There are lots of reasons to unplug from the grid. And I’m not talking about the electrical grid. I mean the “grid” as in the whole digital world. Maybe you’ve had it up to here (picture my hand at my forehead) with all the digital flotsam that inundates you every day from work e-mail to social network nattering. Perhaps you need to go on the lam. (We’re not here to judge.) Maybe you really need to get away from someone who makes you crazy or, quite seriously, from someone else’s abuse.

Your reasons are yours. However, we’re here to tell you that it isn’t going to be easy. Just do a search for your name on sites like  Whitepages,  SpokeoZabasearch, and Pipl. Odds are you’re easy to find. Just by virtue of reading this story, we can guess you’re probably at a computer that has an IP address that can be tracked, and that’s where the problems begin. Cell phones, credit card purchases, travel check-ins, and even just a drive through a toll booth are all ways that you can be traced not just by Big Brother, but individuals as well. Skiptracers and private eyes can find what they need online to get to you if you continue to live digitally even after you’ve left your old life behind.

So what do you do to disappear truly? I warn you in advance, it’s not pretty. Picture every movie or TV show you’ve seen about witness protection programs and add in the extra dash of paranoia that comes from not having U.S. Marshalls on your side. Then get ready to live like you’ve never lived before. Whether you need to go on the run or you just want to settle down into a less digital life, here’s how to get lost.

Digital Dos and Don’ts
Can you really get off the grid and still live digitally? Probably not. If you retain your digital life, you’re going to leave breadcrumbs. The only way to stay completely anonymous is to turn it all off. That means no cell phones, no credit cards, no Web surfing. You can’t even use a computer.

However, if you can’t handle that, here are some options that can keep you online and, perhaps, off the radar.

1. Lose the Cell Phone
It might be your digital lifeline, but when you’re trying to hide, your cell phone is a digital bull’s eye. Those with the access can easily triangulate your position based on your cell signal. You don’t even need to make a call, as phones are always talking to towers to get the best signal available. A built-in GPS only makes it easier.

If you can, take out the battery. You can always pop it back in for a true emergency. You can also leave the phone somewhere to misdirect tracers. The latter is best if you’ve got a phone with a battery you can’t access. (Apple iPhones are not for fugitives.)

You don’t have to go without phone access completely. Buy pre-paid phones on the cheap at a department store or gas station. Give one to your most trusted friend or loved one and keep the other. That way, only the two of you can talk or text.

For an extra layer of protection, don’t use the phone to make a direct phone call. Instead, use a pre-paid calling card.

In addition, get some portable, solar-powered chargers for your gadgets, so you don’t have to rely on the outlets. Powermonkey eXplorer has plugs for just about every kind of phone and doesn’t require much light to charge a device.

2. Make Purchases Using Gift Cards
It’s not impossible to make Web purchases while off the grid. Use your cash to purchase credit card gift cards, such as Visa or American Express. They’re available just about anywhere. You can use them for purchases online and off and then chuck them after they’re used up. (Try to rotate where you get deliveries.) The transaction with those cards is between the retailer and credit card company, your personal details are not required and nothing shows up on a statement.

3. Forget Being Social
It’s time to give up on Facebook and Twitter. Seriously. Just walk away. If you can’t go cold turkey, create anonymous accounts from remote locations. Friend a few bots to keep your number of friends/followers high for your psychological fitness, since you, by definition, don’t have any friends at this point. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t friend or follow people you actually know.

4. Erase Info from Pictures
If you’re still in the habit of sending or posting digital pictures online, at the very least, strip out the EXIF data on the image file. This information includes the make of the camera, date and time the pic was taken, and, with some modern cameras, geographical location info. With enough pics and time, someone could easily figure out where you’ve been, if not where you’re going. The free EXIFstripper program for Windows will do it.

5. Encrypt Messages
You may still need to send some e-mails. Naturally, you’ll set up a brand new account. Even then, its best to make sure no one can read what you send. To start, use Gmail from Google since it defaults to using SSL encryption when you’re on the site. That’ll help when you’re using public Wi-Fi, if nothing else.

For super secrecy, you need to encrypt messages you send. For a double-whammy, access Gmail using Thunderbird, but utilize GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) to encrypt messages via the Enigmail plug-in.

A simpler tool is Encipher.it, an AES Ttext encryptor that works with Gmail or any other Web-based text. Click the Encipher It bookmarklet you install, give the text an encryption key, watch it get garbled, and send it. The person on the other end needs the key to decipher it.

6. Hide Your IP Address
A sure way to get noticed is to visit a website that collects IP addresses from its visitors; this can even happen with some Facebook applications. Once an IP is matched to you, it’s simple enough for law enforcement or clever skiptracers to call the ISP assigned that IP address and match it to a user. Even if it’s not direct to you, it could be too close for comfort. It gets worse if you’re surfing from a school or business. They can track you right to your dorm or cubicle.

A proxy server can help. Tor (aka The Onion Router) helps prevent people from seeing you, by routing your webpage requests through multiple routers on the Internet. The people at the other end will see an IP address for a router nowhere near your computer. Bundles exist for every major operating system and even some smartphones (Android, iOS, and Nokia), though some are more finished than others. There’s a browser bundle and an IM bundle, and both come in multiple languages. The bundles will run from a USB flash drive, so you don’t even need to use your own computer. There is a Firefox add-on called Torbutton that lets you enable Tor instantly with one click.

Several Chrome extensions promise the same features (search for “anonymous”). At the very least, use a website like Proxify, Web-based proxy server, to do searches and visit sites. The very popular Ghostery extension, available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera, and IE, shows you which sites are tracking you.

7. Don’t Sign In
When it comes to free Wi-Fi, often you’ll need to sign in, which means creating an account. Avoid these places, if you can. Starbucks and Barnes & Nobles are plentiful, and the AT&T Wi-Fi they use doesn’t require anything more than clicking to reaccess every couple of hours. Once you’re online, however, put a VPN to work for you to help prevent wireless snoopers from seeing what you’re doing. Hotspot Shield will do this and it’s free (or pay some money to avoid seeing their ads). Or, you could set up a router with VPN support at a remote location and link to it direct (providing another hop for people to contemplate).

8. Don’t Look for a Tail
Don’t go searching for a digital tail. It’s a classic way for the pursuer to get the pursuee, because anyone on the run wants to know how close they are to getting caught. If you start looking online to see what people know about you, your location, or your activities, chances are you could stumble into a honeypot meant just for you. Try not to Google yourself and stay away from posting misinformation anonymously.

9. Don’t Disappear: Deceive 
Former skiptracer Frank Ahearn wrote How to Disappear in 2010. But then, he decided a new tactic was more important. All of the info people can find about you online generally comes from one source—you. So, an easier tactic might be to hide in plain sight by filling the Internet with incorrect information. That means using things like social networks to put misinformation out there. Reducing your digital footprint is certainly important, but if you still want to stay online, deceiving people about where you live, your income, and members of your family, can make it hard for pursuers to find you.

Looking over your shoulder yet? Yeah, this may be overkill, but what it demonstrates is just how easy it is to be tracked. So, be careful, don’t overshare, use common sense when you’re online, and take precautions with the amount of personal information you put out there.

There are lots of reasons to unplug from the grid. And I’m not talking about the electrical grid. I mean the “grid” as in the whole digital world. Maybe you’ve

I was taught all the values of saving money but it wasn’t exactly modeled for me. Consequently, I had to overcome some hurdles as I grew up learning to budget, and more importantly, to stick to it (I still trip from time to time). My wife and I are now teaching our children about the value of their dollars and I am proud to say they are more miserly than I at their age. When they ask for a toy or a special treat and we feel it is appropriate we tell them they can have it if they pay with their own money. Our daughter is better at this than our son, but they look at their piggy banks, count the money, and more often than not are reluctant to part with their treasure for something fleeting. Financial expert Dave Ramsey says,

“There’s something psychological about spending cash that hurts more than swiping a piece of plastic. If spending cash whenever possible can become a habit, you’ll be less likely to over-spend or buy on impulse.”

So when was the last time you counted a wad of cash and had to make some decisions as to how much went where? You might do this regularly if you own a small business, but if you’re like the majority of debit card-swiping, electronic bits and bytes-spending, you probably haven’t in a very long time.

The benefits of liquidity

As it applies to you and me, liquidity is the amount of spendable cash on-hand such as in a piggy bank or hidden stash or cash that is readily accessible through ATM/bank withdrawal, or the quick sale of belongings. To most preppers cash on-hand is obviously the better choice for your money because you physically have it. Does the adage “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” sound familiar? The preppers who are involved in collecting precious metals (I am not one of them) will tell you quite correctly “if you don’t hold it, you don’t own it” (link includes good warning on dangers of holding valuables). Liquidity doesn’t have to be money as we know it. In a SHTF grid down scenario money will be whatever gets you something you want or need à la bartering. But for now, greenbacks and coins are the money we use and they’re still legal tender everywhere so having some on-hand mitigates your risk of being unable to buy what you need. It’s the same idea behind why we store any supply – we know we will need it later.

