Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

Advice from a brilliant contrarian

Years ago I purchased an e-book at Amazon, How To Analyze Information: A Step-By-Step Guide To Life’s Most Vital Skill, by the late Herbert E. Meyer, which I’ve referred to in previous blog posts. Unfortunately, I no longer see it available at Amazon or online. Meyer was a contrarian. Being a contrarian myself and often having opinions that swim against the prevailing views, I found Meyer worth paying attention to (and very interesting besides). In this small guide he laid out some very simple, but crucial steps to take to analyze information, which most of us often overlook. Here is his 7-step process:

Step One: Figure Out Where You Are

Step Two: Be Sure You’re Seeing Clearly

Step Three: Decide What You Need To Decide

Step Four: Determine What You Need To Know

Step Five: Collect Your Information

Step Six: Turn The Information Into Knowledge

Step Seven: Add The Final Ingredient (Judgment)

I think most of us take a lot of short-cuts when analyzing information and it leads us to assuming we have a lot more knowledge on many things than we really do. In our fast-paced, digital information environment, astoundingly many experts in our most information-crucial environments (like intelligence guru pundits), seem to skip these steps and rush to embrace partisan-packaged conclusions that either bolster popular political narratives or give them an opportunity to preen in the glow of the media spotlight, as journalists clamor for these intel whizzes to impart their wisdom to us.

Meyer gave very common situations as examples to explain these steps. Figuring out where you are isn’t just about your geographical location, it can be where you’re at metaphorically. In my last post, I recommended simplifying your lifestyle by beginning with building emergency savings and paying down debt as first emergency preparedness steps, in my view. So with simplifying your lifestyle, you have to really know where you are – from finances, to responsibilities, to physical health/limitations.

Seeing clearly takes effort, because everyone has what Meyer referred to as “prisms” that can distort how they view a situation or information. Prisms can be beliefs, biases, ideologies (political views) or even people we trust or distrust that will impede our ability to see information clearly. Meyer gave an example of having a friend you trust, but everyone else knows is a crook, would make you unlikely to see the information everyone else is seeing, until it’s too late. Often we glide by negative information on people we like, while taking a microscope to the tiniest, flimsiest piece of dirt on someone we dislike. Recognizing your own “prisms” and working to see clearly opens the way for you to move on to figuring out what you need to decide and then what information you need to collect for your decision-making.

Most of us, I suspect, start around Step Four or Five, when it comes to analyzing information, because we assume we know where we are and that we see clearly. Plus, most people, myself included, often assume we know what we need to decide, yet often later realize we should have been thinking about an entirely different matter first, should have taken more time to think things through, should have done more research, should have looked at other options – especially with financial decisions in our vast consumer culture and the ease with which we can swipe or click or make online purchases.

Meyer’s final ingredient was a chapter on judgment, which he described this way:

“Judgment is the sum total of who we are – the combined product of our character, our personality, our instincts and our knowledge. Because judgment involves more than knowledge, it isn’t the same thing as education. You cannot learn judgment by taking a course, or by reading a book. This is why some of the most highly educated people in the world have terrible judgment, and why some people who dropped out of school at the age of sixteen have superb judgment.”

Meyer, Herbert E.. How to Analyze Information: A Step-by-Step Guide to Life’s Most Vital Skill . Storm King Press. Kindle Edition.

Of course, the thing is we can all learn and improve our decision-making and judgment by becoming more aware of our short-comings, biases, and for all of us, honestly facing our past mistakes rather than making excuses for them.

Some people are reckless with money and some people, by nature, are very cautious, so being honest with yourself about your money habits will put you in a better position to knowing where you are and seeing clearly. I have known many people who go from one financial train wreck to another and invariably they blame “bad luck” for all of it, never taking personal responsibility for their bad decisions. Facing the truth is hard, but crucial to ever being able to figure out where you really are with your personal finances. Then you can decide what you really need to decide and set about gathering information, which is more than just reading one source that fits your “prisms.”

You’ve got to collect information from numerous sources and start figuring out what information is more accurate and reliable. This puts you on the road to acquiring knowledge. This process will hopefully lead to better decisions. I think it’s really helpful to have some trusted sounding boards, people who have experience or more expertise than you do, in your life.

Taking money advice from a friend who is always broke and behind in paying their monthly bills isn’t a good candidate to be a sounding board on good financial planning, but a friend like that may help you feel better about your own poor financial decisions and lead you to making more bad money decisions. I have seen this with people who are shopaholics and they seek out friends who reinforce their bad spending habits. Don’t seek me to be that shopping friend, lol. I have always hated shopping, except for craft and needlework stuff, which I have plenty of and don’t want more.

This all sounds so simple, yet until I read Meyer’s short little guide, I realized that I often completely skipped his Steps One and Two, which led me to become an excellent cherry-picker of information, looking for information that fit my “prisms” and often not really having a clear idea where I was, especially in making personal decisions.

I like to slow down now and take my time with making decisions. In the prepper world, I hear a lot of “hurry up and stock up on this or that now, before it’s all gone” and a lot of fearmongering, that the sky’s falling. I also see a lot of online preppers who talk almost exclusively about their purchases (hauls) and the YouTube “haul video” thing is in almost every YouTube community I’ve seen. We are a nation of shoppers, that’s for sure. As I said in my last post, emergency preparedness can save your life, but it’s got to start with being responsible in your daily life and that begins with getting your finances in better order, not shopping for “preps.”

I do have emergency savings and basic emergency preps, but still not as much water as I think I should (I am aiming for a 6 month supply). I’m still thinking about next steps in my preparedness efforts and have been thinking about buying a Berkey. Like many people, I think about emergency preparedness a lot more than I did pre-pandemic chaos and pre-BLM civil unrest. And like many Americans, I’ve been pretty fed-up and grown completely distrustful of our government rising to the occasion in major crises.

Of course, you’d have to be living under a rock not to be aware of all the disturbing events that have disrupted and impacted most people’s daily lives. Inflation is impacting everywhere, from fuel, to electricity, to consumer goods, to grocery prices and I haven’t seen any financial experts predicting things will improve anytime soon. It’s pretty unified warnings that inflation is expected to worsen and shortages will continue into 2022. The pandemic “stuff” is still ongoing too.

Even if the worst case financial collapse doesn’t happen, protracted national economic problems really can be a personal “sky is falling crisis,” if you’re not prepared – especially if your finances are already on shaky ground. Building some emergency savings and eliminating personal debt are two of the best “preps” you can do to increase your emergency preparedness to weather economic hard times.

I like Dave Ramsey, but many people disagree with his 7 Baby Steps Plan. I bought his book, Financial Peace, at a yard sale many years ago, read it and found it useful. However you decide to get your personal finances in order – eliminating personal debt frees up money, that you can put towards savings, building up basic emergency supplies, or other goals. If Ramsey isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other financial planning and management sources.

Meyer’s 7-step guide helped me reassess how I was analyzing information and I found it very useful. If I find it available online, I’ll share a link.

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Plan for emergencies by simplifying your lifestyle

A few days ago I watched a useful YouTube prepping video, 5 Things You Must Do NOW to Prepare for 2022, by City Prepping, which was a follow-up to his video on the top 10 threats we’ll face in 2022. He begins his list of 5 things to do with simplifying your finances by budgeting, cutting expenses and eliminating debt:

Talking about financial stuff isn’t an area where I feel like I have any expertise, but here are some of my learned from the school-of-hard-knocks personal finance thoughts. Money habits are like most of our other everyday habits, that most of us either grew-up practicing or kind of slid into without a whole lot of thought or consideration. Once I actually start learning more and honestly assessing many of my ingrained (and hard to break) habits, I almost always realize there are better choices available. It’s a real struggle to change ingrained habits, but I’ve found even modest changes can reap big benefits. Changing some of my bad money habits hasn’t been as hard as trying to change some of my bad eating and fitness habits, which I’m working on.

I’ve seen online prepper and various survival advertising centered on the argument that we’re headed toward a catastrophic economic collapse as a reason to not trust in banks or even cash, but to think about dramatic (and risky if that worst case financial catastrophe doesn’t happen) financial moves to survive. Sure, there might be a massive economic collapse, but placing your entire personal financial planning effort based on that worst-case scenario might lead you to be woefully unprepared for the multitude of everyday (and much more likely) emergencies that are way more likely to impact you. I can’t buy new tires or pay an emergency medical bill with gold or silver coins, so for me I prefer to stick to cash and traditional financial savings and investment options. Living on a modest income, I prefer to have roadside assistance and rental car coverage on my car insurance policy and having money in emergency savings over dabbling in bitcoin or other investment options sold as preparing for a catastrophic economic collapse.

