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Friday, July 31, 2009

Selection of a sleeping bag for your survival kit

By Joseph Parish

Most of the active survivalists which I know have some sort of sleeping bag in their “Box of Goodies” in the event that they would need to rough it on a possible bug out event. As a rule, it would be wise to selection a sleeping bag which is effective to at least zero degrees, but you should keep in mind that there are additional requirements which need to be considered as well. As a consumer you are presented with a host of materials such as goose down, quallofil or hollofil as a fill material in your sleeping bag. Therefore, in order to make a wise choice you should be aware of what the pros and cons are for each of these insulation types.

Goose down fill is the most common of the fillings and is generally an efficient material for use as insulation. It is the material of choice for many of the modern sleeping bags being sold today. It is great when dry however, it does tend to lose some of its rated insulating ability whenever it becomes wet. On the other hand, we have the newer synthetic materials such as quallofil or hollofil which provide the same qualities as the goose down fill but are more reliable as an insulator when they become wet and damp. These products which are made by different manufacturers may pound by pound be less effective as an insulator then would be the more familiar down but as we have shown they are better for use when wet environments are concerned. This means you must keep in mind where you will be bugging out to as well as how wet it can possibly be when you bed down.

Usually a sleeping bag filled with 3 pounds of synthetic insulation will effectively be sufficient for temperatures ranging from 25 degrees to 35 degrees. If you require one that will go as low as zero degrees you will need to find an “Expedition sleeping bag” that has 4 to 5 pound of insulation. These may come with a sort of insert of thin cotton material which acts as an inner sleeve. Naturally, you will need a waterproof shell to shield you from the open elements.

You should check the size of the sleeping pad as well and try to get a good quality product that will go the length of your body and not just the torso size. Many a night I would merely have my nose sticking out of my mummy bag as I tried to keep warm. I highly recommend wearing socks, possibly pajamas and one of the warm knit cap to bed as well. In my opinion its better to be warmer then expected then cold, after all you can always unzip the sleeping bag slightly to cool off.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish

For a PDF Version of this article to keep in your library Click here

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 5

Pic to right: dog digging a hole for you!

Here's today's double-installment for keeping your valuables safe.

What Kinds of Safes?

I'll admit it. I bought my little portable fire-safe from Wal-Mart about 15-20 years ago, and it's followed me from Florida to Texas to Colorado to Kentucky and back to Colorado. It looks like a safe, and would probably be the first thing a burglar would take. Boy, he'd be disappointed because I keep my son's father's picture in there (he's gone), a pretty rock my son found and gave to me as a gift, a copy of a will I wrote way before my son was even a glimmer, and various other non-valuable things.

Anyway, I'm the furthrest (fartherest?) person from consulting about what kind of safe to buy.... IF you want to buy a safe. Here's a few websites to check out:

Those are just a few websites I found by googling "companies providing home safes". If you have a preferred provider, feel free to list it as a comment to this article. You can do so anonymously!

More Alternatives to Actual Safes

I've been reading about alternatives, and have come up with a couple of suggestions. Besides what I mentioned in Part 3 of this series (pringles can, etc.), give these some thought:

  • Someone mentioned as a comment to Part 3 (I think) of this series to hide cash in a baby bottle full of milk, labeled "breast milk" and frozen. That will work great if there's other evidence of a baby in the house!

  • Want a really safe place? Dig a hole on your property. Buy some PVC and coupling and ends, place your long-term items in it (ammo, papers, coins, etc.), seal it very well, and bury it. Be sure you tell one other person that you really REALLY trust (a life-partner/spouse) the location of this stash because if you die without doing so, the location will die with you. Note 1: Stay on your property... if you use a friend's land, the property could be sold and your digging priviledges will be gone. Note 2: No burglar will risk digging holes all over a person's property in the holes that they'll hit a hidden cache. Note 3: It's durn-near impossible for a fire to get into an underground stash. Note 4: Locate it out of your neighbor's sight so you can get back to it when you need to, then cover the hole with gravel and maybe plant a rose bush there, and at other places nearby to camoflauge the real location! Note 5: Bury your container with a thick level of rocks or gravel under it - this will allow rain water to pool BELOW the container and seep into the soil - and cover with several layers of tarp to divert moisture away.

  • The most fire-resistant place in your home is the freezer. It's very highly insulated. Perfect place to keep papers. Consider using an old freezer as your "filing cabinet".

  • Do YOU have any more ideas?

More coming... as soon as we can!


Keeping Your Valuable Safe, Part 4

Sorry about the delay. We're working to get this house ready for sale, and I'm about to pull all of my hair out!!

It occurs to me that I haven't really stated WHY I'm doing this series. We were at a local used book store where I picked up a book on home security with inexpensive safes. I got to reading it, and knew not only that I needed to put it into practice (as soon as we move to our next place!) but also let you all in on the info. I mean, we really don't have anything of value, and I haven't even touched a real gun (do toys count?) since I was a kid shooting b-b-'s.

Why Hide Anything?

This economy is horrible. Banks are failing. Doors closing. Everything getting worse... more expensive, less available, etc.

Put your stuff in a bank? Well, you could but be honest... in my humble opinion, they just aren't as safe as they say they are. If a bank or other financial institution fails, you may not be able to access your money or your safe-deposit box for quite a while. Having your jewelry, cash, important papers, etc. at home could prevent you from becoming broke in the blink of an eye. You won't have to wait around for the FDIC to get around to re-opening your bank.

Even if your bank is stable (and in this economy, can you really say that?), your bank doesn't stay open 24/7. You can only access your stuff on their time-table. What if you need it Friday night? Gotta wait till 9:00 a.m. on Monday... IF you're lucky.

What if you want to keep your firearms safe? Your valuable coin collection, or other valuables that are NOT covered by the bank's insurance? Bank vaults CAN be burgled.

Here's something I don't really want to type and put out there, calling attention to us, but I feel I must. Let's face it: although the USA's motto is "innocent until proven guilty", the government and the justice and legal system often turn it around, treating average law-abiding citizens like criminals. Legislation pushed through can suddenly turn our favorite firearm into an illegal item. What do we do? We could hide it hoping it will become legal again, or we could get rid of it while hoping we won't be caught before we can make that happen.

But a safe could also protect our stuff from snooping people... whether your nosy next-door-neighbor, a private detective sent by your boss, or someone from the legal system or government searching for any excuse to make themselves look good. These days, it's entirely possible to think that your house could be searched without a search warrant, especially if you surf through prepper blogs and websites, and receive militant magazines at your door. You'll be on a watch-list, no doubt.

