Notes for Friday – January 30, 2015

January 30th is the birthday of historian Barbara Tuchman (born 1912, died February 6, 1989). She wrote some of the most engaging history books JWR ever read.

January 30th is also the anniversary of the 1945 Great Raid on Cabanatuan Prison Camp where US Army Rangers and Filipino Guerrillas liberated Allied prisoners. See Rescue At Los Baños, by historian and bestselling author Bruce Henderson.

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SurvivalBlog is looking for a second Economics Editor to supplement the submissions of Mr. Econocobas due to his travel schedule. If you are interested, please contact us. The ideal candidate already works for a brokerage firm, securities firm, investment firm or management, mutual fund, or other such financial entity.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

What Happens When A Spouse Dies? by JEH

In prepping, I never thought about my wife not being by my side. We have both come to believe that the world, as we know it, will evolve into a world where we do not belong. We both work to make our home happy and educate our child. We are paying for braces on her teeth, and we want the best for her. However, nine months ago, a close friend of ours was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. We saw a lady go from being a loving and caring wife, mother, and school teacher to a woman who fought for her life and lost.

Now comes a time when we address this situation between ourselves. First, do you want your spouse to remarry quickly? If you have a child, do you want your spouse to devote as much time to them before they remarry?

As for the friend I am talking about, he has met a lady and is engaged just six months after his wife died. His boys are both of college age and practically raised already. Some say that my friend is not mourning long enough and he did not properly mourn his wife. However, mourning is something we all do differently, and we do not need to express our thoughts on mourning onto someone else. In the Book of Ecclesiastes, it is said there is a time to mourn and time to rejoice. I rejoice that he found a lady whose husband died from an inoperable brain tumor also. I was in his office this week and saw a picture of his deceased wife. It made me think about her, as I am sure he does often, but the main thing I can do is support him and elevate him and his boys on my prayer list. I also let him know that I am here if he needs to talk.

Now what would I want my wife to do? Just today, a person died in front of the local grocery store in an automobile accident. In an instant, that person’s spouse, if they are married, has their life drastically changed. Having a plan in place will help ease the problems. Just like many preppers have a plan in place to defend their homes and have caches and other items, you must be prepared to help your family’s emotions. By having a written plan, you, your spouse, and/or children can carry on easier.

First Things First

Talk to your spouse and agree on these things:

  1. Do you want to be on life support?
  2. Do you want the State to determine who gets custody of your children or who will get custody?
  3. Do you want the State to determine how your estate will be divided or do you want the final instruction regarding who gets what?
  4. Who will watch over the money you have for minor children?
  5. Do you need life insurance?

Now understand, if the world ends today, don’t worry about any of this. The game changes, but for right now these are legitimate concerns we should prepare for.

Get a Will

Having a will is very important. The possessions of your spouse and yourself will be preserved by the will. Say you aren’t married, you still need a will to transfer your ownership to the person you choose. If you have minor children, you need to plan for if both of you die. Who do you want to take care of your child(ren)? If you name nobody, the courts get to decide. Do you want to take that chance?

I recommend that you consider competent legal advice from an attorney who is up to date on the laws of your state. You can use a “do-it-yourself” kit, but it could be contested as not being valid at the time you signed it. Also, if you have a minor child or children, you will get to name who controls the children and who controls the money. They don’t have to be the same person.

You can name an older child as the executor/executrix. You also can name anyone you choose as the executor/executrix. If you do not, the courts will do it for you and will usually appoint an attorney who will charge your estate a lot of money, leaving less for your spouse or children. Choose this person wisely. I like certified public accountants for this. They know the laws and tax code. Regardless, choose wisely.

A will can be done for less than a $1,000 and usually for a few hundred dollars. The more complicated the will, the more the cost. Everyone who has anything should have a will. This will should include cars, homes, retirement accounts, and other stuff.

Have a Healthcare Directive

Some people call these a living will. It allows you to decide if you want lifesaving treatment, even though you might be a burden to your family. I do not want to be a burden to my family. If I cannot sustain daily functions, I have made it a priority to walk with the Prince of Peace, so I might have eternal peace. My wife and child know this, and we all have talked about what each of us wants.

The attorney will need to do this for you. Hospitals have to follow it. You need to choose someone who is strong enough to give this form to your doctors or nurses.

Write a Letter to Your Spouse

Let your spouse know, in writing, what you want for them to do after your body is buried, burned, or dumped. I have a letter that addresses where to find my life insurance policies, my stashed stuff, and how I would like for her to take care of our daughter through each phase of life.

Write a Letter to Your Children

Just in case you and your spouse die together, let the children know where to find your life insurance policies. Let them know about the IRAs, the coins, the education accounts, and at which banks you have money. If you have a minor child, address this letter to the person that will handle the money in your will. This will help, and if the kid(s) know where all the money is located, it will help an unscrupulous attorney be sued for malpractice if they to keep any of the money.

Life Insurance

Term life insurance is relatively cheap. Does everyone need term life insurance? “No!” If you don’t have a mortgage and a pot full of gold, silver, and cash, then do not get any. If you have a mortgage, consider it. If you have a mortgage and some other secured debt, get it. This will pay off your debts and allow your spouse and/or children to continue on with no debt. Also, if you are the only earner in the family, you might need some. This will provide a source of money to live on until your spouse or children can live on their own.

Prepaid Funeral

My father has prepaid for his funeral. It saved him a boat load of money. He paid $6,000 for a funeral in 1998. The same funeral he prepaid for would now cost $10,000. That’s not a bad investment. Also, it provides peace of mind to me. He gets the funeral he wanted, rather than the funeral I want for him. I do not have to make decisions that should be his. This works great in all occasions. I am considering doing the same for my wife and child. During the time of death and mourning, spouses have to make some tough decisions. Doing this funeral planning helps take a big burden off their shoulders.

