Thursday, January 31, 2013

Save the Date! North Alabama Tournament Anglers OPEN

One of my favorite events of the year is the NATA Open. They do a fantastic job of hosting this event. The staff at Goose Pond are fantastic as well.

If you would like info on Nata, go here.

For the 3rd year that I have fished it, it will be out of Goose Pond on Lake Guntersville. The date is February 23rd from Safe Light Until 3pm.

The cost is $65 per boat which includes Big Fish

The payout is a  guaranteed $1,000 for 1st, $500 for 2nd, $250 for 3rd and $150 for 4th.

I've already sent in my money!

Here are the flyers:

For Sale: 2005 GMC Yukon Denali

Hey all! It's time for a new ride. I will be getting a newed version of my current tow vehicle. But, I need to sell this one first.
2005 GMC Yukon Denali
Fully Loaded (Rear DVD player, Touch screen navigation, sunroof)
335HP/375TQ 6.0L V8
Front and Rear Disc brakes
$12,000 FIRM.[/b]
This price is dead between the KBB "Very Good" and "Excellent". It certainly meets  "Very Good" standards as they define it at this mileage.

Right at 160,000 miles
Bought at 100,000 on December 20th, 2010
Bought a brand new set of top of the line BFGs less than two years ago from Alabama Wholesale. They show no wear. Has a full size BGF spare.
Has no leaks. Burns virtually no oil. I have towed bass boats with it, but nothing bigger. Before I bought it, it didn't even have the towing package hooked up.
It gets 15mpg in the city, slightly better on the highway.
I went hunting for this exact vehicle. I wanted 2nd row captains chairs, DVD player, AWD, disc brakes, and the bigger motor. It took me a long time to find one that I felt good about. It has been easily the best vehicle I have owned. I have had ZERO mechanical issues. I have done regular maintenance on it. It's time for something new. I would rather sell than play the trade in game.

Issues: Typical GM gauge problems. Tach is slightly off, Gas gauge is off (but digital works fine).
5-disc changer needs to be cleaned. I spilled coffee in it and it needs to be cleaned. The single disc still works perfectly.
The interior has its fair share of stains. I have 3 kids and we have driven this car across the country. It stays dirty . It is what it is.
Leather has no rips or tears. Driver seat bolster is worn pretty good.
Some rock chips, 1 ding where an idiot cousin's kid threw a pebble at the car
Small scrape from the boat ramp, could be buffed. It's about 10 inches long.
Don't need to sell. Won't sell it for less. It's an absolutley fantastic SUV. I am simply getting a newer one. I might consider heavy cash plus small trade. I need at least $9,000 cash. While you may be wary of the mileage, keep in mind that these engines aren't exactly expensive. My plan all along was to throw a new motor or trans in it if it needed it.
Feel free to PM, call, or text.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mystery Tacklebox Review for January 2013

Where has January gone? I admit that it has been tough to get out there and use my January box from Mystery Tacklebox. The weather has been hit and miss. I have been traveling for NASA. I have 3 kids...yadda yadda. But...that doesn't stop me from my obligation to review! I said I would, and I am man of his word. So, in case you have missed the other ones:

My Original Review
Last Months Review

This month featured these baits:
  1. River2Sea Dahlberg Clackin' Crayfish
  2. Evolve Rx VibraGRUB
  3. Stanley Itzabug
  4. Gambler Cane Toad
  5. Mustad Ultra Lock EWG Hook

River2Sea Dahlberg Clackin' Crayfish 90
What a cool bait! About a realistic bait as they come. You rig by the split ring on the rail.

What I like about this bait: It's extremely realistic. It's counter weighted in the right spot so that the claws and whiskers suspend while the back in maintains contact with cover. It's rigged properly to mimic true motion.

What I am not so sure about: Durability of the front end of the bait. The back in is hard while the torso, head, and claws are plastic. I am concerned about hanging it up. I will be using this on rip-rap primarily and dragging it. The hook is in a perfect place to hook almost everything. Now, they did consider this by adding a guard.

The price: according to Tacklewarehouse is $9.99 for the 90 version and $12.99 for 2 baits. Now, I don't know about you, but that's a good chunk for something that hugs the bottom. However, I am certain this will absolutely crush the fish. Like everything else, that's a tradeoff.

Evolve Rx VibraGRUB
Flutter baits are a new thing to me. But, I can immediately think of some uses for it. The appendages make it perfect for moving a lot of water, and that makes me think of stained and muddy water. According to Evolve, it's the first of it's kind. That may be right, as I have never seen one like it. It has no scent added.

What I like about it: It has a large surface area and will move a lot of water. It's versatile enough to use as a T-rig, C-rig, drop shot, etc. I think it's best use is weightless. Throw it out, let it flutter down, pop it, repeat. The body isn't very soft, which I like. It will last longer. The appendages are just right.

What I am not so sure about: Use in finesse situations. It makes a lot of movement in current or during your own motion. Though, this is a very dependant thing. I question what it will do in very still water if you dead stick it.

The Price: according to TackleWarehouse, qty 6 of the 4'' costs you $5.19. Not bad.

Stanley Itzabug
Stanley brings you their adaptation of the creature bait. It's back end is very unique and it's appendages are close...but just slightly different..than it's competitors.

What I like about it: It's just a LITTLE different. Just enough. It's a little bulkier than most of it's competitors, which I like. I sometimes feel that the body of some creature baits isn't wide enough to hold a hook for very long. The ridges on the back end will give a realistic feeling to fish, causing them to hold on to it longer.

What I am not so sure about: Well, it's easy to find on Tacklewarehouse, but I have never seen it anywhere else, at least in our chain stores. Other than that, it's a pretty standard creature bait. It has a very loud plastic scent. I don't really care for that.

The Price: According to BassPro, a pack will run you $4.29.

Gambler Cane Toad
Gambler has the cane toad as their entry to the plastic frog genre. I used these for a whole day during the Gambler Tournament on Guntersville. While the day was tough, I did like using these baits. Gambler plastics, in general, are becoming a favorite of mine.

What I like about it: They stink. HAHA! Gambler plastics have a very loud scent, which I have come to like in specific days. For example, my last trip out, I bagged my fish on their Why Not. It has a pretty standard movement. However, it ages much better than most other companies. That's a big deal.

What I am not sure sure about: The smallish size makes it a little hard to throw, but that's pretty standard for these size baits. Most companies make bigger ones. Gambler does not.

The price: According to BassPro  $4.49 for 4 is what you will pay. Pretty standard price.

Mustad Ultra Lock EWG Hook

Folks, what can I say? I won't even bother. Mustad is one of the 3 big hook companies. They are fantastic hooks. You all know that already.

The Price: According to Tacklewarehouse , $3.19 for 5. That's a fantastic price for great hooks.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Best5Zach's Jerky Marinade

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I don't do too many things right, but apparently sauces are one of my bright spots. Are you looking for a good marinade for your jerky? Well, read on!

My dad used to make deer jerky, way back when...and I LOVED it. There was nothing better than reading a book and eating deer jerky as I sat on the treestand...that is, of course, a deer walked by.

Anyway, I don't know how or when, but I THINK Alyse's grandmother sent a dehydrator home with us sometime last year. I played around with it a little, but really didn't do too much.

Well, last fall, I bought a cow from my grandad. A whole 790 pounds of processed beef. While there are plenty of steaks and hamburger, there are also plenty of other cuts that I didn't have much to do with. For example, cube steak.

So, a few weeks ago, I decided to make jerky. Alyse had found a recipe and I gave it a whirl. First batch came out and it was ok...but not great. So, I did what all engineers do. I looked at the instructions, shrugged my shoulders, and did it my way.

I even enlisted the help of my eldest, who loves to cook with me.

I have made several 2 pound batches, which makes about 6 baggies.

A small baggie is perfect for me to eat over the course of a day of fishing. It's the perfect amount of protein. 

