April 24, 2014

Are Knives More Dangerous Than Guns?

We recently heard about the horrific attack by a student who used a knife to wound twenty people. I heard some people say “at least he didn’t have a gun.” Knives being used as weapons in mass attacks is something that has been on my mind for some time. I believe that a knife in the hand of someone willing to use it as a weapon is just as dangerous, if not more so, than a gun. Warning; this article will be more graphic than my usual.

Here are some obvious facts about knives that you’re likely already aware of but which bear repeating. Every home has kitchen knives, but if someone wanted an easier-to-conceal folding knife, one can be purchased at any Walmart, Target or host of other locations, without any kind of permit. Many states have banned certain types of knives, such as switchblades. Some states have limitations on the length of the blade, but I don’t know if there are any states that ban the carrying of knives altogether. A small folding knife can be just as dangerous as tactical one.

Knives are incredibly easy to conceal, hidden until a sudden attack. I carry a Glock 19, which is considered a “compact” handgun. The only place I can carry it that does not print (show a visible bulge) is in the small of my back, which is hardly the most ideal place to carry for me. I can carry a very large folding knife and it is impossible to tell it’s in my waistline or in my pocket.

In Haganah we practiced knife and gun defenses and in close proximity (within an arm’s length away), guns were always easier to defend against. This is obviously over-simplifying it, but we were taught gun takeaways in close proximity that moved you out of the way of the barrel. If the barrel isn’t pointing at you, the gun cannot hurt you. Often the takeaways put your hands on the gun as you move from the line of the barrel, which allows you to strip the gun away from your attacker. Below is one such takeaway. The person talking is the creator of Haganah, who has many years of martial arts training. I had no previous martial arts training and learned this takeaway in one session. Some of the other takeaways are a bit more complex, but I felt very comfortable with them after a few classes. I believe this is because the attacker has the gun trained on you, no matter how they’re holding it. The attacker knows that if the barrel isn’t pointed at you, the gun can’t shoot you.
 


 
Knife disarms are another beast entirely. Some of the defenses require a block. If your arm is not at 90 degrees, the attackers’ momentum can deflect the attack into another part of your body. In the video, you’ll notice that you have to pay attention to the angle, because it determines where you move to, and how you trap the attackers arm. I’ll admit I am not the most coordinated person. After a year of Haganah, I still fumbled on knife defenses. Unlike gun attacks, knives are more dangerous when the knife is moving, which inherently makes it harder to defend against them.
 


 
In knife defense, you obviously never grab the knife. Even if you trap the attackers hand or arm, he can still grab it with his other hand and continue the attack.
 

Tueller Drill

The Tueller Drill is a self-defense exercise created by Utah Police Sargent Dennis Tueller. The drill is used to show how little time one has to defend against a knife attack. I have done this drill at the range, standing back to back with another instructor, with yet another instructor keeping time. When the time keeper said “go”, the other man drew and fired twice at the target. At that same time, I took off running. I easily covered 20+ feet by the time he finished his second shot. All of this took 2-3 seconds. This drill showed me that 20 feet is not nearly the large safety zone I once thought it was.

In this drill, the shooter is expecting a whistle or other command that tells them when to draw and fire, and it takes most people 2-5 seconds to draw. If I am Joe Dirtbag, intending to use a knife to threaten or attack you, I am not going to start advertising it 20 feet away. No, I will get as close as I can and give you as little warning as possible. Even if I’m high on PCP and start charging you with my knife and you manage to draw and shoot me, my momentum will most likely continue toward you, giving me the opportunity to attack.

 
The Following

There is currently a television show about an FBI agent chasing down a man who has a following of homicidal cultists. These people go into public places (restaurants, book stores, train stations, etc.) and randomly stab people. The show is violent and shocking. I am a bit surprised we haven’t seen more of these types of attacks. One such mass knife attack in China recently by ten men armed with knives saw twenty nine people killed and 130 injured.

When I saw the recent school knife attack headline, I immediately wondered if the student who committed the horrific attack had watched The Following.

Granted, the show is drawn from someone’s imagination, but I think the public’s response during the attack is very realistic. There is no sound from the weapon. Often times, the attackers stab multiple people before screams draw attention to them.

When I watch TV or movies, I always try to think about what I would do in that situation. This is one case where always having my back to a wall and situational awareness would be crucial.
 

Training

Anyone who has fired a gun knows it takes some practice or training to get good at it. For instance, if you want to recover from failures or draw and fire from movement, it takes even more training and practice. Granted, someone could take a gun and some ammo and teach themselves the basics.

However, there is no training needed to use a knife to slash or stab. Unlike a firearm, there are no malfunctions. Under stress, people frequently miss their targets with a firearm, even at close distance. With a knife, there is no distance and while the attacker could miss their first stab, as mentioned above, they are most dangerous when they keep slashing and stabbing.
This is not to say I think using a knife for self-defense is a good idea because it takes no training. On the contrary, I think an untrained person wielding a knife for self-defense is quite possibly giving an attacker a weapon. Hollywood has glamourized knife fighting somewhat, with people coming out unscathed. The first rule of knife fighting, is you’re gonna get cut.
 

Closing

I would like to know how many deaths each year are attributed to knives versus guns. With the ease of attaining a knife, no training being required and the ease of concealment, maybe you can understand why I said I am surprised we don’t see more mass knife attacks.

If you see someone brandish a knife, please take it just as seriously as you would a gun.

 
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Food Boredom

Food Boredom


The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Most of us have never experienced food boredom, at least not on the level mentioned above. Those of us in first world countries are so blessed to have just about anything to eat in close proximity. I experienced food boredom a time or two in the service, but it was always short lived. Image only having the same 2 or 3 meals available to eat for the next six months to a year. Do you think you would get bored? How about your family? I have read about some children who simply refused to eat due to food boredom.

I think there are two types of artists; one who can look at various paints and see the individual colors and another who looks at the same paints and sees a finished painting. I think the same can be said for people who cook. I think people who can look at their pantry and food storage and see meals have it much easier.

