Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

Monday, May 2, 2016

Life Updates

Not Dead, just distracted.

One of the things I am busy with is working on myself trying to get healthy. Think that some good long term personal growth is happening. Don't want to say anything now as that is a shot you can't take back. However suffice to say I am tacking a long term personal shortcoming.

Beyond that I am looking at how I want to go about making my back up rifle once the lower gets here. I am looking at the cheapest option (which I am comfortable with anyway) which is probably a barreled PSA upper with one of their premium FN made barrels vs a more mid to upper mid shelf option. The difference might be less than one would think.

Also I have been re watching Jericho on Netflix. Some interesting lessons there. Of course the primary goal was entertainment but it brings up some thought provoking stuff.

Bike rides and jiu jitsu as often as I can plus the usual boring Army PT.

What have you been up to lately?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Low Carb Week 2, Home Renovation and New Holster

During Low Carb week 2 I lost 2 pounds. Didn't bother to weigh myself last week (week 3) for reasons I can't recall. Overall this is going pretty well. The cravings and hunger type feelings are long past. Some folks say they feel a ton more energy. I have not experienced that but do feel a lot more even throughout the day. No carb crashes messing with me which is nice.

I have been killing it in the gym which is cool. Well I've been doing awesome on press and deadlift anyway; bench is iffy and squats are not so great. For whatever reason those lifts dropped off more during the move. I have refocused to deep, a** to the grass squats. Taking off a bit more weight was humbling but it feels good. John Mosby said something about stretching out muscles and tendons. Instead of hurting (knees, not muscles) the day after squats I feel just fine. Only 3 work out's into that but am liking it.

The only down sides of this diet are limited breakfast options, especially on the go, and cost. Our food budget has more than doubled which sucks. In that regard, as well as the limited options we probably will not do this over the long term. When the initial planned period is done I plan to reintroduce fruit and some carbs (oatmeal, wheat bread, a bit of brown rice, beans occasionally) if just for financial and food rotation reasons. Moving on.

The floor is in place and looks really good. We'd been ignoring the room because the carpet in it looked like a crime scene but now that room live up to it's high potential. Just got to do trim then it will be good to go. We'll paint the infamous door and the immediate needs/ strong wants will be done.

Got a new holster today. A Safariland 200 for the Smith and Wesson K Frame. It's definitely used and I need to order/ get a screw (2/3 mounting screws are in place so it's still solid but I am OCD like that) and give it a bit of TLC but for $15 it was a great deal.

On an unrelated note Archer Garret is donating all book proceeds (his cut not purchase price) to Orange Jeep Dad. Buy a book to help out or donate strait to Orange Jeep Dad.

Hope you all have a great Saturday. I'm going to watch last weeks episode of The Walking Dead (it's on after my bed time) then hit the rack.

Take care of each other.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Elections, Life and Family

The presidential election is over. I am almost entirely ambivalent about it. In many ways except party catch phrases the 'solutions' being offered were very comparable.

I considered doing some panic buying but things are pretty solid on most fronts. A few more magazines for the .22's will be ordered shortly. After that things will be pretty good here. Also we have other areas where that money would be better spent.

The last couple days have been pretty crazy here. We've got some medical stuff going on. I will probably say more down the road when things are clearer. Something can be nothing or it can be something so I'll be intentionally vague for a bit.

I have been talking with some of our advertisers and there is good stuff coming up. Expect lots of product reviews as well as give away's and contests. This stuff should be fun and interesting for everybody.

Right now I am cooking up some brownies for Wifey and Walker in the Sun Oven. Will post the results and an in progress review later today or tomorrow.

So that is what's going on here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blah, Life and Sickness

Well I have pneumonia. It wasn't a huge suprise as I have had a wickedly nasty cough for almost 3 weeks. It has been sort of a weird thing because aside from a wicked cough (with the caviate that I have done next to nothing physically straining since being sick) and being kind of physically and mentally tired all the time but overall I pretty decent. Turns out it is kind of an odd strain so it was hard to diagnose but eventually they figured it out. So now I am on some drugs to treat it and they seem to be working.

When I had double pneumonia back in Fall 2010 our medical folks were moderately concerned I was going to die. I was the sickest I have been in my entire life. I was barely coherant and weak as could be. Maybe I am somehow weak in the lungs or something. Who knows. Anyway.

As to the recent video and talk about 1911's and the comment on snubbies that seems to have gotten folks all bent out of shape. I have a post basically written in my head that will explain my opinions on a lot of background and conceptual stuff but just don't feel like writing it today. I am mentally just too tired to bother. My desire to argue is minimal and my desire to argue with people who aren't talking about actual facts or data is nonexistent.