So why don’t we keep money accessible?

Despite the common sense and relative ease of having accessible supplies of needed items millions of Americans do not prepare in even the slightest way. We have discussed the concept of normalcy bias as a large reason behind failing to prep. When it comes to money, our society revolves around instant gratification and “efficiency” so we use credit and debit cards, electronic fund transfers, and online shopping – all made possible by a digital fiat currency system not backed by anything, which further removes us from cash as the marketplace ceases to resemble anything from even 15 years ago. In 2015, for many Americans, liquidity is limited to what sits in the bank account between bi-weekly direct deposits that isn’t automatically withdrawn due to electronic bill payments.

Three examples of why cash (use and acceptance) is still a necessity

The following examples are from my own life. They only involve human error by one or two people yet significantly impacted my family negatively. Imagine a scenario where the grid goes down or the government seizes digital wealth and you have a problem hundreds of millions of times worse.

June, 2015: My wife ordered new checks and paid a bunch of bills. We shortly thereafter discovered the account number was incorrectly printed and were hit with late fees due to the delay in us having to run out and get cash from the bank which was closed. After going in to our water utility and advising them of this problem the clerk assured me there was no problem on our account. I offered to pay cash anyway as a safeguard but she refused due to a policy about the dangers (robbery and money laundering) of cash payments. Several days later I came home from work at 3pm to hop in the shower for my next job at 4pm only to discover our water had been shut off for “non-payment”. I showered with a gallon jug of water I had left over from a road trip, rushed to the utility office, and had to pay extra fees – in cash, mind you – because I was a deadbeat and didn’t pay my bills on time. The next day I started prepping (water storage) thanks to The Prepper Journal I discovered a few weeks prior.
Moral: Cash payment would have eliminated use of checks and this problem. Acceptance of cash would have resolved this problem before it escalated.

Do you have a back-up supply of cash if electronic methods aren’t working?

 

December, 2016 – February, 2017: Our mortgage bank mailed a check from our escrow account to our home insurance provider. This check was never received and our home insurance was dropped for non-payment. I went to the insurance office to rectify this and was told because the policy had been cancelled we needed to buy a new one. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth later mixed with a couple phone calls to the bank, I purchased a new policy. Next stop on this crazy train was our insurance company billing our mortgage bank for this new policy as well as collecting money from us. The bank paid this one as well and debited our escrow account a second time, putting us in the negative. A lot more anger, many more phone calls, and a few steps closer to a heart attack, the bank and insurance company “fixed” the problem by giving us our original policy back and not refunding any money. Just to make things interesting the bank made a third payment to the insurance company for the renewed original policy, putting us further into the negative. We found this out because they kindly sent a statement increasing our mortgage payment by about a hundred dollars a month. More phone calls and many bad words later the bank credited us with the first faulty payment but refused to eliminate the rest of the debt that was not our fault because they “can’t just type numbers in the computer and make money appear.” Funny, I thought that’s what happens whenever we mail a check or have an automatic payment? I was unaware that money teleported or got zapped through the cable modem. This situation was resolved yesterday, just before the next example happened.

Moral: People are morons and corporations don’t give a damn about you. Cash payments by us instead of electronic payments or checks in the snail mail by third parties would have eliminated this problem from happening. Emergency fund money in the bank is a good safety net.

February, 2017: When I woke up this (Friday) morning and checked my work email before taking my children to school I was greeted with this message:

“We are aware that the automatic deposits for payday have not transferred to individual banks. The finance department is working on it and as soon as it is resolved we will let you know. We apologize for any inconvenience”.

I got in touch with my wife at her job and we exchanged some choice words. An hour or two later I checked my email again and saw this gem:

“Dear co-workers,

Due to my error, the direct deposit file was not sent to the bank in time to transfer funds into your accounts today. I apologize greatly for this error and hope you understand.

The file has been submitted for transfer by monday. If you have any questions or concerns about this delay in payment, please feel free to contact me and I will work with our bank to try and get your funds to you sooner.

Thank you”.

 

Fortunately, my wife works for a different company. We were spared the troubles so many of my co-workers faced, especially those who are single or whose spouses also worked for the city.

Moral: Having a system where one employee is capable of affecting over a thousand families to the tune of over $750,000.00 is insane. Payment in cash would have eliminated this problem. Emergency fund money in the bank is a good safety net.

Preppers should not only have padding in their bank accounts but should keep emergency cash in a safe location. As long as it’s the legal tender being accepted it is valuable. How will you pay when the ATMs shut down, or your card is stolen/compromised, or the banks are closed? Cash is king, make it part of your prepping plan.

I was taught all the values of saving money but it wasn’t exactly modeled for me. Consequently, I had to overcome some hurdles as I grew up learning to budget,

As preppers we strive to acquire skills, knowledge and yes tools that can assist us should we ever be faced with dire circumstances. The actual disaster that you might be facing and you own situation at the present time would necessarily determine what would be required of you to survive. For instance there might be a wildfire burning in the next county over with winds driving toward your house. With some time you could pack the family in the wagon and head out onto the highway to find a hotel or stay with friends a safe distance away. This is a real survival situation for you if the flames were approaching and by the act of bugging out you were responsible for saving your family. Had the flames kept going and you didn’t leave they all might have perished with you if the fire reached your front door.

But for some of us we don’t look at that example as a survival scenario. You had a car and the banks were working as well as your cell phone. You had a place to go and have plenty of clean, dry clothes in your bags packed safely in the mini-van that you just refilled because the pumps are still working fine. You are still able to buy food at a restaurant and aside from the fire, everyone is safe.

A survival situation doesn’t have to look like a reality TV show. I think far too many people imagine survival as being dropped onto a deserted island with nothing but a knife, water bottle (5 camera men) and your wits to keep you alive. Do these things happen to some people? Sure, but not usually unless you purposely head out into nature with the express intent of getting far away. I know that you can get into danger by simply hiking local nature trails over the weekend but how many of us living in the city or suburbs (outside of some real crisis) have to look for shelter, food, find our way to civilization or make a fire?

When I talk about survival tools I am not coming at this from the standpoint of surviving in the jungles of Central America but these emergency survival tools could help there too. Survival to me is staying alive regardless of the location and these five emergency survival tools will help you maintain room temperature.

Can you cut it?

I have been asked this before but I do think the single most important survival tool besides a clear calm head is a knife. Knives have been around forever because they are so incredibly useful. You might think that you wouldn’t need a knife unless you were whittling a stick into a spear or slicing the skin off some animal you trapped in a snare, but you would be wrong. Knives offer so many uses that their importance can’t be overstated.

OK, so you believe you need a knife, but what kind of survival knife? How would you carry it? How much should you spend on a good survival knife? These are all great questions, but each individual needs to answer them for yourself. I will give you my two cents though. There are really two types of knifes for me. There is my big knife for cutting big things and taking a beating and then I have a smaller knife for cutting smaller things. It is not as sturdy.

kershawleek

Kershaw Leek – Excellent EDC knife

Why have two types? It comes down to convenience really. For my EDC (Every Day Carry) knife that I have on my person at all times away from home and usually in my home I have a small folding knife. Now it isn’t so small that I can’t cut anything with it, but it isn’t too large that I can’t stick it in my pocket. I have this because the closest thing I am going to be getting to lost in the wilderness is a park. My small folding knife will still cut almost anything I would need it to and it’s compact size makes it easy for me to carry every day to work.

If I am going into the woods as I hope to do here in the next few weeks with my survival dog on sabbatical, I will leave the folding knife at home and carry my larger Gerber LMF II. This knife is a fixed blade that is far sturdier than my folder and can be used to chop down small trees if I need to. Both of them have a purpose and I chose my knife based upon where I will be, but I always have one on me. You should too.

Looking for love in all the wrong places?

Have you ever been lost? If you are taking a walk in the woods you should carry a compass and a map. I have and love my GPS, but if that goes out I still have my map and a compass. With a compass you don’t have to worry about EMP rendering your device out of commission. Actually, where I have been backpacking we sometimes lose the satellite signal so my compass is the low tech fallback option for finding my way back home to my family.

suunto

A great compass is a simple lifesaving survival tool

Now, it’s all well and good to have a compass but you need to know how to use a compass and map too? Most anyone I know can pick one up, point it and say, ‘that way’s North’ with authority but will that be enough? Check out this great video on using a compass and map if you need a refresher.

Come on baby light my fire!

If I had a dollar for all the articles I had seen (and a few I have written myself) about the importance of being able to start a fire, I would have… I don’t know; a hundred bucks? Suffice it to say that there are a lot of people out there who are trying to convey the importance of being able to start a fire. Why is fire so important? Just like these other survival tools, it can save your life.

blastmatch

BlastMatch – Single hand operation

You can learn how to start a fire with a fire plough or the magnifying glass trick or my personal favorite, starting a fire with a bottle of water but really there are easier options. The easiest option is a simple Bic lighter. I have dozens of these strewn around the house and in both my bug out bags, get home bags and the bag I take hiking with me. They are cheap, easy to use and do what they are supposed to do. But, what if they get wet?

