Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A Note on Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462

Zombies on a plane?
AMC has recently announced a new series of mini-episodes set in the Fear the Walking Dead time frame set on an airliner, where a passenger is diagnosed with the infection while in flight.   The first one-minute episode will debut this week on the season finale, and will run during episodes of The Walking Dead until done.  A character featured on Flight 462 will join the Fear The Walking Dead cast next season as a regular. 

I will be reviewing these mini-episodes in due time, but will wait until the end until posting my thoughts.  I see little reason to write a bunch of separate reviews for 16 one-minute slices of screen time.

Here's looking to another survival situation to pick apart for lessons and clues.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Preparedness Review of Fear the Walking Dead Episode 105: Cobalt

Spoiler Alert!!

Strand (to Nick):  You're not just an addict, you're a heroin addict. That's the gold standard.  Don't sell yourself short.

Synopsis:  The military has a plan, and it really sucks.   Ofelia attempts to force the soldiers to return her mom, prompting her soldier boyfriend to intervene, and take her home before she is subdued by force.  Her dad takes him prisoner and tortures him for information.  Madison protests, but does not stop it.   In the meantime, Travis goes to Lt. Moyers to try to convince him to let those taken come back, lest civil unrest in the safe zone occur.  Liza is inculcated into the medical hospital groove, where anyone with a bite is sent one way and anyone without a bite is sent another, and holding cells contain anyone who has been detained but not obviously sick.  Griselda has had her foot amputated, but is in septic shock and is spiraling toward death.   Moyers takes Travis on a patrol to the medical facility but it is cut short when the soldiers go to rescue another unit in trouble.  A pitched battle results, and Moyers doesn't come back.  The other soldiers see it as their chance to cut and run, and drop Travis off back at the house before heading home to find their loved ones.  A newcomer saves Nick from death, for a price, and Liza finds out the horrible truth about the dead when she is forced to stop Griselda from becoming a walker.   Ofelia finally understands what her dad did in the El Salvadoran civil war, and is horrified.   Whatever Daniel's methods, he gets results.  "Cobalt" is a code name for the military's withdrawal from the Los Angeles area, set to occur at 9 a.m. the next morning, complete with the massacre of the remaining civilians in the medical center -- humane termination.

Cobalt begins in one of the military's detention facilities, where Strand, a smooth operator and confidence man, works Travis' unstable neighbor Doug into a breakdown.    Once he has been removed by the guards, he starts working on the other person in the cage -- Nick, who is suffering from withdrawal again.

Ofelia confronts the soldiers guarding the safe zone, demanding the return of her mother.  The soldiers are about to subdue her by force when Cpl. Adams, with whom she'd been involved in a previous episode, intervenes and escorts her home.  This causes some dissension in the ranks, as the soldiers, who have families of their own, begin to question their orders and lose confidence in Moyers.   Adams is captured and held by Daniel Salazar when he gets home in the Tran's basement, and begins to threaten him with torture.   Madison finds out about the plot, and pleads for them not to do it, but does not intervene.

Travis, meanwhile, is fighting with his son Chris over what to do, and decides to talk to Moyers and attempt to get the people back.  Moyers resists, explaining that the doctor has final say, but relents with Travis infers that people in the zone are going to stop cooperating and start resisting if there is not some accounting for the eleven missing people.

Travis tries his hand a shooting  .... not.
Moyers orders Sergeant Castro and his team to get ready to escort Travis to the medical facility, but the sergeant asks to be relieved from the duty, as his men have been on their feet two days straight.  The officer doesn't care, and orders him to mount up anyway.  They stop en route to eliminate a walker in a doughnut shop with a Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle, and the officer tries to get Travis to pull the trigger.  Travis can't follow through, so Moyers kills the walker instead (Side Note:  I am not an expert by any means, but after some research I think the effects department fell down on this one.  That corpse shouldn't have a head left if it's hit by a .50 caliber round, and it's not like we haven't seen way more graphic stuff in The Walking Dead).  They are interrupted again when another unit radios a distress call after finding a nest of walkers in a local library.   Eight soldiers, including Moyers, enter the building; three come out, and Moyers is not among them.  The whole time, Travis hears the screams and panicked cries of the soldiers over the radio as they fight a losing battle.  The surviving soldiers decide to desert their posts to check on their families and drop off Travis back at home.