I am coming to wonder if guns are a topic that cannot be talked about rationally. If I even mention that a gun is anything less than absolutely perfect folks get seriously bent out of shape. It sort of makes sense why gun rags write that every gun is just completely awesome. Then again it sort of makes sense that I think their reviews and articles are complete shite and I haven't bought a gun rag in years.

I may have called a good time to buy a couple days back but last night I finally bought PM's. Silver was at about $28.09 and Gold at about $1570. They had been slipping back up and it seemed like a good time. Who knows anyway. Tomorrow I am probably going to go bike shopping. Not sure I will get anything but I do want to see what is available here in the $300-400 price range.

For awhile I was listening to the news online at work. I listened to some Dave Ramsey too but I think I am good for that once a week or month at the most. I love his stuff but it is aweful repetetive. Over the last couple days I have stopped that and started listening to rock music instead. I read or at least skim the drudge every day and if I have time check out the BBC but music lets me drone out and be productive which is a good thing. Also the news has been making me mad lately and music gets me going so the decision is easy.

Anyway I hope you all have a good day and maybe I will put together something more on point tomorrow.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Reader Question: SHTF Hygiene and Clothes Washing

I have an idea for a blog article-or several- that I think you may be uniquely qualified to expound on. There are a vast majority of us that have never, or are unable to, serve in the military.
You're active duty military; what I and many others would like to know, is how you do your day to day maintenance while out in the field, away from all the comforts of home.
I think it would make a good read if you could tell us the necessities of our life if TSHTF and we are suddenly without water, electricity or heat. We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent? How do you clean yourself, and with what?
So please give this some thought and see if it is an idea you would be willing to tackle.
Iron Tom Flint
TOR here, I wrote a couple posts that give us a place to start. This post on field hygiene covers part of the topic pretty decently. Also this post on Dysentery, while a bit light hearted is worth checking out. Also here is one on primative laundry.  Now onto the specific questions.
Q: We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
A: Staying out of the field of fire is easy, if people are shooting at you or immenently going to shoot at you it is not the time to do laundry. Sorry if that was a bit short, from here forth I will try to answer the questions as I believe they are intended, not word for word.
For short term stuff I would use my field hygiene advice from above. Typically military operations are short enough in duration that laundry isn't a huge issue; though that is a relative term as I have worn a single uniform for a month without washing it. Another option is that things are so crazy that you have bigger stuff to worry about. Delaying washing is easier when weather is relatively cold. You would be pretty nasty after wearing the same clothes in the South or Middle East in the summer.
As to avoiding being discovered. If I was really worried about someone discovering me I wouldn't be doing laundry. I definitely wouldn't do laundry in some sort of escape and evasion situation, a hide or a patrol base.  That being said a really small fire made of dry wood (especially in the woods or down in some micro terrain) is pretty hard to see from beyond 50-100 meters. All you would really need is enough to heat up some water which doesn't take a bonfire.
However to make it easier lets say you are in a fairly quiet but non permissive enviornment. Maybe you and the spouse are trying to get somewhere on foot or using forest service roads and obviously don't want any attention. Maybe you are some sort of G and folks are sort of passively patroling your area, doing recon patrols to check out movement, signs of people like fires, etc. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. The point is that you aren't imminently worried about people trying to kill you but do want to keep a low profile.
One simple and old school option is to take a bar of soap and your clothes into a body of water and wash them. This has the benefit of washing your body. Obviously your situation would have to be reasonably secure and this is a lot more fun in 80 degree sunshine than 30 degree snow. I have seen socks washed in canteen cups, I suppose the same could be done with underoos. Also the good old bucket or a dedicated water jug (the military ones have pretty big mouths) works.
Q:How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
A: Often the answer is to stash the dirty stuff and wash in after the operation is over. Other times we scrounge up some big tubs or whatnot. I have seen organizations where leaders bought some old school type laundry stuff to fill urgent needs.
Q: If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent?
A: I have seen and used normal commercial detergent and plain old bar soap.
Q:How do you clean yourself, and with what?
A: Baby wipes are a great way to go. If heating up water is practical a washcloth and a bar of soap is nice and makes you feel a bit more human. As to how it is pretty much laid out here.
Anyway I hope that is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you remember one thing take care of your feet.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sometimes You're The Windshield, Sometimes You're The Bug

It has been a heck of a week and it is not done yet. No one specific terrible thing happened it was just one thing after another. Forgetting to do things and having them bite us in the behind then some bad luck and work being far more annoying than usual throughout. To top it off I got a cold and brought it home to Wifey so we both feel like trash. In case things weren't bad enough Walker is teething. I can't explain how much I am ready for tomorrrow to be over and for it to be the weekend.