If you’re kind of person who sees the individual items, my only recommendation is to make sure you have an abundance of a variety of foods that your family actually eats. This way people won’t have to eat rice and beans, beans and rice, rice with a side of beans, you get the idea
 
Picky Eaters

I’m not nearly as picky as I was as a child, but having been a picky eater, I understand it. I have Asperger Syndrome and people with Asperger’s often suffer from sensory issues. There are some foods that either because of how they smell or taste, I just can’t handle.

If you have a picky eater at home, you need to consider that when building your food storage. Their eating habits aren’t going to change just because the stuff hits the fan. In fact, because of the stress of the situation, they’ll probably cling to them even more.
 

Treats

I made two “cruises” into the Persian Gulf on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. Don’t get me wrong, we ate pretty well, but after a month or two of “boat food,” we really looked forward to pulling into the UAE and eating those small overpriced goat cheese pizza’s. My point is that having treats and comfort foods stored away can help break up the boredom.
 

Final Thoughts:

Rice and beans do make up a portion of my food storage but we won’t be eating them for every meal. We’ve also got an assortment of spices and herbs to alter the taste as well.

What other ideas do you have to help avoid food boredom?
 
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Protecting Your Neighborhood

Protecting Your Neighborhood

There were a couple of comments to a recent article about how to handle guard duty. This is something I have given some thought to, so I thought I would share it with you. There was some talk of how things have been handled in various prepper fiction books. I enjoy them and have gotten several ideas from them, but on this topic many of them are just that, fiction.

Let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably someone who is in tune with the fragility of the systems holding society together. This lends to you probably being apt to see things going sideways sooner than many, which probably means you’ll not find many people willing to help keep watch, at least in the beginning. Many of the prepper fiction books also have a force that repels Joe and his merry band of Dirtbags. You’ll also probably have few people who know how to stand watch, or who have the gear to do so.

These challenges don’t mean that we shouldn’t try. It just means we need to take an honest look at what is actually possible with where things are now and what the actual potential of our circumstances are.

 
Neighborhood Watch

Any neighborhood can start a neighborhood watch now. I think these are often made up of people who are open minded, knowing that bad things can happen near them. These are the people who will probably be the most willing to agree to stand watch or participate in guard duty when things go bad. There are several websites that can help you get started with a watch. Police departments are often willing to come and speak to your group as well.
 

Guard Duty or Standing Watch

I believe these are two different things. To me guard duty is someone armed to defend a position and watch duty is someone who keeps watch for danger and reports it. I think we would all like to have a mix of both but the truth is, the best we might be able to do is get a neighbor or two to join us in keeping watch and reporting anything hinky to the other families who’ve joined in keeping watch.

 
Guard Duty

A posted guard is a visible deterrent. In a short term situation, a guard post could be a car parked sideways blocking the flow of traffic. This gives the guard or guard’s concealment and a little cover behind the engine block. If a guard is posted to prevent passage of people into your neighborhood, they should only let people through who can have someone from inside the neighborhood come to the guard post and vouch for them.

I would have to place three of these types of positions in a “T” formation to limit traffic for a few blocks. As you can guess, this could limit the flow of traffic but would take between three and six vehicles, and people to guard each location. I would not just put this type of guard post up on my own. I would get a consensus with others in the neighborhood first.

In a prolonged situation, it might be a good idea to have a hardened location to offer more cover. This could be done by removing the tires from the vehicles, and filling the cars with dirt. The tires could then be used to build berms filled with dirt in other locations.
 
Standing Watch

As I said above, to me, a watch is just that; someone who watches. There are a few different types of watches. A posted watch is someone who is in a set location and reports activity. A roving watch is either someone who roams between posted watches, or just walks a set path.

It is very possible that in the beginning of a situation, there will not be much interest in having a neighborhood watch. It might just be you and your spouse taking turns in case the need to defend your home or bug out arises.

A person on watch generally doesn’t want to bring attention to their position. Therefore, keep sound and light discipline. Don’t have anything that smells different than what is expected. For instance if you are cold and drink a hot cup of cider, the smell can give you away. Light from a flashlight can help you see but is also a dead giveaway of your location. If you use a red lens or color a clear lens with a red marker, it doesn’t provide quite as much light, but is much harder to see at a distance. It also has the benefit of not taking away your natural night vision.

A roving watch can obviously be more visible. They can be used to keep an eye out for things going on between locations. They can also be relief for posted watches who need to take a break.

 
Reality

The reality is, your watch might just be you and your spouse or maybe another family or two. If it’s just you and your spouse, keep watches to 4 or so hours. If there are more families, rotate the watches to give people an uninterrupted night sleep as often as possible.

While we don’t want to be forced to flee, the goal of having a watch posted might be to give enough time for you to do so safely without engaging an armed force. Because of this, have a fallback plan in place, a designated place where people should meet if needed.

 
Ideally

I think the more time that passes by, or the worse things get, the more people will open their eyes and be willing to join in the watch. When this happens, consider using the buddy system. Each guard post has multiple people, as well as the roving watch.

A command center stocked with coffee or other caffeinated beverages to assist the sleepy and help those taking a break refresh is a good idea as well. This could be the garage of someone in a central location.

If you have this many people, there should be training on how to stand a watch and on firearms if they’ll be carrying them.

 
Communications

You’ve probably seen the FRS radios that advertise 30+ miles, which is only in a flat open area. The real range in the average suburban house is probably closer to a mile or two, and even then things can be static. A second option might be DB, which would be more than sufficient in these ranges, but is more expensive. Yet another option would be MURS radio. These also have motion sensors, which can trigger an alarm at the base of the radio. None of these options require a permit to operate.
One idea I’ve come up with is using air horns for alarms. If you have three guard posts, define them one, two and three. If a situation develops at a guard post, they could let one blast for post one, two for the second post and so on. This could let everyone know there is a situation and where.
 
Rules of Engagement

The rules of what to do in various situations should be clear. If it’s just your family, you might want the person on watch to simply wake everyone else. If you have a guard posted at an entrance into your neighborhood, it should be clearly defined what to do when people demand that you let them in, as well as what to do when someone brandishes a firearm or makes threats.
 

