Posts Tagged ‘Fundamentals’

Fortitude – Preparedness Foundational Element 2

One definition of fortitude is:  ‘The quality of mind enabling one to face danger or hardship resolutely.’  As I read more about various people’s definitions and examples, I am becoming convinced that my initial separation of fortitude into ‘physical and mental’ aspects is incorrect and redundant. 

A strong and fit body, while obviously a benefit, does not automatically guarantee ‘physical fortitude’, just as intelligence and knowledge does not necessarily confer ‘mental fortitude’.  In high school I was a good long-distance runner, very fit, with the potential to be great.  However, my lack of fortitude, mainly the inability to push through the pain that is the ‘wall’ that runners talk about, meant that I never posted more than average times.

Eighteen years later, I completed the Music City Half Marathon.  15 of those intervening years I smoked like a chimney and otherwise dragged my body down.  There is little chance I will ever be as fit as I was when I was younger, and I’ll certainly never be as fast, but the me of 18 years ago could not (or would not) have jogged 13.1 miles.  The difference between then and now?  Fortitude.  I made a choice, every day for the 5 months I trained, to not do the easy thing.  Rain or shine, 1 mile became 2, and 2 become 4.  And somewhere, unbelievably, 11 became 13.  I told myself over and over I would not quit.  Even to this day I smile when I realize I didn’t.

Sure, my story isn’t anything when compared to examples of fortitude above and beyond my comprehension, but at least it helps me to understand.  For example, consider Aron Ralston, a mountaineer who amputated one of his arms below the elbow in order to survive, and then proceeded to rappel down the side of a mountain and hike 7 miles until he found help.  However, when you look at his resume, such as having climbed 49 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot-plus mountains, as well as being an avid outdoorsman, it leads me to understand that fortitude can be developed by the life we lead.

Most of America works so they can lead the easiest life possible, filled with whatever luxuries they can afford.  Where we can, we rely on others to provide us with every want and need.   Many expect the government, or our parents, or our spouse, to take care of us, to provide us food, or health care, or housing.  I believe that attitude is killing us as individuals, as communities, and as a society.

However, just by being here and taking the first baby steps of preparing, we are taking back that responsibility for our own survival.  Self-sufficiency is the medicine to cure us from the toxins of our fast-food convenience store society.  I’ve made a choice, and I hope you will too.  Every day, let us choose to do something hard, something challenging, something that will work our muscles or our minds.  Let us choose to be a different.


05 2010

Skills – 1st Foundational Element of Prepping

(And now back to our scheduled programming of the ‘basics’ of prepping!)

While many survival stores on the ‘net necessarily try to sell lots of ‘beans and bullets’, in the end supplies may be the least important part of prepping.  However, because gear is the easiest to acquire, requiring only a credit card, sometimes it is the aspect of prepping most people relate to, because it is something they can immediately jump into. I’ll admit that I was part of this group, and I acquired a whole lot of stuff long before I knew what to do with it.

I’ve since come to understand that acquiring skills is of far more value.  Using a chain saw, running a trot line, knowing CPR and basic first aid, being able to change a flat tire or clean your battery posts, are all examples of useful skills. Robert Heinlein in his book Time Enough For Love says:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

As a specific example, let’s talk about starting a fire.  While I have many ways to start a fire, including bic lighters, magnesium fire starters, and waterproof matches, none of those would replace or be more valuable than the ability to start a fire without any of those things.  Any number of things can happen to our stuff, but its much harder to take away our natural abilities and skills.  The important thing to remember is that any of us can learn to start a fire the ‘old-fashioned ways’. (And it’s one of the thousand things on my list!  As I will go into detail in a future post, in a longer-term disaster scenario, supplies main use is to buy us time for our skills to come into play.

So if you’re just starting out on the prepping path, find out those around you who have skills you might one day need and ask if they would be willing to teach you. Most times they will be, as it is human nature to want to share what we know.  Also check out your local Red Cross Courses or your local community college, as many offer one day or multi-day courses in practical skills. In future posts we will cover must-have and good-to-have skills and where to learn them. If you would like to discuss something in particular, please let me know!

Our next several posts will discuss the other 2 fundamental aspects of prepping: fortitude and supplies.


05 2010

So What is Prepping?

So what is a basic definition of prepping?

A basic definition of prepping is ‘Gaining the skills, supplies, and mental and physical fortitude to be prepared for any circumstance.’ While it is likely impossible to be prepared for ‘any’ circumstance, such as the moon careening out of orbit or a large asteroid strike a la Armageddon, that is the goal we shoot for. 

When I discuss being prepared, I don’t just mean in terms of a major disaster, but also each little emergency in our lives. For example, can you change a flat or jumpstart your car? Do you know how to safely deal with a wasp’s nest underneath your porch? How to safely put out a stove fire?

So while yes, we’ll talk about being able to deal with a power outage lasting 30 days on our own store of supplies, being a prepper means being self-sufficient wherever we can. I’ll be straight up with y’all.  For most of my life, I was a chain-smoking, video-game playing, indoor-dwelling, TV-watching sloth. My opinion of a trip outside was running to the convenience store for more Amberbock. My method of changing a tire or jump-starting my car was calling AAA.

However, somewhere along the line about 7 years ago, I started controlling the elements of my life, instead of having them control me. I quit smoking cold turkey, and I was smoking 3 packs a day. I got out of debt, even though I was only making a very average wage. I started to get back into shape after having abused my body with smokes and alcohol for many years.