Nick, who is feverish and weak at the detention center, is about to be hauled off when Strand manages to bribe a guard to leave him there.   The new player has a role for Nick, and sees him as having a unique set of survival skills that will help them both on the outside.  Strand has a key to the cell and is planning an escape.

That's gotta hurt.
Daniel continues to torture Adams for information, especially regarding the meaning of the word "Cobalt" he keeps hearing over Adams' radio.  Adams tells him of one incident in which there was a walker outbreak in a nearby arena, and because the soldiers couldn't tell who was a walker and who wasn't, the soldiers bolted the doors shut and left all 2,000 civilians inside to die.  Ofelia finds her father using his razors to peel skin off of the soldier's arm, and is horrified.  Daniel confesses to Madison that she always told Ofelia what happened during the war, but never told her his part as a government interrogator. 

At the hospital, Liza finds Griselda, who has been isolated in a fenced in pen with other terminal cases; she is feverish, delirious, and ranting to someone regarding the state of her soul and the world. She passes, and that's when the doctor informs Liza that all the dead come back to life now, and the brain must be destroyed to stop it.  They use a captive bolt gun, normally used to euthanize cattle, to stop the process by shooting a bolt into her head.

Travis returns to find Daniel finishing up his work, and confronts him.  That's when Daniels orders Adams to tell them all the truth.  "Cobalt" is the code word that authorizes the withdrawal of all military forces from the Los Angeles basin.   The remaining civilians will be left behind, and those who are in the medical facility will be "humanely terminated."  Cobalt will be implemented the next morning at 9 a.m. 

Liza gets a crash course in being a doctor.
Meanwhile, Chris, who has teamed up with douche bagette Alicia, spends the entire episode not rescuing his mom after complaining to his dad that Travis didn't do enough.   They instead go to an abandoned upper scale house, put on rich people clothes, and trash the place ... you know, because they had a rough childhood.   On the way home, they see the military trucks loaded with supplies pulling out of the encampment.

Daniel goes to check out the corporal's story about the arena, and finds the doors chained and walkers inside just as described.  He now has no reason to doubt the young soldier's story.  The military is pulling out, and his wife and Nick are on a time clock.  He doesn't know his wife is dead, so his urgency is palpable.

Preparedness Discussion

This episode is a satisfying payoff from last week's all setup episode Not Fade Away.   The wheels are in motion that will ensure the eventual destruction of the safe zone and the deaths of everyone inside.   Once the military withdraws, the walkers will probably return in short order, and as we know from The Walking Dead, fences alone cannot keep them out.   The military, instead of pushing back into L.A., is abandoning it to the walkers.   While the evacuation of the surrounding neighborhoods has lowered the risk, eventually people are going to start dying again, and once that happens, the cycle will repeat itself.   The federal response to the crisis has reached its nadir, and the desertions of the soldiers begin, because eventually people will want to care for their own families as well.

The situation has turned from a bug-in at a secure location to a bug out because the military is withdrawing its protection.  Moyers said at one point there were 12 safe zones set up in the area.   My suspicion is that the military was ordered to set these up, just in case the situation went out of control, so that they could serve as live bait to cover the evacuation.  The group now needs to be ready to implement their initial plan to get out of the area.  Let's hope all their stuff is still packed.

I wrote last week that skills trump gear.  Make sure you develop skills that would be in demand in a long-term survival situation.   Liza is in demand because she is a nursing student and a quick study.  Nick is in demand because he knows how to scrounge and find what he needs to survive.  Remember, he knew where to find the shotgun a couple of episodes back. Conversely, Alicia, who previously was the golden child, really doesn't know how to adapt to this new world, as a finely tuned postmodern sense of irony and sarcasm aren't in demand in the Apocalypse.  Likewise, it's hard for Chris to fulfill his dream of being a douche bag social revolutionary when society no longer exists.   They could have searched the abandoned house for food, resources, and weapons, but instead booze it up and break stuff, because there's NO RULZ!

Travis is struggling to hold onto his humanity, but Moyers has a point when he criticizes his inability to pull the trigger -- he eats their food and relies on the soldiers to protect them, but can't do the dirty work himself.  Perhaps that is why he bought into the military's line for so long.  If they are there to provide protection, he doesn't have to do it himself.  I am wondering if he is going to survive the finale.