Yes, the worst case is definitely possible, but I’ve experienced many of the more likely emergency situations and decided where I want to focus most with my emergency preparedness efforts. This preparing for the most likely emergencies first rather than the worst-case emergencies approach makes more sense to me. I don’t believe people, who haven’t even learned to weather the more common emergencies in life, can become prepared for more dire emergencies, just by buying all the right survival gear or abandoning safer financial savings and investments. In other words, you can’t buy your way to preparedness.

Experience and then learning from my mistakes helps me feel more prepared to weather harder challenges. It’s like with needlework, where it’s much easier to start with a small project, master the techniques and gain some confidence when I finish than to start out with some large and very complicated project. This year my husband died, so I’ve had to rethink a whole lot from finances to my entire life and adjust. One of my husband’s hospice nurses, a widow, advised me not to make any big decisions for at least several months and to keep my daily life as simple as possible. I heeded her advice and it has helped me plod through each day.

With personal finances, I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years, but I did learn that even a few modest cuts in non-essential spending, frees up some money and just a bit extra could help dealing with the inflation that’s already happening or allow you to put some money into emergency savings. Simplifying personal finances and your overall lifestyle makes you less dependent on all sorts of products and services you were consuming. Finding cheaper or free forms of entertainment can help with becoming more self-reliant.

Along with the chaos in the supply chains, I have already seen prices going up when grocery shopping and some wild price fluctuations with other purchases. I purchased a Christmas gift at regular price for one of my grandchildren online a few weeks ago and that same item, from the same seller, has now jumped $50 in price.

At the grocery store, I’ve been focusing on stocking up on basics and paying more attention to prices. I also often check prices online now, before even heading to the store, to aid in making my list. Making a list and comparing prices makes a difference, as does spending more time looking through my pantry, fridge and freezer before making a list. Last year I did some grocery shopping online that I picked up at the store, but I prefer to walk through the grocery store and see what all is there. Plus, I want to pick out my own fresh produce and meat.

Many people carefully meal plan too. I haven’t been diligent with meal planning ever, but I’ve become much more aware of thinking about how to use leftovers to make other different meals before I even cook a meal that I know there’ll be leftovers. Another area I’ve been working on for years is cutting down on food waste, especially with throwing away fresh produce, which happened way too often in my kitchen. Before I even consider buying larger amounts of fresh produce that are a “great” deal, I think about how I’ll be able to store it or preserve it to avoid waste.

Sometimes I pass on those “great” deals, because if food ends up thrown away that’s money thrown away. This same concept applies to other purchases too. If you buy mountains of stuff that are “great” deals, but it never gets used that’s waste. With prepper gear, tools, extra supplies or anything else you stockpile, figuring out how much money you want tied up in 10 of this or that vs. money in savings for all those common emergencies life throws your way should be part of your overall financial planning. I would opt for a few good quality tools and more money in savings for the unknowns rather than having 10 of every tool or piece of gear imaginable. No money in savings or even worse prepper gear on credit cards to pay off isn’t really sound preparedness, in my opinion. These kinds of financial decisions are personal choices, but this type of critically making decisions on all of your purchases is a good money habit to develop.

Truthfully, there are way too many unknowns trying to focus on preparing for such a massive catastrophe as a world economic collapse. It’s too big of an event for our minds to grasp all the ways it would impact every system our complex modern world relies on, so I suspect the best preparation there is to focus on the basics and streamlining your lifestyle to live as simply as possible. The Amish and similar types of communities that have a very simple, sustainable lifestyle seem to be less impacted and able to recover more easily from major emergencies than those more reliant on all the complex systems of modern life. The key there is community, so along with all the personal preparedness, trying to build some relationships, friendships and trust within your own community can start with just a few friendly words or even small acts of kindness. The more people you know who are nearby, the less you’ll feel like you’re completely on your own in bad times.

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Warning: A gloomy political blog post

Patara at Appalachia’s Homestead brought to my attention, that China is urging it’s people to start stocking up. I had seen mostly the political news on the VA governor’s race and hadn’t seen this. China has over a billion people to feed and is facing a sharp economic slowdown. It is absolutely a true news story. CNN link is right here: China is urging families to stock up on food as supply challenges multiply.

I have no confidence in our federal government to respond adequately to a major crisis, that’s the truth. This is an upfront warning. that this is going to be a politics post. The default response from our political leaders, in both parties, is to deploy the National Guard to deal with everything, whether it’s for Pelosi’s post-1/6 sideshow, where they had thousands of guardsmen at the Capitol for months to TX where the governor sent them to the border. Here’s a quote from NBCWashington on the NG extension at the Capitol in MARCH, two months after the 1/6 attack:

“Army leaders had also initially questioned whether the Capitol Police had exhausted all other options to fill the need, such as asking other federal law enforcement agencies to provide security. But officials said military leaders thought it was important to find ways to work out the details.

The threat was tied to the far-right conspiracy theory promoted by QAnon supporters that former President Donald Trump would rise again to power on March 4, the original presidential inauguration day. That day passed with no problems, but law enforcement has said threats to buildings and personnel remain.”

I’m frankly sick to death of hearing about QAnon threats and remain highly skeptical about who is generating the “QAnon conspiracy theories.” I’m not doubting there are dangerous right-wing extremists elements that are legitimate concerns. And there are people believing these crazy QAnon conspiracy theories, but why doesn’t the FBI ever tell us more about who these QAnon conspiracy theory generators are? This reminds me of the whole “alt-right” media hysteria, where the liberal media and Dems created this whole myth about how massive the alt-right threat was and how there were alt-right everywhere. And, even the FBI sells that line too.

If QAnon loons spreading conspiracy theories are such a threat, then why haven’t the QAnon content generators been identified and banned from social media? The big social media platforms have no problem banning other right-wing people they don’t like or want silenced or ordinary people spreading conspiracy theories, but not QAnon… And we’re also told QAnon is on the “dark web,’ yet the FBI can’t find out who’s behind it or stop any of these QAnon conspiracy theories? Instead, it’s these crazy stories like today, “QAnon supporters gather in downtown Dallas expecting JFK Jr. to reappear.”

The FBI has spent months tracking down every protester at the Capitol on 1/6 and yet they can’t figure out who is behind QAnon conspiracy theories?

I’m going to add this link to the much hyped August 2018 “Unite the Right Anniversary” in Washington, DC that had the media frothing for months. CNN reported, “Approximately two dozen white nationalists rallied in the nation’s capital on Sunday, one year after clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, left one person dead and elevated racial tensions in America.” Yep, two dozen, that’s it.

After that the liberal media didn’t have fainting spells about the “alt-right,” but it moved to other massive right-wing “threats.”

With the Youngkin governor’s race just a few days ago, the sleaze balls at the Lincoln Project staged a false flag op: UPDATE: “The Lincoln Project” Takes Credit For Posing As Tiki-Torch Nazis At Glenn Youngkin Event In Charlottesville.

The Youngkin effort is par for the course with Dem false flag operations and dirty tricks, yet the mainstream media glides by them. Back in 2018 news broke (and was quickly breezed by) that Dem operatives, working with some powerful Silicon Valley execs, generated fake Russian bots that were supporting Roy Moore in the AL Senate race in 2017 and then Dem operatives put up this whole media hysteria about Moore was supported by Russia (similar to the whole Trump–Russia Collusion spin garbage). Dem operatives also initiated some Dry Alabama influence operation against Moore, and of course, there was the whole mainstream media underage women allegation spin effort too and frankly when Gloria Allred shows up, I dismiss it as another Dem spin theater effort. Roy Moore is a detestable bigot, so no one really cared about any of these corrupt Dem influence operations and dirty tricks. Of course, it’s important to look at who one of those big Silicon Valley execs involved in that fake Russian bot operation was. From the Washington Post, “Disinformation campaign targeting Roy Moore’s Senate bid may have violated law, Alabama attorney general says” :

“The looming threat of new state and federal investigations adds to the scrutiny facing those involved in the campaign to undermine support for Moore and bolster Jones. Project Birmingham appeared to broadly mirror some of the same tactics adopted by Russian operatives who spread social and political unrest on Facebook and Twitter during the 2016 presidential election. In Alabama, its backers even introduced fake evidence that automated Russian accounts, called bots, were supporting Moore in the race.”

