Monday, February 28, 2022

Privacy and Anti-Censorship Alternatives to Google

By Tim Gamble

Over the weekend, Google served notice that hey will be removing the America’s Frontline Doctors (AFLDS) website from Google search results (see news story). This is a blatant act of censorship, but not surprising. It is only the latest in a long line of decisions by Google punishing by censorship those websites and individuals who hold views contrary the "woke" views held by Google. 

When I posted the news story to Gettr (follow me: ), it generated lots of comments, and lots of suggestions for free-speech, privacy-oriented alternatives to Google search that do not engage in censorship. 

Suggested alternatives to Google search:
  • DuckDuckGo (the most recommended alternative)
  • Brave Search (currently in Beta, but open to the public)
  • StartPage (the second most recommended, and the one recommended by Tech Guru and Privacy Expert Rob Braxman) 
  • Qwant (European-based, so it is governed by stricter EU privacy laws) 
  • Peekier (I am not familiar with it, but it was mentioned by some) 
  • Metager (I am not familiar with it, but it was mentioned by some)
  • SwissCows (family-friendly, it does censor porn, but not political content)
Many commentors also suggest using the Brave browser as a good alternative to Google Chrome. I personally use Brave as my main browser, and Brave search as my main search engine. I also occasionally use Qwant and DuckDuckGo. 

Privacy and Free Speech are major issues for all preppers and survivalists - and all patriots in fact. This will only increase as we more forward into the dystopian, technocratic, high-tech world that we have already entered.  


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Thursday, February 24, 2022

War Update + What To Do Next

By Tim Gamble

Just as I and many others predicted, the War for Ukraine has begun, apparently to the surprise of many people. Seriously, as recently as early yesterday evening, I saw people on social media who were saying Putin was only bluffing - that the Russian military buildup was just a negotiation tactic. I even saw a couple of folks try to say the buildup wasn't real. According to them, it was much smaller than the Fake Media was reporting, and that most those pictures and videos being shown were a product of Western Intelligence Agencies. Well, the reality of the situation has been proven.

And what is up with that massive line up of cars evacuating Kiev now? Apparently those people didn't really believe an attack was coming, otherwise they would have already gotten out. Nothing as chaotic and as dangerous as waiting until the very last minute to bug out, because you didn't want to accept reality until the bombs started going off.

Believe me, I am as war-weary as anyone else. I desperately don't want this war because I know its dangers. But, as I said before, wishful thinking is a horrible basis for analysis. 

3:00PM UPDATE: The fog of war obscures details, and it is difficult to know the exact situation. As of now, it appears that Russia has attacked with missiles, bombers, and troops coming in from the north, east, and south. Both sides have suffered causalities. Planes and helicopters have been shot down on both sides. Ukraine has taken a few prisoners of war. Russia has taken a couple of airfields. Russia is obviously trying to take Kiev and all of Ukraine. Ukrainian troops have become stuck holding the Donbass Line of Control (successfully for now), which means they are unable to move into position to help protect Kiev, which will likely fall within the next 48 hours. Heavy fighting is being reported in  Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, as well as many other places throughout Ukraine.

For now, there has been no military response from the US or NATO. There has been a lot of intense rhetoric, and nearly every politician and government official in the West has found a microphone and loudly condemned Putin and Russia. (Some of the rhetoric has been truly over-the-top, in my opinion. Let's hope and pray that cooler heads prevail.) 

Sanctions have been announced, with promises of more to come. However, these sanctions appear to be rather mediocre so far, despite the white-hot rhetoric.  

Analysis on most mainstream Western media outlets has crossed the line into pure propaganda, in my opinion. Seek out a variety of news and analysis for many alternative sources, and think for yourself. 

Oh, and the Russians have captured Chernobyl. Why? It turns out that 2 of the 4 reactors are still operational and in use! What???? Yeah, I had no idea... 

What To Do Next?

For now, this is a small regional war (meaning there are only two countries shooting at each other). But, there is a lot of hot rhetoric surrounding it, and there is always the danger of the situation spinning out-of-control (accidently or on purpose). Pay attention. Things could get much worse quickly, and in unexpected ways. 