Madison, meanwhile, has no problem compromising morality to achieve a goal.   She is clearly the stronger of the two.   She and Daniel are becoming a formidable survival core around which others can orbit.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 105:
  • When you place your fate in the hands of the government, expect to be let down.  Every part of the federal bureaucracy is bloated by its very nature.  The people working in it are trying to do their jobs, but at some point they have families and lives as well.
  • Develop and extra skill set you can use to trade for services or goods in the event of a long term scenario.
  •  If you are in a survival situation, make sure everyone is doing something useful that aids continued survival.
Next week:  Liza tries to negotiate an escape for Chris and her ex-husband as the walkers begin encroaching on the safe areas.   Looks like the merde is finally about to hit the ventilateur.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Preparedness Review of Fear the Walking Dead Episode 104: Not Fade Away

Spoiler Alert!!!

Travis:  You could have notified his wife, sir.
Lt. Moyers:  I'm not a social worker.  That's your job Mister Mayor.

Synopsis:  The military protective occupation of the East Los Angeles area has been going on for nine days, and people are starting to lose patience with a lack of news, a lack of medical care, and a lack of necessities.  The surrounding area has been evacuated.   Chris is on the roof documenting the events and sees a light flashing in a house across the valley.    He tells his dad, who dismisses it.   Lt. Moyers, commander of the military detachment, tells the neighbors things are being brought under control, and the military brings in rations for the people but little else.   Nick seems to be overcoming his addiction, but in reality is stealing an old man's morphine.  Alicia discovers her neighbor's suicide note, which forces her to grieve for her boyfriend, while Travis runs around the neighborhood and tries to act a liaison for the citizens.  One man who has caused problems for the military is "detained" when he attempts to drive his car out of the perimeter., and Madison sneaks though the fence to discover that the military has killed ordinary civilians in addition to the infected.  A doctor arrives to treat and triage those with medical conditions, including Nick, who Liza mentions is a recovering addict.  The military arrives and takes Griselda and Nick, and as Travis goes to the roof to gather his thoughts, he sees the muzzle flashes of automatic weapons in the house where Chris saw the signal light.

Not Fade Away is a lot less about the impending horror of being eaten by zombies and much more about the lack of control the survivors feel as the military takes over the day-to-day lives of the community.  Chris provides some expository dialogue at the beginning as he films the soldiers and the fence they have erected around the area for their protection, and documents the Army trucking in cases of Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs, to feed the civilians.   He notices a light flashing in a window in a house across the valley, and records it with his camera.

Travis, meanwhile is on a morning run around the neighborhood, as if nothing is wrong -- either that or he remembers Zombieland's first rule: cardio. He seems to have been appointed the unofficial liaison between the military and the civilians.   Madison is trying to hold the house together, but Liza is off treating sick people, and the Salazars are keeping to themselves in Alicia's room.   It's tight quarters, and she is feeling the strain.   She and Travis hide in the garage to spend time alone.  Alicia, who seeks solace in her now dead neighbor's house, finds her suicide note.   She grieves for her dead boyfriend, and uses a makeshift tattoo setup to permanently inscribe the heart he drew on her arm as a memorial.

Lt. Moyers, the commanding officer of the infantry unit, insists things are getting better, and the infected are being contained, including reading a prepared statement from his commanding officer.  The problem is that the facts on the ground disprove his confidence:  power is only on for part of the day, there has been no medical care delivered yet, and everyone has to boil the water before drinking it.  Phones are down, there is no communication from outside, and no word as to where the other civilians have been evacuated.   (On a side note:  why did the Army evacuate everyone else but this community?  That is a LOT of people.)  Lt. Moyers explains the complainers are the lucky ones, and they should "relax, count your blessings, be nice… so I don’t have to shoot you.”

Moyers enlists Travis to help with a neighbor,  who is cracking under the strain of trying to maintain a facade of normality for his kids.   Travis talks him down and gets him to submit to a military health check, averting a crisis.  Soldiers were poised outside the home to subdue him if he did not comply.

Ofelia is working on her own brand of military-civilian fraternization, beginning a relationship with a soldier in the detachment to try to obtain medical supplies for her mother, whose injured leg is now infected. She is not successful.

