your tires, including spares, are in good shape. Check out my article Preppers' Auto Maintenance Schedule for more on this topic.

5- Put together a small emergency kit for your vehicle. Include things to keep your vehicle running (extra oil, transmission fluid, jumper cables, fix-a-flat, etc.). Include a good flashlight with extra batteries. If you can do basic auto repairs (a great skill to learn), keep some useful tools and spare parts in vehicle. Also include things you might need in an emergency (a first aid kit, a warm blanket, bottles of water, power bars or other food, etc.)

6- Have a Bug Out or Evacuation Bag already packed for each member of your family. Include a change of clothes, some food, water, personal hygiene supplies, individual first aid kit, a compact New Testament or prayer book, flashlight and extra batteries, emergency poncho, and whistle in each bag. Adults and teens should have additional items such as a knife, multi-tool, matches or lighters, duct tape, outdoor survival gear, sewing kits, etc. In the bags of children, be sure to include written information such as name & age of the child, family contact info, and lists of any allergies, medications & health conditions, should the child become separated from the rest of the family. Also include a favorite toy, coloring books, crayons, and/or a few other distractions for the kids. In your bag, be sure to include copies of insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, vaccination records, medical records, bank numbers, passports, and other personal records (ideally in a small notebook or envelope, and possibly on a USB stick or other digital storage). 

7- Decide what to pack. You may only have time to grab your bug-out bags and go. But, should you have more time to pack your vehicle, decide beforehand what you want to take with you. Possibilities include extra food, water, and clothes, cleaning and hygiene supplies, tools (hand and/or gardening), reference books, camping gear, and even sentimental items such as family photos and heirlooms. Thinking about where you will bug-out to will help you determine what extra items you should take if there is time.
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Friday, February 14, 2020

How To Raise Money For Your Prepping Activities

By Timothy Gamble (August 27, 2018)

Prepping can be expensive. I wish I had a magic solution to the problem of how to raise money to buy food,  supplies, guns & ammo, take courses, and make other preparations, including buying your own homestead or retreat (a goal of many preppers), but I don't. No one, not even Uncle Sam, is giving out free money for people to become more self-reliant. The only ways to raise money that I know of entail sacrifices of time, talent, effort, or property. Here is my list of ways to raise money:
  • Get a raise, or more hours, at your primary job. This is tough to do, I know, but it is a great way to raise extra money if you can pull it off. And it is certainly easier now, during good economic times, then it will be after the next recession hits (and there will be another one eventually).
  • Get a second, or third, job. I worked a second job for years at a B. Dalton Booksellers (during the 1990s), mostly on weekends. It only netted me about $60/week, but over the course of a year that is more than $3,000. In more recent years, I've worked part-time Christmas jobs at places like Khol's and Wal-Mart, which netted me a nice chunk of extra cash for a couple months' work. A second job will pay off a lot of debt or buy a lot of supplies.
  • Do odd jobs. Can you sew, tutor, mow lawns, bake, babysit, or do "handyman" jobs? Do you have crafting skills? Post or handout fliers around your community. 
  • Start your own "Man-and-a-Truck" business. If you have a pick-up truck or van, you can rent it & yourself out for a lot of odd jobs involving moving or hauling. Most people don't have a truck, yet most people will need to haul something somewhere at some point. And they probably need an extra pair of hands (or two). If you also have a dolly or hand-truck, you'll be especially popular.  Posting flyers around town and word-of-mouth are great ways to promote your business.
  • Collect money owed to you. If you loaned money to a friend or relative, it is time to collect. Asking a friend or family member to pay back money you've lent them is uncomfortable, and may lead to some icy Sunday dinners at Grandma's, but it is your money after all. And you need it.
  • Cancel your subscriptions. Most newspapers and magazines will refund the unused portion of your subscription when you cancel. It might not be much, but every little bit helps.
  • Hold a yard or garage sale. Get rid of your junk and unclutter your life while making some cash. If you live in an apartment, maybe there is a nearby flea market where you can sale your stuff, or ask a friend if you can hold the yard sale at their place.
  • Sell your stuff online.  Over the years, I've had a lot of success selling my stuff on eBay, both big ticket items and little. 
  • Sell big-ticket items in your local classified ads. This is a great way to sell individual items such as ATVs, exercise equipment, furniture, electronics, and so forth.
  •  Rent out a room. If you have a spare bedroom, consider renting it out. If you rent an apartment, consider taking a roommate. Be careful who you are renting to, of course, checking references and so forth. And be sure to use a written contract!
Remember: The single most important thing you can do to survive any future chaos is to start taking responsibility for your own life now.