If you have "questionable" material about "how-to" do or make something, or other controversial or highly-watched topics, you might be subjected to an eventual long legal battle. Which you won't win. Do you have any of these questionable materials/publications? You could hide them to avoid such problems, even though you've done nothing illegal.

Disclaimer: We are NOT suggesting that anyone do anything illegal.

More coming soon.


Find a Campfire Cook Stove

If you want to carry a cookstove and fuel with you instead of making a fire (especially if there are fire restrictions), consider which kind best suits you. Understand the essentials when buying your stove.

Value: how long it takes for the food to heat over any period of time

Efficiency: tells you how much fuel you're using during that period of time

Weight and Compactness, as a unit

A camp stove like what's pictured above is better for car-camping. It's bulky, not compact although it does fold back on itself, but the weight and the fuel requirements are not great for hiking and backpacking. Well, unless you have a mule!

The next picture is smaller. It's a single-burner that uses propane, and is actually pretty stable. You can set a big pot on it (if the weight is properly distributed), and it carries well.

The third picture is an alcohol stove. Fill it with rubbing alcohol, light it, and pop the bowl on. Looks pretty sturdy, doesn't it?

= = = =

There are other kinds of stoves that I haven't mentioned here. We recently got a "fold-flat" orange stove thingy (last picture, below) from but haven't have a chance to use it yet.

Peruse your camping store, and perhaps take a more experienced camper with you to help. You want the smallest unit you can get, to provide the biggest output. I wouldn't ask the salepeople to help because they almost always recommend the more expensive items.


Your Own Personal Threat Assessment

When is the last time you conducted a threat assessment, on yourself? Threat assessments are fairly common practice in many industries. Schools, hospitals, businesses, high profile individuals, military/government/critical infrastructure...these days conducting a threat assessment is just part of doing business. Individuals, however, usually don't think to conduct such an assessment on themselves. It's about time we all do this so that we will have a more realistic basis for our disaster preparedness planning. Here's some things to consider:
  • You may want to begin by listing any and every threat you can think of. Threats include: job loss, hurricanes, street crime, fire, winter storms, socio-economic collapse, illness/injury/death of the family breadwinner, earthquakes, home invasion, pandemic flu, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear disaster, etc.
  • Think the threats out for yourself--and don't pay attention to the news while you do it. If every media source is reporting on the horrible economy but you are debt free, own your own home, have plenty of savings, are self employed in a stable industry, and can pretty much take care of yourself financially, then unlike most of the population, financial calamity probably won't be at the top of your list.
  • Next look at each risk and make three categories: least likely to happen, most likely to happen, and everything in between. Where we live, we simply don't have hurricanes so although this phenomena can be a very serious risk, it isn't a risk for me and my family so it gets put into the 'least likely to happen' list. We do, however, get earthquakes so this will go on the 'most likely to happen' list.
  • Take your 'most likely to happen' list and logically prioritize them. Don't let the media or emotions take over when putting this list together. The news of the day can often impact our thinking and cause us to give more priority to categories that really are less likely to happen then the regular 'ol boring stuff like job loss.
  • Now look at your prioritized 'most likely to happen' list and start planning. What are ten steps you can take now or in the near future that would help mitigate each disaster? For example, if you are the family breadwinner and you have a spouse and three kids at home, at the top of your list of disasters would be the possibility of your long term illness/disability or death. Without you and your income around, that truly would be a disaster for your family. And unfortunately, such a scenario is much more likely to happen than something like marauding hoards or nuclear warfare. Your ten steps, then, would include: getting life insurance, writing or updating your Will, looking into disability insurance, getting an emergency fund in place ASAP, etc.
  • Your disaster preparedness tasks should now be laid out fairly clearly. If you have ten 'most likely to happen' disasters with ten steps each to complete in order to be better prepared for such disasters to happen, then you now have 100 tasks to take care of.
  • Does this mean you shouldn't prepare for things such as social collapse or bugging out for an indeterminate amount of time? No. You should always develop your skills, think through every "what if" scenario you could think of, practice camping out in the woods, grow a garden for the exercise and health benefits, etc, however the majority of your time, attention, and money should go towards preparing for the disasters that are most likely to happen to you.
  • What about the rest of the threats you listed, those that were least likely and less likely to happen? Fortunately disaster planning in general will help mitigate a wide range of disasters, not just the things you plan for. For example, an earthquake may be high on your list and a flood may be very low on your list, however the steps you take to prepare for the earthquake (getting your BOB ready, checking your insurance, planning to bug out if necessary, gathering clean up supplies, etc) will work for both situations.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 3

This is the next installment in this series. Today, we're talking about hiding places and safes. You need ... something. Think about it this way: you've taken the time and money to collect something of value: gold coins, stacks of negotiable cash, jewelry, etc. Now you need to protect them.


Most burglars will spend LESS THAN 6 MINUTES in your home. They only have time to search some of the "usual" places. They'll look in jewelry boxes, sock drawers, under the bed, and in the freezer. They head straight for the bedrooms because they know most people tuck away money, jewelry, and other items of value beneath lingerie, socks, and other top-drawer clothing. Next they head for the kitchen cabinets and drawers.

You can find a small fire-proof safe at almost any local general store, like Wal-Mart or a home improvement store. I have a small one that usually is kept in our safe-room, and holds safe a few things that I really don't want to do without, including my son's birth certificate and a cameo pin that my grandmother left me when she passed. But even a small safe is hard to effectively hide. Basically, if someone sees a safe, it screams "I have valuables - take me with you!" Hiding Places for a small safe could include:
  • your crawl space
  • the floor of your closet with lots of junk and boxes blocking it from view
  • cover with boxes of Christmas ornaments on top, or buckets of bolts and nuts and screws on top

Don't want a safe? Some police recommend that you hide your valuables right in plain sight! Here are some examples:

  • a false back or bottom to a drawer, especially taped to the bottom of the BOTTOM dresser drawer
  • a phony "book" safe - only if you actually have other books that match!
  • place your small valuables in a baggie or seal-a-meal, place it in a large popcorn tin, then fill the tin with unpopped popcorn kernels
  • same principle - place your valuables in a well-sealed baggie or ten, place in an empty powdered detergent box, and top/hide with powdered laundry detergent. Don't fill it all the way, leave the scoop in there, and don't use for your actual laundry needs.
  • behind the grate at the bottom of your refrigerator (if you have one)
  • a water bottle
  • an insulated coffee mug (kept in the kitchen)
  • working wall-clock safe
  • soda or power-drink can (empty, clean, remove bottom, fill, replace bottom, and keep with similar items where it won't look out of place)
  • ditto with a peanut butter plastic jar, canned fruit, pringles can, etc.
  • underside of trash cans
  • hollow out the bottom/inside of a large candle - the size of a baby-food jar. Place your valuables in the jar, screw on the lid, and stick into the bottom of the candle. Keep it on your coffee table on a decorative stand or plate, and light from time to time. Be careful to not let it burn too far down or you'll reveal your hiding place!
  • paint can - who's going to open up a paint can with splatters to see if it has paint or coins?
  • toys in a young child's room - with all of the stuff in a child's room, it would be difficult to do a quick search in such a room.

