Sunday, October 25, 2009

Giving to Charity

By Flea - Be A Survivor

One thing I do recommend to folks is to give to charity if you possibly can. I know many folks are strapped but in tough economic times not only do everyday folks suffer but the people who count on help from charities suffer because people stop giving or reduce their giving substantially.

One way my wife and I give to charity and get something back is to do sponsored walks for causes like breast cancer and AIDS. You generally have to pay a registration fee to get into the event and a portion of that fee goes to charity. In return we usually get a tee shirt, some great exercise and snacks.

We give to our church every week which enables the church to do things like provide food and clothing to families in need in our area.

I firmly believe in karma and if you give you will get more in return. It has proven to be true in our case time and time again. We seem to do better, emotionally and financially when we actively give all we can to worthy causes.

I always take clothes and stuff to Goodwill to give the folks who are less fortunate in my community a chance to have them at a reduced cost.

Giving to charity will make you feel better. I can assure you that you will have a renewed sense of peace and goodwill once you make the commitment to donate to a worthy charity.

Now is a time more than ever when charities need your support. It doesn't have to monetary either, there are plenty of charities you can donate your time too and organizations like the Red Cross really need blood. Giving blood is painless, safe and actually proven to be very good for you (especially men).

...that is all.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Learn To Help Yourself

By Flea - Be A Survivor

Being a survivor isn’t about having a ton of money or owning the latest model DPMS AR-15 with Eotech holographic site. It isn't about having a bomb shelter and a massive store of food, although no one would argue that having any of these items would make surviving any more difficult.

Being a survivor is about having a survival state of mind, the survivor mentality as I have referred to it on this blog several dozen times. Why do you ask, do I keep bringing this up? BECAUSE is what allows you to sit at the grown ups table instead of being relegated to sitting with a bunch of snotty nosed screaming kids.

The first thing we have to do is stop whining. This has surpassed baseball as America’s favorite pass time. We whine, we bitch, we complain, we want shit handed to us on a silver platter. Get off your hiney and make it work for you. For cryin out loud your circumstances aren’t going to get better unless you make them better yourself.

Ok so you are one of the hand feed me everything crowd…look at many countries across the pond who receive all their little bones, tossed to them by their respective governments like good little doggies. Do you actually believe their life is better than what you have here? Hey you want to be handed everything that is your business, I personally would like to pass on that if you don’t mind. I can take care of myself. Keep me safe from invaders and leave me to my own devices…thanks and my check is in the mail.

Get off the couch, put down the remote and get a second or third job if you need to…it won’t be forever…and YES I have done this so yes I can speak from experience. I have no problem with some down on their luck folks getting a helping hand, I DO NOT…but we have a large share of folks who are just a bunch of lazy sacks of poop who refuse to do an honest days work in their lives. These people I have no time or sympathy for.

Make a promise to yourself today to work on something that you don’t like about yourself. You don’t have to change it over night but at least pick something and start to make a real effort to improve that one short coming. Don’t tell me you have none, we all do. Start today to make that change and you may just tip the scales in your favor for a change. Despite what many people will tell you, hard work will pay off in the end, it may not seem like it but it will…I promise.

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Peer Into My Mind...

By Flea - Be A Survivor

It's funny but anyone who has followed this blog for awhile knows I am a lttle different than a lot of the other preppers/survivalists out there. I share many of the same traits and beliefs (but not all) and as with everyone we all have different life experiences and I am no exception.

Here is what I can definitively say the I AM:

I am a 36 year old white male.

I am a conservative on most issues but not all.

I am more in the Libertarian or even Republican camps than with the Democrats on most issues and that simply stems from my belief that the Federal government will screw most things up if given the opportunity and are therefore better to not be involved in the first place.

I vote in EVERY election whether it is Federal, State or Local in nature (religiously).

I am a Catholic.

I am a business person (IT), I work in the business world for a big corporation, who believe it or not treats me very well. In fact working for them is one of the better things to ever happen to me.

I have a 401k, yes and I even put money in it. There is a phenomenon called dollar cost averaging, I believe in it. Your mileage may vary. I still have faith in Capitalism, call me foolish (and some commenter's will I am sure)...hell it wouldn't be the first time and won't be the last ;)

I am HAM radio operator. No I cannot give you my call sign and HAMS should be able to figure out why based on the fact I write under a pseudonym.