So please believe me when I say anyone can do this, and needs to!  My family were laughing at me recently as I struggled to dig a trench for my wife’s tomato plants.  I was actually a little hurt, but to be honest they were right to laugh.  They have never known me as anything other than a couch-dwelling, coffee-swilling layabout. 

So digging ditches was not something I had ever done before…but guess what?  It is now. I’ve learned quite a bit about good technique and not so good technique.  And as a side benefit, because so much of what I dug up was rock, I decided to kill two birds and use the rock to help with a grade I am going to build up under my porch.

If something needs to be done around my house, it is my responsibility to do it, especially if it doesn’t require specialized skills (and sometimes even if it does).  The reason I started Advice and Beans is because I believe it is time for every person to make self-sufficiency part of our lives, and to not expect others to do for us what we can do for ourselves. 

If we make it a habit to try to resolve any situation prior to calling in the cavalry, eventually we’ll find that most of us can do many tasks we used to rely on others for.  That ability to function consistently without outside assistance will help in the most critical times, because we will have conditioned ourselves to act, not react

So What’s Next?

Our next 3 posts will cover the individual components of prepping:  skills, supplies and fortitude.


05 2010

Welcome Part 2

So what’s it going to be like around here?

One thing my career in Procurement has taught me is that customer service is the most important element of building relationships, whether with co-workers, suppliers, or managment.  I will apply that to this site as well.  And part of that means being predictable.  Thus, establishing a schedule for Advice and Beans is as important as getting to work on time and being professional and courteous once there.  I’ve read hundreds of blogs, and you can usually tell very quickly whether it is a passion or a chore for the owner. 

The original Survival Blog is an example of a site where the owner loves what he does.  The site is updated every day like clockwork, and has been for years.  For those who have moved beyond the basics or simply wants to browse the most extensive survival and prepping archives anywhere, go there and enjoy.  James Wesley, Rawles (yes, the comma is supposed to be there, but you’ll have to read his site to find out why) is one of the reasons I began prepping, and his site is one of the reasons for mine.  It is full of so much information that sometimes I wish someone would break it all down for me into bite-size pieces that I can apply immediately.  I hope you’ll find that one of the themes of my life and this blog is  ‘Put your money where your mouth is.’  Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and Advice and Beans will be a bridge between the advanced staged prepping you’ll find elsewhere and the foundation you need to get you there.

On the other hand, the last prepping blog I read had some good information, but the author posted eratically, sometimes once a month, sometimes once every three.  It seems it would be hard to develop a community with such a sporadic schedule.  As you, the reader, are the most important part of Advice and Beans, I hope the dialog will be much more frequent!

So what’s the plan?

My current plan is to have a new original post up Monday, Wednesday and Friday of every week.  For the first several months, these will be the ‘fundamentals’ posts discussed earlier, the baby steps of prepping or the discussing of why we do it. 

Every other Saturday there will be a special column ‘Boys with Toys’, where I review one of my favorite pieces of gear, a book, or something a reader requests.

Once or twice a week I’ll be doing a little bit called ‘What Can I Do Today?’. This will be something that you and I can and should do, well, today. It is something easy and usually won’t take more than 15-20 minutes. Also, my commitment to you is anything I suggest in ‘What can I do today?’, I will be doing myself!

Plus, every time I come across what I consider a useful, pertinent or interesting article or video I will link to it as well, so you’ll find something new here almost every day! 

And while I won’t commit to it quite yet, once a month I plan to post a podcast (basically, a video blog post).  These may range from showing you how I have my preps set up, doing a video version of Boys with Toys, or demonstrating actual techniques, such as starting a fire with one of those cool magnesium things or showing you how to vacuum-pack your own food.  If I get better at video editing and such, I may try to do more of these as time goes on.

So what’s the long-term plan for Advice and Beans?

Very few people make a living doing exactly what they want, and I am no exception.  While I love my current job, Advice and Beans is a baby step toward the goal of having a small business that is exactly what I want to do with my life, supports my family, or at least supports itself.  More ‘putting my money where my mouth is.’  If the site and store paid for the hosting costs and bandwidth of the site, I would consider it a success.  Any more would be a blessing. 

However, that said, I will not turn this site into a giant page full of flashing advertisements.  I do plan to have a couple of ads that I pray will help defray the cost of the site, but they will be tasteful and useful or they will be removed.  Additionally, within some posts I will have an Amazon Affiliate advertisement, but only to products I would (or have) bought myself.  Each advertisement through Amazon where someone buys something, I get a very small commission. So, if you like the site, I hope every once in a while you’ll click through to Amazon and make a purchase!  (You can even just use the search feature on the right hand side of the page, it doesn’t have to be an actual linked product!)

Finally, at the Advice and Beans store, I will be selling a small selection of items such as mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and other basic prepping items.  Being in Procurement and realizing that I want to develop a community here and not just a business, any item I put up in the store will be at or around the lowest price I can find it on the net.  I for one check prices on darn near everything, and I expect many of you do the same.  Thus, I won’t try to sell you overpriced junk you don’t need.  Additionally, each item I sell that needs it will come with an instruction sheet, so you’ll never have to guess how to use it (as I did with some of my very early purchases).  All items will also have a 30-day, no questions asked, money back guarantee (though if the product is not defective, you’ll have to cover return shipping).  I would much rather have a reader than a sale, so if you’re not happy with something, I will make it right!

Well, that’s about it in the way of introduction.  Next post bright and early Monday morning we’ll define what we mean when we say ‘prepping’ to make sure we’re all on the same page!



05 2010