Don't use these places:

  • something taped to the back of a picture - too obvious!
  • the fake frozen dinner or ice-trays
If you can afford a really big safe, locate it in a permanent place and bolt it to the floor from the inside, and/or surround it with concrete. Consider using a fake front for it.

Note: You need to understand that there are very few places that a burglar WON'T find your stash. A burglar has two motivations: (1) to steal as much as possible, and (2) to do it and get out as quickly as possible. If a burglar can't find something quickly, he will begin to tear apart the house to find something... anything! Leave a decoy little stash of cash in a top dresser drawer or in the freezer where it can be easily found and taken, leaving the rest to hide another day.

Another way to decoy is leave an envelope in a drawer near your computer marked "“Bank Safe Deposit Box” on the outside and with a list of items on the inside. This will tip off the burglar that your most valuable items are stored at the bank and will discourage him from tearing up your house looking for them.

Make sure another adult knows where you've hidden the valuables.

More coming...


How to Make a No-Spill Cooking Fire

Here's a quick thought about how to build a fire for cooking. You will need:
-Large Rocks
-Short but semi-thick logs
-A Small Grate
-A Larger Grate for bigger meals

Arrange large rocks in a circle big enough to hold your campfire. This is a safety-must! Then arrange two green logs, about 2+ foot long each, and 8-10 inches wide, into a V-Shape. That will give you room to accommodate a variety of sizes of pans. This is better than using rocks because rocks tend to be unstable, and it's difficult to find flat rocks that can be properly arranged.

Build your fire between the V-Logs using kindling and sticks, and once that's going, you can start to put your pots and pans of different sizes on. Start at the point of the V that comes together to put your smallest pan.

For larger pots and pans, place your lightweight grate across the top part of the V, making a bridge. Make sure it's firmly in place. Now you can add more pots and pans.

If that isn't sufficient, or if you're carrying a larger size grate between you have larger pots or are cooking for a bigger group, use 2-4 slightly-smaller logs parallel to each other and place your larger grate on top of those. That will give you enough room for several pots and pans at once.


20 Wilderness Skills

It's mid summer and (hopefully) you will be getting out to the wilderness to practice your survival skills before fall. Here's 20 things you should know how to do in the woods:
  1. Start and maintain a fire.

  2. Find and purify water.

  3. Use a map, compass, and GPS device for route finding (land navigation).

  4. Make a shelter from native materials.

  5. Fish.

  6. Hunt/use a snare.

  7. Find and prepare wild foods (nuts, berries, roots, etc).

  8. Travel cross country (ie: not along a trail).

  9. Perform basic wilderness first aid skills.

  10. Signal for help.

  11. Cross a stream/river.

  12. Cross a variety of terrains (ice, rock, scree, etc).

  13. Track animals.

  14. Improvise tools and weapons.

  15. Predict weather.

  16. Keep yourself warm (ie: prevent hypothermia).

  17. Protect yourself from animals (from the smallest bugs like tics and mosquitoes to bears).

  18. Night skills (travel, stalking, navigating, etc).

  19. Knots and rope skills.

  20. Keeping yourself entertained (whittling, carving, etc).

Some of these things you can learn from a book or video, some things you can learn from friends, and some things (like crossing glaciers and rope skills) you may want to learn from an expert (learning a skill means you give yourself room for error under the guidance of an instructor, not risk life and limb to practice a difficult skill).


5 Basic Survival Skills

When it comes to basic survival skills, you might automatically think such skills would include things like firearms handling, bugging out, and the proper use of camouflage paint. Here's five survival skills that anyone can learn that will be a whole lot more useful (and critical) than the aforementioned items:
  1. How to make money. Money makes the world go round. There are very, very few people who can live off the land indefinitely and be satisfied with such a life. For the majority of us, living takes money. Knowing how to make money in any circumstance and situation is a very useful skill to know. To learn how to make money, learn a skill or three, sell your skills to someone who wants to pay for them, and continue to refine the process.
  2. How to live a low profile life. This includes everything from not earning a bad reputation to living below your means so that you don't have creditors and the IRS hunting for you. You want to avoid lawsuits, legal problems, court issues, vindictive/psychotic exes and anything/anyone else that can thoroughly disrupt your life.
  3. How to take care of your health. An ounce of prevention, you know... The better your health, the more easily it is to survive a disaster or even function on an average day. If you are in good health, keep it that way. If your health is declining, take all possible steps to return it to a better state.
  4. How to do for yourself. In most survival situations, you are on your own, at least during the initial stages. This means that the more that you can do for yourself, the more likely you are to survive. I know people who are infinitely specialized (neurosurgeons, international business lawyers, derivatives traders) yet they are clueless about basic things like replacing a light fixture, growing a vegetable, or cooking a meal from scratch. Granted these particular skills aren't critical to survival, you can usually pay someone to do these things for you, but the idea is that the more skills you have and the more experiences you have, the more likely you are to be able to fix problems as they arise if there is no one else around to do it (plus in a disaster, who would you find more useful--someone who can cobble together a meal from stuff found in the forest or someone who can trade a now worthless financial instrument?).
  5. How to be flexible and creative. Life isn't always linear and it doesn't always turn out how you expect. Rolling with the punches and handling difficulties with creativity instead of stress and frustration will go a long way towards lowering your blood pressure, solving small problems before they explode into something huge, and making others more likely to respect you (and offer a helping hand if needed).


Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 2

Did you read yesterday's article? ( Did you make your list of items you can't insure but want to hide? Er, keep safe?