“On Wednesday, internet billionaire Reid Hoffman apologized for giving money to a group, American Engagement Technologies, that allegedly had ties to Project Birmingham. The donation was $750,000, according to a person close to Hoffman. Hoffman said that he did not intend for the organization or its leader, a former aide to President Barack Obama, to put the money to use in spreading disinformation. Hoffman also pledged a full review of his portfolio of political investments, two years after he began spending millions of dollars to help elect more Democrats to office.”

Another Silicon Valley bigwig involved in that Dem false flag operation, creating fake Russian bots, in the Moore campaign was Jonathan Morgan, the chief executive of New Knowledge. Fox News report, Democratic operatives created fake Russian bots designed to link Kremlin to Roy Moore in Alabama race :

“One participant in the project reportedly was Jonathon Morgan, the chief executive of New Knowledge, a firm that wrote a report – released by the Senate Intelligence Committee earlier this week – about Russia’s social media operations in the 2016 election and its efforts to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump.”

Got that – this Silicon Valley exec’s company was who the Senate Intelligence Committee relied on to write their report on Russia’s social media operations in the 2016 election and then he was involved in a Dem false flag operation helping Dem operatives create fake Russian bots to smear Roy Moore in 2017… Still waiting on that investigation… It’s totally nuts.

Here’s another headline and link: Facebook suspended five accounts for spreading misleading information during an Alabama election, including a lead social media researcher who helped the government discover fake news

I’ve been trying to analyze the Dems spin information war since the 1990s, when the Clintons initiated their “war room.” In 1998, I first dipped my toes into the world of social media, writing comments on the Excite message boards, and mocked the Clinton spinmeisters and highlighted their stupid spin word games on those message boards during the Clinton impeachment drama. Back then the Excite message boards was where the politicos and journos hung out. Today it’s Twitter.

I also believe Trump borrowed the Dems corrupt spin war model, so while many people, I know think Trump will save America, well, I doubt it. Trump cares about his rallies, which are just massive agitation propaganda efforts to incite people & raise money. Mainly though, Trump really wants to get back on Twitter or find a social media avenue to get back into the spin information war and owning media spin cycles. As for Repubs in Washington – they’re concerned about collecting big money from donors and power too, so I don’t expect Washington to save us. Plus they’re all hanging out on Twitter too. Trump cares about getting back on Twitter, all the journalists and politicians hang out at Twitter – and all they care about is how to “spin” everything. Spin equals the ability to drive and control public opinion in America.

The Dem and media corruption is still vast. I am a nobody homemaker, recently widowed, and my blog currently has 135 followers. On Twitter I have 58 followers and I suspect most of them are bots or something. I pay for my WordPress account and continue to write, even though mostly I feel like I am a lone voice in the internet wilderness.

So, my concerns after watching this latest Dem spin smear effort, targeting parents at school board meetings, is that the labeling of Trump-supporters, Republicans, conservatives, and even now parents who dared complain about CRT was to smear them as “potential domestic terrorists.”

My stories about Desert Storm are true and I do believe staying calm and focused on doing everything you can to stock up and prepare your own family, as best you can, for the shortages and uncertainties ahead, is sound advice.

I am not trying to tell anyone to shut-up or what to say or not say – it’s a free country. Where I worry is that preppers might become the next Dem target, in a critical food storage crisis and that’s why staying calm and committed to helping each other and encouraging others to stock up can be a vital resource to help themselves and their families and neighborhood get through this crisis. I worry since the prepper community relies on liberal-owned social media platforms to share information.

I hope that some state governments start getting their heads out of their you know what and start addressing this looming crisis, but I suspect many of them are too busy with their Twitter spin battles too, to even come up with any plans. And my other fear is that the DC pols solution is to send in the NG and expect them to solve everything. Heck, I’m surprised they haven’t sent them to unload ships yet. The NG cannot possibly be the whole government solution to deal with a massive food shortage and mass panic. Here’s the other thing – if there’s mass panic and people clearing out stores – that gives the federal government and governors all the cover they need to take more drastic action and so these are the same people still trying to cling to all their COVID government overreach.

I’m not trying to alarm anyone, and this is just my opinion. I’m just saying that staying calm, especially in emergencies is crucial- it will help you get through any crisis. Staying focused on encouraging as many people you can to stock up is wonderful, as is sharing all the prepping and survival knowledge. It’s going to take people with all sorts of skills – not just a stocked pantry to get our country through a massive food shortage combined with another possible COVID wave, plus all the partisan political turmoil. I feel that some areas where there are lots more conservative people, it might be easier to rally people to work together in a crisis than in others. If you live in Chicago or St. Louis with that idiot mayor, who tweeted this, I feel sorry for you:

Focusing on anger at people in your own family or circle will leave you and them totally alienated, but yeah, I understand urging family to stock up and not being heeded – after all, our “illustrious” CDC recommends a 3-day supply. Everyone in our government is too invested in their media spin war to come up with a plan. I have no idea how much food retail companies have or are holding back or how much various states and the federal government have in emergency food supplies. All I do know is the prepper community, even the most extreme ones, are way ahead of the game in a serious food shortage situation and the YouTube prepper community could be a truly valuable resource to each other and to millions of other unprepared people.

Every person who heeds your advice to start stocking up now is one less person in a dire crisis, if this shortage situation becomes much worse. No one person can solve this crisis by themselves – we’ll all have to put in our oars and row, but first and foremost is always – take care of yourself and your family first, so don’t get overwhelmed by the magnitude of all the bad things on the horizon – take it a step at a time with preparing.

Here’s a suggestion, in military lingo, if you’re up to double-time, by all means speed up your pace:-) If people have a 3-day supply, encourage them to shoot for 2 weeks or a month and then keep on going. By working together and staying calm, I believe grassroots America could be the vital resource that pulls America through a serious shortage crisis. A lot of political mayhem, mass panic and no calm, principled leadership to be found, here in America could be very bad. However, our country was founded by brave and fearless people, who faced adversity head-on, and I still remain hopeful that there are enough good and decent people, with that same American spirit to pull us through this.

Note: It’s 9:48 am, November 3, 2021 right now and I have been doing some editing on this blog post, because I wrote it last night and reading it this morning saw some small things I wanted to change and add.

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Part two on “like-minded” people

Before offering my opinion on why we should try to include as many people in our circle of support, especially family, friends and neighbors, rather than sit around planning who we’re going to shun in an emergency for failing to meet our prepper expectations, I want to clarify that when I suggested not getting worked up by viral videos & photos until you have more information, it wasn’t to suggest that all videos and photos are “fake news,” although many of them are dishonest partisan agitation propaganda (see examples like the Covington video or the Lincoln Project staging a fake white supremacists group at a Youngkin campaign event in VA a couple days ago), or they don’t provide enough information to help you make good decisions.

The shortage crisis is real and it’s projected to get much worse. There is a global economic crisis.

The global economy system is very complex and I don’t even have a clue as to all the factors creating this crisis, but our government officials report the problem is serious and projected to worsen, as do all sorts of legitimate experts – so, yes the shortage crisis is real. The problem with relying on some viral video or shortage information from even trusted family or friends who live across the country from you or who you talk to on social media is what they are experiencing may not be what’s going on in your local grocery stores And here’s where having more information is what we really need, before rushing out to the store based on “did you see all those photos and videos online of empty shelves?” or “I heard on social media, blah, blah, blah.” So far there are some items that there’s been a widespread shortage – for instance hay, lumber or canning lids for home canners, etc. but for general grocery items, the availability can vary at online retailers, stores around the country and even within your own local area.

It seems to me we’re all going to have to take a little more time to shop strategically, if we’re going to locate the foods we want and try to find food items that keep us within our budgets, especially with inflation climbing. Staying calm as we all try to navigate through this crisis will help us not only weather this crisis, if you have kids it will help them adjust and adapt to these chaotic and uncertain times. You can not possibly assess and respond well to a protracted economic crisis, if you spend everyday getting angry at people who aren’t preparing as you think they should and running around every single minute in crisis mode. In fact, the more you react emotionally, the poorer your information analysis becomes. Plus, other emergencies can surely come along and we’ll have to deal with them too. Weather emergencies are pretty common, the COVID situation is still with us, there’s a lot of political turmoil, and even personal emergencies and the list goes on.

Showing a little grace and kindness to others will go way further than spending your time fuming about friends and family who aren’t preparing like you are, while still encouraging them to prepare.