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Four Things Preppers Should NEVER Do

By Timothy Gamble (August 23, 2018)

Hoping to survive any future chaos? Here are four things you should never do, now or when the SHTF:

1) NEVER give up your personal sovereignty. You are responsible for yourself and your family. Never look to the government to protect you or save you, even in a major crisis. Especially in a major crisis. Remember the political saying "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Don't be naive about politicians and bureaucrats. Don't trade your freedoms for the promise of security.  Figure out now how to survive future chaos without going to the FEMA camp or blindly following the instructions of "authorities."

2) NEVER give up your ability to defend yourself.  Self-defense is a God-given right that neither government nor society has the right to take away from you. This includes the right to the tools of self-defense, such as guns and knives.  Strongly support the Second Amendment now, and resist all attempts to curtail it.  Avoid situations in which you are required to disarm (such as flying or entering a government building). Learn to defend yourself with your hands and improvised weapons in case you are ever forced to disarm.

3) NEVER stop improving yourself and your situation.  Never stop learning new skills. Never stop practicing old skills. Never stop adjusting your plans. Never stop developing your homestead or bug-out retreat. Never stop building your supplies. Even highly-experienced experts need to keep learning, keep practicing, keep planning. and keep preparing.

4) NEVER make a threat you are not ready, willing, and able to back up. No matter how prepared and skilled you are, the safest confrontation is the one you avoid. Never let your ego or over-confidence cause you bite off more than you can chew.

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GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Precious Metals and the Prepper

By Timothy Gamble (August 11, 2018)

Silver and gold are often discussed within prepper and survivalist circles. Here are my thoughts on the subject: 

Silver and gold are very unlikely to help you survive in the midst of a disaster of any sort. Bottled water, food, and warm, dry clothes, shoes, & blankets will likely be much more important, and a “currency” in much greater demand, in the midst of any disaster. Look at the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina – people were desperate for clean water and dry clothes, not gold or silver.

However, silver and gold may make a good hedge against inflation in a mostly “business as usual” atmosphere. Also, in the long-term aftermath of a major disaster that includes an economic and political collapse, gold and silver will likely prove to be extremely important as a currency, but only as society begins to reorganize and looks to stores of wealth other than devalued and worthless currencies, and collapsed credit markets.

Another thought: In the aftermath of an economic collapse, it will be virtually impossible to enforce any certificates or other paperwork that say you own gold or silver that is being held for you by a broker, financial intuition, or anyone else. Any gold or silver you own that is not in your physical possession will most likely not be recovered by you if a complete economic and political collapse occurs. If you believe an economic collapse is likely, take physical possession of your gold and silver before the collapse occurs. Naturally, keep your gold and silver in a safe and secure place, and make sure as few people as possible know you have it.

So, how much should you invest in precious metals? It depends on your situation. First, make sure your other basics are covered - including paying off your consumer debt and setting aside an emergency fund. Once that is done, many financial experts recommend folks keep about 10% of their money in precious metals. I personally would recommend at least 20%, given the state of world affairs. Again, this is only after you have covered your other financial and preparedness basics. Decide for yourself what is best for you. 