Next, let's reduce the risk of being burglarized. When you leave home, whether it's for 10 minutes or 10 days, make it look like you'll be right back.
  • Leave the TV or radio on, louder than usual if possible. We set the TV on one timer, and have the radio go on after the TV shuts off.
  • Close all curtains so anyone watching won't know whether someone's moving around or now.
  • Set a timer for lights. Have your living room light come on and turn off at different times than the kitchen light and the bedroom light. These lights should be seen from the street. To figure out the pattern, someone will have to stake out your house for at least a few days, risking someone seeing their vehicle out in the street.
  • Take your phone off the hook. That way people won't know whether you're home and just not answering your phone, or what.
  • If you'll be gone even one day, don't let your newspapers and mail pile up. Have a neighbor pick them up, or cancel/hold them.
  • Never EVER announce you're leaving on a trip, whether in a blog or in the newspaper (like a honeymoon). That practically invites people to come and shop in your home.
  • Get a sticker or decal that lets the criminal know you're armed and dangerous. Try the NRA - for a small membership fee, you'll get a decent decal. You don't have to keep the membership, if that's not your thing.
  • Install motion detector lights at all entrances. There are some cheap ones that run on solar charges. You might not be home, but the light going on might catch the attention of someone passing by the house.
  • Trim shrubs around the immediate perimeter of your house. Install thorny rose or blackberry bushes, and other prickly plants. Be sure to keep a little area clear for you to escape in case of fire.
  • Check your locks. If you have a flimsy lock, you need to have it replaced with a good solid deadbolt that will take some time to break past.
  • Check your doors. Those with glass panes are a bad idea for two reasons: (1) they allow people to see in, even with curtains, and (2) they can be broken out and a thin arm can easily reach the lock from that broken-out pane. Replace with solid doors and, if possible, cross-bars.
  • Check your windows. Double-pane windows means someone has to break through 2 layers of glass to gain entrance. Caulk around the edges so it will be harder to remove the windows themselves. Ask your local home improvement store for special locks and other ways to prevent people from gaining entrance. DON'T nail the windows shut tho because of the safety problem presented by fires.

Don't advertise what you have in your home. When bringing your newly-purchased guns home, be sure to wrap them in a blanket before lifting from your vehicle. Never brag about what you have because there is always someone listening.

If someone breaks into your home with no knowledge of when you'll be returning, they won't know if they have 10 minutes to look around or 10 days. They'll be working "under the clock". They'll have to check the bathroom and the basement to make sure you aren't home before they can start looking around. They'll miss things that are hidden, and won't bother following around with breaking into even a cheap safe.

Anything you can do to make their job harder will reduce your losses and might even make them decide it isn't worth the chance of getting caught breaking into your home at all.

More tomorrow...


20 Ways to Legally Protect Yourself

When it comes down to it, common sense in our society is nearly gone. Today we have lawyers and courts to tell us what is right and what is wrong even if what a normal person would consider wrong is considered right and what is right is considered wrong. It's a sad state of affairs which means you have to work overtime to protect yourself in a manner that the powers that be understand. This means you need to cover your ass legally in any situation that could even possibly arise. Before a handshake would suffice, these days it won't. Here's how to legally take care of yourself:
  1. Get everything in writing. Memory doesn't count and heresay doesn't count either, legally speaking. If it isn't written down, it didn't happen. This means everything from saving receipts to writing up sales agreements when you sell your junker car, to documenting instances of domestic violence. Any negative incident, any transaction, needs to be documented.

  2. Obviously if you buy or sell a house you will get the transaction written out in triplicate (a simple mortgage can entail a three inch stack of paperwork, doublesided!). The same goes if you rent a place to live in or if you rent your place to a tenant. I am working with a client now who fell for a sob story and let a young woman and her children move in to his empty duplex after she promised to pay in week or so. Over a month has gone by and apparently this woman knows the system because she refuses to leave (which is legal) so he has to go through a complex eviction process (which is lengthy and spendy).

  3. Have a Will and keep it updated. Probate is lengthy and expensive and relatives can fight like hyenas over the most minuscule things when the person who was holding the family together dies. Make your death easier on everyone by having a valid, recently updated Will.

  4. Never loan people money. Never borrow money. This includes making loans to friends/family, borrowing money from friends/family, co-signing loans for others, or borrowing from credit cards or a lender for anything except for a home. Once you get entangled with money, you may need a lawyer or financial expert to get you out of it, therefore, don't put yourself in such a situation to begin with!

  5. Keep your documentation up to date. Never let your driver's license, passport, or concealed carry license expire--people get tickets, fines, and even denied entry into their own country when this happens.

  6. Any time you drive a vehicle ensure #1 you are licensed to drive, #2 the car is registered to you or you have written permission from the owner to drive the car, and #3 you have valid car insurance. Not having in place even one of these items can cause you a bundle of legal trouble.

  7. Pick a good spouse. This is kind of a crap shoot because while most people are decent human beings, others can be closet sociopaths and can make your life hell. Should you not pick the best spouse and your married life implodes, again, get everything in writing and follow legal orders to the letter. Parenting plans, marriage dissolution papers, valid'd be surprised at how many people are dragged through the legal system for years because of a marriage that falls apart. The financial costs can also be staggering.

  8. Stay away from situations that could cause you legal problems. If I'm at a nightclub and people start fighting, I'm out of there. I also stay away from people I know are trouble makers, drug dealers, et al. You are only as good as the people you hang around with and if the people you hang around with are perpetually going to court for domestic violence, DUIs, assault, or worse, stay as far away from them as possible as no good can come from this. If you do happen to get a ticket, pay it immediately. If you have a warrant, clear it up immediate even if it means some time at the local jail. You never want the legal system hanging over your head.

  9. Have a medical power of attorney, legal power of attorney (if necessary), and Living Will. These documents will protect you when you are unable to protect yourself. Note that anyone you elect to have power of attorney for you should be someone you could trust with your life.

  10. Have plenty of insurance, you never know when the worst is going to happen. Car insurance, house insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability makes the world go round these days and at the minimum it will keep you from going bankrupt if something horrible happens.

  11. Ensure that your legal, financial, and medical records are both accurate and kept private. It's amazing how one little incorrection in an important record can have a (very negative) ripple affect in your life. You also want these records kept private--they are no one else's business but yours.

  12. Keep your personal information private. I was listening to a talk radio show and the guest speaker was saying how people will post their driver's licenses online just to show how funny their picture looks. The picture may be funny but what an identity thief can do with the information on the license (full name, address, birth date, and occasionally social security number) is not so funny.

  13. Shred everything. Unless the information on a piece of paper is advertising or the like, it gets shredded in my office. This goes for papers in my home as well. I never want my personal information waiting in the garbage can for an identity thief to pick up and use to steal my identity and I certainly wouldn't want to compromise my client's information either. Get a quality cross-cut shredder and use it religiously.