Also I am working on a pretty long post and just didn't have the desire/ time/ energy to finish it today so you get this whining drivel instead.
Anyway I hope your week is going a lot better than mine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Quote of the Day

"People change when they become uncomfortable"

"If nothing changes, nothing changes"

-The lady giving a leaders class on substance abuse.

Lets talk about the first part. People change when they have an incentive to do so. Uncomfortable can mean a lot of things. Lets look at weight for a minute. A 19 year old girl in Florida might become uncomfortable when she had a little bit of "muffin top"that would make her look less good at the beach but a 50 year old man might have a 48 inch waist and a heart attack scare before he becomes uncomfortable. In the context of the class it might be getting in trouble for drinking or realizing that one is no longer able to control theirself.

As to the second point. This is one a lot of folks need to really think about. If you don't change anything then things will stay the same. If you were broke last year, unless you change something you will be broke this year. If you are fat and don't tighten up your diet and or increase energy output you will continue to be fat. Whatever is wrong or less than ideal in your life, if you don't change the things that shape or cause it the issue will linger.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Pay For All This Stuff

Survivalism and preparedness (it’s friendly, better spoken non camouflage wearing cousin) involve a lot of stuff. Even if you take a relatively middle of the road view you are talking about all kinds of gear, several firearms with lots of mags, ammo and spare parts, a bunch of stocked fuel and lots and lots of food. How do you pay for all this stuff?

Well the first and least socially acceptable solution is to have a real job that earns a decent living. It is not socially acceptable because Americans have this weird taboo about talking money. We have our middle class myth and are sticking to it. If you make the choice to get a job with an average or above average income you get some flexibility; more flexibility than say, being a part time employee at Walmart.

The next option is to live simply. Some of the most well prepared individuals I know earn average, or slightly below average incomes. However they do not buy new cars all the time or live in huge extravagant houses or always have new newest consumer electronics. They tend to shop sales and forgo a lot of consumer trappings. By living below their means they can afford things they could not otherwise.

Next comes prioritization. When something is important to you it is amazing how much more likely it is to happen. Pick up side work, go out and hustle (not illegal stuff but side work, deals, etc), scrimp and save. There are numerous times I have bought the next important item on my list with a wad of wrinkled fives and tens I saved over a period of months. I saved that cash by working more and doing without all sort of small things or substituting cheaper items (going to Jack in the Box instead of someplace nicer, etc).

Lastly be sure to take a long view. Like building physical fitness or financial health preparedness is a true multiyear effort. Unless you are truly wealthy and dedicated getting all of the “stuff” is going to take time.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Field Hygiene

Somebody asked about this in the comments section of a recent post. Let me start by saying that I am not a doctor or a gynecologist or a medic. Do not take what I say as legitimate medical advice and is just my observations and experiences of what has and has not worked well. As always consult your personal panel consisting of the family doctor, your lawyer, accountant, life coach, therapist and any applicable specialists (in this case a doc with a background in wilderness medicine seems appropriate) before doing anything.  If you think that the cost of such a panel would be ruinous than act like an adult, do your own research and take some personal responsibility before acting.

Let me define the scope of this post. I am going to talk about keeping healthy, clean and functional with limited access to modern facilities or hygiene supplies for periods of time between 24 hours and a month. Again don’t take this as the gospel; remember it is just one guys opinion.

To start I must say Americans have a fairly OCD approach to personal hygiene based heavily around almost limitless supplies of hot water and clean clothes. Also half the need for a shower is to wash off all the junk we cover ourselves with. Believe it or not people survived just fine for centuries without a hot shower (or 2) and clean clothes every day. In many parts of the world they still manage to survive without these luxuries which show that people have not biologically changed in recent years so it is in fact possible.
Let us go from head to toe and short periods to long periods.

Hair-For relatively short periods the easiest solution is to do nothing. Don’t put gel, hairspray or any other junk in it. Worst case it gets a bit greasy or something. Over longer periods (say beyond a week) I recommend men cut their hair very short and women cut it relatively short. Washing weekly is sufficient if you are short on water. Get it wet, shampoo, rinse.

Teeth-This one is the easiest as there is no change. Brush and floss your teeth regularly. If you are going to be out for a long time bring an extra roll of floss.

Shaving- I recommend not doing it unless you have good amounts of hot water. Men embrace your inner mountain man. Ladies, why you would try to shave anything in primitive conditions is completely beyond me.
The Army does this stupid thing where it expects soldiers to be clean shaven in the middle of nowhere in a dry camp. If I am ever in charge I will (at a minimum) institute a rule that if hot water is not made available to soldiers daily then shaving is not required. In any case if hot water is available shave as normal, a small mirror helps. Of hot water is not available I recommend electric razors (not rechargeable, the kind that take AAA or AA batteries) as the option is scraping half your face off dry shaving or using a little bit of cold water. I have a 20 dollar electric that has kept me in compliance to our stupid rule for years of field time.