Two alternatives to the good old Bic lighter are both called fire steels. I have a Swedish Fire Steel which is a rod that you need to strike with a stainless steel striker or the back of your knife blade to make sparks that are over 5,400 degrees Fahrenheit!! This isn’t just cheap fireworks when you are bored but combine this with the proper amount of dry tinder or WetFire cubes and you will have a flame in no time.

I also have a BlastMatch all-weather fire starter which is the same concept but you can use this one-handed. Perfect for if you are injured or you need to use one hand to block the wind or keep that bear at bay. Both of these great survival tools are waterproof so that gives them an advantage over matches (unless they are waterproof obviously) and Bic lighters. Sure a Bic will dry out if you have the time, but what if you just escaped a raging river, all your gear is soaked, the sun is going down and you are freezing cold? Also, they will last for thousands of fires and you can’t say the same for matches.

Gimme Shelter

survivalbivvy

Survival Bivvy

Quick, what is the first thing that will kill you? Lack of food? Dehydration from no water? A backhand from a Polar Bear? If you answered polar bear I might have to give that one to you but unless you are in the arctic or dumb enough to climb the fence at your local zoo, the chances of you seeing a polar bear are slim.

Most people fret about starving or dying of thirst though and that isn’t really what you have to worry about the most. Exposure will kill you faster than thirst or hunger and it is something to consider. Have you heard of the rule of threes? The rule of threes goes something like this:

  • You can live three minutes without air
  • You can live three hours without shelter
  • You can live three days without water
  • You can live three weeks without food

Now before you start saying that the most important thing is air, let’s just say that this is a given. If you are suffocating you definitely have big problems, but that isn’t likely either. Most of those survival shows I talked about at the beginning show you how to scavenge for food if you are lost in the wilderness, but like the rule of three says, you can go weeks without food. Will it be fun? No, but you do have bigger problems.

Shelter in this rule means getting too cold (hypothermia) or two hot (hyperthermia) and both are just as bad for your body. If you find yourself in a survival situation there is a tool that you can use to regulate your body temperature and this can keep you alive. In the heat you have to get out of the sun. In the cold you have to conserve heat and a survival bivvy works great for both purposes. As a sun shade you can turn the survival bivvy inside out and let the reflective material reflect the sun off you. It also doubles as a signaling device. When you are cold, climb into the bag and the reflective material will reflect your own body heat back on you keeping you warm.

fenixheadlamp

Fenix Headlamp – Perfect for hands free tasks in zero visibility

I can see clearly now!

Lastly, and one of my favorite survival tools is a flashlight. Well, more precisely it is light because light can solve a world of problems. Can you imagine being lost and not being able to see? One wrong step could land you in a hole that might break your ankle or you could step off a cliff. When I am backpacking I have a Fenix headlamp that I love. I just strap this to my head and I can walk around and do most anything I normally would because I can see clearly where I am going, what is ahead of me and I don’t have to use my hands.

During the day a headlamp is a little bit much but I also carry a small but bright flashlight as part of my EDC. You would be surprised how often I have to use this thing so it does come in handy.

What are some of your favorite survival tools?

As preppers we strive to acquire skills, knowledge and yes tools that can assist us should we ever be faced with dire circumstances. The actual disaster that you might be

As I have said in several past articles, I have confidence that Americans can deal with short-term or regional/localized disasters. However, I stand with many of the Governments chosen experts who are for the large part gravely concerned about America’s current inability when it comes to dealing with large-scale, long-term disaster scenarios. As far as I can tell in my own research, about 5-million Americans have some form of disaster preparedness plans and provisions in place. Of course this leaves more than 98% of the population unprepared, and therein is the vulnerability and problem.

One of the more important questions

How do we take care of our first-aid and health needs during and after a long-term disaster when doctors will be scattered and largely inaccessible and hospitals and clinics are no longer operating? Clearly as individuals we may need to shoulder most of the burden ourselves, and it will be a new experience for most people. It seems logical that most prudent Preppers will have some basic first aid training and supplies, including various medications to deal with a host of health issues in the near-term. But what about long-term?

Additionally, some Preppers (along with many others) are catching on to the adverse side effects of many ‘big-pharma’ drugs and medical preparations; in a disaster, who can you call when you have a side-effect? And coupled with that, the limited supplies and shelf-life of many of the ‘big-pharma’ drugs and preparations during a long-term event, should give any thinking person some cause for concern. Should a prudent person be leaning about alternative solutions now, as opposed to later, possibly when it may be too late?

Acupuncture has been practiced for centuries.

So to avoid being caught in medical-care vacuum, many people today are considering and learning about using ‘alternative’ or naturopathic medicine. This gives rise to certain important questions:

Are naturopathic methods and medicines effective and safe? Are there alternative substitutes for some (all?) of the drugs and medicines that under normal circumstances could be bought at a pharmacy? And; even in good times, should I be using ‘big pharma’ drugs and preparations?

I am not a medical doctor or a pharmacist so I cannot advise anyone as to what they should do; I can only recount what I have seen or know from personal experience. And probably like you, I have to rely on other qualified experts in these important health considerations. And from my research, it seems that there is a growing trend towards naturopathic cures and medicines among informed consumers around the world.

Naturopathic Medicine

It is a scientific fact that; ‘Naturopaths’ have been safely and effectively treating and curing people’s medical and health problems for hundreds of years. As in any profession, including that of modern western medicine and certified medical doctors, there are a few bad practitioners among the good ones. And so it is illogical to paint everyone with the same brush. ‘Big-pharma’ drives the medical industry in the U.S. and in some other countries. And since they essentially control the very profitable centers of western medicine and drugs, they are quick to denounce any curative paradigm that takes any profit from them, regardless of the efficacy of any paradigm. We saw examples of this behavior in the early days of acupuncture and naturopathic medicine here in the U.S., both of which disciplines have finally won acceptance within western medicine. In order words; it’s plain economic logic that dictates as follows: If a large corporation is in the multi-billion dollar business of making and selling a treatment for cancer, for instance, then why would they embrace a cure or treatment for cancer that is nearly free, and which would eliminate the need for their product? Clearly, in this example, any such company would want to run a stake through the heart of any person or company that had any such cure or treatment.

As it is said, never get between a dog and its bone unless you want to get bit!

In reality, there are many low cost (or nearly free) cures and treatments for a host of medical and health issues.

Acupuncture

The practice of acupuncture as a healing art is at least 2,000 years old. Generally speaking many naturopaths today employ a ‘holistic’ approach to treating their patients and utilize a range of therapies. Acupuncture has proven valuable to the holistic approach to treating patients with a host of conditions. I am personally aware of the benefits that are provided by acupuncture, which among many, includes measurable pain-relief among other benefits. Acupuncture is painless contrary to what some people may believe (I have had acupuncture myself, and you cannot feel the needles when they are inserted or removed). Acupuncture has been so successful that the Air Force began teaching “Battlefield Acupuncture” to physicians deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan in early 2009. “Battlefield Acupuncture” can relieve severe pain lasting several days. More about ‘Battlefield Acupuncture’ here and more about Acupuncture here

Essential Oils

Even though the healing powers of essential oils has been well known among healers for thousands of years, they have nonetheless sprung unto the medical scene here in America as if they were just discovered. Many of us recall that two of the ‘wise men’ who visited the birthplace of Christ brought as gifts; the oils Myrrh and Frankincense (aka: ‘boswellia’), which were considered more valuable than gold in those days due to their healing properties. Today we now see a resurgence of the use of the essential oils, including in the treatment of cancer and other diseases at prominent hospitals around the country.

Here are just a few of many examples:

Cancer:

Boswellia
Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces bladder tumor cell specific cytotoxicity – ecancernews
Frankincense & Cancer – Livestrong
Frankincense Oil Kills Bladder Cancer Cells – Natural News

Other Conditions & Illnesses:

The efficacy of the application of essential oils for the prevention of acute respiratory diseases in organized groups of children
Aromatherapy Science – Tambela
Efficacy of plant products against herpetic infections
Aromatherapy and Diabetes – American Diabetes Association
Renaissance of antimicrobial essential oils as a promising force to fight hospital-acquired infections.