  14. If you are ever picked up for questioning by the police, and you are asked to provide anything but the most basic information, ask for a lawyer and QUIT TALKING. People seem to forget the "everything you say can and will be used against you" part of the Miranda Rights and even if you haven't been arrested and Mirandized, what you say still can be used against you. If in doubt, ask for a lawyer.

  15. Protect your stuff. This means having insurance (either homeowner's or renter's insurance), securing your stuff (with a good home security system), and making your stuff easy to identify should it be stolen (keep documentation for expensive items, engrave identifying marks on lower cost items and install RFID chips on very expensive items).

  16. Be careful what you say, write, text, email, or post to your website. If I had a quarter for every time people incriminated themselves with what they emailed to their enemies, what they texted about others, the nude pictures that they posted online, etc. I would be wealthy. Everything you send into the public domain becomes totally out of your control and can show up years later in a court case against YOU so be careful!

  17. Be aware of the trail you leave. Many criminals are either found, tripped up, or convicted because of the paper trail they leave. They didn't stop to think that every cell phone call is recorded in detail, that the things they buy with their customer loyalty card at the supermarket can be traced, that every time they use their credit/debit card they leave a record, that their cell phone pings local towers whether the phone is in use or not, that every item they looked up online was duly recorded on their hard drive, and that their EZPass for toll roads creates a perfect time stamp of their every movement.

  18. Know that more and more government systems are able to be cross-referenced. If you cheat on your taxes, the IRS can use your bank records to figure this out. If you are in this country illegally and apply for an ITIN number, the Department of Homeland Security will be able to compare records and figure this out. Note that FUSION Centers were created just to collate all of your info to make sure it jives.

  19. Keep control of yourself at all times. Committing assault, stalking, embezzlement, et al. are clear signs of a weak person. You must be strong enough to control your actions at all times no matter how hard others are trying to push your buttons or how tempting a situation is that you KNOW can not turn out well. Rise above the situation and let things pass. Never let yourself react in a way that will create legal problems for you far into your future. Note that when defending yourself in a life or death situation, control goes out the window and your one goal is to survive the situation and sort the legal mess out later.

  20. Don't become a target. While this will never happen to most people, some people become targets for whatever reason. Live a low profile life, be congenial and likable but not to open with personal information, don't make enemies if at all possible, and if your work/personal life makes you a target take precautions to protect yourself. Take care when you travel to foreign countries. There are plenty of people in prisons who have been framed or set up. There are tourists who were obliviously obvious targets and are now waiting for someone to pay their ransom. There are people with a lot of money and much less common sense who set themselves up for burglary, robbery, and other schemes meant to separate them from their cash.

The bottom line is that you, as stated in previous posts, are responsible for you. It is a legal jungle out there so take common sense precautions to help yourself out.


Where to Access Services

I was finishing up my last blog post when a friend called and needed help with his elderly mother in law who was recently widowed. A sister-in-law that the father was also supporting now needs help too because the main breadwinner for this family is no longer around to provide the finances that kept this family afloat. While I strictly advocate against relying on Welfare and social services, when a crisis happens, I strongly advocate FOR getting any benefits you can qualify for in order to give yourself a bit of time to collect up yourself and put yourself back on track. Here were my suggestions:
  • Get thee to the local welfare office and sign up for anything you qualify for (food stamps, housing, medical benefits, cash assistance, etc).
  • For older people or those with disabilities, check with Medicare and see if you qualify.
  • Get a list of the local food banks, Salvation Army, and free meal providers in your community. You never know when you will have more month left than food.
  • For older people, check with the local senior services agency. This office usually has lots of information on resources that are available for seniors in the community (free meals on wheels, job re-training, home care, etc).
  • If you have kids, sign them up for free or reduced lunch programs (which are also usually offered in the summer).
  • For legal issues, contact the closest legal aid office (these go by various names so Google free legal services and your closest city).
  • Check out the local community resource center (and/or campus resource center if you are a student). Our local community resource center provides a huge range of services--everything from paying for utilities, to help with eviction notices, to job training.
  • If anyone in the family has served any time at all in the military or reserves, contact the local Veteran's service center and see what programs you qualify for.


  • Make a list of all of the free things in the community you can think of (the library, free night at the museum or art gallery, free outdoor movies in the summer, free outdoor concerts, etc). If you are in a depressing situation, putting a little free fun back in your life is a good thing.
  • Round up some cash. In the midst of trauma it is hard to part with things but if necessary, cash to survive the current situation is much more important than stuff. Have a garage sale, list stuff for sale on Craigslist, etc. then put the money that you earn away for an emergency. Some people like to spend when they are sad or depressed but obviously if you are in dire straits, the money can be used for better things than more consumer junk.
  • Downsize immediately. A cell phone may be necessary but the $100 plan probably isn't. Get a basic plan for around $30 a month. Cut cable, cancel magazines...basically if it isn't a necessity then it isn't necessary, at least until you get back on your feet.
  • Get a job. Anything will do if you are unemployed. While you are waiting to find a job, volunteer somewhere in order to develop contacts and job skills.
  • Check with the local community college. Some colleges have free or very inexpensive job training courses for those who are unemployed or low income. Note that this isn't the time to take out a huge student loan and go back to school. You're trying to save the money that you don't have not put yourself deeper in debt.

That was about all I had at the moment. The main point was to stop, review your resources, find out what other resources you can access as quickly as possible, then move forward with earning money, cutting spending, and trying to get your life back together.


Edible Plants

The forests are full of edible items. I wouldn't dare to give you information about this. There are a lot of books on the market that have pictures. This is a MUST to invest in if there's a possibility of needing to eat while out in the wild.

Do keep in mind, though:
  • Dandelion leaves, before the plant flowers, are good eaten raw or steamed

  • Wild Chives, good eaten raw

  • Blueberries, and many other berries

  • Rose-hips (high in vitamin C)

  • Mushrooms - a book is MUST - too many edible mushrooms have toxic look-a-likes

  • Spruce and fern needles are good for a tea

Get a book for your area. You could eat like a gourmet in the bush!


Gear Review: Fire Starters

Author: Mathiasj

Making a fire is the most important thing in a survival situation. It can provide you with warmth, food, and a huge moral booster. Fire is also useful when camping and for fellowship of friends and family. There are many different ways to start a fire and knowing different ways to start a fire is important whether you're in a survival situation or not. A fire needs 3 elements to burn (fire triangle) heat, fuel, and oxygen. Sufficient heat is needed to start any fire, and the proper fuel to oxygen ratio is needed to keep a fire going.