Keep diligently working your preparedness plan (click here for a quick outline if you are new to preparedness). Work on the list I gave you in my recent article Getting Ready For War: 12 Things To Do NOW

We have seen Russia use cyberattacks against Ukraine. Many analysts are warning that should the war spread, Russia's first move against the West will be larger-scale cyberattacks, especially against banks and other financial targets. I agree. Many are recommending that you take steps to protect your and your family in the event of a Russian cyberattack against the US. Suggestions include having cash on hand should ATMs and electronic payment systems go down for a few days or so. Changing passwords on your online accounts and using 2-factor authorization. Printing hardcopies of financial statements and other important documents. 

I've talked about all these things in previous articles. Check out:

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Monday, February 21, 2022

Long-Term Food Storage - Perishable Foods

By Tim Gamble 

One of the most often repeated bits of prepper advice, and it is good advice as far as it goes, is to "stock food to the rafters" while you still can. This will help you to provide for yourself and your family in any dark times ahead, as well as provide a hedge against inflation even if we return to good times. 
Hopefully, you have already begun developing your "deep larder" with canned and dried foods, which will store for a long time. But some foods are perishable and difficult to store over the long-term. 

These perishable items, such as milk, cheese, butter, and eggs are problematic for long-term storage. Your best bet if you can't produce these yourself is powdered, dehydrated or freeze-dried products intended for true long-term storage (10 years or longer), but this option an be very expensive. For my money, Augason Farms has the best selection, excellent quality, and are reasonably priced compared to other long-tern food options. In fact, I ordered some more Augason Farms products this morning when I saw them on sale at Amazon .

Right now at Amazon, most Augason Farms products are listed as in-stock, and many are on sale at some great prices. Here are a few  examples (as of 11:00am EST on February 21, 2022):

Non-Fat Dry Milk = 46% off

Butter Powder = 56% off 

Tomato Powder = 29% off

Supplies and prices may not last, particularly with current circumstances, so don't drag your feet! 

Full disclosure: I have NO relationship with Augasan Farms other than being a satisfied customer. I am an Amazon affiliate and I do make a very small percentage off of sales made through links to Amazon on this website at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting this website! 


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Thursday, February 17, 2022

Don't Let Down Your Guard. War Is Still Likely.

By Tim Gamble

In my previous article, I wrote: "War in Europe (Russia-Ukraine) looks highly likely within a matter of weeks, and could pop at any time." I stand by that assessment. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't want war. I am as war-weary as everyone else, and as mistrustful of government (probably more so than most). I especially don't want war to protect a country that is as corrupt and as strategically useless as Ukraine. But wishful thinking isn't a sound basis for analysis. And factual analysis still says war is likely. 

The Ukrainian President claimed the war would start Wednesday. It didn't. And Russia made a show of withdrawing some troops and tanks. So, many folks started saying there would be no war. 

But there was no sound reason for the claim that the war would start Wednesday. And the "withdrawal" that the Russians made a show of, has already been largely reversed with more troops and more tanks being sent to the border.

Putin still says "no invasion." Of course. Do you really expect him to admit his plans if he was going to invade? Do you expect him to give a press release with his timetable for the invasion? If Russia invades, Putin will keep saying "no invasion" right up to the point the invasion actually starts, and maybe even a bit longer.

Here is why I still say war is likely:

>>> Russia/Putin feel that they must act due to NATO's broken promises (regarding not expanding), and Ukraine's provocative actions (such as cutting off water supplies to Crimea) and heated rhetoric (Ukraine's government has repeatedly threatened military action against Russia over the last few years). 
>>> The massive build-up of troops, tanks, artillery, and bombers by Russia near the Ukraine border is very real, and easily verifiable. 
>>> Russia continues to move ships into position in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. 
>>> These moves are very costly for Russia, and make no sense if they are for nothing. Russia/Putin must get something in return.
>>> As Russia feels the war is necessary, elements in the West, particularly the Biden administration, actually seem to be encouraging a war. This could be to provide a distraction from domestic problems, or to gain more momentum for the so-called "Great Reset." 
>>> The West, and in particular the US, is using language that seems to be aimed at antagonizing Russia/Putin, rather than at actually deescalating the situation.
>>> Finally, Russia/Putin senses weakness in Western leadership, especially with Biden. There will likely never be a better time for Russia to retake parts of, or all, Ukraine. 