I hope this article has given you some "food for thought" on this topic. You may also be interested in my article, Prepper's Guide to Junk Silver, from 2014. It includes a lot of technical information on the topic. 
Collecting coins as a hobby or an investment?  Protect your coins in Coin Snap Holders and Coin Tubes. Various sizes of both are available on Amazon. Just click the links or pictures to go there (and help this website, which is an Amazon affiliate).

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GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Small Town and Rural Looting?

By Timothy Gamble (August 3, 2018)

We know that big cities and major urban centers will likely experience large-scale riots and looting during and after a political or economic collapse or other major SHTF event. The looting will likely spread to the suburbs  immediately surrounding these areas as people become desperate and attempt to flee the cities. But what about small towns and rural areas well-away from the large cities? Will they be safe from riots and looting? My answer is yes. And no. Let me explain:

Yes. Small towns and rural areas well-away from large cities will be relatively safe from large-scale riots and looting of the big cities. Looters will not spread out of the cities very far. They won't be able to because: 
  1. gasoline supplies will disappear within the first 24-hours of a major SHTF event and will not be replenished
  2. looters are not preppers, and haven't stored any extra gas or even topped off their tanks, severely limiting how far they can drive away from the city
  3. roadways will quickly become undrivable anyway, as vehicles break-down and run out of gas, clogging up the roadways
  4. most modern Americans are overweight, unhealthy, and out-of-shape, therefore will be unable to hike out of the cities very far 
  5. most who try to leave the cities on foot will die of violence, heart attacks, heat strokes, dehydration, etc.
No. Just because you happen to live in a small town or rural area far away from a big city, and therefore insulated from what is happening in the cities, doesn't mean you will be completely safe. You will still have three areas of concern:

A few city folks - Although the vast majority of the rioters and looters will be stuck in the cities for the reasons given above, a handful of particularly lucky or resourceful individuals will make it out, and they will be desperate and dangerous. Fortunately there won't be many of them, so you should be able to defend against them. That is if you and your group or community have planned ahead for such a defense. See the book Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin for more information.

A few local folks -  Yes, a few local folks may become problems for the community. There are always a few bad apples in any community who will try to take advantage of any situation that presents itself. And there will be others - good folks who just aren't prepared - that will eventually turn to looting and other crimes out of desperation. Think ahead about what (if any) help or charity you will be willing to give friends and neighbors, and how best to do so.  You also may need to  prepare yourself for the possibility of having to defend yourself and your property from someone you know should things become really desperate. 

Local Government and Law Enforcement - In a true long-term crisis situation, local authorities, well-intentioned or not, may attempt to confiscate food and supplies for re-distribution within the community. They will have a long list of reasonable sounding excuses for doing so, will have the backing for any local media that may still be operating, and will have the overwhelming support of the locals in need because they weren't prepared for a crisis. Having government take other people's stuff and give it to you is very popular these days. You need to decide now to what extent you will cooperate with or resist such efforts.  And if you plan to resist, how?  Options include pretending to be among those in need (are your supplies well-hidden?), turning over a token amount of food and supplies (again, are the rest of your supplies well-hidden?), or physically resisting when they come to your home to inspect it for supplies you have "hoarded." If you choose the last option, are you prepared for a gun-battle with the local authorities, who will be at least as well-armed and well-trained as you and your group, and probably more so?  

Preppers concerned about a major SHTF event need to think through these issues, making plans and preparations now, rather than wait until its too late.
Retreat Security and Small Unit Tactics by David Kobler (Southern Prepper 1) and Mark Goodwin, "will teach you how to organize your team or neighborhood into a force to be reckoned with. You’ll get tips to harden your home and protect your family, life and property, both now and after the stuff hits the fan."

Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Building Community in Your Neighborhood

By Timothy Gamble (July 15, 2018)

Want community? Many preppers do. Here are some tips to find and build community right where you live:

You have to play the hand your dealt. It is not a perfect world, and no neighborhood is perfect - mine included (and don't I know it!). But your neighborhood is where you live, for better or worse, so you might as well make the best of it. Sitting around wishing for things to be different is counterproductive.

