Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Self-Defense When a Gun Isn't an Option

By Timothy Gamble (December 18, 2018)

When self-defense becomes necessary, a gun (and knowing how to use it) is usually the best option. Unfortunately, there are many situations in life where carrying a gun isn't an option. What then? 

The best line of self-defense is always to avoid danger in the first place. This is where situational awareness, local knowledge, and commonsense comes into play.

     Situational Awareness - More than just paying attention to what is going on around you, though that is an important start, situational awareness means both knowing what to look for, and how to assess (make decisions about) your surroundings. For much more on situational awareness, see my article: Situational Awareness and the OODA Loop

     Local Knowledge - Your local area, where you live, shop, and go to work, school & church, has its bad neighborhoods and high crime districts (everywhere does). Knowing where these are and how to avoid them is important. Even your local shopping centers likely have "bad" areas, blind spots where the lighting is poor and the view is hidden, that are potential ambush points for bad guys. Know and avoid these.

     Commonsense - The world is a dangerous place and getting more so everyday. Use commonsense to avoid trouble as you go about your everyday activities. There is safety in numbers, so try to travel, walk and shop in groups whenever possible. Let people know where you're going and when to expect you back. Park in a highly visible, well-light location near the entrance to minimize chances of ambush & muggings. Don't make yourself a target by wearing expensive, flashy clothes & accessories, or driving an expensive car. Don't make yourself a target by appearing easy prey - wear practical clothes, walk confidently, head up. Before getting out of a car or walking out of a building, look out a window first to identify possible dangers.  Keep your vehicle well-maintained to minimize chances of a break-down at a bad place or time.

Despite our best efforts to avoid trouble, trouble sometimes finds us. What then?

My first suggestion is to know how to defend yourself with your hands. Take a course in non-lethal self-defense. These courses are sometimes offered for free or low-cost at YMCAs, YWCAs, schools, community centers, and so forth. Perhaps you can even talk your church into sponsoring such a course. A good self-defense course won't just cover the physical aspects of self-defense, but also give tips and advice on avoiding dangerous situations in the first place.

Next, consider taking up a martial art of some sort (such as karate, judo, or krav maga). Learning a martial art can be a fun hobby, provide considerable health and fitness benefits. improve self-confidence, and give you a life-long self-defense skill set. I especially urge parents to get their kids involved in martial arts at a young age. And you are never too old, as most good martial arts instructors will tailor your program to fit your age, health, and current fitness level.

There are a whole host of other "weapons" that you can use to defend yourself. Some possibilities include prepper spray,  a self-defense necklace (aka Buddha Beads), a heavy-duty cane, a baseball bat, and even a tactical pen. Anything that can give you an edge in a physical confrontation is useful. (Notes: I carry an old metal baseball bat in my vehicle that would make an excellent club in a fight. My everyday carry includes a tactical pen. I've also ordered a set of Buddha Beads, so expect me to post review in a few weeks.)

A Final Word: Money and "stuff" can be replaced. Your life cannot be. If a bad guy with a gun gets the drop on you in a simple mugging situation, just give him your wallet or purse. I promise your life is worth more than your cash.

My official statement on Self-Defense and the Use of Force

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My Prepper Philosophy

By Timothy Gamble  (December 2018)

My prepper philosophy can be summed up in the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared." Now, before you roll your eyes, please realize that motto is much more profound than it may appear at first glance. Let me explain.

Be Prepared. Its just two words, and gives no detail. Be prepared for what? Be prepared when? Be prepared how? It doesn't answer those questions, and that is what makes it so profound.

Be prepared for what? For whatever comes our way. Maybe a hurricane, or an earthquake, or some other natural disaster. Maybe a terrorist attack, or a pandemic, or an economic collapse. Or maybe an emerging police state and the loss of individual liberty. Or, maybe it is something much more personal - a house fire, an unexpected job loss, sickness or injury.

The fact is, we don't know what the future holds in store. We can make educated guesses based on known facts and logic. For example, given the national debt, unfunded future liabilities, fiat currency, an incompetent political class, and an entrenched & unaccountable bureaucracy, I think it is very reasonable to expect some sort of economic collapse, leading to a political collapse (which I define as the end to the Constitution). But I cannot predict exactly when it will happen (this year? next year? ten years from now?). Nor can I predict exactly how it will happen, or how bad it will get, or how long it will last. And there is always a chance that some other disaster will happen first. As far as I can know, maybe I'll get killed in an earthquake a month before the economic collapse. The future is unpredictable, but that is the point.