Gear

You’re just not going to have enough gear for everyone. You can buy some extra affordable items now. You’ll need to make a judgment call if you share your firearms with others who stand guard duty or a watch.

I recommend having some less than lethal options available. You can buy a large can of pepper spray that is meant to deal with crowds. I’ve seen paint balls adapted to shoot pepper spray as well.

 
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Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

We’ve all got foods that can help lift our spirits or give us comfort when we’re having a bad day. So to me it just makes sense to have some of them stocked for a time when things have taken a turn for the worse. I realize that different people will find comfort in different kinds of food, so I tried to think of as many types of foods that could be considered “comfort foods” (and drinks) that have a decent shelf life.

Because manufacturers use “best by”, “sell by” and expiration dates to generate more business, grocery items do not actually go bad when they reach their expiration dates. Companies don’t cater to prepper’s who buy for long term storage. They have not put any money into figuring out how long their product can be stored. Because of this, the guidelines below are just that and should be looked at as a general rule of thumb and not something hard and fast.

How and where items are stored play a very large part in how long they will remain good. Keep in mind the enemies of food storage; air, moisture, pests, light and heat. Food should be kept at or below 70 degrees. Warmer temps will degrade food quicker. Keep food in a dry place. If you store food in an area with water pipes, I suggest keeping food in paper or cardboard in plastic totes. Keep food out of sunlight. One other enemy of food storage, which is more of a danger to comfort foods; a sweet tooth. To keep the “Not Me Ghost” out of your stock of comfort foods, you could label them as something less enticing.

Many of these products are sold in paper or cardboard materials, which are not air tight and not ideal for long term storage. You would most likely be able to extend the shelf life if you repackage them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Beverages

Dry Drink Mixes         Two years
These would be items such as Kool Aid, Gatorade, Lemon Aid, Tang, hot cocoa and so on.

Alcohol         Many years to indefinite
In the apocalypse, one might really need a stiff drink at the end of the day. Alcohol lasts for a very long time. If left unopened, in a cool dark place, it could have an indefinite shelf life.

Tea         Two Years
Loose tea, instant or tea bags, tea will remain fresh for roughly two years. It would be safe to drink after that, but might not taste as good.

Coffee         It really depends
I’m only going to cover unopened coffee.

Ground Coffee         3-6 months past expiration date in the pantry, 1-2 years in the freezer.
Whole Coffee Beans         6-9 months past expiration date, 2-3 years in the freezer.
Instant Coffee         I have seen from 2-20 years given in the pantry and indefinite in the freezer
Green Coffee Beans These are not yet roasted, and since the bean hasn’t been cracked the shelf life is extended. Camping Survival carries green coffee beans stored in a #10 and claims that because they are devoid of oxygen, that they have a 20 year shelf life.

Pop/soda         It depends
Regular pop/soda will last for a very long time. Diet pop/soda goes bad not long after the expiration date.

Food

Baked Goods         It Depends
Many comfort foods are baked, so here are some common baking ingredients. Many of these can attract bugs. I recommend you store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This will keep them safe from all of the food storage enemies.

Whole Wheat Flour         Varies
Flour won’t keep long unless in the fridge or freezer. Shelf life in the fridge is 6-8 months and 1-2 years in the freezer.

All-Purpose Flour         Varies
All-purpose flour can be stored for 6-8 months in the pantry, 1 year in the fridge and 1-2 years in the freezer.

Wheat Berries         Very Long
Wheat berries are ground into flour. Because the husk has not been cracked, the storage life is greatly lengthened when stored in Mylar with oxygen absorbers.

Powdered Egg         5-10+
Powdered egg is often freeze dried and, like many freeze dried foods, the shelf life is very increased.

Powdered Milk         Depends
Powdered Milk will last a week or so once opened. If left sealed in the pantry 5-10 years is possible.

Cornstarch         Indefinite

Baking Soda         Indefinite

Sugar         Indefinite

Baking Powder         6-18 months
It is suggested to use it within 6-12 months after purchase. However, it may store for 18 months in a cool dry area.

Coco         1-2 years
Opened coco will last for a year or so, unopened 2 years.

Other types of foods

Nuts         1 Month to 2 years
The oil in nuts is what causes them to go rancid. Most nuts will be good for 2-9 months after the expiration date when stored in the pantry, 1 year if stored in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.

Candy         It really depends
There are many types candy, so there is no set answer. If it contains nuts, it obviously has a shorter lifespan. If it is a gummy type of candy, it will probably harden, but should be safe for years. Hard candy has the longest shelf life. M&M’s will last 1-1.5 years due to the candy coating.

Chocolate         Months to years
Items that contain just chocolate, like chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses and candy bars only containing chocolate have a varying shelf life. The lighter the chocolate, the shorter that is. I found the following on the Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. How should I store chocolate?

A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate may turn white. This is called “blooming”. The chocolate is still perfectly edible. Here is what Hershey’s has to say in the FAQ.

Q. My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?

A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom.” Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom.” Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed.

Powdered Jell-O         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not taking into consideration storing long term. But I believe as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Powdered Pudding         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not considering storing long term. But I believe, as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Honey         Indefinite
Honey can harden, but will turn to liquid when heated, and will last forever.

Various Syrups         Indefinitely
Maple Syrup and molasses can last a very, very long time and often do not require refrigeration.

Jams, Jelly         Depends
If they contain natural sugar, they will last a very long time. Just throw them if you see mold develop. If they have imitation sugars they need to be refrigerated. It’s probably not safe to consume them long after the expiration date, or if left unrefrigerated for an extended time.

Peanut Butter         Depends
Many sources I found say that because of the oil in the peanuts, peanut butter is only good for 2-3 months if opened, and 6 months past the expiration date if unopened. However, when the oils go rancid they taste bad, so if it looks ok, and tastes ok, it very well could be safe to eat. The nutritional value of it, of course, is going to degrade over time.