You don't need everyone.  Not every neighbor is going to be like-minded, or even friendly towards your efforts. That's okay. You don't need to get every single person in your neighborhood on-board with your plans. Its not all or nothing. There will always be a few malcontents you will never be able to reach. Ignore them and build community with those you can. Some community with some folks is better than no community at all. 

Knock on doors. Or at least wave at mailboxes. In other words, you have to take the first step. Waiting around for your neighbors to come to you won't work. Go. Introduce yourself to them. 

Avoid religion and politics, especially in the early stages. Basic preparedness doesn't depend on religion or politics. You don't need to be of a certain religion to store food and water. You don't need to have a certain political viewpoint to learn first aid. You don't need to have the exact same religious or political views to encourage and help your neighbors. 

Don't talk prepping, at least at first.  The preparedness talk can come later, for now simply get to know your neighbors. Find out what you might have in common. As things progress, you can start dropping prepper lines and see how they respond.  

Form a Neighborhood Watch. It can official (working with your local police, posting signs, etc.) or informal (exchanging phone numbers and agreeing to keep an eye out for strangers or anything else suspicious in the neighborhood). The point is you and your neighbors will begin getting to know one another and watching out for each other. You can build from there.

Have a community yard sale. We have been doing this in our neighborhood for a few years now. About twice a year we'll get together and advertise a community yard sale on a Saturday. Not every household participates, but many do. Even many of those that don't participate in the selling walk around looking at what others are selling. Curiosity gets them out of their house. I've actually met several neighbors this way that I otherwise never would have met.

One by one. Two by two. Everyone doesn't have to get together at the same time. A neighborhood-wide barbecue may be too much to put together, but you can host a barbecue maybe once a month and invite one or two neighborhood families over. Invite different families each month. Barbecuing not your thing? Try a Game Night instead. Or a movie night.

Advance slowly but surely.  Turning your neighborhood into a community is a one-step-at-a-time activity. Get to know each other. Then work on building friendships with those who seem willing. Then start talking preparedness with those that seem receptive. 

Building community is about more than just preparedness. Preparedness for some future crisis might be your ultimate goal, but it cannot be your only goal, otherwise you'll scare people off. Community is about building friendships and relationships of trust. Community is about watching out for each other, encouraging each other, and helping each other. The cold fact is that you are extremely unlikely to get your neighborhood converted into a 100% prepared for doomsday survivalist community. But the more of a community that you're neighborhood is, the better off you'll all be if and when the SHTF. ------------------- 
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On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Understanding Preparedness - Loss of Comforts of Civilization

By Timothy Gamble (July 2, 2018)

Sweden recently issued a "Prepare for War" booklet to all Swedish households.  In it, they ask the rhetorical question What would you do if your everyday life was turned upside down? They go on to say "In just a short time, your everyday life can become problematic.

Problematic? Really? For the scenario the Swedes seemed concerned with, a civilization-altering world war possibly including the use of nukes, problematic doesn't even begin to describe it. Try "your everyday life as you have known it will become impossible."

This goes not only for a possible nuclear war, but for other widespread disasters, including natural disasters (plagues, super-volcanoes, CMEs, etc) and man-made disasters (widespread civil unrest, attempted coups, civil war, economic collapse, etc.). Life as we currently know it could change drastically and suddenly.

Results of a Major Disaster

A major  disaster usually will result in the temporary or permanent loss of many of the “comforts of civilization” we are used to enjoying. Comforts of civilization are those things that are provided to us by modern civilization that we take for granted. So much so that we don't even consider them comforts or luxuries anymore, but rather basic necessities. It would be difficult for most modern people to provide most of these things for themselves, especially without learning new skills, having access to stockpiles of tools and supplies, and preparing well in advance for their loss.

