Return of the Prepper #7 : Coronavirus – don’t panic, do worry

I had planned to have an early night and not make another post about the Coronavirus outbreak, but I must admit I am getting worried.

The media of course is picking up the headwind and beginning to go into overdrive with ever more attention grabbing headlines.

So I spent the afternoon seeking out some more direct and authoratative sources of information to check the situation for myself. The data I found is beginning to look a little scary.

The numbers of infected and dead so far are still quite small – ‘officially’ 2,019 confirmed cases and 56 deaths. But it is the rate of growth in the numbers that makes me worried.

The confirmed cases number is up from 1,438 yesterday – an increase of 40%, and the deaths up 33% from 42. If these sorts of numbers are sustained that means the outbreak is doubling in infection and death every 2 – 3 days.

And there are now numerous first hand accounts coming out of China suggesting the official figures are being significantly or even dramatically under-reported.

There are videos of doctors collapsing on the floor, nurses screaming in panic, and hospitals generally being overrun.

People in China are taking great risks to get the information out. This video particularly hits home hard…

Some might call into question the authenticity of such social media sourced information, but personally I am largely believing it.

There is now too much circumstantial evidence coming from the official sources to make one believe that the more extreme social media reporting is not without substance.

The Chinese Government is locking down an increasing number of major cities across the country, including now Beijing, and well as closing many major visitor attractions and halting tourism trips.

If this shut down continues it will begin to have a significant impact on the Chinese economy. The Government would not therefore takes these steps lightly.

This economic impact will begin to spread around the world. The supply of the products and parts produced in China could start to dry up quite quickly.

In Wuhan, at the centre of the outbreak, the authorities are super fast-tracking the building of two new hospitals to provide more capacity to deal with the rapidly growing number of infected people.

They have also announced that 24 general hospitals will be transformed to help look after the infected patients.

These steps do seem quite dramatic for the supposed number of infections reported so far.

The Twitter feed of China’s largest newspaper, People’s Daily @PDChina is a good source for official information.

Looking at the continually updated map from John Hopkins University will give a good overview of the global spread…

So far infections outside of China are quite small in number. But they are growing.

The first case in Canada, in Toronto, has just been reported. Other countries I am sure will be added to list over the next few days.

If you want to make your heart skip a beat or two, take a look at the graph presented in the bottom left corner of the John Hopkins University map page. Of course axes can be drawn to different scales but that orange line sure does look like it is heading into the world of exponentialism…


It is late at night, and at 3am one’s sense of the dramatic can become heightened.

Taken that into account I think I can hold back from panic, but I have certainly moved into worry mode.

I will round this off with a little dose of irony.

Last night I managed to order another couple of boxes of anti-viral and N95 masks still at a reasonable price.

I got the dispatch and delivery notification this morning. They won’t arrive for another two or three weeks.

They are being shipped from China…



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Return of the Prepper #6 : Coronavirus – am I bothered, am I prepared?

Pandemic looming or storm in a teacup?

I am sure everyone has by now heard about the growing outbreak of a new coronavirus.

The new virus emerged apparently from an animal market in Wuhan in eastern China just before Christmas.

The number of people infected is now nearing a thousand. The large bulk of these are in China, but isolated cases are beginning to appear in other countries in south east Asia, and increasingly around the world.

The first outbreaks are now appearing in Europe with three cases in France, and there have been two cases now in the USA.

To date 26 people have died, all in China.

The World Health Organisation has so far declined to declare a Global Health Emergency, and the Chinese Government claims it has the situation under control.

The outbreak however has come at the worse possible time for China as today is the Lunar New Year holiday when many millions of people travel to be with their families.

The Chinese government has implemented strong measures to contain the spread of the disease including cancelling major public events, closing visitor attractions like the Forbidden City in Beijing and Shanghai’s Disney Resort and banning travel in and out of a growing number of cities across the country.

In the UK there have been a number of suspected cases but so far all have tested negative.

It is however widely accepted that it is only a matter of time before confirmed cases appear in Britain.

