The Semi-Prepper – Part 1, by Francis

I’m a semi-prepper. I’d like to give you my background and where we are today.  I’ll discuss water, food, firearms, family, and other issues.

We came to the United States when I was 6-1/2 years old in 1952. We came from Great Britain, but we’re ethnically Southern Irish. My mother was bombed out of her apartment in London and my father was with the RAF in WWII. Both of them made the distinction between the German people and the Nazis. My father said more than once that with different leaders, Great Britain and the United States could have easily been like Nazi Germany and/or Stalinist Russia (sound familiar today?). After WWII, Great Britain was rationing some items up to sometime in 1954 (Britain was not in the Marshal Plan so did not receive any of its benefits, though it bothered my mother that we were still on rationing while Germany and Italy were no longer because of the food the US sent to Europe after WWII.) My father came to the US a year earlier than we and worked to afford the passage for us by boat. He was a journeyman tool and die maker. He had to prove he could support his family before we could enter the US.

My parents were very religious and passed that onto us. I believe with proper preparation, critical thinking and trust in the Lord we will be as well prepared as we can for the coming financial collapse and other eventualities. I honestly believe a financial collapse is coming, the Federal Reserve and Treasury are “printing” too much money. With this pandemic and the questionable government procedures, I’ve been forced to change our plans several times over the last several months.

My Early Life:

We moved quite a bit from rental apartment to rental apartment until my parents bought a 750 SF home on the outskirts of a medium income town near Buffalo, New York in the late 1950s.

I was taught (in a suburb near Buffalo, New York) in the 1950’s and early 1960s by teachers who had been through WWII and/or the Korean War, including combat veterans and ladies who had military husbands or had lost someone in the war. They were warm and caring, up to a point. I believe I got the very best high school education in America at that time.

My parents had integrity. Once when I was walking with traffic (as opposed to against it, which I should have been doing) I was struck from behind by a pickup truck. The driver took me home and was very concerned and offered to take me to the hospital and pay for x-rays. When my father found out it was my fault, he told him no. Another time he and my mother were hit in their car by a cement truck. The company had a lawyer come over and made him a financial offer. He said no, his insurance would take care of it, it was an accident, and they were just really sore and achy. I asked for a car when I was 16, my father said tell the banker how much your part-time after school pays and get a loan from the bank. The banker was kind and proved to me there was no chance I was getting a loan. My father and mother were exemplary working people as were many people in the ’50s and ’60s. I worked for everything I got; my parents felt if I didn’t earn it I would not appreciate it.

I went through college on a scholarship; I became a citizen (as did my family) in 1964 because the scholarship required citizenship. It never occurred to us to get citizenship before that. I obtained an engineering degree and left for California to a draft-deferred job in 1969. Though I felt the Vietnam War was wrong, (I was so grateful to America for allowing us to immigrate, at the time I felt “my country, right or wrong”. At the present, I no longer believe that). I volunteered for the Army in 1969, eventually was selected for Officer Candidate School, but never went to Vietnam, as I was no longer needed for the war, when my turn came.

At that time it was dawning on me that the news and government would not always be reliable, I had to think and fend for myself, which I learned from my parents and teachers. Critical thinking was drummed into my head by my parents, they didn’t have a label for it but they were experts at critical thinking.

We currently live near a large metropolitan city in the southeast, in the suburbs in a mixed age neighborhood with middle class people.


Since we live in the suburbs, we don’t farm, nor will we try. [This has changed: we are now getting seeds and reading how to prepare a “Victory Garden”.] We are not planning to bug out, we are too old but just in case we have bug out backpacks and an essentials list which I keep up to date. The mountains are 2 to 3 hours away, we have relatives who live there and would be welcome. We have no health issues (other than my asthma) as I’m in my mid 70’s and my wife is in her late 60’s.   I’ve talked to some trustworthy neighbors and it appears they are of like minds in terms of what I’m discussing here. In addition our children and grandchildren are in the area, but we are going to be flexible, no plans are set in stone.