Now to a few personal stories. In January of this year, my youngest daughter, son-in-law and infant grandson in TX experienced the grid failure during a winter storm. Naturally, I had been urging my daughter to prepare and when I warned about a power outage, she told me there was no need to worry about that, because the power lines are underground where she lives. I told her that didn’t mean the grid can’t go down.

So, when the power outage happened, naturally, I was upset that she had dismissed my concerns. I sent her a link from The Provident Prepper on how to survive a winter emergency and offered some ideas. In my mind, I was thinking, “Why didn’t she take my concerns seriously?” and of course, I was worried.

I was on the phone with one of my sisters in PA, who is retired from the Air Force and served in Afghanistan. I was telling her about this and she told me she had talked to my daughter too and she didn’t think my daughter ignored me and she told me she was sure that my daughter and her husband, both in their mid-30s, married over a decade, were going to do everything possible to keep the baby, their first child, safe.

So, I thought about it and I had to be honest with myself about my prepping – especially the stockpiling basics and trying to think about every what-if imaginable vs. my daughter and son-in-law’s emergency skills. On my side I like having lots of supplies, I did a lot of family support volunteer work when my husband was in the Army and I spent a few years as a Red Cross volunteer casework chair at an Army post we were at, providing emergency communications services and emergency assistance to soldiers and their families. I trained volunteer caseworkers, working alongside the paid Red Cross staff. So, okay, I had some experience, but here’s the thing, my daughter was in a Boy Scout Explorer group as a teenager, that met at a local fire company and she took state-certified fire-fighting training, to include extracting people from burning vehicles. Right out of high school she took an EMT course and she worked at a local hospital doing admissions at the ER. My son-in-law was in the Army when they got married. He served in Iraq as a combat medic.

The other truth is in a real SHTF situation they would both be much calmer in a crisis than I am, because I worry a lot. I’m better at something like handling Red Cross emergency communications or cooking food or baking cookies to help people rather than dealing with blood and guts stuff. They made a blanket tent, kept tabs on the temp. situation, in their house, talked to two friends in the area, who had gas heat still working, so they went to one of their friends. I had urged my daughter to decide before it got dark if they were going to go to one of their friends, to avoid traveling on icy roads in the dark and they did that.

I mentioned Desert Storm in a few posts and that’s because I learned a lot from that experience. The rumor mill among Army wives is something to behold, when the husbands are away on field training exercises, but having them actually deploy to war was surreal. That rumor mill, which you can get a smidgeon of a taste watching the social media drama, isn’t just benign, it can severely damage morale of troops, if they call their wives and start worrying. In the Army it’s part of commanders’ responsibilities to try to provide information to dispel rumors. Many of the wives who had a lot of problems were the ones who believed every rumor that circulated.

Before the ground war, a doctor from the Army hospital at Frankfurt called me to see if I could bring my youngest daughter, who was 3, down there for a non-emergency surgical procedure, that she was on a waiting list for. They were trying to utilize the empty operating rooms, while the hospital was preparing for potential casualties. I was having some car problems, so I asked the doctor if I could call back in a few hours and see if I could work out arrangements. The doctor wanted to do the procedure and keep my daughter overnight, so I had to find transportation to Frankfurt and someone to watch my other 3 kids overnight. A close friend told me she would pick-up my kids and keep them overnight and she lived in the housing area where the elementary school was located. She said she could take them to school and pick them up too.

A young wife of one of the soldiers in my husband’s company stopped by my house and she had a problem child young wife with her – one who was always worked up about something. I told them that I was trying to find transportation to Frankfurt and the one wife told me she could take me down to Frankfurt, but she had something going on and couldn’t pick me up the next day. The problem child wife immediately told me she could pick up my daughter and me in Frankfurt the next day. I asked her if she was sure and she told me she’d love to help. Just like that a problem wife solved my problem. I am grateful to this day.

So here’s another reality check about my stockpiling extra food and supplies, not to mention my mountain of craft and needlework supplies. I don’t have stuff stacked up like in one of those episodes of Hoarders, but invariably my closets and cupboards are full and I continually cart extra stuff and stick it in the garage. When my youngest daughter was a teenager, as the older kids left home, I turned the smallest bedroom into my craft/sewing room and the whole room was more like an overstuffed closet. My youngest daughter many times went in there and organized everything, labeled containers, and cleaned it so there were clear work surfaces while I was at work. She couldn’t stand my clutter. She did the same thing with my cupboards and pantry and she tossed canned goods past the best buy date, which I don’t do, then she organized everything. She’s also helped me clean out the garage two or three times when she’s been home visiting, so I am trying to do better at organizing.

One time, many years ago, I had an Indian meal moth situation in my kitchen and ordered moth traps from amazon. My daughter helped me clean out all of my cupboards. One really useful thing I learned watching a lot of YouTube videos was about proper food storage, which prompted me to start using the foodsaver my youngest daughter had given me years before and that I had tried once and put away. I use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers now too. No lie, yesterday she sent me a text message with info about McCormick spices in the can are at least 25 years old and she wrote, “You probably have some of these.” LOL. I don’t actually, I had read that a few years ago and found a few cans in the back of my spice cupboard and tossed them.

My youngest daughter is never going to stockpile groceries like I do – and I understand her point of view, even if I think it’s wiser to have a large stockpile of food, water and supplies. I tell my youngest daughter that she’s just like my mother, who ruthlessly purged unused stuff around our house… and lectured me that I was turning into a packrat, just like my grandmother. It skips generations in my family, I think.

And finally, here’s the thing, most emergencies you encounter are around your home and community, even most car accidents happen close to home. Your desired prepper friends, who meet your prepping standards, likely won’t be around you, but your family, friends and neighbors will. And that’s the number one reason that especially in an emergency you should do your best to work together. Several times I’ve seen flood news stories over the years from the Midwest, where there are people who lost their homes to a flood, working in a nearby town filling sandbags and trying to help other people save their homes. I remember a young man telling a reporter that there was nothing they could do about their home, so they decided to try to help people in the next town. That’s the kind of emergency response attitude, I think would serve us better than all this fuming about people who aren’t prepping like we think they should. And of course, it’s good to continue to encourage people to prepare and try to provide accurate and helpful information too.

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A very good video on the basics of preparedness

I’m just going to start sharing videos and links that I think offer useful prepping information without writing a whole lot. Learning to be prepared is way more important right now, I believe, than at any time in my life. There are so many major serious events going on in America and the world – from extreme partisan divides here to global crises that could impact us. There are people in the prepper community with way more knowledge than me and many of them offer calm, practical information. In this video, Sensible Prepper and his guest offer a ton of basic prepping advice:

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Catastrophizing: My most ridiculous episode in my life

So what is catastrophizing, well here’s a definition from Psychology Today: “Catastrophizing is a cognitive distortion that prompts people to jump to the worst possible conclusion, usually with very limited information or objective reason to despair. When a situation is upsetting, but not necessarily catastrophic, they still feel like they are in the midst of a crisis.”

I know that with my worrying nature I can easily catastrophize and that’s why I had to catch myself with the pandemic crisis and now with the economic crisis, to pull myself back from listening to too much “doomsday” reactionary stuff. I think the worst spreaders of fear during the pandemic were (and still are) many of our own government health officials and many Dem politicians. As this economic crisis grows, so far, I think the biggest doomsday reactionaries are within the Prepper community and among some of the right-wing politicos. And yes, in both crises there legitimately are things to be concerned about, things to do to prepare and things to do to react in order to stay safe and “survive,” because in both of these crises, as in emergency situations generally, there are risks to our personal well-being. Everyone assesses risk differently and everyone has to find their own comfort level with how they react and respond, but catastrophizing isn’t a good coping strategy, especially in emergencies, because it leads to seriously impaired risk assessment and it can be paralyzing. For instance, becoming so fearful of COVID that you fear being around other people and wear a face mask inside your own car alone or at home or putting all your time, effort and money into turning your home into a bunker in preparation for some doomsday or SHTF event.

I’m going to share this video that explains catastrophizing and then I’m going to share a true story of my most ridiculous episode of catastrophizing that actually went on for years, until my husband refused to let me keep talking myself into disaster (it took almost 3 long years). Here’s the video by a licensed therapist, Emma McAdam:

When I was 15 years old I was in the car with my 16 year-old sister, who had her driver’s license and we were on a back country road, when she told me she would teach me how to drive. Despite my hesitation, she insisted, told me there was no traffic on that road and pulled over. She told me how easy it was. So, I pulled out and started slowly moving forward, but naturally a car came headed towards us and my sister yelled at me to pull over and stop. In my panic, I hit the gas instead of the brakes and we ended up in the field. The incident probably took a few seconds, no one was hurt, there was no damage to the car, but in my mind this incident created years of anxiety and a complete refusal to learn to drive. I was terrified of driving, believed I was too stupid to learn to drive and in my mind I was sure that if I was behind the wheel someone was going to get seriously hurt. My parents didn’t pressure me to drive and I had two older sisters who drove, plus my parents, so it didn’t matter if I drove or not.