Until that point concern here in the UK is likely to be moderately subdued.

Social media, particularly Youtube and Twitter, is beginning to light up with reports, updates, projections and speculations – some measured and well researched, others easily drifting toward hyperbole and sensationalism.

This report from DW gives a measured update on the situation…

As a prepper my concern level is a little more heightened than most. Receiving an unexpected email this evening from the teacher saying that my daughter’s Chinese lessons on Sunday have been cancelled has done nothing to lessen my prepping alert thoughts.

The big question is how do you prepare for a disease outbreak situation like this?

The number one answer of course is to stay away from people, and particularly large crowds, as much as possible. That is a bit easier for us in rural Wales but two of our daughters are studying in big cities, and our younger one is still at school.

I don’t forsee the wearing of masks happening in the UK yet awhile, but I already have some N95 masks in stock just in case. However experts suggest most masks give very imperfect protection as they do not form a full facial seal.

Washing of hands very regularly is reported to be more effective. Carrying hand sanitiser is also useful.

Canadian Prepper on YouTube gives a good rundown on ways to prepare for a potential pandemic if it goes that far…

My best advice – keep informed, stay alert, be prepared.

If you want the official line keep an eye on the World Health Organisation…

And their Situation Reports…

In the meantime I am just hopping on to Amazon to order a few more face masks…

Goodnight and stay well.



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Return of the Prepper #4 : Prepping in Old Age – how to prepare for that?

I am not old, but I am not young. I will be 60 this year and I know life is changing.

My health is not too bad, no major life threatening ailments for either my wife or I. But we both have minor issues that have the potential to get more serious and more impacting on our lives and lifestyles.

Part of our prepping is planning for all eventualities. One of these is declining health, and particularly mobility.

Our style of prepping is very much focused around the bugged-in, homesteading, grow your own, self-sufficiency model.

That does require quite a bit of physical labour – chopping wood, shifting compost, digging beds etc.

While I can still do most of it, a back injury is already preventing me from lifting and carrying heavy weights for any distance. This is likely to get worse over time.

So we must plan, and adapt. Find ways to achieve the same but with less manual labour.

In the garden for example I am, as much as possible, moving to perennial crops that will stay put in one place and continue to produce food year in, year out without much physical input.

I am also moving over to the ‘no-dig’ method of growing food as promoted by Charles Dowding…

At some point when funds permit it would be useful to invest in a powered wheelbarrow to allow me to move heavier loads more easily.

I didn’t even know these these existed until I did a search on Amazon and found there are quite a range of models available. Alas mostly in the region of $1000 and upwards. They are mostly battery powered so potentially could be charged from solar PV.

Something like this might be good…

If we really want to go to town, my dream list would include an electric gator type vehicle for moving around our property. I don’t know how much these cost but an adult sized one of these would be good…

There is probably a whole bunch of equipment we might want to get in the coming years to make prepping lighter on the body. A log splitter for example would be useful.

Perhaps the ultimate older person’s preppring gear will be an exo-skeleton. In my Future Diary 2030 series I thought these were a thing of 10 years time, but I have now discovered they are already arriving in Japan…

The physical labour side will be a major part of prepping in our advancing years but there will be many other areas to consider. Some I am already aware of, some I am not.

Building up stocks of any medications we may need to take regularly is one thing to plan for.

We might also need to consider how our diets might change. Also our mobility and what sort of vehicles might be best suited for us.

Most of these issues do have something of a negative twist to them.

However one area where I think there might be some positive gain with getting older will be community networking.

As I gradually move to retirement and cut down my employment, I should have much more time to get involved with local organisations and activities. I am looking forward to taking on some volunteer roles in local community groups. This will be a great way to improve our connections in the local area.

Having a strong and diverse local network is a key element of a good prepping strategy.

As this is a fast approaching area of prepping for me I would be interested to hear of any tips and ideas from other older preppers and homesteaders of how they are adapting in their advancing years.

Thank you.



