Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Aftershock

     I think I am getting sick of all the aftershocks.   There have been almost 100 aftershocks since the 5.8 earthquake which occurred in Central Virginia in August, 2011.    Most of those have been notated by the US Geologic Survey, as above, but many of them have not.   This is why USGS has been seen placing additional devices in various parts of the commonwealth.  Aftershocks aren't just an annoyance. Their effects are cumulative.  A road which may be fine may collapse following experiencing multiple low level quakes characterized as aftershocks.   There is lots of damage here in Central Virginia from aftershocks which are fairly close to the surface of the soil.  I am concerned that these may not be aftershocks but foreshocks, a preparation for an additional severe quake which is yet to come.

Louisa High School is a modern building.  To this day, Louisa students have an amended school schedule where buildings are shared because the damage from the quake has made using the buildings unsafe.

This is very typical damage following the initial 5.8 quake

This is the interior of the Louisa High School shown by a student, after the August quake.


This is very typical damage in Louisa


                        This is an historic home in Louisa County.   It has been braced, but is not yet repaired.

    We would like to thank:

The Central Virginia Earthquake Clearinghouse, for information and for use of some of the pictures used in this post.


See also:


Monday, January 30, 2012

Human Trafficking.......a Reality in All Walks of Life

        As I have said on this blog before, I have been blessed in a sense, with a simpler more basic linear line in which to travel in my grief over being apart here on Earth from Daniel.    Daniel passed quickly, being completely well and joyous one moment, and then absent from his body in the next.  As diligently as we worked to get him back with CPR, and as diligently as the sheriff's office and the medical helicopter staff worked, we had no moments where we got him back for even a fraction of a second.   He was gone as if called in that moment, by God.     As I have also said, as much as I miss my Dan-man, I am fully appreciative of God's gentle taking of him, and that he was always God's to call, and on "glorious rental" to me and to our family.
         Lately, I have become aware that a huge number of children, savvy young adults, young mothers, and others of all walks of life, ethnicities, and educational backgrounds have disappeared without a trace, never to be found.  Exact numbers are not quite available, and they change daily, but in the US a couple of hundred thousand people are missing, and many of them are never found.   Some of these people may have been murdered, and often when this is the case, their bodies are located in pretty short order, but many of them, are simply never heard from again. A few may commit suicide, but again, these bodies should eventually be found. A few, may simply run away, perhaps the victim of a mental health issue, a fugue, or a medical issue in which they don't quite remember who they are or how to get home.  This still leaves an AWFUL LOT of people who are missing and completely unaccounted for, often for many years,
           Sometimes, they are found, located and returned, as is the case with Elizabeth Smart, Jaycee Dugard, and others.
          According to a myriad of articles written in the past couple of years, human trafficking occurs not only with children, and pretty blond teens, but opportunistically with people of all ethnicities, different sexes, different appearances and with different educations.  Although many of them are snatched ultimately  to be used as sex workers,  many of them have been incorporated into organized crime in a variety of capacities. Apparently, a child or person is opportunistically snatched, and drugged for a period of time, often in an environment in which they are reprogrammed in a sense.   The world they knew is so far and disconnected from where they are now, that many of them begin life as a new person.  Even when they are freed or unsupervised sufficiently to call family for help, many of them never do, as they believe to do so might endanger their families.
          If this can occur when we least expect, and occurs when our children are vulnerable, or have had a celebratory drink with friends, then this is profoundly disturbing to us as parents, and as human beings.  I wanted to profile this issue and try to talk about some strategies in order to spread some awareness and perhaps locate some of these missing individuals.

        This is a paper on :  "Hiding in Plain Sight: A Practical Guide to Identifying Human Trafficking Victims in the US.   By: Prof. Donna M. Hughes


Books on this subject:

  • A Crime So Monstrous: A Shocking Exposé of Modern-Day Sex Slavery, Human Trafficking and Urban Child Markets
  • By E. Benjamin Skinner, 2008
  • The Trafficking of Persons: National and International Responses
  • By Kimberly A. Mccabe, 2008
  • Measuring Human Trafficking: Complexities and Pitfalls
  • Edited by Ernesto Ugo Savona and Sonia Stefanizzi, 2007
  • Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings: All Roads Lead to America
  • By Sheldon Zhang, 2007
  • The War on Human Trafficking: U.S. Policy Assessed
  • By Anthony M DeStefano, 2007
  • Marshaling Every Resource: State and Local Responses to Human Trafficking
  • Edited by Dessislava Dimitrova, 2006
  • Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking and Resistance
  • By Louisa Waugh, 2006

          My goal here is simple.   We need to be more attentive to the possibility that someone we know or with whom we have contact has been snatched, or has been relocated for some purpose.  Be alert to the faces of those who are missing, and be alert to things you see in your travels.  Report things that seem odd.  Sometimes, your report coupled with the report of others will result in a person finding their way home.

This is Lauren Spierer.    She has been missing from Bloomington, Indiana, since June, 2011  Contact the Bloomington, Illinois Police Department with any information..

This is Luc Joly Duroche.  He has been missing since March, 2011 from North Bay, Ontario, Canada.

North Bay police
(705) 476-8477
Ontario Provincial Police
(888) 310-1133 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Enjoyable Survivalist Comedy Film

This film was released in early 2009. This is a copywritten image and belongs to the company which produced the film. It is shown here as an endorsement of the film, as advertising for it, and therefore can be considered fair use of such.

