Monday, April 25, 2011

Escaping The Uprisings

There is so much news today about revolutions rising up to overthrow governments — primarily in the Middle East. Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Syria,…who's next? People are dying, getting abducted by government or rebel factions (sometimes never to be heard from again), women are being molested and raped under the guise of one faction of another claiming to be attempting to establish or maintain order. Children are being recruited (because who would suspect a child of being an enemy?) and indoctrinated to become soldiers for one side or another. It's a mess, and it's only going to get messier.

I don't want to get into a political discussion of the why's and wherefores. I have my opinions, and I'm sure you do, too. But that's not why this blog site exists. We're only here to talk about how to "Get Out Alive." That means, first of all, avoiding threatening situations such as uprisings.

You don't have to travel to the Middle East to find yourself in the midst of a violent uprising. Downtown Seattle will do, when there's something going on that attracts organized anarchists to bus themselves in from out of town to stage a "spontaneous" demonstration so the "voice of the people" can be heard. It's ludicrous that anyone would pretend to believe that these things are:
  1. spontaneous
  2. the voice of local people
  3. non-violent (and if there is any violence, it's caused by the police) 
Trust me, they are anything but. In actual fact, uprisings are;
  1. well planned
  2. well organized by "community organizers"
  3. well funded from behind the scenes to accomplish a specific agenda
  4. populated with "rent-a-rioters" from out of town posing as freedom fighters
  5. bent on property destruction
  6. bent on costing taxpayers as much as possible to clean up the mess
  7. bent on creating chaos
  8. bent on violence
  9. politically motivated
  10. intended to intimidate the peaceful public
If you happen to find yourself caught up in one of these events, the best course of action is to try to determine the direction of movement. There is always movement of the mass of people. Figure out where it's going, and do your best to move perpendicular to it. Head in a direction that is at a right angle to the direction of movement. The reason for this is that if you simply turn around and run 180 degrees away from the demonstration, you'll probably get caught up in one of two things:
  1. more rioters racing in from the rear to catch up with the main group
  2. police sweeping in from behind
If you maintain some semblance of situational awareness in the days leading up to the revolution/riot/demonstration, you should not be surprised by it. There will be rumblings in the street, rumors, anticipation of something that is about to happen. When that occurs, take the initiative and get out of town ahead of time. Don't wait until the riots start, or you probably won't be able to escape the area.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Use Your Head

There are two ways to do things — the hard way, and the right way. Unfortunately, all too often in the face of a challenge we "macho up" and put ourselves in more danger than necessary. We do things the hard way.

That's okay, if your name is Superman and you can stand in front of a rushing freight train, stopping it in its  track without injury. But that kind of Hollywood thinking is what gets people hurt or killed. Let's take a look at s couple of examples:
  • You're out for an evening of fun when suddenly a ruckus gets started and fists are flying. 
  • You're on a day hike, three miles from your vehicle when an unexpected storm drops the temperature and rain starts falling hard.
  • While fishing in the middle of the lake, your boat overturns. 
In the first episode, you have a choice to make — you can stay and watch the fight escalate, you can join in the fracas, or you can quietly head for the door. Here's the truth — it doesn't matter if you know the hottest martial arts on the planet, you can still get yourself killed by some lunatic with a knife, a club, or a gun. Any real martial artist will tell you that the greatest form of self defense is avoidance. Get out of there before the trouble envelopes you. 

Second scenario — you can keep hiking through the chilly rain in the hope that you can make it to your car before hypothermia sets in, or you can stop and seek shelter to wait out the storm. 

Third — the boat is now upside-down, or maybe it has simply swamped. All small boats are mandated by law to have sufficient built-in flotation to keep them on the surface even if they are full of water. Your choices are to swim for shore or hang onto the boat and await rescue. 

In all of these settings, you can do things the hard way or the right way, and the choice is always yours to make. Make the right choice and you get out alive. Make the wrong choice and you probably won't. 

The title of this post is Use Your Head. Actually, if you use your head, you probably won't find yourself in very many nasty situations in the first place. The general principle is this: if I want to avoid dying of a drug overdose, all I have to do is never take drugs — right? 
  • So if I want to avoid getting involved in a bar fight, maybe I should make another choice about where I go for an evening of entertainment. 
  • If I want to avoid hypothermia because a sudden storm overtook me on a hike, I can make sure I have emergency survival equipment in my daypack so I don't have to depend on being able to find a suitable natural shelter. 
  • If I want to make sure I don't drown when my fishing boat sinks, I should always wear a life vest and carry a cell phone or two-way radio in a waterproof container so I can call for help. 
This principle can apply to every aspect of life. If we use our heads, we can avoid most of the problems in life — not only in the woods, but also in civilization. Most. I said most, not all. There are things that are totally beyond our control, and sometimes we get caught up in something even when we've taken every reasonable precaution. 

For those situations that are unavoidable, you need to be trained and prepared to dance to whatever music happens to be playing at the moment. There is no substitute for training and preparation. And getting yourself trained and prepared is the ultimate way to use your head. 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Most Dangerous

The statistics are in for the 2010 Crime State Rankings. According to CQ Press, that publishes these statistics each year, the most dangerous cities in America (from a violent crime standpoint) are:
  1. St. Louis, MO
  2. Camden, N.J.
  3. Detroit, MI
  4. Flint, MI
  5. Oakland, CA
  6. Richmond, CA
  7. Cleveland, OH
  8. Compton, CA
  9. Gary, IN
  10. Birmingham, AL
  11. Baltimore, MD
  12. Memphis, TN
  13. New Orleans, LA
  14. Jackson, MS
  15. Little Rock, AR
The criteria for determining which of the 400 cities in the evaluation are most dangerous were the overall ranking for six types of crime — assault, murder, rape, auto theft, robbery, and burglary. For example, in Camden, New Jersey, the rankings were #2 in the nation for assault; #4 for murder; #1 for rape; #23 for auto theft; #1 for robbery (way to go, Camden, you win top spot for two categories!); and #78 for burglary. Seems that Camden criminals lean toward rape, robbery, assault and murder rather than theft. 