So, this recipe is a "sweet heat." It isn't too sweet and it isn't too hot. It has just enough of both. Additionally, I have cut down significantly on the sodium, so you ladies can enjoy. You processing method may very, so I won't go into it. I do, however, marinate for 48 hours. Additionally, if you are making a cured meat, such as jerky, don't forget your curing agent, like Prague Powder #1. Use between one half and one tablespoon per 2.5 pound batch. (Thanks Alan Minga)

Here is the list of ingredients, which you should simmer as long as you can stand and add to 2 to 2.5 pounds of meat:
  • 1 cup of Worcestershire
  • 1 cup teriyaki
  • 1 cup Dales/Moores/Generic (personally, I use the Kroger or Publix brand with low sodium)
  • 1.5 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon liquid smoke
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flake
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1/4 tablespoon Cayenne
Again, you may process yours differently than I, so I won't go into that...or my other little secrets! HA! Anyway. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Dealing with Addictions(the silly ones that could REALLY hurt your chances of survival)

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I tried to come up with a witty way of naming this post. I really did. And if you think you have a better one, then I am all ears.

I have tried to think about things that you may not have thought of, in regards to EOTWAWKI. And maybe not just fresh ideas for readers, but even for those that write about these things. And, it's possible that you may even think that I am going WWAAYYY out there to bring you fresh ideas. But I'm not. I bet you haven't thought of how silly and secret addictions can really hurt you. Have you? While the effects of hard drugs, even seemingly minor alcoholism, have their own withdrawal symptoms that are easy to point at and identify. It's the ones that you haven't thought of that may be your undoing. Let me share a story.

Last week, I traveled to ATK in Utah for some NASA work. Flight left at 6:08am. So, I didn't really have time to fix a pot of coffee. I figured I would grab a cup when I got the the airport and enjoyed a fabulous $10 rewarmed biscuit. And, verily, that's exactly what I did. I enjoyed said biscuit with a small coffee, then boarded the flight from Huntsville to Houston.

Knowing that this would be a long day, judging by past experiences on United, I drifted off to sleep on the flight. When I woke up, I found out that we had been diverted to Alexandria, LA due to fog. We sat on the plane an hour, then deplaned into this tiny executive airport. Alas, it has no restaurants and only one kiosk that sold bottle drinks. Since 7 other planes arrived before me, the kiosk was drained. No big deal. I have sworn off soft drinks in an attempt to loose weight.

Boarded, once again, and we finally made the flight to Houston.

That's where it began.

I had a splitting headache. I was sick to my stomach. I had ZERO energy. When I called my wife, she immediately could tell something was wrong. I could barely speak, I was trying to figure out what I needed to do to make it to Salt Lake City with all the delays. But I couldn't think. At all. My brain simply wouldn't work. I told her I didn't know what it was and that I felt I was dying. Being ever so intuitive to her loving spoonful, she knew what had happened. I had 1 cup of coffee. All day.

Sounds stupid, doesn't it? Because I had only 1 cup of Joe that day, I couldn't mentally function. And this isn't the product of just a long day. It's happened over. And over. And over.

In fact, I can't start my day without having a pot of coffee. Not because I am spoiled, but because I can't mentally function. See, my every morning revolves around dressing my kids, packing snacks and diaper bags, and getting them to school. There have been days that I have gotten to work and had to seriously think about if I actually took them.

Laugh now. But consider. Are you in the same boat? Do you have a long term tradition of stopping at Starbucks? Do you have to have a pot of coffee at your desk while you read the news, before you start your work day? Do you have to have that Mt. Dew at 2pm? how about that Redbull or 5 Hour Energy Drink?

You do. Don't you? Don't lie to yourself. It's ok.

And if you don't? Do we dare go down that path? Well, I've already told you about my inability to function. As a NASA engineer, I recognize many of the stereotypes in myself, and one of those is the need to "mainline" caffeine directly into my blood stream. And if I don't....I cannot function.

Ok. So, I think we have beaten that dead horse enough.

What does this mean for our survival? Do you realize just how dangerous this is to your EOTWAWKI plan? We have had many talks about being on top of your mental game. Having a plan and enacting it, having thought of solutions to conceivable future issues. Making. Critical. Decisions. At. Critical. Times.  This takes clarity of thought. And if you don't have this, you have a problem.

I couldn't wrap my mind around how to change a flight to make it to my destination. How would I ever be able to make a split second decision on how to save my and my families life? I wouldn't. That doesn't even get into the physical ailment I felt. I am willing to bet that I would have been throwing up had I not downed a 34 ounce Dr. Pepper.

Now, I am much better off with my coffee consumption that I have been at other times in my life. I drink about 10 fluid cups a day. That's the only caffeine in which I partake. Let's look at some facts.

According to CoffeeFAQ, a standard 8oz coffee has UP TO 200mg, but usually around 110mg.
According to Mt. Dew, a standard 12oz can has 55mg
According to 5 Hour Energy Drink, a standard shot has 208mg
According to Red Bull, a standard 8.4oz can has 50mg

So, while many people may laugh at the amount of coffee I drink, many of those drink multiple 20oz bottles of Mt Dew everyday. Or multiple Redbull. According to this, I consume a gram of caffeine a day. A GRAM!

Where do you fit? Have you ever gone without? If so, what were your experiences? I honestly would like to know.

What this past weekend showed me was that I have a severe addiction to coffee which can completely inhibit my physical and mental cohesiveness. It is something that I MUST consider in my survival plan. But, I will be honest. I enjoy coffee, so weening myself off of it is improbable. So, what's my solution? Well, it's silly and simple.

I had been thinking about this topic and just how dangerous it really is, for something as stupid as a daily habit. I mean, honestly, I don't rank my addiction up there with heroine...and yet, I can now identify what Kurt Cobain must have felt (though I identify that I didn't have Courtney Love to deal with). When I got to my hotel that evening, the first thing I saw was the prepackaged Coffee on the sink. I thought to myself....hey. That's at least a bandaid solution. After all, in the EOTWAWKI, our plan all along is that we will have scavenge at least SOME. But until it's safe, just a few packets of prepackaged brown goodness would get me by. So, I snagged it. And now it's in the pack.

While this may sound stupid and you may not even believe me, others have considered it. In the "Outlanders" series of books by James Axler, coffee is a regular staple of commodities that are held in high regard in the Post-Apocalypse. In "Pitch Black", Cole Hauser's character Johns, has an addiction that is never specified, yet it renders him physically and mentally incompetent after their space ship crashes on a hostile planet.

So you don't care about media? Consider this: Coffee is a staple in military MREs. Why? Maybe not for addicted souls like me, but certainly for some of the reasons that I am addicted to it. It's a stimulant. It keeps you alert. It's comforting.

The fact is, the EOTWAWKI is a scary and harsh place where survival is already walking a razor thin edge. Just to survive and prosper, you already will require a great amount of luck, not to mention the planning and sharper-than-razor mental capacity to make even the smallest decisions that mean life or death. You cannot have anything keep you from making the right call at the right time. Loosing your mental capacity over something stupid, such as missing a days worth of coffee, is a silly way to go out.

And, again, we aren't even considering the more serious addictions that you may have. Doing a quick search, it says that 3% of Americans have a drinking problem. That sound about right to you? It does to me. The effects of alcohol withdrawals are just as dire, and even more so. I have seen it first hand. So, 1 out of ever 3 of you that read this now know that your alcohol addiction should be something to consider.

I'm not telling you to kill off your secret addictions. It's not my place. And, considering how unlikely an earth-shattering EOTWAWKI would be, it's probably not worth quitting. Shoot, I know I can't quit coffee. But, it's certainly worth planning for, even if it means raiding the hotels freebee coffee stash.

Fishing Report for Guntersville 1/25/13

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I had been on travel for work out to Ogden Utah to visit ATK, who built the solid rocket boosters for the space shuttle, and now builds the boosters for our new rocket, SLS. So, after a 19 hour travel day on Sunday, a full 2 days of work Monday (which was a holiday) and another 12 hour day traveling home on Wednesday, a full work day Thursday doing my post trip reports, I was ready for some time off.