Be prepared. It doesn't give us step-by-step instructions because step-by-step instructions are simply impossible. Things are too unpredictable, there are too many variables, and circumstances are constantly changing.

Be prepared. What does it mean? Is it too vague to really mean anything? Not at all. Anyone who has been involved in scouting knows the whole program revolves around those two words. Not in the sense of "do x, y, and z" or "stockpile plenty of this and that," but rather by developing the strength of character, body, mind, and spirit to handle whatever comes your way.

Be prepared. It means having the right attitude, character, know-how, and ingenuity to quickly adapt to any circumstance, no matter what it is.

"The scout motto means that you are always ready in mind and body to do your duty and to face danger, if necessary, to help others." -- The Official Boy Scout Handbook, ninth edition, page 43.

All the activities, skill awards, merit badges, and scoutcraft is designed to achieve that goal.

For Scouts, it starts with the Scout Oath:

        On my honor I will do my best
        To do my duty to God and my country
           and to obey the Scout Law;
        To help other people at all times;
        To keep myself physically strong.
           mentally awake, and morally straight.

In other words, its about honor, duty, and priorities. Its about preparing oneself  - physically, mentally, and morally.

It then continues with the Scout Law:

        A Scout is:

In other words, its about actively making ourselves into the best versions of ourselves we can be.

So, my prepper philosophy is simply "Be Prepared." In order to do that, I must work daily on becoming the best me I can be. This starts with attitude and character, health and fitness, then moves on to knowledge and skills. Acquiring stuff, or even making specific plans (I'll bug out to X location with my fully-loaded bug-out bag when Y happens), is actually down towards the bottom of the list. Not unimportant, but not as foundationally important.  

NOTE: Sadly, the modern day Boy Scouts have ventured far from their founding, fully embracing modern political correctness. The cowardice of their current leadership in caving-in to "modern sensibilities" of the political Left in no way diminishes the significance of their motto or founding principles. I pray that one day they fully embrace those principles once again. 
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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hiking - A Great Hobby for Preppers

By Timothy Gamble (January 2, 2019)

Hiking is a hobby every prepper and survivalist should take up. It is great fun, terrific exercise, provides an opportunity to test out your gear, lets you practice various skills, and can be a great learning opportunity. 

Regardless of your reason why, rather for fitness, to practice bugging out, to develop new skills, or just to have fun with family and friends, I urge everyone to take up hiking this new year. Its easy to do, doesn't require expensive shoes or gear, and you don't need any special training to get started. 

Never hiked before? Worried about not being in shape? Start slowly with easy hikes around your neighborhood, city, and nearby local, state, and national parks. Stick to easy daytime hikes on well-marked trails until you get some experience and confidence. You can slowly work your way up to longer and more difficult hikes. 

Many areas have hiking clubs and organizations, where you can meet other hikers and get lots of tips and guidance as you start your new hobby. You might also want to check out the website for the American Hiking Society.

The Rules of Hiking
Stay safe by following these Rules of Hiking

1) Always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

2) Never hike alone. Always let others know where you are hiking and when to expect you back.

3) At least one person in the group should be familiar with the area where you are hiking.

4) Always wear appropriate shoes and clothing for the terrain and weather.

5) Each hiker should have a whistle and a flashlight in case they get separated from the group.

6) Each hiker should carry water, some extra food, and a small first aid kit with them at all times.

7) Be responsible: don't litter, be very careful with fire, follow posted rules, and respect private property.

Have fun with your new hobby!

Of Interest:  Peterson Field Guides
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The Paradoxes of Survival

By Timothy Gamble (December 9, 2018)

Have you ever noticed that there are several paradoxes within the ideas of the prepper and survivalist communities?

A paradox is defined as two contradictory statements that both derive from sound reasoning. In essence, both statements are apparently correct, even though they seem mutually exclusive. Within the prepper and survivalist communities, these paradoxes are often the source of much argument. In my opinion, our survival depends on successfully navigating these paradoxes.

Paradox:  "You need people/community" vs. "You're on your own/trust no one."

Many folks, including myself, tend to push the need for community during and after a major SHTF event. We point out that humans need rest, and that no one can work or be on guard duty 24/7, therefore we need others to give us rest. We also point out that a lone wolf, or even a lone family, will only have a limited set of skills to draw from, and that a larger community of folks will have a much greater range of skills and knowledge. 