        I had an unusual sick day today in which I spent most of the day in bed.  Being a person who likes to have a lot to do, I resorted to watching some videos in order to pass the time.
        The first one was "This is Not a Test".   This was a comedic treatment of a situation which is all too common to many families and marriages in which one partner prepares and another resists.  An intelligent man Carl, who lives in a nice area of Los Angeles becomes interested in survivalism, particularly as it relates to a potential nuclear war and resultant EMP.   Carl's wife Viv, is an upwardly mobile woman in Los Angeles City government who is invested and committed in the world, exactly as it is.  She and her friends think Carl's interest in survivalism is pathologic, and she sends him to a therapist.  Carl has more money than most of us, and in short order, he builds an emergency lead lined bunker in his basement and stocks food and a geiger counter. He not only buys a gun he registers and trains with, but a safe and gold coins to put in it also.  Not long after, Carl's safe, his coins, and his gun, are stolen by the men who delivered it, who leave Carl and his wife bound and gagged in their home.
          The film is an independent one written and directed by Chris Angel.  Tom Arnold is a principle character, plays himself and is an executive producer.. The film received multiple awards such as The Breckenridge Film Festival, The Boston International Film Festival, and the Urbanworld Film Festival.
           Interestingly, the principle actress, Robinne Lee has an undergradate degree from Yale and a  law degree from  Columbia University.  The principle actor Hill Harper, also has a law degree from Harvard. He is also a friend of Barack Obama's (although I suppose I will need to forgive him this.)  Both performances are excellent.
         Although it is a tongue-in-cheek handling of preparedness and survivalism, it does describe the challenge of families in which one spouse prepares and another resists. Eventually, this tension actually threatens their marriage, which has been the case with a number of families I know who are serious survivalists.    If you have a chance to rent or buy this film, do so.  It pokes fun at a number of things and really does foster understanding on both sides of the preparedness argument, all while entertaining us.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Notes on Building a Kennel or Kennel Complex

         On our farm, dogs are very important to us.  They keep foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, coy-dogs, dog packs, rabid animals and human beings away from our alpacas, from our ducks, our chickens, and from other dogs and cats. They let us know if someone is here, and if they shouldn't be. They would be the first line of defense in a break in situation, even before the security system went off, or the driveway alarm were to signal us. If the dogs were convinced that we were truly in danger, they would likely attack  Dogs are not only dear friends, family members and part of our farm police force.    Because they are so important, we have a considerable amount of money and effort expended in them, and in their care.
         In our area, rabies inoculations are not just the law. With rabid wild animals seen in the county with fair frequency, we are very diligent about this.   In addition, we use heartworm preventive monthly for each dog, calculated to the weight of each and veterinarian ordered.  We have annual distemper hepatitis, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and parvovirus shots done annually, usually by me, until the vet believes that they no longer need to be done annually.     (Our vet does them every three years once a dog has attained a certain age) We are considering Lyme immunizations which are now available for dogs.  We also had one dog treated a year ago for acute onset Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.  The dog is fine now.
        We have a variety of different dogs for different purposes, large, small, with different skills, because they each do different work for us.  When they age beyond their jobs, they are cared for lovingly here for the rest of their lives.  They are also all licensed as a kennel as is the law in our region.
          Proper housing is essential for all dogs.   Since our dogs are working dogs, and we live in a hot climate, what works for us may not be ideal for a colder climate.  Each farm or rural home needs to evaluate what would work best.  Until a few years ago, we kept quality doghouses outside in a variety of "stations" around the farm, making sure there was always tree shade.  The dogs were assigned and often tied to those areas for a few days, and then they would rotate to another duty station.   Sometimes they would be assigned to a region where tying was unnecessary.   This is done not only to provide mental stimulation for each dog, but to rotate them in slightly different roles, as different dogs and different breeds have varying skills.
           About two years ago, we decided we needed a place which could be heated or air conditioned and managed for elderly or sick dogs, including a quarantine area.   This also serves as a great area for dogs to rest in extreme heat, or following neutering or spaying, or during icestorms or other severe weather.   We drew up a plan over a couple of months, and had our builder create a kennel.   It also has electricity and water.  This permits bathing, and also running a radio or music from time to time, which during storms can be quite calming to dogs or to other animals. The back left room has plexiglass walls over wood, so an animal can be quarantined and the area can be cleaned with veterinary germicides afterward. This way, an infection that afflicts one dog, need not impact others.

(Photo: Copyright Rational Preparedness 2012)
This is our kennel when it was built. It is designed for seven dogs. Three large ones are housed on the right, and five small or medium are housed on the left. There are interior concrete areas inside and grassed areas within the fenced areas.  The center hall in concrete and provides electricity and a water faucet which can be attached to a hose.  There is also a room to the right, see front, where new metal trash cans keep dry dog food from mice.  The building is electrified and has overhead lighting.     For this climate, the entire structure is well ventilated, and in the back there are doors which could also be opened to allow cross ventilation.    This would be boring for a dog to remain in all the time, so they must be rotated to work stations in order to watch other animals and interact with our family.

This might be where one of our dogs may be, when he is "out working"


This is an example of a kennel for one dog.  This allows a cool place with ventilation along with a secure warm and dry area also.  This would be suitable for one or two small dogs or for one larger dog.  Keep in mind, this is not enough stimulation for a dog, and they must have opportunities to exit, run, explore and spend time with you and your family as well.  In this model, you also need to be diligent about cleaning up stool and urine.  Some small dogs will actually use a litterbox.

These are other types of kennels which may provide some ideas for you:


This is a spacious kennel designed for many dogs.  Note the painted floor which makes the cleaning of urine and disinfecting much easier than with a plain concrete floor.


This is another kennel which would nicely accomodate four dogs or slightly more smaller dogs.