I am a card carrying member of the NRA.

I can finally say I have a college degree. So...yes I am a college graduate.

I can balance my checkbook and enjoy Sudoku, I guess that makes me a genius of sorts :)

I drive a pickup truck but I don't have a rifle rack in the back window. I make up for it with my CB radio.

I drink alcohol on occasion but it has never been an issue for me. My preferred poison is either Captain and Coke or Scotch on the rocks.

I get a flu shot every year and I don't catch the flu (haven't had it in years)...and yes I received ALL of my childhood vaccinations and lived to tell it. I will skip the H1N1 vaccine for none of the reasons you think.

I enjoy long walks on the beach and candle lit dinners (OK I am kidding).

I love to read and watch movies.

My favorite sport is hockey (no I am not a Canadian).

I have always been a bit of a loner and I really like it that way. I don't have a "best friend" other than my wife. To be honest she is the only other person whose company that I TRULY enjoy.

I enjoy reading your emails and comments. I really do so keep them coming!

...that is all.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Guest Post: Crazy Joe - Real Men Love Yardsales

By Crazy Joe - Be A Survivor

It is October and many folks are cleaning out the basement or garage one last time for that nice fall day to have one last yard sale. Ah men scoff - yard sales. The thing our women folk try to drag us to on occasion. Yard sales are a place some of our money goes to and in return the women folk bring home more dumb junk to hang on the front door or store in the garage. If we are lucky it will get sold when she has a yard sale in the spring. That does not guarantee we will get our money back but at least it is out of the basement or closet.

I remember being in my early 20's and my mom tried to get my dad to go with her. He used to say "a bunch of someone elses crap which I don't need and that's why they are selling it - it's crap". Yes I had heard about yard sales and saw them while driving down the road. Lots of women milling about over tables on a front lawn. I knew to stay clear of yard sales until one day a friend of mine needed help. Carl told me his mom's friend had some lawn equipment she was getting rid of. Carl had a lawn business and could use some more tools and a new spreader especially since it was gonna be free. So I went with Carl to this woman's house to help him load up whatever she was giving away.

We got there and she greeted us and explained how her HUSBAND DIED two weeks before. She took us to his domain. Out behind the house was the large garage which housed his life, his tools. This is where this man obviously created, planned, built and repaired things the past 40 years. Not as fancy as "Norm's This Old House Workshop" but BOY!!! this guy had some stuff. Table saw, wood and metal lathe, drill press and enough hand tools and hand power tools to stock a hardware store. She told us how she was having a yard sale next Saturday and was getting rid of everything he owned. This also included all his hunting gear in the house. I had an awakening, a realization in those first 10 minutes at this woman's house. She was going to sell a lifetime of stuff and here we were being offered dibs and for free anything we wanted. To bad I am a medium to large and this guy was an extra large. I was a newly wed and took 10 pfaltzgraff dinner plates and matching sandwich plates - the original brown and cobalt blue "folk pattern" which I still have to this day some 30 years later. I also grabbed a small tool box and a few hand tools. After helping Carl load up all the yard equipment we thanked the widow and headed out.

I started checking out this yard sale thing and learned many of them were being held for the same reason. I then started stopping, while by myself of course, at them. I started seeing things that were barely going for pennies on the dollar. Also good manners and nice conversation could get me "oh go ahead and take that one too no charge - what's a quarter to me". It did not feel odd being a 20 something surrounded by 40 to 70 year old women. I was on a mission. I discovered I loved yard sales because the huge savings it could bring me. I was finding stuff hardly ever used and brand name stuff too. In secret I started telling my friends about what I was finding and buying. It blew their minds especially when I had the Stanley Skill Saw with me that I only paid 4 bucks for. The guy died. His wife wanted it out of the house. This scenario was commonplace.

So men I strongly suggest the next time YOU ARE ALONE and you see a yard sale - STOP. Sure there are lots of baby toys and clothes, house wares and Christmas decorations BUT!!!! you may see the pot of tools at the end of the rainbow. A friend of mine recently got the one piece overall thermal lined Carhart brand jumpsuit...how can you say no to this for 10 bucks. Sure it was a bit worn but no holes and no rips or tears. My last find was a three foot bow saw with a nearly new blade - mine for 3 bucks. The real "find" in this is that it is made of real thicker steel and was made in America maybe 40 years ago. This is the last point if not the more important one. So much of this stuff is 30, 40 or even 50 years old. Built to last and made in America.

