October 26, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Finding Like Minded People To Group With

From the beginning of time, humans have sought out each other to form community. “God did not make man to be alone”, “there is safety in numbers”, “it takes a village to raise a child” and countless other adages, quips, sayings and so forth exist about this topic. They all boil down to the same core point; we need other people for protection, to provide the things that we are unable to provide and for comradery just to name a few.

The goal of this article is to take a look at why you may want to consider forming a group, how we can find some likeminded people now, some things to consider before opening up your group to others, and some governing principles you may want to consider.
 
 
The Myth of Self-Reliance

While I think being self-reliant is a noble goal and that we should strive to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as we can be, it is my belief that it is impossible to be truly independent of anyone else for all but the extremely wealthy.

Consider every item you’ve purchased over the last year; clothing, food, energy, paper goods, gasoline, self-defense items, entertainment. How many of those things did you have to rely on someone else to provide?

If someone owns acreage with a large garden, fruit trees and livestock and can grow all the food needed to feed themselves and their livestock, they have some of the biggest issues solved. Say they have enough solar panels to provide for all of their electricity and wood for heat. You might correctly assume that they are self-reliant.

Are they able to provide all of the labor needed to manage that property? How will they provide clothing? What if they need medical attention? Pay for taxes? All of these things mean they need to depend on others. If they produce a surplus from their land, both in terms of livestock and crops, they could sell that surplus to pay for some of these things, but then they would be dependent on people to purchase from them.
 
 
Where, oh Where, Oh Where Can They Be?

I am frequently asked, “where can one find likeminded people nearby, to get to know and possibly form a group with?” Here is every idea I have! I am hoping others add to it in the comment section.

Here is the most realistic answer, and one you might not like; your backyard. Through my church, I have been blessed to meet several other prepper’s, some of whom I’ve become close friends with. However, my church is 20 miles away and some of those close friends live even further than that! In a major survival event, the chances that we’ll be able to group up are low.

I’m not completely discounting the idea of forming long distance MAG’s (Mutual Aid Group). However, in the majority of small to medium scenarios, those that live near you, while possibly not as likeminded as we would prefer, are far more available.

Take these recent riots in Ferguson, MO. If one lived in Ferguson, they could have talked with their neighbors and agreed to watch over each other’s property. They could be from completely different political spectrums, but in that situation, an agreement could probably have been made for added vigilance. Now they might frown on what your response is if thugs try getting into one of your homes, but you don’t have to agree on every aspect to agree to look out for each other and keep each other alerted.

How can you introduce the subject of preparedness or an agreement to have each other’s backs? As with anytime you talk to others about preparedness, speak in generalities and don’t let on to how prepared you are.

This isn’t a one size fits all question. If you don’t know your neighbors well, consider getting to know them first. You might find out they are not the kind of people you want to be grouped with, or you might find they are the perfect prepping neighbor!

Social media isn’t going away, and it can be a great tool. You could create a facebook group and invite all of your neighbors. There is, however, an alternative, specifically created for this called Nextdoor.com. It is a social networking site for neighbors; you can find out more Nextdoor.com here.

Another way you could build relationships within your community is by having a block party/potluck. Everyone could bring a different side dish and their own main dish and you could grill.

One solid way to gauge someone’s level of interest or acceptance of prepping is through gardening, sharing your extra produce. Conversations about the extra veggies can lead to the reasons you grow them, which can lead to conversations on preserving, which can lead to conversations on having some extra food around. While they might not have a garden, you could offer to teach them how to can, freeze and otherwise store veggies they might buy at the local farmers market.

You could gauge someone’s willingness for an agreement to watch each other’s backs by their interest in a neighborhood watch. You could provide the neighborhood crime statistics from the local police department. If people aren’t interested, you’ve planted a seed. If things start to fall apart, they’ll probably be much more interested, and you’ve already laid the groundwork.
 
 
What Kind of People Should You Group With?

I think you should group with people that are as likeminded as possible. You might think I would say only Christian, but I have met some great non-believers, and have met some Christians that I don’t care to spend another minute with this side of heaven. To be ideal for me, it would be a group of preparedness-minded believers in Christ, because I think that could have a lot of upside. More on this later.

There are preppers from all walks of life. There are extremists from both sides of the spectrum. There are actually the stereotypical Rambo-wannabe-survivalists, and there are pot growing, tree hugging hippies. To me the term “Preppers” means anyone who prepares. So, if you’re forming a group or looking to join one, make sure they are truly your type of preppers.
 
 
Not In Your Area

Let’s say that you, for whatever reason, really want to look for people outside of your neighborhood to group up with. If you’re seeking them out online, you’ve probably already determined they are at least preparedness-minded. If they’re smart, they won’t divulge how well prepared and neither will you. I, personally, would be hesitant to trust someone who is a completely open book unless they’ve got a good reason to be. If you’re looking to join with them, anyone else they’ve been an open book with is now a liability to you. On the other hand, someone who is vague and cannot or will not answer direct questions that don’t reveal their complete level of preparedness should raise some concern as well.

I suppose there are different reasons to look for someone to join with that lives outside of one’s area. For the sake of this article, my reason is to have a remote bug out location. Before I would consider meeting in person, I would get to know them as best as I could online. If you meet on a forum, search through their old forum posts. If you meet on facebook, look through their old postings. Spend some time getting to know them via email.

Before you go in person, make sure their situation is what they claim it to be. If you have the address, doing a satellite map search will show you the approximate terrain but won’t show you the exact boundaries of the land they own. If they claimed it to be on a lake and the lake is five miles away, that would be a hint that something isn’t right.

Here are some resources I have found that can aid in finding likeminded people. I am not endorsing any of them, and if you decide to use them, please use caution.