The interior of the kennel above.

This is another nicely constructed kennel made for someone's boarding operation.

This kennel accomodates three large dogs.

   We custom designed our kennels  and had them built by the same company that builds our barns and animal buildings.   We were seeking a building which closely resembled the look of our different types of animal structures. However, this is not necessary.  There are many companies which sell complete plans for kennels which you can buy and build yourself, or that you can provide to your own  builder.

These are a few of them:




Keep in mind, costs can be dramatically curbed by building these structures yourself, or by being creative.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gathering Hand Tools

After amassing a good first aid kit, and putting away some emergency cash, it is a very good idea to assemble a tool kit. Even those who live in apartments need some emergency tools. In addition, should you ever move from a place where most repairs are done for you, you will need to begin acquiring some skills and this is best done gradually and slowly rather than as a crash course. Many US hardware stores sell an inexpensive kit which is probably designed as a "home warming" kit. A hammer, tape measure, ordinary and phillips head screwdrivers, and other items are enclosed. These are not professional tools, but they are a good start. Once you have a more permanent home, you might want to buy a tool once a month and learn something about how to use it. Fortunately the DIY (Do it yourself) movement which is so pervasive in the United States, caught on in Europe some time ago as well. There are classes in many places where you can learn to do some of the things necessary in terms of home maintenance and improvement.
The internet has also aided here. Many people have purchased the tools for much of their own car maintenance, and they do most of it on a regular basis. Certainly, it is not realistic for all of us to take on all of our repairs for our homes and for our cars, but if we can begin to learn something about some of it, and we can teach our children as they grow, the benefits of doing so are great.   Men are not the only individuals who need tools. Women, and even those with limited upper body strength can use tools.  My daughter has made her own wooden picture frames using a mitre, and a saw, and simple fasteners.  Many tasks in repairs do not depend upon a lot of body strength, but simply knowing how something is done, and peforming the task carefully.

This is Lowe's 204 piece mechanic's tool set which contains both standard and metric tools.  It is for sale for about US $100.00 and is a decent set for the do-it-yourselfer.

This is the 205 piece home tool kit which sells at Home Depot for about US $47.00   It also has both standard sized tools and metric and is designed to be a multi-purpose home kit.

           Apartment dwellers likely cannot disassemble their cars and change the oil, but in many villages, towns and rural areas, you could.  Many homeowners are taking on more and more in terms of automobile routine maintenance.   Professional mechanics and professional builders often buy superior tools one at a time, and depending upon your tasks and your desires, this may also be the best course to pursue for you as well. Really quality tools really can be much easier to use, and can allow the user the opportunity to develop much better stills than a cheap tool used rarely would allow.  Here on the farm we started with inexpensive assembled sets, and then moved on to one really good tool per month.   When our hand tool set was complete, we moved on to power tools, which should be the purview of another post.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Updated Information on the Diabetic Ecase

Some time ago I profiled a diabetic case.  Since that time, the case has been renamed as the Diabetic ECase. On the left you see the configuration designed for those with Type I autoimmune (juvenile diabetes)  On the right, you see the case designed for those with Type II diabetes.  I cannot overemphasize the importance of having a kit such as this which enabled diabetics and their families to not only access supplies immediately, but also to evacuate quickly in an emergency.      In communication with the inventors of the case today, I happily learned that a new foam insert for the Diabetic Ecase for insulin pump users is coming soon !       We bought one of these for our daughter who has had Type I diabetes since childhood, and she is very happy with it's construction and its exceptional quality.  Please share this information with someone you know who deals with Type I diabetes mellitus or Type II diabetes mellitus. This also makes a wonderful and thoughtful gift for someone you love.

Asthma, cardiac, and other Ecases are in development and are coming soon.

To order: $59.99 for each case


A great overview: http://med-ecase.com/

The company is:

Essential Preparedness Products

2955 Harrison Blvd. Ste 101
Ogden, UT 84403

Phone: 855-377-6333

Email: info@med-ecase.com

America a Laughing Stock Even Among Friends

This tongue in cheek video is amusing in spots, has some inappropriate and vile language.

The last few years of US politics has been even more difficult for the rest of the country to understand. To be frank, it's been difficult for those of us who grew up and were educated here to fathom as well.

The United States has some Laws, Rules and Protections that are not well understood in other nations. Until recently, our Constitution was king, and every law, federal, state or municipal could not stand against the protections as outlined in our Constitution. There are a couple of ways of thinking about the Constitution. One is that it is the basis for all US Law and that in original form, it was as near a perfect document as has ever been written, and that all laws which follow must not violate the principles of our US Constitution. The other way of thinking is espoused by the Obama administration. They believe the US Constitution to be an archaic document which simply no longer applies and therefore can be ignored. This has left our country as a place where Constitutionalists and anti-Constitutionalists battle over most everything. Sadly, it just seems to me that despite Obama's education, he simply doesn't seem to understand the US Constitution very well.

This is a link to the document, and information also:


They do however, correctly evaluate the situation,

"If your neighbor's house is on fire and the fire is peeling your paint, you can either open the marshmallows or grab a hose. This is one man's attempt to grab a hose."