I no longer trust any level of government or large institutions to be fair or treat us honestly. Think of the recent government failures: Financial collapse of 2008 (have you noticed that every 10 years or so we have a collapse of some time in the financial world?), the State and Federal response to Katrina (including seizure of firearms), Puerto Rico problems, Columbine school shooting, some records are sealed until 2019, why?, Broward County Sheriffs department response to the high school shooting (both before, during and after the event), there are many other examples.

Speaking of trust, I would recommend waiting to get the Wuhan vaccine. Like the arthritis medicine Vioxx which caused too many heart attacks (88,000) people died needlessly from its’ use and Merck Pharmaceutical paid out over $4.85 billion dollars in settlements and it was recalled, the real testing will occur on the general population, not test subjects. They are still in business so it must have been profitable to kill almost 100,000 people.

The Wuhan vaccine will be rushed into production. Guess what happens when you rush to solve a problem of any kind?

The government and pharmaceutical companies have been working on the flu vaccine since forever and the first vaccines were used to vaccinate troops during WWII.

For more information go to:

Only you or your physician can determine if you get the vaccine but take a look at these pages on the CDC website:

  1. This shows the effectives of flu vaccines in 2018-2019,   12% for those over 65.
  2. This shows the estimated effectiveness of the current flu season, 50% for those over 65 through February, 2020. Wonder how it got so high?

I’m not a statistician but have a rudimentary knowledge of statistics. Their sample size appears substantially low. Take a look at the small sample used to determine these numbers….out of a population of over 350,000,000 people.

Flu vaccines are rarely effective up to 50% and many times lower than 15%. Is there a benefit to the government or Big Pharma to show effective vaccines?

These shutdowns are creating other problems and I am concerned they will drive us into dramatic inflation/depression similar to where in Germany as the depression picked up steam, a wheel barrow of money could buy a loaf of bread.


The following discuss our preparations with some changes as I’ve been writing this on and off for a month:


I’ve always enjoyed firearms and have always kept cash and extra food, just in case (not a lot more but some, when the financial crisis of 2008 happened, we started stockpiling more). We have some spare firearms, plenty of ammunition, so do our children. I always carry a firearm, (Springfield XD) including home carry, there’s another story there for another time. The XD does have a grip safety, which I recommend.

I used to participate in IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) and IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation). That’s where I learned about moving targets and maneuvering. I’ve found I’m too busy right now to participate. Someone running across (from left to right) you at 7 mph will cover 10.2 feet in one second, if they are doing the same at 3.5 mph, they will cover 5.1 feet. Thus the moving target has to be led. It’s similar if you’re moving and they are stationary. It gets very difficult if you and your target are moving in opposite directions. Thus the need for practice. This is how I learned why Bruce Willis rarely gets shot in his movies.

I absolutely recommend both IDPA and IPSC if you are serious about using and/or carrying a pistol for protection. I found them to be very useful (most shooters at these events will offer great advice). I usually score in the bottom one third. My times are slow, thus reducing my scores but I feel it’s more important to shoot straight than put out many bullets. I shoot defensive ammunition at 5, 10, 25 and 150 yards (with a pistol), aim small, hit small. I only use defensive ammunition for practice and carry, it’s expensive but there is a difference between target and self defense ammunition at longer distances. You’re hurting yourself if all you do is go to an indoor range and shoot at a stationary target. You learn more by moving and having a target move. Thus I drive over an hour to an outdoor range that includes pistol, shotgun and ranges. The range is really on a farm and few people are there during the week. I recommend not going to a range on the weekends or holidays. There are too many people who are careless; additionally the range I go to has no range officer.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)


  1. Britain had rationing until 1952 because in 1945 they elected a Labour government. Though that gave them the NHS and pensions etc the Labour government were financially and economical incompetent. In 1950 they re-elected Churchill who sorted it out! The UK then thrived in the 50s and 60s.