ArkHaven Ministries: Acts Model Christian Community.

PrepperLink: Social media outlet for preppers.

AbleHaven: Social network for wandering families.

PrepperGroups.com Blog and forum

American Preppers Network One of the largest forums with the goals of connecting people in your area.

Meet Up Not just for prepping, but a great way to connect with those near you interested in various topics.

Other ways to connect with prepper’s is by conversation on facebook and twitter. I haven’t been a regular to any forums in years but I know there are some very high quality ones out there.

If you have a suggestion please post it in the comment or via email to Chris {at} preparedchristian [dot] net and I will add it to this list.
 
 
Interview Potential Members

I would really treat a meeting with potential group members as a job interview. You don’t need to know how many beans they’ve got but knowing what got them interested, when they started, if their family is on board, what they would do if money was no object are pertinent questions. Ask questions about them and their preparedness journey; how they handle conflict, what benefits they see in a group, what potential conflicts they might see, etc. Ask questions that matter to your group. If you think it is important that every child learn to shoot and every adult carries a firearm, you might want to see if that is a problem as well.

My all-time favorite prepper fiction book is Lights Out. I think this is probably the most realistic depiction of how things would unfold in a large scale event. One of the things I liked is that the group of neighbors in Lights Out have limited space but realize they need to bring in other people. They decide to bring in people that complement their skills sets.

If you decide to form a group with others, it might be a good idea to do the same. If you’re an avid hunter with all the gear one could possibly need but have no idea how to grow a carrot, someone with gardening experience might be a good idea. More than a few people have contacted me or written a comment that they would really like to join a group. The best advice I can give you is to know various skills.

Your physical condition and the equipment you bring to the table could matter. If things go sideways and I form a group, if an elderly person who has gardened all their life and knows what will grow in this area, how to propagate, how to store excess, etc. is looking to join, in my opinion, they are just as valuable as a 25 year old man who is in great shape and is willing to work. I’m simplifying this because it would really depend on what holes my group had but you get the idea.
 
 
Leadership and Conflict Resolution

If your group consists of more than a couple families, coming up with some form of leadership might be a good idea. I mentioned before that in my ideal group it would be like minded Christian preppers and I would add “that I get along with”. The reason for this is that we are given a leadership model in the book of Act’s; a group of people chosen to be the head, all looking to Christ for Guidance. Acts doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of the workings of this group but I would imagine they spent time together to discuss important topics, each giving their take on the subject. I imagine they prayed together, seeking Gods will on important topics. We’re told they rolled bones to decide who would join as a Disciple; this tells me that even they had a hard time now and then knowing His will. We’re also told they delegated some lower responsibilities to other trusted people.

We’re given a good guide as to what the standard should be for the leadership council. To me, the same standards suggested for an Elder in 1st Timothy 3:2-7 and Acts 6:3 make good sense;

“So an elder must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach.

He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money.

He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.

For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

An elder must not be a new believer, because he might become proud, and the devil would cause him to fall.

Also, people outside the church must speak well of him so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the devil’s trap.”

Act’s 6:3

“And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility.”

I don’t know that I would say being a man was a qualification, but I think the same standards should apply to women who want to be in the leadership role.

If your group is formed the group decides who will be in charge, I would make sure there is a contract of sorts in place; something that places some checks and balances on the leader and offers protection to everyone.

I think that no matter what leadership route you take, a contract is a good idea. On it, have an agreement that no one will sue anyone for any reason; deal with your strife internally.

Jesus gave us the model for this in Mathew 18:15-17:

”If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.

But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

Even if you join with a group not using a Christian model, deal with your “stuff” internally. If someone wrongs you and refuses to make it right, there is mediation. If they break the law and we are living in a time where the rule of law stands, have them arrested. If we are WROL, take it to the leadership head and deal with it internally.

I hope I have been able to give you some things to consider and some resources to use to find others. If you have any, please add them to the comments.

 
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Prepared Blogger Mega Giveaway

sep giveaway

In honor of this month being Preparedness Month, The Prepared Bloggers are proud to present a Mega giveaway.

We are proud to partner with 6 great companies for seven great prizes. These prizes are the perfect way to either begin your preparedness journey or add to your preps. We will have seven winners in this giveaway. Each winner will win one of the following prizes listed below. The giveaway starts September 22nd, 2014 @12:15 am (CST) and ends September 29th, 2014 @ 11:55 pm (CST). This giveaway is open to anyone 18 years of age and older who is a US resident of the 48 Continental US States only. Each winner will be sent an email and the winner must respond within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.

Berkey

1 Royal Berkey System–From LPC Survival–This system is perfect for 2-6 people, filtering 3.25 gallons in about 2 hours. It comes with  2 Black Elements and is perfect for large families but is small enough for travel.
 
 


sun-oven

1 Sun Oven–From Sun Oven–This is a great off-grid cooking solution using only solar energy. This Sun Oven includes a cookbook, dehydrating and baking rack set, two easy stack pots, a WAPI, and two loaf pans.
 
 


new-kelly-kettle

1 Scout Kelly Kettle–From Kelly Kettle–The Kelly Kettle boils water quick and with very little fuel. It’s great for camping trips, hunting trips and emergencies.
 
 


grainmill

1 Wonder Junior Deluxe–From Wonder Mill–This is the perfect solution for making your own bread off-grid. It’s one of the easiest to use hand mills on the market. A great mill to use in an emergency situation, an off-grid environment or for everyday use.
 
 


propur

1 Propur Big with 2 ProOne 7″ G2.0 Filters–From End Times Warehouse–A clean water supply is super important in every situation. This gravity fed water treatment system makes it super easy to always have clean water.
 
