Friday, 19 July 2013

The Weekly Word #2

Hello again readers and welcome to the second edition of the Weekly Word on The M. Here this week I am again to bring updates on news, general topics, my blog, and of course my random ideas that I throw around!

For the record: Yes this will be the official picture of these articles ;)

I'm sad to say I start this week on a sombre note as I refer to the infamous Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case. It would seem that George Zimmerman was indeed found innocent of the charges laid against him. Now that in and of itself isn't a terrible thing as it shows that the system did not convict him due to lingering doubts by the jury. Rather the terrible thing might be that his trial was presided over by a jury which comprised of five white jurors and a single 'minority' juror!

However, this was also a case where the prosecution again failed as they could not successfully strike jurors they did not approve of, nor did they manage to keep some jurors in whom they felt would successfully be swayed by their arguments. This of course left us with a jury who may or may not have allowed racial feelings or prejudices to get in the way. This did of course, lead to one disastrous interview on CNN.

Some might say that this unnecessarily brings racial issues into the trial. Let me just add that when a young black male is profiled by a non-black male and followed, confronted, then killed, there is no doubt that race was involved. I personally think this speaks to the character of the man who killed Martin, and I do believe that the mostly white jury is morally culpable for letting him walk.

However, I also criticize the prosecution who so badly handled the trial. They overcharged Zimmerman with second-degree murder where a manslaughter charge would have been more justified, and thus it fell on the prosecution to prove that Zimmerman had far more criminal intent than he demonstrated. For sure the man attempted to provoke a confrontation with Martin, and he carried a gun on his person and drew it on someone who was unarmed, but it would be highly disingenuous to say that he went out that night and intended to kill someone.

All in all the case is one that suffered from being surrounded by a media circus which lead to a poor handling of the effort to convinct Zimmerman as the prosecutors became almost honor bound to deliver the highest level of justice they could to Zimmerman, whether or not it was the most feasible charge that could be laid. It is another terrible example of trial by media.

In other, yet related news, I certainly hope that this will be something that forces an examination of the 'Stand your ground law' which exists in the United States. To me it seems like a law which is not well designed and one which doesn't seem capable of defending the people it is actually meant to defend.


In more cheery and writing related news, I am coming a long way now on Service to the State and I've finally stopped waffling on whether to include a boot-camp section in the novel. There will be one, but it will be much briefer and intersposed with social commentary and Chekov's Gun related items than a normal set would be.

Much of the other chapters will involve the antagonist and supporting characters gearing up for the epic climax of the novel regarding some intense space battles and hot power armor on power armor action!

That is of course what I set out to accomplish with this story ;)


Also, the once proud city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. Now I was personally surprised to hear this (mostly owing to the fact that I didn't know a city could file for bankruptcy) (and that is apparently being fought out in court) and felt it was quite the piece of news for me to get.

Well if entire cities can file for bankruptcy I think that we may sadly see more of this in the future as cities with declining economies and financial/industrial sectors are quite literally unable to pay their bills.

That bodes poorly for pensioners, city employee's, anyone dependent on welfare, and a myriad of other people who live in the city. This of course may increase crime, death rates, poverty rates, send the standard of living there plummeting. Though in a city where large tracts of it have been abandoned or turned into ghost towns I suppose it is pretty hard for it to get worse at this point.

The Education system really can't get any worse

What effect this might have on the economy of course, will remain to be see, but I can't call it a good one.


In other mostly self-interest (and somewhat prepper related) news, I plan on doing a big article gushing about old stone houses, their pros and cons, and the fact that I'm currently working in one as a museum guide for the summer!

It's a beautiful old place and anyone who could see it ought to see it! Wonderfully preserved it is an amazing sight inside my old town here in Ontario, and I must say that I've come to fall in love with it!

But enough about that I'll be gushing on and on about it later!

Well I guess I haven't found much in the news I feel like reporting on today or this week really, so I'll leave you all with my usual farewell!

Until next time readers, until next time!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Prepping: Starting Simple

Well readers after a few hectic weeks where I have been stuffed to the gills with no fewer than four birthday cakes I am happily back to blogging.

This week however I am going to once again deliver a piece on prepping and how easy it can be. While the idea of prepping may seem a daunting task to the novice I assure that in the long run it is well worth it.

To begin there are seven primary things a prepper must have in abundance or plan for extensively to actually get started in the prepping game. In our modern consumer world storing up on these essentials can be as easy as 1,2,3 by going to cheap bulk mark stores like Costco and Walmart!
Though to begin here is a list of the 'must haves' when you begin prepping.