I know there was an article on Odds & Sods about a company selling a burial plot out from under her. Be careful of where you choose to be your final resting place. Many municipalities operate graveyards. Consider this.

Decisions, Decisions

If you have investments, you need a list of those investments on-hand for your spouse or child. A good certified public accountant will help you make logical decisions for your situation. For example, if you have a term life insurance policy and die, your spouse will get to decide to take a lump sum payment or a structured series of payments over a number of years. There are companies who will make money buying structured payments at a fraction of their value because someone made a bad decision on what to do with the money. You can also take a partial lump-sum payment and then take the annuity on the remaining amount. A good certified public accountant should be able to meet with you, discuss your needs, and formulate a plan. I like certified public accountants because they work for you rather than for the insurance company.

Also, you will have to choose what to do with retirement accounts. There again, a competent certified public accountant should help you. You will have to understand the tax implications of what to do with rollovers, including taking the money out and considering the cost of investing. Beware of a certified public accountant who tries to sell you anything other than their knowledge. At this point, they become a salesperson and not your advocate.

Finally

If we are prepared for the end-of-the-world, why wouldn’t we be prepared for when our life ends? It could be after a post-apocalypse situation, a full assault of zombies, a brain tumor with Obamacare, or a freak car accident.

Anyway, when you are prepared, the outcome is more certain than when rash decisions are made. This is true in death, whether it’s a result of your house is being burglarized or an assault upon you by a thug. It will not cost much to do the things I have laid out. It will primarily take time and understanding. You need to talk these things out prior to penning them down.

I encourage you to seek competent legal, accounting, and personal knowledge. By developing a relationship with professionals, you can feel better about your decisions. It will also give time to make new relationships, if you need to.

I have done all of these things out of love for my wife and daughter. I want their mourning time to be minimal, and I want my wife and daughter to remember me as a husband and father who cared enough to make sure they could enjoy their lives after my life ends. Finally, I have asked our pastor and his wife to check in on my wife if I die or my daughter if we both die. I want them to keep a source of connection to me until they can end the mourning process. I think a person can end the mourning process a lot easier when they are not stressed about money. Also, I want them to appreciate the things I did to help them even after I am no longer on this earth. As one buddy stated, “I would rather them thank God I was their husband and/or father instead of curse me for leaving them destitute”.

Two Letters Re: Canned Food

Hello,

In response to a recent article on expired food, I just want to say that not all foods are the same. Recently I decided to take an expired case of Chef Boyardee Meat Ravioli on a extended road trip. The case expired in 2012, which was about 2.5 years past its “use by” date. I’ve eaten these plenty of times, so the food was as palatable as could be expected. However within two hours of eating one can I developed a headache. Headaches are very rare for me, so I didn’t pay any attention. The next day after eating another can, the same thing occurred– a mild headache. I took note and decided to experiment. On the third day, I didn’t eat any of the cans, and I had no headaches. On the fourth day, both I and my wife ate a can, and both of us got mild headaches. I did some research once I got home and discovered that the lining of the metal can may deteriorate after a while, so my unscientific assumption is that the headaches can be blamed on that fact. It’s something to keep in mind. On the other hand, last week I tried baking bread using a Costco-bought 2-lb package of yeast that expired in November of 2012, and it worked very well. – B.

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Good morning, Hugh,

In today’s blog there was a post titled “Canned Food Alternatives” from “JM”. It’s a good piece, and I’d like to add to it, if I may.

I, too, use multiple food storage practices. For canned food, I never return from the supermarket without some extra cans, and I prefer units of 24 cans if the budget (and market shelf supplies) permit, and I always buy brand names on sale. In my area, most supermarket chains start their sales on Wednesday, and their ads are online.

Approximately 500 individual cans are in the pantry to meet daily needs, along with what’s in the freezer. For “pantry overflow”, I use what I term “food units” as the base: eight 15.5 ounce cans of protein (chili, with and without beans; hash, corned beef, roast beef, sausage; tuna; and so forth), eight 15.5 ounce cans of vegetables (corn, green beans, lima beans, baked beans, beets, and so on), eight 15.5 ounce cans of fruit (fruit cocktail, pears, peaches, mandarin oranges, pineapple, and so forth). Since 15.5 ounce cans are 4.5 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter, 24 cans fit perfectly in a box 12″L X 9″W X 9″ high. (Tuna cans are a different size and have to “squeeze” in on the edge.) The box weighs about 27 pounds. A 25-pack of these cardboard boxes can be had for about $20 on a “ship to store free” basis at Staples, the last time I bought some. Pro tip on canned food: buy what your family likes and will eat, not necessarily what a nutritionist might recommend they eat. The goal in times of high stress will be calories and especially, calories from protein, which frequently comes with some fat.

If all components of a “food unit” aren’t on sale, I’ll buy what is and set it aside for a couple weeks to wait for sales on the rest. A local chain recently advertised a sale on Del Monte fruit at 10 cans for $8. I came home with 100 cans. I always check the manufacturer’s date on each can; I’m currently buying all three types of canned food with mid- to late-2017 “sell by” dates, but I’ve seen lots of shorter dates and a number of expired dates. I’m confident that brand name canned food will still be good 2-3 years past the “sell by” date if properly stored, but I’ve never had any stored much past a couple months beyond the date; it usually gets eaten long before its expiration in the “first in, first consumed” rotation scheme. I also write the purchase month and year on the top of each can with a permanent marker when I bring it home. It’s a bit OCD, perhaps, but there’s no confusion that way as to what on the shelf is oldest.

