I wasn’t a third of the way into The Host: A Novel when I knew something was awry so I Googled the author and discovered that it was written by Stephenie Meyer, the same woman who wrote The Twilight Saga. I’m not even sure why I finished the book…I was probably too cheap not to attempt to get my money’s worth. I’m sure there’s a fan base for stories that center primarily on a teenage girl’s inner monolog and angst…but they aren’t for me.
Still, there were elements to the story that I thought were interesting, notably how to survive as a member of an outcast society and the elaborate underground survival shelter that the human survivors developed to stay hidden from the parasitic invaders. So, based on a recommendation from my daughter and the hope that the main character’s inner monologue wouldn’t transmit to the big screen, I recently watched the movie adaptation of The Host. Continue reading
Producer Brad Pitt recently released a big budget movie based on the popular apocalyptic zombie book World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War and starring…you guessed it, Brad Pitt. I had a chance to see World War Z recently and have condensed the survival lessons presented down to the… Top 10 Survival Lessons from World War Z.
In addition to a big name cast headed by Brad Pitt as United Nations Inspector turned stay-at-home dad Gerry Lane and Mireille Enos as Karen Lane (not to mention a wonderful supporting cast for the international scenes) it has special effects so amazing that they took years to develop.
As I recall the book was written as a faux history based on oral interviews conducted after the recovery from a zombie war. It was essentially a series of vignettes describing how different groups of survivors got through zombie plague. Pitt’s movie draws on the environment developed by Max Brooks in his book for inspiration but is essentially a different story following Pitt’s character as he travels around the world searching for a cure to the zombie epidemic.
I’ve written before about how the proliferation of the zombie phenomenon is likely due to the fact that it’s a safe way for the average Joe to think about a collapse or TEOTWAWKI event in a relatively non-threatening way. Think about that for a minute… with a zombie apocalypse the only thing you have to prepare for is animated corpses that don’t compete with you for resources… other than your own skin.
Warning: Minor Spoilers Ahead
I recently finished reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. I almost always enjoy Brown’s novels (his misguided attempt at writing about signals intelligence in Digital Fortress was the sole exception). I enjoy his blend of action, current events, history and fictional conspiracies. I especially enjoy learning more about places I’ve visited and it makes me want to travel to see them once again.
Don’t worry, no spoilers of note will appear in this article…I want you to enjoy this book as much as I did.
I didn’t expect to be reviewing this book for these pages but the conspiracy in Inferno turned out to be a true ‘The End Of The World As We Know It (TEOTWAWKI) event… biological terror plot of Earth shaking proportions.
Whether your Dad’s a prepper or you just wish he were… here are the Top 10 Preparedness Gifts for Father’s Day:
One Second After by Dr. William R. Forstchen isn’t just one heck of an exciting read or the best book ever written to convert someone into a prepper…it’s both. This book presents an extremely well researched and science-based story with realistic, well developed characters and an exciting storyline.
One Second After tells the story of a group survivors in a small college town as they live through the aftereffects of an EMP. The only thing you have to worry about if you buy this for your Dad for Father’s Day is if he’ll loan it to you when he’s finished.
Cost: ~$9.00 for Paperback
Andrew’s Note: Today we introduce The Quartermaster and The Quartermaster’s Report. The Quartermaster brings us information on cool gear and equipment as well as the availability of cool gear and equipment. Today’s report is on the X CALIBER Shotgun Gauge Adapter System.
Ever wished you could carry one gun and have it shoot multiple calibers and guages? I’m not talking about .38 Special and .357 Magnum either…I’m talking about a tool that can hunt grouse as a 12 Gauge shotgun but quickly convert into to a 7.62×39 to drop a deer and even to .22 Long Rifle to bring down a squirrel…well now you can.
I recently finished the book American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in U.S. Military History by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice. Kyle’s wife Taya wasn’t credited but also contributed significantly to the book.
When I bought the book I expected it to be an account of the weapons and tactics that led Chief Petty Office Chris Kyle of S.E.A.L. Team 3 to become the most ‘lethal’ U.S. sniper in history surpassing the legendary Marine Carlos Hathcock’s Vietnam era record by over 50%. I expected Kyle’s book to be very similar to Hathcock’s Carlos Hathcock: Marine Sniper : War Stories And Tactical Tips From The Master Sniper which is also a great read…but what I ended up with was a love story. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle’s book has lots of war stories and countless humorous anecdotes of his life as a Navy S.E.A.L., but he didn’t focus nearly as much on the mechanics of shooting as he did on the decisions, situations and loves that led him placed him in the positions that led to his lethal record.