His comment about "uneducated people from Southern borders coming to take their jobs (in Canada) is inaccurate. Canada voraciously protects its jobs from non-Canadians. Only those who enter using the stringent and difficult immigration progress may enter and stay in Canada.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Important Preparations and Evaluation of Hazards in Advance of Earthquakes

        Just in case you're wondering. We are still having aftershocks here in Virginia. This week alone, we had three aftershocks, a 2.0, a 2.5 and a 2.5 .     These don't sound too terrible, but they have never ceased since the initial 5.8 earthquake on August 28, 2011, and constant aftershocks will do damage to homes, wells, barns, fireplaces, chimneys, and foundations if they continue, and continue they have. These keep all of us in just a slightly nervous state and they keep the animals wound a little tighter than they would be normally also.  My indoor cat has been positively hostile and I have joked that he might be part pitbull. (Except that every pitbull I have ever encountered has been a sweet and gentle dog, and the cat is a ferocious feline.)
       I thought it might be a good time to examine how we might anchor heavy furniture, televisions, and things like glassware that could injure people as it falls.

This is the kind of thing we all worry about.
   I had planned to write a long and inspired article for you, but as I did my research I found a concise article, I would like to call to your attention.   This was penned by www.energystar.gov  and most recently appeared in its entirety in:  http://www.neighborhoodlink.com/article/Safety/Home_Hazards_Earthquake

      (Their work product appears within the double-lines)

Inspecting for Possible Home Earthquake Hazards

An important step in earthquake preparedness is to inspect your home and its surroundings for possible hazards and then take action to lessen those hazards. Remember: anything can move, fall, or break during an earthquake or its aftershocks.
The following is a basic checklist to help you identify and correct possible home hazards.

Check Each Room

Look for the following hazards in each room:
  • Windows and other glass that might shatter
  • Unanchored bookcases, cabinets, refrigerators, water heaters, and other furniture that might topple
  • Heating units, fireplaces, chimneys, and stoves that could move or fall
  • Areas that could be blocked by falling debris

Securing Appliances

  • Secure your large appliances with flexible cable, braided wire, or metal strapping.
  • Install flexible gas and water connections on all gas appliances. This will significantly reduce your chances of having a major fire after an earthquake.
  • Brace and support air conditioners, particularly those on rooftops.
The typical water heater weighs about 450 pounds when full. In an earthquake, the floor on which it is standing tends to move out from under the heater, often causing it to topple. The movement can also break the gas, electric, and water-line connectors, posing fire or electric shock hazards, and can shatter the glass lining within the water heater.
Here are two suggestions on how to secure your water heater:
  • Wrap at least a 1 /2-inch wide metal strap around the top of the water heater and attach it to wall studs with 3-inch lag screws. Attach another strap about 2/3 of the way down from the top of the water heater. OR...
  • Wrap steel plumber's tape around the entire water heater at least twice. Then secure the tape to two different wall studs with 3-inch lag screws.

Securing Items in the Bathroom

Replace glass bottles from your medicine cabinet and around the bathtub with plastic containers.

Hanging and Overhead Items

  • Inspect and anchor overhead light fixtures, such as chandeliers.
  • Move heavy mirrors and pictures hanging above beds, chairs, and other places where you sit or sleep. Otherwise, anchor these items with wire through eyescrews bolted into wall studs. Or place screws on both sides, top, and bottom of the frame and screw these into the studs.
  • Determine whether the full swing of your hanging lamps or plants will strike a window. If so, move them.
  • Secure hanging objects by closing the opening of the hook.
  • Replace heavy ceramic or glass hanging planters with light-weight plastic or wicker baskets.

Shelves, Cabinets, and Furniture

  • Identify top-heavy, free-standing furniture, such as bookcases and china cabinets, that could topple in an earthquake.
  • Secure your furniture by using "L" brackets, corner brackets, or aluminum molding to attach tall or top-heavy furniture to the wall eyebolts to secure items located a short distance from the wall
  • Attach a wooden or metal guardrail on open shelves to keep items from sliding or falling off. Fishing line can also be used as a less-visible means of securing an item.
  • Place heavy or large objects on lower shelves.
  • Use Velcro-type fastenings to secure some items to their shelves.
  • Secure your cabinet doors by installing sliding bolts or childproof latches.

Hazardous Materials

Identify poisons, solvents, or toxic materials in breakable containers and move these containers to a safe, well-ventilated storage area. Keep them away from your water storage and out of reach of children and pets.

Inspecting and Securing Your Home's Structure

Examine the structural safety of your house. If your house is of conventional wood construction, it will probably be relatively resistant to earthquake damage, particularly if it is a single-story structure.
For information on structural safety standards and qualified contractors in your area, contact your city or county government office on community development or building code enforcement.
The following suggestions will take an investment of time and money but will add stability to your home. If you want to do the work yourself, many hardware or home-improvement stores will assist you with information and instructions.


Check to see if your house or garage is securely fastened to the foundation. (If your house was built before 1950, it probably does not have bolts securing the wood structure to the concrete foundation.) If your house is not secured to the foundation, take the following steps:
  • Using a hammer drill and carbide bit, drill a hole through the sill plate into the foundation. Holes should be approximately 6 feet apart.
  • Drop a 1/2- x 7-inch expansion bolt into each hole and finish by tightening the nut and washer.

Beams, Posts, Joists, and Plates

Strengthen the areas of connection between beams, posts, joists, and plates using the following hardware:
  • "T" and "L" straps
  • Mending plates
  • Joist hangers
  • Twin post caps
  • Nails and lag screws
Pay particular attention to exposed framing in garages, basements, porches, and patio covers.

Roof and Chimney

  • Check your chimney or roof for loose tiles and bricks that could fall in an earthquake. Repair loose tiles or bricks, as needed.
  • Protect yourself from falling chimney bricks that might penetrate the roof, by reinforcing the ceiling immediately surrounding the chimney with 3/4-inch plywood nailed to ceiling joists.