First off is the trusty lighter or matches. Every prepper should have a few packs of quality Bic lighters put back, and a few thousand matches. This is the easiest way to start a fire. When starting any fire you will need something to burn to get the wood going. Newspaper is good to use to start a fire, and those free want ad papers at gas stations are great to have on hand. You want to stay away from using fuels to light a fire, especially if you plan on cooking over the fire. You run the risk of getting those chemicals on your food.

The next best thing to a lighter or matches is a firesteel. A firesteel should be part of every preppers survival kit. Whether it's your get home bag, everyday carry, bug out bag, or camping supplies; a firesteel is invaluable. If you're lighter runs out, or your matches get wet, your fire steel is your last line of defense so to speak. A firesteel works by moving a metal blade across a magnesium alloy to create sparks that can get up to 5,500°F. Those hot sparks can be thrown on a number of different types of tinder to start a flame that will light your fire. Firesteels can even be used in the rain or snow and will last for around 12,000 strikes.

Here are some ideas for tinder:
-Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls
-Hand Sanitizer Soaked Cotton Balls
-Dryer Lint
-Pine Needles
-Dried Grass
-Unraveled twine

There are a lot of ways to start fires in the wilderness if you don't have a lighter or firesteel. I will do a part 2 to this post detailing some ways to start a fire without them. This post is to show that you need to have these things on hand so you don't have to rub sticks together to try to keep yourself warm at night. A firesteel can fit in your pocket and is a crucial part of your everyday carry.

Discuss this at the KPN Forum

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Keeping Your Valuables Safe, Part 1

Whether you have gold coins to hide or an "outdated" rifle or a nice stash of ammo, you need to give some thought to a safe place to hide these things. Do you have a gun safe? A hidden crawl space?

Have you even thought about it?
Sit down and make a few calculations and mental guesses. How often do you think your home will be broken into? Will it be just a punk looking for drug money? Will it be a professional burglar after your Civil War musket? Will it be an officer with a warrant and safe-cracking-know-how?

Will the perp have an entire week to leisurely examine every nook and cranny? Will they have a long weekend and the cover to pull up a truck and just take everything two strong men can carry? Will they have only a few moments stolen while you are in the shower or dropping off the kids to soccer practice?

Make a list of what you really don't want to do without, what can't be insured by your homeowner's policy, and what you don't want others to know about. This could include those gold coins, that civil war musket, a lot of real jewelry, etc. Maybe even your bullet mold, barter items, etc. Don't include the plasma TV, a fancy stereo system or other things that can be insured and don't have a unique sense of value.

More coming tomorrow...


Sailor Showers Save Time and Money

In an effort to save time and water I have started taking "Sailor Showers" and have shortened my showers down to 10 minutes and use even less water.

The method for doing this is as follows:
  • Start your water

  • Soak your washcloth, head and body, then turn off the water

  • Get your shampoo and work it into your hair

  • Soap up your washcloth and wash your body

  • When everything is scrubbed well, start the water again and rinse off all the soap and shampoo.

If you are fast enough then you will be done with your shower in about 10 minutes or less and will have used maybe 5 minutes in time of water or less depending on how long it takes you to rinse off.

This method of showering makes not only sense ecologically, but also economically as your water bill is greatly reduced.

Posted by "Hubby"


Some Basics If You End Up Homeless

I know a woman who will end up homeless soon. There were a number of complications and through a death, having never worked, having no savings, no life insurance, no family, and a looming foreclosure, the sheriff will be moving her out of her home soon. She is one of the people who falls through the cracks because she has no children so doesn't qualify for social welfare intervention and is not old enough to collect her husband's social security. Having never been homeless I am probably the last person who should be giving her advice, but here are some of the things that I felt were important for her to do to get her ducks in a row as soon as possible:

  • Shelter, even a temporary roof over your head, is critically important. This woman will move in with a friend temporarily but these arrangements don't often work long term so she needs to look for other options. Soon. Other immediate options for shelter that I can think of include: camping/living in your car (not optimal), house sitting (better but irregular), section 8 welfare housing (usually there is a long waiting list and unless you need shelter for your kids, I would say don't get caught in the welfare trap), homeless shelters (from what I've heard these aren't the best places and usually have a time limit but better than nothing), live-in helper (it's a room), apartment manager (it's a job and usually includes a free apartment), etc.
  • A source of income. Your first priority in a situation such as this should be securing a source of income. Fortunately we found out that this lady qualifies for a widow's pension because of her husband's military service, unfortunately it is tiny (around $600 per month). Your full time job should be finding a full time job. After you get a job, your part time job should be either getting an education to get a better job, using your time to find a better job, or starting a small business on the side. Other options for income include: welfare (again, my least favorite source of income), unemployment. social security, veteran's benefits, temp jobs, part time jobs, a paper route, etc.
  • A cell phone. Funny how this didn't used to be a necessity but these days it kind of is. When you are homeless like this women will be, you will lose your home phone so having a means of communications is pretty much necessary. My advice, check the pre-paid plans for all of the cell phone providers in your area and pick the one that best meets your needs. If you don't want to waste your minutes, let all but the most important calls go to voice mail then return calls at the end of the day (or better yet, respond with an email which will save minutes).
  • A PO box. Another thing you lose when you lose your home is your mailing address. A PO box is an excellent option, just be sure to send in a change of address before you leave your home. Choose the smallest box available to save money and check around at local post offices as rates vary from branch to branch for the very same sized box.
  • A bank account. These days, money mostly flows through banks and it's a good bet that at some time or another you will need to cash a check or put your money somewhere for safe keeping. Many banks offer free checking and/or savings accounts along with a visa/debit card that is a better option for cash strapped people that a credit card.
  • Identification. You can't get very far in our society without identification. If you have no ID you severely limit your ability to work, travel, cash a check, rent an apartment, et al. At the minimum you need one or more of the following: a state ID card, a state driver's license, a passport, a military ID card.
  • A bus pass. If you live in an area that has a bus system, purchasing a monthly bus pass will often provide one of the cheapest forms of transportation (aside from a bicycle). Many homeless people have cars which are great for shelter but bad in the amount of money it takes to keep it insured, gassed up, and repaired. Going without any of these things can cause you to receive tickets and fines if you get caught without insurance or a car in bad repair. If you do get a bus pass, see if they offer any discounts for low income, students, vets, etc.
  • A library card. Libraries are often the de facto "safety net" for the homeless. It is warm place to shelter during the day, you can enjoy free books, free music, and often free computer and internet use.
  • An emergency fund. This is something that can obviously be a boon to someone who is facing homelessness but very rarely, if people are in such dire straits, do they have this luxury. If you see homelessness coming, by all means do anything you can to get some cash into your emergency fund. I was amazed when I saw foreclosed homes on TV that were full of furniture and tons of other stuff that the families just left behind. I can't imagine why they didn't have a garage sale or Craigslist the stuff to make some extra cash before leaving.
  • A monthly pass to the Y. I understand that some homeless people will purchase a monthly pass to a local gym or Y in order to have a place to shower. Depending on the cost, this may be an excellent option.
  • An email address and internet access. Like cell phones, this didn't used to be a necessity but now it kind of is. Email addresses are free (Yahoo, GMail, Hotmail, etc) and are an excellent way to stay in communication with friends, families, and potential employers. Internet access can be found free at libraries, some coffee shops, some public places like the mall, schools, and other locations. Often you can use computers free of charge at libraries but if you have a laptop, which continue to get smaller and smaller (and cheaper and cheaper) and/or the ability to access the web from your cell phone, you may even be able to start a blog a la 'Homeless at NYU' or 'Hobo Stripper', and make some money this way.
  • Secure storage for your stuff. Obviously if you are homeless but have a car you have a (somewhat) secure place to store your stuff. You may want to consider getting a safe deposit box at a bank to store your really important papers including birth certificate, passport, Social Security card, etc. For larger items (or your gear when you are at work) you may want to find other storage options such as storage lockers at bus or train stations, or even at bowling alleys. Note that self storage units have been turned into shelter for some creative homeless people however this is not usually allowed or legal.
  • A backpack or messenger bag for your daily carry stuff. If you have storage for your bigger gear, it is best to carry only what you need for the day so that you can more easily blend in with the crowd and not stand out as a homeless person.
  • A printed list of resources. Many cities have fairly comprehensive lists of homeless resources including lists of homeless shelters, food banks, churches that serve free meals, etc. It would be a good idea to carry this list with you for reference.

