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Thursday, April 28, 2011


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Articles and books on survival regularly offer lists of items should be packed for emergency travel. The overwhelming majority recommend that you pack light. There are good reasons for having few items to carry when you are on the move.

You will have to keep your pack secure. This is more difficult to do if you are encumbered with a large bag. It’s good to be strong enough to heft a good bit of weight, but if your strength is used to carry your pack, you won’t have much left to protect yourself or keep track of your possessions. Additionally, a large, heavy pack is a signal to others that you are on the move. It makes you less anonymous. This can create some difficulties.

A large pack will make it difficult for you to maneuver into and out of tight spaces. If you need to catch a ride or take public transportation, you’ll need extra space for your bag. Not every Good Samaritan has a large vehicle. You’ll not be able to take advantage of two-wheeled conveyances. A smaller pack enables you to avoid storing it in a trunk or a locker. Buses will require you to place a large pack on the roof or in the cargo compartment where you can’t keep an eye on it. You can keep a small bag on your lap and avoid extra fees for a seat to hold an oversized backpack.

If you need something out of a large pack, you may find yourself having to unpack and repack it to get the desired item. The larger your pack, the more cumbersome this process becomes. This can be dangerous if you are trying to get to your medical kit. It’s just a lot easier to have to rearrange fewer and lighter items.

A smaller pack gives you the freedom and flexibility to decide which route is best for you rather than which route you can manage with your large bag. Moderate terrain can become impassable if you must manage it with a heavy pack. Any terrain is easier to traverse with a lighter pack. Rather than use up strength and stamina carrying unnecessary weight, use it to choose the journey rather than let your pack determine your route.

Take the time to notice people outdoors who are moving with freedom. The ones that participate in the most activities have the lightest and smallest packs. Learn how to make use of multiple use items as a way to lighten your load. Information weighs nothing, and it can make a vast difference in the tools you will be able to utilize.

Sean with Silver Fox Bushcraft takes the time in this clip to show what he carries in his pack for hiking and woodland exploration.

David Wendell with Bushcraft on Fire shows how you can create your own kit without a retailed pack.


Thursday, April 7, 2011


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Privacy is something that you don't realize you need until you've lost it. Here are some ways to maintain your privacy and relative safety on the internet.

You may be sharing more than just a few cute photos when you post an image on the internet. GPS enabled phones can capture images that can accurately reveal your location. All it takes is a few right clicks of a mouse for someone to copy the coordinates, paste them into Google maps and then map the shortest route to view that loved one or prized possession in person. With social network status lines, you could be revealing your CURRENT location and inviting untold numbers of strangers to join you. It’s important to be aware of this even when well-meaning family members are taking pictures of your children.

This video shows you how to disable the GPS tag on your phone photos.

This video covers some of the other dangers to revealing your location to strangers.

It is best if you don’t make public your full legal name, street address, date of birth, telephone number, or Social Security number.

If asked for your name, use initials. Scramble the letters of your name, use nicknames etc. This precaution will also give you a head's-up if you receive spam. If someone addresses you by anything other than your actual name, you will know that this is not someone you know personally.

Never make your street address public. If it is required, offer only what is necessary. Some sites only require a state or region. Adjust your security settings to keep this information private. Only make online purchases from trusted vendors as you will have to give them your address for shipping purposes.

Keep your birth date private. Sites that require your birth date often do so in order to insure you are an adult. If their security is breached, this is a key piece of personal information that someone could use to guess your social security number. Check your security settings and be sure this information is private. Consider using an online birth date that includes your birth year and an alternative month and date. Or you could use your actual month and date with the year previous or following your actual birth year. This will give the host an accurate gauge of your age without opening you up to unnecessary snooping.

Don’t reveal your home telephone number. Refrain from offering this and keep security settings private if it is included in an online profile. If someone discovers your telephone number and knows your full name and birth date, it is possible for them to use these items to add unauthorized charges to your bill.

Your social security number shouldn’t be given out unless it is absolutely necessary and to a verified financial or medical institution that you called. Always ask if you can offer an alternative number. Decline to give your number to someone that calls you.