Ironically, my friend Jim and Josh went fishing the day I left for ATK. It was a Sunday afternoon to be remembered as they boated around 15 keepers with a 5 fish limit verified at 26 pounds with a 6.5 pound kicker. They accomplished this by throwing lipless cranks on 6-10 foot flats all day, fishing out of The Bait Tackle and Grill of Goose Pond.

You can imagine how that fired me up, considering that I fished just 2 days before without a bite. But, Jim knows the water and I chalked it up to that. But, all week I stewed about how Jim and Josh had knocked them dead and I couldn't get a bite. All week, I blew up Jim's phone about going.

If you don't know Jim, you better get to knowing. Jim has fished all over the country, which is impressive for such a young guy. Very versatile fishermen. Like me, if you ever are in need of some on-th-water-advcice, look him up! If you are in a tournament against him...well....good luck. I am fortunate to know him.

It was going to be cold and rainy...even a bit of sleet. The weather men said it was going to be the snow and ice apocalypse. Jim wouldn't let me dip out of it, so we planned to hit the water around Goose Pond on Guntersville. Now, I don't have to remind you how my luck has been on this lake over the last year. Seeing as he is quite the expert on this lake, I saw this as an opportunity to settle the score with the Big G (or at least give myself a fighting chance).

I took this opportunity to take my GoPro again, hoping to catch something on video. After my first attempt at using it, I have found that I have to take a lot of short videos and delete them due to storage space. Also, the battery life has to be considered.

We started out throwing lipless cranks. I threw the Xcalibur XR50 rattle bait.

Up until this point, I had been throwing mine on a Wright and McGill 7'6'' fiberglass Magnum Cranking rod, with a Shimano Citica reel and 30 pound Suffix braid. I had originally done this for a better hook up ratio, as I had lost a lot of fish in the past from jerking the bait out of their mouth. The softer rod allowed them to hook themselves. Over time I have gotten better and now throw it on a Wright and McGill "Bama Rig" rod.

Jim was throwing the Spro Aruku

He was throwing his on a Boyd Duckett 7'3'' Medium heavy.

You may recall that I did a product review way back when on these. It's found here:

Anyway, Jim caught one short fish, and while I did get it on video, it wasn't really worth keeping.

It became fairly obvious that the fish weren't going to be on fire as they had been. So, we figured out that we needed to slow down. I was throwing a T-rigged Gambler Why Not

I'm was under orders not to say what Jim was throwing, but it was a similar beaver type bait. After just a few minutes of fishing creek channel ledges , Jim slammed the rod back on this NICE fish. And....I got it on VIDEO!

After that, the rain and sleet moved in. We didn't really feel like getting wet and cold, so we moved underneath the causeway. Immediately we noticed the number of crappie fishermen that were yanking out slabs left and right. We didn't have an grubs, but we did have some baits that MIGHT work. Jim tried a blade bait while I used a Cotten Cordell spoon. I wasn't tearing them up, but I boated some nice slabs as well as 6 other species of fish.
  • 2 different species of shad
  • flat head cat
  • perch
  • bream
  • drum

We stayed there until the rain left, which was several hours. It left us with only about an hour left to fish, so we stayed close. We went back to flipping T-rigged plastics. That turned out to be the ticket. We didn't whack them and stack them, but we did boat some GOOD fish, including the whopper flat head that about took the rod out of my hands!

Again, not at banner day, but we started getting regular bites. We just had to find the right area, the right bait, and the right approach. Best fish went over 4 pounds.

Hey, I'm not going to complain. I caught a bunch of fish, and while they weren't all bass, it was certainly fun and it keeps with my New Years Resolutions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The 5 Stages of Preparedness Part 3.2

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Well folks, we are back for another segment of the 5 Stages of Preparedness. In case you missed it, we have covered 1 of the 3 different survival types for the Intermediate Stage that I have identified. These 3 being:
  • The Doomsday Bunker Dweller
  • The Jeremiah Johnson Mountain Man
  • The Mad Max Scavenger
These are the 3 lifestyles that you would see, though I admit that they are all a bit extreme in and of themselves. On the right wing, we have the Jeremiah Johnson Mountain Man, who needs nothing from anybody, doesn't concern himself with the rest of modern humanities struggles and conveniences and lives 100% off the land. The Doomsday Bunker Dweller is in the middle. This person has had the forethought to prep for the EOTWAWKI, has some decent skills but realizes that he or she doesn't have the ability to run into the woods and make do, nor do they have the desire to scratch out a living against their fellow man as a scavenger. Instead, they have bunkered down. On the extreme left we have the Mad Max Scavenger. This person didn't have the foresight, knowledge, or ability to prep. They don't have the skills needed to make their own way by living off the land. But, they have the cunning and nerve to brave the dangers of exposure (in it's many forms) to scavenge for necessities. This person would inherently be violent. These are the 3 basic lifestyle and while everyone would exist somewhere in the middle and have traits of each and all, they would lean towards one or the other.

 Last go-round, we covered Doomsday Bunker Dwellers. Although we did note several pros, what we REALLY seemed to find was the common misconceptions and mistruths that are easy to believe. That being the mindset of any of a handful of films from "City of Ember", "A Boy and His Dog", to light hearted "Blast from the Past". The fact is, no one...regardless of skills and income level, can shut the door to a shelter and shut themselves out from the world. In reality, certain assumptions and concessions must be made. Now, does that mean that I think bunkers are a waste? Absolutely not. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bunkers are absolutely necessary in the EOTWAWKI. Yet, what we picture in our mind and how it would be used is far different from reality.

So, I am not so keen on that. After all, look what you would be like if you DID hide out for a year..or a time. Man, in Fallout 3, it took me all kinds of time to learn skills....ok ok. That's a video game.

 But, go read it. If you disagree...let me know. I may still argue with you about how I am right, I still consider your thoughts (and I may steal them....)

So, again, a quick definition of the Intermediate Stage. This is the period of time up to 1 year. At this point, supplies and food is still readily available...though that is not to say that it's easy to get...which is a very important side note.

Ole JJ, much like the movie, is a man who lives 100% off of the land. He has little to no conventional needs. He doesn't need canned goods. He doesn't need vehicles. He doesn't need prebuilt shelters. But, JJ is just a name and I identity this man from a movie character. Though you can see where I am going with this, what you may not think about is that this lifestyle identifies that civilization...or the lack much more dangerous than anything to be found in nature. In nature this man fights the elements, fights the animals, but he doesn't have to concern himself with the troubles that created the EOTWAWKI, whether that is plague, nuclear fallout, invasion, etc. He would much rather take his chances against a random black bear in the wilderness than some trigger happy, half-starved Mad Max in a dark alley of a city.

There are so many Pros to this lifestyle and I believe that most people identify with it. Why? Because most of us that read this have some sort of rural background. Did you build forts as a kid? Did you specifically looks for cedar trees to play in because it was easy to build platforms on it's many branches? Did you deer hunt or bass fish constantly? Did you spend endless summers tending your family garden? If you did, your first instinct during the EOTWAWKI is "good to the woods I go. I have the skills. I can make a fire. I can find food. I can build shelter".

And while all of these are certainly true, even for me, the fact is that my life has never been dependant on ANY of these...much less the summation. I have never HAD to start a fire. I have never HAD to kill an animal to eat. And these are day 3 activities. What about the winter months when your body needs Vitamin C instead of just meat? Or a real shelter from the somehow-above-freezing rains of Alabama that penetrate into your soul. Even if the stars align and you are able to do these in the best of conditions, how will you deal with the unfortunate things that will come your way?

Now. Add in that I am a father to 3 children under 8.

No, my friends, I am not this man and neither or you. It's a funny thing to talk to friends and people I know, to read the comments on my Google+ and other threads I follow. People think they will disappear into the highlands and life will go on. Just like the previous post where maybe 1% of Doomsday Bunker Dwellers actually afford the all-inclusive resort of a shelter we all imagine, only 1% of us who THINK we are Jeremiah Johnson really can pull it off.