Each box is sealed with shipping tape, top and bottom, and before the box is sealed four can openers are included. I buy P38 and P51 military openers in quantities of 100 and tape two of each to the underside of the top. I also insert several plastic spoons, forks, and knives in between the cans. (A local restaurant supply house has them available in boxes of 1000 each; the total cost for a thousand of each type of utensil was about $38. Split among a few families, it’s cheap.) The box is then marked on both ends with the purchase date; “54”, for example, indicates that everything in the box was purchased in May 2014. The box is also marked with what it contains– “FU” (a food unit with eight cans each of protein, vegetables, and fruit), “V” indicating 24 cans of all types of vegetables, or “F” indicating 24 cans of all types of fruit. A large black dot indicates that the box also has openers and utensils. So a box might be marked FU54(dot), V103(dot), or F93(dot). It’s not a secret code, but it’s not necessarily obvious as to contents either.

This configuration allows “grab and go” of food, with the knowledge that the food is both accessible (openers), usable (utensils), and current (purchase date), and there is easy rotation from the storage closet to the pantry shelf as pantry supplies are consumed. I can also confidently share or barter these boxes if necessary (although I consider sharing or bartering with food a very hazardous undertaking unless it’s within the circle of those whom one knows personally and can trust; public knowledge of surplus food availabilty can easily generate very unpleasant consequences if not conducted under well-controlled circumstances. For that reason, should I share, I will do it as anonymously as possible through local churches.) Giving someone a box of canned food is useless unless they also have the means to open the cans and consume the contents. Canned food is cooked before canning, so unpalatable as cold hash may be, it’s still completely edible and nutritious. The 15.5 ounce can size allows for breakfast and dinner of protein, vegetable, and fruit for two people. While refrigeration, or at least some form of cooling or temperature control, is certainly desirable, an open can in a well-insulated container (small cooler) unaccessible to insects or vermin should keep for 6-10 hours without refrigeration, assuming moderate temperatures, if necessity dictates, to allow for two meals. When camping, we’ve used the evaporative cooling effect of wet canvas or burlap to lower storage temperatures several degrees.

The other side of the food equation is, as JM pointed out, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods. I have a substantial quantity of each and add to that stock monthly as budget (and Internet deals) permit. I concentrate on protein, as I believe that type of food will be the most difficult to obtain and be the most needed, should social and economic conditions deteriorate substantially. I try to purchase a couple # 2 1/2 size cans for trial, to see what tastes good. Then I buy cases of larger #10 cans for economy. Just as with canned food, I tape several P38 and P52 openers to the underside of the box lid of each case. As with canned goods, don’t buy what your family doesn’t like. I also have a few Mountain House “72 hour packs”, which I have modified into “96 hour packs” by putting the contents of five boxes into three boxes. To each box is added utensils, a cheap metal cup, a sandwich bag of fire tinder, a P38 opener, an inexpensive knife, matches in a waterproof pill bottle, a pill bottle containing Vaseline-impregnated cotton balls, and a cheap flashlight. (Home Depot had 6-packs of cheap LED flashlights for $9; I got three.) Pro tip: don’t put the batteries in the flashlight; put the batteries, including spares, in a separate plastic bag with painter’s tape over each end to prevent shorting. Replace batteries annually, and reserve the expensive, good flashlights (Surefire, Streamlight, and the like) for daily on-body carry. I am never without a tube of Dark Repellant in my pocket.

I also have a couple of 12X9X9 “accessory boxes” with toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, vitamins, bar soap, shampoo, a couple rolls of toilet paper, an inexpensive headlamp, more utensils and can openers, a few spare batteries, and more, including the usual civil necessities my camping experience has shown necessary and valuable. I don’t intend to “run for the hills” when stress rises, but conditions may dictate a change in plans, and it pays to stay flexible. As the Marines say, “Adapt, Improvise, Overcome.” It’s a good motto.

Water is always a concern, and a 36″W X 14″D X 84″H wire rack shelving unit from the restaurant supply house currently holds fifteen 5-gallon jugs of drinking water, along with several FU boxes. Jugs are dated, of course, and used and replaced in rotation, with preference given to jugs with built-in side handles to allow carrying two at once. The plan is for “utility water”, should it be required (toilets, bathing) to come from a neighbor’s pool, but I’m looking into other storage options. Your correspondent, N.K.

Economics and Investing:

Reagan’s OMB head: Wealth inequality is a problem. – G.P.

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Oil Wars: Teetering On The Edge Of Economic Disaster

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Japan’s Retail Sales Unexpectedly Slump in Challenge to Abe – Unexpectedly? You devalue your currency, prices rise, and “unexpectedly” sales fall? Do they live in a parallel universe where the basic laws of economics are suspended?

Greek Bond Yields Spike as Syriza Scraps Austerity

Subprime Bonds Are Back Seven Years After U.S. Crisis- Cause this worked so good the first time…

David Stockman Trashes The Fed

Notes for Thursday – January 29, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 56 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Early Literacy for Children, by C.L.

I have read many articles on preparing for TEOTWAWKI that deal with valuable information on caring for our needs and those of our family. These have been full of important information and should be noted. However, I feel there is another skill that each of us needs– teaching our young children to read. I am a teacher, and I love being part of a child’s early literacy experiences. I want to share some things that have worked for my own children and my students.