    1. Rober,
      After further research, I find Great Britain was the recipient of the Marshal Plan and it got the largest % of funds. Sorry for providing false formation.

  2. On your statement about defensive shooting at long distances, although I don’t shoot long distances much, I have shot bullseye yrs go at 50 yds but now shoot bench rest and you would be surprised at the number of people who will criticize you for wasting ammo for shooting that far ( with a handgun ) if not further. I have shot 100 and 200 yds with a G.I. .45 ball ammo and know where my aiming point is. I now it is not the same, but it is a start.

  3. Thank you, Francis! We are looking forward to Part 2 of your article, having thoroughly enjoyed Part 1. It’s wise that you are building flexibility into your plans, and learning about Victory Gardens. It’s reassuring that others in your area share your views, and we hope this means that they are moving themselves into greater positions of preparedness as well!

    1. Telesilla of Argos,

      Good Morning! A totally different subject. I was, and have been wondering for a long time now, how to pronounce your moniker correctly? Seriously! Is it pronounced “te leh see ya”, or tell-leh-sill-ah? or something else? I have this “thing” about pronouncing names and words correctly… ;). I’m sorry for not asking much sooner. Sometimes Jim and I mention to one another something you have written and we both stumble over the pronunciation when referring to you. We’d like to clear it up between us. 😉 Thank You!

      Thank you for the links to the cookbooks. I pray that you will have a blessed and sweet day,


      1. Hello Avalanche Lily!
        I totally get this, and am the same way myself. You and I share a love of languages, and this makes pronunciation very important to us!

        “tell-leh-sill-ah” is correct!

        Also some fun and interesting history. Telesilla was said to have been an Ancient Greek poet, and a native of Argos. She was also political and military leader. There is some debate as to the historic record (she lived more than 500 years before the birth of Christ), but one account suggests that a statue at the temple of Aphrodite depicted Telesilla with a helmet in her hand and books at her feet.

        Wishing you and JWR every good wish and prayer come true!

        1. Telesilla of Argos,

          Thank You so much for clearing up the pronunciation of your moniker for us. 🙂

          I am a much happier person now. Our world in now in order once again.


          May you have a peaceful night. The Lord Bless you and Keep you!!


          1. It is so refreshing too read your twos conversation. I am far from a scholar but had a Great time reading it. Cheers from ALASKA. sincerely, Greg

  4. The author has quite a story to tell! What a fabulous family history.
    I, too, participated in IPSC back in the 1970s and 80s. Shot with some interesting people and I got to know a lot about practical shooting, technique, and how to shoot accurately under pressure. You can’t miss fast enough, so take your time…..quickly!
    Sometime around 1981, I took my first serious defensive firearms course from Dennis Tueller, then a corporal with the Salt Lake City PD. Tueller developed the Tueller Drill, associated with the ’21 Foot Rule’ regarding edged weapons.
    The main takeaway was that IPSC and IDPA have little to do with the serious use of firearms. An adversary will never ask you to “Make Ready!!” You’d better BE ready. Very few IPSC shooters carry a gun every day (or ever). It’s a sporting event. Golf, with guns. While I was participating in IPSC, the courses of fire always required shooting the most humanoid targets in the least amount of time, usually standing in a box or fixed position. There was never encouragement to seek and use cover or sound tactics while solving a problem. Drills resemble an office or church massacre rather than a real gunfight. When the drill ends, shooters are forced to unload their pistols.
    In my continuing education and now working with new shooters, we NEVER allow students to holster an empty pistol, once the rudimentary skills in administrative handling are learned. OK, sometimes we unload for a teaching moment, but other than that, empty pistols are not allowed. In carbine courses, students eat, use the restroom, etc….while carrying and living with loaded weapons. Someday, we may have to live this way, so we might as well learn this now. My primary instructors have been teaching on hot ranges with citizens and military alike for 45 year and have yet to have a negligent discharge off the line. All guns are ALWAYS loaded. We don’t have “safe” guns, and “dangerous” guns. They’re ALL dangerous. Students, when they are not actually firing at threats, are MOVING and reloading. Stand motionless in a fight, and that’s where your body will be found.
    The short of it is, spend the time, effort and money on competent, experienced instructors, preferably those who train law enforcement agencies. Training for the armed citizen is somewhat different than for LEOs, but the skills of using cover, remaining in motion, trigger control, sight picture, footwork, verbal interaction with potential threats and much more, are the same. The citizen is encouraged to disengage from trouble, and your course work should include a solid block of instruction about this. It is very much in your best interest to de-escalate an encounter than be involved in a shooting. If that is not possible, then victory is essential. Law enforcement officers are trained to confront, contain, and arrest.
    While George Zimmerman was doing his job as a neighborhood watch critter, and was acquitted of charges stemming from his shooting, he’s in debt about $2.9 million as a result. LEOs have their legal costs paid for by the agency or government they work for. You’re on your own.
    Looking forward to the rest of the article!