Learning to Shut Off Utilities

  • Know where and how to shut off utilities at the main switches or valves. Check with your local utility companies for instructions.
  • Teach all family members how and when to shut off utilities.


  • An automatic valve (Earthquake Command System) is commercially available that will turn the gas off for you in the event of an earthquake.
  • After an earthquake, DO NOT USE matches, lighters, or appliances, and do not operate light switches until you are sure there are no gas leaks. Sparks from electrical switches could ignite gas, causing an explosion.
  • If you smell the odor of gas, or if you notice a large consumption of gas being registered on the gas meter, shut off the gas immediately. First, find the main shut-off valve, located on a pipe next to the gas meter. Use an adjustable wrench to turn the valve to the off position.


After a major disaster, shut off the electricity. Sparks from electrical switches could pose a shock or fire hazard. Carefully turn off the electricity at the main electrical breaker in your home.


Water may be turned off at either of two locations:
  • At the main meter, which controls the water flow to the entire property; or
  • At the water main leading into the home. (Shutting off the water here retains the water supply in your water heater, which may be useful in an emergency.)
Attach a valve wrench to the water line. (This tool can be purchased at most hardware stores.) Also, label the water mains for quick identification.

(end of Energystar.gov work product)

  Additional words from Jane:

    I would like to add that FEMA is recommending that anyone who has experienced an earthquake should have their brick chimney inspected before using it, EVEN IF EVERYTHING LOOKS FINE TO YOU.   The same is true of a metal chimney vent as is used in a vented gas logs system.    Carbon monoxide poisoning and death is possible when someone uses a chimney without knowing that there may be a minute crack somewhere not easily seen.  Remember that a good inspection may disrupt your home, and may take apart a few things.  Unfortunately, this is necessary.

Teaching Your Children to Think Defensively


    Many people have a lot of difficulty teaching their children to think defensively, despite the fact that experts agree that this is necessary, and part of the training you should be providing to your children. A parent's first job is to keep his child safe, and this means providing them with some  instruction as to exactly how to do this.   Teaching your child about safety begins when they are small.  What makes us all so uncomfortable is that we are trying to raise our children within the illusion of a safe environment in which they will want to go forth into the world and take some chances there and be successful in it, while simaltaneously admitting that in some ways, the world can be a very dangerous place.  In addition, a lot of people have difficulty talking about "stranger danger" without being able to answer questions about what the kidnapper might do to the child following the kidnapping. The goal here is keeping safe from everyone from bullies to those who would abduct a child, without instilling such fear in your child that he/she are afraid to go to school, or worse, afraid to live a life. We must expose them to the possibilities while providing balance also.
     The way I chose to do this with our children is not based on any particular statistics, but it conveyed what I was trying to put across.  I told them when they were small that 90% of people would never do anything to hurt a child, and many of them would risk their lives to save a child they had never met. However, 10% of people would hurt a child due to some kind of mental illness.  I illustrated the ten percent point using M&Ms candy, but you can use Smarties or whatever you would like. I also made clear that not every person who has a mental illness is a threat to children.  Over the years I have found discussions which occur with small amounts of candy as a teaching tool, particularly effective........even if you can work it in somehow to college classes.   Since we never know who the ten percent of people who would hurt a child are, we have to be careful with everyone, and we follow certain rules.
           Children are natural helpers, and they love to help everyone including adults. The first thing they should be taught is that it is not appropriate for an adult to ask a child for help.  A child can certainly call a parent to call police for someone, but if a person the child does not know, appears with a dog leash, and says, "Can you help me look for my dog ?"  then the child needs to recognize this as a red flag, run home and report this to a parent at once.   This leads me to a second point.   Do not ever assume that because someone has a "prop" of some kind that they are who they have indicated.   A man with a leash may not be looking for a dog at all.  A man in a wheelchair may be perfectly capable of standing and attacking you.  Children need to be taught that sometimes, a prop is a prop and that things are not as they seem.  They also need to know that it is alright to be rude to an adult.    Certainly, I would like my children when they were small, to be polite to people I work with, as we encounter them shopping perhaps, but children should not be fearful of retribution from you, should they not linger or speak to people that they may not really know.  It's ok for them to be rude or abrupt and get away, if they do not recall this person.   A child should never go closer to a vehicle when the adult "asks them for directions".     A child must never go anywhere with an adult they do not know, or allow themselves to be picked up by someone who does not know your family's secret code word.     Teach your child to trust himself.  When your child has a feeling that something is not right, or someone makes them uncomfortable, then they should be taught to retreat and report this to you.   Children are bright people, and when their, or for that matter, your intuitiive feeling is that something about a teacher, a priest, or someone else is not right, this should be considered.   This also paves the way for your child to tell you other things they feel uncomfortable about.  Make sure you create a place in your home in which you will listen to their concerns without laughing or belittling them, because sometimes, their perception of something, might not be accurate.  Remember that boys as well as girls need to be taught all of these things as well, in fact, they may need even clearer instruction because we are less likely culturally in general, to validate the intuitive worries of our boys, than we are girls.
          I have also spoken of the code word our family used, in which we indicate that it is time for the entire family to retreat without explanation from an event or area. It can be "called" by a child or an adult, and once the family has withdrawn from the area, only then do they need to indicate why they called the family withdrawal code.  Sometimes they have seen a man with a gun, or someone who frightened them, or something else.  First, we keep our family safe, and then we investigate whether we need to call police for some reason.  In all the years we had this program in place, it was never abused, and called only a couple of times, appropriately.    All of their lives you need to be teaching your children to be observant. They should notice license plates.  They should notice a car which appears to follow them.  They should notice any adult who seems too friendly or too interested in them when an adult is not present.   This is tough for me because I love children and would normally like to talk to them, however, we must teach them that it's only appropriate for a stranger to engage a child in a conversation when their parent is present, unless the adult is a teacher of theirs or a coach.    A child should be taught that a request to keep a secret is a red flag.  Certainly, a father asking you not to divulge mom's gift to her is an innocent secret, whereas, a stranger saying, "Don't tell your mother I gave you this special candy."........might not be.       Children should be taught not to eat or drink anything given to them by people they do not know.   It's also good training not to leave your drink exposed, leave for the bathroom, and then return to it.   Many a young lady has been drugged in a bar in such a scenario.     Children should learn to travel in groups of twos or threes.  Most abductions occur when a child is alone, and the other children would therefore be unable to provide a description of the abductor.  Here in the Us in the last few years, there has been an overestimation of the things a child can do safely by themselves in the last few years.  Children may be incredibly intelligent and capable academically, but when you leave a child alone, there are many things which could happen in your home that a child would be totally ill prepared to manage safely. Make sure that you consider the intellectual and emotional capabilities of a child as well as the legal guidelines when making decisions about leaving your child at home, and for how long.   When you leave two children at home, you might be leaving a more dangerous situation  in play, than you would be with one, as siblings often will not listen to each other, and a younger one will often not accept the authority of an older child, even in an emergency.   Consider all these things when making your decisions.
               When you select babysitters, whether they are temporary or long term for larger pieces of the day than simply an evening, check them out thoroughly.  You are leaving your most important assets with them.  Sadly, children have been molested, raped, and murdered by a babysitter who seemed "like a nice person my neighbor used as a sitter".    Of course, most babysitters would do a great job, but you don't initially know who those are, as opposed to who those aren't.