Background:

I am a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, and prepper. I have a B.S. in Special Education, an M.S. in Education-Curriculum and Instruction, and an M.A. in Education-Reading. I just finished my degree in reading last year. I teach in a small, rural school in the Midwest. My school is so small that I literally know every student and staff member. We are a family and care for each other. I am currently teaching K-3 special education and junior high resource study hall. My school is so small that the staff members each wear many hats, in order to make it function. In the past, I have taught junior high and senior high special education as well as general education kindergarten. Most of my teaching career has been in the primary grades though.

I do not pretend to know everything about education, but I have learned a few things that I feel need to be shared with others. We all know that beginning literacy is important. These basic skills are the foundation on which later reading and learning are built. Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as saying, “If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.” I want my grandchildren to have a long list of wonderful literature they can say they have read. This list includes more than the classics; it should also include books that interest them.

Those who are planning for the uncertain times ahead should also be planning for the restructuring of our world. In the future there will be leaders, and I want them to be our children. I want them to be prepared for the task. However, they will not be our country’s future leaders unless they know how to read.

When TEOTWAWKI occurs, you may be responsible for teaching your children or other children in your group. Learning to read is critical to all teaching and learning. Without the knowledge to decode text and put meaning to that text, we are at a loss to learn other areas of curriculum. Every subject area involves reading.

Even after successfully helping many students to read, I am still amazed at how this is possible. Think about it. This very moment, you are looking at a bunch of lines, curves, and dots. At one time they were meaningless to you, but now you are able to make sense of them. You know that these lines, curves, and dots are letters of the alphabet. These letters are put in a specific order to make words. These words are put in a specific order to make sentences. These sentences are put in a specific order to make paragraphs, and these paragraphs have made an article about teaching children to read. I have used punctuation to tell you when to pause or stop as you read. I have used other text features to further help organize this article, enabling you to understand it more easily. A lot is going on as you read.

Basic Information:

Reading involves the following areas:

  • Phonological Awareness. This is the identifying and manipulating of oral language. Phonological awareness involves identifying and making rhymes, clapping out the syllables in word, and recognizing words that have the same beginning or ending sounds.
  • Phonics. This is the understanding that there is a predictable connection between the sounds of our spoken language and the letters and spellings that represent those sounds in written language.
  • Fluency. Fluency is being able to read text correctly and at an appropriate rate.
  • Vocabulary. Vocabulary refers to the words or terms an individual needs in order to communicate effectively.
  • Comprehension. “Comprehension is the understanding and interpretation of what is read. To be able to accurately understand written material, children need to be able to (1) decode what they read; (2) make connections between what they read and what they already know; and (3) think deeply about what they have read. One big part of comprehension is having a sufficient vocabulary or knowing the meanings of enough words,” according to the Reading Rocket website.

(The definitions for each of the above-mentioned areas of literacy came from the Reading Rockets website. Each specific web page is referenced in parentheses after the definition, and full credit is given to the authors for this information.)

Infants and Toddlers:

What are the first things you need to do to teach your child to read? Most parents and caregivers already do these things, and they’re completely unaware they are teaching literacy. It just seems a natural part of parenting and care giving. However, this natural means of parenting is no longer being practiced by some. When TEOTWAWKI occurs, we will be focused on survival and may neglect to give attention to early literacy. We must not fail in this area. You need to remember to:

  • Get into the habit of talking to your child. Make eye contact, and talk to him from the time he is a newborn.
  • Explain what you are doing as you go about daily tasks. Once again, start this when your child is a newborn. For example, you can name your child’s body parts as you give him a bath.
  • When your baby is hungry, talk about it. Ask him how hungry he is, what he wants to eat, what is in the food, and so forth.
  • Talk about how your child is feeling. Discuss why he may be feeling this way.
  • Use an increasingly rich vocabulary, as your child gets older.
  • Read or recite nursery rhymes to your child, and have him recite them to you.
  • Last but not least…read, read, read to your child every day.

Your infant or toddler may not understand what you are saying, but we learn through personal interactions with others. Point to the illustrations, and name the objects in the pictures. Also, use adjectives when describing the objects illustrated.

Preschoolers:

As your child grows, you will change the way you interact with her. She will increase communication and interactions with others. There will be an increased curiosity about the world in which she lives.

  • You will hear “why” more times than you care to count. Try to be patient, and answer as many of these questions as you can.
  • Continue talking to her, explaining what you are doing and why.
  • Use an increasingly rich vocabulary with your preschooler. She needs to hear more than “baby talk” at this stage of her life.
  • Show your child any directions you are reading, and discuss them. This may include manuals you use when servicing tools or machinery, directions on planting your garden, recipes, and more.
  • Write for your child, and have her write for you. Start with her name, the names of family and friends, and items that are of interest. These may include favorite foods, toys, or items in the house or yard.
  • Continue reading nursery rhymes.
  • Once again…read, read, read to your child every day. Sit beside her, and put your finger under the text as you are reading. Discuss the illustrations. Stop to predict what might happen in the story. Ask questions about the story. Have her retell the story to you. Point out letters that are in your child’s name and simple words in the text.

Primary School-Aged Children:

Each child develops at his own pace. Do not expect him to follow an exact timeframe to attain reading. Some children are reading by age three or four, and others learn to read at age six or seven. This is due to many factors, including life circumstances. When TEOTWAWKI occurs, your child may be under a great deal of stress. This could affect learning and other developmental areas. Do not let this trouble you. Just keep teaching, and watch for continued increases in skills. As long as this is occurring, let him develop at his own rate.