Skin- If possible I like to clean my body daily even when a shower is not practical. As an added bonus doing this daily before bed helps keep your sleeping bag clean. This is especially important if you are in a hot/ humid environment or doing strenuous tasks. I am a big fan of baby wipes. You don’t need to use many of them and unless I am particularly funky 2 wipes works for my whole body. Order of precedence is face, upper torso, legs, armpits, crotch, butt. I should not have to explain to you why this is important. Baby wipes are super easy and cheap so you should get a lot of them.

If you are going to be out for awhile and or have access to at least some warm water then a washcloth and soap can be used to get the same effect.  Use the same order of precedence and don’t let the washcloth get funky. I recommend letting it hang to dry and washing it often. This is pretty much how people bathed for a long time so it works fine to keep you clean over the long run.

That brings us to the subject of soap. The fellow who asked about this topic in a comment mentioned unscented soap. There is a theory/ historic anecdote that goes like this, GI’s in ‘Nam would use unscented soap so the Vietcong couldn’t smell them in the jungle. The same idea pops up every now and again in our Army culture. However in the contemporary operating environment in Iraq and Afghanistan it is completely irrelevant for almost everybody. The reason is that everybody pretty much knows who we are. We are the Americans in the crazy uniforms with all the armor and the huge tan trucks. In Iraq the centers of gravity are the cities and you just can’t hide during a patrol. They don’t have to smell you as they can see you 6 blocks away because an MRAP is about 12 feet tall. In Afghanistan we do some more patrolling but there is almost always a mounted component due to long distances involved and sparsely distributed soldiers. Also the terrain is so open that you can see people from hundreds of meters off. So I would say to use whatever kind of soap you like.

The crotch-  I am going to talk about this area specifically because the crotch and inner thighs are where people tend to chafe, if they chafe. Typically chafing is an issue most often when you do a lot of walking in a hot and humid environment. You can get wicked friction burns and it is no fun at all, especially when you have to keep moving with them. Stay dry if at all possible. Some of the worst chafing I can remember was during a long road march in the spring at Benning when there was a thunderstorm. I would have been fine except my pants were completely soaked. At that point not a lot can be done.

Underwear is a factor as they cause friction. Tighty whities are probably the worst as they are right in that crotch/ inner thigh area where chafing is rife. Boxer briefs (like the spandex kind not the whitey tightey’s with legs kind) are better. The best option IMO is wearing no underwear. It decreases chafing due to less material in the area and letting things breathe better.  From the time I have spent in the field with women I have never heard one gripe about chaffing. I think that smaller legs, wider hips and different anatomy make it a non issue. (As for women and underwear in the field I am about clueless. I would guess that stringy little underwear is not the way to go but other than that can’t help you. Also as to specific to female field hygiene issues I know they exist but I just don’t know anything about that)

To prevent or manage chafing you can use some gold bond powder (a darn good thing to have) to keep things dry down there. Also I’ve heard of runners using Vaseline at friction points like thighs and nipples (that wasn’t meant to sound dirty but does). 

Feet- If you ignore everything else take care of your feet. Keep them in good shape or you are useless. Some folks like foot powder but I am not one of them. I find that it cakes onto your socks and decreases their ability to breathe while simultaneously shortening the amount of time you can wear them for. Keep toe nails reasonably short. Wearing good socks that are (as much as possible) dry is the best thing you can do for your feet. Also take off your socks and let your feet air out at night. 

Carry plenty of spare socks, they are about the only piece of clothing you really need to change semi regularly (every couple days or so, depending). Also (though of course you should do this with everything) be sure to put your socks into plastic bags to keep them dry.

Boots- This is not a place to pinch pennies. Buy quality boots that suit your purpose from  a good reputable manufacturer. Break them in by wearing them as you do everyday tasks and then for progressively longer walks and then hikes. Hardening your feet is done in the same manner. Start with short marches and then get progressively longer with heavier loads. This will also harden your legs and heart. Foot care and footwear could be a whole different post as it covers so much and is so important.

Clothes- Keep as clean as is practical. Keep some clean (a relative word) dry clothes to wear in the evening for down time and sleep. This will also let your day’s clothes air out overnight (if possible) and dry. Do the same thing with your socks.  If possible wash them when you can.

Sleep wear- If your operational situation allows letting your body breathe at night is good. I typically will sleep in shorts unless it is real cold.

Sleeping bags- Get a liner as it is far more practical to was it than the whole bag in the field.