1. A clean and renewable source of water:

Water, the blood of life from the deserts of Arabia to the rivers of lower Canada. You can go for weeks without food but never more than three (and if you're insanely lucky, seven) days without water or fluids of some sort to help replenish your body.

The fact is that without this basic first step any attempts at prepping are sunk right from the start.

There are a myriad of ways for people to get a fresh, clean, renewable source of water from rain catchment to ground wells. This article is only a list of course but I will be going into other ways to get water another time.

What is important to remember is that you will also need a way to purify water as there is no stretch of water which is 100% safe from the contaminants of the modern world. Boiling, purifying tablets, even a rather simple charcoal and dirt water strainer is useful.

To use an example, I as a Canadian do not need to be overly concerned about fresh water. I live in a country where we have the most plentiful fresh water in the world! Now does that mean I can take it for granted? NO! I have to be aware of where my water is coming from, what possible pollutants could be going into the water, and what secondary advantages this water could offer me (fish, boat transport, ect).

Just remember, in a quick fix you can buy large 10gallon drums to store water in! Having at least ten of these fully stocked would be a good idea for a back up supply.

2. A safe place to lay your head:

Now if you have a fresh source of water you next need a shelter to protect yourself from the elements. Suburban home, old farmhouse, raised tent/treehouse, and hobbit holes abound for your choice in shelter.

A shelter is important as it gives you a place to call your castle (and depending on how you like to prep it will be your castle) and for you to store your supplies.

In designing (or buying) a shelter you must think about where you are prepping. Is it in a city? The country? The wilderness? Is it a warm climate? How are the winters? How much rain do you get annualy? What is the wild life like?

I am currently city prepping so I take into account what my home in the city looks like and I have a Bug Out plan in case the worst happens and I am forced to flee the city for my family home in the country. Its rather simple as plans go, with hopes for establishing a secondary stockpile of supplies somewhere else.

3. A good food supply:

Now I won't say a food supply is prep specific as food is a universal must, but I will say how you plan on prepping is going to effect how you prep.

The safest bet for an early prep is to have a six month supply of food stocked away (in emulation of the Mormon tradition) as a just in case idea. This can include canned goods, easily stored grains and vegetables and canned meat and blocks of salt.

Buying canned goods in bulk couldn't be easier if you go to places like Bulk Barn, Costco, or Walmart. You can set aside some money every grocery trip to get items that will store for up to five years and if stored right can last longer! A deep larder is just good planning people.

Now if you are thinking long term well that's another matter entirely and one which would require way more detail this this simple list post. Though there is one generalization I would make it is this, chicken's are a wonderful food animal and are great for eggs and meat.

Whatever you do don't forget about a personal garden! If you're tired of mowing the lawn go out and put that vacant space to good use! I personally reccomend this as most of the time you can get easy practice with growing items in a garden. It's good practice and most of the time it's good food.

4. Waste management:

This should be a must. Unless you have a generator which can run 24/7 continuously, at some point your toilet is going to break down. Now most toilets can still be flushed if you pour water into them or use the mechanism inside the toilet to auto-flush it.

However, what will you do if you can't make your toilet flush? How will you dispose of this human (or animal) waste safely?

The answer readers, ought to be fairly simple. An outhouse. This is the most ideal form of disposal when the toilet stops flushing. You will want to have a space marked for an outhouse on your property which is a) well away from your house and garden b) not going to interfere with your water supply. Unlike most animal wastes our own feces is not beneficial to growing good plants. Over time it will go back to nature but you will want to have a deep hole to let it do so for a while. Preferably three such sites in abundance in order to avoid overtaxing one area.

Trust me here, an outhouse may smell and have insects, but the alternative is much much worse to comprehend. I'd rather go in an outhouse than take a 'wild one' and worry about stepping in it later.

5. Toiletry Items:

This should be obvious. What happens when you can't get a good supply of toiletry items? What will happen when you run out of toilet paper? Feminine items? Toothpaste?

Stock up while you can readers. Remember how much of an inconvenience it was when you saw no one had changed the toilet paper roll? Think about how much worse it will be if you can't get any toilet paper for weeks on end.

The same goes for toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorent, and of course soap and shampoo. There are many ways to make your own soap and find natural substitutes for these items. It should be a top priority amongst preppers to get these personal hygiene items in abundance in order to stave off disease, and of course, social problems from bad BO.

Soap stores essentially forever, and deoderant can be useful for a few years while shampoo will be essential (though you may not want to waste it every day) and simply feeling clean is a great mental boost after a while.