But, if we COULD....let's examine the pros. Some of them.
  1. Independence on premanufactured goods. That's a big one. Maybe THE big one. If you can provide for yourself via hunting and gardening, not only is it healthier and a better long term situation, but it provides stability and safety. Being able to build a shelter in-situ, keeps you from having to source building supplies, tools, etc as well as avoiding the need for squatting in someone's barn (whether it's abandoned or not). Keeping from venturing into populated areas keeps the exposure against...whatever caused this...low. Also, it keeps you from randomly getting shot. Face it. There will be plenty of people out there...scavengers in particular....who will have no problem popping you for your stuff.
  2. Provides a constant and readily available commodity in which you can barter or sell. There will be plenty of people out there who will not have the skills to hunt/trap/grow their own. Chances are, you wouldn't have any problem securing more than you need. If that's the case, you can avoid scavenging entirely and barter for items rather than exposing yourself
  3. Safety from humanity. For whatever reason, we can rest assure that humans are the cause for EOTWAWKI. Being a mountain man secludes you from the cause AND the effect.  For whatever caused the end of the world, you can rest assured that it would be centered around population centers. Seeing how being away from population centers is your's a non-issue. However, let's examine the behaviour of the 3 lifestyles, since avoiding humanity entirely isn't exactly possible. You won't really have to bother with the bunker dwellers other than if you were out rambling and accidentally kicked over their ant nest, which you wouldn't do anyway, since you are a mountain man, living off the land and minding your own business. They like to stay hunkered down, so as long as you don't go prying on any cellar doors, you should be ok. You wouldn't have to deal with scavengers since they are limited to the proximity of supplies in towns and cities. If they did wander into your neck of the woods, you would almost certainly know they were there before they knew you were there. Other mountain men are certainly a potential cause of strife. I'd like to say that there would be a certain amount of respect, but you just never know. But, statistically speaking, there would be very few of the Mountain Men and a whole lot of land to cover. So, encounters should be far and few in between. 
  4. Immune from many drastic changes. Being JJ the Mountain Man offers quite the buffer against the unknown. You will, or should be, stockpiled against potential threats, whatever that may be. You shouldn't be caught off guard by most things that get thrown at you. Where a sudden cold spell may cause you to burn up a lot of that wood you already cut, it might kill most anyone else in the cities who couldn't keep themselves warm or scavenge for food. We don't even have to touch on the particulars on being immune from political and social changes. These wouldn't concern you in the slightest.
  5. Diverse and Refined Skillset. I understand that sounds like "having skills because you have skills", but bear with me. Though we are only considering up to the first year, the skills that are needed to be a JJ for that first year, plus the refinement over that year of the skills, will be invaluable for the next 2 Stages of Preparedness. Face it, all the Twinkies and Pork-n-Beans will get eaten within the first year or so. So, after that point, EVERYONE will have to have these skills. Better to have them already and have the routine ironed out than having to transition. This would also allow you to have the choicest lands available. Everyone will eventually push away from cities. Once again, better to have laid claim to the good stuff than have to settle for the remainder.  
How about the Cons? Well, there are a lot of them. Let's name the first few that come to my mind.
  1. Almost no one will have the skillset to pull this lifestyle off, as we have written it. Again, even if you have the ability to do all of these things, can you do them under pressure? Have you practiced them? That's the key, and while lots of people DO try these things in the wild, their lives are never in jeopardy and if things went south, they would pack up camp and head home. Face it, it would only take a small hit to any of the necessities of life to sink most of us. Wet tinder. Ill prepared clothing. Lack of flora and fauna in a particular area. Heck, just inclimate weather on Day 1 might sink the ship.
  2. Human interaction. Specifically, the lack of . Being JJ the Mountain Man is all about self centeredness. You don't need anyone's help. You don't have to provide for anyone but yourself. We briefly mentioned this in the Doomsday Bunker Dwellers post. Like it or not, even the most independent and self absorbed people still need human interaction. That's a fact. And while I know most people are thinking about "someone to talk to", they aren't thinking about other things. Again, thinking about the "small things that could sink the ship", how about an infection? If only someone was there to run into town and brave the crazies for a moment to get you medication. Or if you just came down with a debilitating cold and needed someone to feed you? I won't delve into human sexuality, though I am saying that it's a bigger thing than anyone would like to admit. Suffice to say that we all need someone, like it or not.
  3. Lack of modern conveniences. Just because you are JJ doesn't mean that modern conveniences aren't nice or sometimes even necessary. Face it. I don't care who you are, you can't rely on trapping your whole life. You are going to need a regular source of firearms and ammunition. You are going to get old, and with that comes debilitating injuries and nags like arthritis. So, a regular supply of medication, from simple vitamins, to flu shots, to specialty medications are going to be needed. Just think about being a diabetic, for example. Sure would be nice to have an old fashioned generator laying around for those really nasty cold spells, or building your shelter/bunker. Even if you are an A+ farmer, you are going to needs seeds at least once. So, scavenging trips are going to happen. That doesn't mean that JJ has sworn them off, but it does mean that if he wants them, he has to go get them. That introduces a lot of variables. While a scavenging trip or two is probably not going to be the end of JJ, reliance on scavenging, such as Mad Max, becomes a numbers game.
  4. No solution to Stage 5: The End Game. This ties in to the very end of bullet #2 above. No one wants to think about it, but we won't always exist in our glory years. Between the hard work, frequent accidents, and just plain growing old, by the time you are in your late 50s, you will probably be unable to perform the tasks every day that you need to complete. So, if you can't grow your own good, repair your own shelter, who will? That's right. Community and family are necessary in your twilight years. That is, unless you are willing to work so hard for a long period of time just to die a slow, probably painful, and very desolate death. On the other hand, having a family...specifically children, insures that you have some sort of comfort in your late years.
Much like the Doomsday Bunker Dweller, there are definite Pros and Cons to the hardliner Jeremiah Johnson Mountain Man. If one has the skills to pull it off, it is a terrific lifestyle, though it has it's downfalls. But, the downfalls are outweighed by the Pros. And like we said in that former post, reality is that a strict adherence to it isn't probable or even possible. Again, as we have said before, while most survivors will exist somewhere other than the hardliner in any of these lifestyle choices, they will borrow heavily from one and supplement from the rest.

Take me, for example. I FEEL like I fit more snuggly in this category than the others, yet I have to be honest with myself and identity my shortcomings. Do I have a fairly long list of skills that fit JJ? Yep. I CAN farm. I CAN hunt and fish. I CAN build my own shelter. Yet, I admit that I don't practice them in a "life or death" situation, and that makes QUITE the difference. Nor do I have faith that I can do all of this for a family of 5. I am not sure that I could handle all the things that mother nature could throw at me. After all, it's not how you live in the sunny and 70s that matter, but how you make do with the bone soaking snot freezing winters. Now, that being said, with my plan for a shelter and sufficient stock in a rural area and frequent scavenging trips, I could pull it off. So, It's more of a 75%-15%-10%. between the 3. So, like I said. Not strict adherence, but heavily biased towards it with some supplement from the rest.

To sum up, this lifestyle is terrific for avoiding unwanted human interaction. While avoiding...whatever it is in humans that has caused the EOTWAWKI AND the future humans, whether it's ...despots....cutthroats...etc. It's a two edged sword, however. I think we can see the downfall of having NO human interaction. It frees oneself from dependence on manufactured goods...almost. But, a scavenging trip here and there is far superior to doing it for a living. This lifestyle will offer plenty of bumps and bruises, but that's a far cry from the cut-throat mentality to be found elsewhere. There are plenty of inherent dangers, however, simply from the type of work that would have to be done everyday. My grandfather, for example, has gardened his whole life and accidentally stabbed himself with a tiller and nearly bled to death. But, in this post-apocalyptic world, danger surrounds you, so pick your poison. It is hard work. It does take skills most people won't initially have. But, if you have them, it gives you a definite heads-up on the competition for the next stage of life. Like we said, eventually everyone will HAVE to possess these skills. So, learn now or learn later.