        In conclusion, a child doesn't need to be terrified of the world in order to be safe.  In fact, if you relate this information, piece by piece, they will garner something quite different.  They will feel empowered as they understand that they can be important parts of keeping themselves safe.  They will also see evidence of the truth, which is that they are the most valuable concerns that you, their parents, have on Earth.

UPDATE:     January 23, 2012

Following my writing this post, the following article was published telling of a young girl who saved her own life. She took the opportunity she was given, and escaped.

Girl Who Outsmarted Alleged Kidnapper: 'I Got my Fight From Daddy'

A 9-year-old girl is getting credit for her quick thinking and for speaking up after managing to escape from her alleged kidnapper last week.   Calysta Cordova was reported missing Thursday afternoon by her mother when she didn't come home from school. Authorities believed she was abducted on her walk home and issued an Amber Alert. "My baby girl always walks through my door at 3:21 p.m. I noticed something was wrong, when she was nine minutes late...I called everyone, I panicked," said Steven Ryno, Calysta's stepfather."We must find her, that was the main thing that was kicking through our head. It is getting late, it is getting dark, it is getting cold, and I know my baby is hungry," said Ryno, recounting the incident.
Calysta was found safe Friday at the Circle K convenience store in Colorado Springs, according to ABC News' Denver affiliate KMGH. Colorado Springs police spokeswoman Barbara Miller told KMGH that authorities believe Calysta was in a car with 29-year-old suspect Jose Garcia when the car broke down.
A passerby picked them up and drove them to the Circle K convenience store, police said. There, Calysta ran into the store and asked for a phone, saying she wanted to call her uncle. Instead, she called 911.
When asked how she found the strength to do what she did, Calysta said in an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America," that she "got my fight from Daddy."Calysta said her father taught her "to stand up for myself.""She had two black eyes, bruises on her cheek," witness Efrin Villapondo told KMGH. "She was in bad shape. The bruise on her face was enormous."When Garcia entered the store, Calysta defiantly refused to go anywhere with him, yelling, "I'm not going anywhere with you. I'm waiting for my mom," according to police. "She looked at me, pointed into my eyes and just said, 'I ain't going nowhere. I'm waiting right here for my momma. I looked at the guy, he looked at me, into my eyes, spun around and just high-tailed it out of there," said Efrin Villapando, a witness.Garcia took off on foot before police arrived. Calysta was transported to Memorial Hospital to be treated for her injuries.Garcia was found at a bus stop in downtown Colorado Springs, about 7.5 miles south of the convenience store where they had been dropped off.KMGH was on-scene when Calysta's mother Stephanie Cordova discovered her daughter had been found safe. As the family shrieked and cried with joy, Cordova took a moment to thank all the family's supporters.
"Thank God. Thank you for everybody who watched, who kept an eye out for my daughter and brought her home," Cordova said, crying. "Thank you for your kindness, for putting yourselves in our shoes and bringing my daughter home."

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Enemy Expatriation Act


    I am not, nor have I ever been, a political person. I would prefer that you make your own political choices, and leave me to mine. I am sure we have common ground, and I am sure that there are fine points on which we differ, and that is fine with me. Our differences of opinion are what fuels new ideas and new directions, and for the longest time, this was one of the beauties of America.  In America, we could disagree, and still be American. We would exercise our difference of opinion when we voted, and to some degree in how we chose to spend or invest our money.
                      The article below is very disturbing. The nation in which I have grown and adapted in, now is run by those who think that the U.S. Constitution is an outdated, archaic, historical document.  They have whittled away at it in the past several years in ways in which we cannot even fully anticipate.  There are repeated attempts to quell the thoughts and ideas of those who differ presently from our government, which admittedly is the most unpopular in my memory. Heaven forbid we think differently than those in power ! Heaven forbid we think at all !
  Again, as the boom continues to fall, this is why Americans are looking for places to live outside the United States, and why many of them, don't think they will come back.