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Planning for 2020 – Is it too late to make New Year’s Resolutions?

Maybe I’ve missed the boat by a couple of weeks for making New Year’s resolutions, so I’ll just call it planning for the year ahead.

2020 is going to be an important year for me personally and for my family. It will be a year of significant change – some for the better, some not so.

I will be turning 60, our youngest daughter will be joining her two sisters away at university, and our work and financial situation will be undergoing significant shifts.

So it feels quite critical that we have some plans and some points of reference for the remaining 50 weeks of 2020.

I started thinking about this in the polytunnel this afternoon and as soon as I pressed the play button multiple random thoughts and phrases came rushing into my head.

There hasn’t been sufficient time and space to sort, prioritise and synthesize them yet into a meaningful plan of action so before anything leaks from my memory I am just going to throw everything on this page.

In no particular order, these are all the things I want to change and want to do in 2020…

  1. Get more sleep
  2. Spend more time outside than inside
  3. Spend less time in front of a computer screen
  4. Work on getting healthier again
  5. Eat better
  6. Grow more food
  7. Meet more real people in real life
  8. Get involved in building resilience in the local community
  9. Learn to make videos
  10. Get rid of a lot of stuff
  11. Return to the ways of the Prepper
  12. Help people

I am not sure of the how’s and when’s on some of these. They will evolve in the coming days and weeks.

Some – sleep/eat/health – are largely up to me. Decide it – do it – stick to it.

I did manage 8 hours of sleep time last night (for the first time for ages). Tonight I’ll endeavour to repeat that feat and move to an earlier sleep/wake pattern.

Weather and work permitting #2 is an easier one for me. I love being outside – particularly doing #6.

The others are works in progress – more to follow on each of them.

I feel slightly uneasy about including #12 – it does sound, look and feel pretentious.

Everyone wants to help people. Don’t they?


So that’s my dozen Points to Self for the year.

Comments and input welcome.

If anyone is at all interested, and just for self monitoring, I will report back on progress at some intervals through the year.

Thank you and good night.



[ image from pixabay.com ]

Five ways Steem has changed my life, and what comes next…

In my 50+ years I have been involved in many causes, many organisations, many communities and many new activities. Some for shorter, some for longer.

But of all of these, the past 18 months on Steem has been more intense, more condensed and more all round impactful on my life than any other of my past endeavours.

Steem has taught me, steem has changed me, steem has made a indelible mark on my life…

1. The World of Crypto

Steem has been my entry point to the world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

As well as learning about Steem itself it has prompted me to explore other parts of the crypto world. I am seeing clearly that this is a world with many, many, many possibilities.

With every crypto stone I turn over another idea sprouts up before me. Fertile lands are just over the horizon.

2. Justice, Equality & A Dollar A Day

The single most important part of Steem for me is without a doubt A Dollar A Day.

Running this charitable giving organisation on Steem has opened my eyes so, so wide.

Talking directly to the people at the other end of the line, hearing how they live, about the problems they face and the solutions they are trying to implement has changed my outlook on the world big time and a half.

I have connected so directly with the people I work with. It is difficult not to have a heightened sense of responsibility to get involved and do the very, very best I can to help.

And A Dollar A Day has helped, a little at least. Even in these difficult days A Dollar A Day has managed to raise approaching US$ 5000 since the project started in May.

This has clearly demonstrated the potential of the Steem blockchain to do good in the world. I do so hope A Dollar A Day can continue to grow and develop in its present form, in its present place.

3. Radio Shows

Becoming a show host on MSP Waves has been my biggest personal revelation from being involved in Steem.

I had never hosted radio shows before, and I would never have dreamed of doing so if not for Steem.

And it has been such a fascinating and enjoyable part of my steem life. Since starting in January, through the various incarnations, I have put out almost 70 shows.

What’s more, on those shows I have now interviewed around 400 steemians. That has been a joy, a pleasure, a privilege, an honour to get to know so many people on the platform in this way.