 


72-hour-kit

2 Seventy Two Hour Kits–From Survival Based–Be prepared for a sudden storm or power outage with this all in one 72 hour kit. Complete with fuel to cook the food contained in the kit. Keep this kit in your car, house, or grab it if you need to evacuate.  Two lucky people will each win one 72 hour kit.

 

Cox-Honey-two

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sep giveaway two

National Preparedness Month Challenge

National Preparedness Month Challenge

This is the Month the federal government sets aside to talk about Preparedness. There’ve been conversations about their effort in other articles, but I don’t want to get into that. Instead, I want to challenge you with five tasks! All but one of them is free. If you accept and meet this challenge, even if it takes you longer than this month, you will be so much more prepared!
 

1. Create a Living Will

Make your end of life decisions now and have them documented. During that time, your loved ones will be under huge amounts of stress and very emotional. Please do not leave these decisions for them to make during that time. Trudee and I got ours done at Legal Zoom, where the price starts at $39.

 
2. Serial Numbers

Make a list of serial numbers and take pictures of all expensive items. If your house is broken into, damaged or destroyed, this information will greatly increase the speed of getting your insurance claim submitted. I created a Serial Number Recording Form for you. I also recommend taking pictures and storing those images with the list of serial numbers in a couple locations; a thumb drive in a fireproof safe, in any of the online data storage solutions and even on a thumb drive in your trunk!
 

3. Have Redundant Bug Out Plans

If you have a Bug Out Location (BOL), I suggest you document multiple ways to get there. If you don’t have a BOL, you still have options. One option is to have an agreement with a friend or relative that, if needed, you would head there. You could go one step further and ask to store some food and gear there so you have more than what you were able to BO with.

Another option is to pick small towns; one north, one south, one east and one west of your home. We picked towns that are 30-60 miles away, had a population of around 5,000 and, if possible, a small hotel. You don’t have to stay at the hotel but it can serve as a rally point. Another reason for the hotel is that if you and your family don’t bug out together but agree on which direction to take, if someone is delayed, they can call the hotel and ask to leave a message for your family member who is on their way and will be checking in.

The reason I like this idea is that you have a plan to execute and won’t have to try and figure out where to go if things start going sideways. I like the idea of four directions because you don’t know what direction things might be melting down. For instance, many Minnesotans might think about heading ”up north” because there are many lakes, woods and plentiful wildlife. There is a nuclear power plant along one “up north” route for us and a state penitentiary along another. In a worst case scenario such as an EMP, there is no way I want to go near the nuclear plant and I’d like to keep my distance from the prison as well. It might be easier to just go east instead.
 

4. Meeting Location

Have a location outside of your neighborhood designated as a meeting place that everyone in your family knows about. If something happens at your home or very near your home, and people cannot get into the area, everyone should know to meet here.
 

5. 90 Days

Have a plan in place to be self-sufficient for 90 days. I believe that in 95% of situations, battening down or bugging in are better options than bugging out. I believe that 90 days is a moderate goal that we should all be working towards, and when we get there, we should set it out another 90 days!

This can be a lofty task, so planning it out is a great idea. Decide what you will need to provide all of your basic needs; water, food, shelter, energy and security for 90 days. Storing 90 days’ worth of water isn’t realistic if you don’t own a pool, so a water purifier would suffice.

If you are in debt, then getting out of debt should be step one of your plan. One aspect of this plan should also include saving up and stocking away enough money to pay all of your bills for three months.

If you get to a point where you could provide clean water, food, shelter, heat and security for your family, plus pay your mortgage and any other bills for 90 days, you will be better prepared than the overwhelming majority of people.
 

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The Shemagh

The Shemagh

The Shemagh, pronounced shmog, is a garment worn in arid climates as a scarf or headdress. They were incorporated by many in the American armed forces in the last decade and by many in the British armed forced decades ago. The Shemagh can be worn is several ways and has several other uses. It is an item I believe belongs in every BOB. The Shemagh is a 46”x46” piece of fabric, coming in several colors and designs.

When worn as a scarf, it can keep the neck shaded in the sun, can provide warmth in the cold and can stop debris from falling down ones shirt in the field.

When worn as a headdress, it can shade the head and neck from the sun, and if worn dessert ninja style, can conceal ones face.

Medically, the Shemagh could be used for an arm sling, fashioned with branches in the field for a leg splint or two of them could make a decent, impromptu, stretcher.

With a bit of cordage, it would make a decent “hobo” style bag.

It could also serve as a towel, small blanket or pillow or, dunk it in cold water and use it as a headdress or scarf for added cooling.

For these reasons and more, I think each BOB should have one of these beauties. One word of warning though; if you buy one, you will want to rinse it thoroughly to remove excess ink. Mine came from Pakistan and I had to soak them for days, changing the water and rinsing them several times before the ink quit bleeding; not something you want in your washing machine!

CampingSurvivalShemaghs

Prepared Christian supporter, Camping Survival, carries a wide selection of Shemaghs,! If you’re interested in them, head over and check them out! The colors shown in the image are just a partial view of their selection.

 
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It’s Not the End of The World; at Least Not Yet

It's not the end of the world

We prepare because we see how the world around us is, and we see that there are some very real dangers in it. However, there are some in our community who need to throttle back on “the collapse is coming” a bit. I may upset some of you but I hope you will read the entire article before you decide.

I believe that the likelihood of a “Mad Max” TEOTWAWKI type collapse is highly unlikely. I do believe that events like an EMP attack, pandemic and other wide scale events are possible, so it is worthwhile to consider those possibilities and watch for signs of them.

I explained in Disaster Probability that the events we are most likely to see are not widespread and will really only affect us as individuals, our families and maybe our neighborhood. The events that are far more widespread and are much more destructive are far less probable.