In conclusion with a little bit of planning you can stay quite healthy in the field for a prolonged period of time. Using the techniques outlines above I have been just fine for upwards of a month in the woods on multiple occasions. Mostly it just requires getting used to not having modern conveniences.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Got Readiness?

Are you current on your shots? What about those third world ones most Americans don't get? What about smallpox? Just tell your doctor you are going to somplace warm in the third world ad they will give you all of them.

Do you have 180 days of all medications on hand? Modern medicine lets many people live or have decent quality of life through a variety of medications. If you need them and don't have them, well you get the picture. I know this one sucks because you will likely have to go out of pocket but depending on what you are taking it is very important.

If you wear glasses or contacts do you have two spare pair of glasses in (or pretty close to) your current perscription? You can get real cheap glasses online, maybe not the pair you want to wear every day but at least good for affordable backups. Here and here are some potential sources.

When was the last time your teeth were checked? Have you been putting off any work because it is unpleasant or expensive?

When was the last time you had a medical checkup?

Do you have any prolonged injuries you have been putting off dealing with for whatever reason?

Get this stuff taken care of BEFORE it is an issue because that issue could come at a real inconvenient time. Having your one pair of worn out glasses break during a hurricane would be bad. That dental issue you have been putting off flaring up when services are unavailable for a prolonged period would be very, very bad.

I don't know what is going to happen. Some folks I really respect see very dark and violent scenarios as possible. Other folks, probably more realistically see the economy continuing to get worse. That means that services, to include medical, optical and dental are going to become more expensive, potentially drop in quality and maybe even become temporarily unavailable. Even if these services are available you need cash and or insurance to pay for them.

Get ready!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear TOR:

You are obviously a very thoughtful, fiscally conservative, and intelligent young man. Those traits will do you well in the future.

I agree entirely with your observations and conclusions, but have an addition or two that might help your readers. DH and I have been around the block a few times over the years and have experienced various episodes of TEOTWAWeKI.

Many people don't realize that serious illness, auto accidents, deaths in the family, divorces, even something as joyous as the birth of a child, can indeed be TEOTWAYouKI. Life often makes 90-degree turns, some good, some bad, some really bad. Being able to make the mental adjustment to the new direction is often much more important than having a Glock or a stash of beans. The people who can adjust to new circumstances or a new, unforeseen, situation have always been called "survivors."

Not "survivalists." Survivors. IMO, it is more important to be a survivor than a survivalist.

To be a survivor requires being able to adapt. You don't have to be as creative as a MacGiver, for example, but you do have to be able to look at a problem, think through it rationally and cooly, and apply your experience and training to dealing with it. That implies that you have some experience and training to fall back on.

I'm not talking about a degree in Chemistry, or a certificate from Backwoods U. I'm talking about applying your past experience in just plain day-to-day living, or having external resources that you can go to. This is where "having friends in low places" is so important.

Those of you who live in rural or small town America already know what I'm talking about. Folks in the military do too. You have close personal contacts with people who have friends-of-a-friend or a cousin twice removed or know Bubba, the "go-to-guy" who can do anything or knows someone who does -- and owes him something. Having people-who-have-people is the best prep you can get. (If you watch some of my favorite TV programs, Human Target or Burn Notice, you see this in the plot all the time.)

Spend a little time and effort making friends, through your church, a local soup kitchen, the first responders groups, at school, in AA, your gun club, brotherhood organizations like the Lions, Masons or other lodges. Whatever. Be a stand-up guy and meet more like you - people who need people and who are willing to help others. The friendships you make in these organizations will often be lifelong and form a fallback team that you can rely on.

These friendships are what I call "emotional currency," -- as important as any bullion in your pocket.

TOR, I know you have addressed getting in shape in your blogs many times. You have written about physical training and keeping fit. As we all know, there are folks who talk a good game, but never really get off the couch and go do things that improve their health.

Riding shotgun with this concept is the idea that enjoying life is critical to being able to respond to not-so-enjoyable situations. It gives you a certain resiliency that enables your brain to function in creative and responsive ways. Everyone should find something that they like to do and do it regularly. It can even cost a little money. The cash you spend on this mental renewal is every bit an investment as for any other prep.

Use common sense, though - every thing in moderation. Don't pour zillions of bucks into becoming the world's expert in underwater basketweaving if you don't have zillions left to spend after the mortgage, utilities, etc. You could instead take a course at your local community college (usually pretty inexpensive), join a club, or virtually mingle with fellow enthusiasts in blogs and fora online.

Soothe your soul, but you don't have to make a career out of it. (Or do - if the thing you love has potential for making money, go for it!)