My husband and I moved to Fort Bragg, NC in 1981 and being in the 82nd Airborne, he was away from home a lot, off on training exercises. Our oldest daughter was a baby and my husband told me I needed to learn to drive so that I could go to the store, doctor and do things when he was gone. He told me how much freedom it would give me to not have to rely on other people for transportation. He was absolutely right. I told him I can’t drive and that I tried once and it was a disaster.

He refused to accept that, so he convinced me to get a learner’s permit and he told me he would teach me how to drive. I didn’t believe I could learn to drive and I was convinced it would be a disaster. We put our daughter in her car seat in the backseat and she loved car rides, so on weekends we headed to the backroads of Fort Bragg for my driving lessons.

I panicked every time a car headed towards me and stopped dead in the road. This went on for months, but my husband refused to give up. He calmly told me I was doing better, with each little improvement and eventually he got me to the point where I would slow down to a snail’s crawl when a car headed towards me, but I didn’t stop and then we worked on maintaining my speed with oncoming traffic.

One time we were on those Fort Bragg backroads for my driving lesson and we encountered a scene from hell – we entered a darned war zone – Marines were visiting and engaged in a field training exercise. A Black Hawk helicopter descended from the sky and landed on the road up ahead of me. I was feeling a lot of panic and I asked my husband the dumbest question ever uttered. I asked him who had the right of way. He gave me this look of complete confoundment and said, “Who do you think?” I got what he meant – our Subaru vs. a Black Hawk helicopter. I tried to explain that I hadn’t read what to do if a helicopter lands on the road in the driver’s manual, but that just made my husband laugh hysterically. I never lived down that moment, because every so often over the years my husband would out of the blue smile at me and say, “Who has the right of way?”

My learner’s permit was good for 18 months, I think, but when it was close to expiring, I insisted I wasn’t ready to take the driver’s test, so I got a second learner’s permit. On and on I insisted I wasn’t ready for the driver’s test. I was driving everywhere with having a friend or my husband in the car, but I was convinced I’d be a disaster with the driving test.

One day my husband unexpectedly came home from work in the morning and told me to get our daughter’s clothes changed and we were going somewhere. He wouldn’t tell me where and said it was a surprise. When he pulled up in front of the driver’s testing place, I started telling my husband that I wasn’t ready and that I hadn’t looked at the driver’s manual in a long time. Finally he looked at me and calmly said, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” I started to feel really ridiculous, because the worst thing was that I would fail my driver’s test. He told me that if that happened we would go practice some more and try again. I told him I was sure I would fail, but I went in and took the test – and I passed it. He told me afterwards that I couldn’t get a third learner’s permit without taking a driver’s test first and that’s why he pressured me like that to take the driver’s test.

After that experience, I started being aware of my own tendency to worry too much and borrow way too much trouble, with pondering all the “what ifs.” Spending decades around the Army and being around my husband’s can-do attitude helped me learn to become better at “sucking it up and driving on,” as soldiers say.

There are legitimately disturbing things going on in the world right now. The pandemic impacted almost everyone in the world, as will the economic crisis that we’re being warned is fast approaching. Prepping some basic food, water and supplies and planning for common weather emergencies that impact your area is sensible, as is preparing for power outages. Learning more about emergency preparedness for other emergencies makes sense too. Few of us ever thought about preparing for a pandemic, so that was a curveball for most of us. The Provident Prepper, a prepper channel I really like on YouTube, did a pandemic prep video in 2019, but they present information in a calm, reasonable, and approachable way – no hysteria. Now we’re being told we’re headed towards a serious economic crisis. Running around trying to buy everything imaginable to prepare for America collapsing or doomsday won’t help you effectively prepare or cope with a serious economic crisis (or doomsday). It’s just going to turn you into a basket case and lead you to spend money that you probably can’t afford. It can lead to piles of excess “stuff” that you haven’t even figured out how to organize and store (or use). Most of all it’s likely going to lead to more panic buying and more catastrophizing.

Even the best preppers in the world or the best strategic planners don’t have a crystal ball, so when an emergency hits they have to deal with what they have and try to do the best with what they’ve got.

No one can be prepared for every possible emergency. I think it makes more sense to slow down, take a deep breath and make a list rather than rushing out to buy food and supplies reacting to social media rumors, hysteria or empty store shelf photos and videos. I still have pandemic supplies I’ll likely never use, so I’m now thinking about basic food and supplies – stuff I know I’ll use. Most of us have to prioritize when it comes to prepping, because only the super-rich can afford their own island oasis or isolated retreat to jet off to in a serious crisis. We can all learn to find more ways to use what we have, waste less, and reuse and repurpose things. It is perfectly sensible to have extra food, water and basic emergency supplies on hand, but running from store to store worrying about America collapsing or doomsday won’t help you make wise spending decisions. We’re still going to have to pay our bills next month and need money set aside for emergencies next month and the month after that too.

Breathe.

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Don’t Join The Crazy

I’m going to start off this blog post with a Dave Ramsey video clip from October 13, 2021 and then I’m going give my assessment of the non-stop social media craziness and finally talk about my personal experiences and a few tips that I think might help you be better prepared to deal with whatever crisis is up ahead. Not a single one of them involves stockpiling supplies, turning your home into an armed fortress, looking at fellow Americans with opposing political views as your enemy, or giving up on the United States of America. Here’s the Dave Ramsey video:

A few weeks ago, I decided to read the George Orwell dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, which created a fictional totalitarian superstate, Oceania, that encompasses what was previously western civilization. The rest of the world in this novel is composed of two other totalitarian superstates, Eastasia and Eurasia, which might or might not actually even exist, because all the people of Oceania know is what information the Party provides to them. In this story, Oceania came about after nuclear war, an anti-Capitalist revolution, and mass starvation, but who actually makes up the Party or how the Party actually operates is never explained. People live in constant fear and anxiety worrying about social conformity, because there is no rule of law, only people disappearing after being apprehended by authorities. Oceania operates as a massive surveillance state.

I hated this novel when I read it when I was young and I hated it after reading it a few weeks ago, but it is brilliant at portraying the evils of totalitarian states, complete loss of individual rights, and how horrible living life in constant fear of the government would be. Yes, there are lots of comparisons I could easily make to the information control in Oceania and our American spin information war, but Orwell comparisons aren’t really going to help us figure out a way forward for America. In Oceania – there is no hope left for individual liberty. In America, I believe there’s still much to be hopeful about and to be thankful for, even now.

There’s been a lot of things that have developed in America’s culture war, politics and our American politcal/media spin information war that have worried me since this form of “spin war” began in the 1990s. All of the dishonest liberal media word games didn’t just start since Trump. They’ve been going on since the 1990s and for years I’ve felt like a lone voice on the internet writing about how this corrupt Dem spin information war works, but since Trump, the spin war went so off the rails, that plenty of right-wing pundits and politicians now catch the dishonest spin word games quickly, but the liberal media, liberal activists and Dem politicians never admit they’re dishonestly portraying events, so we ended up with liberal news media’s surreal reporting last year on rioters burning down a police station in Minneapolis as “mostly peaceful protesters.”

Trump posed the first real threat to the Dem’s spin information war, by engaging in the same corrupt spin info war as the Dems. Unfortunately, Trump and a lot of right-wing pundits & right-wing media now spin as dishonestly as the left’s spin war garbage. And then there’s the internet where on social media anyone, from politicians, news reporters, hostile foreign operatives, American activists and ordinary Americans can post videos and photos on social media that can go viral in minutes and drive millions of people into mass panic and anxiety.

Granted, there’s a lot to be concerned about with the COVID craziness and now more economic craziness beginning to impact, but here’s the thing I learned decades ago is that analyzing photos and video is challenging and often hard to verify, as I read a lot about intelligence analysis. With modern technology, there have been advances with deep fake technology and even some amateurs can do some pretty amazing photoshop work. I have no training in intelligence analysis whatsoever, just an interest in it, so this information on the difficulties analyzing photos and videos stuck with me as the online “viral” video phenomenon grew.