Here is the PubMed Abstract (from link #5 above) regarding the efficacy of some essential oils against various infections in hospital tests:

“HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED INFECTIONS AND ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT BACTERIA CONTINUE TO BE MAJOR HEALTH CONCERNS WORLDWIDE. PARTICULARLY PROBLEMATIC IS METHICILLIN-RESISTANT STAPHYLOCOCCUS AUREUS (MRSA) AND ITS ABILITY TO CAUSE SEVERE SOFT TISSUE, BONE OR IMPLANT INFECTIONS. FIRST USED BY THE AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES, TEA TREE OIL AND EUCALYPTUS OIL (AND SEVERAL OTHER ESSENTIAL OILS) HAVE EACH DEMONSTRATED PROMISING EFFICACY AGAINST SEVERAL BACTERIA AND HAVE BEEN USED CLINICALLY AGAINST MULTI-RESISTANT STRAINS. SEVERAL COMMON AND HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED BACTERIAL AND YEAST ISOLATES (6 STAPHYLOCOCCUS STRAINS INCLUDING MRSA, 4 STREPTOCOCCUS STRAINS AND 3 CANDIDA STRAINS INCLUDING CANDIDA KRUSEI) WERE TESTED FOR THEIR SUSCEPTIBILITY FOR EUCALYPTUS, TEA TREE, THYME WHITE, LAVENDER, LEMON, LEMONGRASS, CINNAMON, GRAPEFRUIT, CLOVE BUD, SANDALWOOD, PEPPERMINT, KUNZEA AND SAGE OIL WITH THE AGAR DIFFUSION TEST. OLIVE OIL, PARAFFIN OIL, ETHANOL (70%), POVIDONE IODINE, CHLORHEXIDINE AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (H(2)O(2)) SERVED AS CONTROLS. LARGE PREVAILING EFFECTIVE ZONES OF INHIBITION WERE OBSERVED FOR THYME WHITE, LEMON, LEMONGRASS AND CINNAMON OIL. THE OTHER OILS ALSO SHOWED CONSIDERABLE EFFICACY. REMARKABLY, ALMOST ALL TESTED OILS DEMONSTRATED EFFICACY AGAINST HOSPITAL-ACQUIRED ISOLATES AND REFERENCE STRAINS, WHEREAS OLIVE AND PARAFFIN OIL FROM THE CONTROL GROUP PRODUCED NO INHIBITION. AS PROVEN IN VITRO, ESSENTIAL OILS REPRESENT A CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE ANTISEPTIC TOPICAL TREATMENT OPTION EVEN FOR ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT STRAINS AS MRSA AND ANTIMYCOTIC-RESISTANT CANDIDA SPECIES.”- PUBMED ABSTRACT

 Pure essential oils are concentrated and compact, and can be easily stored (long term, with care) and are very reasonably priced compared to some of their ‘Big-Pharma’ counter-parts, some of which may require the additional cost of a doctor’s visit to obtain a prescription.

Given the benefits and value proposition that essential oils present for Preppers and those living ‘off-grid’ I recommend that everyone keep a small kit of essential oils as backup to a traditional medical/first aid kit.

I have to confess that I am biased when it comes to essential oils since I have been using doTerra brand oils in my own life, as does my wife, who was introduced to doTerra essential oils by a family member who is a critical care RN. Not all essential oils are created equal; many oils have varying levels of contaminants or impurities that can affect how well an essential oil will work, and in worst cases, the contaminants may render the oil toxic.

As some of my readers are aware, I have a background in science (chemistry and physics). This background allows me to critically consider the methods that doTerra uses to purify and then test their essential oils in order to provide consumers with 100% pure ‘certified pure therapeutic grade’ essential oils. doTerra is the worldwide leader in this field.

There are many ways to learn more about the various essential oils and how they can be used to treat and cure a host of conditions, ranging from treating a child’s fever using peppermint oil, to treating an ear infection using lavender and melaleuca oils.

As I have said in several past articles, I have confidence that Americans can deal with short-term or regional/localized disasters. However, I stand with many of the Governments chosen experts

I used to think people who were constantly talking about government conspiracies, doomsday and all the other scare tactics were spouting wild theories. I still do for the most part… Recently, I got a different point of view when I re-read the article 8 Reasons Why Prepping is Good for You.When you boil preparing for unusual situations or prepping down, all it really means is that you turn back the clock and return to a simpler time when people were independent. In simpler times money was kept in the home, personal debt was rare, people cooked the food they grew and got a lot of exercise in the process. We have situations every day that we need to be ready for so let’s see how your prepping skills work out in these situations.

Floods – in the past, Louisiana had several days of flooding rains. Roads were flooded and people were cut off from stores and medical centers, many people were stuck in their homes. If they had stored some food, water and extra medical supplies they did better than those that didn’t.

Stuck on the Road – Accidents, storms and traffic jams on the highway have caused people to be on the road for hours and even days. If you have your go bag packed with extra blankets and food you will be glad to have it, and thankful that you learned some self-reliance.

EarthquakesEarthquakes occur more often than you think and there is very little warning when they are coming. As a veteran of a couple of earthquakes I know they have a wide range of damage. Power may go out, roads are often impassable and you are left separated from family. If you remembered to make an emergency plan with your family you will find out quicker whether they are okay or not. Communications are often jammed so if power is out you will need to have a solar-powered battery charger to try to get through on jammed lines. It can take days.

Water Contamination – Water contamination seems to pop up on news stories at least once a month. Your prepper skills would have taught you to have bottled water on hand or to have the equipment to make drinkable water on hand. Stores often don’t have often have enough for an entire community.

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Do you know how to make drinking water safe if what is coming out of the tap isn’t?

Hurricanes – While hurricanes vary in strength and size, they all come with a lot of wind and rain. When Hurricane Irene struck New England back in 2011 trees came down, bridges were swept away, shopping centers were flooded and power lines went down. The damage was widespread; the effects of the storm were felt long after the storm departed. The people and companies that did the best were the ones that had back up power and extra supplies.

Fires – Fires usually require a quick exit from a building or even a large area. If you have prepared in advance, your important papers will be in a place where you can grab them quickly and go. This will not only give you peace of mind, it will make the recovery much easier on you.

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iBeek® Portable 10000mAh Dual USB Solar Battery Charger

Winter Weather – Ice storms and blizzards are some of the prettiest storms; and with that fresh look comes cold problems. The storms are very destructive. In 2008 an ice storm hit New England and New York. The roads icing were the least of the problems. Power was down for weeks; the grid had to be replaced in freezing weather. Many New Englanders are ready for storms but weeks without power tested even the hardiest people. The people who depended on power to heat, cook and shower and that had no other heat source had to go to shelters or to a family member’s home to keep warm. People stood in line in restaurants to charge their phones so they could check on friends and family. The sun shone strongly right after the storm, your solar battery charger will be very useful on one of these days.

Financial Health – There is one area of being prepared that we can use on a daily basis and that is finances. Many of us have gone into debt for things that we don’t really need. The prepper lifestyle encourages debt free-living and skills like cooking, and home medicine that save money and encourage good health.

Relationships – Any activity your family does together forges your relationships. Prepping activities are no exception. Getting prepared for unusual situations is an opportunity for everyone, especially children, to have confidence, build skills and learn independence.

Education – Prepping is like attending a new school. You still learn plenty, you just don’t sit in a classroom. Here are just a few of the lessons you get at Prepping School:

Science: Growing and preserving your own food not only teaches children where food comes from, you create family memories for years to come. I still remember picking apples, blueberries and strawberries in the field, then coming home and helping my Mom and Grandmother cook with them. We also had a garden and I remember my Dad’s tips on planting tomatoes and cucumbers.

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Solar power is an option for off grid and prices are coming down.

Physical Education: Our modern lifestyle has cut out a lot of the exercise that people in a simpler time got by walking more and doing more labor themselves instead of having a machine do it. Planting a garden and then harvesting that garden require exercise and fresh air. If you hunt for your own food you walk quite a bit in the wilderness. You can also take your family on hikes to find things like the nearest water source and medicinal plants. When you map the route you are teaching and learning mapping skills and geography.

Alternative Energy – Designing and constructing a solar or wind powered system is a lesson that gives children a useful skill that will last throughout their lives. They may even start a business based on the experience. Solar, wind and hydro energies are going to be a big part of our children’s lives. Teaching them how to use them correctly is an important lesson.

Raising Animals – When you raise animals for food you have to research which food is good for them, build them a pen and make sure they have a warm dry place to stay. Their medical needs must be taken care of as well. This is a lesson in building, responsibility and science.

Health– More exercise is just one health benefits of getting prepared. When someone is hurt and cannot get to the Dr. or clinic the medical supplies you have and skills you learned prepping will be needed. This is a good science lesson for the kids. Learning to heal others could influence their career choice. When you help someone by cleaning their wounds and healing a sick person you gain confidence. It worked for my Grandmother. One of the home remedies she used was an egg poultice which was used as a drawing agent. When my Dad welded he often got metal slivers deep in his skin. He would apply Grandma’s poultice to the sliver and cover it with a bandage. A day or two later the silver would be in out and my Dad was happy.

Peace of Mind: The peace of mind just knowing you are ready is priceless.

With all the benefits of prepping, maybe we should all live like the world is ending. We would build better relationships, get more exercise and eat better.

I used to think people who were constantly talking about government conspiracies, doomsday and all the other scare tactics were spouting wild theories. I still do for the most part…

When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern board of the United States, it left millions of households without power, and most importantly, food. With preparations for the expected power outage, the food outage would not have been a problem even if grocery stores, crops, livestock, and plants had been flooded, all thanks to proper food storage.