Other folks point out that larger communities can have their share of problems, such as disputes over leadership and conflict between opposing personalities, opinions, and beliefs. They point out that the bigger the group, the greater the chance of not remaining unnoticed, and that a larger group size means a greater chance of problem individuals, which will jeopardize the group. They also point out that we cannot know how individuals will react under extreme pressure until they actually face it, and that desperate people do desperate things, no matter how "good" a person they may be under normal circumstances.

Actually, both sides are factually correct. They make equally valid points. There are both benefits and disadvantages to being a lone wolf (or lone family) and to being a part of a larger community. Navigating this paradox will require thought and effort before any SHTF events happens. No matter which way we choose to go, we need to be honest about its potential problems, and figure out ways to address those problems ahead of time.

Paradox:  "You need to be armed, trained, and willing to defend yourself & family" vs. "Avoiding conflict is paramount to survival."

I commit this paradox all the time in my articles. I am a firm believer in being armed,  well-trained, and willing to defend yourself and your family. Yet, I also say that you should try to avoid potential conflict at all costs, that avoiding trouble is always the safest bet. 

This seems contradictory to some extent. One person may say "You want to avoid trouble, but you're running around with a gun and ready to use it? You're actually looking for trouble, and will probably find it." Another person may say "What? You're armed and know how to defend yourself, yet you don't want to? You're either naive or a coward." I've had people tell me both of those things. 

I navigate this seeming paradox by realizing that both sides are correct: that avoiding conflict when possible is always the best option, but having the ability and willingness to defend myself and my family when necessary is always prudent. I will not go out looking for trouble. Nor will I be "trigger-happy" in my eagerness to earn my macho-stripes. Yet I will not hesitate to lethally defend myself and my family if such a necessity is ever forced on me.

Paradox:  "Skills are the most important aspect of survival" vs. "You need stockpiles of food, gear, and other supplies."

Another seeming paradox in which both sides have valid points. The fact is, we need both skills and tools & supplies to survive any future chaos.  The best my to navigate this is to strive for balance in our preparations. It is not just about one or the other. We need both.

Paradox:  "You need to bug-out as soon as possible" vs. "Hunker-down in your current location for the best chance of survival." 

This is a big within the prepper and survivalist community: bug-out or hunker-down? Actually, we need to be prepared for both. Circumstances we dictate which we actually do. For most people in most circumstances, the best option will be to hunker-down and ride out the event in your current location unless and until it becomes ore dangerous to do so than it is to bug-out. But you also don't want to wait too long to bug-out, as the very act of bugging-out itself is dangerous and may become much more so depending on the event and circumstances. 

Navigating this paradox will require 1) preparing for both and 2) making decisions beforehand as to when and under what circumstances to bug-out.  Think through these issues now, before SHTF. A lot will depend on your individual circumstances, but you need to be prepared for both possibilities.

These are only four possible paradoxes within the prepper and survivalist community. What others can you think of, and how will you navigate them?

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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Advanced Urban Survival

By Timothy Gamble (November 27, 2018)

Discussing advanced urban survival should start with an examination of the main differences between rural/small town areas and the big cities and urban centers. There are a lot of differences, but in this article, I want to discuss two in particular - Population Density and Space Availability.
Both of these categories presents urban preppers and survivalists with problems and opportunities different from those in small towns and rural areas. 

Population Density

Big cities have many more people concentrated in a relatively small area. This much greater population density means a much greater threat that city folks will have to deal with crime, violence, looting, and riots, especially after the infrastructure starts to break down after any long-term (or even short-term) grid-down situation. Pollution and sanitation will typically be bigger issues, as will the potential spread of disease. Resources such as food, water, and gasoline will quickly be depleted by the sheer numbers of people using those resources.  These facts suggest that urban survival needs to place particular emphasis on sanitation and disease prevention/treatment, security and self-dense, and stockpiling/caching supplies likely to run out quickly post-SHTF. 

On the other hand, being around more people can have its advantages. More people can mean more hands-on-deck in an emergency, as well as safety-in-numbers. More people probably means more available skill sets. More people may mean a greater opportunity to find and build relationships with like-minded people. 