With the BLM activism, finding videos (often selectively edited) that can be sensationalized to generate massive anger at the police has become a common feature, but BLM isn’t the only group to try to generate media firestorms and there are groups and activists on the right doing this too. Often videos that create national firestorms or “national conversations” that the media talking heads blather on about are posted online by ordinary people. Here’s the thing – we rarely are given much information about who took the photo or video, when and where it was taken, whether it was edited and if how the narrative attached to the video is accurate. I’ve been telling my kids for years – don’t react to photos or videos that have gone viral – just wait until more information comes out. And this advice now extends to all news reporting – right or left.

During Trump’s presidency there were so many inaccurate and downright dishonest news stories ramped up by the liberal media that I started trying very hard to wait a day or two to see how much of the story was a lie. Often all of the story was a lie, like the Melania Rose Garden renovation hoopla, where liberal media went nuts spouting insane stuff like it was an “authoritarian design.” On Twitter some liberal hysteric went berserk tweeting that the new garden design was racist and had mostly white roses. The truth was liberal media had reported on the Rose Garden renovation plans before it happened, they reported Melania put together a team of experts, including experts on the history of the Rose Garden and she wanted a design that was more like the Jackie Kennedy Rose Garden and all those white roses, were JFK roses. That’s the kind of insanity that can create these constant media firestorms.

Lately, I’ve seen empty store shelf videos being hyped constantly and while I don’t doubt lots of stores in America are having shortage problems, but some of these videos being spun up are from last year during the COVID lockdown and I saw one a few days ago on Twitter that was someone hysterical about the shortages in America, but the photo was from Great Britain looking at the shelf labels. The news media, politicians, activists and even many online “influencers” make money creating and selling agitation propaganda or clickbait. Getting people riled is the content that garners clicks and viewers. There’s no reason you have to react to agitation propaganda or clickbait- it’s a choice.

I mostly use a nearby little Walmart Neighborhood Market store and since the COVID craziness last year, there have been some skimpy shelves, occasional things they are out of, including a particular soup, which I have to buy at my local Walmart Supercenter, but after the initial toilet paper shortage, it’s been pretty well stocked. I haven’t had to in any appreciable way change the meals I prepare, the snacks I buy or gone without anything. Of course, the supply situation might get way worse and large scale panic buying assuredly will exacerbate the problem.

Yes, I expect there will be more shortages, and heating costs and gas prices are projected to rise dramatically too, but I am hopeful that with some American can-do gumption, some of the most dire outcomes can be avoided. I saw Governor Ron DeSantis suggesting rerouting some of the backed up ships to FL ports to alleviate some of the backlog. These kinds of ideas are what I expect from American leaders – we aren’t Venezuela and if we all pull together, I am sure we can get through this economic crisis without our country falling apart. It will take Republicans, Democrats and ordinary Americans to stay calm and work together though.

All I’m saying is stop getting worked up by all of this constant social media and news media incitement and a very alarming, unchecked online rumor mill, that is fueled in large part by dedicated partisan spin information warriors and people with an agenda every single day. The Twitter politics rumor mill seems to be fueled mostly by actual news journalists, politicians and cadre of partisan political operatives, who hang out on Twitter and rush to retweet “news” and spin it up without verifying it. These are the folks driving the American news media…

Last year when the BLM protest/rioting craziness occurred, the level of dishonest lying by Dems and the liberal media jarred me. The insanity of talking about “defund the police,” as if it was a rational policy debate, left me deeply disturbed. It was plain nuts!

This year, though, on the right, there are pundits floating the idea of a National Divorce, balkanizing America, which would leave us totally unable to defend our country and create total chaos and pandemonium. These people, I think despise the far-left, don’t have any solutions to fix what’s broken in America, so they are selling National Divorce as a means for like-minded Americans to “save themselves.” National Divorce is a misguided suicide pact – people who gave up on defending and protecting the Constitution and the United States of America.

Rich Lowry, at National Review, responded to the National Divorce idea this way:

“There is no doubt the country is deeply riven along political, cultural, and religious lines. Yet a national divorce has nothing to recommend it.’

“The practical obstacles are insuperable, and the likely effects would be very unwelcome to its proponents. If an insufficient patriotism is one of the ills of contemporary America, then a national divorce would prescribe arsenic as a cure. It would burn down America to save America, or at least those parts of it considered salvageable.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/10/national-divorce-is-a-poisonously-stupid-idea/

The crazy people on the left who want “Unvaccinated” Americans to be banished from polite society are the same as the crazy people on the right who are running around trying to figure out how to hide all their food in their homes and debating which “undesirable people” they aren’t going to allow to be part of their “tribe” when SHTF, because they didn’t prep or they don’t hold the same political views. The only way we can all get through a major crisis is by pulling together as family, friends and communities.

If you get a bunker attitude, then you might survive, but you’ve surrendered to mass panic and fear and in the process thrown away all of the things that really matter. Kindness, compassion, generosity and being a good neighbor matter – in good times and especially in bad.

When my husband deployed to Desert Storm, we were living in Germany. Three of our kids were in elementary school and the youngest was still at home. The U.S. military and German authorities ramped up security massively, due to increased concerns about terrorism. The increased security measures in and of themselves created some increased anxiety among some young Army wives and that was added to all the fear and anxiety of our husbands being deployed to war.

The elementary school my kids attended was in a US housing area, but it wasn’t the one where we lived, so my kids rode a bus to school. There were two bomb threats at their elementary school and pandemonium broke loose. Mothers in that housing area rushed to grab their kids and teachers had a hard time keeping track of their students. My kids came home on the school bus that day and told me all about the hysterical moms grabbing their kids. By the time Desert Storm happened, my husband was a first sergeant of an infantry company and he had deployed to Grenada in 1983, when I was pregnant with our second child. We had moved several times to different Army posts and over the years, both of us had gotten used to a lot of packing up and setting down roots in new places.

Some wives were so scared they didn’t want to let their kids return to school. Another time there was a bomb threat at a Post Exchange store (PX) at a another US military installation, or at least I think there was a bomb threat. I remember some wives calling me and telling me that a bomb exploded at that PX. I called a friend, another Army wife, who worked in that area, and she told me everything was fine. That’s an example of how rumors can incite a whole lot of unnecessary panic and fear. Thankfully this was before the internet and cell phones.

Nowadays we’ve got this dynamic playing out constantly on social media with people sharing and retweeting loads of hysterical warnings and “news.” Stay calm, wait for some verification, and most of all, unless authorities in your area have put out official warnings or directions, just sign off online and go about your daily life.

One of the things we always did when we moved was unpack our household goods quickly and get our house set up and running in our normal routine. I cooked dinner almost every night, I taught my kids to set the table and we all sat at the table and ate together. We continued other family activities as normally as possible throughout military moves and even during Desert Storm. Lots of Army families do the same exact thing, heck I learned a lot about how to function better around the Army from other soldiers and Army wives. My husband was very calm in emergencies and his calm helped me stay calm, because I am a worrier. Try to keep daily life as normal as possible. Some wives didn’t do that even during field training exercises, let alone their husband going to war. They invariably had lots of problems. They did not have the experience and/or skills to function living in new Army locations and far away from home and most of all they were the ones who got worked up about every rumor that circulated. Everywhere I lived around the Army, I always met many nice people and had other Army wives offer help and advice. I tried to help other Army wives too.

Keeping your daily life as normal as possible, especially in crazy times, will allow you to function better, stay calmer and keep everyone around you more confident. If you’re running around in panic putting more effort into preparing for every possible SHTF event imaginable or falling apart over store shortages now, you aren’t going to fare well in a SHTF event. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to be a prepper, but it’s not good for your mental health to live in a constant state of, “Omg, the sky is falling!”

Take time to laugh each day, take time to keep to as normal a daily life as possible. If you have kids, your kids are looking to you as an example of how to react to any crisis and while it’s important to be honest with kids, it’s also important to not let your fears and anxiety brush off onto your kids. Don’t create unnecessary fear or anxiety in your home. There’s no reason to do crazy crap inside your home – whether it was the COVID fear-based craziness of people going to extremes wearing masks inside their own homes/extreme disinfecting everything to now preppers talking about hiding food in their homes and running around turning their homes into bunkers. Yes, home security and personal defense matter every day, but keeping your home functioning as normally as possible will help you and your family function better through any crisis. During the Great Depression my grandmother set the table every day for meals, she cooked whatever she had to keep her family going. My mother picked potatoes and vegetables for a larger farm as a young child and handed the money to her parents, as did her sister and brothers, because everyone in their family worked together to survive.