Nutella         Depends
The sources I have found say 3-4 weeks past the expiration. This is purely my speculating, but because Nutella also has nuts in it, it should be in the same boat as peanut butter. I, however, do not know if peanuts and hazelnuts have the same shelf life.

Dried Fruit         Depends
Dehydrated or otherwise dried fruit have a shelf life of roughly 6-12 months in the pantry, 1-2 years in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.

Freeze Dried Deserts         Very long time
Many freeze dried foods boast of a 20+ year shelf life. These often fall into the same time frame.

Dry Soup Mixes         Hard to Say
I have seen some sites claim 1-2 years past the expiration dates. Others say they’ll last almost indefinitely. My guess would be at least five years or so.

Pancake Mix         Depends
Pancake mix contains flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Soup Mixes         Depends
This is another area where the companies want you to eat the soup, not store it for a rainy day. The times they give are a year or two. However, the ingredients are often either dehydrated or freeze dried and they are stored in air tight containers. My guess would be that they would store for many years.

Jiffy Mixes         years
Jiffy says “For best results, we recommend using all “JIFFY” mixes by the “Best If Used by” date. Beyond this date, dependent upon local weather and storage conditions, the quality of the end product may be affected.” I would think, if kept in optimal conditions, they will store for 1-2 years. Many of them will contain flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Popcorn         Depends
Microwave popcorn or popcorn that has been flavored is probably as advertised. Popcorn that is just popcorn seed, like wheat, because the hull hasn’t been broken, will store indefinitely. It can be popped, or ground and used as cornmeal. Once ground into cornmeal, the shelf life is greatly decreased.

If you have an item that you would like to add, a correction or a comment, please post it in the comments section.
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Potable Water Preparedness

Potable Water Preparedness

Having fresh drinking water is something I think most people take for granted. But if the faucets quit running, or the water coming out of them is unsafe, we would quickly find ourselves in trouble! The rule of threes tells us that the average human can go three days without water. But that doesn’t say how bad you’ll be feeling after just one day without water. It doesn’t say that if the temps are hotter you could very well have less than three days to live without water.

The rule of threes also doesn’t say how people will act when they realize they can’t depend on the tap to give them safe drinking water. Over the last few years I have read of multiple water main breaks, or accidental spills that polluted various cities’ water supplies. In many of these cases I have read of fist fights breaking out; people fighting over a case of water bottles. As I’ll point out below, when it comes to water, there is no silver bullet that will take care of all of your water needs.
 

Water Filters and Purifiers

I firmly believe everyone should own a water purifier as a part of their preps. However, this is not a silver bullet that will fix all of your water problems. You may remember hearing about the the chemical leak in West Virginia that left 300,000 people without drinkable water. A company had a tank containing a compound called 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol that leaked into a local river. As it turns out, this compound is too small to be filtered out by even the best water filters.

One other thing to keep in mind about purifying water is that many means of purifying only take care of bacteria and viruses. Boiling, for example, will kill all bacteria and viruses by the time the water begins to boil but will not remove any of the chemicals that were in that water. The same can be said for UV purifiers, Iodine and water purification tablets.
 

Water Storage

There is a rule of thumb about water storage that says to store one gallon of water per person per day for drinking. My problem with this rule is that I drink that much per day now, and I am not exerting myself like I might be when the stuff begins to fly. The temps where I live are also much cooler than they will be in a few months. I have also heard people say to store two gallons, using the second gallon for cooking and cleaning. I think this number is actually safer, but now you need to increase the amount of storage needed.

I have seen some water storage systems that use multiple 55 gallon food grade drums to store water. While this is a great idea, it requires a good amount of space to house the drums, not to mention the cost of the barrels.
 

I Own a Well

Owning a well takes care of some of the water problems, but not all of them. The pumps are electricity driven, so if the grid goes down, or your pump breaks down, you have water, but no way to get to it. You could switch to a solar powered pump and have a spare, but I have no idea if this is cost effective.
 

Water Procurement

What I mean by “water procurement” is the ability to find water nearby (within walking distance) that you could bring home to purify. I can think of five places nearby where I could get water, but I live in the land of 10,000 (actually closer to 20,000) lakes, not to mention rivers, streams, ponds and so on, so I realize I have it easier than some of you in this regard.

Here are a few places that are not natural bodies of water that I keep in mind for procuring water. Nearby swimming pools; yes they have chlorine but that will off-gas in a matter of days. Depending on where you live, hot water heaters also hold 30-40 gallons (some more). I had two rain barrels going last year. Within minutes of a moderate rainfall, they were both full. The water was filthy, so it would definitely need to be filtered.
 

Putting it All Together

We don’t know what might happen to threaten our supply of drinking water, so there is no single silver bullet solution. What is the answer to this problem? Redundancy! I think it is wise to consider all of the above and incorporate them into your preparations. Have some water stored to get you through small emergencies, but also know multiple locations near you where you can procure more water, be they natural or man-made. Have a means to purify that water!

 
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The Seed of the Month Club

Seed of the Month Club

Now is the time of year to start thinking about the spring garden. Part of that process is ordering seeds. You may have noticed that one of my supporters is the Seed of the Month Club. I only accept advertisers that I think are high quality and can really benefit you, my readers. The Seed of the Month Club is among them!

Because it’s approaching the garden season, I thought I would tell you a little about the Seed of the Month Club, so you have some time to take advantage of it before you start your seeds.

I asked Mike the Gardener a few questions about the Seed of the Month Club and about gardening in general. Those questions and answers are below.
 

Chris: More and more people are taking up gardening for the first time. I can attest that there is a learning curve in gardening, so for beginners what is a good fruit or vegetable that is hard to screw up?

Mike: I always tell everyone, the first rule of thumb is to grow what you like to eat. It makes no sense in growing something that no one in your family will consume. When you grow something you are likely to eat, the chances of you taking care of it and seeing it through are far greater. With that said, there are a number of vegetables that I would consider very easy to grow, but the top of my list would be tomatoes.
You can grow just one plant and get plenty of fruit from them especially if you grow cherry or grape types.
 