I’ve also come to believe that it is unlikely because world history has shown this to be the case. For example, there was hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic after WWII, and in Zimbabwe starting in 2008. These two events are probably the most closely related events to a “collapse” as most prepper’s view it.

Argentina had a financial collapse, as did Iceland and many European countries since 2008. While these all had financial upheaval, civil unrest and rioting for a short time, I don’t know that any resemble the collapse as many prepper’s expect it.

We’ve seen several regional outbreaks of SARS and other illnesses, but the last true pandemic we saw was the Spanish Flu of 1918.

If we look at the last 100 years of American history, we see the great depression as the biggest “collapse” style event. But there have been hundreds of smaller events, mostly weather-related. Even if we look at the worst of these; Hurricane Katrina, this was a horrible event for those in the area, but had little direct impact on the rest of the country. In the grand scheme of things, it was fairly short lived, and aid, while slow to arrive, still came. My point is that even the worst weather related event we have had wasn’t a “collapse” or “TEOTWAWKI” event, but if you live in an area where hurricanes are a threat, they are the exact kind of event you should be preparing for.

Yes, there is a small chance of these collapse types of events happening, but there are several much smaller SHTF events that actually happen every day, including death in the family, job loss, tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, medical emergencies, home invasions, car accidents, severe drought and wildfires, just to name a few. If we take a more general approach to preparedness and don’t measure things by how useful they would be in one event, our overall preparedness is greater.

I see people comment on things on facebook and blog comments to Prepared Christian and other sites that I just don’t understand. Things like “I won’t start a garden because when the collapse comes people will come take my food,” or “I won’t own a storage locker because when the collapse comes the government will take it.” I fully believe that a violent attack could be perpetrated against me. But this doesn’t cause me to stay in the house. I practice Situational Awareness every time I leave the house and frequently carry a firearm or other type of self-defense implement.

If you live your life avoiding certain things because one day an event with a low chance of happening could happen, you’ve already been affected by it. Gardening offers huge benefits; eating fresh fruits and veggies, reduction of stress, sharing excess fruit and veggies with neighbors and loved ones, which can lead to prepper conversations and possibly to their prepping. If your reason not to garden is because it’ll make you a target when TEOTWAWKI comes, first; breathing in TEOTWAWKI will make you a target, and second; you give up all of the benefits on the remote chance that the worst case might happen.

I received a few different negative emails on the article I did on storage lockers, most saying that my idea was foolish because in a collapse people would break in or the government would seize them. Yes, if TEOTWAWKI happens, people might break in and steal things and the government might lay claim to it, but if you read the executive orders, the government can lay claim to many, MANY things in a collapse situation. In a total collapse, you can probably kiss your storage unit goodbye, but that doesn’t make it a stupid or invalid plan for the family that has a little extra money and that lives below the flood plain, or the family who lives in tornado alley, or the family that lives in an area where wildfires are a yearly threat, who wants to make sure they have some items set aside in case they are forced to bug out with nothing.

If I need a used car, I judge it by its gas mileage, safety rating and whether it’s been in an accident, not by how it may preform if we get hit by an EMP.

Again, there is a chance that we could see the worst case scenario collapse, but you do yourself a disservice if you measure the quality of an item or a plan based on the small chance that it occurs and what people will do if the worst does happen.

 
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Tips from a Storage Unit Auctioneer

Tips from a Storage Unit Auctioneer

I think there is a lot of knowledge shared by all of you in the comments. I think some people will go back and read comments weeks after they’ve read an article, but most will only read them at the time they read the article.

There was a comment in the storage unit article I wrote by a man who is an auctioneer at storage locker auctions. It had so much great info in it that I asked his permission to publish it as its own article and he agreed. I think buying storage lockers could be a good way to get any camping or other prepper gear that might be inside. But it could also be a great side business for anyone with a little extra cash and the time to resell the items.

The following is written by Old Alaskan:

Let me share my 20+ years as a Defaulted Storage Auctioneer and Buyer.
Security, yes the circle lock is one of the hardest locks for the average person to cut. We use an 18V DeWalt Angle grinder, but in a bug out situation an “us or them” then a sledgehammer would do. I have seen a locksmith open one of these in 15 seconds. Most facilities have electronic gates and an extended power outage would make these gates un-useable. They do have a manual over-ride but you cannot count on it being activated so small bolt cutters to cut the chain link fence, If it has one, will be necessary.

Location, some of the storage companies are located close to high density housing, apartment complexes, and low income housing so plane on your location. It is widely known that you can find all manner of good stuff in storage units, thank you Storage Wars, so you might find your unit already looted, if not then you might need an armed guard while loading out and don’t forget the possibility of an ambush on your way out. The gate or hole you made in the fence will be a great ambush site.
Large rollup doors are nice for ease in loading and unloading the unit but think of this a door that swings open with a dirty mattress right behind it. I have seen several units like this and behind the mattress was a treasure trove. I bought some like this cheap because all the other bidders saw was a dirty mattress. So build a wall of junk to discourage theft if your unit is broken into. Most break-ins are grab and dash.

Now let’s look at the flip-side of BUYING defaulted storage units.

It’s strange how when you have your day planed out an incident or phone call changes your whole day and sometimes the next two days. This is why people should be preppers, not to prepare for disasters but to be prepared for what life and God throws at us. So it was Wednesday April 30 when I answered my phone, the person at the other end said Chuck we’re having a storage auction at 11 AM and I’m calling you to make sure you will be there. I replied sure I’ll be there if I can. I debated in my mind do I REALLY need to go I have a full day of work and enough junk in my life but curiosity won out over logic besides it’s a beautiful sunny day who wants to work indoors.