Madison, meanwhile, wants to know what is happening outside the wire, and sneaks through the perimeter fence to explore the surrounding neighborhoods.  She finds dead infected in the streets, accompanied by non-infected persons who were gunned down as well.   She is forced to hide from a roving patrol, and is confronted by the fact that all is not as it seems with their military "protectors."

Liza has been busy caring for people in the neighborhood, including a man named Hector who is on a morphine drip.  What she doesn't know is that Nick is sneaking into his room and stealing the morphine by starting an IV between his toes.  Dr. Exenar, a doctor "from the government" arrives to conduct the health screenings, and takes Hector away, along with his wife.  She explains to Liza she knows she is not a doctor or a nurse but that she has done well for the community.   Exenar tells the Salazars that Griselda's leg needs surgery, and that Daniel can go with her to the medical facility.

That night, the jittery neighbor Travis calmed earlier goes missing, and the next morning Travis finds his car down near the perimeter fence. He confronts Moyers, who says his men were forced to detain him and that notifying the family is not his job. Travis mentions the lights Chris sighted in the demilitarized zone, but the officer seems to take little interest in the matter.

Madison confides in Daniel Salazar what she saw outside the wire, and Daniel relates that the
A view to a kill.
situation echoes some of the savagery that marked the El Salvadoran civil war in the 1980s.  He tells her to keep her son close, and asks that she takes care of Ofelia if he does not come back from the hospital.  Madison goes to find Nick, and discovers him going through Hector's house for more drugs.  She beats the crap out of him in frustration.  Later, he and Alicia share a moment of comfort, but it is cut short when military escorts arrive to pick up Griselda.  Daniel is not allowed to go with her, and in a twist, Nick is cuffed and taken away.  Liza agrees to go with Exenar and help at the medical facility, and the whole clan is left shaken by events.  Madison blames Liza for Nick's detainment,  and the episode ends when Travis, sitting on the roof with tears in his eyes, sees the muzzle flashes of automatic weapons in the house where Chris saw the light signaling earlier.  He finally realizes that the military cordon is not what it seems, and that things are never going to be normal again.

Preparedness Discussion

Episode 104 underscores the need for communications capabilities independent of the internet and conventional broadcast outlets. The community is totally cut off and dependent upon the military for news of the outside world.   Imagine the difference if just one home possessed a ham radio set with a skilled operator.  This has opened my eyes to an overlooked part of my preparations and highlighted my vulnerability in this area.

Then again, the radio may have gotten confiscated on the first day.  The saddest part of this episode is the total ineptitude of the military in civilian affairs despite years of experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, or maybe because of that experience.  Lt. Moyers, the commanding officer of the troops, is prosecuting this operation as if he is overseas in a non-permissive environment instead of on his own soil.  There doesn't need to be a show of force because the civilian population is already on your side.  No one is planting IEDs in the road or planning ambushes -- yet.  If he keeps antagonizing the locals that might change.  I hope this is not the way our military might respond in a peacetime humanitarian mission here in the United States.  This is less of a protective mission and more of an occupation.  How long will his troops stay on mission and continue following his orders?   It just goes to show that your supposed saviors might not be all they are cracked up to be.

Liza is the catalyst for much of the action in this episode, as she proves her worth by providing medical care to the sick and injured.   She is able to use her admittedly incomplete medical knowledge and the meager resources at her disposal to jury rig, improvise and adapt them in a non-conventional way to keep people from dying.  It is not her gear, but her skills, that benefit her and it's proof that skills trump equipment in many instances.  It would pay preppers to remember that.

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 104:

  • Obtain the equipment and skills in your own home or in your network of prepper friends to communicate through ham radio or other less conventional methods. 
  • A protection camp can be a detention camp depending on who is in charge -- and you don't get to vote.
  • Skills trump gearInvest in getting training in first aid or marksmanship instead of buying another gun or a redundant piece of equipment. 

Next week:  The situation deteriorates at the hospital, and the troops begin to question their orders.   No good can come of this.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Food Storage Friday

Lately, I have been researching long-term food storage to augment my canned, fresh, and frozen food.  I am working on a couple of reviews for a couple of food products, but I wanted to share the fruits of my research with some Youtube goodness.

These are from the founder of The Survivalist Boards. That is a great site and I highly recommend it.  I like the idea of using the ziplock equipped Mylar bags.