Some things I didn't mention: depending on the situation, if and what kind of weapon you carry will be a very personal decision; there are positive and negative aspects to either decision. A lot of homelessness has much to do with other variables including alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence, divorce, job loss and sometimes all of these things at once, which require treatment and other social service resources. While I never recommend going into debt, getting a student loan that covers school, room, and board may be an idea. A network of friends to help you out is a good resource however the longer you require help, the fewer, it seems, friends you will have. On a side note, many people who become homeless, especially from the upper reaches of society, often report that their supposed friends will no longer want to be associated with them once they lose everything so you may need to rebuild your entire friend network. These same preparations may be useful for victims of domestic violence. That was about all I could think of to tell her.


Night vision

If the first thing that you thought of when you read the title was night vision goggles or sights (it was wasn’t it?) then, IMHO, you may be relying too much on technology and not enough on developing your own skills and body. No it’s not what you think, Gen 25.4 thermal infrared high-tech, big military contractor big bucks stuff. Night vision for us po’ boys is what happens after you’ve been out in the woods under the stars for a few minutes. It’s the natural adjustment of your eyes to limited light. It’s great if you can afford the big ticket battery operated stuff, but seeing how I can’t, this entry will be about the free night vision. This isn’t to disparage the high tech, but batteries die, goggles get lost or left behind and equipment breaks. Sure it’s great to have a GPS unit, but you should also have a compass, be able to find direction with an analog watch or by tracking the sun. Get my drift? Learn to rely on your body’s natural responses.

When you get out from under artificial lighting at night your eyes will start to adjust to the darkness so that you can see better. It takes a couple of minutes to start the process and after about 25 minutes your eyes will be fully adjusted. Even on real dark moonless nights your eyes will adjust as best they can.

The first thing you need to do if you find yourself outside at night is to stop. Stop walking. Stop moving. Stop and give your eyes 2-3 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

If the lights ever go out due to EMP, solar flares or more pedestrian causes like equipment failure or thunderstorms you should be used to moving around in the darkness. If you spend all of your life, 24/7, under artificial lights and sitting in front of a TV or computer screen then if you find yourself in drowning in the dark you may feel uncomfortably blind, or worse, maybe even freak out. You should spend enough time in the dark, that you are used to the dark, both physically and psychologically. Just like exercise makes a body strong, spending time in the dark will make the darkness your friend.

One of the best ways to do this is to get out and walk at night. You also need to practice walking in woods at night without lights, because if you can do that under a dark sky and be comfortable, then you can walk on a street or sidewalk in the dark too. When is the last time you made a point of getting out at night? Now it is summer now. It’s a great time to get out and ramble the woods and meadows. Get out and listen to the creatures of the night. Get used to finding your way at night without light. Learn to embrace the dark. Your world is dark for half of your life so get used to it and use it to your advantage.

When I ski in the woods at night, very rarely do I put my headlamp on. If there is snow on the ground it helps to reflect the ambient light. With a moon and snow on the ground sometimes it is so bright that I cast a shadow.

As long as you walk with the aid of lights your eyes will never adjust to the darkness and you’ll miss seeing the world around you.

One problem with using lights at night is that it sets your night vision right back to zero. Another problem is that a flashlight or headlamp will light you up at night like a Christmas tree. If you are walking at night and using a flashlight, I’m also out walking, but I won’t be using a flashlight. I’ll be able to see you walking with your artificial cone of light from hundreds of yards away. You might as well be wearing a glow in the dark bullseye. Even better if you have a headlamp on, then all someone need do is aim two feet down from that and….

If you are out walking at night using your flashlight and you come upon someone else walking don’t shine light in other peoples’ eyes. It will ruin their night vision and piss them off. If I’m out doing my own thing, minding my business, enjoying the woods, of course I won’t be using a flashlight to light my way. I’ll have one (or many more) just in case, but I won’t have it on. Please if you come upon me don’t shine your stinking bright light in my eyes. Don’t be rude, either shut your light off or point in down at the ground while we pass each other. Most likely I’ll see you coming from far away because of your cone of light and I’ll step off the trail into the woods. I’ll be quiet and just allow you to pass right on by. You’ll never even see me.

I can’t count the times I’ve been in the woods at night and seen and heard bright and loud people coming my way and I have just ducked off the trail a couple of feet and laugh silently as they obliviously walk right on past me. You’ll never even know that I’m there watching you, unless I choose to let myself be known. Don’t be ignorant of your surroundings. Keep those flashlights and headlamps off while walking at night. So get out and practice. Get used to walking in the dark without the use of battery powered technology.


Okay, the digital camera is MIA so we got some old night pictures to post. Here is Running Bear taking a breather while SKIING AT NIGHT SANS LIGHT.