Chris: How should seeds be stored?

Mike: To keep seeds for longer term storage, you want to make sure they are kept in a cool, not cold, dry location. This past gardening season I just germinated some onion seeds that were about 8 years old.

When they are stored correctly, you can get great germination rates from your seeds.
 

Chris: What is a good method to tell if you need to water?

Mike: What I would recommend to all gardeners is to keep track of the amount of water given to plants. I find that less water is better than a lot of water. You will want to keep track of the amount of rain you receive so that you know for sure your plants need water. Most vegetables can get away with just an inch or two of water per week.

However, let’s say you do not have a rain gauge, you can always refer back to the old “dirt” test. Plunge your finger into the soil about an inch or two and if the soil is dry and crumbly, chances are your plants need some water.
 

Chris: Can you list a few things that someone with limited space could grow?

Mike: This is a great question. It’s also open to a lot of possibilities as what or who defines “limited” space. Keeping in mind the answer to question number, my recommendation would be to grow prolific producers that can also be grown vertically. While you may be limited horizontally, when it comes to gardening, the sky really is the limit. I would recommend indeterminate tomatoes, again, cherry, grape as well as various other heirloom varieties, pole beans, indeterminate cucumbers such as Ashleys or Straight 8s. Peas are another good choice as well. My favorite are sugar snaps.

If someone is new to gardening I offer up 3 tips that are very useful to make sure new gardeners do not get frustrated. One, grow what you like eat. I touched on this earlier. Two, keep your garden small.
Gardening is work and the larger garden you have, the more work it can be. So if you are new to gardening, start small with just a few plants and grow each season from there. Three, keep your garden in sight.

Preferably right outside a window of your home in a room that you and your family frequent the most. I have found that people who are not constantly looking at their garden, tend to forget about it.
 

Chris: How many seeds can members expect to get per month? (A reader had this question months ago, so I asked Mike.)

Mike:
It varies based on seed variety, for example, squash seeds are larger so you can expect about 20 to 50 depending on which variety of squash … whereas tomato seeds are small so you can expect around 300 to 500 seeds in a packet.
 

Here is some info taken from the Seed of the Month FAQ.

How much is a membership?

In the United States
Six months $4.11
One Year $3.70
Two Years $3.33

International
Six months $5.11
One Year $4.60
Two Years $4.14

Your Membership Includes

• Open pollinated, heirloom varieties
• 8 packs of seeds your 1st month
• 4 packs of seeds every month thereafter
• 30 day money back guarantee
• 25% off vegetable gardening products in our online store
• Free shipping

When can I expect to receive my first mailing of seeds?

Your first shipment is sent out within 48 hours of you ordering. We ship via the United States Postal Service. The length of delivery time will be based on your location. You can expect your first shipment to arrive within 7 to 10 business days from the date you place your order.

When can I expect my monthly seeds to arrive?

Your first 8 packs of seeds are mailed right away. Then each month you will receive 4 packs of seeds by the last Friday of each month for the month in which they are due.

25% Discount

Just in case you missed it, Mike gives members a 25% discount on the Average Person Gardening Online Store. That is a 25% on vegetable, fruit and herb seeds, seed starting supplies and on soil testers. This would be a great way to save on seeds that you know you want to grow for sure this season.

 

My Take

I like that Mike only works with companies that give non-GMO, open pollenated, heirloom seeds. This way you can collect the seeds at the end of the season if you so choose.

As I stated in one of the questions to Mike, there is a learning curve to gardening. I think it is a skill every Prepper should practice, even if it’s only in a pot you place in the window. I agree with Mike, going vertical is a great way to mitigate limited space. Here is a trellis I made of PVC,. A version of this could be made for a large container.

If you haven’t ever looked at an heirloom seed catalog, you would be amazed at how many varieties of vegetables there are! I think this is a great way to get some seeds for a variety of vegetables you might not have known about previously.

I also think this would be a great way to build your own “Survival Seed Bank”. It’s cheaper than some of the commercial ones I have seen.

 
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Become More Proficient With Your Gun Without Firing a Shot

Before I get to today’s article I have a quick personal update. I am having arthroscopic surgery to correct an impingement on my left hip early tomorrow. I have no idea how I’m going to feel the rest of the week. If there isn’t another article this week or an email response or if I am slow to respond to a comment or email, now you know why.
 

Become More Proficient With Your Gun Without Firing a Shot

Even though ammo prices have come down some, shooting can be a very expensive hobby. Being proficient with your gun involves more than just shooting. Today I am going to give you some exercises you can do for free or with minimal investment in the safety of your home, without firing a single shot.

For the sake of safety, I recommend you practice these things with an unloaded firearm. Be sure to double check.
 
Dry Firing

Dry firing simply means that you practice all of the mechanics of firing a firearm with either an empty chamber or some type of snap cap, which is a plastic dummy round. Dry firing is fine with most firearms. Check your manufacturer to be sure. I know you should not do so with a .22, as it can damage the firing pin.

The benefit of dry fire practice is that it can help correct bad habits, such as anticipating recoil. If you anticipate the loud bang and the gun bucking in your hand, you can pull down and left (for right handers). If there is no loud bang, you can practice steady hand control, and do it enough times that when you do go to the range you are in the habit of not pulling down and left.

Another way to find and correct bad habits is to stack a few pennies or dimes on top of the slide. If they fall when you squeeze the trigger, you can tell if you’re pulling one way or the other by the direction and timing of when the stack fell.

Yet another way, this time with a cost, is to buy a laser. Nebu Preotec lasers are fairly inexpensive, at around $50. The one I have now is accurate enough to use for aiming at something I actually wanted to hit. It is very easy to tell if you are pulling one way or another.
 

Drawing From the Holster

It’s a fact, many ranges will not let you draw from the holster. The problem with this is that if you’re ever out and have to draw from the holster, you’re going to be much clumsier under stress than if you had practiced.