  5. I am not antivaccine although I am not for forced vaccination. I get a flu shot most years and I have had all sorts of vaccines with little I’ll effect. I seem to recall yellow fever vaccine being a bit rough and small pox vaccine as an adult was rough but I would still get them.

    I will not be first in line for the COVID vaccine though. Not because of any conspiracy issue although I do think the whole COVID business is suspicious in many ways. My reluctance with the vaccine is simply that I fell if it is rushed it might not be developed right and the first round of people getting it might be in danger. The might not be as well but I don’t like the odds.

    1. You are correct about Yellow Fever vaccine. My wife and I had one to go on a missions trip to Africa, stung like a thousands bubble bees going in and hurt for a few days.

    2. My husband and I were both vaccinated for smallpox as kids. In my case, it was related to my father’s travel overseas for the purposes of working in the field of medical research (not vaccine related) — and in a country that no longer exists today.

      Decades later we had one of our early “pandemic conversations” when we read news about Iran’s efforts to vaccinate its population for smallpox. This captured our attention because we were aware of the vaccine (having had it ourselves), and because of the absence of smallpox “in the wild”. We were also living in the newly post 9-11 world, and were very concerned about the risk of biological weapons.

      In addition to the community interest in healthy conversation and debate about vaccines, biological weapons is a closely related sister-subject. While we endure the journey through SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19, we would be well served to consider the ways in which this kind of biological threat calls on us to prepare.

      A pandemic is unique in several respects, and among these is that it forces physical separation where other kinds of events might encourage or even force the closer sharing of physical space. This has important implications for preparedness.

      Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

  6. Another heading for the hills story. If everyone in the cities and burbs heads for the hills when trouble comes, the hills will be full of desperate and unprepared refugees. Figure out how to make what you have now work, and if not, relocate now while things are relatively stable. Once the SHTF (and it hasn’t yet), movement of any sort will be perilous.

    1. True, Benjammin! When I read that particular sentence and then saw that they are in their late 60’s / early 70’s, I cringed. Even if they have a functional vehicle a 2 hour drive may not be possible…can’t see them out walking. Wiser at that age to make your existing environment as prepped as possible.

    2. Benjamin,
      We can’t make a decision without input from our children and we deeply love our grandchildren. They are more important than we are. They are staying here, thus we stay.
      My hope is that as things get worse they will understand and decide to also leave.
      To be honest, if they stay in a SHTF scenario, then we are too.

  7. Outstanding!! Great individual responsibility. You’re are a true American! Thanks for the discipline, honor, and respect for your self and our country. I hope you walk with YESHUA! Great post!

  8. In grade school, I had a wonderful British teacher with a similar history, and therefore have a certain affinity. Among other things, she boosted my vocabulary, yet sadly, not my grammar.