There's also a dark side to this topic. Some folks, quite a number actually, suffer from depression. Although this has been shown to be the result of chemical (in)activity in the brain, too many people still feel that this is some sort of personal failing and they don't even tell their doctors about it. Worse, many sufferers try to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. It's a no-win situation.

As someone who personally suffers from Seasonally Affective Disorder (SAD), especially in the winter months, I can assure those of you out there that the proper treatment will make a huge difference in your life. In many cases, just a little additional Vitamin D helps tremendously. If you are one of the people who tend to see the world thru darker lenses and don't ever seem to be enjoying life, please do something about it. (I was also experiencing severe physical manifestations - I thought I was having a long-term, continual heart attack... Fortunately, a very insightful and experienced CARDIOLOGIST diagnosed my depression and turned my life around).

This will be one of the most important prep activities you can do.

Being a survivor requires taking risks and being willing to "put yourself out there." I strongly encourage your readers to reach out both for themselves and to benefit others.

Best wishes to all in the Yuletide Season.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

As is appropriate I have spent some time today thinking about what I am thankful for. I have a lot to be thankful about for sure. I am very thankful that Walker is well and we are all able to spend this holiday together as a happy little family. While it has medically been a crazy couple months for us we all appear to be in good health. I am thankful that we aren't struggling to keep a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. I am thankful that between preps and saving we can feel pretty secure about our overall situation. I am thankful that my sister is here and we are going to do some traveling this weekend.

It occurs to me that most of the things I am thankful for are directly or indirectly the result of my own choices. I/ we could make choices that created animousity and unhappiness in our home. We could choose to be idle or underemployed and struggle for basics like shelter and food. We could spend beyond our means and have constant worries about money. Of course luck is a factor. Right now lots of decent hard working folks are either unemployed or seriously underemployed and really struggling. If they live well within their means and have some savings they are better off but in a long enough under/ unemployment most everybody will start to have serious problems. Folks can make the right choices and have continual health issues.

It has been a pretty good Thanksgiving so far. Went to bed pretty early yesterday and slept till almost 10. Had a pretty relaxing morning just chilling out then Little Sis, Walker and I went to do some local sight seeing. It is pretty good holiday weather. Right around freezing with a bit of snow on the ground. Just enough to cover rooftops, trees and lawns giving the nice scenic winter look but not enough to muck up the roads and make it hard to get around. The food is cooking and we are all sitting around and talking. Shortly it will be coctail and appetizer time which is always fun.

We are having a sort of 'Orphans Thanksgiving' as always. Wifey cooks a bunch of food and we invite everybody who can use a place to go and feed whoever comes. Relatives, neighbors, co workers or whatever. It makes for interesting groups of people but is good times.

Well I am going to go and enjoy a lot of food, some great scotch and family.

Happy Thanksgiving

Friday, November 5, 2010

Reader Questions: Alternate Title Ethics and Pragmatic Thinking On Medical Debt

First off thanks for your blog. I read it regularly. I do have one question about living within ones means, as I have been doing by default(bad credit).

After many attempts to dig out of debt and be debt free minus the needed bills- car ins., utilities, etc. I have fallen into a somewhat unique scenario. I had an employer file bankruptcy and eliminate any chance of COBRA health ins. shortly after being unemployed, I had an emergency surgery to the tune of $70,000. Since that time I have been accumulating massive medical debt, despite currently having health ins. My question is how can I justify continuing to pay a mortgage payment of debt? After all the different payments to different doctors even at modest monthly payment are added up, I cannot manage a $700 monthly payment on my modest salary. Bankruptcy is not a word in my vocabulary, but is it something I should look into? I have been paying some of them regularly, but am only paying the interest at this point. 

As far as planning for any emergency, if I get $10 a week set aside, I am having a banner week, but some medical issue comes up my puny savings is wiped out again. I don't know if I am looking for insight or just venting so I do not shoot off all my bullets saved for a different day. 

Thanks, DS in NJ

DS, First of all I just want to convey my sympathy for the rough situation you are in. Life can sometimes bring bad things at the time we are least capable of dealing with them. Anyway here are the issues I see. First is ethics as they apply to debt. Maybe it is ridiculously antiquated but I believe when you borrow or are advanced goods or services you are giving your word to honor it and pay under the terms of the agreement. I believe that you should think about these choices and if you can't repay then don't borrow. However as we mentioned things can happen. People can make reasonable (maybe not text book perfect but certainly not bad) decisions and still end up in a rough spot. Particularly when we talk about medical problems or the current climate of seriously long term job loss bad things can happen to good people who made solidly normal choices. I believe that we have bankruptcy laws for a reason. Folks can through bad luck, bad choices or some combination thereon get into a situation where they are not going to be able to repay their debts. Instead of people just not paying debts they can't pay anyway we might as well make it legal and let them, in time, move on with their lives.