  • Continue answering his many questions.
  • Give your child as many life experiences as you can. This may be through direct experiences, reading, hearing stories from others, pretending, or watching movies. When TEOTWAWKI occurs this will not be an issue, but before TEOTWAWKI technology should be limited.
  • Continue rhyming.
  • Give direct instruction on identifying and naming letters of the alphabet, and give the sound or sounds for those letters. Do not use the schwa sound when teaching letter sounds. The schwa is the “uh” many people use after consonant sounds. For example, saying “buh” for the ‘b’ sound, “cuh” for ‘c’ sound, and “duh” for ‘d,’ can make reading more difficult for some children.
  • Have your child name items that begin with specific letters/sounds, blends, and digraphs. Have pictures of items that begin with specific sounds, and have your child sort these pictures by sound. (Included in Bev Tyner resources listed below.)
  • Teach your child basic phonics rules.
  • Teach your child the 100 most frequently occurring words in children’s books and basic sight words. (Included in Bev Tyner resources listed below.)
  • Put letters and sounds together to make words. Have your child write these words and read them to you. This may be done on paper or chalkboards, or with alphabet magnets on a cookie sheet. It is acceptable for your child to use “brave spelling.” He may write “is krem” for “ice cream.” This is actually a wonderful use of phonics skills for beginning readers and writers.
  • Have your child tap or clap individual sounds in words. Tap or clap the syllables in words too.
  • Teach him to construct simple sentences.
  • Have him read books at his reading level, neither too difficult nor too easy. You want to provide success but not bore or frustrate him. This can be achieved by providing both fiction and nonfiction books at your child’s level. I compare reading to sports. When one is first learning to play baseball, it would not be advisable to have Adam Wainwright or Michael Wacha from the St. Louis Cardinals pitch to you. Also, the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday would not want me to pitch to them. Just as we need to play sports at our skill level, we also need to read at our reading level. An exception to this is a child who has an interest in a book or subject matter that is outside their reading level. Let him read the book if he is interested, and give him support as needed. You may be surprised at how well he does when motivated by his interests.
  • Read for your own pleasure or for information. Do this daily, if possible. When your child sees you read, he knows that you place an importance on reading, and he will want to emulate your actions.
  • Every day…read books aloud to your child, and have him read to you. In addition to reading books with your child that are at his reading level, read books to him that are about two years above his independent reading level. This will expand his vocabulary, as well as give him a greater knowledge base to understand what he reads.

Resources:

Small-Group Reading Instruction: A Differentiated Teaching Model for Beginning and Struggling Readers by Beverly Tyrone is a helpful resource and can purchased on Amazon. The book explains how to teach beginning literacy, and a compact disc is included with all of the picture cards, flash cards, and writing resources you will need to begin reading instruction. These can be printed and used to teach your child.

Other helpful resources are the phonemic awareness curricula by Michael Heggerty. If they are not currently available on Amazon, they may also be purchased at http://www.literacyresourcesinc.com/store/curriculum/. These are quick lessons, which can be completed in no more than fifteen minutes. The Internet site for Reading Rockets also has many, helpful, no-cost resources.

I am not affiliated with any of these resources or their publishers in any way, and I do not receive any reimbursement from any parties involved. I have simply found all to be proven, successful ways to teach beginning literacy. They have saved me many hours in lesson preparation, and I believe they will do the same for you.

Instructional Materials:

I would advise having the following instructional materials in a large, plastic tote.

  • Pencils, erasers, markers, crayons, and pens
  • Linedand unlined paper
  • Small chalkboards and chalk, or small dry erase boards and dry erase markers. You can get erasers for these or just use rags.
  • Alphabet cardsand picture cards (The Tyrone book and CD are an easy way to get these. I would make at least two copies. Then, cut, laminate (or print on card stock), and sort one copy, while leaving the other on whole sheets. The extra copy could be used if any cards get lost or destroyed, or they could be put at a bug-out location.)
  • Alphabet magnets(These may be used on cookie sheets or baking pans.)
  • You will need a library of books. Include both fiction and nonfiction books, covering a wide variety of subjects and at primary to adult reading levels. You may purchase these books individually or in sets of leveled readers. Sets are available from a variety of sources on the Internet, and some are reasonably priced. I would also include magazines in subject areas that are of interest to your group members. Some children enjoy reading magazines more than books.

Closing:

I have written an article containing about two thousand, four hundred words telling you how to teach the beginnings of literacy. This has been an extremely abbreviated summary. However, it is my hope that it will give you the confidence and some of the information you will need for the task.

I believe that anyone can teach. Receiving a degree in education does not make one a teacher. Be patient, and share your knowledge with the next generation. Do this now. Do not wait for TEOTWAWKI. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, “Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.” Through educating your children, they will change the world.

Keeping Lawmen at Fishbowl Distance

In recent years, some members of American law enforcement have developed a knack for talking motorists into vehicle searches that would otherwise not be justifiable under the Plain View, Probable Cause, or Reasonable Suspicion doctrines. Their goal is often to smell your breath or to go on a “fishing expedition” looking for illicit drugs, in order to seize assets. My advice is to NOT talk with law enforcement officers, and NEVER consent to any searches. To simplify this, I prepared the following lines for you to print out in large bold type, on an 8-1/2″x11″ sheet of paper, that you should carry in your car:

I am exercising my right to remain silent. (See: Miranda v. Arizona)

Do not attempt to question me. I will not respond. (See: 5th Amendment)

I will show you my driver’s license and proof of insurance, upon demand.

However, I do not consent to any searches whatsoever. (See: 4th Amendment and Fruit of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine, in Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. U.S.)

Do not detain or delay me when you lack Plain View, Probable Cause, or Reasonable Suspicion grounds. Let me know when I am free to go.

If you are pulled over for the ubiquitous “routine traffic stop” or roll into an INS inland checkpoint (now often up to 80 miles from the border), leave your windows up and simply hold this page up to your car window for the officer to read, and then do not say a word. If they ask you for your driver’s license and proof of insurance, then go ahead and provide them. (Just crack your window slightly to hand them out, if they are not willing to read them through the glass.)

