Random Thoughts: A Mindful Miscellany

from Marcus Wynne

Posts Tagged ‘Resilience

REPOST: Random Thoughts On What To Do If…

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[I originally wrote this in response to the Boston Marathon bombing.  In light of recent chatter and the anniversary of 9/11, I thought I’d post it again.  May you find it useful.]

Whenever there’s a major terrorist event, a number of mainstream television and radio news producers roll through their computer indexes and contact me for commentary. I’ve been doing this since 9/11 for outlets like Fox, NBC, ABC, Oprah, Good Morning America and hundreds of smaller affiliate stations.

Since the bombings in Boston on Monday, we’ve seen ricin attacks on the President and the Senate, an infrastructure attack on the power, internet and telephone grid in the Silicon Valley, an explosion of suspicious origin in Waco on or about the anniversary of the Waco Siege and the Oklahoma City bombing, and, today, a running firefight in Boston with what’s being reported as a Chechan terrorist.

I’m reminded of the ancient Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

A question that comes up, often, either during or after one of these news engagements is “What can I do to protect myself or my family?” The person most often asking that is a non-professional in the world of violence; i.e. somebody just like us, a regular citizen who isn’t a cop, a firefighter, a soldier, or a first responder.

Quite often the responses I read or hear elsewhere from various authorities go like this: Avoid crowds, stay away from big public events, etc. etc.. I’ve said this myself.

And I think it’s also important to remember that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to get us to stay home and watch events on TV, to live in fear and demand that the government do *whatever* to make this stop.

Doing that helps the terrorists win.

Let’s not do that. Let’s get on with our lives and refuse to be cowed, refuse to allow others to rob us of joy and the simple pleasures of going about our lives.

So here’s some easy to implement recommendations that apply whether you are a professional in the world of violence, or a citizen going about his or her life. My focus here is more on the latter than the former, though professionals may find something of use here as well.


    Have a plan.

When you go out with your friends or family consider these points:

*Do I know that if my phone service suddenly goes flat that I may be able to get text messages through to others even if my voice calls don’t go through?
*Do I have wi-fi on my phone that I can connect with if the cellular phone lines go down?
*Could I contact people through my Facebook, Twitter or other social media?
*Do I have flagged on my phone the URL for Red Cross People Locator or Google People Finder (these are web-based services that allow people to go on and post that they are okay, and for other people looking for missing people to post information; these go live immediately after a major incident)
Red Cross Safe and Well: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
Google Person Finder: http://google.org/personfinder/global/home.html
*If we become separated and our phones don’t work, do we have a rally point? “If something happens and/or we lose cell phone contact, I’ll meet you back at the car immediately, or I’ll meet you at the Red Cross Station, or we’ll meet at the front of the Target, etc.”
*Do you have any training and/or experience in first aid?
*Do you carry any items with you that could be of use in an incident? Flashlight, first aid gear, bandanas, scarves, extra medication for you or yours, etc.?

    Pay attention. Situational awareness.

Without going into the detail I teach in training aspects of situational awareness, here’s some brief points — your neurology is hard-wired to recognize certain kinds of threats. Most often people have some deep intuitive “knowing” before something or someone goes bad. Not always, and a public bombing is certainly one of those kind of incidents.

The main cue your neurology looks for is: What is out of place? What is out of place is what kills you. That’s hard-wired in the brain.

So when you’re out enjoying yourself, pay attention to any little intuitive nudges that come into your consciousness. These three questions below help keep you on task if you choose to train this skillet:

*Who is out of place? In other words, who sets off your inner warnings? Not paying attention to what everyone else is, inappropriately dressed, strange behavior, carrying a bag that suddenly is set down and he walks away from…
*What is out of place? A bag set out on the sidewalk away from the trash? A vehicle abandoned at a certain time or place? One or more people suddenly moving quickly away from your area?
*Where can I go if there’s trouble? The main rule is: Create Distance. Move away from that person/object/situation that troubles you, and look around for cover or a place to go.