6. Necessary medical items:

Now this is important readers. Band-aids, lots of them! From painkillers to antiseptics you will want a well stocked first aid kit in your home. If God forbid you find yourself in considerable pain or having a minor wound which could get infected you will want it healed up as quickly as possible.

If possible you will want to be on good terms with your doctor so you can have some clue how to get help.

Since that is not always possible (like having a person who is skilled in medicine) you will want to have some rudimentary knowlegde of medical procedures and have some know how in order to look for the obvious signs of infection or illness.

There will always come a day when you just might not be able to go to the hospital so having at least the basics for first aid or how to set a broken bone could prove to be an indespensible boon someday. There are a variety of good books on the subject available on the market and I would personally suggest these three:

*American Red Cross First Aid

*Where There is No Doctor by David Werner

*Where There is No Dentist by Murray Dickson

They are good starter guides for prepping in the medical sphere.

Number seven however is something that many would say is essential but I would call a lesser consideration. Though I don't view it as optional since at the very least hunting is important.

7. A hunter's weapon:

The old US survival adage goes "Beans, Band-aids, and Bullets". This is true I suppose but contrary to many in the US who stock up on weapons to fight off looters and bandits I would only reccomend a weapon to hunt animals and push off the inevitable feral dog that will spring up.

No matter what your opinion on hunting/killing animals I view it as a necessary thing to keep a hunting rifle to at least bag the occasional deer, or shoot a pesky raccoon.

Hunting can be a great short term suppliment for food and meat if you can manage it, but it is only that, a short term solution. In a short prep scenario that means it is essential to have this as a back up plan in case your supplies run low.

For me driving off a wild animal or predator is more important (and likely) than pell mell banditry that many survivalists predict.


So readers prepping is easy to start with! It is committment which is the key. If you can stick to it over time it is easy to stock up for tough times in bulk!

I understand prepping can be a daunting challenge, but as I said in my previous article on the subject, it is something that people ought to do. It is smart, forward thinking, and above all a good excercise in mental and family planning.

Until next time readers!

Monday, 8 July 2013

The Weekly Word #1

Hello readers! Here I am starting a new segment for the blog which I am calling, the Weekly Word. In order to keep myself motivated to blog and keep writing interesting articles I will be posting a segment which tops off the news for the week, any interesting thoughts I might have, my writing updates, and of course weird web stuff.

To start off the week I thought I might catch up with some news from yesterday. Yesterday was Robert Heinlein's birthday! One of the fathers of modern science fiction Heinlein was one of the great men to start off the science fiction genre and use it as a conduit to explore social norms and societal values. He wrote two of my favorite books, Starship Troopers and The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. I've probably read each of those books at least ten times. Short sweet and packed with fascinating details on possible futures and interesting societies. The man was a great writer and visionary who should be remembered for all time in the literary genre.

Tor does a wonderful article in reflection on him.

On another note if you aren't following Tor on Facebook, I suggest you do so soon! They have a wonderful slew of updates on authors and books, and besides that they have countless fun articles for you to sample! I often post them on my page!

In international sector you've probably heard about the coup in Egpyt by now as the rather undemocratic President Morsi has been captured by the military. In a region which could use less unrest it seems that the country is slipping into a low scale civil war of its own.

It leaves a delicate question for modern friends of democracy to answer. If an elected official is up to no good and trying to subvert the democratic process is it right for him to be overthrown in a coup? To be fair to the Egyptian military however, they only acted when overwhelming domestic pressure against Morsi's policies (in the form of protests all around the country) and then exerted their considerable force on the government and seized the President.

The problem of course is that this sets an interesting example, the military has launched a coup (though some would prefer the term revolution) against a man who was elected fairly. However, supporters point out that Morsi (and his backers the Muslim Brotherhood) was the only man who had anything resembling a political party so there was little doubt who would win.

This is all part of the growing pains of what we hope will turn Egypt into a modern democracy. With the military suspension of the Constitution however and an insurgency forming only time will tell what happens. Though the military kept the majority of its promises last time and allowed for elections and didn't interfere with the process, except to preserve their considerable power as a state within a state. How this will play out for the future of democracy in Egypt again, remains up in the air.

On a more cheery and amusing note, today is the 66th anniversary of the Roswell UFO incident in 1947!

So today is the day when aliens potentially visited Earth for the first time. Now I don't actually believe that personally but hey someday I could be proven wrong!

Either way next time you look up to the sky, wave because you never know, little grey men could be watching you!

Hope you enjoyed the first update readers! I'll make sure to keep 'em coming! Until next time!