Ethically I believe if you can afford to pay back your debts you should do so. [I find the concept of "strategic bankruptcy" and its passive friend jingle mail, provided you can afford the mortgage) completely unethical.] This debt should come after the basics like shelter, food, utilities, fuel, etc. Being homeless and sleeping in national forests with an empty stomach so you can try to pay off debt, while a dramatic choice, is probably a bit extreme. This debt should however come before luxuries like expensive entertainment, electronic gadgets, cool new guns, new cars, travel, etc.

I do not think bankruptcy is something to be proud of. Personally if I had to declare bankruptcy because I made a whole bunch of stupid choices I would be really ashamed of myself. However if I found myself with huge medical bills which got racked up over an inopportune time; or faced for whatever reason a drastic and permanent drop in income I wouldn't feel super happy about my situation but wouldn't look at myself negatively. Sometimes stuff happens to you and you just move on.

Speaking to your situation pragmatically. Without knowing all of your information (savings, debts, income, interest rates, etc) it is hard to say anything specific. I do not have all the information. To be honest I am not a professional financial anything and beyond generic thoughts I can just suggest you consult a professional. I would certainly at least look into bankruptcy. Go see a professional and run the numbers. Take some time and think about the second and third order effects of both scenarios; paying these debts and potentially filing bankruptcy then make a decision. 

I wish you the best,

Monday, October 4, 2010

Rule #1 Cardio

Just a reminder. Also if you A) have to take the straps off your plate carrier and B) breathe heavily and show visible strain from putting the thing on or taking it off and tossing it back on the couch it should be a wake up call. Fatties die first.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just A Little Bit of Life

I sorta meant to write something today but it just kinda didn't happen. I have been expending a lot of blog energy getting ready for some upcoming time away. All the posts I have been scheduling have sapped me of ideas.

I have really enjoying being back in the gym. Wish I could spend an hour and a half there every day but just 20 minutes makes me feel a lot better. Also ditching the sugar in my morning coffee is helping. Working to eat more vegetables also, especially the fresh ones.

Today I got a box full of Spencer books in the mail. Opened one up and read most of it over a couple hours with 2 beers, a good dinner and a scotch to wash it all down. Think I will go to the bedroom to read a couple more pages then sleep.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Got Endurance?

I do not think I could overstate the importance of physical fitness for your personal preparedness. I read lots of blogs and sites and see lots of pictures. Often I find myself thinking that what the person is doing is great but they are such a fat body that likely it would not matter anyway. Your body is your most important tool because without it you don't (particularly in an emergency or a devolution to 19th century living) have jack squat.

It doesn't matter if you have a decade worth of food and live on a legitimate small scale independent farm if a heart attack while walking back from the wood shed with your arms full takes you out. You can shoot like a world class marksmen but if you can't move you are toast.

Seriously you need to get into some resemblance of decent shape in a hurry. People don't talk about fitness that much. I think part of it is that there isn't a preparedness product to sell by convincing people to put the fork down and do some exercise. Also I think it is not very appealing because it is hard and doesn't appeal to the recreational side of preparedness let alone the every present armchair commando.

It is very important to have decent strength, a reasonable body weight and endurance. One of the bright sides of physical fitness is that if you have been doing nothing then taking even the most basic steps of say; eating a more reasonable diet and doing some pushups/ situps and going for a brisk walk 3-4 times a week will pay huge dividends. Of course running, weight training and some hybrid workouts (or whatever) will get you in better shape but the same way that an old shotgun and a bag of rice is better than nothing a basic physical fitness program is a darn good start.

I haven't harped on you about this for awhile but this is as good of a time as any.

Tomorrow morning I am going to walk a long way at a reasonable pace while carrying a moderate load. When was the last time you covered some real distance on foot?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Little Bit of Life: The Dreams We Were Sold and Reality

This relates to a series of posts I did awhile back (1, 2, 3). My Generation of mid 20 somethings to 30ish were largely sold a pack of exaggerations and outright lies by our parents, teachers and society at large. We were told that the roads are paved in gold and if we get a college degree or a skilled trade (mostly a degree) it is going to be easy and we will quickly settle into very comfortable lives a la the American Dream.

My values and beliefs do not allow me to absolve people of responsibility for their actions.  Somebody who chooses to go to a private school and take 50k in loans to get a degree that correlates with a job whose starting salary is 27k is in a tough spot of their own choosing. A person who makes 30k somehow got a loan for a 350k home then go figure can't pay it is a fool who deserves their misfortune.