Food is essential for survival. Whether it be an earthquake, hurricane, super typhoon, floods, or any natural calamity, you may lose access to water and food supply. As such, most people go for keeping emergency food storage. While for others, storing food is important for small emergencies. The question is, how do you effectively store food? Reports come in with stored food filled with salmonella, E. coli, and other microorganisms, which, instead of saving you, would put you in the hospital. More than keeping the right amount of food, storing them right is crucial. Here is a survival guide to food storage to keep you and your family safe.

1. Know The Right Types Of Food

Know which foods to store and how to store them. Keep your emergency survival food supply varied but make sure to have honey, salt, milk, and wheat in your supply. To encourage variety in your supply, go for other grains, beans, tomatoes, cheese, and even onion. If you are storing foods in jars, make sure that the jars are airtight sealed to avoid the development of bacteria within. Marinated foods should go into the freezer and kept there until used.

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The types of food you store could go on and on but what you store is extremely important. Go for non-cook foods that could be served even during a power outage. Have MREs (Meal Ready To Eat) stocked as well as canned goods. Keep spices as well to give flavor to the food you will be preparing in times of emergency.

2…And Consider The Size!

Size matters, and so does the quantity. The volume of food should be enough for you to keep in the storage room. Choose containers that can be easily stacked, avoid transparent containers, and do not forget to put labels on everything. The labels should have the contents of what is inside the container and the date it was processed; including the date it was stored. This way, you would easily know when to use it and when to replace it.

3.Timing Is Everything

Yes, you have to get the emergency survival food supply going but you should not rush into getting this done ASAP. Take the time to learn the basics of food storage and keep it consistent. Start from a small food supply and add items to it slowly. You may start by using your refrigerator as your storage area. Utilize your freezer and learn the canning process to utilize your cupboards as well. If you have learned the proper storage and restocking techniques, this is the key to start working on a larger room for food storage.

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4. Find The Perfect Storage Place

One of the many food storage tips you will hear is finding the perfect storage place. Your storage room should be cool, dry, and well ventilated. If you plan to store dried goods, you have to prioritize the temperature you have in your room to avoid spoilage, which is a waste of money. A cool storage room inhibits the growth of ethylene, a ripening agent, along with other decay producing enzymes. The storage room you choose also dictates the quantity of the emergency food supply you will be able to store. Keep your room small, having too big of a storage room makes it hard to do inventories in. Remember that this is your personal emergency food supply in case of natural disasters so keep it properly stored.

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5. Restock!

If you have worked on your emergency food supply, you should know that these would only last for a couple of months up to a year. Create a regular rotation to replace the older items on the storage supply. Remember to replace everything that you have used up and those that are spoiled. Make it a part of your regular routine to keep the food fresh.

Remember that everything that goes in first must be the first to go out, starting from the ready-to-eat foods. Canned foods, which have rust on the lid, are already spoiled so be aware of these signs such as molds, discoloration, and smell.

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6. Keep It Listed

Start a food plan with a checklist of food you need. Not only will this help your shopping faster, this will also help you keep track of the items that have been used up and needs to be replaced, from the canned goods up to the frozen food. Without a list or inventory, your food stock may go down to a single can of beans or to a jam-packed storage room.

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7. Consider The Humidity

Consider the humidity in the room. Have the foods properly stored in their original packages. This packaging is designed for the food to be in great condition given a room temperature or even too much humidity. Humidity also increases the probability of molds to appear on your stored food.

8. Avoid Sunlight

To keep the longevity of food, avoid storing them in direct sunlight. Exposing food in direct sunlight promotes oxidation, decreases the nutritional value, and most importantly, spoils it easily. To keep this from happening, cover the windows and other areas which may allow sunlight to go through. Watch out for foods rich in vitamins A, D, E, and K because they are quick to degrade under sunlight.

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9. Clean, Clean, Clean

Storing food effectively is based mostly on the proper handling of food when you store them. Wash your hands, clean the room, clean the containers, and don’t let any insects get inside the storage room. Keep the fresh produce, raw foods, canned goods, and ready-to-eat foods separated from each other.

Nowadays, having food storage is not a choice but an essential part of every household’s survival plan. This list will help you start your food storage right.

When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern board of the United States, it left millions of households without power, and most importantly, food. With preparations for the expected power outage, the

We are now three to five generations removed from the rural backbone that strengthened America.  The world at large has undergone a similar transformation as the promise of easier work has created a migration to big cities.  These mega-cities could be seen as an experiment gone awry, as general well-being has declined, with suicide rates increasing across the world.  Crowded conditions and economic strife have led to rampant crime, pollution, corporate malfeasance, and a dog-eat-dog type of competition that can be described as a temporary insanity.

As the cliche goes: Freedom is never free.  But it sure beats the alternative.

Becoming more self-sufficient is proving to make common sense whether one anticipates more hardship to come or not. Sure, many of us would love to live completely off the grid without giving up everyday comforts, but this is not practical for most of us.  However, there are many steps that can be taken to move towards self-sufficiency which can be relatively painless and quite rewarding.

The following are 10 suggestions that can lead to independent living:

    1. Reduce your debt: Especially get your credit card debt under control, since it is entirely corrupt.  Call your credit card companies and ask for a work out plan similar to what they received from the taxpayer bailout.
    2. Reduce your consumption: Evaluate your current budget and determine absolute necessity. Push your comfort level to find areas where you can scale back, and then identify comforts that you’re willing to sacrifice.
    3. Reduce energy use: Change light bulbs, have entertainment systems plugged into a splitter that can be shut off completely to reduce phantom charges, etc.  Carefully plan shopping trips and other transportation needs.
    4. Store energy:  Always have back-up propane storage and a large wood pile for a rainy day. Investing in a generator of some kind (even a solar generator) will be money well spent.
    5. Invest in food storage: With a falling dollar and rising food prices, why not create a food savings account?  Get some good books, dehydrators and vacuum sealers for storage methods. Best storable food items are grains (rice, beans, flour), canned goods, seeds, and some prepackaged items.
    6. Produce your own food: Replace your lawn with a garden, fruit trees, and keep chickens. Go on hunting and gathering adventures for nuts, fish, and wild game.  Store extra garden seeds!
    7. Learn new skills: Surf the Internet, read books, and take courses in practical skills like gardening, cooking with whole foods, composting, carpentry, alternative energy, natural health and wellness etc.
    8. Start a side business: Turn your passion or hobby into a small side business to make some supplemental income.  Who knows, it may become your path to full financial independence.
    9. Install alternative energy: Start with small installations like a solar hot water system, a solar freezer, a solar attic fan, or a wood stove etc. If you have limited funds, tip-toe your way to independence.
    10. Suggest solutions for your community: Start or join a local cooperative for food, products, and services.  Engage your local community in discussions to take steps for self-sufficiency. Share your story and build support.

 

These steps will save money as we move closer to the ultimate prize of independence.  Each action we take to live more simply frees us from the control systems put in place to make our lives more complicated, more toxic, and less independent.

We are now three to five generations removed from the rural backbone that strengthened America.  The world at large has undergone a similar transformation as the promise of easier work

Spring is in the air and with it comes yard work. For some we have already started planting our gardens, others are tending to their chickens and most have to start cutting the grass. I know you may hear the Home Depot song playing in your mind as you think of mulching and planting and sprucing up after winter’s snooze but I have already been cutting my grass and it is due again for another visit with the lawnmower.

As I started to think about getting out there and cutting the grass, I wondered if there would be a use for items like my trusty lawnmower when the grid goes down. Why? Because if you are like me, the last thing you are going to worry about is a nicely trimmed yard. Heck, we all might need to tear up the pretty green carpet to make way for additional garden capacity and if that happens, what could we do with that mower? Even if we didn’t have a grid-down emergency what other purposes could our mower serve?

You will need the following tools/parts:

Lawn Engine motor

The generator project will require a vertical shaft gas engine from a lawn mower. The typical lawn mower engine will be 3 to 5 horse power and will have a 7/8″ shaft, with a 3/16″ key way and a threaded hole in the bottom of the shaft. Most of these engines have either 3 or 4 bolts holding them down to the existing lawn mower base.

Alternator – A GM 10SI or 12SI style automotive alternator.