Again, this isn't the end-all-be-all definition of JJ the Mountain Man. But, it's a start. I believe it gives a good glimpse into the second of three lifestyles that we will see in the EOTWAWKI. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fishing Report for Guntersville/Wheeler 1/10 and 1/11

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How many times do you get the opportunity to fish in early January with the air in the 70s? Not often enough. I guess this is one of the benefits of Global Warming  (J/K).

Jon and I spent several days earlier in the week determining where we wanted to fish. It came down to Pickwick or Guntersville. After the atrocious year I had on Guntersville, I was really hesitant to vouch for it...despite the thought that it just HAD to turn around at some point. With the plethora of tournaments coming up, many of which I plan to fish, I felt like I should at least give it a try.

So, we put in at Waterfront Grocery around 8am. We were both pretty excited about getting out on the water in January. There was a nice misty rain and the water color looked great. There was little to no one on the water. We fished our way out of the cover without a bite. Jon's friend Keith decided to come by with his new Bullet and fish too. Boy, what a pretty boat....but I digress.

We fished mostly shallow water, occasionally looking at ledges. But, Jon caught 1 fish and I didn't have a bite. Keith caught 3 fish. I threw a good mix of Xcalibur XR50, River2sea jerkbait, Bama rig, and Gambler jig. No luck.So. I won't waste any more of your time other than to say that someone was out throwing blasting caps in the water. That's the second time in the last 3 years that I have seen it. Wonder what's going on? I'm sure it isn't good for the fishing.

Anyway, I should have known I wouldn't catch anything because I was borrowing a Go-Pro to start doing webisodes. Go figure.

So, fast forward to Saturday. Because I had spent the last few weekends taking care of sick babies and chores, my wife told me that I should get out and fish. How sweet, huh?

So, Josh and I decided to get out on Wheeler. Like me, he hasn't done well on Guntersville and Wheeler hasn't been real kind either. He has adopted a new philosophy to fishing which he calls "catch what's biting". While I have resorted to catching white bass when the largemouth aren't on, I haven't ever gone solely for stripe and/or whites. In fact, I hadn't caught a stripe in almost 15 years. My grandad and I used to fish all the time at Tim's Ford for them.

So, we loaded up and put in at the dam. I have only attempted to fish that stretch 1 other time, during a Ditto Thursday night Wildcat, but the lower unit trashed a hub and we had to get towed back before we made it. There were 3 flood gates and the current was whipping! I don't care how many times you get on really rough water, it still should humble you. We were wearing our jackets of course, and still managed to get water of the side a handful of times. Water had really good clareity despite the rains over the last week. Water temps were 47 in most places.

I turned on the Go-Pro since I knew we would prob catch a good amount of fish, but the batter was dead. Go figure, huh?

We started out throwing Bama rigs. Josh caught several nice stripes on his while I couldn't really get a bite. I did catch a few good sized white bass on the bama rig backed by Gambler swimbaits .

Yes. I know the jacket doesn't fit. It's Josh's wife's. LOL! Better of safe, right?

I think running the trolling motor took it's toll on Josh ( I know it would bother me) so we decided to fish a few other places just down the river at Paintrock. One thing we both noticed were the vast numbers of boats on the river. They were everywhere. Turns out, one of my readers was fishing his club tournament, the Brindley Mountain Bass Club were fishing out of Ditto. Turns out, the bass WERE biting and it took around 16 pounds to win. That's a heck of a sack on that stretch of the river.

Anyway, throwing mostly spoons, we were able to rack up on numbers. I believe we caught around 30-40 fish. We had 4 doubles. It certainly soothed a lot of my frustration from the day before. Sadly, I managed to loose 2 Bama rigs, 1 spoon, and 1 Strike King 6XD Silent. Ugh.

Anyway, we had a great time catching fish without having to work too hard. Special thanks to my wife for letting me fish 2 days in a row.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sci-Fi book review for Eric Brown's "Engineman"

So, a few weeks ago, I gave you the 5 Sci-Fi Books You Should Read in 2013. In there I laid out some things. First, I am an avid Sci-Fi fan. Now, I didn't say that I am a RABID one...just an AVID one. I have never been to any conventions or anything, but I grew up watching the Classics.

Anyway, I started reading Sci-Fi at a very early age. I try to read as much as I can, though I admit that I don't read nearly as much as I like. I read a pretty verbose spread of Sci-Fi but I find that many times I am not satisfied with books and I wish I wouldn't have spent the money.

So, I decided to review some books. I realize that my opinion is just that, and you should all take it with a grain of salt. After all, I frequently buy books based on their covers.

A few years back, I picked up Eric Browns "Helix". I loved the book and I felt he did a fantastic job. I admit that I am hard on books and if they don't suck me in or they stall in the middle, I have no problem putting them down for good. Helix was unique, easy to read (meaning, not too deep of a plot), and kept me interested.

A few months, I was at The Book Shelf and noticed the Eric Brown book. Having loved "Helix", I bought "Engineman".

The description on Amazon says:
"Once they pushed big ships through the cobalt glory of the Nada-Continuum, but faster than light isn't fast enough anymore. The interfaces of the Keilor-Vincicoff Organisation bring planets light years distant a simple step away. Then a man with half a face offers ex-engineman Ralph Mirren the chance to escape his ruined life and push a ship to an undisclosed destination. The Nada-Continuum holds the key to Ralph's future. What he cannot anticipate is its universal importance-nor the mystery awaiting him on the distant colony world of Reach."
In the first 10 pages, the personality of our protagonist is vividly described as well as his, and all enginemen's, plight. The #1 thing about this book that made it unique to me was that, through is description of the plight, I identified with Mirren. not because of any real reason, just that the helplessness and uselessness of their condition was so well described. I could feel the plight as my be of vast importance and prestige and to be rendered useless and irrelevant in such a short period. It is of particular importance to today's economy where people have lost jobs of high pay and prestige and reduced to unemployment or minimum wage jobs.
The plot is unique, though it conjures images of once proud and now outdated and antiquated ideals like America's rail systems, the Native American culture, and other very real examples of cultures destroyed by technology. It is easy reading with out a complex plot. You can sit it down for weeks and pick it right back up. To some, that may not be attractive, and while I do like a deep and textured plot, I do not like having too many twists and turns that I have to remember.
My only faults with the book are that some of the main characters are incredibly detailed while others who drive the plot are not. The finality of the book itself is wrapped up in about 20 pages, very similar to a Tolkien novel. Many of the driving secondary forces of the plot, like the relationship between Ella and Hunter, are drawn to a close with little fanfare. one of the main complaints I have READ is that it is wordy, but I much prefer a wordy description of surroundings, feelings, etc so that I can more closely identify with the plot.
Over all, I give this book a SOLID 3 star rating, bordering on 3.5

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Project: A Better Best5Zach 1/8/13

Hopefully you read my New Years Resolutions. People have said I have 3 years worth of resolutions just for this year alone. I guess they don't know me real well, 'cause I am a man that needs a lot of work in many aspects of life...but not one any more than the condition of my physique HAHA!

I will lighten the mood and point out some things. You ever hear about the saying for surviving a bear attack? No? How about something for those that believe the end of the world is coming.

Ok ok. So, I am not going to make this into all things EOTWAWKI. Nope. Sure, you gotta be in good shape to survive the End of the World. But, being in bad shape affects everything else that's more important RIGHT NOW. Like the energy to play with my kids, extending my life, and improving the attraction that my wife somehow has for me.

So, here is the deal. When I graduated from highschool, way back when, I was 5'3'' and 135 pounds. I was in incredible shape (weren't we all!). As Forrest Gump said, I could run like the wind blooowwsss.