If you combine this with dry firing, you can practice an entire self-defense cycle. I know some people love the buzz timers for practicing and I think that is great if you’re practicing for IDPA or another competition. I don’t like the idea for self-defense training though. If you’re out on the town and you hear a loud noise, you’re not going to pull your gun and start shooting. No, if you hear a loud noise, you’ll orient yourself to the direction of the threat, look to see what is going on and then you’ll determine if you need to draw or not.

Instead of a buzzer, use a TV show or a movie. Since no one in the show is actually going to be a threat to you, pick a character, and every time they come on the scene draw and fire. Or pick one color shirt, say red, and every time someone comes on the screen wearing a red shirt, you draw and fire. If two people are wearing red shirts, scan and dry fire at them.

If you get a new holster this is something you should do. For instance, my gun sits very differently than I was used to in the Crossbreed holster I got last summer. Also practice re-holstering without looking. If you are ever forced to shoot, you’ll want to keep your eyes on the attacker and the ongoing scene without looking for your holster.
 
Drawing From a Concealment Garment

Drawing from the holster is great, but make sure you add in doing so with the clothes you wear when you are carrying it. If you use a CCW purse, practice with it.

Adding in the one extra movement, that of clearing your garment before you can draw, can really foul things up and slow you down.
 

Practice Without Looking

As I explained in Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident, many people experience time distortions during a critical incident. For this reason, I recommend you learn to reload without looking. The reason for this is that if you look at your hands, you may perceive that you’re reloading much to slow, and then speed up when you were going at normal speed. The problem is that if you speed up, you might make a mistake.

Do you have any tips you can give that can help us be more proficient without firing a shot?

 

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Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident

Changes in the Body During a Critical Incident

When under the extreme stress of a critical incident, there are numerous physiological changes that take place to enable our fight or flight response. Knowing these changes exist and training with them in mind can greatly increase your chances of surviving an armed critical incident.

The points I’ll cover today have been widely known of for some time. However, over the last ten or so years, video footage from dashboard cameras, security cameras, and footage from military conflicts has clearly shown how the human body reacts when startled. Also, great strides have been made in neuroscience that have clarified the changes that take place under the stress of a critical incident.

The information in this article is what I have decided to include in the Minnesota permit to carry courses that I will eventually be teaching. I am only adding the information pertinent to the physiological changes. This being the case, some areas such as legal implications or some training techniques that can aid in achieving some maneuvers without looking won’t be mentioned. If you would like that information, feel free to come take a class!  If you are interested in reposting or republishing this information in any way, please contact Chris (at) preparedchristian (dot) net.
 

External Changes – The Flinch Response

The external things that the body does when startled are instinctual, they take the short path through the brain bypassing any cognitive thought. These instinctual reactions are often called the flinch response; made up of lowering ones center of gravity, orienting towards the threat and moving ones hands in the line of sight relative to the threat.
 

Lowering of the center of gravity

When startled or threatened, we lower our center of gravity by bending at the knees and leaning slightly forward at the waist. This action takes place before one can process the reason for the action. By bending at the knees we are now ready for quick movement making us better able to flee or to fight. In any sport, you can see athletes lower their center of gravity before jumping, running or just about any other movement.
 

Orientation to the Threat

When startled or threatened we reflexively turn our attention to the threat. This allows us to take in more information about the threat.
 

Hands Moved to Line of Sight

This is often described as moving hands up, but in truth, the hands are moved relative to the position of the threat. If the threat was from a snarling dog you would put your hands in your line of sight downward. This has a survival bonus, as we’ll discuss below. Blood is pulled from the extremities and pooled in large muscle groups and in the core. The benefit of this is that if your hands move to your line of sight, and you are deflecting a dog bite, a knife or any other implement that can cut, it will bleed much less.
 

Internal Changes

Blood is what brings energy to the body. In a critical incident, there are several changes in blood flow. This increases the body’s ability in many ways but also decreases it in others. There are also several other chemicals released that cause various changes as well. Simply elevating your heart rate and then trying to train is not the same as having an elevated heart rate under a critical incident.
 

Increased Visual Acuity in the Center of Vision and “Tunnel Vision”

In a critical incident there are things that take place to allow the brain to take in more data. First the eye has two types of sensors, rods and cones. Cones are concentrated in the center of the eyes’ field of vision and are responsible for detail. Rods are more densely distributed on the edges of the eyes’ field of vision, and are more sensitive to motion.

The second thing that takes place is that the thalamus filters out non-critical input. By filtering out information that is not critical, we can bring in more critical information in a shorter amount of time. The thalamus filters out non-critical information, which includes anything not in the center of our vision.

Because of the physiological changes in the eye, and the instinctive orientation to the threat, the threat stays in the center of our vision, where the vision is in far greater detail. Coupled with the thalamus filtering out non critical data, you could lose as much as 80% of your field of vision, but what you do see could be in incredible detail.

Because the thalamus is filtering out data from the rods, our vision is decreased, so you probably can’t track multiple targets. Tips on scanning for targets will be offered later.

Because of our decreased field of vision, it is important not to take your eyes off the threat, not to reload, clear a malfunction or for any other reason. It does take some practice to do these things without looking but for several reasons, it is important not to take your eyes off your target. Practicing clearing of malfunctions and reloading without looking can be done at home, either with snap caps or with empty magazines.
 

Distortion of Time

In Law enforcement studies, 70% of officers involved in a shooting reported experiencing time slowing down. Twenty percent of officers experienced time jumps or things perceived to go faster than they are.

As we learned, the physiological changes in the brain and the changes in the eye allow the thalamus to bring in critical data faster but the temporal lobe, the cognitive part of the brain, isn’t processing this information any faster. For this reason, the cognitive thinking part of your brain is processing twice the amount of data, so it seems like time has slowed down.

You might be wondering why this is important. It is for at least three reasons.

1. Since time distortion and memories might not be credible, don’t provide that information to police right away. Discuss it with a lawyer first. They’ll understand that sometimes memories and recollection of time can be off.
2. If we change the center of our field of vision to our gun, to watch as we reload, we will bring in more data. The cognitive portion of our brain is going to make us think we’re going too slow. If we speed up to compensate, we may make a mistake we wouldn’t have otherwise.
3. If we take our eyes from our threat, we most likely lose focus due to tunnel vision. When we try to find the threat, if our brains have perceived time to have slowed down or sped up, coupled with tunnel vision, chances are good that the threat has moved and we will lose precious seconds relocating it.
 