The alternator will fall into one of three categories:

A) External voltage regulator type.This type of alternator does not have an internal regulator and must have one connected externally to control the alternator field intensity and thus the output voltage and current of the alternator. The disadvantage in using this type of alternator is that connection is a bit more complicated and the regulator is an added component that must be mounted and connected properly. This type of alternator is typically less expensive than the other options shown below, but like the model with an internal regulator, it too requires an external on / off switch or the alternator and regulator pair can discharge batteries when it is not charging and the switch is left on.
B) Single wire connection type with internal regulator.The single wire connection type alternator automatically starts producing output power when the RPM of the input shaft reaches a minimum speed. And, when the RPM drops below a preset speed the output stops. A big advantage is that it does not require a switch to isolate the alternator from the battery source to keep the alternator from draining the battery when not in use. The disadvantage in using this type of alternator is that the alternator will start to charge the batteries as soon as the minimum speed is reached, and will place a load on the engine as soon as the minimum RPM is achieved. In some cases, you might need to throttle through this minimum RPM range to insure that the motor does not bog down at low RPM when the alternator begins to produce power. Another disadvantage is that these alternators are more expensive than other options, but it provides a very simple connection method.
C) Internal regulator type with external control switch.Another option is to use the type we used on our last project. This alternator has an internal voltage regulator but requires an external switch to start or stop power production. The advantage in using this model is that the alternator can be switched off while the motor is still running and power output stops. This aids in connecting and disconnecting batteries or other loads.
One note in the Single wire connection type with internal regulator:

We found that the single wire configuration is not ideal for this application. Because the lawn mower engine mentioned above doesn’t have much throttle adjustment, if a single wire configuration is used with a 2 1/2 inch pulley on the motor the alternator doesn’t kick in without manually moving the throttle butterfly to a higher setting and then releasing. This problem might be eliminated by using a 3″ pulley. However, a single wire configuration can be used on our last project using a horizontal shaft engine. The problem we have right now, is that we don’t have all the answers yet for this configuration. Feel free to experiment, but with the motor we used and the pulley we used, it wasn’t convent in that you had to reach under the carburetor to throttle up manually to start generation.

Electrical Wires – Think wire harness for your car battery

 

A positive and a negative car battery cable is needed, as well as an alternator connector and associated wires. The alternator wires are not needed if a single wire alternator with built in regulator is used.

A belt – An A Style Industrial Belt to be more precise

The V-Belt transfers power from the pulley (which will be mounted) on the motor to the pulley on the alternator. Various belt lengths can be used if your mounting system provides for several inches of belt length adjustment. Keep in mind that the belt length should be kept to a minimum to reduce belt slap and associated wear.

We have found that the Automotive V-belt used on a standard alternator is not compatible with the industrial “A” size belt that mates with all pulleys you will find for the motor. However, if you use an industrial “A” style V-belt, it will provide an exact fit for the motor and an “OK” fit for the alternator. Replacing the pulley on the alternator to match the pulley on the motor is an option (a more expensive option) but would be the ideal solution.

Cast Iron Pulley

The motor pulley needs to be high quality cast iron. The mass of a cast iron pulley tends to act as a flywheel, taking the place of the mass of the lawn mower blade. Remember that most lawn mower engines have a very light aluminum fly wheel and use the steel blade as part of the effective fly wheel mass. The added weight of the cast iron pulley (compared to the mass of an aluminum pulley) helps the engine idle smoothly and helps keep belt slap to a minimum.

Mounting Bracket

The mounting bracket is the most complicated part of the project. The great thing about the bracket is that it’s Universal in design and allows use of a wide variety of engine manufacturers and engine models.

It not only eliminates hours of time figuring out the bolt pattern of your motor, but also eliminates the trial and error guess work in finding a belt length that will work once the motor and alternator are mounted. Additionally, the bracket can be bolted down to a simple base of your own design and the rest of the work is done!

Detailed instructions on how to work on this project:

The first step is to remove the motor from the lawn mower base. Typically, there are 3 or 4 bolts holding the motor to the base, but before you remove them, you will need to remove the mower blade and the shaft coupler that holds the blade on the motor shaft. Getting the blade and the coupling off is a bit of a pain. Removing the blade is not nearly as difficult, but still requires a bit of ingenuity to figure out a way to “jam” the blade so it won’t rotate while you remove the bolt which holds it in place on the motor shaft.

We found that we had to use a “pulley puller”, to remove the shaft coupler after the mower blade was removed. A “pulley puller” which can be rented or purchased at most auto parts stores. Removing the coupler is difficult to impossible without use of this tool.

The next hassle will be in finding the required pulley. Our research indicated that nearly all the motors used in vertical shaft lawn mowers have a 7/8″ shaft, and a 3/16″ or 1/4″ key way. However, horizontal shaft motors under about 7 HP use a 3/4″ shaft. The 3/4″ pulleys can be found at most hardware stores, but the 7/8″ pulleys are impossible to find. What we had to do was to set up an account with a company that supplies Heating and Air Conditioning Systems, Motors, Blowers and Components to be able to order the correct pulleys.

Another catch is that a 3/16″ key way is not standard on cast iron pulleys. What we found was that a 1/4″ key way is the norm because most high horse power AC motors use a 1/4″ size key way. A pulley with a 3/16″ key way is not typically available in a 7/8″ shaft diameter configuration. It is possible to use a pulley with a 1/4″ key way on a motor that has a 3/16″ key way provided that the set screw is on top of the key on the motor shaft and NOT on the shaft itself. If close attention is paid to this detail the pulley will stay in place without vibrating or loosening.

The biggest problem is figuring out how to bolt everything together. Because each type of mower had different a base, we ended up concentrating on coming up with a universal base that just about any motor could fit on. Our base had to allow rotating the motor by about 30 degrees, and allow positioning the motor in any of the 90 degree quadrants. That allowed the motor to be in any position with clearance for the alternator and a method for hooking up the belt. We also wanted to allow the alternator position to be adjusted allowing for several belt sizes to be used. The bracket also has an integral belt adjustment slot which allows the alternator position to be adjusted, which also serves to tension the belt.

The lawn mower engine

The lawn mower we used had a 3.5 Horse power Briggs and Stratton 4 stroke gas engine. That particular model motor has a safety shut off lever on the lawn mower handle which has a cable attached to the motor, and the attached cable must be activated to disengage the motor shut off break and to allow spark to reach the spark plug. What we decided to do was to cut the cable off and deactivate the motor shut off feature. If your motor has this feature, you will need to spend some time looking at the cable and the levers on the motor to figure out a way to deactivate or preserve the feature. In either case the motor will not start unless something is done about the cable and levers.

We found that there was a small hole in one of the lever plates on the side of the engine, and after pulling the cable, a small nail can be inserted into the lever to keep the mechanism from retracting and shutting off the motor. Like I said, it will take a bit of time to figure out how your motor shut off mechanism works (if there is one installed on your motor).

Most of the lawn mower engines you will find have a 7/8″ shaft and a 3/16″ key way cut into the shaft. They also have a threaded hole in the bottom of the shaft.

Pulley Size and Type

The vertical shaft motor from this lawn mower would not throttle as high as the same horse power motor we used in the horizontal shaft generator project. That motor was from a lawn edger, and could be set to a higher maximum speed. After talking with some lawn mower experts, we were told that the throttle mechanism on the lawn mower has the maximum throttle set to be about 75% of the maximum butter fly valve position of the carburetor. We were told that the lawn mower manufacturers set the throttle mechanism that way so there is extra throttle capability for when the mower hits some heavy or wet grass. The motor could then self throttle to a higher setting if necessary, then throttle back to the pre set throttle setting.

The reason we mention all this is that the pulley size we used on the horizontal shaft motor project would not work on this project. In testing this motor with the throttle set as high as possible without modifying the carburetor, and using a 4 3/4″ pulley on the motor (similar size to the one on our other project), the motor would bog down and die with a 39 Amp load on the alternator. Without modifying the carburetor, we couldn’t keep the thing running when the load was switched in with the large size pulley.

We had excellent results with a 2 1/2″ pulley. It allowed the alternator to output voltage at even half or lower throttle settings at a slightly lower output current. So, with less than full demand, the motor speed could be reduced without killing the motor, and providing fuel savings.

Mounting the Motor and Alternator

Mounting all this stuff is the tricky part of this project. But to make things easy, we designed and manufactured a bracket to make the task simple.

The bracket is made from 1/8″ steel and has provisions for mounting the motor and alternator, and additional holes for mounting the plate to a base of your own design.

What we did for the base was cut two 2×4’s the length of the bracket, and another 2×4 as a cross brace to be installed under the bracket at the bottom of the long 2×4’s. Imagine the base as being an H. The two long pieces were installed so that the base was 4 inches in height, and the cross brace was installed on the two length wise 2×4’s at the bottom, and on it’s side so that it stood 2″ in height. That provided the necessary clearance for the belt and provided stabilization of the two side pieces. A further improvement would be to install two more short 2×4 at each end of the assembly to completely box in the rotating pulleys (for added safety).

We elected to mount the alternator in such a manor that it actually runs backwards. This simplifies the hook up and it still works. The fan still functions, but instead of pulling air through the back and exhausting through the front, the air flow direction is reversed. Also, the fan blades are not as efficient when running backwards so air flow is reduced slightly. But, remember that like in the other project, the alternator is mounted to a steel plate which also serves as a large heat sink. And from the two hour test run at 39 Amp output, the alternator case temperature was only 148 degrees (ambient temperature was 80 degrees). So, I guess what I’m saying is that it really doesn’t matter. These alternators normally spend most of their lives under the hood of cars stuck in traffic jams on hot days, and see temperatures much higher than this.