4. Vegetarian & Vegan

Back in March I interviewed @teamsteem on my Alternative Lifestyle Show on MSP Waves. We talked at length about his choice to be vegan. Then a few weeks later I brought together 10 steem vegans for a vegan special edition of the show. This covered all the different angles of why people become vegan… health, ethics, environment etc.

I had never been a big meat eater. But since those shows I have not eaten any. I am totally vegetarian.

Going full vegan, particularly having our own chickens, has been a longer, and more windy journey. But the ultimate goal is coming close.

I feel healthier for it.

5. Sleep

The other four have been big positives. But it would be dishonest for me not to include this rather more negative impact of steem.

With a 24 hour round the world community I commonly find myself chatting on Discord into the wee small hours with people in earlier timezones.

And there is always more to do. Posts to write, comments to make, shows to listen to, interviews to arrange, donations to send. I set myself steem targets each day – and I try to get them done before going to sleep.

This is not good. I have written about it before. I know it has got to change.

It will, I am trying harder.


So Steem has changed my life. Mostly for the better.

Whatever comes next these past 18 months have been fruitful.

I will wish for many months more…

 

 

Pennsif’s Progress – Selling Up and Moving On (it’s not quite what you think)

The next couple of years are going to see major changes for my wife and I and our family.

I will turn 60, my business will have been going for over 25 years, and all three of our children will be passing through university and on their way to the big wide world.

We will be left be with 17 acres of homestead, 11,000 trees of all shapes and sizes, half a dozen chickens and one naughty little dog.

I love our land and I love our trees. And I have for the longest time assumed this would be my final resting place.

But what we have is a liability. It is difficult to get away when you have animals and land. And there is always something to fix.

And with the health of both of us deteriorating the physical endeavours of managing the homestead will become ever more challenging.

So we are beginning to consider alternatives.

I would love to keep this homestead for ever. But the realities are becoming different.

The costs of running the place, with local property tax, insurance, oil, electricity, maintenance etc etc are fast approaching $1000 a month. It is unlikely any of our children will want to live here. And the limitations it places on us are growing.

For the past 20+ years my focus has been on family, business and house. Holidays and travel have been very, very sparse.

Which has been sad. In my younger years I was a keen traveller spending many months hopping around the world.

But there is still much of it to see. Now time and health are running out.

Maybe it will soon be time to weigh anchor, don a pair of wings and fly.

I would like to think we could have our cake and eat it, but the likelihood is that we would have to sell the homestead to fund the travels and free up future financial liabilities from inheritance tax or asset seizure to pay care bills.

Maybe we sell, divide off a suitable chunk to put in to trust for our children and then stuff our pockets with the leftovers and take to the road, or the seas.

My daydreams are currently mulling over two story lines.

In one we buy an RV, sell most of our possessions, give away the rest and hit the road to nowhere and everywhere.

I have never driven an RV but if I can still manage it I would love to have a go. Maybe it could become a tour of all the steemians in Britain (and maybe even Europe). That could be fun and a half.

On the other side of my daydream record we take to the seas and just go cruising.

I really, really want to try a cruise. The prospect of living in a posh ship, with all meals provided and no washing up, and visiting new places every day or so really grabs me big time.

And I read a story recently about an elderly woman who lives on the sea, just hopping from one cruise to the next. By looking for  deals and being a regular cruise goer she found it cheaper than living than living on dry land.

The financial equation does look tempting. If you find the best deals on long term cruises (3 months+) the daily cost for a couple would down around the $100 mark – and that includes all meals and utilities. And not a scrap of housework to do.

Tempting, tempting, tempting.

Oh I wonder. If steem went up a few notches on the money stick could we earn that $100 a day from steem?

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Might this be a Mary Poppins moment? Could the steem cruising dream be real…

Pennsif’s Progress #582 – Let’s talk about sleep

I was going to write this blog post about ‘How Steem has changed my life’. I have a bucket load of positives for steem – but one great big fat negative.

Sleep. The lack thereof.