The Bottom Line: Although I hope and pray for a peaceful outcome, I still think a war is likely within the next few weeks. Just because something hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it won't or can't happen. Use what time we have to prepare as best you can.


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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Getting Ready For War: 12 Things To Do NOW

By Tim Gamble

Let's be honest about the current world situation: War in Europe (Russia-Ukraine) looks highly likely within a matter of weeks, and could pop at any time. War in Asia (China-Taiwan) looks possible within months, and could pop within a few weeks. Either of these wars could spark a true World War, and both have the potential to go nuclear should things spin out-of-control.

Consider that this is happening against a back-drop of already high inflation, supply chain problems, tyrannical government, and trucker protests, and we have the makings of a crisis unprecedented in our lifetimes. The next few weeks (or few months if we are very lucky) are crucial. Here are some things I suggest you do now to prepare for the worst. All of these can be done this week.

1) Keep your vehicles fully fueled, and maybe get a few gas cans of extra fuel if you can store it safely. I am not letting my vehicles drop below 3/4 of a tank before I fill up again. Sure, I'm spending more time at gas stations, but better safe than sorry as the saying goes. 

2) Do any maintenance or repairs on your vehicles this week that you have been putting off. Get new tires now if you need them, or think you will need them this year. Consider buying extra oil and other fluids for your vehicles. 

3) Top off your food and water storage, and keep it topped off for the next six months or so, even if it means extra trips to the store. Same goes for other categories of "stuff" like cleaning supplies, hygiene supplies, first aid supplies and OTC medications, ammo and so forth... 

4) Get your seeds for this years garden, now. Seriously consider expanding your garden this year, if possible. Enough said! 

5) Pay attention to the news, as things could pop suddenly and without warning. Consider downloading a "breaking news" app to your phone. Get an emergency radio if you don't already have one. 

6) Have a plan for when things do pop. What if you are at work and the kids are at school when news breaks that Russian bombers are attacking targets inside Ukraine? (I would leave work regardless of what my boss says, stopping only to buy gas and food, then pay close attention to the news to decide my next steps. Parents may want to collect their kids from school.) What if, while going to Church, breaking news comes over the radio that China has launched a missile attack on Taiwan? (I would turn around and head home, again stopping only for food and gas, then pay close attention to the news before deciding my next steps.) Your plan is your plan, and should fit your situation and concerns. That is why you need to think about it ahead of time.

By the way, if you live somewhere like DC, NYC, Denver, or in or near some other possible major target, bugging out sooner rather than later makes sense. Maybe it is a good time to go on an extended family vacation to Cousin Eddie's farm, or Great Aunt Ida's  place in Small Town, Rural County. See my article But, bug-out to where, exactly???

But, bugging out now may make little sense if you are already living in a rural area or small town far way from likely targets. See my article, Planning Your Escape: Considerations for Bugging Out.

7) Talk to your family / tribe / group about your plans. Make sure they know what to do when. 

8) Make sure you have a family communications plan. Make sure everyone in your family knows it. If you need help with this step, see my article Do you have a Family Communications Plan?

9) Do you have the clothes and shoes you need for Spring and Summer? Hopefully you are already set, but some folks, particularly those with young kids, might not be. Shop early, rather than late. 

10) Bring home any of your people who may be overseas (work, school, vacation). Bring them home NOW. They can always go back again later once the world calms down. But, now is not the time to backpack through Europe, or to do a semester abroad in Japan or South Korea, as fun as those activities might be. 

11) Keep working your preparedness plan. Just work it more intently. 

12) If you are new to prepping and don't know where to start, check out my outline of preparedness I give in my article A quick, no frills, down & dirty guide to preparing for the End.

Scary Bonus Step: As I said earlier, the coming wars are such that either or both could go nuclear should things spin out-of-control (accidently or on purpose). Both wars involve nuclear powers, and given the extremely chaotic world situation at the moment, anything could happen. You need to prepare for the possibility of nuclear weapons being used. Read the article Minimum Pre-Crisis Preparations for a Nuclear Event, and download the free .pdf copy of Cresson H. Kearny's Nuclear War Survival Skills (link given in the article). This excellent book is also available in paperback on Amazon for $14.29 currently. It is good to have a physical copy of this book, in addition to the .pdf file.