In order to turn these possibilities into reality, urban survival requires you to build community now, before any SHTF crisis. Learn to get along and work with other people, particularly those with different backgrounds from yours. Befriend your neighbors. Get to know them, their attitudes and beliefs, and their skills. Form a neighborhood watch. This 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. Perhaps you will even find some nearby good friends with which you can form a survival group or mutual aid group (MAG). 

I've written a number of articles on building community that might interest you. They are listed at the bottom of this article.

Space Availability

Limited space, both outdoor and indoor, is a major obstacle for urban preppers. 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, limited storage space inside apartments and condos creates a real limitation on how much food, water, gear, and other stuff you 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 the Salvation Army. Fill up the dumpster. Doing so will free up an amazing amount of storage space. But where to start? There are lots of articles on the web that you can look up, but here are some of the best suggestions I've seen: 
  • Reduce your wardrobe, shoes, belts, ties, handbags, etc. Chances are you have a lot of stuff in your closet (an your kids') that you no longer wear or need. 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, catalogs, as well as all those receipts and warranties from 10 years ago.
  • 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. 

Prioritization - This is crucial for the urban prepper and survivalist. You can't afford to waste space or money on non-essentials. Figure out what is really important and focus your time, efforts, and money on those things. Make lists based on those priorities and stick to those lists. This will also help you in your minimization 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 - Do container gardening on your porch or balcony. Find out if there are any community gardens in your area you can join. See if your church could start a community garden. Store stuff under the bed. 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, August 7, 2020

How To Prepare For a Future of Resource Scarcity

This is an essay I originally published in 2008 on one of my old blogs. It was primarily intended for an audience concerned about peak oil and resource scarcity, but it is valid for most other concerns, too. I am reposting it here with a few minor changes to fix typos and update links.

 How To Prepare For a Future of Resource Scarcity

By Timothy Gamble (2008)

This is a general summary of the basic advice advice I give anyone concerned with potential disasters such as peak oil, environmental problems, or economic and political collapse.

1. Educate yourself on the potential problems our society is facing. Read Patrick Moore's essay Environmentalism for the 21st Century (opens as a .pdf) to get an overview of the real environmental and resource challenges faced by our civilization. Read Richard Maybury's book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? to gain a better understanding of our economic problems.
2. Reduce your home energy usage as much as possible. Turn off lights, TVs and electronics whenever you leave a room. Remember to unplug your various chargers (cell phone, I-Pod, etc.) when not in use. Set your thermostat to conserve energy. Switch from incandescent lighting to LED lighting. Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient models. Super-insulate your house. Install energy efficient windows. Consider heating with a modern wood stove. Consider a passive solar system for your home.

You may be interested in my article  Prepare for an Unreliable Power Grid and Higher Energy Prices .

 3. Reduce your use of fuel for transportation. Make sure your vehicle’s tires are properly inflated and the engine is well-maintained (tune-ups & oil changes) to maximize mileage. Drive less by walking, car pooling, using public transportation, and planning & combining trips. Replace your old vehicle with a newer one that gets better mileage. If you have a long commute to work, consider moving closer to your job or finding a new job closer to home. 
4. Get out of debt.It will not be a good time to owe large amounts of money to a bank. Take a look at your situation, to what extent do you live on credit? If you have a large house could you make do with a smaller one, and reduce your repayments? Make getting out of debt a family priority and use it as an opportunity to simplify your lifestyle.” –Rob Hopkins in Permaculture Magazine.

