Saturday, March 13, 2010

Guest Post: Ranger Squirrel - Two Often Overlooked Aspects of Prepping and Survival

By Ranger Squirrel - Ranger Squirrel's Ramblings

The prepper/survivalist community tends to repeat itself. We hear lots of talk about preps for food storage, fuel, water, knives, guns, wild edibles, hunting, fishing, trapping, shelter building, firemaking, water purification, bugging out, bugging in, and bugging sideways … okay I made that last one up. But there are two preps we hear mentioned only rarely.

#1 - Skills
The bottom line is that even the greatest piece of gear, the nicest rifle, coolest pack, niftiest widget or gadgetiest gadget is essentially useless without the skills to use it. Moreover, a lack of skill can destroy top-notch equipment faster than you can believe. A fine axe in the hands of an amateur for example, will quickly become a dull and chipped axe.

This concept first hit home for me several years ago when a friend and I struggled to get a fire lit for twenty minutes on our first backcountry outing. This despite having lighters, matches, and ferro rods and years of experience lighting fires in fireplaces. We lacked the skills to properly prepare tinder from wilderness materials, find dry wood, and build a fire lay. The skills you need depend on your environment, but there is a base set of skills that every prepper/survivalist should have. In the wilderness, these skills are known as Bushcraft and include things like firemaking, hunting, carving, shelter building and land navigation. In the preparedness world though, I haven’t come across a term, so I’ll just call it Prepcraft. Here are the skills that leap to mind in no particular order (feel free to add your own in the comments section) – and no, I don’t claim to have all of these.

Basic/common Plumbing Repairs
Basic Electrical Wiring
Basic Auto Repair
Basic Small Engine Repair
Basic Woodworking
Basic Welding
Cooking (over coals, fire, grill, and stove)
Canning (water bath and pressure)
Food Storage Principles
Water Purification
First Aid (conventional and herbal)

In addition, you should acquire and maintain a library of books filled with skills. Fiction is fun to read, but it will only rarely save your life.

#2 – Physical Fitness

When I had the opportunity to pal around with Green Deane one day last year, he was joking with me about a trip he made to a local outdoor sports store – something like Bass Pro Shop or Gander Mountain – it was the start of a big sale and he arrived before it opened. He commented about the other customers who were waiting, mostly hunters and fishermen who looked as if they hadn’t gotten up off of a couch in years. Meanwhile, Deane is a skinny, bookish looking sort of guy. The “couchdoorsmen” stood around smoking while he walked around the store and found several dozen wild edibles. They probably thought he was weird, but really, who is the true outdoorsman in this scenario?

It’s true that body fat has been referred to, correctly, as survival muscle. It’s easy for our body to burn and it gives us necessary calories in a low-food situation. It can and will keep us alive temporarily in dire circumstances. It’s also true that an excess of fat can keep you from catching food and is usually an indicator of poor health overall. Survival situations are hard on the whole body. Having all the best gear, preps, and all the skills in the world won’t help you live through a heart attack.

Being physically fit helps the body to use calories more efficiently, regulate body temperature, and stave off infection and illness. It also means you are physically able to do more.

The good news is that these two preps complement each other. If you have good skills and good physical fitness, you need less gear and can move further and faster (or get more done while staying put as the case may be). The other good news is that both of these things can be developed or acquired for free or at very low cost.

Public libraries, YouTube, and the internet can help you learn just about any skill you could ever need.

For physical fitness – forget the stupid gym. Pushups, crunches, squats, and jogging are free and good enough for this country’s soldiers, why not you?.

Ranger Squirrel

...that is all.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: The New Frugality

By Flea - Be A Survivor

Today I am reviewing The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live BetterI recently finished reading this book while on the ridiculous world tour of business trips I have been forced to take part in for the last month. The book peaked my interest in the typical fashion, even though I consider myself very good with money and quite the cheapo, I am still always looking for someone who does it better, even if I just pick up the odd idea or two.

I am already a person who saves, thinks, and plans when it comes to my money. I have always been frugal and I reuse what I can in most cases. This book is quite different, it provides a more historical perspective of how we got where we are and where the key tenets of the "The New Frugality" come from.

The key philosophy of the book is the "margin of safety", everything should be done with respect to that safety net. You should not take a loan, buy a house, pay for college, or invest for that matter unless there is some margin of safety in case things go horribly wrong. Most people fail miserably in this regard. They do things like take out loans when they need them to pay for groceries rather than to do something like fund an idea or a new business. Take no money you aren't prepared to lose is the mantra (or pay back). This is of course sometimes easier said than done.

The author does manage to mention global warming/climate change, or what ever they are calling it these days a few times in the book and it is quite clear he has drunk the kool-aid in that respect, but it does not detract from the solid financial message presented in the book.

The book drives home key points such as making frugality a habit, getting so used to looking for the cheaper way to do things that it is programmed into the very fabric of your being. This is not a book about collecting aluminum cans or reusing Zip-lock bags so if you are looking for that type of information look at some of the other books I have reviewed as there are several that present it quite nicely.

This book is about how to make yourself financially successful based on some simple rules that we as human beings seem to fail at whenever we are given a choice. Think before acting, provide for a margin of safety, and analyze before spending. The perfect example is: paying to go to the expensive four year university - attending it all four (or five years) to earn the elusive sheepskin. Many community colleges have matriculation agreements with these universities. You can attend the community college for two years at a tenth of the cost and transfer to the four year university for your last two years and get THE SAME DIPLOMA as you would have attending it for all four years.

Yes a margin a safety...think about that. Learn to recognize and plan for it, it can be your financial salvation.

The New Frugality: How to Consume Less, Save More, and Live Betteris a good book you should all read (especially if you like some history thrown in).

...that is all.

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Friday, March 5, 2010

The Squirrel Has Been Busy...

By Flea - Be A Survivor

Hey - I just wanted to let you know that Ranger Squirrel's Ramblings has been moved to Would you mind updating the link from your page if you have one?

If you don't see your own site on my blogroll, trust me, it's there...I just have it set to only show 10 links at a time and it randomizes which ones display everytime the page refreshes.

It's also been given a complete remodel, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Ranger Squirrel