This is unusual for me since my auction company does most of the storage auctions in our area. Some of the questions I receive at my storage auctions are: how do I find out about these auctions? Well, all but 2 states have “Storage Lien Laws” Vermont and Alaska are the exceptions. These auctions must be posted in a public area. Most of the time this means the Legal Notices in your local newspaper BUT don’t just rely on this, any paper of general circulation will meet the requirements. In Indianapolis, IN. the Court Reporter publication meets this criteria. When all else fails get out the yellow pages and call storage companies and ask where they post defaulted storage auction notices and do they notify potential bidders? Or call the local auctioneers and ask if they do storage and notify bidders.
Once you find a notice then what? Well, the notice must have Date, Time, Location, Name and sometimes unit number. This is supposed to be for the tenant to be notified that they are about to lose their belongings if they don’t pay their storage bill but you can use this to your advantage. You have a name do a computer search of that person what can you learn about that person and attach it to the unit number when you show up. DON’T share this information its part of your arsenal. Remember the tenant has up to the day of the auction to pay what is owed so units may be missing from the auction notice.

On the day of the auction it’s pretty much like on TV but a lot of time without the drama. If possible don’t buy a unit the first day unless it absolutely jumps out at you. Watch, listen, and observe who the major bidders are, what do they bid on, what trash and smack is being said by the big hitters about the unit and what do they do after they say it. If there are any more auctions that day tag along and when the last unit is sold quietly ask around if anyone needs help loading their units and you are willing to help with maybe some barter for your labor. This is a good way to see what was in the unit and get a feel for some of the things in the units. Personal Items, Birth Certificates, Family photos (Picture frames are NOT personal Items) the cremated remains of Granny or Grand pop, all should be given back to the storage company to be returned to the tenant. What to watch out for, there are unscrupulous Auctioneers and Storage Companies so here are some things to watch for.

As an auctioneer I have it in my contract with the storage companies that the “working auction company personal” cannot bid at these auctions.

Shill bidding, Puffing, Ghost Bidders, bouncing bids are all unethical and in many cases illegal. Research the uniform commercial code 2-328 “Sale by Auction” All but one state has adopted this code as a state statute, Louisiana is the exception. If you suspect the auctioneer of doing this don’t bid and leave and let your feelings be known to the storage owner but sometimes they are in on it also so just don’t attend their auctions.

Staged Units, here is where the owner, manager or auctioneer will go through the unit and pull good items out to entice you to bid more or to hide garbage behind the boxes. An auctioneer here where I live puts his personal junk into units and then puts empty gun cases or empty Makita tool boxes in the units to entice people to bid more. After a while you will be able to spot a staged unit remember DUST is your friend. If the boxes are taped and the tape peeling with a layer of dust on top of them then you have a good indication of an OLD non-staged unit.

Cherry Picking, If you see disturbed dust on boxes, boxes with the tape cut open, empty gun or tool cases, items tossed about these are all clues to a cherry picked unit where the owner, manager or auctioneer took items from the unit and if the auctioneer has similar items at his weekly or monthly auction house auctions then it’s a good bet he cherry picks the units.

Firearms, every state has a different law on firearms so I will just mention what the BATF has to say about firearms in storage ………………………………………………….. and that is what BATF has to say about firearms in storage auctions. Check on your area what are your states firearms laws. There is an auctioneer here that says it’s a federal law and if you find a firearm in a unit you must give it back to the auctioneer. BULL PUCKYS there is NO federal law that says this. He resells it and keeps the money. The lying thieving scumbag.

This is what I do, when we open the unit I look for firearms or signs of firearms I do not enter the unit unless I see a sign of a firearm and if any are found I clear them, then let the people who are inclined, fondle them, then sell them. You pay for the firearms after the auction and then we go to The Auction House and fill out the paperwork and for the NICS background check, if you pass you get the firearm if not you DO NOT get a refund and we resell it at our next auction house auction and you hope for a profit. But what if the gun was used in a crime? I almost always get this question now let’s reason this through, Abby from NCIS doesn’t work at every crime lab in the country and police departments wont test if the firearm was used to murder someone it’s just too expensive, NEXT what if it was used in a robbery, what robber will stand there and say “this is a hold up give me all your money and by the way this is a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver it’s serial number is XXXCCCC it’s a model XY.” But what if it’s been stolen, well most home owners haven’t wrote down on a paper the make, model, Serial Number, caliber of their firearms so there is no way to know if the firearm is stolen. Then if the home owner’s insurance policy paid off on the theft the home owner must reimburse the insurance company the money paid. Most could not do this since they spent the money. What happens then is the police keep the firearm and either destroy it, or sell it at auction and use the money to buy more equipment and bullets. There is a saying “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there does it make a noise?” Keep your mouth shut.

Bidding strategies, well there really aren’t too many, jump bids sometimes they work and most times they don’t, I hate to say this but watch some of the strategies on “Storage Wars & Storage Wars Texas. The other shows are heavily staged.

After a while in about a year or two you will get a feel for these units and you will feel more comfortable in buying them. I know several people who make a good full time living buying storage and operating a thrift store. But the more money you lose the quicker you will learn. I know a person who only buys $50.00 or less units and has a very good side income.

Bidder fees, some auctioneers are greedy and charge a registration fee to sign in skip them this in my opinion is the first warning sign of an unethical auctioneer.

Buyer’s Premium, a 10% premium on top of your bid is not unreasonable any more than this is greed. So if you bid $100.00 you final bill will be $160.00. What that doesn’t compute I forgot a cash only $50.00 cleaning deposit which you get back when you clean the unit out.