New Bill Known As Enemy Expatriation Act Would Allow Government To Strip Citizenship Without Conviction

January 6, 2012
 First, Congress considered the National Defense Authorization Act, sections of which gave the President the authority to use the military to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans without trial or charge. The language was revised because of strong condemnation from the American people. But now a new bill has emerged that poses yet another threat to the American citizenry. Congress is considering HR 3166 and S. 1698 also known as the Enemy Expatriation Act, sponsored by Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Charles Dent (R-PA). This bill would give the US government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship without being convicted of being “hostile” against the United States. In other words, you can be stripped of your nationality for “engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.” Legally, the term “hostilities” means any conflict subject to the laws of war but considering the fact that the War on Terror is a little ambiguous and encompassing, any action could be labeled as supporting terrorism. Since the Occupy movement began, conservatives have been trying to paint the protesters as terrorists.

The new law would change a part of US Code 1481 which can be read in full here. Compare 3166 to 1481 and the change is small. The new section makes no reference to being convicted as it does in section (7). So even though the language of the NDAA has been revised to exclude American citizens, the US government merely has to strip Americans of their citizenship and the NDAA will apply. And they will be able to do so without convicting the accused in a court of law.
I hope I’m wrong, but it sounds to me like this is a loophole for indefinitely detaining Americans. Once again, you just have to be accused of supporting hostilities which could be defined any way the government sees fit. Then the government can strip your citizenship and apply the indefinite detention section of the NDAA without the benefit of a trial. This certainly must be questioned by American citizens. The way these defense obsessed Republicans think, our rights are always in danger of being taken away.
   (End of article written by Steven D. Foster, Jr.)
Originally found:

 ( I have included the actual law below, courtesy of Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute)

§ 1481. Loss of nationality by native-born or naturalized citizen; voluntary action; burden of proof; presumptions

(a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—
(1) obtaining naturalization in a foreign state upon his own application or upon an application filed by a duly authorized agent, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
(2) taking an oath or making an affirmation or other formal declaration of allegiance to a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after having attained the age of eighteen years; or
(3) entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state if
(A) such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States, or
(B) such persons serve as a commissioned or non-commissioned officer; or
(A) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years if he has or acquires the nationality of such foreign state; or
(B) accepting, serving in, or performing the duties of any office, post, or employment under the government of a foreign state or a political subdivision thereof, after attaining the age of eighteen years for which office, post, or employment an oath, affirmation, or declaration of allegiance is required; or
(5) making a formal renunciation of nationality before a diplomatic or consular officer of the United States in a foreign state, in such form as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State; or
(6) making in the United States a formal written renunciation of nationality in such form as may be prescribed by, and before such officer as may be designated by, the Attorney General, whenever the United States shall be in a state of war and the Attorney General shall approve such renunciation as not contrary to the interests of national defense; or
(7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.
(b) Whenever the loss of United States nationality is put in issue in any action or proceeding commenced on or after September 26, 1961 under, or by virtue of, the provisions of this chapter or any other Act, the burden shall be upon the person or party claiming that such loss occurred, to establish such claim by a preponderance of the evidence. Any person who commits or performs, or who has committed or performed, any act of expatriation under the provisions of this chapter or any other Act shall be presumed to have done so voluntarily, but such presumption may be rebutted upon a showing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the act or acts committed or performed were not done voluntarily.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Issues of Self Defense

This is a gymnasium room very similar to the one in which we took self defense classes.


A co-ed self defense class

   When I was in college, I needed a physical education elective each semester, and this could be a challenging thing. Many times, the sport I might consider would coincide with a class which was mandatory for me.  One semester, I took a course on self defense, as a physical education elective.  Like many of the courses in the physical education division at that time, it was lower credit than the other courses I was taking, and I believed it would be easy for a "great student like me".  To this day I recall that this particular class took more from me that semester, than any other class I was taking.  The professor had a Ph.D in psychology, and had had a colorful life prior to being a professor, not the least of which included having a third degree black belt in one or more of the martial arts.   I still remember some classes where we did calisthenics for the entire class period. I lost eight pounds that semester, even though I didn't need to, and I put on muscles I  never had before.  When we were all terrified that he might continue what seemed like boot camp, he moved on to psychologic aspects of self defense.  Our best tool in staying safe is truly being observant. We need to mentally note the cars, the people, and what comprises normal during our daily activities. Then, we need to be able to notice deviations from this.   Then, we need not to talk ourselves out of the idea that the person watching us might be entertaining robbing us, or even abducting us.  Once this is done in places we frequent, we need to adapt this thinking to travel and to visits to cities. The class was spellbound as our professor related the number of times, particularly in New York City when he went to university there, he was a victim of an attempted robbery or perhaps even an attempted abduction.  His first line of defense is that we should remain physically fit.  The importance of the ability to run should never be underestimated.  We were encouraged to throw a dummy wallet in one direction and then run in the other.  We were also given a primer in Tae Kwon Do, which was also quite helpful. We were also taught to use whatever materials were available to us should we be forced to fight.  The course which was to have been simple filler for me that semester became one of the most important courses I have ever taken.  The principles I learned that semester have kept me safe in various cities and situations in the US, in Europe and ultimately in both Vladivostok and Moscow in Russia.  I taught all of the strategies I learned to our children, and when our children thought someone might be following them, rather than telling them they were mistaken, we considered the idea that they were correct and reported their concern and what they had seen to local police.  Our watchfulness prevented the abduction of one of our children when he was a baby, here in the US.
               In this post, I have discussed the importance of physical fitness, being observant, tossing the ideas of normalcy bias (He can't be planning to rob me, can he ?), and of taking some type of a self defense course. It's also very important to teach all of these skills, including the filing of a "flight plan" to your children before they go out, so they can keep as safe as possible also.  It is also important to consider everywhere you are, which items around you could be used defensively.   A metal trashcan lid can be used defensively as well as a weapon. A desk in a college classroom can also be used as a block.  Consider what you have around you as you travel through your own life.
             Recently, I learned that my former professor is still teaching.  He likely has no idea how valuable his class was to me, or to my family, or to students of mine in the present day.