If they issue you a traffic ticket, then sign it, and be on your way.

Again, there is no need for you to ever speak a word. If they persist in quizzing you, just keep pointing to the sheet of paper. If they lack Plain View, Probable Cause, or Reasonable Suspicion grounds for a search and if you do not consent, then any evidence that they might find in a subsequent unconstitutional search will not be admissible in court (under the Fruit of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine.)

Odds are, they will soon realize that these aren’t the droids they’re looking for, and say “You’re free to go.”
Addendum (on 29 January): One notable exception to the foregoing guidance is that if you are the holder of a CCW permit, some states require you to inform a law enforcement officer that you are carrying a gun immediately after you come into contact with them. And in many states CCW permit holders also give implied consent to be personally searched or have their vehicles searched, just because you have a permit. – JWR

Letter Re: Canned Food Alternatives

Dear Survival Blog,

There’s a food storage learning curve. It’s is a long journey; my 65 years of life and 40 years of survival learning and self evaluation on products and locations has been very interesting and beneficial. Having submitted a few articles in the past on this wonderful site, I’m going to respond to food preps and storage. This is a brief account, as this is in my humble estimation is the most crucial part of all the survival categories.

HJL is right on target with the canned food viewpoint in our current world situation, However the viewpoint will drastically change in a post whatever happens scenario. Remember the movie “The Road”, where the two survivors find an old, hidden bunker with canned goods in it, after the do do hits the fan; the last thing you will be worried about is salt or sugar content, rather you will be praying for it. Your prepping mindset needs to be where you will be in a post period, real world, “you are not in Kansas any more” situation. Maybe we all should prep during a one-week forced food deprivation; trust me, you will have a clear vision of your priorities versus what you think they might be while having a full stomach and a open grocery store.

My learning curve follows similar what past guest articles have discussed. So, how is mine different? I have tried stocking with an assortment of what I eat on a daily basis when in my 20/30s, but after a time period it was quite apparent that this method would not last or keep 30 days at best. The next stage in the learning was combining big box items with MRE’s that were coming into a new era, but adequate storage meant becoming aware of how heat, cold, and humidity degraded certains items. I have eliminated MREs from my survival preps due to the inability to know both date from manufacturer and their susceptibility to cold and more so heat. I have also encountered people who switch old MREs to newer dated boxes. I plain don’t trust them. Having traveled the road alongside the advent and development of high quality offered by freeze-dried foods, they are in my perspective the current king of survival meals in both taste, selection, and best of all their long shelf life, if you provide an amount of awareness to the storage area. The other advantage is since they are freeze dried, cold is not a major concern; whereas it can be a concern with canned and MREs.

My journey continues and is revised as any new practices are adopted. I built a climate-controlled, insulated food storage room with its own access door approx 8′ x 20′ in my separate garage workshop area. I live in Nevada where humidity is low, so it’s not a factor. I installed a window air conditioner just for the room in order to maintain a high temperature of not more then 75 degrees and also added a small 800-watt electric heater to keep the temps above 40 degrees with an inside-outside thermometer to ensure accuracy. The size of the room minimizes any cost to maintain the constant temp; I simply set it and forget it.

My journey has been refined to my current awareness for TWO basic types of food storage:

First is the current day through 12-months supply rotating usage, which includes freezer, canned, what I call dry foods (pasta, rice, beans etc), and another often overlooked group–condiments– which includes pickles, ketchup, taco sauce, mustard, olives, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and the list goes on, with a required awareness to heat/cold/humidity. This needs to be a realistic, actual quantity of those foods for each person times the number in that prep group. To give you an idea, I use USPS 12x12x6 inch boxes for rotating my canned goods. They stack 10 high and are easily moved. My current one-year realistic supply for myself is 60 boxes. I note what I do not consume when the product hits the expiration date. I still use, and taste determines whether I use it or not. I have also recently noticed that the major food and big box stores have many items on the shelf that have reached or passed their expiration dates; it seems they are into food or credit shortages themselves. It’s time to fish or cut bait folks.

Second is freeze-dried items in a supply of a minimum of one year and preferably two years per person. I have tried most of the manufactures available. My favorite by far is the Mountain House brand because they simply have the best selection, best taste, and the quality control is top notch. (No, I do not work for them; I just enjoy good food.) With a projected life span around 20 to 30 years, it is a winner for me. Currently, I have two thousand assorted freeze-dried single meals. That gives me a few year’s supply (which will allow for some barter situations, if needed). It has taken a few years to get to my current level of preps, and the warm fuzzy you get from having a food insurance program is substantial. Make sure you try each selection so you can procure greater quantities of those that you prefer. I have watched the pricing double, if not triple, in the last few years, so buy as much as you can as fast as you can.

My final thought is that for the cost of buying prepackaged, freeze-dried food and the selection versus buying a freeze-dryer unit and supporting supplies for myself, I have to go with the buying the prepackaged freeze-dried foods. I hope this article will serve to help those of us who are on a similar mindset and path to self provisioning. “We are what we eat” is a great saying for today, but in the future a better one may be “There are the haves and have nots”. Trying to help someone with a gift of food during those times will be a reward in itself, because you had the forethought to prep. Happy Trails – JM

Odds ‘n Sods:

From Wranglerstar: More Power Puller + A Homestead Helper

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A reminder to watch your security with the electronic gadgets we all have. – D.S.

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I have always been intrigued by the survival uses of small airplanes, but this one really gets the imagination going: Short landing! – W.G.