Soldiers are great at turning anywhere they’re at into ‘home” and most have little things they do or snacks and personal items they take with them for training and to war. Most also develop a very keen appreciation for dark humor, because they often face some awful situations and being able to laugh is a huge stress-reliever.

Learning to adjust and adapt without getting all worked up constantly will help you feel more positive and also more hopeful. That doesn’t mean you need to pretend things aren’t bad or pretend there aren’t very troubling things happening, it just means you focus on the things you can control in your life. For the life of me I can’t understand why so many right-wing preppers are so invested in this prepping idea of turning their homes into a bunker and figuring out who in their family, circle of friends, and community they’re going to help and who they’re going to cut off, when right-wing folks were mocking left-wing folks who were acting like this about Trump-supporters and then the dreaded “Unvaccinated.” There’s no reason to add to the crazy.

Calm down, smile more, find some simple joys in life.

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Some common sense opinions

On my blog I’ve written loads about politics and the culture war garbage, but one thing it’s important to remember is that all across America are loads of good people trying to make sense of all of the craziness of the past year and half too. I’m going to post a few YouTube channels with ordinary people who offer some honest, practical takes on preparedness that aren’t focused on fear or buy, buy, buy. Staying calm and positive really matter in an emergency and truthfully, the economic situation, according to even Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, inflation is expected to get worse over the next several months and the Biden administration’s Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, says the shipping chain issues in America could last well into 2022.

First up here’s Dawn, at Centsible Living with Money Mom. Heck, I’m right there with Dawn on having made plenty of bad money decisions in my 61 years and all I could do is try not to repeat them and learn from them. I also worry a lot by nature, so listening to a lot of “the sky is falling” warnings doesn’t help me make good decisions.

Next is Emmy, another nice lady whose YouTube channel, Frugal Money Saver, focuses on frugal living and finding joy in simple things in life. Emmy is always positive and upbeat, plus she offers a whole lot of common sense advice:

Here’s Granny, at Mornings with Granny, with an important message on being thankful. Granny is right, even with all of our problems, I’d rather be living here in America than anywhere else:

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More on preparedness


In my last post, I’m hoping it didn’t come across as trivializing emergency preparedness, because that wasn’t my intention at all. What I was expressing was my evolving attitude about my own emergency preparedness, especially stocking up on food, as news reports keep predicting increasing shortages and supply problems across America. I have continued to stock up my pantry more than I did pre-pandemic, although I always had a good bit of extra food on hand. Last year during the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020, I decided to work toward organizing and expanding my food pantry effort. Having at least a 3-6 month supply of food on hand was my goal. I’m not sure if I’m precisely there, but I’m sure I could last a long while on what I’ve stored, as long as we weren’t without a water supply for months and we had electricity to keep my fridge and freezers running, because I don’t have a generator or 6 months of water stored. Those are two big “ifs.”

I enjoy watching YouTube channels, but these online communities are composed of ordinary people setting up channels, to become “influencers.” Most have monetized their channel and all across YouTube loads of channels use clickbait titles. Sifting through all of this information has been an ongoing challenge to me, because I like to verify information, especially information that purports to be news. My last post was an update as to where I’m at with my own prepping and my personal opinions.

My largest mental hurdles remain doing due diligence to not being wasteful, while prepping on an ongoing basis, and staying committed to organizing and rotating food on a regular basis. Keeping my pantry organized doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’ve got to make a real effort to work on that consistently.

My family has affectionately called me a hoarder, my entire life. My mother used to tell me I am just like her mother, who raised her family during the Great Depression and was dirt poor. I have always taken it as a compliment to be told I was just like my grandmother, who was a survivor. Despite living in poverty, she emphasized, not only stocking up, but she loved fine china and set her table properly for meals always. During the Great Depression my grandmother collected a complete set of Spode’s blue willow china, piece by piece, that was part of some detergent promotion. She was also big on reusing and repurposing items. And of course she never passed up “great deals” at the five and dime store. She cooked wonderful meals on a wood cook stove her entire life. My grandmother also liked to look nice and particularly loved wearing stylish hats. I’ll plead guilty to “hoarding” craft and needlework supplies, because I know I’ve got enough to last me 5 lifetimes, even if I diligently sewed and crafted 8 hours a day, every day, for the rest of my life and I’ve got a really hard time parting with books.

In many YouTube communities “haul videos” are popular and the prepper community is no different in that respect. Watching what other preppers are stocking up on or saying are must-haves can “influence” your shopping habits was my point. I know it influenced mine when I first started prepping in a more committed way, especially when it was YouTube channels with a large number of subscribers.

Americans love to buy, buy, buy – it’s in our DNA, I think. A lot of pricey items being promoted in online prepper communities can become “must haves” quickly, in your mind. For instance buying expensive freeze-dried emergency foods or buying an expensive freeze-dryer have been common items I’ve noticed in many prepper videos in the past year. There’s nothing wrong with either, but if you’re on a tight budget, it’s probably wiser to spend your prepping dollars on less expensive basic pantry items that you use regularly. Whatever you do, don’t go into debt with your prepping, because having some money tucked aside for emergencies is really important and just common sense.

The real problem in any emergency situation, but especially a protracted emergency situation, won’t be preppers, even the most extreme preppers. It will be the millions of people who have no money saved and made no effort to have some extra necessities on hand:

“More than half, 51%, of Americans have less than three months’ worth of emergency savings, according to a recent survey from personal finance website Bankrate. The survey includes over 1,000 responses from telephone interviews conducted by SSRS Omnibus between June 22-27, 2021.”

“For 2021, 25% of survey respondents indicate having no emergency savings at all, up from 21% who said they didn’t have any in 2020. Another 26% say they have some emergency savings, but not enough to cover expenses for three months.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/28/51percent-of-americans-have-less-than-3-months-worth-of-emergency-savings.html

Decades ago I read an article in a magazine about the importance of emergency savings and I tried to teach my kids this too. Back then the article advised having at least $500 put aside for everyday “emergencies” and that would turn those “emergencies” into just minor inconveniences. Few people are born thrifty, resourceful and good at managing money. Most people, myself included, have made loads of really stupid mistakes with money, but we can all learn and try to do better. Nowadays $500 isn’t really enough for lots of those everyday emergencies, but the principle is the same – having some emergency savings can bring a lot of peace of mind to your daily life.

Many years ago I bought a book, Financial Peace, at a yard sale that changed how I viewed personal finances. Dave Ramsey was the author of that book and while he’s become a lightening rod, his approach of “putting common sense into your dollars and cents” works. It can transform living in panic about how to pay all of your bills to truly living a life where you learn some self-discipline with handling your personal finances. Emergency preparedness starts with learning to be more prepared and putting common sense into your daily preparedness – that’s what I worry about with so much of the SHTF “emergency preparedness” advice.

Ramsey developed a system of baby steps to get control of your personal finances that leads to building personal wealth and being financially prepared for emergencies and retirement. I believe personal emergency preparedness makes more sense following baby steps too – like don’t spend a fortune on preparing for doomsday events with lots of pricey gear unless you have your personal finances in order, have emergency savings and you’ve got basic food and everyday supplies in order.

I know people who think “prepping” is ridiculous (some in my own family) and almost invariably these same people have no money saved, no extra food or necessities on hand and worst of all it seems these are the same people who lack even the most basic skill sets to manage in everyday life, let alone an emergency.

Since I started this blog in 2012, I’ve been writing about my belief in learning to be more self-reliant.

When I was a young Army wife (early 1980s), far from home, my husband was away a lot – on field training exercises. I found myself living in communities where I didn’t know hardly anyone when we first arrived at a new Army post and I was taking care of babies, then small children by myself. I didn’t like asking anyone for help, especially neighbors I barely knew, so I started “prepping” from the beginning of our marriage and I took a lot of interest in reading my cookbooks (pre-internet era) and learning what common items could be substitutions for other items in recipes, to avoid a lot of extra trips to the grocery store. We were on a much tighter budget back then. Small bits of knowledge and even acquiring a few basic skill sets can turn fear and anxiety into some self-confidence and more importantly teach you to be a bit more self-reliant. The same goes with managing in emergencies.

Here’s the tricky part for many people – it’s the other huge survival mechanism – strong communities, where neighbors pull together in hard times. Over the years of my husband’s military career, I became a believer in trying to be part of the Army family and getting involved in volunteer activities and helping Army families. Most people these days, myself included, don’t even know most of their neighbors or they have little in common with them. That’s why so many people have turned to online communities to find that kind of community feeling with like-minded people.