Even a normal umbrella can be an amazing self defense weapon.  This one has some hidden features.

         In additional future posts I will discuss strategies for teaching your children to remain safe and also the possibilities of different types of weaponry.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Unexpected Loss of a Child and Other Tragedies

Ian Burnet, as of this date remains missing without a trace.
    In life, we can prepare for many things. We can ease our family's passage through challenging times by making preparations and plans, and therefore make our own journey through life easier in the long run. There are however, events and circumstances that none of us can effectively plan for, and unfortunately, this discussion belongs in a preparedness forum.   This week a Virginia family with whom we have been in contact is missing their honor student son who is just a year shy of graduating with an electrical engineering degree. Ian Burnet, a 22 year old student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, visited New York City with friends, just after Christmas. He disappeared just before New Years Eve. A police investigation has revealed that they believe that Ian had a prior history of suicide attempts, but this was uinknown to his 25 year old brother, who by all accounts is his best friend, and was unknown to his parents, who are involved and loving parents who have proudly stood while their son has lived independently in an apartment for years now. I am not sure I believe the story about prior suicide attempts.    If you see someone who looks like Ian Burnet, please go to www.findianburnet.com  where police contact information and full details are given.  Certainly by now, he could be anywhere.

Our youngest son Daniel,   The blog devoted to Daniel and his concerns.

           With Ian Burnet missing and his parents working hard to coordinate all they must do to get the word our to media, I can't help but recall what it was like to have our own youngest son die suddenly.  I have mentioned before, that three years ago, our youngest son, who had ostensibly no significant prior medical history, experienced a cardiac arrest which was resistant to CPR, and died here on the farm.  The medical ICU helicopter and local sheriff's office tried hard, following our own immediate CPR, but we could not save Daniel.  Daniel started the morning completely well planning Christmas shopping and asking us to get up in order to go. He ate cornflakes for breakfast, then walked into the bathroom, collapsed and died.  He heard the crash and entered immediately to help. Daniel had a negative autopsy and medical examiners surmise that Daniel experienced a sudden heart rhythm disturbance.  He had played soccer the day before, and seemed well, but a number of cardiac conduction disorders can produce death in a child who apparently appears healthy otherwise.  Of course, this will be a course of repeated sorrow throughout our lives as we miss Daniel, as our other children pass through the milestones of life.

         I mention both of these very severe and very different losses here on a survival/preparedness forum for a couple of reasons.  Each of us are here on this Earth in a somewhat precarious fashion, whether we choose to think about this, or believe it to be true.  Although each of us hope to pass through life without tragedies befalling our families, somethings they still do.   I would like to go over some practical things which could make differences should you or your family ever experience a tragedy from any source.

1.  Make sure that particularly fathers and mothers in your family have a Will.   Many families have lost a great deal or paid large sums to attornies when the laws in their nation favored the state, rather than their family following a tragedy or a sudden death.   My own aunt died intestate (without a Will) in England.  Her assets were divided by the state and included relatives she had not seen or spoken to(or liked very much)  in thirty years.  The final distribution would likely not have been her wish.   Any young adult with any assets whatsoever should have a Will.  It's fairly easy when your potential passing is imagined to be far in the future, to consider and to write one's Will.  Many US States allow a typed or handwritten Will, especially in a simple circumstance, which is simply notarized.

2.   Both fathers and mothers should have life insurance.  Unless you have pre-existing medical problems, term life insurance can be surprisingly inexpensive. When a mother or father dies, money for funerals, bills, college, and to pay off a mortgage can be a Godsend, especially for a family which may not function as smoothly as it once did.

3.   Make sure that everyone you love knows that they are.  Life's losses and sorrows are easier to bear when you know that the person you have lost knows how valued and how loved they were while you were lucky enough to have them with you here on Earth.

4.  Cultivate your faith. It doesn't matter to me which faith you embrace.  I have no particular interest in seeing to it that the world practices the faith I have chosen.  I do care that you have one however, because it makes surviving possible after a loss in which your continued survival is not necessarily assured. We once had friends who lost their three children in a fire. They survived as a direct result of their faith.  As older parents, they went on to have two additional children, but never to forget the three who await them later in Heaven.

5. Avoid financially overextending your family.  When we overextend financially, as in buy a home in a more expensive area than we can afford, or buy a more expensive car, we lock ourselves into a more stressful existence than we might otherwise.   When distracted or financially stressed, we are more likely to miss prompts to evacuate our region preemptively, or  take someone to a physician "on a hunch".  We need time, in this life, to listen to our positive impulses and intuitions, and we block these when we are financially stressed.

6. If you do experience a terrible loss of some kind, please know that the God who made us all, still loves you. He loves you whether you practice your regions favorite faith, or whether you have memorized stretches of scripture, or whether you are as perfect a person as God intended you to be.  Human beings are tremendously resilient creatures, and suicide by active means, or by default, is still a permanent solution to often temporary problems.

       I hope you have found some encouragement with regard to something said here today.