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If you like your raisins, you can keep your raisins. A story of a lunatic government going on a crime spree. – RBS

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Seattle government now going through citizens’ trash for public shaming, revenue. – J.C.

Notes for Wednesday – January 28, 2015

January 28th is the anniversary of the rescue of General James L. Dozier from his Italian Red Brigades kidnappers. Tangentially, Colonel Jeff Cooper created a shooting drill in honor of those who freed him– The Dozier Drill.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 56 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel which can be assembled in less then one minute without the use of any tools and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 value).

Round 56 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Lessons Learned While Living in San Francisco, by JGD

I’m writing this as I wrap up my 18th year of living in San Francisco to outline a recent experience with crime in this city. Beneath the surface, this city has big problems. Above the surface, San Francisco is a beautiful city, and it’s a ton of fun to live here. There are thousands of things to do and amazing places to visit; you name it, and it’s here. I’ve got a great career and a beautiful, like-minded woman. I own my house and have a great sailboat and lots of friends. I could not be more blessed. Things just could not be better, or so it seems. Sadly, they are far from great, because of the taxes, rules, and constant lack of enforcement of even the most basic laws. Most notably, our District Attorney (DA) does not prosecute enough, and I’m sure that even if he did that the prison system in this beautiful state would be able to accommodate any more criminals. I’m to the point that the have-nots in our entire ecosystem of cities (i.e. The Bay Area) no longer worry about any crime other than murder. After my girlfriend was victimized by yet another broad daylight car break in, I took matters into my own hands. Here’s my story…

My Story

Around 13:00 on Sunday January 11th, my girlfriend and I were at Trader Joe’s doing some grocery shopping. I usually avoid the place like the plague on a Sunday, because it is overrun with idiots all vying to get their weekly fill of granola or whatnot. However, there are a few products that are amazing and you just can’t get anywhere else. Usually, we use AmazonFresh or Instacart to avoid the public masses in the city, but on this day, we just felt like doing it. It takes a lot of special services or expenses to make living in the city comfortable, but it is worth it if you want to have a quality of life that is on par with other more suburban areas. Prior to our visit to Trader Joe’s, we had just left the local homeless shelter where we donated four garbage bags full of clothes. Even at the homeless shelter, it was a mess of chaos, so we didn’t stick around to get paperwork for tax write-off purposes. We just wanted to get our errands done. There’s a theme here, isn’t there?

Upon returning to our car, we noted that the right rear window was smashed in. We quickly inspected the vehicle and did not notice anything missing. Having had my car broken into perhaps seven or eight times over the past 18 years, I figured that we should take the car to a secure place and schedule a safelight auto glass repair. So my girlfriend dropped me off at my place so I could get my Hummer H2. The plan was for me to follow her home and then we’d go together to the local police station and file a report. Things weren’t as they seemed though, as after she left me to head for home, she realized that her backpack, which contained her ipad and work laptop, had been stolen.

As luck would have it, right after my girlfriend dropped me off, she called me and advised me that she ran into a cop and the theft victim he was helping showed her how to use “find my iPhone.” We had initially thought she didn’t have it enabled, but it was. They were able to see that her stolen iPad was headed towards the 101 freeway south. We hurried over to the police station and proudly showed the “find my iPhone” location on the screen to the officer behind the 1.5 inches of bullet-proof glass with the little slotted communication ports. He looked up at us and said, “I’m sorry; we do not respond to these, and we do not advise that you do anything about it other than file a report.”

I was livid. With all the taxes we pay, the parking tickets to succumb to, and all the other fees and assessments that we endure, this was not what I wanted to hear. We had a location of our stolen property right there for the local law enforcement officers to see. I was not going to stand for it, so I turned to my girlfriend and said, “Let’s go get it, Honey.”

We battled traffic to get onto the 101 freeway and head south in pursuit. The entire time, I was thinking to myself, “What should I do if we find them? I don’t want to put my girl in harm’s way, so how do I do this?”

We were gaining on them; they appeared to stop at a Lucky grocery store just south of the city. I kept thinking to myself, “How can I do this safely? I won’t be able to live with myself if something bad happens!”

Our criminals got back on the 101 and headed south past San Francisco International Airport. This time I called my friend, Jay, who is a former LEO. He said to me, “Don’t approach them; it could be dangerous. The cops can’t do anything, because they need probable cause to search someone or arrest them.” I said to Jay, “What if I see them with the stolen property?” Jay replied, “Then they can go get them.”

Having satisfied my mental state with a plan, I refocused on tracking them. My girlfriend kept calling out their location every time the “find my iPhone” application updated. We were getting closer, but this time the criminals had turned around and headed north again on the 101 freeway. I focused on safely exiting, and rapidly getting turned around.

We were less than two exits behind them, and they appeared to have stopped at an IHOP restaurant in Brisbane, which is just south of San Francisco. Then, they quickly got back on the 101 freeway and headed north again into San Francisco. Shortly thereafter, they exited onto Vermont Street and sped through Potrero Hill. This is my neighborhood, and I had them right where I wanted them. At this point, I was no more than three blocks behind them. My nerves were on edge and adrenaline was flowing.

The criminals appeared to be heading to the Oakland Bay Bridge, which wasn’t a good sign, because crime and criminals go hand in hand in Oakland. Still we pressed on over the bridge to the 580 freeway, to the 980 freeway, and then to the 880 freeway, where they exited and appeared to park at Laney College, just across from a huge swap meet. That was no surprise there, and I was somewhat happy that we tracked them to a large, open, crowded, public place. I don’t know if I would have had the guts to enter a dark alley, but my goal was to spot the stolen property and call the police, never to approach them. That was the mental plan that unfolded in my head numerous times while pursuing these punks.