Here is a video from the same site showcasing storage ideas:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Preparedness Review of Fear the Walking Dead Episode 103: The Dog

Spoiler Alert!!!

Travis:  You know how I feel about guns.
Daniel:  A gun don't care what you think about it.

Synopsis:  Travis, Chris, Liza and the Salazar clan are forced to flee the barber shop when the  mob attacking the police breaks into the store next door and sets it on fire.   Walkers are mixed in among the riot, infecting even more people. Mrs. Salazar injures her leg in the escape, forcing the group to seek medical attention once they make it back to Travis' beat-up pickup. Team Madison chills out at the house playing monopoly but decide to grab a gun at a neighbor's house when their walker neighbor approaches.   They leave the door open and the walker traps and eats a dog until Travis arrives and is attacked; Daniel Salazar blows off its head.   They bury the neighbor and dog, and decide to wait until morning to leave.  Daniel Salazar decided he and his family are going to separate from the group, but before anyone can leave the National Guard arrives and seals the neighborhood.
The old HMO ain't what it used to be.

The Dog begins at the barber shop, which is being rocked by the sounds of the riot.  Chris is startled by a walker standing outside the window peering inside, but their discussion about what is really going on is short-lived; the rioters break into the shop next door and set it on fire, forcing them run for their lives.  While running they witness a police officer attack another officer and rip out his throat.  The group races through the streets to Travis' truck, which is one street over from the main riot and has not yet been damaged, but Griselda Salazar is injured when a scaffold falls on her leg.   They attempt to transport her to a hospital for treatment, but the former sanctuaries for the sick are now war zones where cops armed with automatic weapons battle reanimated corpses.   Reluctantly they they head home.

Bird shot, meet face.
Meanwhile, at the house, Madison, Nick, and Alicia are playing monopoly to pass the time.   They are concerned that Travis hasn't come back, and Nick posits the theory that maybe he's not coming back.   A German Shepherd comes to the door begging to be let in, and the group obliges.   When ominous noises are heard from the street, Nick points out the need for self defense and the trio race next door to find a shotgun and ammunition.  They forget to close the door, though, and the walker staggers into the house and kills the dog.  Travis returns home at the same time, and finds the walker, his former neighbor, eating the dog.  Everyone runs into the home as Travis battles the zombie, but Alicia realizes they have forgotten the shotgun shells and heads back to the other house, where she encounters Susan, a neighbor who has turned.

Back at Madison's, Daniel quickly grabs the shotgun and puts down the walker.   They then race over to the fence to rescue Alicia from Susan's clutches.  They leave Dead Susan in her yard and retreat to the house.  Travis, clearly freaked out by the whole evening, convinces Madison to wait until morning to leave.  He then buries his neighbor and the dog, despite Daniel's advice to burn the bodies to prevent the spread of disease.   Madison extracts from Liza a promise to kill her if she ever is turned by a walker, and the Salazars retreat to a bedroom, where Daniel insists that they are not going with the rest of the group in the morning.   His daughter wants to go with them and says they are with good people.   Daniel's response is chilling: "Good people are the first to die."  He is adapting to the situation better than most others.

Dawn breaks, and the cars are loaded.  Daniel tries to teach Chris how to use the shotgun, but Travis gets upset because he is anti-gun.   Nick sneaks out to try to break into a house next door to find more drugs, but stops when a little girl in a window next door waves to him.  Madison goes out to the fence to pop Susan in the noggin with a ball peen hammer, but Travis dissuades her, saying the sickness may be able to be cured.  Daniel, seeing this, mutters that they are too weak.

Everyone but the Salazars get into the car to leave.  Nick asks for more painkillers, and Madison tells him they do not have many more because she gave some to Griselda for her leg.   Nick gets angry and says he needs that medicine.  The pull out of the driveway, but see Dead Susan's husband arrive back at the house.  Madison turns that way to warn him about Susan's condition, and he is about to be attacked when heavily armed National Guardsmen arrive and put her down.  The unit sweeps through the area and clears the infected.  Travis and Kim thinks normality is returning.  Daniel Salazar thinks that this is the beginning of something bad.