Now, getting back to the mounting issues: The lawn mower engine has a longer shaft than the alternator, and if the pulley is installed in the ideal location on the motor shaft the two pulleys do not align. So, what we found was that the alternator needs to be mounted flush on top of the bracket but the motor needs to be spaced 1″ above the mounting plate. This is easily carried out by using 1″ longer bolts, and 1″ long spacer tubes. Then the alignment of the pulleys is correct.

Wiring it up

The wiring depends on which alternator you choose. All three alternator types are shown.

Do not wire the alternator unless you are sure about what type you are using. If you make a mistake in the selection of the alternator or wiring diagram you run a very high risk of damaging your battery, electronic devices, or worse yet causing personal injury! Consult a parts professional for additional information!

This tip is intended for educational purposes only. No guarantees are expressed or implied as to the accuracy of information presented here! Consult with an automotive wiring expert before attempting to carry out any wiring.

If you are using an alternator that requires an external switch, you will need to turn off the switch prior to attempting to start the generator. If the switch is on, the generator will try to output voltage while you are pulling the starting cord on the motor. You will find that it will be nearly impossible to pull the cord! If the switch is off, then there is little to no resistance from the alternator. Once the motor is running, the switch can be set to the on position.

 

Spring is in the air and with it comes yard work. For some we have already started planting our gardens, others are tending to their chickens and most have to start cutting

Are you looking for a challenging way to put your family’s survival skills and teamwork to the test?  Nothing will assess the grit and endurance of your loved ones better than leaving behind all electronic devices, cellphones, modern conveniences, electricity, the roof over your head, and your under-appreciated toilet seat.  That’s right, head out on your very own backpacking expedition and venture out with only the supplies you are able to carry on your shoulders.

Our bear bag hanging high so our food was safe.

When my husband first proposed a family backpacking trip, I thought he had finally flipped his lid.  He wanted to take our family, myself and our young children included, on a backpacking adventure for two nights and three days.  Not only did he want us to trek through miles of secluded forest with all our food, shelter, and clothing needed for survival firmly attached to our own bodies, but he wanted us to go to the most secluded spot he could find within driving distance at a time of year when it would have the least number of other campers to give us aid or hear our desperate screams for help if the need arose.  We would be descending from 3400 feet down to 1200 feet to the river below, hiking a grueling ten miles and ascending 2200 feet on our return.  This would prove to be a challenging physical and mental feat for our children and me, but we accepted his dare.

As a family, we had car camped before at a lovely campground with showers and other amenities.  In my mind, that was hard-core survival of the fittest.  And that was as far as I imagined our family going with being one with nature.  However, I was coerced by my husband and our children had been enticed by him with the promise of extreme adventure.

Starting Off

Jetboil made boiling water simple and quick.

Before setting off we had some purchases to make.  Mainly, the backpacks and the tents.  My husband did a lot of research and found that L.L. Bean backpacks were highly rated for the money.  Upon purchasing you should pay close attention to proper fitting of the pack; it will alleviate back pain or possible shoulder injury.  The tent you need doesn’t require bells and whistles, but rather your focus should be on weight and ease of set-up.  Some backpackers like to sleep in a hammock with a tarp stretched overhead.  We chose tents because, with children, you don’t want them to spread all over the woods hanging in hammocks chattering loudly to one another late into the night.  Other purchases are listed below to help guide any fellow explorers.

He had researched everything from how to hang a bear bag to how to splint a broken bone.  Once we had all our supplies, we had to pack the bags and weigh them, keeping in mind that a person can only reasonably carry 25% of your total body weight.  I tried to claim I only weighed 75 pounds, but my husband wasn’t buying it.  Each of us carried our own sleeping bags, padding, and clothing.  Carrying your own clothing definitely quells the temptation, as a woman, to pack more than I needed.  The only toiletry I afforded was deodorant and a toothbrush.  The weight of our tents and padding obviously had to be distributed to the adult packs.  We tried making the kids carry their own, but they kept falling backwards so we relented and took the bulk of the weight.

Some important things we learned from backpacking: 

  1. If you think you have enough toilet paper and there are girls in your group, think again.  Pack more.  It doesn’t weigh much, but it is much more enjoyable than a leaf.
  2. Take a water filter with water bottles that can screw onto them. We had two MSR MiniWorks water filters which fit our Nalgene water bottles and bladders perfectly. It was also fortunate that we had two because one stopped working on the second day. 2 is 1 and 1 is none.
  3. Don’t pack a 5lb bag of Costco trail mix.  It sounds like an appropriate food choice, but it is too heavy for one person to carry. Break this out into individual bags and let each person carry their own serving. This was the last thing we ate.
  4. If you have a bad back, suck it up and purchase ample inflatable padding.  My husband had purchased the simple military-style foam padding roles and they weren’t enough to block out the rocks and roots on the trail. An inflatable mattress costs more, but it is lightweight and will keep you from aches and pains that could impede your progress and make you a miserable companion.
  5. Pack a GPS and a map encased in a Ziploc baggie.  Even if you are an expert ninja tracker, it is an excellent time to teach others in your group how to navigate. We let our children take turns getting us to the next camping spot (with our guidance) and this allowed them to learn how to read a map and recognize their surroundings.
  6. Your camp stove can make life easy or very difficult. We used a Jetboil for quick cups of coffee and effortless boiling of water (usually under 2 minutes) for our freeze-dried food. As an added bonus, this handy dandy invention will allow you to boil water if your filters go out, too. We took one canister of fuel and a spare but didn’t even use 1/2 of one canister.
  7. Lastly, but not least, first-aid is crucial.  Pack a light and basic kit. We ordered this ultra-light kit from Amazon.  You will need to play through every possible scenario in your mind and be prepared to make do with the supplies you are able to carry. We also packed a couple of extra trauma bandages and cut out some band-aids.

Into the Woods

The trek into the place where we wanted to camp took a lot of effort and teamwork.  It was a steep incline and the small rocks under our feet proved treacherous; especially with the extra weight on our backs.  We strongly advise anyone taking children on backpacking exploits to go over all the details and safety guidelines weeks before the trip.  I have always found that if you prepare them for the worst it will pay off with fewer accidents and aggravations.  We additionally drove home the well-known fact that whiney kids will attract vicious wild animals because any high-pitched exasperating sounds can be incorrectly mistaken for injured prey.  We recommend that you build multiple breaks into your destination time because smaller children need to stop more often to rest.  Our site was near a beautiful river with rocks that the kids could climb on.  Our tents were easy to assemble and set up and it was glorious to finally peel the packs off and devour a hot meal.

This was our home for 3 days.

That night, we listened to nothing but the sound of the forest and the roaring river as we drifted off to sleep.  And let me be clear, you will not sleep as well as in your own bed on a Tempur-pedic mattress, but you will be comforted by the fact that you don’t have to sleep with the pack on.  After waking early in the morning and having coffee by the campfire (is there anything better?) we set off for the next site.  Along the way, we prattled about everything under the sun, sang some ridiculous songs, admired nature, and discussed the effort it took to survive without the luxuries of home.  There were moments where we crossed over dangerous narrow paths, stepped dangerously close to venomous snakes, and we had to help another up after they took a nasty spill.  Our kids also learned invaluable lessons about survival, such as, how to make use of what nature provides, work together, and follow directions.

If you ask any of our children what one of their favorite family vacations was, they will always fondly recall our first backpacking trip and we can be somewhat assured that if push came to shove, our family could thrive when thrown into any unknown circumstance where we depended on one another for survival.

Are you looking for a challenging way to put your family’s survival skills and teamwork to the test?  Nothing will assess the grit and endurance of your loved ones better

There’s a very old and astute adage by George Santayana stating: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

How many times in the past have people condemned or criticized people that they didn’t understand for their beliefs or practices?

Let’s quickly look at just a few examples of what I mean:

In the colonial days predating our United States of America, there were women who were practiced healers, who used various extracts and potions made from various natural sources (plants and animals) to heal sick and injured people. The masses of ignorant people around them were quick to condemn what they themselves could not comprehend or understand, and called these early naturopaths ‘Witches’ and prompted rallied to have them burned at the stake.

Not more than 20-30 years ago, our so-called ‘modern’ medical institutes condemned acupuncture as hokum, and those who practiced it were labeled with many derogatory terms. Of course as of late, the masses have come to embrace the value of that ancient medical discipline.

In the movie ‘The Day The Earth Stood Still’, when the extra-terrestrial being emerged from his space ship, what did the ignorant masses do? Their first reaction was to kill what they couldn’t comprehend or understand. In reality, there are too many of those kind of people, some of whom are in places of power and or have the ability to influence many others.

Sadly, it seems that even today, we are still surrounded by people who are quite willing to demonize and condemn anything or anyone that they cannot understand, even if it is a function of their own lack of knowledge or ability. And possibly worst of all, some people are in fact intimidated by knowledge, and will openly or secretly lash-out against it.