I love a good military autobiography and the psychological makeup of snipers makes their stories particularly compelling. As I mentioned above I’ve read Hathcock’s book as well as the autobiography of Vassili Zaitsev, NOTES OF A RUSSIAN SNIPER which was made into the movie Enemy At The Gates. As much as I enjoyed those books Kyle’s was something broader and in some ways more compelling.
Kyle told the story of his life, his S.E.A.L training, peacetime duty, and his four tours of duty in Iraq (including his contributions to the Second Battle of Falluja, the Battle of Ramadi, as well as various incursions into Sadr City) interspersed with the story of and the conflicts between his three great loves.
I recently finished watching the first six seasons of the British television series, Foyle’s War.
IMDB (the Internet Movie Database describes Foyle’s War like this:
It is 1940 and Britain stands almost alone against the might of Nazi Germany across the continent. The terrors of nightly bombing raids are only matched by the fear and hysteria of the population at the prospect of the seemingly inevitable German invasion. It is in this environment that Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle, of the Hastings Police on the south coast of England, works. Denied a transfer to the war effort, Foyle is nonetheless forced to confront the darkest acts of humanity on a daily basis. With his official driver, Sam, and his subordinate, Paul Milner, Foyle investigates murders, looting and theft, crimes of opportunism, crimes of war, crimes of passion and crimes of greed, because crime isn’t stopped because of warfare.
Foyle’s War follows the exploits of Detective Chief Superintendent Christopher Foyle on the southern coast of England during World War II. Foyle is a veteran of the ‘Great War’ who tries unsuccessfully to rejoin the military. Instead he contributes to the war effort through his police work. Foyle is masterfully played by veteran actor Michael Kitchen in an understated fashion that’s a joy to watch. In addition to being a great show, this is a wonderful study of how a society responds to ‘the end of the world as we know it’ (TEOTWAWKI)…if our society was faced with the same threats and deprivations as Hastings, England was in the early war years, I’m afraid there might be rioting in the streets.
It sure looks like the all star cast of The Expendables 2, Back for War had a blast filming the action packed movie. Hardly five minutes goes by between them facing a new hoard of enemies at which point they stand up next to each other, put their weapons on full-auto and mow the enemy down with the help of very graphic special effects while testing out each other’s catch phrases from the eighties… “I’ll be back,” “yippee ki yay,” etc. When they run out of catch phrases they trade barbs like “waiting for Rambo,” or ‘I’m a Lone Wolf.’ If you lived through the eighties there’s no need to explain the references…if not, ask your parents.
While I admit it’s fun watching Sylvester Stallone (who also produced), Arnold Schwarzenegger, Randy Couture, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Chuck Norris, Jet Li, Bruce Willis, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme (aptly named Jean Vilain as the enemy commander) share the screen… I wish there had been more than the thin veneer of a plot. In order to make sure I spelled all the actor’s names right I checked out the movie’s official website…in a lot of ways the website’s like the movie… it was never finished either. Continue reading
I took today’s quote from E.B. White a bit too literally recently and decided to do something I haven’t done for ages…I decided to take a day off trying to ‘change the world’ and just ‘have one hell of a good time” so I took the wife out to the movies. Wasn’t planning on doing a review but a few aspects of the movie caught my imagination so I thought I’d pass along an abbreviated Skyfall Review.
For those of you not familiar with Skyfall, it’s the latest James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig…it’s also a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the franchise. I’ve been a fan of Ian Fleming’s characters since first reading the books as a kid (long before you could catch up on the movies with cable TV or on demand video). Interesting aside, Fleming was a British Naval Intelligence officer and also wrote the novel Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.
Unfortunately, the producers ran out of original Ian Fleming books to film years ago but the same family that produced the early movies continues to do so today…and they’re very good at it. Barbara Broccoli took over the producer’s chair from her late father Cubby years ago and has the same knack for making an action packed picture with exotic locations, fast cars and faster women as her daddy did. Interesting aside, one of Broccoli’s ancestors actually developed and popularized a vegetable…can’t remember which one…
Anyway, back to the movie and no spoilers. Skyfall has everything you expect in a bond film which are, let’s face it, formulaic…but it also is a celebration of the Bond franchise with nostalgia inspiring twists and a role that had to have been written for the original Bond, Sean Connery to play…unfortunately he didn’t.