Auditory Exclusion

Auditory exclusion is the thalamus filtering out auditory data. In law enforcement studies, this occurred for 85% of officers involved in a critical incident. Sometimes all sound was diminished and in others just the sound of the gun shots was diminished.

Selective auditory exclusion is something we’re all familiar with. It is simply the thalamus tuning into one signal over another. Two examples of auditory exclusion in daily life are the ability to carry on a conversation in a noisy restaurant, and children not hearing that they need to clean their rooms.

There have been trainers who have taught that you should occasionally practice without hearing protection. In a critical incident the thalamus protects the ears, this is not the case outside of a critical incident. This is reckless advice that could permanently damage your hearing.

 
Memory Distortions and no Memory at All

Because of how the senses and brain function during a critical incident, it is possible for there to be memory distortions and even false memories. For instance, an officer reported that the assailant was down a long hallway when in fact there was no hallway at all.

There have been numerous cases where a police officer has gaps missing from a shooting or no memory at all. An article published for the journal of the international association of law enforcement instructors in 2001 states that it is common within the first 24 hours to recall roughly 30% of the occurrence, 50% after 48 hours and 75%-95% after 72-100 hours.

Memories are made differently when formed under extreme stress. There have been cases where a thought enters into the mind during a critical incident and the person believes the thought actually happened. For example, there were two officers involved in a shooting. One officer believed his partner had been shot. When the suspect was killed, the officer still believed his partner had been shot and began to search him looking for the bullet wound to make sure, despite the other officers argument that he was not hit.
 

Loss of Fine Motor Skills

Under stress, vasoconstriction occurs. As the heart rate rises, blood is pooled into the core and large muscle groups, draining blood from the extremities. This results in a loss of fine motor skills. This means that the ability to efficiently manipulate a slide release, rack the slide and reload a revolver or drop a magazine will be diminished.

Because of loss of motor skills, I don’t recommend you use the slide release to bring the slide forward. Instead, rack the slide with your weak hand, not using your finger tips to do so.

I also think that guns that require a lot of manual dexterity to use are not the best self-defense guns. If you have a firearm with a safety, clumsy magazine release, or any other feature that requires fine motor skills, you will need to practice those actions a significant amount to turn those movements into “muscle memory”.

 
Scanning

There is a chance that there is more than one threat. Once the primary threat has been removed, you need to scan for other threats. Remember you’re most likely going to have tunnel vision, so you’ll need to scan thoroughly. There is also a chance you’re effected by auditory exclusion and may not be able to hear verbal threat, or commands from law enforcement.

Don’t just swing your head back and forth. Look at people. Look at hands. Are they armed? Are they coming at you? Is anyone talking to you?

Once you are sure there are no further threats, re-holster and call 911.

 
Physiological Changes and the Police

There is a school of thought that says if you have to shoot in self-defense, “never talk to police” afterward, or just tell them you need your lawyer. I don’t agree with this. Let’s face it, the person lying on the ground bleeding is a pretty convincing victim. If you don’t give police enough information to tell them “the attacker did this” and you were “afraid for your life” and had to use force to defend yourself, they have no choice but to treat you as the attacker.

Don’t misunderstand, if you must use deadly force, the police most likely are not your friend. They are there to collect information for the prosecutor. After you tell them that you were the victim, and what the attacker did to cause you to be afraid for your life, stop talking.

Why? When looking back over all of the physiological changes that take place, it does not take much to believe that your perception of what happened could be quite different from what actually took place. Any statement that you give police will now be on record and could make you look guilty, or like you may be hiding something.

Instead, tell the police that you know this is very serious, that you will give a statement after you have had time to calm down and speak with your attorney. I also recommend finding a lawyer that is aware of the physiological changes and can guide you through the statement to police.

For this reason, many police departments force all officers to undergo between 12-72 hours of downtime before they speak about the shooting.

I hope this helps shed some light on the body’s response in a critical incident and has given you a few ideas on how you can modify your training to go along with what your body will do during the process.

 

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Increasing Random Acts of Violence

Increasing Random Acts of Violence

If you have followed the news at all recently, I am sure you’ve seen reports of the “Knockout Game” as well as all of the reports of violence on Black Friday. You’ve probably heard of the reports over the last few years about violent flash mobs. These types of incidents seem to be happening much more over the last couple of years, and I expect they’ll continue to increase.
 

Knockout Game

This type of game isn’t new. I remember seeing reports of it over a year ago. It’s just a little more common now, and the news is reporting about them. The goal of the game is to knock someone out with one punch.

The assaults can be fatal. In New Jersey, Ralph Santiago, 46, a homeless man, was walking alone on September 10 when he was suddenly struck from behind. He had a preexisting brain condition that compounded the damage, leading to his death.

I have watched a few of the attacks that were caught on video and the victims are often sucker punched so they couldn’t defend themselves in any way.

I can’t remember another time in our history with this much widespread violence for no reason other than the entertainment of the perpetrator. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying there haven’t been other widespread acts of violence, such as racially based attacks, and hangings, but those were all acts of hate based on race. I’m not saying either is excusable. With the racial violence you could tell what the motive was, but with the knock out game there seems to be no motive but to inflict pain upon another human being.

 
Black Friday

Over the last few years, there have been a huge number of reports of violence at a variety of stores in many states, all in the name of saving a few bucks. There have been Stabbing’s, trampling’s, shootings, pepper sprayings, and various other types of assaults.

If you’re someone who thinks that when the stuff hits the fan you’re going to run to the store to get a few quick items, keep Black Friday human behavior in mind. People behave like this to save a little money. Imagine what they’ll do when they realize they don’t have enough food at home and you have the last item they want!
 