I do worry a lot about the state of our country, all the partisan rancor and the new level of craziness since the pandemic started, so I’ve tried to slow down and think more about my ongoing prepping efforts. That was my point – think for yourself and don’t let fears or online hyped hot issues in these crazy times guide your spending or your heart.

I’ve seen discussions in the YouTube prepper community discussing how to deal with folks who didn’t prepare in an emergency asking for food and help or how to hide your food preps inside your home. I’m not turning my home into an armed fortress, but home security at any time is a legitimate concern, as is self-defense. All I’m saying is focus more on building up your everyday food pantry and practical food storage first. My religious and moral beliefs demand that I try to help my neighbors, whether they prepared or not, whether they were 99.9% responsible for their predicament, and regardless of their politics. That issue didn’t even require any discussion for me.

My priorities have always been take care of my own family first, but don’t turn away neighbors or friends in need. I am saying this, because so much of American political chatter these days is about Red vs. Blue/Republicans vs. Democrats and for me there is only One America. I’ll write about the “national divorce” idea, that’s started circulating among some of the Trump right, in the near future. I swore an oath to defend The Constitution when I joined the Army in 1979 and I don’t want to hear any bullshit about a “national divorce” or giving up on the United States of America – EVER!

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More inflation and shortage bad news

Whenever you try to think life will return to the normal of pre-Covid times, there seems to be more bad news just around the corner. In recent weeks the news keeps blaring warnings about impending inflation and shortages due to major shipping issues, especially bottlenecks at U.S. ports. Predictions of shortages of everything from food, to paper goods abound and even the White House acknowledged the shipping issues and warned that Americans might not be able to get the items they want for Christmas.

Along with the ongoing shipping issues, this past weekend I saw several prepper channels on YouTube blaring warnings about food shortages and hyping a letter, supposedly from Auguson Farms, a producer of freeze-dried foods designed for long-term food storage, which many preppers and outdoorsmen purchase. The letter stated Auguson Farms was temporarily shutting down due to food shortages in their supply chain. I googled a bit, but didn’t find an official statement from Auguson Farms. However, the online prepper community panic-inducing chain reaction was pretty typical from what I’ve seen in YouTube’s prepper community, where the doom and gloom prognostications flourish and feed an online prepper rumor mill.

Just because so and so at one YouTube channel “reports” something, doesn’t mean it’s verified information or accurate, so I googled and didn’t come up with anything to verify the information. I did notice Auguson Farms has temporarily shut off taking orders on their website, citing a high-volume of orders. The letter some YouTube prepper channels were citing might be an actual letter from Auguson Farms, but I’m not sure who received these letters. And that’s the thing with so much of social media “news,” it lacks verification and huge gaps in details and often the source of the information is vague. Unfortunately, this lack of verification now applies to many actual news organizations news too , not just random social media influencers. It’s getting very hard to verify information.

I also saw a comment on social media where someone was wishing there was some list of items that are expected to become in short supply, so she could figure out what items to hoard. That got me thinking about my own prepping experiences again. My prepping mind-set keeps evolving. I admit to falling prey to a lot of fear when the pandemic, great toilet paper shortage of 2020, then the BLM pandemonium hit.

The 2020 shortages were due, not only to shipping/supply issues, but also to massive panic-buying. The 2020 shortages prodded me to become a pretty dedicated prepper in regards to stocking up on food and household items. I always had a lot of food stored, because that’s just how I am, but I had no focused prepping effort or organization.

Everyone’s home is different, from budget to diet to the household items they use, but how most people, myself included, react to any news about shortages seems pretty predictable – a whole lot of panic-buying and that goes for a lot of online preppers too. Many of the popular preppers on YouTube claim their being prepared allows them to avoid panic-buying, but most of them overreact to any rumor of a shortage, by rushing out to stock up more (i.e. panic-buying). Along with a lot of useful and practical information, the online prepper community spreads a lot of fear about impending doom and gloom scenarios, many spread a lot of rumors and many are hardcore panic-buyers, because no level of food and emergency supplies ever seems to be enough for them and they fixate on every morsel of bad news, from someone posting about some random shortage in their local grocery store to overexaggerated fears about the system falling apart and SHTF events

I’m a lifelong conservative, but here’s a home truth about the political right in America – many of them fall for a lot of demagogues selling doomsday claptrap (see the most popular right-wing pundits) and fear of the Left, 2nd Amendment hysteria, and since Trump came along, too many on the right overreact as much as the looney fringe on the Left. The right-wing politics does intrude into the online prepper community too. Many in the YouTube prepper community are part of the Trump-right politically, where a whole lot of doomsday/anti-government conspiracy theories flourish. I’m not trying to pick on Trump supporters, but it seems a lot of that right-wing partisan politics plays into much of the trendy online prepper topics. I skip prepper channels where the people go on and on about SHTF, civil war/guns & ammo stockpiling, and doomsday scenario stuff, because I don’t believe in living my life fixated on doomsday events and find it more constructive to try to live life with a hopeful heart.

I’m a worrying kind of person, so thinking about the “what ifs” comes naturally to me too, but after going through this pandemic and all the craziness everywhere, from politics to civil unrest, new reports of this current news warning of impending shortages didn’t get me worked up or worrying. I can’t change the international shipping problems, but I can continue to try to plan ahead a bit more for my own basic needs.

Preparedness is individual and some people can manage very well on very little, while other people can be surrounded with all sorts of stuff and be completely helpless. I’ve known people who can’t even open a can of soup and heat it, so truly in a real emergency or SHTF scenario, having acquired skill sets probably matters more than acquiring a massive stockpile of supplies. Along with all the focus on buying things to be prepared, saving up some money to have an emergency fund should be a higher priority than stockpiling piles of SHTF supplies. There’s got to be a balance between buying stuff with your prepping efforts and common sense putting money aside for emergencies, which in everyday life usually range from expensive car repairs to something in your home breaks and needs to be replaced rather than a doomsday event or major weather emergency.

Finding your own comfort level matters. I can guarantee you that some hardcore preppers will never have enough food or supplies stored up that would allow them to relax. Planning for SHTF events is their life. It’s almost a perpetual state of paranoia and it’s contagious if you start believing all of the dire stuff. Knowing how easily I worry made me stop and reassess a lot as I’ve worked out a preparedness level that fits my budget and my lifestyle. Here’s the other big thing – a lot of food and supplies stockpiled can lead to a whole lot of waste. Wasting less matters to me and is as much of a priority as stocking up.

One thing I would not do again is rely on emergency preparedness food lists other people create, where they tell you how much of the various food items you should stockpile, other than glancing over it and seeing if there are items on it that I do use and haven’t stocked up on yet. With master lists that are supposed to be a one-size fits all food storage plan, it sets a lot of unrealistic expectations, plus can lead to wasting a lot of money on food items you’re not likely to use in your everyday meal preparations. Here’s how I look at it, if you don’t have a supply of everyday foods to last you for several months, it makes no sense to spend a lot of money or worry about building an extended food storage pantry (stuff that lasts 20-30 years).

What’s working for me is I’ve turned “prepping” into a more relaxed “shopping ahead” attitude rather than based on reacting to alarming news stories or the alarmist prepper social media rumor mill. I feel more in control of my preparedness now, by calmly looking through my pantry and around my house, gauging how long my current supplies will last and building my shopping list from that, rather than reacting to more doom and gloom news or social media hysteria.

I’m done with fear-induced buying.

With the current bad news, I’ve already got most of the basic food items for holiday meals this year, because I’ve been “shopping ahead” the past year and will continue to stock up, but I’m not going to run from store to store in a panic. I have built up my food storage to a level I’m comfortable with and I will continue to shop ahead. Changing my mind-set from preparing for a SHTF/emergecny event to a more sustainable “shopping ahead” mind-set has allowed me to relax more, think more carefully about what items I am buying and most of all to think more in terms of buying with the meals I regularly cook or items for new recipes in mind rather than worrying about some “expert’s” prepper list. I have learned a lot from the online prepper community and enjoy many of the YouTube prepper channels, but I’ve become a bit more confident in thinking through my own preparedness planning and purchases, by gearing it towards my own life rather than based on what’s the latest hot topic in the online prepper community.

Impending shortages are very real news right now, but slowing down, catching your breath, organizing and inventorying your own pantry and household, then calmly making a shopping list based off of your own meal preferences and routine will allow you to maintain a more normal lifestyle than running around buying stuff based on fear constantly. And before you even start that shopping list, with inflation hitting seriously assessing your budget and finances should be step one.

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