The movie also has a few very strong messages that struck a cord with me: Continue reading
I spent much of yesterday at the USAPrepares Get Prepared Expo in Springfield, MO. It was my first visit to a preparedness expo or convention and I thought I’d tell you a little about my experiences and write an after action report (AAR). These types of expos happen several times a year in different areas of the country but the one I attended is supposedly the biggest. This particular Get Prepared Expo finishes up on Sunday, Nov 4, 2012.
Please note, there were 72 Seminars scheduled for the two days of the show and I was only able to attended five seminars (on the first day) . The seminars ran the gamut from thinly disguised sales pitches to entertaining and informative. My two favorites were the tele-interview with James Wesley, Rawles and Marjorie Wildcraft’s presentation, Grow your Own Groceries in Your Backyard. I enjoyed both because the presenters knew their material so well and were passionate about their topic. I’ve read Rawles’ Survivalblog website for years and heard him interviewed a number of times so I already knew that he would be a skilled presenter, but what especially impressed me was how he deftly dealt with a couple of questions from the audience that were a little tin-foil hatty. He debunked the silliness that the questioners expressed without belittling the questioner and logically explained away false premises that the questions were based on. Presenters Grade: B+
The editor of PrepperWebsite, Todd Sepulveda has just published the inaugural issue of The Preparedness Review. Todd describes The Preparedness Review as “A FREE eReview of articles from some of the best preparedness authors on the web”.
The inaugural issue features 15 articles from some of my favorite preparedness writers… as well as a couple of articles that yours truly was able to sneak in. I’m humbled by the company I’m keeping within the pages of The Preparedness Review.
Two issues of The Preparedness Review will be published each year, in the Fall and Spring. Here’s a partial author’s lineup for Fall 2012:
Joe Alton, M.D. and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P., are the authors of The Doom and Bloom Survival Medicine Handbook which has been ranked #1 on Amazon in the categories of Survival Skills and Safety/First Aid. They are also the owners of the highest ranked medical preparedness website on the Internet at DoomandBloom.net.
Stewart is the Owner and Lead Instructor at Willow Haven Outdoor – a leading Survival and Preparedness Training Facility located on 21-acres in Central Indiana. Creek is also author of the new book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit.
In addition to being a dear friend of Prepography, Slavo runs the number one ranked survivalist website, SHTFplan.com. I’ll forever be grateful to Mac for the support and encouragement he provided me when I first started Prepography. Continue reading
Many survivalists, hunters, preppers and outdoor enthusiasts buy commercial Meals, Ready to Eat (MRE’s). These commercial MRE’s are very similar to the military MRE’s that the Department of Defense (DOD) provides to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for field use (for some reason the DOD doesn’t allow the manufacturers to sell the same meals to the public). In this short article we’ll discuss what an MRE is and an easy way to cut down on the size and weight of MRE’s…or as we call it in the military…how to field strip a MRE.
The MRE has been the primary field ration of our troops since the early 1980′s. It’s a self contained, calorie dense (over 1,200 calories), shelf stable (up to five years under optimal conditions) meal designed to keep you fueled during labor intensive activities. While it’s designed as ‘a’ meal I found that even during the toughest field exercises it was just too much food/calories to be consumed as ‘a’ meal. Depending on the nature of the exercise and work involved I usually carried and ate 1-2 MRE’s per day. I’ll leave the discussion of the culinary ‘delights’ of the MRE for another time but you should know that these meals aren’t just heavy, they’re also bulky.
Note: The MRE is heavy by backpacking food standards not in relation to the MRE’s predecessor the C Ration. Continue reading
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is the fossilized remains of waterborne diatoms and algae. DE is mined product…wonder if the job description is “fossil miner?” DE has the consistency of and looks like an off-white version of baby or talcum powder. DE is non-toxic and is sold in both food and non-food grades (see warning below about pool filter DE). While DE is mammal safe (even to eat if food grade) wear a mask while handling it as you wouldn’t want DE to get into your lungs. WARNING: Don’t use DE sold as pool filter media for any other purpose as the silica count is too high and breathing this DE in particular could create health issues).