You might also consider ordering a supply of Potassium Iodine (KI) for radiation poisoning (and learning how/when to use them before you need to use them). They are not expensive, and are available without prescription. Click here to find them on Amazon. According to the CDC "People should take KI (potassium iodide) only on the advice of public health or emergency management officials. There are health risks associated with taking KI." Learn more on the CDC website by clicking here.  


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Sunday, February 6, 2022

Survival Knives - Discussion and Recommendations

By Tim Gamble

I have two objectives for this article. First, I want to discuss what a survival knife is, what it needs to be able to do, and what it doesn't need to do, and I want to do so in a way that is understandable even to folks who know nothing about knives. Second, I want to give some suggestions for good-quality, affordable survival knives. 

What makes a survival knife, a survival knife?

Let's be clear on one thing - there is no official definition of a survival knife. It is possible for decent and knowledgeable people to have different opinions on the subject. I say this because we live in an age where many people confuse their opinion with fact, and this leads to a lot of unnecessary discord. It is okay if you have a different opinion than mine, but here is my personal definition of a survival knife.

Survival Knife - a good-quality, rugged, full-tang, fixed-blade knife that can be used for multiple purposes, including self-defense.

Good-quality - a well-made knife with a sharp, easy-to-maintain blade. This excludes the super-cheap $10 "survival" knives you sometimes find at places like Walmart or even Harbor Freight. 

Rugged - a knife that is tough and sturdy, and will hold up to heavy use. For the purposes of a survival knife, this means full-tang and a thick blade. It also means a sharp, but not razor sharp, edge. Razor sharp edges are hard to maintain, and nick and fold too easily under heavy use.

Full-tang - simply put, the blade and handle are one piece, not sperate pieces joined together in some way (welding, screws, rivets, etc.). Separate pieces joined together creates a weak point in the knife, which may be okay for some uses, but not the heavy use of a survival knife. 

Fixed blade - the knife does not fold-up like a pocket knife, but rather is permanently rigid. Typically, a fixed blade is carried in a sheath. 

Multiple purposes - all knives are meant for cutting, but there are many different ways knives can be used - cutting plants, cutting flesh (skinning), cutting other materials, chopping, making finely detailed cuts, fighting, throwing, and so forth. These different purposes determine a knife's size, shape, materials, sharpness, and other design elements. A knife should be judged with its intended purpose in mind. No one knife is perfect for all situations. A survival knife is intended to help you survive in difficult circumstances, which means its uses may include anything from general camp activities to self-defense. A good survival knife won't do everything perfectly, but it will do many things well-enough. 

Self-defense - one purpose of a survival knife is self-defense. Hopefully, you will never need to defend yourself with a knife , but if you do, you are going to need a a few things from the knife. Size matters. Toughness of the blade matters. And it needs to have some good finger guards. Why? In a knife fight, you are likely to hit something hard (armor, bone, a buckle, a wall or a tree, or whatever). The knife will come to a jarring halt. You want the knife to prevent your fingers and hand from slipping forward causing you to slice open your own hand and fingers. If you do that, you lose the fight. Which probably means you die. So, a good grip and finger guards are a necessity in a survival knife.  

By the way, fighting with a knife is not easy, and is always a bad idea if it can be avoided. Defending yourself with a knife is a last resort. It takes skill, which must be learned beforehand. And you cannot learn it watching TV or movies, as 99.98% of what they show is pure fantasy. If you really think you may need to defend yourself with a knife at some point, seek out proper instruction beforehand. 

Also, a fighting knife and a throwing knife are two different things, with different design elements, despite what you see on TV. 

What about straight-edge versus serrations? Many survival knifes come in two variations, straight-edge and serrated-edge (like is found on many steak knives). This is a matter of personal preference, and is entirely up to you. 

What isn't needed in a survival knife? In my opinion, there are two gimmicks that some survival knives offer, that are unnecessary and even harmful to the knife. 