These comforts of civilization we would likely lose include:

  • Readily available running water that is safe to drink.
  • Readily available food from stores and restaurants.
  • “Flush and forget” human waste disposal.
  • Modern medicine and health care.
  • Readily available electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, cooking and hot water.
  • Readily available natural gas for heating, cooking and hot water.
  • Readily available fuel for cars, trucks, tractors and planes.
  • Public transportation (trains, buses, subways, taxis, etc.).
  • Instant long distance communication (phones, email, etc.).
  • Ready access to education (schools) and knowledge (libraries, the Internet, etc).
  • Ready access to emergency services such as fire, police, and paramedics.
  • Most modern luxuries (television, IPods, mobile phones, computers & the Internet, etc.).
  • An economic support infrastructure (electronic funds transfers, shipping & delivery, etc.).
  • Ability to spend money without having it (credit cards, mortgages, installment plans, etc.)
Disasters can also lead to the loss of certain fundamental (inalienable) rights. This loss would, of course, be both immoral and illegal, but may occur because of the imposition of political correctness, a police state, martial law, or even the development or imposition of a dictatorship. The rights which may be lost include:
  • Loss of Privacy.
  • Loss of Freedom of Speech.
  • Loss of Freedom of Religion.
  • Loss of Freedom of the Press.
  • Loss of Free Assembly.
  • Loss of Freedom of Movement.
  • Loss of Self-Defense Rights.
  • Loss of Due Process.
  • Loss of Parental Rights.
  • Removal of children from your home.
  • Confiscation of land, firearms, knives, personal property, or even your stored food, water, and other supplies.
Understanding what a major disaster will likely entail will help us to better plan for such frightening scenarios. Ask yourself questions about how you could realistically handle the loss of these comforts of civilization and even these basic rights.

Detailed planning, rather than hit-or-miss stockpiling of food, guns, and other stuff,  takes time and effort, but will go a long way towards ensuring the survival of you and your family & community.

***You might also be interested in my article Sweden Distributes ‘Prepare for War’ Booklet to All Swedes - Here's What It Advises
Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Precepts of Scriptural Survivalism

NOTE:  This article has been replaced by an updated article: Precepts of Biblical Survivalism

By Timothy Gamble (July 10, 2018)

I use a notebook to plan out my prepepr and survivalism activities. This is the first pages of that notebook, the foundation upon which everything else rests. The Bible actually says a lot about preparedness, both spiritual and physical. In these precepts I attempt to summarize those teachings.

Precepts of Scriptural Survivalism

1- In all things, God first and foremost. Our relationship with God is by far the most important preparation we can make. Everything we say, do, or even think should rest on, or point the way to, that relationship with God. God is our first priority.

2- Follow God's ways; Reject worldly ways.
It isn't about survival at all costs, but rather about following God in the ways He would have us follow Him. This means living by God's Commandments and teachings, not by the current (and constantly shifting) worldly ways. We are to actively reject political correctness, popular opinions, modern "societal norms," secular wisdom, and even legal and governmental authority when those are opposed to God's Word. There is no compromising with the modern world for God's people.
We are to live to please God, not man.

3- Agrarianism is God's intent for His people. Humans were originally designed by God to live in and tend to the Garden of Eden. Later, after the Fall, we were commanded by God to till the soil and to raise our own food. Throughout the Bible, there are numerous examples of God telling His followers to avoid large cities (a Worldly invention), to live in the mountains and other rural areas, and to basically be "simple country folk" (in my words). 

Biblical agrarianism doesn't  mean everyone must be a farmer or homesteader - after all, there are plenty of support functions that must be done - but that as God's people, our lives, culture, economy, and civilization should reflect the primary importance of agriculture.

[Tim's Note: I am aware of others using the term "Biblical Agrarianism." For the sake of clarity, I am not a part of that group and am not familiar with all their teachings. My use of that term is coincidental, and is limited to what I have written here.]