DE’s primary use is for organic, non-toxic pest control. I discovered DE years ago as a heaven sent solution to keep my wife happy…you see she went back and forth on whether she hated the ants invading our house or the poisons I sprayed to keep the ants out more. The product works by scratching up the exoskeleton of insects so that they dehydrate and die. Here are the Top 10 ways to use (food grade and only food grade) DE:
As a Military Intelligence officer I generally cringe when anyone uses the term ‘Oxymoron’ because it’s usually followed by a moronic statement that disparages the noble and honorable profession of Military Intelligence. Before we look at the Top 10 Preparedness Oxymorons let’s review the definition of an oxymoron and some non-preparedness examples:
Oxymoron: a combination of contradictory or incongruous words (as cruel kindness); broadly : something (as a concept) that is made up of contradictory or incongruous elements
Some additional examples of oxymorons from the folks over at www.oxymoronlist.com include: anarchy rules, abundant poverty, border control, centrally planned economy, congressional accountability, free rent, great depression, government efficiency, honest politician, politically correct, United Nations, withheld contribution, zero deficit and my favorite… communist party (Stalin, Tito and Mao were probably more effective as boogie-men than at boogieing down).
We generate and perpetuate our own oxymorons in the preparedness movement and media…here are the Top 10 Preparedness Oxymorons:
I actually started Tomorrow When the War Began as a book a few years ago and it was just a little too ‘Judy Bloom’ for me. I have no issues with an inner monologue, but John Marsden’s running dialog straight from his main character’s (a teenage girl) head was a little much for me. I just looked the author up…a guy wrote that book? Anyway, I get my more than my share of teenage angst with all the teen girls in my family…so I never finished the book. However, I still thought that it sounded like a great story if I could get past all the inner monologue and straight to the story.
The story itself sounded like an Australian Red Dawn…and I liked the movie Red Dawn. Did I mention that Tomorrow When the War Began is a juvenile novel…so are many of Heinlein’s greats so I don’t prejudge…wish I had with the book though. The book is actually the first of the very popular ‘Tomorrow’ series.
So…back to Tomorrow When the War Began, the movie…even though the book wasn’t for me, I was still interested in the story line so when Tomorrow When The War Began came out on Netflix I jumped at the chance to watch it. The movie is a beautifully filmed and well acted Australian production about a group of Australian teens that go camping and return home to discover that an unnamed military force has invaded Australia and taken all their families hostage.
[MINOR SPOILERS ALERT] Continue reading
As you may have noticed we’ve added a new advertiser this week, Extreme Food Storage. Please join me in welcoming them to the Prepography family.
Unlike many operators in the retail preparedness business, Extreme Food Storage is a small, family owned business founded by Bryan McLaren and his wife Amanda. As we were working out the details of their ad I was impressed to hear back from Bryan within just a few minutes each time I had a question…even in the middle of the night. I was also pleased to notice as I checked out their customer service clandestinely…Bryan is still involved with customer service on the individual level. When the owner of the store is waiting on you…you know you’re valued.
Make sure to tell them Andrew sent you!
While I’m kind of partial to Prepography…there are a number of other preparedness related websites out there worth checking out as well. Here are my current Top 10 Favorite Preparedness Websites:
Even as a child I was a big fan of the ammo can. The military issue ammo cans are sturdy metal boxes with latched lids that can be used for a number purposes besides their original. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes but all are designed to be air and water tight thanks to the a rubber gasket and latched lid with friction lock. Additionally, these boxes each have one or more handles so that they are easy to carry. I’ve been thinking a lot about the various uses of these boxes since a buddy and I recently got a steal of a deal on two pallets full through Government Liquidation. Here are the Top 10 uses for your ammo can:
Andrew’s Note: I have seen our national dialog once again turn to and contemplate military intervention in the Middle East. This time it’s Syria (I’ll leave Iran for another day as it actually poses a threat to the U.S. through its pursuit of and stated policy of intending to use Weapons of Mass Destruction). Last year I wrote a critique of one of the foundational articles used to justify our military intervention in Iraq. I am an Iraq war veteran and am proud of my service and our military forces, but I think that Dr. Thomas Barnett’s article, “The Pentagon’s New Map” attempts to rationalize a particularly dangerous collection of ideas. I encourage you to decide for yourself if policing the world is the appropriate use of our power. Dr. Barnett expanded on the ideas presented in this article and published a book of the same title…my critique only addresses the original article from Esquire magazine. Here is that critique:
Dr. Thomas Barnett states in his 2003 article “The Pentagon’s New Map” that countries and regions of the world that are disconnected from the benefits of globalization represent a significant danger to the United States and other globalized nations. He proposes that we should globalize those “Non-Integrating Gap or Gap” nations at the point of a gun if necessary when he states that we must “begin the systematic, long-term exportation of security.” Barnett’s goal of “shrinking the Gap” by further integrating the world’s backwaters and rogue nations into a productive community of nations is laudable and would undoubtedly improve security and prosperity. However, the scope and mechanisms Barnett proposes to achieve worldwide globalism and a stable security environment is simply not affordable. Continue reading