Last year, 2012 marked the 11 year anniversary of my graduation.....

Wait. Go back another year to 2011. That works better, since it was an even 10 years.

I was 28 and things weren't right. I had no all. I felt like I needed to take a nap constantly. And if I took a nap, I felt like a zombie. I suffered horribly from heart burn. Like, BAD. I looked terrible when dressed up an even worse without a shirt on. Heck, my great aunt, stricken with Polio and wheelchair bound for the rest of her life told me at Thanksgiving that I looked terrible and was fat and balding.

But I chalked those up to getting old.

The real eye opener came during NASA softball season of 2011. I hadn't been a full time player and I was way out of practice when i started palying pick up with them. But mid to late in the season I was asked to fill in full time. It took me awhile to start hitting with any authority. And in one game, I crushed a ball to the fence. Between 2nd and 3rd base, I was dead. I pulled up at 3rd. And I thought I was going to die. I don't mean that lightly. I have been an athlete my entire life and I have never felt like this. Not during football where I played both ways. Not in a wrestling tournament where I had already had 4 matches in the last 3 hours. I thought I was having a heart attack. As you can see, not real pretty.

So, being extremely fortunate to work at NASA, I started going to the NASA gym. My friend, Mike, whom I had wrestled with in HS was one of the trainers. He put me on a good work out.

So, I hit it...not so hard. After all, I don't have that much time in the day. I could go only about an hour, but I did my best. I carried this work out into 2012 where we started the "Weigh to Win" contest.

I weighed into "Weigh to Win" at 176 pounds and about 26% body fat. At the end of "weigh to win", 6 weeks later, I believe, I was down to 168 and 19%. I looked a LITTLE better, but I felt MUCH better. I had energy, I didn't have heartburn. I felt better about myself, and I hoped my wife appreciated my hard work.

It showed in the field during softball and flag football. Sorry folks, I don't have any pics of me in "good shape", though I promise it isn't very impressive.

Perhaps my favorite thing was my overall strength. I was lifting more than I EVER had done. Now, I wasn't dieting and I didn't have time to do concentrated workouts. I was doing a mix of cardio and weight lifting.

But sports ended and work picked up. I didn't have the spare time on my hands in the last quarter of the year. I was down to 1 or no days a week.

Welp. New Year. And like all the other suckers, I am in the gym. But, I am putting this out here to keep me honest. I don't have a magic number in my head. I won't be aiming for a 6-pack. I'm not trying to lift the world. I just want to be powerful, not so round, and able to run and play easily.

But I do want to fix this:
That's right. Right back to where I was last year. Sigh. Almost to the 3rd digit!

In order to get this done, I am going to have to be efficient with my effort and time. That means thermal layering, some sort of diet control, etc. Unlike last year, I am going to concentrate more on the cardio and pure power instead of trying to sculpt. So, lots of squats, dead lift, bench, power clean, etc. And lots and lots of running and crunches.   I am also going to be mindful of some small is 130 calories in this Gatorade, which wipes out 10 minutes of running.

So, apparently as of Day 1, I am about 177 pounds and 26% body fat. Gotta start somewhere.


Despite being a sub-average bass fisherman, a lethargic deer hunter, avid talker of all things EOTWAWKI (but not really doing anything about it), I am also an AVID cook. And so are my kids!

One of my favorite things to cook is BBQ...and not just BBQ....but BBQ sauce. The first time I cooked BBQ was before the Auburn vs Arkansas State game way back in 2010. One of my best good friends lives in Auburn and we decide to cook ribs. Well, he had a recipe that we used...and it was good.

When I got home, I wrote down what we had used. A few months later, I was asked to cook ribs for Memorial day.

I made some tweaks to it and it went over terrific. But, I am a skeptic and always thing that people would rather choke down something horrible that tell you it isn't good....kind of like that scene from "Christmas Vacation" when they are eating the nuked turkey for dinner.

Yet, at the end of dinner, the remainder of the sauce was fought over between my mother, grandmother, and sister.

At the next family function, I was asked once again to make it. And so it went. Football games, family events, birthdays, and random hangouts. I was even asked this year to make it as Christmas presents, which I did. So, here is what you do to make a good batch of End of the World As We Know It sauce...named because it will keep forever and because...if it's the last thing you get to taste, you can go out on a high note (rimshot).

It's an extremely easy recipe that even a NASA engineer can do...because the measurements are very easy.

You will need a 1-cup measure and a 1 tablespoon measure, and a small sauce pot. I prefer to use fresh herbs, whenever possible. It makes for a superior savory flavor(takes a lot less herbs and saves you money). Remember to cook as low and long as possible!

  • Add 1 Cup of Tennessee Whiskey into a sauce pan.  like George Dickel, personally
  • Add 1 Cup of apple cider vinegar
  • Add 1/4 Cup of lemon juice
  • Add 1/4 Cup of Worcestershire 
  • Bring to a low roil for 5 minutes
  • Add 2 Cups of brown sugar and stir until dissolved
  • Add half a table spoon of ground Cinnamon
  • Add a table spoon of paprika
  • Add a table spoon of ground mustard
  • Add a table spoon of ground black pepper
  • Add a table spoon of red pepper flake
  • Add a 1/2 (depending on level of hotness) table spoon of crushed cayenne
  • Add a table spoon of minced garlic
  • Add a 1/4 cup of salt
  • Add a table spoon of Rosemary
  • Let this simmer for 15-20 minutes
  • Add 2 Cups of ketchup
  • Let simmer additional 15-30 minutes
There you have it! I really hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I love making it and I love eating it, but I love seeing others enjoy it more than anything!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The 5 Stages of Preparedness Part 3.1: Doomsday Bunker Dwellers

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Hard to believe that Stage 2, the Short Term, was written in November. It doesn't seem like it was THAT long ago.....I admit that I expected to have all 5 Stages covered by Jan 1, 2013. Oh well.

Congratulations. You have made it through the first 72 hours that encompass the first two Stages. The first stage is the Immediate. That crucial 24 hours where the actions you take have dramatic long-term consequences. You made it through the Short Term where you had to start thinking about shelter, food, and perhaps even permanent protection.

Just for reference, Stage 1 of Preparedness, the Immediate can be found here. Stage 2 of Preparedness, the Short Term can be found here.

72 hours in. What do you have? By now, it's time to establish a routine, settle in, and begin to think of the rest of your life.We defined the Intermediate stage way back when as:

Intermediate-What you will have prepared and planned to survive for up to 1 year.

Just like I had said in the last stage, the longer we look into the future, the more avenues can be taken. For example, we could discuss anything from using a self contained shelter as seen on the ever-so-popular shows, to being a true mountain man like Jeremiah Johnson, to being a scavenger that drivers around in a Ford Falcon and eats Dinky Di from a can. So, there are almost infinite possibilities for what could be done, all with merit. That being said, we will have to keep it generic, though I might go into MY plan....maybe....In the Intermediate Stage, supplies will still be readily available, though by the end of the year, major cities would be largely picked clean. So, in year 1, food and ammo won't be hard to find. We will be putting into place long term plans because that supply WILL run out eventually. Most people will be searching for some sort of established lifestyle encompassing shelter, security, and routine. Chances are, you have done all the running you are going to do (though, we admitted in older posts that you may be trying to get back to your family due to work trip, etc).  You have shifting priorities. Where physical protection and escape from the elements and/or whatever has taken the country over (be it plague, Red Army, zombie, or radiation) had been your primary concern, the Intermediate Stage is going to force you to start considering and living for the long term. Long term shelter. Long term supplies. Long term health. Now, let's not confuse the use of "Long Term" with the 4th Stage that we will (soon?) discuss. The use of "Long Term" as used here is, for example, going from existence by your zombie pack alone to the needs for a year. Just like saying that a simple brush lean-to would suffice for a few days, but wouldn't be the best shelter for a whole year.