Why wait for the real recession/depression to go out and save some money. If you are in need of some car jack stands or a huge table top vise weighing 50 pounds - price it out new so when you see it for sale for 10 bucks let me know how much you saved. And remember men - real men love yard sales but never tell or let the women folk find out. That could be the end of us.

Happy tool, gear or equipment hunting...Crazy Joe in South Jersey

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guest Post: Ranger Squirrel - Swine Flu (H1N1), Mandatory Vaccines, & Abortion?!

By Ranger Squirrel - Ranger Squirrel's Ramblings

I was listening to The Survival Podcast (I think it was episode 288) on my way home from work the other day and the host was talking about the things that could lead to civil unrest in this country.

As he was rattling off different things, there was one big issue I didn't hear him mention: Abortion. Now I could have missed it (I was simultaneously driving, texting, eating, listening, and trying to pick up a quarter I found on the floorboards), but I'm guessing he didn't even bother to say it because it's too obvious.

Before I get started here, let me remind everyone that while I do have a law degree, I am not a practicing attorney and this area of law was never my specialty. This is all just speculation based on my legal training and experience. In other words, I freely admit that my legal analysis may be flawed and I encourage you to correct me via comments on this blog or emails to rangersquirrel@gmail.com if you know the law.

Also - this post is not about abortion and whether it is right or wrong. It's about the potential of a newer hot-button issue (mandatory vaccines) to cause the abortion argument to flare up again and possibly lead to civil unrest.

There has been been a lot of discussion about the swine flu vaccine and whether the government is going to make it mandatory. Generally, there are three "groups" of people who are objecting to the idea: 1) people with religious objections to vaccines in general; 2) concerned citizens who don't want the government forcing them to do anything; and 3) members of the tinfoil hat brigade who are convinced that the vaccines are a way of delivering mind-control chips, command activated poisons, or GPS tracking devices - or maybe all three.

Group #2 is by far the largest. Group #1 has the best legal protection. Group #3...well...what can we really say about group #3...especially since we all know we already got all three of those things via the flouride in our water anyway?

The folks in Group #1 really don't have much to worry about - theirs is a long standing protection, upheld time and time again in courts, and firmly grounded in fundamental constitutional rights. Unless something changes radically in terms of the way this vaccine is administered, the people who fit into group #1 will just need to fill out a form and go on about their business.

I'm not touching Group #3 except to say that receiving this vaccine may someday be incidental to their visit to a quiet and restful place with lots of people in white uniforms and plush, padded walls.

It's group #2 that I find interesting from a legal standpoint (and, for the record, I fall somewhere in this category). Many, if not most, of the people in this group would define themselves as either Libertarian or Conservative. Many, if not most of those, would also define themselves as pro-life...and THAT is where things get really interesting.

Unless the people in group #2 can make a valid claim that taking this vaccine would be a violation of the laws of their religion, they'll need to base their objection on some other constitutional right. Most of them, however, have taken vaccines in the past and allowed their children to be vaccinated as well, so a religious claim doesn't seem likely. They could claim it's an inconvenience but they'll lose in court. They could claim that it's stupid, but they'll lose in court. They can even claim that they double-dog object, but they'll lose in court. To have a shot at winning, they'll need to base their claim on a constitutional right. We know religion works, but failing that, what's another option? What fundamental constitutional right can they claim if not religion?

Unless I'm mistaken (quite possible), the only possible answer here is privacy. "Where is that in the constitution?" some will surely ask. I'm serious, look here and do a CTRL-F "find" for the word privacy. You won't find it in the text of the Constitution. That's because it's an implied right, "found" by the courts based on other things that are in the constitution. In fact, it just so happens that there is even a well defined and highly litigated body of case law dealing specifically with privacy as it relates to medical procedures. Moreover, those cases weigh the government's interest to protect a citizen or citizens against the individual's right to privacy. In essence, those cases say that there is a personal right to privacy that protects you from government interference in your medical care up until the point that the government's interest outweighs your own. The case in this category that is most well known is Roe v. Wade.