Now that you bought a unit what do you do now? You usually have 24 or 48 hours to clean it out but what do I do with all the stuff? Let’s see there is Craig’s list and people who don’t show up for appointments to see something, Yard Sale and tie up a weekend you could be out at storage auctions, open a thrift store or http://www.maxanet.com. You can set up your own E-bay style auction site, do timed auctions and move a lot of merchandise from your garage or shed this way. You will need a digital camera and a lap top a website from Go Daddy and the fees to set up the site. Everything can be done for $500.00 or less.

What will you find in a storage unit? Well look around your house, anything and everything, Kitchen, Bath, Bedroom, Garage, Shed Anything & Everything.
In some parts of the country you will find things that you won’t find in another part of the country. In Indianapolis there are a lot of antiques, glassware & Pottery, here where I live we have two military bases and a huge outdoor sport population so besides the normal household items we also find camping, fishing, hunting and yes guns & ammo, also military items but not much in antiques.
So depending on your local area you could find lots or limited items for prepping but you will always find some things.

What should I bring Well dress for the weather we do auctions year round here even in winter when the temperature is 20 below zero, a flashlight, padlocks, cash in 5’s, 10’s, 20’s 50’s and 100’s change is sometimes at a premium with the auctioneer, and be ready to wait while everyone looks into the unit.
As for the phone call that ruined my Wednesday. I showed up about 20 minutes early and signed in which is normal and talked with the owner and manager, I’m well known in certain circles because of my auctions. It’s a good tactic to get to know the managers, Donuts or cookies or candies at Christmas time goes a long way. Many storage companies need weekend managers but don’t go that route as you will be working during the auctions.

Only four people showed up for this auction. The storage company didn’t advertise to hard so this is normal for this location. It was me, my oldest son and two regulars at my auctions. They showed us one unit an 8 X 30 and they said that they would be coming back and auction it later and we went to another unit an 8 X 20 with two doors. I looked into the first door and a large stainless steel propane smoker literally jumped out at me and I wanted one of these to smoke salmon this summer. This is dangerous don’t fall in love with a unit. I saw two tube TV’s definite dumpster junk, 3 dirty mattresses 3 mountain bikes of low level value, a propane tank for the BBQ, 2 LARGE white coolers (hmmm camper, fisherman goes through my mind, harps are playing) in the next door a red sofa & love seat, cheap pack frames (Kids) tents, darn I’m falling in love, Miter saw and as I went back to the first door my son said Dad did you see the crossbow on top of the mattresses????? I look up and there are harps and angels singing and flowers and hearts I’m in love.

This is a very dangerous frame of mind you can lose a LOT of money in this state of mind. The owner asks for a bid and no one says anything so I open at 100 thinking a strong opening might scare them away it doesn’t another says 50 I say 200 he says 50 I say 300 well it didn’t go this fast there is posturing and dancing with heads down really all the signs that you want it but you are trying to portray that you are indifferent to the unit. It stops at $300.00 I guess he’s thinking if I ever want to get a unit at my auction he should back out WELL I DON’T operate like that but I get the unit. We go to the other unit we saw earlier and my son says $25.00 there are no other bids and he gets it for $25.00. I go to the office and there is a $100.00 cash only cleaning deposit and I have less than 6 hours to clean it out and I promised the wife to take out for lunch oh crap.

After lunch my wife drops me off at The Auction House and I get our truck and meet her at the storage yard. My son comes from his unit and crawls into mine and hands me a VIPER COPPERHEAD crossbow and 8 arrows (bolts). He then spreads the mattresses and says here dad, a gun boot for a 4 wheeler with a Mossberg 500 in it that no one saw comes from between the mattresses. This is always a good hiding spot for rifles, mirrors, glass table tops so always check these carefully before moving them, 3 propane tanks, 4 tents, 2 cheap aluminum pack frames, about 20 fishing rods and several boxes of lures. We still have to unpack the boxes but if I sold what I got now I would more than quadruple my price but I could use a 150 pound crossbow, smoker, propane tanks and another Mossberg 500. I can still sell the rest and still triple my bid. As for my son his unit was a Hawaiian unit and will clear at least $1,000.00 or more. There is Tappa Cloth and other interesting things in it.
Not every unit is a home run I have had my share of stinkers and if anyone asks me what I got on Wednesday well it was all busted trash in the unit and went to the dump. NEVER let on to anyone what you find then the prices will go up unless you are the auctioneer who works on a commission then everything in the unit is great stuff.

I have 3 regular bidders at our storage auctions who have full-time thrift stores. The wife of one confided in me that she doesn’t have to buy laundry detergent, Bath soap, TP, and many other items and their food bill is almost nill. The find all kinds of useable personal items in the units they buy. One store owner has 3 full-time employees; another is him and his wife as is another. They all do this full time and seem to be making a go of it since they have been coming to my auctions for several years.
Storage auctions are like gold mining you must move tons of dirt to find a nugget.
Happy Hunting

The feedback from an auction that I conducted on May 3, 2014 was one unit had some silver coins, another gold jewelry, another Alaskan Native items, 2 others firearms (Ruger 10/22, S&W .45 pistol) Shelving material, Stainless Steel racks on wheels and lots of stuff. You just never know.

 
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Coping With Sleep Deprivation; Confessions of an Insomniac

Coping With Sleep Deprivation; Confessions of an Insomniac
 
For most of my life, I was the kind of person that slept very well. I fell asleep easily and awoke rested. However, some years ago that changed. I was diagnosed with two types of insomnia. I struggle to fall asleep and, once I do, I get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep and then awaken several times the rest of the night. I underwent a sleep study and do not have sleep apnea. I take medication for insomnia now and, while I still have a bad night here and there, for the most part I sleep better.