Now, I brought up 3 different intermediate stage lifestyles, so lets use them since they are fairly broad and encompassing. In my mind, a variation of any of these are a sound way to live, if selected in the proper context. For example, in an extremely rural environment, you can operate almost freely, so being a scavenger full time just isn't needed. Or, you could be stuck in a city where scavenging is the only avenue of providing sustenance. So, I think we will discuss each of the 3 lifestyle choices, each in it's own post.

The Doomsday Bunker Dweller
The Jeremiah Johnson Mountain Man
The Mad Max Scavenger

Since it will take FOREVER to cover each of these, I will start out with the Doomsday Bunker Dweller as part 3.1. In it, we will discuss what it means, the different types of Dweller, the truths and misconceptions of it, and how to make it work. Now, much of this is going to come down to simple dollars and sense. Yes, I said that right. Doomsday Bunker Dweller is a little unique from the rest of the other lifestyles..and...really from the writing style of all our posts thus far. Why? Because we have talked very heavily about "what to do when..." or "how to..."

With a Doomsday Bunker Dweller, you have already done all the prepping you are going to do, right? You are going to close the door and wait it all out. So, it's a done deal. Right? Wrong. Like all things, it has it's place, but there are a lot of misconceptions and mistruths. But there are also some very real benefits.

The Doomsday Bunker Dweller
If you are reading this, then there is no DOUBT that you have considered building and stocking your own bunker. The rise in popularity of certain TV shows have only heightened the average persons awareness that it can be done. So, we will define the Bunker Dweller as someone who goes down the stairs of his or her bunker, shuts the door, and comes out either none at all or sparingly. I know that might now be the actually case, and that reality would be somewhere in between. Just the same way that there is a large spread from a homemade shelter made out of shipping crates buried on some one's back 40 to the lavish spreads we have seen on TV. While I admit that I am almost TOTALLY against the idea, I am also open minded, so I will go into the pros and cons of it. I am willing to bet that I have FAR more cons than I do pros for this. And since I write all of this via "stream of consciousness", we will have to count them at the end.

Obviously the biggest pro is the shelter aspect. Being able to hunker down and lock a door, point all the rifles at the door with a solid wall at your back is a good thing. I am all about having your own Alamo. The biggest problem I see in people is perceived shelter. Like, going into a closer in your home and pointing your shotty at the door makes you safe. It doesn't. You, me, anyone can punch through drywall barefisted. it's easy to kick in doors. You have to realize that your house is nothing more than 4 weak walls with a weak roof. If anyone wants to get it and they are motivated, there isn't any way to keep them out. SO, I am a firm believer in shelters, if only for a hidey-hole. But, I feel like most people out there have this idea of a doomsday bunk that they can jump into and survive the intermediate stage, wait that first year out for radiation, plague, or social unrest, unlock the door and the world is a better place. It simply isn't that way.

First off, let's consider the shelter itself.  The #1 BIGGEST con is the price. First off, the overall cost of a shelter, no matter how you slice it. Even if you are a cheap and frugal engineer that is willing to buy some one's shipping crates or used 18 wheeler trailers and get your granddads Bobcat to dig the hole, it still costs money. Heck, the LAND costs money. Now, I know there are many fortunate people in the country that can afford the land and can afford the 2,00 square foot bunkers with water treatment facilities and entertainment man caves. If it is, more power to you, but I am still going to poke holes in the logic later on. But it ain't me.  I admit that I AM lucky enough to have land to build a bunker on. Even then, the cost of the required building supplies is astronomical in today's market. Building your own bunker is feasible and even sounds fun, but it isn't something you cheap out on. Last thing you really want to do is build your own tomb. Feel me?

Now, depending on WHY you are building your shelter, it may be tailored around your fear of EOTW. For example, if you are concerned about radiation, you will have to have air and water treatment (though I don't buy any of this, really. Radiation is bad, ummkkaayy and I don't see how anyone can build a facility to deal with it), you would need some lead radiation. Ironically, there are companies that make lead lined sheet rock. This would greatly help with how deep you would need to bury your shelter. Taking if from 10+ feet deep to around 5.

If it's from a global meltdown/invasion or some such thing that you fear from other people, maybe security is your concern. As we have all seen from these shows, you can get blast proof doors and security systems.

For an everyday guy like me, the best I think I could do would be to build my own. I can't afford a massive shelter like we see on TV. I can't afford blast doors. I can't afford lead lined sheet rock. I can't afford water and air treatment and massive diesel generators that would allow me to watch "Waterworld" while the planet went to pot. And, I am not sure I would want to, even if I had the money. Why?

Well, more cons then....A big fancy shelter has to be built by someone. Which means someone knows where it is and what you will have in it. That's a pretty self-defeating proposition, because a dedicated person like me wouldn't quit bothering you because you had a nice big door. Nope. I would dig a hole down the side of your shelter and use a torch to cut me a nice hole in the side that I could easily fix later. Maybe you would get lucky and keep it a secret and no one would bother you, but I would always be worried about being some one's target. I have to admit, once again, that if I were roaming the country and found a trap door leading to some one's shelter, I would sure as heck pop the lid and see what was inside.

If you DID manage to keep it a secret, one of my biggest problems with a "shut the door" shelter is that it isn't so easy to stay shut from the world for a whole year. Sure, it sounds easy. Maybe it would be if you had TVs and movies and video games to play. But that power won't stay on for a year. And even if it did, you would get real tired of A) being by yourself B) tired of everyone in there with you. Being that I work at NASA, one of the major concerns of long-term space travel isn't the particular dangers associated with being in space, but rather the dangers of locking people in close quarters for a long period of time.

And, again, I have to point out the very real problems of relying on water and air treatment to sustain you. I guess that's the pessimist in me. But, you need power to do it...and while solar power is an option, it is also incredibly inefficient and untrustworthy. I can't even fathom how much fuel you would need to run a generator for that long, even in short spurts. I guess you could get real trick and run a your own power steam or water powered generators.....but, again, saying that you would go down to your local creek and build a water wheel hooked to a turbine and run all your electrical is one thing. Doing it is another. Would I do it and do I have the skills? Absolutely. But I also understand that I could very easily burn my shelter down ever other month, too.

Now, even IF you had the land and even IF you built a habitable shelter, a years worth of food and water? Could you imagine? No. Seriously. Have you done any sort of calculation on just how much that costs? I challenge you to go to a website like Emergency Essentials and price it out. Or...I will do it for you. The BASIC 1600 Calorie Kit. That's 1 person for 1 year. $1850 bucks. Wow. Ok, so I have a family of 5. I am willing to bet that I could buy 3 of these to cover all of us (7 year old, 4 year old, 1 year old). I am no mathematician, but that's a lot of money. Like, $5,000. Sorry. I love being prepared, but I simply can't swing that. And that doesn't cover water. Again, people of all walks of life read this blog and people of all walks of life prep. That may not be a lot of money to them, but it is to me.

There are some other ways to swing this, such as indoor greenhouses. But, saying that you will use a garden to sustain you for a whole year is one thing and doing it is quite another. I know this because raising a garden as a hobby is hard enough. I am on my 3rd year of gardening on my own, and in my 25th year of being around it and I still don't get it. Is it doable? Sure. Probable? I don't think so. Even if you were God's Green Thumb, the shear volume of space needed to feed 5 people would be....I don't know. Too much. And it would take you YEARS to master the shear logistics of it.  But, don't knock it till you try it...and I am going to be trying it (indoor gardening) this year.

In either case, water is also a concern. Again, the physical space needed for a years worth of food AND water is huge. Storing water isn't something to be taken lightly, either. Of course stagnation is a concern, but spills, contamination,  and mold are too. Your best bet would be to pipe in the water from an outside source. Of course, once again, water treatment is an issue, but not impossible (unless its radiated).

I think you can figure out where I stand when it comes to locking the door to a shelter for a whole year. It just isn't doable without a few tons of money and training. If you DO manage both of those, you are still a target. So, there you have it. Zach points and laughs at the idea. Now, I understand that these people MAY not be thinking about living a WHOLE year without opening the door and going outside. So...moving on.