My girlfriend noted that we appeared to have passed the criminals by using the “find my iPhone” application, and there were two vehicles parked on the side of the road that we just passed. I was careful to pass them by 30 or 40 meters before I parked. I looked around and made a mental note of the surroundings, possible cover, people, and just about anything. I didn’t know what to do, but my plan was to track them from a distance and give law enforcement probable cause. So, I casually got out of my Hummer, like I was hunting for a good lamp at the local swap meet. I instructed my girlfriend to stay in the car, but she wasn’t having it. Conceding, I plead with her to stay 10-15 meters behind me. She did.

As we walked down the street towards the first car that was stopped on the side of the road behind us, I casually walked by and used all the peripheral vision I could to inspect the vehicle. What appeared was an old family, all doors open, a walker, a baby, and no bags or stolen goods. “On to the next one,” I thought.

As I focused on the next car, I realized I had found them. There was a heavy set Hispanic male leaning into the vehicle with a wad of cash conducting a transaction with the front passenger, who had a stack of laptops. As we walked slowly up to them, my girlfriend, who was still behind me, advised me that the “find my iPhone” application lost the signal. Obviously the purchaser of the stolen goods had informed the criminals that they were capable of being tracked, so they had shut down the iPad. It was too late though; I had eyes on them.

I dropped back to my girlfriend and walked between them and the car, advising my girlfriend to act like nothing at all is happening. We just simply walked by. As soon as we passed them, I got their license plate number and kept walking. Once we were 10 or 15 meters past the vehicle, I looked back and so did my girlfriend. She said to me “Honey, there’s my iPad and my laptop!” She could identify her iPad from the shiny fancy red cover she had on it.

This was our probable cause, and despite all my mental simulations while pursuing these thieves, I acted quickly and ran across the street so I could track the stolen property, which was now in the hands of someone who obviously had a booth at the local swap meet. This person was stuck on the traffic median waiting for a “walk” signal. I went off script and yelled assertively, “You are in possession of stolen property, which we just observed you buy from that vehicle. We have tracked them all over the Bay Area. Place the stolen property on the deck and we will not call the police. DO IT NOW!”

The car drove off rapidly, and the person who bought the stolen goods placed the stack of laptops and iPads down and then took off into the crowd. Not one single person stopped to help. In fact I don’t think a single person even broke stride.

Seconds later, my girlfriend came running up, found her laptop and her iPad and was very happy. I advised her that we needed to maintain situational awareness and that we were in no way in a happy place just yet. I called the Oakland police department to file a report. Honestly, the thought of just leaving the stolen property that wasn’t ours behind did cross my mind, but returning the stolen property to the authorities seemed appropriate.

After getting off the phone with the 911 dispatcher, we waited over 20 minutes for an Oakland police officer to show up. While we were waiting, though, my girlfriend fired up each laptop and found out who their owners were, then sent them an email letting them know we retrieved their stuff. After 25 minutes and still no police response, I decided to pack it in and drive the stolen property back to the San Francisco Police station that told us not to do anything and that they wouldn’t do anything. I figured, “Hmmm, this will be a nice surprise for them to deal with.”

Humorously, we drove about 300 feet toward home, turned the corner, and there was an Oakland Police officer in the car just sitting there doing nothing. We had called the police 25 minutes prior, and there was a police officer in a car just around the corner the entire time doing NOTHING. This was par for the course. We were let down by not one but two different police jurisdictions.

We pulled over to the police, informed them of what happened, and they gladly took possession of the stolen property, filed a report, and gave us a case number. Ironically, while we were divulging information to the police officers, my girlfriend’s phone rang; it was one of the victims who we reached out to via email. They were overjoyed and very thankful. We gave them all the information they needed to retrieve their property, thanked the Oakland police officers for their help, and headed home.

Lessons Learned

  1. PREPARE. This one turned out okay, but it might not have. I have spent the past few years preparing and training so that, as I put it, “I’m not the hapless idiot in the movie where everything goes wrong and people die.” I prepare and train to help others. I prepare and train, because one day I realized that this beautiful city we live in is inches from a WROL scenario. It’s all just below the surface.
  2. PREPARATION ISN’T ENOUGH; LOCATION IS KEY! This was a wakeup call for me. While I am prepared for anything, when it comes to band aids, beans, and bullets in the most almighty way imaginable, thanks to my professional successes. However, the one thing you cannot overcome, no matter how hard you try, is living in the wrong location.
  3. MOST MAJOR POPULATION CENTERS ARE LOST CAUSES. Our beloved city, in all its glory, is on the verge of lawlessness. You cannot spend your way into a utopian society or educate yourself to prosperity, if there isn’t security. Right now, where I’m sitting, we have a law enforcement system that is broken because of the right intentions coupled with the wrong principles. We have a penal system that is overflowing. People in the San Francisco Bay Area are going to have to learn to live with crime that goes unenforced in broad daylight, because there is just too much of it. It’s just slightly below the surface.
  4. TRAIN TO COMPLEMENT YOUR PREPS. Aside from having an extensive array of preparations, I advise that you train extensively whenever you can at things like first aid, firearms, trade craft, self-defense, fitness, communications, and anything that interests you and will complement your tangible preps.
  5. BE MENTALLY AWARE AT ALL TIMES. My mind was on overdrive throughout this whole process. Driving rapidly on the freeway, trying to be safe, tracking someone, and rehearsing what you are going to do– it was a mental workout. Simulate all possible outcomes of any scenario to help balance risk. Be situationally aware. Don’t be stupid; be wise. Also, allow time to unwind afterwards. My mind kept racing for hours after the incident to where I couldn’t focus.