I’m not sharing this to garner sympathy. I just figure that if faced with a survival situation, there are a host of things that could cause one to sleep poorly. I just happen to have some insight into what one can expect when you encounter a poor night’s sleep or a string of several poor nights’ sleep.

This article should not be viewed as any type of medical advice. This is purely from my own experiences or those others have shared with me. Some of the advice I give for either helping you stay awake or helping you get to sleep may not be medically safe for you. If there is any question, talk to your doctor!

While it is true that there are some standard side effects that most people encounter from a lack of sleep, the severity of those side effects and the rate at which they appear can vary. For instance, Bobby might normally get 9 hours of sleep. If he only gets five, he might be slightly irritable. Johnny, on the other hand, might normally get eight hours of sleep but gets cranky if he gets less than seven.
 

Impacts of Lacking Sleep

The severity of side effects due to one poor nights’ sleep can vary greatly. For instance, I don’t function well at all on less than five hours of sleep. If I can get six, I’ll be tired but I can get by. I have noticed that most of the effects from lacking sleep get worse if I sleep poorly for a few nights in a row. For example, at the time of this writing, I am on my fifth night of getting 5-6 hours. The first couple of days were bearable, but today I am thankful I don’t have to drive (and that I have a proof-reader!). The following are some of the effects I have seen.

Loss in cognitive ability; my job is “level two tech-support” for a very complex software product. One really poor night’s sleep or a few mediocre really take a toll. It takes me longer to troubleshoot issues, and I have to get assistance from co-workers more frequently. As I mentioned, I’m at five nights of poor sleep and I have forgotten words several times today. There have been decisions that I have had to put on hold as well as some serious conversations.

Irritability; this one for me is hit or miss. Sometimes I might be easier to irritate, or the level of irritability might be worse. Some days I’m not irritable at all and things that usually don’t make me laugh are suddenly funny.

Dry eyes; I’m not sure if my eyes get drier or if it just bothers me more. Either way, I have eye drops with me at all times.

Memory loss; this usually isn’t bad unless I have a couple bad nights in a row. I have learned to write notes and set Outlook reminders.

Loss of concentration; it takes less to derail my train of thought. This article, for example, is taking me twice as long to write as it normally would.

Lack of healing and increased pain; our bodies use sleep to heal us from the day’s wear and tear. When we don’t enter into a deep REM sleep, this doesn’t take place. I have a couple different causes of chronic pain. My pain is worse than normal on the days with less sleep.

Headaches; I get frequent headaches as it is, but they are either worse or harder to handle when I’ve slept poorly.

Loosing time; I don’t mean blacking out. It’s more like zoning out on steroids. I have found myself staring at a computer monitor until the power feature turns it off. I’ve “watched” television and realized half way through that, well, it’s halfway through and I don’t remember much of the first half.
 

Staying Asleep

Picture this; the grid has been down for five days and rioting and other civil unrest started in your area not long after. You and your spouse have taken shifts keeping watch at night. Even when you try sleep, it’s broken up by gunshots and the sounds of crying. How can you make sure that you’re sleeping and making the most of your sleep?

Pharmaceuticals can help, but if you have to be sharing a watch or making sure you have your wits about you as soon as you wake up, this might not be an option, as several drugs cause morning grogginess. I have tried several sleeping pills over the years. The hangover effect is much worse with some than it is with others. Melatonin has a far milder effect but is not an option for everyone, as it can cause some very vivid and no-so-pleasant dreams.

You would think that the lack of sleep would help you sleep better but that’s not always the case, especially in times of stress. Though you can be completely worn out and dragging, your mind won’t let you fall asleep. In times of stress, doing calming things before bed are a great idea. Doing something that can take your mind off the situation for a while is helpful as well.

If I can’t sleep, I could lay there all night trying. I have noticed that if I get up and play a game or surf the web for a while, I tend to fall asleep faster when I try laying down again.

There are several tea’s that boast aiding in relaxation and sleep.
 

Staying Awake

Imagine the same scenario as above; you’re getting half the amount of sleep that you normally would. How can you make sure you stay awake when it’s your turn to be on watch? While I haven’t had to live through this scenario, I have had to hold down a job, drive in traffic and complete other tasks that I had to make sure I was awake for.

Stimulants immediately come to mind, but in the scenario I have given, they might not be a good idea during the night. You want to make sure you’re able to sleep when it’s your turn. The 4 hour energy drink may be alright, I suppose.

I wrote an article called Caffeine as a Prep Item where I explored the pluses and minuses of caffeine in a survival situation.

Pain can work very well in the short term. A slap to the face, plucking a nose hair or other minor things can help you fight off sleep for a time.

Cold water, as cold as you can stand it, can do wonders. In the given scenario, this idea might not work, but filling the sink with ice cubes and cold water, dunking the hands and face every few minutes, might do the trick.

Be cautious of pushing it too far. Your body will shut down eventually. When I was in the Navy, I went to aviation electrician school. There was a guy in my class who hit the clubs a couple night in a row. One day in class, he fell asleep at his desk. He was made to stand in the back of the class and hold a 2×4 over his head. He fell asleep standing up and dropped it on his head twice before class was out.

 
Catching up on Sleep

It is possible to catch up on sleep, but depending on the deficit, it could take a few days. One of the best ways to do this is by taking one of God’s greatest blessings…a nap!

The following is from WebMD

The length of your nap and the type of sleep you get help determine the brain-boosting benefits. The 20-minute power nap — sometimes called the stage 2 nap — is good for alertness and motor learning skills like typing and playing the piano.

What happens if you nap for more than 20 minutes? Research shows longer naps help boost memory and enhance creativity. Slow-wave sleep — napping for approximately 30 to 60 minutes — is good for decision-making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions. Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems.