Preparedness Discussion

There is a lot to consider in this episode.   The consequences of the family's lack of a crisis plan and bug out preparations are playing out in real time now because they are forced to bug in at two locations for the night, neither of which are very defensible.  This is especially true of the barber shop, where rioters outside are mixed in with newly turned walkers who are attacking and killing people in the general confusion.  The need for both of these items was covered in the last episode's review, but I will add the link to the following story, The Bug Out, which is a fictional tale of a family that lets its preparedness lapse and pays a price.  By the time the family is ready to leave, the military has arrived and no one can leave.   No one tells them not to go on camera, but the fact that troops are sweeping house to house and taking a census of where everyone  lives is telling.  This is population control on a neighborhood level.

Civil unrest, at least in America, usually isn't long-lived.   The riot only goes on so long before the police, armed forces, or motivated citizens acting as a militia step in  to put a stop to people burning stuff down.   If you are in a riot zone, there is a good chance you might get swept up in the dragnet if you don't get out in time.

Next, we need to deal with Travis' aversion to firearms.  He doesn't want to believe that it is necessary to use them for self-defense.  His final line in the episode about things getting better now that the National Guard has arrived indicates that he is willing to outsource his own security.  Madison is not so sure.  She has already killed her walker boss.

Daniel, on the other hand, is quite willing to take matters into his own hands, and uses the shotgun to good effect.  He then attempts to teach Chris how to use the weapon to keep the rest of the family safe.

Whether you are in favor of guns are not, there are almost as many guns as people in the U.S. and knowing at the very least how to safely handle a firearm is something you can consider.   A gun is a tool; it can be used to take a life or save a life.  Ensure that you know how to handle them safely, because the life you save may be your own.

Got any drugs?
There is a conflict building between Daniel Salazar and Travis Manawa.   Daniel, an El Salvadoran immigrant who is of an age which suggests he may have seen the worst of the civil war in that country, has survived social upheavals before, and he knows what it takes to survive.  Travis is mired in his normality bias despite staring the walking dead in the face.   This is akin to the Rick-Shane battles of the first and second seasons of The Walking Dead.  It will be interesting to to see how this dynamic play out between two men without a shared common history.  One is an idealistic teacher, the other is a scrappy survivor.

Finally, there is Nick.   Like most addicts, his concern, once the immediate danger has receded, is for his next fix.   Addiction is a powerful motivator, and he is going to become an issue as the series progresses.   He has no intention of getting clean - he has transferred his addiction from heroin to prescription pills.  If you have an addict in your family or are addicted to something yourself, you need to think long and hard about how this is going to impact you in a disaster situation.   Wean yourself from alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs now.  There are resources available in your community to assist you, and you will not only become healthier, you will have more money to prep!

Preparedness Lessons for Episode 103:
  • Know when to bug out.  If you decide to bug in, make sure your location is defensible.
  • Be adaptable.  Know that you may have to change long held attitudes to ensure survival, but be sure you have a set of core principles to serve as an emotional and spiritual anchor.
  • Get trained in firearm safety.
  • Do some self-reflection to determine if you are dependent on a substance or other item in your life, and work to wean yourself from it.   FYI - Starbucks and Dairy Queen will not be open when it hits the fan.
Next Week: We're from the government and we're here to help.  Or kill you. You ARE THE LUCKY ONES!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Are We Ready for the Zombie Economic Crash?

I have read posts in multiple forums related to The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead where viewers have stated that "well, in The Walking Dead universe, people have never heard of zombies, and in real life if zombies existed we would be much more prepared."

The central conceit of The Walking Dead universe is that zombies are not a part of the culture.   There was never a Night of the Living Dead or its sequels, the comic book version of the show -- none of it exists in the show's universe.

I disagree with the notion that we would be more prepared in "real life," and I will use the economy as an example. We have a history of boom and bust economic cycles, and yet people are always shocked when they happen. The last crash in 2008 was in the making in at least 2006 due to the collapse of the subprime lending market, but most of the country only noticed it when the effects became severe in 2008.

How many of your friends who are not preppers were aware of the next impending economic crash before the stock market imploded a couple of weeks ago? How many know the world is in the process of dumping the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency and the net effects that will have on or nation?

The vast majority of people operate under the normality bias that our economy and our standard of living will always be high and that things will continue as they always have.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and the true fragility of our world economic system is once again being highlighted.