It is hard to look beyond what most parents, almost all teachers and society tells us. Especially for teenagers who are sold a dream of how awesome a private college, or college at all it is hard to see the truth.

The thing is that baring programs at a few elite schools which get you internships that lead to crazy high starting salaries things aren't cake, even for those who manage to leave college with that piece of paper. When people graduate or otherwise enter what I call the big boy job market there is a choice. You can get stuff/ whatever rather quickly by borrowing money or you can wait and slowly accumulate things by paying cash.

A person with a normal albeit modest starting salary who goes out and buys a new average but respectable car (Honda Civic, Toyota, etc) and furnishes their apartment/ townhouse on a store card then gets a nice entertainment system on a payment plan will have some nice things 2 months into their job. However they will be paying for those things forever with lots of interest. Also they will be so busy paying all those loans, not to mention their student loans as well as rent, food, utilities, insurance, etc. That means instead of getting ahead they are just trying to catch up to the stuff they don't need they already have bought.

If you follow this blog halfway you already guessed we went the cash route. I am not going to lie it kinda sucks. There are times I get pretty down on the whole thing. Some days the knowledge that you are making the right move doesn't matter much when you have a hard time getting your piece of S car to sputter its way to work, come home after a long day to sit on a beat up hand me down couch your parents bought 25 years ago and try to watch a piece of junk TV without a remote control. I work hard and save and don't have much to show for it. You worked hard to get through school and get a solidly respectable job, made the right choices and things just come so darn slowly.

 Life is so often two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it is one step forward and two steps back. We scrimped and saved for a long time to have a half of a decent emergency fund. Wifeys car died and that cash became a low end used car. That used car four hundred dollar'ed us a couple times and then proved entirely unreliable and died. So we had no emergency fund AND no second car. We started saving again and finally built up a comfortable 3 month emergency fund. We then saved up and bought a decent used car which should run well for a long time. We put money aside every month for furniture and slowly but surely our house is filling up with halfway decent stuff. In a year or so it won't look like a college kid apartment anymore. At least in our life things are slowly but surely coming together.

We are now focused on getting my student loan wiped out in about one year instead of the projected three. In the last two years we will save what was going to the loan and that will be a solid down on a modest home. We will then work to pay that home off at an accelerated rate as well as saving and other such stuff.

Even though it sucks some days I like that we only have one outstanding debt. Student loans suck but since it got me into a job with a solidly decent income and benefits it was a worthwhile investment. No car payments and couch payments and TV payments or whatever. Of course I would love if things could go faster but I am happy with the direction we are moving in.

As a final thought if we look at history with some perspective we are all just a bunch of whiners; blah blah blah it takes a long time to pay off a student loan or yadda yadda yadda I can't afford a 4,000 square foot mansion on a janitors salary, I can't afford to buy a fancy boat and lastly, I never saved anything and now at 60 when I want to retire it is somebody else's fault. Seriously do a little bit of reading or just google terms like siege, crop failure, famine and black death. Heck take a walk in an old cemetery (pre 1900ish) and read some headstones. I do not know a family who lost 5 kids to cholera or was wiped out by smallpox or influenza or starved to death in a famine. Seriously we have it pretty darn good.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

It was a pretty busy weekend here. We did all sorts of shopping for great deals. Got cases of paper towels and toilet paper and cereal and brownie mix and some other stuff at awesome prices. Also got a used $4 Coleman battery lamp. When I got it home it didn't work but I will see what can be done at some point. We needed to pick up some more batteries and since AA's were on a great sale we got 3 big packs instead of 1.

Today was a cleaning day and that included the medicine closet. We got everything organized and put it back into there in an organized manner. Stuff was all over the place now we have shelves for preparedness stuff/ first aid, Wifey's 'essentials', over the counter medicine and extra hygiene stuff . This let me get a good look at what we have and also what we do not. It was helpful that I had a piece of paper and a pen there to write down gaps I noticed in our inventory. I will take that list to the store this week and pick that stuff up.

Ordered a pair of new boots. My old Altama Exospeeds are still in fine condition but are getting to the point where they are not cosmetically fit for work. They will become dedicated ruck marching/ backup boots. They are still plenty good for functional use and good to keep around.

We realized a couple of holes in our preps that need to be addressed. Every sort of life change leads to new preparedness needs. I will write more about that later as those holes get plugged.

Also I started a spreadsheet for stuff to get. Seeing how useful they can be at work I want to use that same technology at home. It will probably take a long time to get that figured out so it is halfway useful but small steps are still useful.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

quote of the day

"Nobody forces you to have children, work a shitty job, or not take care of yourself... Quit complaining... No one wants to listen to your "Woe is me" bullshit for the 100th time."
-A Girl I know 
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