I consider getting out of debt to  be a very important, yet often overlooked, area of preparedness and survival. My article Prepping 101: Finances - Get Back to Basics is full of tips and information on how to eliminate debt.
5. Raise at least some of your own food. We need a modern victory garden movement. Look up articles and books on lasagna gardening, forest gardening and container gardening for ideas on how to grow your own food. Plant fruit & nut trees and berry bushes. Urban dwellers should look into rooftop gardening or joining a community garden or food co-op. Steve Solomon's book Gardening When It Counts is a good place to start for gardening advice.
6. Reduce your personal consumption of everything. Adopt a simpler lifestyle. Live well within your means. Be a saver, not a consumer. If you had to, could you support yourself and your family on half your present income? You may have to some day, so start making the lifestyle changes now.
7. Be a life-long learner. Improve your job skills. Learn about personal finance. Study permaculture. Learn about the ecology and natural history of your region. Learn useful skills such as auto mechanics, carpentry and home repair. Learn first aid and CPR. Learn to sew, and to preserve food. Learn how to save seeds. Learn how to hunt, fish and forage for wild foods. Learn the skills your grandparents had.
8. Reconnect to the natural world. Spend time in nature. Take up outdoor hobbies such as gardening, hiking, fishing, camping and bird watching. Learn the names of trees, wildflowers and “weeds” native to your area. Learn what kinds of soils are in your region. Learn where your water comes from. Visit nearby parks and wildlife refuges. Visit your local natural history museum or botanical gardens. Learn the names of the birds and butterflies common to your backyard.
9. Be a part of your community. Join a local church or synagogue. Meet your neighbors. Participate in a community watch program. Volunteer with a local museum or environmental group. Support your local farmers’ market. Whenever possible, shop at locally-owned businesses instead of the big box stores. Attend the meetings of your city council, zoning boards and other local government organizations. Let your voice be heard!
10. Get healthy. If you smoke or abuse drugs or alcohol – stop! Adopt a more plant based diet such as a traditional Mediterranean diet, or even become a vegetarian. Eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and herbs. Exercise will help you lose weight, lower your blood pressure & cholesterol, control blood sugar and get fit. Walking, bike riding and swimming are three cheap & easy ways to get more exercise. Getting enough deep sleep is an often overlooked yet very important ingredient to good health.
11. Conserve water. Install low-flow showerheads and faucets in your home. Learn about xeriscaping. Mulch your garden and flower beds to help retain moisture. Plant trees. Consider installing dry composting toilets in your home. Use rainwater catchment techniques to provide water for your garden or to wash your car. Learn how to purify rainwater for human consumption.

DON’T EVER THROW GARBAGE OR POUR CHEMICALS INTO A STREAM, RIVER OR LAKE. Report to the authorities anyone you see doing so.
12. Consider where you live. Most people end up living near where they or their spouse grew up, or perhaps to be near a particular job. But you might be better off relocating. Actively consider where you live: Is the community you live in really the best place for you and your family? Will it still be the best place for you in ten years? Things to consider: crime, pollution, taxes, educational opportunities, economic opportunities, economic diversity, climate, rainfall, nearby resources, cohesiveness of the community, style of the local government, availability of public transportation and farmers markets.
13. Keep stores of food, water & supplies. Today, we run out to the markets whenever we need something. We have a just-in-time supply system, so we don't need to store things for future use. But the slightest problem can lead to a system-wide disaster. We need to re-learn the art of storing necessities in case of emergencies. Things to store include food, water, medicine, vitamins and personal hygiene products, as well as other useful items such as batteries, sewing supplies, first aid supplies, duct tape, matches, candles, lamp oil, etc. If you were cut off from buying things for several weeks, or even a month or more, what would you run out of? Figure out ways to store those things.
14. Restore nature. Plant trees. Clean up local lakes and streams. Rebuild soils through composting and vermiculture. Participate in pollinator conservation efforts. Practice organic gardening and lawn care. Eliminate your lawn entirely. Participate in the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat program.

15. Don’t dwell on the negatives. Be a hopeful realist. It is important to understand the problems we face. Just don’t obsess over them. Instead, start working towards solutions. Acting to make positive changes, even small ones, will increase your confidence and encourage yourself, your family and your friends.


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Thursday, August 6, 2020

Prepping With a Chronic Illness - Impacts and Adjustments

By Timothy Gamble (December 14, 2017)

Prepping with a chronic illness has its own set of unique challenges, as I have learned the hard way over the last 2 ½ years. In 2015, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, as well as severe diabetic retinopathy (for which I have so far received 20 injections in my right eye and 17 in my left, plus three laser surgeries to seal leaking capillaries in my retinas). The purpose of this article isn't to talk about those health aspects (for that, see my 2015 article Dealing With Type II Diabetes), but rather to examine how chronic illness impacts prepping.

Impacts of Chronic Illness 

When it comes to prepping (and other aspects of my life), my chronic illness impacts me in four main ways:

1) Time:  Dealing with a chronic illness consumes a lot of time. Medical appointments, when you add in travel time and waiting room time, can easily take up half a day or more.  And, with chronic illnesses, you have a lot of appointments.  Proper time management and defining & following priorities is essential.