Are there demographic patterns to these top 15 crime cities? I'll bet there are. You think it over and see if you can come up with what all these places have in common. I won't try to influence your thinking on this subject — I'm sure you can figure it out. But this is good information to keep in mind if you want to avoid being in dangerous places. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Period of Giant Earthquakes?

Richard Aster is a geophysicist at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and he is also the president of the Seismological Society of America. To say he knows a bit about the makeup of earthquakes is an understatement. And he's been studying with great interest the major earthquakes of the past several years.

The official definition of Giant Earthquakes are those that register 8.0 or higher on the Richter Scale. Historically, temblors of that magnitude are relatively rare, when compared with the total number of all earthquakes. If we look back to 1900, we can study the statistics. According to Aster, we may now be in the middle of a new age of large earthquakes. Take a look at the numbers and maybe you'll see what he is seeing.
  • 1903 — 8.3 Greece
  • 1906 — 8.8 Ecuador
  • 1906 — 8.2 Chile
  • 1918 — 8.2 Philippines
  • 1920 — 8.6 China
  • 1922 — 8.7 Chile
  • 1923 — 8.5 Russia
  • 1933 — 8.4 Japan
  • 1934 — 8.1 Nepal
  • 1943 — 8.2 Chile
  • 1945 — 8.0 Pakistan
  • 1946 — 8.1 Japan
  • 1948 — 8.1 Philippines
  • 1950 — 8.6 China
  • 1952 — 8.1 Japan
  • 1952 — 9.0 (a really big one) Russia
  • 1957 — 8.1 Mongolia
  • 1959 — 8.0 Russia
  • 1960 — 9.5 (most powerful quake ever recorded) Chile
  • 1964 — 9.2 (another monster) Alaska
  • 1965 — 8.2 Indonesia
  • 1966 — 8.2 Peru
  • 1968 — 8.3 Japan
  • 1970 — 8.0 Colombia
  • 1971 — 8.0 Papua New Guinea
  • 1976 — 8.0 Philippines
  • 1985 — 8.0 Mexico
  • 1995 — 8.0 China
  • 1995 — 8.0 Mexico
  • 1996 — 8.2 Indonesia
  • 2000 — 8.0 Papua New Guinea
  • 2001 — 8.4 Peru
  • 2003 — 8.3 Japan
  • 2004 — 9.3 (monster that killed nearly 300,000) Indonesia
  • 2007 — 8.1 Solomon Islands
  • 2007 — 8.0 Peru
  • 2007 — 8.5 Indonesia
  • 2009 — 8.1 Samoa
  • 2010 — 8.8 China
  • 2011 — 9.0 (another monster) Japan
So since the year 1900, there have been 40 earthquakes that registered 8.0 or higher on the scale. During that period, 5 of the temblors were measured a 9.0 or higher. 

What's interesting is that there seems to be a pattern — for example, during the period from 1950 to 1967 there was a spike in large earthquakes. Then there are lulls, then heightened activity again during certain periods. One pattern of interest is that none of the 9.0 or greater quakes occurred in the first half of the 20th century. All 5 of them happened after 1952. And two of them in just a 7-year period. And, during that same 7-year period, there have been 7 Giant Earthquakes (and we're not finished with this year yet) — something that has never happened before. 

Are we entering a period of Giant Earthquakes?  The statistics are very interesting. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting Around - Alternative Transportation

Have you ever thought about how often you use your vehicle to accomplish daily tasks? We are an automobile (that includes trucks and SUVs) intense society. Not many among us walk very far. Of course there are exceptions, but most of them do their walking for recreation, not to obtain the necessities of life.

So, what would happen if, for whatever reason, it was no longer possible to use a car for your daily activities? Could be a fuel shortage (or maybe it just becomes too expensive) or some kind of disaster that breaks up the roads so they're not passable. How about an EMP that knocks out all electronics, including what it takes to keep an engine running? What then?

We need to be thinking in terms of alternative forms of transportation.

  • Walking — it's slow and takes more energy (read caloric consumption) that some other options, but it's reliable as long as you're fit and have good shoes. Getting fit is simply a matter of practice. Walk every day. Begin with a distance and pace you're comfortable with, and every 10 days increase your distance by 25%. You'll know when you're ready to increase the pace. The important thing is to not overdo it and cause an injury that lays you up, because then you'll lose the fitness you've built up. Wear shoes that are supportive and comfortable enough to allow you to walk for 5 miles or more without foot fatigue. 
  • Bicycle — much easier and faster on level ground and going downhill. You can cover a lot of ground in a relatively short amount of time. My average cruising speed on my fat-tire mountain bike is about 15 miles per hour without too much exertion. To cover 15 miles on foot would take 5 or 6 hours and leave me very foot weary and tired, as well as depleted of caloric energy and hydration. Granted, not all of Earth's surface is level or downhill — When traveling uphill, if it becomes too difficult to pedal, hop off and push the bike. The bike becomes a mule, able to bear a fair burden on a rack or in panniers supported by racks across front and/or rear wheels. Add a day pack to your back and you can carry a lot of supplies pretty easily. A fat-tire bike with at least 21 gears is best, especially if the path is rough or strewn with rubble. My advice is to get used to riding now, so it isn't a new and challenging experience when you need to use the bicycle as your primary form of transportation.