    As a semi-prepper with no other option than a back pack, I am concerned. Please consider an old motor home, or another affordable vehicle in which to escape with. I have successfully installed small wood stoves in two of these that made them tolerable in below-zero conditions. Propane will not cut it. A wood stove is very important in long term situation. A larger motor home or camping trailer can also be used as storage. If priorities are correct, one can store a meaningful amount of food, enough that could sustain two persons for 6 to 12 months. With seeds, one might be able to grow enough food before the supplies run out. It is still a tough way to go, but it is far better than a bug out bag. Have a suitable destination, and you could do quite well. With such a plan, it is better to leave early rather than get stuck where you are. Once in hand, you might surprised at the options then available to you. You might be able to find a spot with another prepper.

      1. If you have prepper friends, storing an old trailer, motor home, or large tool shed on their property full of supplies, gives us an alternative plan. And they might wish to do the same on your property. Friends and relatives that might want to join you, could do the same as well. Without an alternative plan, we are vulnerable. An RV also gives us a contingency plan should we have to evacuate due to fire, or other threat, temporarily, or permanently. A bug out bag is really a last resort, an emergency plan. So in this paragraph are outlined, other than your primary plan that most preppers already have, is an alternate, contingency, and emergency plan.
        Without this kind of in depth planning, and hopefully more, we are planning to fail. This is the kind of planning that the military employs because it works, and is referred to as P.A.C.E. (Primary, Alternative, Contingency, Emergency).

        When Special Forces plans a mission, it is extensive and detailed. Excuse the bad grammar, but the More options, are always More better. The better the planning, the more likely that we will be successful. And if all plans must be abandoned, we have developed the knowledge, and mental agility to quickly improvise, or make new plans. In my old line of work, using this approach, there was never an emergency as a result, and never a failure to provide the logistics needed for the operation during a worst case scenario. It works. Use it, because it is necessary when lives could be at risk.

        The adage that amateurs talks tactics, and professionals talk logistics is apropos. Don’t be an amateur! Do the planning, and put it into place.

      2. This us time of year to purchase a rv,snowbirds are leaving southern locations and returning north. Quite a few lightly used units come on the market,but a lot of neglected ones too(if it has sat for2yrs+ be very careful but if no problems can be a great deal). If you buy,use it,drive it,operate all systems. If your proposed BOL is that near consider powered bicycles or 4wheeler/side by side.
        About vaccinations,the ContinentalArmy was inoculated against small pox and was more effective because of reduced disease(most wars have more casulaties from illness than combat)

  9. I’ve read that the effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies from year to year due to the flu strain(s) that are circulating. There are actually types, subtypes and still further separate distinct versions of flu viruses, and then they are mutating too. The flu vaccine only covers 3-4 strains, and those strains are chosen in the spring for the fall season because vaccine manufacturers need time to make the fall flu shots. If different strains and mutations are circulating in flu season compared to the strains in the vaccine the vaccine isn’t as effective. See the article link at bottom for a better explanation.

    That said, I plan to get the vaccine because of my age and risk factors, but you make a very good point about waiting for other people to take it first. It will be rushed, may not have been as fully tested as other vaccines, side effects could crop up, etc. I hadn’t considered all that.

    I don’t recommend using the flu vaccine effectiveness in your decision making process to get or not get the vaccine. Many vaccines reach 80-99% effectiveness. That doesn’t mean the SARS-CoV-2 will reach that effectiveness. It depends on the virus, our bodies, mutation rates, and a host of other factors so it could be much lower. It will be some time before effectiveness, safety and side effects are fully known.