4- Hard Work is Good. In fact, hard work is ordained by God. His example of Creation, six days of work and one day of rest, is the template we are to follow. 

5- Preparedness & Self-Reliance are Biblical concepts. Not only is physical preparedness allowed, it is in fact commanded by God. Multiple times in Proverbs (6:6-8 for just one example), God points us to the industrious ant's example, who constantly prepares for the future. In Galatians 6:1-5, Paul teaches that we are to both help one another AND to not be a burden to others (self-reliance).

A host of other verses could be quoted also, including Proverbs 27:12 (its prudent to prepare), Genesis 6:21 (food storage), Genesis 41:47-57 (food storage), Exodus 22:2 (self-defense), Psalm 144:1(self-defense training!), Proverbs 21:20 (store food & oil), Proverbs 22:7 (avoid debt), 1 Corinthians 16:13 (stay alert, be brave, be strong), Luke 22:36 (self-defense), 1 Timothy 5:8 (provide for yourself and your family), 1 Thessalonians 5:6 (stay alert, situational awareness), Hebrews 11:7 (points to Noah's example of preparedness to save his family), and Matthew 25:1-13 (the wisdom of the five prepared virgins compared to the foolishness of the five ill-prepared virgins).

6- All human life is valuable. All human life is created in the image of God. All human life belongs to God, not man. Murder, which is biblically-defined as the taking of innocent human life (intentionally or through negligence), is forbidden by God. 

7- Self-defense is allowed by God. God has granted us the right to kill in defense of ourselves or others, and in a few other very limited circumstances.  However, we are never permitted to kill for revenge or out of a sense of vengeance. 

8- There is but one race - the human race. All humans, regardless of the shade of their skin, belong to the same family, the same race - the human race. All people are descended from Adam and Eve, and later through Noah and his wife. There are ethnic and cultural differences that have developed over the centuries, of course, but there are no racial differences. Racism is a worldly (Satanic) concept.

9- The traditional family unit is the building block of civilization. This includes traditional monogamous marriage,  traditional gender roles, sex only within marriage, honoring your father and mother, etc.

10- Our Rights come from God, not from Government, or even by majority vote. Therefore, no government, nor any voting majority no matter how big, may take away any of those God-given Rights.

11-Debt is slavery.
"The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." -- Proverbs 22:7

12- Remember the Golden Rule. In Matthew 7:12, Jesus teaches "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." Common decency should definitely be a part of our everyday lives, including in the area of preparedness. We are to help one another, according to our abilities to do so. We are even to defend the poor and defenseless (Psalm 82:3) to the extent that we can (God never expects more from us than we are able to give). 

 The Orthodox Study Bible -  Orthodox Christianity is the face of ancient Christianity to the modern world and embraces the second largest body of Christians in the world. In this first of its kind study Bible, the Bible is presented with commentary from the ancient Christian perspective that speaks to those Christians who seek a deeper experience of the roots of their faith.


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Building Community? Warning Signs of People to Avoid

By Timothy Gamble (June 13, 2018)

There is a fair amount of talk within the prepper/survivalist community about building community.  Much of this talk revolves around how to find folks to build community with, or what skills you need to look for. In this article I want to come at the idea of building community from a different direction - who you need to exclude from your community and why. Almost nothing will doom a group faster than a toxic or disruptive individual. Avoid the following problem folks (even if they are your wife's cousin). 