Snow5And here is another buddy with Green Eyed Dog getting ready to take the downhill WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL LIGHT. The only light is the flash from the camera. Trust me this grade is much steeper than it looks, and it’s on cross country skis, at night, without flashlight.

ns2Just do it. Get out there at night without headlamp or flashlight. Wait a minute or two for your eyes to adjust and learn to be as comfortable walking around in darkness as you are during the day.



Not just a semi-euphematic naughty word used by a wascally wabbitt...
It's the greatest natural tea known to man lol!
Well at least the tastiest...aside from mint of course.

This page gives the following info on the medicinal uses of sassafras:
__________________________________________________ _________
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative. It is rarely given alone, but is often combined with guaiacum or sarsaparilla in chronic rheumatism, syphilis, and skin diseases.
The oil is said to relieve the pain caused by menstrual obstructions, and pain following parturition, in doses of 5 to 10 drops on sugar, the same dose having been found useful in gleet and gonorrhoea.
Safrol is found to be slowly absorbed from the alimentary canal, escaping through the lungs unaltered, and through the kidneys oxidized into piperonalic acid.
A teaspoonful of the oil produced vomiting, dilated pupils, stupor and collapse in a young man.
It is used as a local application for wens and for rheumatic pains, and it has been praised as a dental disinfectant.
Its use has caused abortion in several cases.
Dr. Shelby of Huntsville stated that it would both prevent and remove the injurious effects of tobacco.
A lotion of rose-water or distilled water, with Sassafras Pith, filtered after standing for four hours, is recommended for the eyes.
---Dosage---Of fluid extract, 1/2 to 1 drachm. Of Sassafras bark, 1 to 2 drachms. Of oil of Sassafras, 1 to 5 drops. Mucilage, U.S.P., 4 drachms.
__________________________________________________ _____________

I prefer it as a tea myself. Chop up a couple of teaspoonsfull of root into small slivers and add a teapot of boiling water. Boil for a minute or two and you'll have it--the nectar of the gods! LOL...

What it looks like:
Sometimes the leaves are bi-lobed rather than tri-lobed and sometimes they aren't lobed at all. But it's very easy to distinguish. The bark is orangy-brown and the roots are generally a strange spreading taproot or tuber which goes straight down and then ends up shooting sideways. They can be tough to rip up when they get bigger so be sure to harvest smaller plants. Digging these things up (esp. in rocky soil) is a b****...BTW please ignore the stems and roots in my hand there...those are not sassafras, but thistle tubers which I intended to eat but never did.

Here's a usable plant:

Which I promptly dug up and took home:D

Go see if you can find some!

ETA: Apparently Sassafras also has anti-pest properties. Try drinking (as a friend on BCUSA kindly shared) "a glass a day for a week" and see if chiggers, oatslice and mosquitoes don't avoid you.
(Thanks guys!).


Home Garden Construction

Author: YeOldFurt (Old Lightning)

Now, before I read any other blogs and get off on a tangent!
We decided to go with a "raised bed" type of garden, so construction is a little different than an "in the ground" garden.
We had determined we wanted a 16ft X 16ft garden (so you may determine a different size for your needs). Placement was behind the garage (west side) so there would be a little shade in the early morning and gradually get more sun as the day developed. Then we laid down an old used plastic tarp we had that had seen better days, to discourage grass development. Then we scored a couple of kid's sandbox frames which gave us the 16ft by 16ft size . These are made of plastic 2X4s with linkage loops and pins screwed onto ends. (You can also use old 2x4s spliced together or otherwise nailed to configure how you want it.)
Once having set up the frames, we got some river bottom silt from the Little Brazos (it was approximately 12 cubic yards which was overkill, but wanted some for flower beds and other uses). (The garden used approximately 9 cubic yards).
Then over the course of two half days, working in the morning while it was cool, we moved the dirt from the dirt pile into the framework. We took our time, took frequent breaks and maintained our "cool". Each wheelbarrow load was only 20 shovelfuls.
We placed some old animal panels we had around the garden to discourage the dog and other animals. Once we get the seeds in the ground we'll probably place a net or similar cover over the top to keep the birds out.

Got lots more pictures, but this gives you an idea.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

25 Skills to Teach Your Kids

There are kids all over this weekend. What I really find interesting about them is the wide range of skills that even some of the little kids seem to have. Our kids ended up pretty skilled (in spite of us) but if I had a list to check off the skills they needed to learn it probably would have been a more organized, comprehensive education for them. Here's 25 things that all kids should know how to do:
  1. How to swim.
  2. How to read a map.
  3. How to shoot (and be very familiar with guns and gun safety).
  4. How to camp in the wilderness.
  5. How to fish and hunt.
  6. How to work (for the sake of work, not because they are bribed or yelled at to do it).
  7. How to speak and act properly with their peers and adults.
  8. How to ride a bike.
  9. How to make their case (ie: defend themselves or argue a point) appropriately and effectively (ie: using logic, facts, and persuasion).
  10. How to take care of animals and other people.
  11. How to travel across town, by public transportation, by themselves.
  12. How to perform CPR, call 911, and provide basic first aid.
  13. How to cook simple meals (and use a knife, stove, etc).
  14. How to fight (not only the physical boxing or karate skills but how to avoid fighting if at all possible as well).
  15. How to avoid dangerous situations and what to do if they find themselves in such a situation.
  16. How to grow and harvest a garden.
  17. How to learn for the sake of learning (ie: reading, math, logic, and research skills).
  18. How to earn, spend, and save money.
  19. How to do all jobs around the house (wash clothes, do dishes, clean, sew, mow the yard, make simple repairs, etc).
  20. How to start, run, and profit from their own business.
  21. How to eat right and stay physically fit.
  22. How to be responsible (this is usually taught incrementally with more and more responsibility as earned).
  23. How to shop, spot deals, determine "deals" that aren't so good, and overall be a wise consumer.
  24. How to set and attain goals.
  25. How to be emotionally well balanced (control anger, have a positive attitude, etc).

Actually the Boy Scouts were onto something when they listed these and many other skills that make for a well-rounded person. Parents, of course, are kid's best teachers and kids really are a reflection of the time and effort invested in them by their parents. I am always amazed at kids who are home schooled from a young age--it seems like parents who home school their kids really do have to put a lot of time and effort into creating pleasant, interesting individuals that you would want to be around because they are generally around these kids 24/7. The best part about teaching your kids these and other valuable skills is that they will grow up to be responsible, smart individuals who will be able to make a positive impact on society (and on their own families).