2) Money: Dealing with a chronic illness consumes a lot of money, even if you have insurance. And it is not just the money you shell out to the doctor or pharmacist, but you will likely have the expense of special foods, vitamins, or other supplies.  (For example, with my almost monthly eye injections, I go through about $20 worth of over-the-counter eye drops every month.) Money is an issue for most people, but with the added expenses of a chronic illness, budgeting, planning, and careful shopping (use lists, compare prices, use coupons, avoid impulse purchases, etc.) is crucial.

3) Energy/Mental Attitude: Dealing with a chronic illness is hugely distracting, and takes your focus off other aspects of your life (including your preps).  Not to mention that the illness itself is likely zapping you of the energy you used to have. It can also cause worry, anxiety, and even depression. Try to stay upbeat. Lean on your relationships with God and your family. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

4) Lifestyle Changes: Dealing with a chronic illness typically  requires making major lifestyle changes, such as changes in diet or physical activity, which must be reflected in your preps. You may also need to take into account specific medications and medical supplies related to your illness. 

Adjustments to Prepping Required

There are many types of chronic illnesses, and even the same type of illness shared by two people may effect each one differently. You'll have to  figure out for yourself how your illness effects you and what adjustments you'll need to make for yourself. To help you get started thinking through these issues in your life, here is the adjustments I have made in my life and preps. 

1) A New Emphasize on Health and Fitness: Over the last two years, I've made major changes to my diet and lifestyle aimed at rebuilding my health and improving my fitness. Health and fitness is no longer an afterthought in my preparations, but is now a major foundation of my preparedness activities. Daily exercise is a must. And eating healthy is the goal of every meal and snack. This means that I have done a lot of research on what constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle, especially for me as a diabetic. I've kept an extensive food & health journal, recording how individual foods, food combinations, exercise, and sleep effect my blood sugar, blood pressure, weight, and energy levels. Most importantly, I've put into practice what I have learned.

2) Changes in Food Storage:  I've learned that my body cannot handle grains, even supposedly "healthy" grains like whole wheat bread, brown rice, and oatmeal. Even a small serving of these "healthy" grains cause huge spikes in my blood sugar. Problem: Storing large quantities of grains, pasta, flour, and sugar, as part of your food supplies is a prepper mainstay. But I can't eat bread, pasta, cereal, or sweets. Potatoes are another food that plays havoc with my blood sugar, so scratch dried and instant potatoes off my list of foods to stockpile. What to do?

I have to store more of the foods I can eat. Luckily, beans have only a mild effect on my blood sugar, so I've been stocking up on those, both dried and in cans. But I have to watch the canned beans to avoid those that have a lot of added sugar! I've also been stocking up on other canned veggies, such as tomatoes, peas, carrots, spinach & other greens, and sauerkraut (fermented foods are very good for diabetics). But, again, I have to pay attention to the ingredients because many brands include lots of added sugar!

I'm also increasing the amount of my canned meats, such as chicken, turkey, tuna, and salmon. Meats have no negative impact on blood sugar, as long as there is no added sugar of course.

I don't use sugar anymore. I either eliminate sugar from recipes altogether, or use Stevia or small quantities of fruit or honey as a sweetener. So, I've been stocking up on Stevia and honey, instead of sugar. 

3) Stockpiling Medicine & Medical Supplies: Fortunately, I am not on insulin, but do take a pill for my diabetes twice a day. Initially, I was prescribed a 30-day supply, but I talked to my doctor and got him to change it to a 90-day supply. You can talk to your doctor about prescribing a larger quantity of your medications. I Also, I've stocked up on several extra month's worth of blood test supplies (test strips, lancets, and alcohol prep pads). I've included a separate "blood sugar test kit" in my survival pack (BOB) with an extra test meter, test strips, lancets, and alcohol pads.

4) Some Other Adjustments: My distance vision relatively normal, but I still need strong reading glasses to read. I've stocked up on reading glasses, buying a dozen over-the-self pair in the magnification I currently use,. I've also purchased a few large magnifying glasses. In addition to keeping a pair of reading glasses on me at all times (now part of my EDC), I also have extras at my desk, in my vehicles, and in my survival pack (BOB).

The treatments to restore my eyes are slowly working, but have left my eyes extremely sensitive to bright light. I cannot go outside or drive without sunglasses, and will sometimes wear sunglasses indoors if its very bright inside. So, I've stockpiled lots of extra sunglasses. I have extras at home, in my vehicles, and in my survival packs.