Protect portable electronic devices with passwords. Use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Don’t tell your device to remember your user name and password. Don’t store financial information on portable devices. Always log off when you’re finished. If your laptop or phone is lost, it’s harder for someone to access your personal information or clean out your accounts.

Internet safety is basically taking the time to cultivate good habits. Posting something on the internet is just like putting something on a very public bulletin board. The time you take now to develop these habits will protect you and your family later.

Bonus tool for readers with children:
Here’s one of my favorite tools for school aged children that want to do internet research. Make Quintura for Kids the home page on your internet browser. This search engine filters out undesirable "adult" content and reviews approved sites regularly. We’ve used it successfully at our house and recommend it to other households with children. It provides a safe way for kids to do searches without awful content and images surprising them. Try Quintura for Kids out for yourself at quinturakids.com.

Note: Quintura won’t prevent users from going to inappropriate internet addresses that they know how to get to. You’ll need another type of filtering service for that application. Check out this article for some additional suggestions for user accountability helps.

Friday, April 1, 2011


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Strong emotions in charged circumstances bring about visceral responses that are not planned or calculated. These strong emotions are dominant and can cancel out intellectual responses. This is true whether you are dealing with a child delighted with a long-desired gift, a young lady surprised with a marriage proposal, an athlete celebrating a victory, or a person who finds himself in need of rescue.

An experienced teacher will tell you that all learning stops the moment a student becomes overly emotional. A distraught person can’t be expected to make considered logical choices. Whether someone is dancing in delight, or wailing in dismay, unchecked emotions make it impossible for that person to respond in a calculated, intellectual way.

I’ve recently viewed footage of people who have had their cars towed to an impound lot. These individuals must navigate a confusing maze of legal and financial requirements before taking possession of their vehicle. The circumstances are varied, but one thing is common: these people are under stress.

For those who are able to calm themselves, setting aside feelings of victimization and anger, the results are fairly straightforward. They determine what is required for the release of the vehicle, go about getting their affairs and documents in order, and then return to claim their car.

For those unable to calm themselves, the process becomes more tedious and lengthy. They direct their frustration at the workers in the office. Aggressive body language, raised voices and accusations fly back and forth as workers try to tell the car owner what he or she will need. Often, the person only hears one or two instructions before emotionally shutting down. They leave and return several times as they collect one or two of the documents they need each time. The stress level of the worker starts to rise as he or she responds to the upset customer. This leads to mistakes and omitted information on the worker’s part.

Fear impairs mental function in the form of confusion, forgetfulness, and the inability to concentrate. In this state, a person can be numbed by shock, begin to panic, or lash out in anger. When seconds count, a fearful person may cause others in his party to lose their life. It may be necessary to leave him behind for the sake of the group’s safety.

I find that the most recommendations for survival safety focus on two concepts: faith and preparation. The more important of the two is faith. Why? In survival circumstances, the truth you know about God and about man will have a powerful impact on your behavior. A person of faith won’t waste as much time second-guessing and railing against the circumstances.

Faith is the opposite of fear. Faith moves us towards life. Faith reminds us of the One in whom our trust is placed. Faith tells us that we are not alone.

Once your fear response calms, your preparation will kick in. If you’ve practiced thinking on your feet, making decisions on the fly, and dealing with various terrains, you will find yourself well-served by your time invested in these pursuits. However, if you are not able reign in your emotions, all of that preparation may likely do you no good.

I found an account of an interview of survivors of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami. The reporter stated that it occurred to her that everyone sitting in that room lived because they ran to the mountains. Those that did not move immediately died. It reminded me of the scripture that reads, “And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment” (Mark 13:15,16).

Fear used properly can be a lifesaver. As a master, fear can kill. Learn truth. Build your faith and be prepared. When circumstances seem dire, these steps will equip you to respond.

Kay is . . .

a perpetual student of things I find interesting and (I hope) helpful to others. Feel free to use and apply all information with a healthy dose of common sense. :-)

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