I have always been a bit of a late bird. From pulling ‘all-nighters’ as a student to get the assignments in before the 9am deadline, to working through the night in the office when I first started my business, to getting over-absorbed in online gaming when I was an Entropia addict.

But they all tended to be occasional. Steem has become habitual. 

Getting to bed by 3am is an early night for me in my world run on Universal Steem Time. Many nights I am still awake to see the sunrise. And then I start work again by 9.30am.

We all know the story. Discord figures heavily in it. With DMs coming in from people all round the world, and all around the clock, it is hard to stop. I always try to answer every message.

I set myself extra steem challenges by having a continual rollcall of time critical fixed points in the week – A Dollar A Day donations every day, My Life In 8 Songs every Thursday, The Alternative Lifestyle Show every Friday, MSP Sustainability Curation post every Sunday…

They all have associated actions that have to be done at certain times. “It can wait til tomorrow” is not usually an option.

And I have a full-time day job as well, so most of my steem activity has to start after 5.30pm when my second work day begins.

I enjoy it, so I keep doing it.

But I know it is not for the best. Working late into the early morning is not good for my health, it is not good for my productivity, it is not good for my creativity and not good for my inspiration.

It has to stop. But how?

I am going to try to flick the switch – go to bed early, and get up early.

Maybe real early, like 5am early. Then I can still just catch some of the American east coasters that I work with and the west coasters should be fine. It should also be okay for the people in south east Asian that I interact with.

So that is the plan. I am going to try to get to bed by 11pm at the very latest.

If you see me on Discord after that time – feel free to remind me it is my past my bed time. Shout at me and publicly humilate me on air if I am still lurking around listening to a radio show.

Except my radio shows on Thursdays and Fridays – they will have to be the exceptions.

I know when I do so occasionally have a long night’s sleep I am all of a buzz the next day with super productivity and new ideas aplenty.

So if I do manage to turn back time and get my sleep patterns repaired look out for some weird and wonderful stuff come flowing from my brain.

But for now sleep tight and I’ll catch you with the sunrise…

 

Pennsif’s Progress #613 – Medical Preps 01 – Keeping Fit and Healthy

As I mentioned in my previous post the starting point for any medical prepping is keeping as fit and healthy as possible in the here and now.

In a comment in that post @cecicastor put it very neatly :

People have a tendency to forget about looking after the mind and the body when prepping. They are not something you can buy extra in a can and have it waiting for when you need it.

Unfortunately for most people, me included, good health and fitness is something you have to work at.

Diet, exercise, sleep are the three big ones that underpin physical wellbeing. But getting them all right, all of the time can often be mighty difficult.


Diet

This is probably the easiest for me.

I am what I eat. I eat what I believe in.

My marker words on the food front are organic, local, fresh, raw, fruit, vegetable…

Luckily sweets (candy) and cake really don’t tempt my palate at all.

I love fruit and I could probably just eat that all day if I had a plentiful enough supply.

And I am big on salads, raw food is a bit of a fetish of mine.

The big change for me diet-wise this year was moving from omnivore to vegetarian en route to almost vegan.

I had always been a low meat eater, primarily consuming what we raised ourselves, but after a couple of vegan episodes of The Alternative Lifestyle Show I began to cut out animal products from my diet.

Veganism and prepping is a very interesting topic – and one I will return to in a separate post as it is too complex to cover in a quick paragraph here.

In terms of prepping the key factor is having a good diet that keeps you at a good weight and BMI, and in a healthy state.


Exercise

This one is trickier for me. My job is desk based, and when I finish my daily work, steem ties me to my office chair way longer than it should.

I don’t have a gym membership – in fact I don’t have a gym anywhere near me.

I’ve only got nature’s gym – working in the garden and around the homestead is my main form of exercise.

But I have to admit I can see a big ‘Must do better’ on my report card for this one.

Switch off the computer, and feel the soil between your toes…


Sleep

Arggggh.

I run on IST now – and that can really mess up sleep patterns.