It seems to me that in order to avoid a mandatory H1N1 vaccine, one of the arguments you would need to make is that you have that right to privacy and that it outweighs the government's interest in protecting the populace from H1N1.

But if you're pro-life and you feel strongly about it, I think you're in a bit of a pickle. You'll need to argue that Roe v. Wade is good law inasmuch as it protects the personal right to privacy with regard to medical procedures. So pro-life people will need to argue in favor of at least some aspects of Roe v. Wade - the single most hated pro-choice case in history.

Now those with a legal education may argue that you don't need to cite to Roe at all and that there are other ways to make similar arguments (there is a line of cases dealing with involuntary sterilization for example), but I have to suggest two things: 1) if the attorney is really doing her job and representing her client well, she'll need to at least explore this option unless the client specifically says otherwise; and 2) even if you, as the person making this argument, don't touch the issue of abortion at all, you can bet the pro-choice folks will latch onto whatever argument you do end up making and use it for their own fight...the analogy is just too easy to pass up.

Now - is this issue going to be a rebirth for the abortion debate and lead to riots and general unrest? Who knows. The bottom line to me is that there are a bunch of people in Group #2 who will 1) already be pissed off by the idea of a mandatory vaccine; 2) will find themselves even more pissed off when they realize what they have to argue to win; and 3) are already pissed off about a bunch of other stuff the government is doing...eventually, it seems like something's gotta give.

Just sayin...

Ranger Squirrel

Flea - This one should get some debate going...Thanks RS!

...that is all.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Quote Of The Day

By Flea - Be A Survivor

"Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved."

- Macchiavelli

Macchiavelli was speaking about Leaders...I thought this was quite fitting for our times.

...that is all.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Survival 101 Links: The Consumerist

By Flea - Be A Survivor

I wanted to share a website with you that I read religiously, it is a consumer advocate website called The Consumerist.

Their parent company is Consumer Reports and they are an outlet for consumers to complain and get advice on dealing with companies you feel have done you wrong.

I followed a lot of their advice when I was dealing with my home owner's insurance company recently and it helped IMMENSELY.

Here is a tidbit from their "About Us" Page:

"The Consumerist empowers consumers by informing and entertaining them about the top consumer issues of the day. We are a leading online resource for consumer-driven advice about dealing with everything from non-existent customer service to onerous cell-phone contracts to ever-shrinking (and ever-more-expensive) grocery products. The Consumerist is published by Consumer Media LLC, a not-for-profit subsidiary of Consumers Union, and takes no outside advertising.

The Consumerist highlights the persistent, shameless gaffes of modern consumerism - and the latest scams, rip-offs, hot deals and freebies. We also encourage our readers to tell us about their everyday experiences with absurdities of consumer culture - and suggest ways for them to fight back. Time magazine described us as "…The blog where shoppers can bite back and sometimes even leave deep teeth marks … there's lot of stupid capitalism on display: the man who spent what seemed like a century on the phone trying to cancel an AOL account … warranty repairs that never seem to be covered by the warranty … health insurance coverage denied on a whim. The Consumerist is a place to bite back, or at least cheer the underdog baring his teeth."

The Consumerist is the 38th most popular blog in the world, as measured by Technorati, a site that tracks blogs and other social media."


I read The Consumerist everyday and you should too.

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

How To Survive Business Travel

By Flea - Be A Survivor

In my everyday life I am an “Information Technology Professional”…which is code for I know a bit more about computers than a box of rocks. In my profession I have had to do a fair amount of traveling which has actually been nice. It isn’t so much travel that I get burnt out but just enough to keep things interesting.

I have been across the border to Montreal Canada and even across the sea to Bonn Germany (great food there by the way). I have been to a couple of dozen airports and cities across this great nation. Some of my favorite US cities are Dallas, Memphis and Philly (would not want to live there but a cool place to visit).

For those of you who travel for business I have some survival tips to make your experiences much more pleasant and efficient. Some of these are common sense and some I have learned through the school of hard knocks but hopefully you will find them all useful.

The first thing you need to do especially if you travel a lot is sign up with all the reward programs that airlines, hotels and car rental agencies offer. If you can, pick a few favorites and always try to stay at those places and use those carriers. My company lets up keep frequent flier miles and I have gotten SEVERAL free round trip tickets just from flying with a particular airline more than another.