One gimmick is the hollow handle. You have seen these knives at places like Walmart and Harbor Freight. They are advertised as a survival knife, have hollow handles with a screw-on cap, usually with a mini-compass on top. Inside the hollow handle are a few survival supplies like matches and band-aids. I think this design weakens the knife, and creates potential problem spots. Besides, every one of these knives that I have personally seen were cheaply made and not good quality. Avoid them. 

Another gimmick I recommend avoiding is the survival knife that is designed to lash onto a stick in order to turn it into a spear. I question the usefulness of a spear unless you have really trained in using one. But the real reason I dislike these knives is that the additional holes in the handle to allow the knife to be lashed to the stick create a potential weak point on the handle.

Good quality, affordable survival knives:

A survival knife is an important piece of gear, and it is worth spending a bit of money to get a good one. However, most of us, including me, are not independently wealthy, and we only have so much money we can spend on a knife. This list of knives that I consider to be good quality survival knives according to my definition is limited to knives that cost under $100, including tax and shipping (so, no $99.99 knives on the list). There may be other possibilities, but this is my current list of three survival knives I would recommend based on my above criteria and affordability.  

GERBER Prodigy Survival Knife - This is my main survival knife (I have the partially serrated edge version). I've used it for over 10 years. Very good quality, rugged and tough. It has a rubberized no-slip grip with finger guards. Tip of the handle is formed into a glass-breaker, which is a nice addition (wear gloves or wrap your hand and wrist in a shirt or jacket before using the glass breaker). Amazon sells the partially-serrated blade for about $66 currently.  Knife made in the USA, sheath made in China.

KA-BAR  US Marine Corps Fighting Knife - The classic Warrior's Knife, and probably the most famous fixed-blade knife in the world. Bigger than the GERBER Prodigy, this knife has a leather wrapped handle with metal finger guards. No glass breaker. Technically it is a rat-tail tang (meaning full length but not full width) rather than a true full-tang. Amazon sells the straight-edge for about $88 currently, and the serrated-edge for about $84.  Knife made in USA, sheath made in Mexico. 

Ontario Knife Company Air Force Survival Knife - This is the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army issued survival knife. Leather wrapped handle with blood grooves and metal finger guards. Like the KA-BAR, it is technically a rat-tail tang. The leather sheath comes with a pouch and sharpening stone. Amazon sells it for about $48 currently. Knife made in USA, sheath made in China. 


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Friday, February 4, 2022

Store Shelves Update

 By Tim Gamble

This morning, I went shopping at Walmart and at a local grocery store. Shelves at both stores were noticeably better stocked than they have been since before Christmas. Yet, there were still some empty shelves and obvious areas where stock was thin. 

At Walmart, the aisles for candy, chips, and other snack foods were still thin, with a number of empty spots. Mac & cheese and other dried pastas were also far from fully stocked with lots of empty shelf space, as were the canned meats. There were no Great Value cream cheeses on the shelf, and only a few of the name brands. The cases for fresh meats are still not fully stocked, but are better than they have been in recent weeks. Frozen vegetables seem to be close to fully stocked once again, but frozen dinners, entrees, and even pizza are still about half-empty. 

There were still empty spots in the health & beauty aisles. They were out of one of the vitamins I wanted to buy today. Walking by the shoe department, the shelves were still more than half-empty. Pet food is still less than half-stocked, and they were out of the brand I get my dog. 

At my local grocery store, it was a very similar situation. Shelves are fuller than they have been, but still plenty of empty spots. Mostly the same spots that were empty at Walmart. Plus, I did notice the salad dressings and some cereals were quite low. 

Please don't take the currently improving situation to mean that the supply-chain crisis is over. Far from it, the problems that caused the situation are still there, and haven't really been addressed by governments or businesses. And with several possible wars looming (Russia-Ukraine, China-Taiwan, Israel-Iran) and other geopolitical problems, things are not returning to normal anytime soon. 

The supply-chain situation will continue to vary from week-to-week. Wise people will use the good weeks to stock up on those things that you need but have trouble finding on the bad weeks. Foolish people will use the good weeks to pretend the crisis is over. 

See Also:  Surviving A Long-Term Supply Chain Crisis 


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