Warning Signs of People to Avoid

1- Addictions.   Addictions of any kind – drugs, alcohol, gambling, TV, etc – are a MAJOR warning sign.  These people are not in control of their lives - their addiction is in control. They will create chaos and ultimately be a danger to other group members. Avoid anyone with any form of addiction. Pray for them. Offer to help them find assistance in overcoming their addiction. But do not make them a part of your group until they have successfully and completely overcome their addiction.   
2- Mental Illness.  I'm not referring to people who are a little unusual, or that "march to a different drummer." Rather, I'm referring to those individuals who have actual long-term mental health issues. Avoid them. Remember, at some point during the crisis, their meds will run out. Besides, the stress and chaos of a crisis will likely make their illness even more serious. This might seem heartless, but including them in the group will put everyone else in the group at risk. You can help people without making them part of your group. Pray for them. Help them find assistance and treatment for their illness before a crisis hits.  But, don't bring them into the group until their mental health issue is brought under control without the need for drugs.

 But what about my 8-year-old son who has epilepsy? What about my 77-year-old Mother who has Alzheimer's? I am not telling you to abandon close family members who need help. You will need to make special accommodations to your plans for them, but don't abandon them. This advice is about bringing in strangers and other outsiders into your group. Your first responsibility is your household, family & true friends, not strangers or even distant relations.

3- Bizarre or Unusual Requests Early On.   If you are just getting to know someone and they suddenly hit you with a bizarre or very unusual request, tread carefully. These people don't understand boundaries, and probably have additional underlying problems. 

Examples of bizarre requests might be to borrow a significant sum of money, or to keep a major secret they inexplicably told you about, or to quickly make a serious commitment, or to do something illegal or unethical. Those are the type of requests you might make of a life-long best friend, not of someone you have only recently met. Beware.

4- Dishonesty.  Its one thing (and probably a good thing) to be guarded with personal information, and concerned with maintaining privacy.  We should all be that way. However, it is something else entirely to outright lie. Don't expect someone to completely open up to you and tell you everything about their life, especially early on. But you should expect them to be honest in what they do tell you. 

5- Chaos in Their Personal Life.  A lack of stability in their life may be a major warning sign.  If they bounce in and out of work often or spend large stretches of time unemployed  - it is probably a bad sign. Same goes for other areas of their lives – friendships, relationships, living arrangements, and so on. Do they bounce in and out of relationships often? Does their life seem full of drama where things seem to constantly go wrong and they always seem to have problems of one sort or another? A chaotic life now will certainly carry over to a chaotic life after SHTF,  Of course context matters, so use common sense. Anyone can be laid off from work, or go through a rough patch in their relationships.  However, constant chaos is not normal.  Look for trends within their life, not one time events.

6- Don't Share Your Values and Worldview.  If they don't share your same worldview, values, and religious & political beliefs, then they won't be a good fit for your group or community. Minor differences of opinion are okay, but major differences on important topics will hinder group dynamics. In fact, a major crisis or SHTF event will only exacerbate these differences. 
Prepper Community: A Group-Based Methodology for Planning and Operating a Survival Retreat - What will you do if the supply chain goes down? What is your plan if the infrastructure fails? How will you survive if the delicate fabric of civilized society begins to tear apart?Stockpiling food, water, and supplies is only a small piece of the puzzle. From the most basic survival needs to the state of mind needed to make surviving seem worthwhile, you cannot do it alone. When it comes to living after the fall of society, mason jars full of potato flakes just aren’t going to cut it. Life is a community effort, and living after a societal collapse is no exception. In a scenario where the lights may never come back on, like-minded folks will need to band together and establish their own autonomous and independent survivalist colonies.Planning a post-SHTF community is no small task. The survival of your group depends on the careful consideration and preparation of every foreseeable concern, including food, security, sanitation, and everything in-between. This book aims to serve as a road map for planning the creation and operation of your survival community.
Please subscribe to Dystopian Survival using the Follow By Email field at the bottom of the right hand column.

On Social Media:

Twitter: @DystopianSurv - My account specifically for this website. 99% prepping, survivalist, and homesteading tweets. Few, if any, posts on politics.

Twitter: @TimGamble - My main account. Survivalist information, plus heavy on news, politics and economics.

GAB: @TimGamble - Mainly a back-up account for when Twitter bans me for being not being a leftist.