IST, in case you didn’t catch it, is International Steem Time.

I’m in the UK, most of the people I deal with are at 5 or 6 hours behind me.

I stay up way too late. I sleep way too little.

Tonight is going to be different, I promise…


Regular checkups are super important

Like cars, regular service checks are important for the body too.

We aim for dental checkups and hygienist visits every six months.

For eyes it is every 12 or 24 months with the opticians.

Keep a diary or spreadsheet for all the family, make sure you hit those appointments on time.

If you have any other particular health issues, asthma for example, make sure you attend any check up clinics as regular as needed.


Now is the time to get healthy, tomorrow is the time to stay healthy

There is always some excuse to put off changing diet, or to start exercising, or to begin a better sleep routine.

Excuses won’t cut it. The world could collapse tomorrow.

Start now and stick at it.

Monitor and record if that helps. Set up a spreadsheet recording your weight and your BMI.

Keep a note of how long it takes to walk a mile, or better run.

Set some targets and see you how far you get in 6 months.

I will leave the last word on this post to @sir-thrive who commented some wise words on my last post :

I love preaching health and fitness. Especially to the newbies who are hell-bent on packing massive BOBs. It is incredibly hard to hike 3 miles if you’re out of shape. It’s impossible with 100lbs on your back and elevated stress levels.

Get fit now. You will be glad you did when the zombies are after you.



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ dentist image from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0   //  book cover from Hesperian ]

Pennsif’s Progress #616 – Medical Preps – in 3 or 4 easy stages

Today I got a letter from my opticians informing me of my next appointment. I also received a phone call from my dentist.

Keeping up to date with regular checkups at the dentists, opticians and at the doctors for any medical conditions is a key part of our health and medical prepping.

We’ve all seen the post-apoc film or TV show when someone has toothache – it always end painfully !

I’m not a wild fan of the dentists but I would definitely prefer to have that filling sorted now than when the bad times come and the anesthetic has run dry.


Medical Prepping in three easy stages

Medical Prepping is a big, big part of any prepper’s planning.

Outside of the core preps of food, water and shelter I spend more time on our health and medical preps than any other area.

There are many layers to health and medical prepping, for me these include :

  • Current health and fitness
  • Training and skill acquisition
  • Equipment and supplies

Of all the areas of prepping medical prepping is also the one that really needs most participation from the whole family.

Everyone needs to keep as fit and healthy as they can, everyone needs to learn some basic skills.


A Spoonful of Medicine

My adult life began with a year at medical school. I have a post way back that tells why I didn’t continue.

Although I didn’t continue to become a doctor it did give me a certain level of basic knowledge that has certainly been of help in my medical prepping over the years.

I have done first aid courses, studied herbal medicine and accumulated quite a healthy collection of medical related books.

Collecting paper books is one of my prepper passions. I am definitely not an ebook Kindle sort of guy. Despite Amazon’s best attempts to lure me electronic books just don’t cut it in my prepping setup.

I will do a separate post about my medical library but one book that has been with me through various editions over the years is ‘Where There Is No Doctor‘ – primarily targeting developing countries but still a must-have in my collection.

If you buy Where There Is No Doctor, along with its sister book Where There Is No Dentist, direct from Hesperian who produce the books you can help their charitable work around the world. The Doctor book is $26.95 and the Dentist book is $16.95.


As Medical Prepping is such a big and critical area I am going to expand this into a number of separate posts.

But picking up on yesterday’s 10 Mile Radius Project post I would highlight the point of getting to know where all your local doctors, clinics, pharmacies, veterinary practices are.

If things go bad medical supplies are going to become valuable, and vital, commodities.

For now get fit, stay healthy, plan for the worse…

And if you have a bit of viewing time to spare check out the YouTube channels of Skinny Medic and Dr Bones & Nurse Amy :

 



You might also be interested in some of my other posts :
MY RADIO SHOWS
MY PROJECTS

[ dentist image from pixabay – Creative Commons CC0   //  book cover from Hesperian ]