Now, if it were a situation that you could go to the outside and supplement your food and water, then it's feasible. I think most Bunker Dwellers fall into this category.  Again, the cost of having the entire years worth of food and water stored, on top of the rest of your expenditures is astronomical. By no means am I discounting the potential pros that an underground shelter offers. It certainly has it's uses. Security, for one. Like we read early, a home isn't defensible. It's easily ambushed and even easier to penetrate. It's incredibly susceptible to bad weather and pyromaniacs. We all know what the Word says about lighting lamps and cities on the hillside? Same with houses. A lit up house can be seen for miles around.

 A bunker, on the other hand, has one way in and one way out. And while I hinted that a motivated person will always get in, it comes at a risk to the combatants safety as well as the potential to destroy any shelter and/or goods they hope to steal. A bunker also does much more than simply hide people. It's the perfect storage facility. It's easy to secure and easy to hide. That's an awfully big advantage if someone starts poking around. You can do a lot of things in a bunker. We talked about trying to grow food while living in a bunker and how that isn't really feasible. Well, it's a lot easier to grow food year-round if you can use a whole underground bunker to protect against weather and animals.

So, where does this leave us? Well, I hope you all can see the fallacy in trying to live the entire year in a bunker. It's extreme and cost prohibitive. Even if you satisfy all the "ifs" I have exposed, question yourself if you really want to live through the worst case. I know I don't. If I had to build a fully self sufficient, radiation proof shelter to survive a whole year, I am not sure I would want to live in the world the even would leave. I certainly couldn't afford it, by any stretch. And if I could, I wouldn't even need such a fancy one, because my wife would have left me LONG before finished it because A) the money I would spend B)her being convinced that I am even further off my rocker. I am already off it, as far as she is concerned, simply by posting...haha!

So, I've talked a good amount of trash about what I don't want, what I can't have, and the idiocracy of trying to build one if I did want it. Let's do what Von Braun said and "give solutions, not problems". What I DO want is somewhere that I could live for a month or two at a time in pretty nasty situations. Again, I don't really considering surviving a nuclear apocalypse to be feasible. you are either far enough away from it to go about your life, or you aren't. By nasty situations, I am thinking about sever enclimate weather, invasion, biological weapons or plagues, etc.
  • This would be in the realm of 750-1000 square feet.
  • It would be stocked with at least 1 month of provisions.
  • It would be built on a very rural plot of land next to a inconspicuous stream.
  • It would have a water filtration system, that being either a fancy chemical cleaner or simply a strainer/boiler set up. I am not that picky.
  • It would have a chemical toilet. It would have a generator, possibly in a segregated chamber.
  •  It would have a stand up shower and water catch/basin with a pump out.
  • It would have a Dutch oven.
  • It would have two entrances and exits.
  • It would be stocked with a good amount of entertainment (books/games/models/gym equipment). 

Now, I want you to analyse the things I have listed here. Do any of these items seem exotic? Expensive? Hard to find? Nope. While I have had several ideas on how to do this (go google some, you would be amazed at the creativity and affordability), one of my favorites is to bury a few steel shipping containers. Bring in a contractor to dig you a hole to your dimensions. That will cost you around $200 an hour. Shouldn't take longer than 2 hours. Maybe a half day if they want a minimum charge. Get a crane to lower them in, again, another $250 an hour. You can bury them by hand. You can get shipping containers for ~$1600 apiece. Get 3 of them, place them to form a T, weld them up. You now have 2 bedrooms and 1 common area. Go buy an old mobile home and part it out. You get the shower, toilet, a compact electric stove, and air conditioning system sized and packaged. Heck, you could bury the whole camper if you wanted...haha! A good generator will cost you around $1500. Decorate as needed. Stock as needed. Arrange for a hidden entrance. I would do something like, park a dilapidated old camper right on top of the entrance. Make sure you have a good method of locking the door (that you would have to fabricate).

 Folks, I just outlined a shelter for $10,000 that is more than adequate for your needs. With another $5,000, you could have a fairly lavish underground dwelling. Not only is it affordable, it's very secure, and it will be fun to build!

Of course, it's the "what now" that you must be concerned with. Even with the idea I just outlined, I only stocked it for a month, mostly because that's all I could afford. So, you will have to get out into the world to make ends meet. After all, a year is a long time, So you will have to get into those routines.

  • Wit down (in your awesome shelter) and plan out your goals, the better off you will be. Set those 30,000 foot goals, but don't worry about going into the nitty gritty details yet. It is easy to be overwhelmed when looking at the details of big tasks.
  • Next, establish a routine. One of the things our military teaches it's men is to establish routines. Why? Ward off boredom and provide a rise in morale. Even something as simple as:
    • wake up
    • Walk Perimeter
    • Shower and shave
    • Eat Breakfast
    • Plan Today's project
    • Work out
    • Shower
    • Read
    • Tend Garden
    • Walk Perimeter
    • Eat Lunch
    • Clean (guns? house?) 
    • Take inventory
    • Work on Today's project
    • Eat dinner
    • Read
    • Bed
Believe it or not, that's a whole days activity. Sure, you aren't getting a LOT done, but this would be a slow day. By sandwiching in repetitive tasks of many sorts with long term work, you can pass the time easily. Soon, you will look forward to many of these tasks, and those that you don't, you will feel obligated to do anyway. Ask anyone who, like me, struggles with their weight and goes to the gym for it. When I don't do it, I feel worse for not doing it. So I make myself do it. And then I feel good about it.

  • Be safe. The biggest threat to being a Bunker Dweller is having something that others will want. You are, and always will be, a target. So, whenever you are out, keep this in mind. Walking a perimeter is a necessary evil. So take different routes. If you aren't on your A-Game, don't go out.  If your mind is wandering, you might wander right past some guy or gal waiting to take you for all you have. Speaking of others, in this phase, involving yourself with others is a very big risk. I'm not saying to not do it, but take careful stock of what you are doing...and if you do approach others, always do it in your own terms. In this phase, people are either extremely desperate, or will be like you. I'm not sure which is worse. The person who doesn't know what to do, or the person who does. Actually,  the latter is probably worse as they might see you as a threat rather than an asset. Don't get me wrong, you WILL need other people to help you in your future...but we aren't there yet.

  • Make lists of things to do in regards to safety. It may be stupid to have a list for how to shut things down at night, but leaving the door unlocked, or a smoking chimney in the middle of the day, or any of a handful of innocent mistakes cost you your shelter or life aren't worth leaving to chance.

  • Give yourself a challenge, something worth doing, every day. By this, I am thinking about starting a garden, looking for livestock, or improving your water delivery. Something that you may not need now...but would be a great skill or thing to have for the next phase of life. Because, you will need a plethora of skills you won't need in this phase.

  • You will want to get out and scavenge for things you currently need and things you will need in the future. Don't take this lightly. Plan routes and times in depths. Think of areas that people will avoid. Take the out of the way route and stay off roads, even if you walk a few yards in the woods. Make lists of things you A)need B)will need C)want D)are valuable. After all, eventually, you will have to trade with people to get things you don't have. But remember, there isn't an item on earth worth your life.

Well..I will be honest. I am tired of writing, even though there is so much more to say. Mayne later.

I think I have done a good job on pointing out all the cons of the preconceived notions of a Doomsday Shelter. However, everyone should have one of a sort. Being from Tornado Alley, Alabama, a tornado shelter is a must. In fact, if you try hard enough, you can get state assistance to build one. But, let's say that instead of buying an off the shelf fiberglass shelter, you spend a little more money...or time...or both...and construct something a little larger with a little more amenities. Even in it's most basic form, you have a terrific place to call your prepper cache. If you put aside all of your preconceived notions of what a doomsday shelter IS and instead focus on what you need, what you can afford, and what you can do yourself, you may find that a shelter isn't too much to ask for...and is a SMALL price to pay for what it would afford in security.