Zombies are fictional. Economic crises are factual.  So how will you survive an economic collapse?  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Some More Thoughts on Fear the Walking Dead Episode 102

Spoiler Alert !!!

Fear the Walking Dead is on hiatus in the United States for the Labor Day weekend, so I thought I would go back through into the last episode and touch base on a couple of more preparedness thoughts.

Bug out bags would be very useful in this situation.  When Madison calls Alicia from the truck at the beginning and tells her to pack some groceries, the daughter says she can't because she is not home (more on this in my original review).   It would have been a lot easier to get out of the city if they had some food and supplies already packed to toss in the truck.   Food and water are basics; non-perishable items, bottled water, and a way to purify water are a start.   Other items could include:
  • Toiletry and sanitation items like hand wipes, hand sanitizer, soap, female hygiene products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.
  • Sleeping bags and cots or a tent in case they need to camp out off the side of the road.
  • Flashlights and a good first aid kit, along with extra batteries.
  • Cooking equipment such as portable stoves, etc.
The food you pack should require little or no preparation, but if you plan on toting a Coleman stove with you, some heavier foodstuffs -- canned goods, along with lightweight pots and pans -- could be carried.  Just remember the idea is to be able to shove everything in the car with minimum time and effort and get out of the area.

If you wait too long, you'll get stuck in place.
These supplies don't need to be packed in bags; a couple of storage tubs, easily loaded, could work.  The important thing is to developed a good checklist of what you want to prepare and make sure everything is packed.

This is not a small detail.   If you are a fan of The Walking Dead you can remember the scene where Rick Grimes rides his horse into Atlanta to find his family.  He rides down the wrong side of the road because the outbound lanes are jammed with traffic that was trying to get out of town when the zombies overtook the city.  Los Angeles is a major metropolitan area with serious traffic congestion on the best of days.  The longer this family waits to get out of the area the longer it is going to take due to the rapid increase in outflow traffic.  That traffic will probably contain people low on resources, who didn't plan, and who will look at their supplies with envy.  Using nondescript storage totes can provide a degree of camouflage against looters and thieves, but the quicker you can get out ahead of the crowd, the safer you will be.

Extra gas cans filled with stabilized fuel and stored in the garage could've helped as well.  The service stations in town are going to go dry quickly in a true public panic, especially if the resupply chain breaks down and tanker trucks cannot get through.  If they had stored a couple of five-gallon cans per vehicle, they could put them in the bed of the truck, get out of town on the fuel in their car tanks, and refill outside of the immediate danger area.  They would then be able to find a gas station outside the hot zone and refill the cars and spare cans.

Bug out bag resources:

The Preparedness Podcast
Sample Hurricane Evacuation Kit Sample Kit

Gasoline storage resources:

Off the Grid News
Prepper Journal 

Friday, September 4, 2015

ITRH's 7 Pieces of Prepper Advice

In The Rabbit Hole is a fun and informative podcast based on the concept of urban survival.  There are usually at least two hosts talking about prepping and current events from a libertarian perspective. 

This summer they posted a short episode regarding the seven pieces of advice they wished someone had first told them when they first started their journey of preparedness.   It is short, but packed with good ideas.

You can find the podcast here: link.  A sample of the information provided:
  • Start all your preps from the most likely to happen personal stuff.
  • Buy and or store food and water first before you do anything else.
 For the rest of the list, check out the podcast, and look around their excellent site. Be advised, there is some mild language used in some of the podcasts.

Thought of the Day: Can Openers

Go to your food storage cabinets and take stock of how much canned food you have;  if your storage is like mine, we have a lot, probably 30 percent or more, in canned food.

Now, do you have an electric can opener?  It's probably very nice.  Do you have a hand-operated one if the power is out?  Do you have a spare?  We only use hand crank can openers, and recently the one we had broke and we had no back-up in place.  That has now been rectified.

Here's another thought:  do your kids know how to use a can opener?  Have they ever tried to use one?  Obviously very young children cannot use an opener, but what about preteens and teenagers?

Food for thought.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Army Launches Program to Choose New Handgun

The U.S. Army is looking for an updated pistol to replace the Beretta M-9s that have been in use since the early 1980s.   According to a story on, this effort first started in 2013. 