The carriers I have had the most luck with have been Northwest and Continental (Yeah who’d a thunk it!). I usually try and stay at Marriott brand hotels and I usually stick with National Car Rental. When I rent a car I NEVER go to the counter, I go right to the Emerald club aisle, throw my crap in a car and drive to the booth (benefit of being a member). I get a lot of free perks from Marriott like free rooms and meals and from Continental I have gotten round trip tickets and first class upgrades. If you don’t sign up for these programs and you travel frequently, you are CRAZY!

My second piece of advice is NEVER check bags with an airline, especially in Philly the black hole of baggage. I take my laptop backpack and a roller carry-on, to say I am a master packer would be an understatement. My wife is amazed when I travel for two weeks out of those bags; all it takes is planning. The benefit of not checking a bag should be obvious but I can tell you first hand I have been in meetings with business people wearing sneakers and sweats because the airline lost their bag. It’s also great to get off the plane and head right to where you need to go without having to wait for the bags to be unloaded.

Make sure you have directions printed ahead of time for all the destinations you need to get to. Don’t rely on the rental car to have GPS, If you have a GPS you can bring with you, great, otherwise make sure you HAVE directions.

Some quick tips would be:
- Make sure you have some cash on you.
- Make sure to get plenty of sleep before, during, and after your trip.
- Try to eat reasonably; nothing is worse than upset stomach or diarrhea when you are stuck on a plane.
- If you need to use your personal credit or debit card, call your bank and let them know you are traveling (this will help prevent the Fraud Prevention Unit from freezing access because of charges in strange cities).
- Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water.
- Even if it is a business trip try and see some sights if you can.
- Bring reading material like books or magazines to read in the hotel and on the plane.
- Dress comfortably when you are going to airports because security can be a nightmare, slip on shoes (sneakers) and sweats are what I usually wear. I will change to business attire when I get to my destination.
- Be patient, delays in travel are inevitable…screaming at the airline employees won’t get you anywhere. In fact I have gotten fast tracked and bumped up by being SUPER NICE to them.
- Most importantly try to have some fun!

...that is all.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Start Saving Today For Future Financial Security

By Flea - Be A Survivor

People have lost their way when it comes to money. Many people have no concept of living other than paycheck to paycheck which is quite the precarious position to be in. Saving some money for a rainy day is probably one of those most important things you can do for yourself and your family.

“But Flea I am broke!”
“But Flea I don’t make that much!”
“But Flea there ain’t anything left after I pay my bills!”

These are the excuses I can already hear in my head as I write this post. My response to them is, that is the weakest BS I have ever heard in my life. There is always something that can be put away and if there isn’t maybe you should adjust your position by getting a side job or finding a way to make some extra money (legally of course).

My wife and I started very small when we started our first savings account. We both work and we elected to put back $100 a pay period. We get paid every two weeks so that worked out to $200 a month. That account now has several thousand dollars in it DESPITE the fact we had to tap it for a few thousand a couple of years back.

The key to success is to pretend that money DOES NOT EXIST! Make it difficult to get to and adjust your spending so that the money that goes into the account is never considered in your spending. We soon learned to live without the extra $200 a month. We also used a passbook savings account so that it was more difficult to get to than using a few clicks of a mouse button.

The best thing to do is to have the money directly deposited into your savings account. This will ensure you never see the cash, make regular deposits and above all avoid the temptation to spend it rather than save it.

We consider this account money of last resort which means we really need to be in a pickle to have to tap into it. The power of interest has helped as well, although a money market savings account or CD might be a better choice if you want to maximize interest.

There is no excuse for not having some savings put back. You are placing yourself and your family in danger if you do not. Start with whatever you can afford, even $20 a month will get you headed in the right direction. The key here is to start, lack of action in this area is setting yourself up for a real disaster in the future when you will be forced to incur debt or do something crazy to make up for a financial shortfall.

Get started with a savings program today to give financial security and peace of mind to yourself and those you love.

...that is all.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

On The Prepper Podcast

By Flea - Be A Survivor

I was a guest on the Prepper Podcast, so if you want to hear me rambling, check it out.

Thanks to Matt from the KPN for allowing me to be on!

...that is all.

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