Although I don't need large print books, as the reading glasses work just fine, I decided to purchase a large-print Bible just-in-case I need it later on... I might look into getting large-print editions of a few other books, too, for the same reason. I've also developed a new appreciation for audio books!


Of Interest: These are the three main books I use in dealing with my diabetes, two of which were recommended by my doctor. all the books I've read so far, the best and most useful is 60 Ways to Lower Your Blood Sugar by Dennis Pollock. Pollock's book is an aggressive plan to control your blood sugar by bringing together the best of traditional and alternative medicine. What I appreciate about Pollock's approach is that it is based on solid science, even the "alternative" aspects, and is not some hippy-dippy book that rejects science (avoid those). Also, his ideas are easy to follow. My doctor recommended the book Life Without Bread by Dr. Christian B. Allan, and Dr. Wolfgang Lutz. This book presents a low-carbohydrate diet (but one not as severe as the Atkin's Diet) as the best healthy diet for everyone, especially people dealing with high blood sugar. Right now, based on my own experiences and everything else I've read, I think they are right about their low-carbohydrate diet.


My doctor also suggested I try the cookbook Paleo Comfort Foods. Since the Paleo Diet avoids both grains and potatoes, most of the recipes in this cookbook are diabetic-friendly, although you may to substitute stevia for regular sugar in a few of them. I actually use this cookbook often.  (My doctor has told me that he and his family follow a "mostly Paleo" diet.)


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Dealing With Type II Diabetes - Lessons Learned

By Timothy Gamble (October 20, 2015)

In early July of this year, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes. This was a surprise because I lived a healthy lifestyle (or so I thought) and didn't have a family history of diabetes (or so I thought). This article is about the mistakes I made and lessons I've learned.

The bad news is that my A1C level (a measure of blood sugar over the previous 3 months) in July was extremely high, and likely had been for quite a while. The diabetes was beginning to seriously affect my vision, so much so that I had to undergo a series of injections in my eyes (as in needles piercing the wall of my eyeballs and injecting medicine directly into the liquid centers).

The good news is my blood sugar levels have come down sharply in the 3+ months since my diagnose, and the improvement to my vision is dramatic.

Diabetes Symptoms

According to the American Diabetes Association, "the following symptoms of diabetes are typical. However, some people with type 2 diabetes have symptoms so mild that they go unnoticed.

Common symptoms of diabetes:
  •     Urinating often
  •     Feeling very thirsty
  •     Feeling very hungry - even though you are eating
  •     Extreme fatigue
  •     Blurry vision
  •     Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  •     Weight loss - even though you are eating more (type 1)
  •     Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
Early detection and treatment of diabetes can decrease the risk of developing the complications of diabetes."
Why My Diabetes Wasn't Diagnosed Earlier

It was my fault. I made two mistakes.

First, I avoided doctors most of my adult life. In fact, during the 20+ years of my adult life prior to my diabetes diagnose, I went to the doctor only once. There were a number of excuses why I avoided doctors - didn't want to waste money, too busy, didn't have time, wasn't sick enough to go... Perhaps I was even too macho. After all, many of us guys think we are supposed to always be tough and never admit weakness. We tend to "walk it off" and "play through the pain" rather then actually dealing with it in a constructive fashion.

Second, I made some false assumptions about my health. I thought I was just getting older because what I now know as symptoms of diabetes actually started not long after I turned 40. Many of the symptoms I had - blurred vision (I needed reading glasses), lower energy levels, more frequent urination, especially at night - can be common as people age. In essence, I wrongly self-diagnosed my symptoms to mean I was simply becoming middle-aged. 

It wasn't until earlier this year, when my symptoms became much more severe, that I began to suspect something else was going on. Eventually, my worsening vision forced me to go to the doctor, where I learned that I had diabetes, not just normal aging.

Family Medical History

Research shows that people who have a family history of diabetes are more likely to get diabetes. Many other diseases also have a genetic component. This is why it is very important to know your family medical history. In my case, it turns out that my grandfather, who died when I was much younger, had diabetes, as did an uncle (also deceased). I was unaware of this family medical history until talking to my mother after I was diagnosed with diabetes.

Healthy Diet and Lifestyle?

I thought I had a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle. I didn't smoke, do drugs, or abuse alcohol. I was fairly active physically.  I rarely ate fast food or drank sodas. I wasn't much for sweets (except ice cream). I even liked salads and vegetables. Good, huh? Well, maybe not. There is more to having a healthy diet and lifestyle, and I made a number of mistakes.