I’m sure that some readers are already thinking that this is certainly the case with the perception of ‘Preppers’ by a lot of people, and I would have to agree, but that is not necessarily the focus of this article.

In the early 1900’s. Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was working on an amazing project that would-have allowed people and households to capture useful amounts of energy from the empty space around them without using any wires. I am not referring to solar, wind or hydroelectric power. I am talking about energy derived from electromagnetic radiation at radio frequencies (RF energy).

Back in Tesla’s day, most people laughed and thought of his idea as ‘crazy’ and scoffed at the concept calling it insane. Not to mention that such a revolutionary idea was an affront to the wealthy industrialists who were mining the copper that would be used for wiring to electrify the nations of the world. Of course today, the long-distance high-voltage transmission cables that span the north American continent are the Achilles-heel of the national electrical grid, given their vulnerability to Geomagnetic storming.

Of course, there were a few people who realized the genius of Tesla’s ideas and inventions and realized he had knowledge of things well-beyond the comprehension of most people.

And even today, there are many people who still don’t realize that you can transmit and harvest electromagnetic radiation (not solar) and that RF energy is all around us and passing through most structures as well as our bodies on a 27/7 basis.

Here is a very enlightening video that makes this particular point clearly:

As we now clearly see; there is a lot of electromagnetic energy that exists all-around us and which happens to also be passing through our bodies, our organs and our brains 24/7.

A considerable amount of that energy is produced by man-made devices and systems, which have been introduced into our environment relatively recently in terms of the historical timelines related to the evolution of biologic systems. As a result, scientists are playing a desperate game of catch-up in their attempts to assess the effects of the myriad number of frequencies of electromagnetic/RF radiation that are being continuously transmitted through the tissues and cells of our bodies and those of all the organisms around us. This is a daunting task, given that there are likely hundreds of thousands of potential cellular and chemical structures in the organic life-forms on earth, each potentially having a unique resonant frequency (the exact frequency that would stimulate a potential adverse effect).

Bioelectromagnetism is the field of study that relates to the affects and interactions between biologic organisms and electromagnetic fields. It is science-fact that electromagnetic fields can induce various effects in animals and humans, including changes in behavior. The experts in this field are just beginning to understand and realize some of the effects that are part of a much bigger picture.

There are relatively very few people who are cognizant of the foregoing situation, and who may be taking certain precautionary measures to protect themselves. Such behavior is logical and is obviously based upon solid scientific information, not unlike an x-ray technician who wears a lead apron, or places a lead blanket on a patient before giving an x-ray. (Note: Even though I am intrigued by the science, I have not started wearing any form of protection)

There are also some people who are cognizant of these same phenomena but are taking a less measured approach in prophylaxis, and hoping for the best. However as we have seen historically, hoping for the best doesn’t always pay-off.

Occasionally, you might actually see one of the people who are aware of the potential risks associated with the increased levels of man-made RF in our intimate living space and environment. These people are sometimes called the ’tin-hat’ people. Most of them are actually using metal shielding materials other than tin, which is usually camouflaged so that they remain ’stylish’ in public, where the protective shielding remains unseen by casual observers.

I have heard (and read) people make jokes about ’tin hats’ and the people who wear them. I would caution such people against making any such jokes; the people wearing the ‘tin hats’ may have the last laugh! This is the same paradigm with Preppers who are also sometimes at the brunt of many jokes, and who may also have the last laugh, so to speak.

There’s a very old and astute adage by George Santayana stating: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. How many times in the past have people condemned

The other week I stopped and stared at my pantry. Looking in on all of the cans of food, bags of rice, beans and jugs of water gives me a sense of accomplishment and a certain satisfaction in all of our prepping efforts to date. For some reason I got it into my head to arrange things because the pantry had gotten a little disorganized over time. I started by pulling every item out of the pantry and staging them in the kitchen. There were bottles all over the place of dressing –  cans of beans and tomatoes took over the kitchen table and pasta galore spilled onto the kitchen counters.

The first sign of trouble was when I grabbed some condiments from the top shelf and noticed I had mayonnaise that was 2 years past its expiration. I started going further and this was the same case with pickles and some soups, even canned fruit. Now I was worried because it was obvious my brilliant solution to all of my family’s food problems had failed miserably. The next order of business was to grab one of my kids and have them check every label on every product. This scored me a lot of points I have to say…

Hard to believe isn’t it?

Next I went back into the pantry to grab some of the larger items. We have large 50 pound bags of rice that I got from Costco for a ridiculously cheap price. I grabbed one of the bags off the top shelf to lift it up and noticed the bottom was a funny color. Actually, it looked like mold and the bag was stiff. When I pulled it down I discovered that yes, the bag was moldy. Someone, maybe I placed a one gallon jug of water on the top shelf and at some point it had leaked. The jug of water was empty and 50 pounds of rice was ruined. I don’t know how this happened, but it was a little depressing.

The first step is to admit you have a problem

Here I was, mid-way through a Saturday afternoon, my house was in chaos due to all of my food storage being distributed around the rooms and I was finding more and more food that was out of date or inedible in some fashion. Initially I was ticked off that I had let this happen. I started thinking about what all could have gone wrong with food and how foolish I would have felt if we had some crisis and I went to grab the food that was supposed to feed my family and it was all rotten. Visions of my family staring at me with angry expressions on their sunken faces started to appear. Not good.

So after I had all of the food out and verified what was really expired I realized that it wasn’t too bad. It was a good idea to do this though because I wouldn’t have found that rice probably until it was too late. What really stunk is that my super awesome system for rotating groceries was not working and again, that was my fault for assuming this was being used.

Why weren’t we rotating our food the right way? Well, it comes down to a few main reasons. The first reason is that our pantry shelves didn’t really have any rhyme or reason to how food was stored. We have a decent amount of pantry space but cans of beans were mixed in with cans of fruit and for some reason we had jars and jars of jelly that nobody was eating. When groceries got put away, there was no predetermined place or order for them to go in so they went where ever was easiest. This usually meant they all got loaded onto and taken off of one shelf. Another aspect of this is that we weren’t using the time tested FIFO system (First In First Out) so food wasn’t getting rotated like it should. Fortunately for us, this didn’t get too far out of control, but we did have to throw away some jars of food.

There were two other contributing factors to our food use and one was the way my wife shopped. She is excellent at clipping coupons and always has her coupon book out when she goes shopping. The problem was that she would buy whatever she had coupons for and didn’t take into account whether or not we needed it. For example, we had a ton of jelly like I said because they were buy one get one free so she stocked up. All of that jelly kept sitting in the pantry and items we do use, but didn’t get the same coupon attention were lacking.

Also, we eat most of our meals from fresh ingredients and my wife cooks from scratch a lot. This in combination with my daughter’s gluten intolerance caused the biggest stockpile of food we had (pasta and canned tomato sauces) to be virtually ignored for many months. What used to be a staple was forgotten and was at risk for going bad.

Starting at the beginning

It makes sense to watch the expiration dates.

Now that I had all of my food out of the pantry, I was able to sort it into groups. This is just as fun as it sounds. I put the food back into the pantry in a specific order. The item order itself doesn’t matter so much as the fact it is in order. I started clockwise in our pantry and put canned meat, then beans, soups, fruit, coffee, tomatoes, sauces, mixes and then baking items like flour, sugar and other sundries. Pasta went into the kitchen and placed in one spot and the hard to reach containers of condiments were placed back down on eye level so they could be used. Freeze dried food went in storage containers under the bed. Water was stored on the floor to prevent anything bad from happening to the rice again. I know that I would have been fine if I just stored all of the rice in 5 gallon buckets, but I haven’t gotten around to that yet and we do eat off of our rice weekly.

So I had the semblance of a system now and I started filling it in with the cans according to expiration date. The cans that were the closest to expiration went at the front of one row and it wrapped around to two or three rows if needed. The newest cans were on the left and the oldest were on the right. I didn’t throw everything out that had expired because I know you can go past the dates on most things. I wasn’t going to give Mayo a chance though… Now not only do we have a simple way of pulling the oldest food item, but we can easily place new cans in a spot that will ensure rotation.

When we go grocery shopping now, my wife can easily see what we have left and fill that up. We are also trying to cook more according to what we have and purchase what we ate, as opposed to what we want, to eat to keep the pantry stocked.

This exercise taught me a few other lessons that weekend; actually it was a weird weekend because I spent both days doing similar things. It was almost like I was a nesting bird and it was a weird compulsion that came over me. I don’t normally spend my weekends reorganizing anything but it was good that I did. This also manifested itself into a good ammo inventory but I’ll write about that on another day. Now we have a better system for storing and rotating food and a different strategy for filling our pantry. That type of understanding is extremely beneficial and ensures that you aren’t just buying a ton of supplies and shoving them in a dark corner. You instead are building a stocked larder that will be ready for you when you need it.

The other week I stopped and stared at my pantry. Looking in on all of the cans of food, bags of rice, beans and jugs of water gives me a