I have never shot the Beretta, so I cannot testify to its quality or performance.  There is a possibility that the bullet caliber may change as well.  The really interesting part of the story is that the successful bidder must also be able to provide the ammunition as well:
The winner will have to be able to deliver 6,300 full-size pistols per month within a year and 3,000 compact pistols per month with in a year, according to the RFP.
The winning contractor will have to be able to ramp up to delivering 2.8 million rounds of ball ammunition per month within three years and 1.6 million rounds of special-purpose ammunition per month within three years, according the RFP.
 Now the pistol amounts I can understand, especially if the Army wants to field the new weapon as rapidly as possible, but 4.4 million rounds per month seems to be a lot of ammo for a downsizing force.

Just from that, I think the Army is going with a new caliber and will have to dispose of its nine millimeter stocks and replace them with another caliber round.

What does this mean for preppers? Potentially there might be a lot of ball nine millimeter ammunition coming into the civilian market for possibly a very reasonable price, and the new round should still be commercially available because the supplier will ramp up its capabilities to meet the military's needs. It will be interesting to see what priorities make it into the first post-9/11 handgun developed for our military's mass consumption.

The companies involved are Sig Sauer, Glock, FN, Kriss, Detonics/STI International and General Dynamics/Smith and Wesson.

September is National Preparedness Month

Photo courtesy of
September has been designated National Preparedness Month by the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.  This year's theme is planning -- making a plan to deal with a disaster or emergency situation with your community, your family, and for pets, so that they are not injured or killed in a disaster.

Why pets? Too often, during emergencies, pets are the ones who suffer the most because they have to be left behind.   Emergency shelters often do not accept pets with people. As the owner of a wonderful Basset hound named Myrtle, I have to make sure I have extra food, medications, and supplies available to keep her alive as well.

Elements of a family emergency response plan include:
  1. A communications plan that includes the ability to receive emergency alerts from authorities, as well as how your family will communicate during such an emergency.  Remember, cellular networks may be jammed with too much traffic or be taken down by authorities in the even of a terrorist attack to prevent terrorists from communication or setting of explosives via remote.  You should have a method of letting other loved ones know you are safe as well.  Make sure each person has a laminated paper copy of the information in a vehicle or on their person if possible.
  2. A transportation plan for how your family will travel home or to a common rally point.  Every person should have alternate routes mapped out from their location of work or study during the day.  Don't depend on GPS or Google Maps.  They might not be accessible.
  3. Have a common rally point.  It could be as simple as a centrally located relative's house or gas station where everyone can meet an assess the situation.   It should be somewhere everyone in the family is familiar with and can be accessed from all directions of travel.  If you can, have some extra clothes and some toiletry items cached their in case you have to stay overnight.  Alternatively, a go bag, or get home bag, with the same items could be packed in each car.  This isn't a bag to go out in the wilderness and survive.  Think "I might have to stay a couple of nights in a motel or at Aunt Sally's" instead.  A simple toiletry kit, some extra prescription medications, and some clean socks and underwear could suffice.  Tailor it to your situation.
  4. Everyone should have some cash on hand to pay for gasoline or food if needed, because debit machines and ATMs may be down. 
  5. Make sure you have someone trustworthy who can get to your pets and take care of them if you are delayed in returning home, and ensure they are familiar with your pets' routines.
 All my family members drive to their destinations so I don't worry about busing. If you take public transportation to and from work and school, you need to consider how you will make it to a rally point if your normal method of travel is shut down or disrupted.

If you do use your own car, make sure it is good working order.   Keep the tires properly inflated and check them for uneven wear on the treads, as this is often and indication of a mechanical problem.  You know that book in the glove compartment you never open?  It has a maintenance schedule for your car.   Read it and have your car serviced by a reputable garage per this schedule.  Check your wiper blades for wear and keep your fluids checked and topped off.

Finally, make sure you don't let your gas tank drop below half a tank, or if you must, no more than a quarter tank.   Running the car constantly on empty can damage your fuel pump and fuel filter..  Further, being out of gas in an emergency just S-U-C-K-S.  If your engine quits in a line of traffic suddenly you could be struck by the car behind you, and at best, you are abandoning your car to go find gas or find your way on foot. Gas stations may run out of gas or be so packed it will take hours to get into a pump.  This happens regularly when hurricane evacuations occur in the South.

If you can commit to these few steps, and then practice your plan, you will be more prepared than 90 percent of your neighbors.