 
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The Two Most Important Documents in World History

The Two Most Important Documents in World History

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain to cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

~Thomas Paine

Today we celebrate the day we declared our independence from England. Because today is a celebration of freedom, I want to share with you my thoughts on the two most important documents in the world’s history; the Holy Bible and the United States Constitution.

I led off with the quote from Thomas Paine because I think it is important to read and understand these documents and the rights they define. If we do not know the freedom we have in Christ, then satan can continue to lie to us and we’ll believe we’re still slaves. If we don’t know what our God given rights are, how can we possibly know or care when they’re being taken away?

These documents can be hard to understand at times. After all, a constitutional lawyer, who has studied them for years, fails to grasp their meaning frequently (sarcasm)! Seriously though, while it can be hard to understand, if you set a high value on your freedom, then the time spent is a small price to pay.

 
The Bible

I have heard the Bible referred to as a guidebook for one’s life. I’ve been reading the Bible frequently for almost ten years and every day for around eight years. Truth be told, I didn’t understand a lot of what I read back when I first started. I stuck with it and researched passages that I had trouble with. It wasn’t always enjoyable reading. Sometimes God uses words written thousands of years ago to point out a modern day sin in your life. Remember: God disciplines the ones He loves.

There are passages I still struggle with but I don’t have to use a concordance as much. While I am far from a saint, I know that because of my time with God’s word every day, I am a better man, a better father, a better husband and a better servant to Jesus.
 
The Constitution

If the Bible is the guidebook for one’s life, the Constitution is the guidebook for a just and balanced nation. I do know the difference between the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, but for the purpose of this article I am lumping them together.

For millennia, nations were ruled by family line, by those who had the biggest armies, and the rights of their people were controlled by the whim of their leader. What the Constitution does is draw lines defining how government is created; three separate branches with checks and balances on each one. It defines how our leaders are elected and how big the representation for each state should be.

I think that the Constitutions most important accomplishment is that the Founders defined the rights of the people, which they declared were given by our Creator, God.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

There are those, among which I am one, who believe that our Constitution is being trampled on and that we’ve lost many of the liberties we once had. However, I have traveled to several other countries and it is my opinion that we are still the freest nation on earth.

I have written two articles related to this topic; Knowing Your Rights and How to Protect Them, and Trading Liberty for Safety.
 
Camping-Survival

Camping Survival sees great value in the Bible and the Constitution as well, so much so that they sell a variety of Bibles and a pocket Constitution (Declaration of Independence and Constitution). They have agreed to give away one Bible and ten pocket Constitutions to the Prepared Christian readers. To enter this contest, you just need to send an email to: contest (at) PreparedChristian.net. I will pick random winners on Friday, July 11th and will email them, requesting their mailing address. As a thank you, please consider swinging by Camping Survival and perusing their collection of Bibles and preparedness supplies!

 
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More Supporter Specials

I wanted to let you all know about specials being offered from two Prepared Christian supporters. You might have seen the offers on the banners on the right side of the site, but I wanted to mention it just in case.


Seed of the Month


Seed of the Month Club is offering a 25% discount! To sign up, just click on the banner! For a little more information you can click on the banner or read a Q and A session I had with Mike, the owner of Seed of the Month Club.
 


The End Times Warehouse


The End Times Warehouse is one of the newest supporters! I was a little skeptical when I saw the name, thinking they might be beating the end times’ drum, but their slogan is “Preparedness for the End Times or Any Time”.

They are currently offering a waterproof Bible with the purchase of Wise Food 240 meal or above. Find out more by clicking on the banner and then on the link for food!

Review of ALTAI™ MF Tactical Boot

Review of ALTAI™ MF Tactical Boot

I was recently contacted by a representative of ALTAI and asked if I would like a pair of the ALTAI™ MF Tactical Boot to wear and write a review on! I gladly accepted, as I had recently been considering buying a pair of boots.

When I saw the claim of “no break-in period”, I was more than a little skeptical. Having served four years in the Navy and breaking in more than a few pairs of flight deck boots, I remember how painful the break in period was.

Some quick facts about the boots:

• Altai® is light at 650 grams – 23 ounces (size 9)
• Waterproof / breathable bootie
• NO break-in period.
• Highly functional upper with SuperFabric® material
• Abrasion Resistant
• Quick drying
• Stain Resistant
• Air Permeable
• Vibram® outsole – hiking tread
• Slip Resistant
• crimped laces
• Speed lacing – metal eyelets
• Padded nylon tongue
• Waterproof leather toe

Here is a 360 view with some information on some of the features.

My Take:

As I said, I was a bit skeptical when I saw the claim of “no break-in time”. While I did need to put in an insert, I think this had to do more with my feet than the boots. To be honest, I did not put them through a rigorous stress test. I wore them through my normal day. However, I will often times have to take my usual shoes off at my desk because they’re uncomfortable after a while. These boots are quite comfortable. In fact, probably one of the most comfortable pieces of footwear that I have worn right out of the box. I believe that they’ll probably get more comfortable the more they are worn.

It’s been many years since I wore something with this much ankle support. Because you can’t move your ankle, you have to walk a little different. This goes for all boots that go over the ankle, not just these boots. I don’t know if all military style boots were made the way flight deck boots were; mostly leather. Because the upper part of these boots are made with SuperFabric®, they actually hug more and offer more ankle support than flight deck boots did.

The boots are made in Korea, however the SuperFabric® material is made right here in my state, Minnesota!

Because of the features of these boots and the level of comfort, I think they would be well suited for anyone whose footwear is important and considered to be part of your gear, not just an accessory. Whether you’re in the military, are an officer, or spend time outdoors, I think these boots will serve you well!
 
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