Despite not eating sweets (other than the ice cream), I had way too much sugar in my diet. Most Americans do. The food companies put huge amounts of sugar into our food. They have too in order to cover up the taste of the massive amounts of salt they add to extend shelf-life. Its not just the massive amounts of sugar in our processed foods, even basic foods such as most canned vegetables have lots of added sugar.

Starchy foods - such as potatoes, flour, bread, cereals, pasta, corn, and rice - contain carbohydrates that are easily and quickly converted into sugar by the body. Even "whole grain" foods are quickly converted into sugar by the body. (Personally, I don't agree that whole grains are healthy, as much of the current health advice advocates. Instead, I consider whole grains to be only somewhat less bad than refined grains.) Starchy foods made up a significant portion of my diet.

It also turns out that I had no real understanding of what a serving size it. A serving is not as much as you can pile onto one plate. Instead a serving size is much smaller. Before my diabetes, my typical serving of rice (one pile on my plate) was really equal to  two or three actual servings. A typical serving of oatmeal for me in the morning was one bowlful. It turns out that a serving of oatmeal is only one cup cooked, or about half my typical bowlful. Americans, including me, have supersized our food for so long we no longer have a true sense of serving size, and therefore tend to eat way too much. This taxes our body's ability to cope, and has contributed to the current epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

I will go into much more detail about a healthy diet and lifestyle in future articles, including the changes I have personally made to get positive results.

Lessons Learned

Here is a quick summary of the lessons I've learned in having to deal with my diabetes:
  • Visit your doctor regularly. Had I been getting regular checkups, even if only once every couple of years, my diabetes would have been caught much earlier (and I likely wouldn't have had to let an eye surgeon stick needles into my eyes). You are NOT wasting money or time by going to a doctor.
  • Never self-diagnose. In today's Internet world, its easy to look up symptoms on a website and decide that you have this problem or that disease. But many different diseases have very similar symptoms. In most cases, doctors are still necessary to determine what is wrong with any degree of certainty.
  • Know your family medical history. Don't assume, like I did, that you know all the important stuff in your family's medical history. You might be aware of your immediate family's history, but do you really know all the medical conditions of your grandparents, great-grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and other relatives? Probably not, unless you've actually asked people. I suggest talking  about your family's medical history with several of the elder matriarchs (women seem to be more aware of these things)  on both sides of your family tree.
  • Understand what actually constitutes a healthy diet and lifestyle. Sure, most people have some basic idea. But, like me, they have large gaps in their understanding (and perhaps an even larger gaps in what they are actually doing). I'll be writing more on this in future articles. There is also a lot of misinformation out there, and what we think we know is often wrong.  So be careful - read various sources, consider the sources and their possible biases, look for good information (not just information to fit your predetermined point of view), try to integrate the best of both conventional medicine and alternative medicine, and think! 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical professional, and nothing presented in this article is intended as professional medical advice. This article is only intended to relay my personal experiences and opinions in dealing with my type II diabetes. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be diabetic, PLEASE seek a diagnosis and advice from a qualified medical professional as soon as possible.  


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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

A Peek at a Survivalist's Library from 1964

By Timothy Gamble (January 15, 2019)

What books should be on a Survivalist's bookshelf? That is a question prompted by a book I recently read (Robert Heinlein's Farnham's Freehold). Its a science fiction survivalist novel about a family that survives a nuclear war. In it, the man (Hugh Farnham) who built and stocked a bomb shelter lists his "must-have" survivalist library. 

Heinlein's book was published in 1964, so all the books mentioned are from that era and before, naturally.  I'm currently working on my list of a Prepper's Library for modern times, but for now I thought it would be interesting to share the list of the books in Farnham's bomb shelter's library.

The list is a mixture of practical books (various volumes on homesteading, medicine, engineering, etc), books for entertainment value (note the inclusion of Hoyle's Book of Games for one), general knowledge (a dictionary and an encyclopedia set), and several selections obviously influenced by the Cold War (the books on guerrilla warfare, and the Russian/English dictionaries). Hugh even attempted to save some classic works (Homer, Shakespeare, etc.)

The List: 
At one point in the book, Hugh Farnham mentions regretting not including the works of Mark Twain in his library.

So, what books would you recommend for a modern day Survivalist's Library?  Leave suggestions in the comments section below. 

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