    Vioxx was sad but it doesn’t mean what you think. Drug companies make the most money treating chronic diseases, be it heart disease, cholesterol, triglycerides, depression, etc. Customers keep coming back year after year. There is evidence they rush drugs to market that have serious side effects, that don’t work as well as they should, that are overpriced, they have covered up risks in the past, etc. all in the name of profits (and they still make those profits paying out billions in claims). If you are taking any drug still under patent look it over closely. Drug companies don’t make much money on generic drugs (competition), antibiotics (they lose effectiveness quickly, are taken for short periods) and vaccines (not sure why, maybe the one dose and you are done part). The profit motive is a driving force for the dangerous drugs. If you see high prices and significant profits for the SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine makers, the risk could be higher. If the government paid for some of the research, the price is reasonable, the drug companies aren’t making that much in profits, the risks should be less though the other risks from the rush to development/test/does it work you mention still apply.

    1. Greg,
      Appreciate your comments, but I disagree that “Vioxx was sad but it doesn’t mean what you think.” Yes it does mean what I think.

      This article ( NPR shows to me that Merck purposefully shortened the time duration of the study and they clearly did not want to bring heart attacks up in their proceedings.

      Why do the drug companies put so many wonderful commercials with beautiful people and wonderful music doing such great things while selling drugs. Many times you can’t even read the warnings….they don’t want you too.

      Here is what they spend money on research vs advertising:

      Big Pharma got to the FDA. Doctors are NOT required to report problems patients have with drugs and their interactions.

      Sorry, they are included in all the large organizations we have in the country, including the CIA, FBI and FTC’

      1. I agree with all the data you cite and could find more if I looked myself. I personally don’t think drugs should be advertised. I dig up PDR information, including all the side effects before I take any new drug. Forget the commercials, I want to slowly read it. I prefer generic drugs for lower cost and because side effects/safety/effective doses are better known. I was taught as a kid that all drugs have risks and potential side effects. The risks of taking a drug should always be balanced against the benefits of taking a drug.

        What I think is important, what changes the meaning of the data is this. Why do the drug companies hide the data, downplay the side effects, and push to market dangerous Drugs? PROFITS. If the potential for profits are large, the disease requires treatment for life, watch out for new cures and dangerous side effects. If the profits are minimal the incentives for bad and dangerous behavior are greatly reduced. There are drugs which are not big profit makers. I cited a few classes of drugs and there are others. To determine which drugs yield the biggest profits follow the research and investment and the marketing budgets of drug companies. You will find they aren’t doing much with antibiotics (numerous articles on web about this), orphan drugs for rare diseases also suffer, and the government at times has had to beg and pay drug companies to make vaccines. Now a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine will be worth more than your typical vaccine and it has attracted more interest than your typical vaccine candidate diseases. Everyone in the world is a potential customer not just newborns or young people. The drug companies might also assume that the human and economic devastation the coronavirus can cause might enable them to charge a higher price increasing profits.

        All I’m saying is keep your skepticism, watch out for the side effects, but don’t assume all drug companies are bad actors and can’t be trusted with respect to all their products. What I’ve seen is that their behavior depends on the product and the profits for those products. The search for Profits corrupts, and not just drug companies.

    1. The link below discusses how the flu is monitored. I don’t worry about the flu vaccine effectiveness. The experts make a guess for what viruses will be circulating in 6 months, which can be a long time in the virus world. If they guess right we receive more protection, if they guess wrong we receive less protection. In theory, it might make more sense in years they guess wrong to wash my hands more, exercise more, eat better and get more sleep so my body is better prepared to defeat the viruses not covered by the vaccine. The 2nd link has some good answers on the flu.

  10. ThoDan ,
    The only source I have is the CDC website. As I stated, I believe their numbers are highly suspect as their test group is so small and different races will respond to the vaccine differently.
    That is why doctors will try one drug and fit doesn’t work, they try another. We all respond to the same drug slightly or greatly differently.

    I called the FDA with a question concerning the efficacy of a generic drug. I talked to a lady pharmacist, she was patient and answered my questions, I called by selecting from this list on the FDA’s website. I selected the second one down and phone numbers are shown.

    Good luck

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