Flash Mobs

I’m talking about the type of flash mob that is made up of several young people who stream into a store, stealing as much as they can, as quickly as they can. These flash mobs sometimes lead to violence.

 
What Can We Do?s

These types of attacks are uncommon, but we should still do what we can to limit our vulnerability.

First and foremost, we need to be vigilant with our Situational Awareness. In some of these attacks, you’d need to look behind you after a group of young people passed by. Because of this, if a group of young people walk by, elevate your alert level of the Cooper Color Code and maintain that level until you are comfortable with their distance.

Even with a high level of awareness, you might still be ambushed by these cowards. Because the attack comes in the form of a punch, the attack is not “telegraphed” until the attacker is two arms lengths away. At these distances a firearm isn’t much good. In order to defend yourself against any close combat attacks, I highly recommend a real world martial art. I have mentioned that I have studied Haganah, which is based off of Krav Maga. Both are excellent. You might have another type in your area. Check into it!

We can utilize the buddy system. In the military, you’re told not to go alone when in port anywhere, to take a buddy or five. I haven’t studied all of the knockout attacks, but the few I have looked into stated that victims were all alone. If you have a friend along, it might lower your chance of being a target of any kind, let alone a knockout target.

Exercise your Second Amendment right to carry a concealed firearm, if you are legally able to do so. It might not protect you from being a victim of the knockout game, but it could and it could also be enough to deter an angry flash mob if you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

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Police Over Reaching on Gun Rights

Before I get too far into today’s topic, I want start out by saying that I think the vast majority of law enforcement are good, upstanding people. There are a few exceptions, some of which I want to bring to your attention today. I also want to give some thoughts on dealing with law enforcement when the officer is less than a stellar civil servant.
 

Dighton man sues town, police chief after cops suspend his firearms license, seize his guns

In this article we’re told of a law abiding 19 year old named Mathew Plouffe. He obeyed the law, obtained a firearm Identification Card (FID) and purchased 2 shotguns and a rifle. He was pulled over because his car matched the description of a vehicle that was being sought for a recent crime. The officer noted that there was an unloaded and locked shotgun in the vehicle and let Plouffe go without a citation.

The police chief learned of an incident where Plouffe had been shooting with minors, with their parents’ permission. This caused the chief to question Mr. Plouffe’s maturity. Police went to Plouffe’s home and confiscated his FID, two shotguns and rifle.

Plouffe is filing a law suit claiming infringement on his second amendment rights. As the article notes:

“The only reason you can’t get that license or it should be taken away is if you are disqualified for statutory reasons, convicted of crime, or confined to mental institution, or are addicted to alcohol or controlled substances, or you get a 209A restraining order against you,” Trask said.”

My Take:

This is absolutely ridiculous and an obvious overreach by the police chief. I think Mathew Plouffe handled this in the correct manner and I really hope he wins his case. I also hope that an example is made of the police officers involved.
 

Cops Accused of Forcing Woman to Delete Video of Husband’s Arrest Sparked by ‘Unloaded’ Shotgun and Trespasser on His Hunting Property

This article is a bit longer and a bit more of a head shaker. Father and son are on their 10 acres hunting; the son with a crossbow, and father with a .410. While hunting, the pair find a man trespassing, riding a dirt bike on their land. They escort the man to the house and the father asks his wife to call the DNR to report a trespass.

When police show up, the man still has the unloaded .410 in hand, holding the shotgun in one hand, and the shell in the other to declare the firearm was unloaded. One of the officers demands the man put the gun on the ground. The officer then places him in cuffs and lays him on the ground.

The wife then starts the following recording.

You can tell the officer is uncomfortable being filmed as he fumbles to say what kind of gun the man was holding, and while he tries to find the words to explain to the wife why her husband is in cuffs. The officer then tells her to stop filming and tells her to give him the phone, as he is taking it as evidence. She says “no” and the officer threatens to place her under… the video ends, but the wife says the last word was arrest. According to The Blaze, the officer deleted the video and gave the phone back before they left. The family was able to recover the video with software, the Blaze has an explanation including pictures of the process.

The husband was charged with a felony for pointing the .410 at the trespasser; a claim made by the trespasser that the father claims is untrue. He was not charged for having the gun in hand when the police arrived, nor is it mentioned in the arrest record.

My Take:

In some states it is illegal to record either visual or audio of law enforcement. It must not be in Michigan or they would have done more than erase the video. In either case, the video and pictures really add to the land owners’ case.

Even though the carrying of a firearm in public is not against the law and even though he was on his own land, he probably would not have had any issues had he not been holding the gun when the police arrived. I have read several accounts about police who don’t like civilians owning or carrying a firearm. My guess is the officers involved in this case are two more. If you’ll notice, the husband of the woman filming is cuffed and lying on the ground while the man who was trespassing is cuffed but sitting in a chair.

The trespasser doesn’t appear to have been charged as the claim was made that the land was not properly posted. If you look at the pictures from the link to The Blaze’s article, you’ll see that it is posted, though those could have been added after the fact (I doubt that).

Like I said, even though they were not breaking the law and not charged with a crime with the gun as far as holding it when the police showed up, it probably would have gone better for him had he not been holding the gun.

I hope they counter-sue. Unless The Blaze missed something, it looks to me like this is another case of law enforcement overreaching.


Final Thoughts

When it comes to law enforcement and guns, it is always best to err on the side of caution. I use these two stories today to make a point; second amendment rights are under more attack now than ever before. As time passes they will be even more infringed upon. We have veterans who have been stripped of their second amendment rights with a letter from the VA, because they may have PTSD. We’ve got people losing their rights because of a picture posted on facebook.

Have you thought about what you might do if your rights are infringed upon? Do you know the name and number of a good second amendment attorney in your local area?

As a side note, here is an article I found very interesting. It explains Why So Many Police Chiefs Favor Gun Control, When Most Sheriffs Don’t.

In short, it says that police chiefs are appointed by the mayor and if they have a mayor who is anti-gun, and they want to keep their job, they support the mayor’s position. Meanwhile sheriffs are elected by “We the People”, and they tend to vote more for individual freedoms.

 
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