*If you are not immediately injured by a bomb or shooting incident, get down and cover your loved ones. If you are within 2-3 steps of cover (around a corner, or a heavy planter, or behind a car, take those steps and then get down.
*Wait behind cover or in a down position for at least a minute (it will seem longer). Why? There may be secondary explosions; more than one blast or else explosives set to kill first responders or people fleeing along the most likely avenues of escape.
*While you are waiting, assess yourself for injuries (sometimes you won’t notice if you’re injured if you’re riding on adrenaline) top to bottom; then check out those you are with.
*Once you’ve assessed yourself determine whether you need self care or need to administer first aid to someone with you; also look for an escape route, preferably one where everyone else is NOT going — in a panic situation people tend to flee along the easiest routes. Look for alternatives if you can.
*First aid for injuries: immediate life threatening injuries are lack of breathing, massive bleeding, traumatic amputations, etc. A basic First Aid course goes a long way in giving you a useful, easy to retain under stress skill set for surveying and handling initial injuries and determining what you can and can’t do, and when to call for help. Do what you can with what you know and what you’ve got with you or you can improvise. A lot of lives and limbs were saved on Monday by trained people improvising tourniquets and using clothing and such for dressings. A small kit (see below) doesn’t take up much room and will save your life or those with you.


*Your first responsibility is to yourself and your loved ones. Take care of yourself and your loved ones first.
*Once that’s done, then take a moment to assess your situation:
Can you help? Do you have skills, equipment, experience that will help the situation, or will you just get in the way?
Should you help? Do you have others to care for? Are you injured or emotionally distraught by what just happened? Can you do something of use?
*Think it through before you jump in. Sometimes the best thing you can be is a good witness.
*Clear the area asap.
*Contact your loved ones utilizing your communications plan listed above.
*When you’re in a safe place, take stock if you have anything the authorities might benefit from: video footage, still photos, or eyewitness accounts, all of which benefited the Boston investigation.
*Give yourself time to recover. For those unused to that level of violence, and even those who are, there is a delay in reaction — you may feel edgy, jittery, jump when you hear loud noises, etc. If you feel the need, contact a counselor earlier than later. And of course, if injured in any way, get a medical check up.


All of us carry items with us every day in our pockets, our briefcases and laptop bags, our purses. Adding just a few small items and having them with you whenever you go out can mean the difference between life and death if caught in a public incident. Here’s some suggestions:

*Bottle of water (to drink, to rinse out eyes or wounds)
*Bandana, handkerchief, scarf (improvised smoke mask if dampened with water, improvised bandage or tourniquet)
*Flashlight (if you’re caught out after dark or else indoors somewhere and the power goes down)
*Sturdy walking shoes (if you’re wearing dress shoes to work, consider if you’d be able to walk home or any significant distance in the shoes you’re wearing…)
*Cutting implement (pocket knife or pocket folding multi-tool, very small and handy)
*Fully charged cell phone (consider one of the small battery back ups, too)
*Small pack of moist wipes (substitute toilet paper and general clean up)
*Hank of cord or paracord
*Small mylar space blanket

With the exception of the shoes, all of that will fit into a Ziploc bag.

Given the nature of the injuries that you might see, I’ll recommend some first aid items/kits. However, the first and best investment is to take a first aid class. It’s a really necessary basic life skill, and offered through your local Red Cross for a low or nominal fee, and quite often for free with various sponsors. Take the Basic class, along with CPR/AED. If you are serious about dealing with major trauma, consider taking advanced classes, which will require a greater investment of time and money.

There’s two categories of first aid gear: “Boo-Boo” and “Blow-Out”

“Boo-Boo” Gear: Gear to fix boo-boos. Band-aids, chapstick, moleskin, tweezers, small packs of antibiotic, Benadryl, asprin/ibuprofen, antidiarrhoeals, safety pins, duct tape, any medications you or yours require daily.

“Blow-Out” Gear: Major trauma kit, i.e. severe bleeding, loss of limb, etc. IF you have training, you can do a lot for yourself or another person with a tourniquet, a multi-purpose dressing like the Israeli or the Olaes, a nasopharyngeal airway, a chest seal (or plastic wrap and duct tape), and EMT shears.

Recommended vendors:

Boo-Boo Gear: Dave Cruz at http://www.promedkits.com “Pocket Medic Kit” Not listed on the website, you have to call for them. Also a great source for other kits.

Blow Out Gear: Dave Cruz at http://www.promedkits.com. His “Blow Out Kit” was the first widely available commercial kit back in the 90s that addressed major trauma, and it’s inexpensive at $19.99. Add a tourniquet and you’re equipped like the big boys.

Dark Angel: Kerry Davis — his Pocket DARK is a high-end pocket sized package that is easy to tote around and most useful for intelligent but untrained/lesser trained individuals. His DARK kit is designed for professional level use.

ITS Tactical: http://www.itstactical.com/medcom/medical/developing-a-blow-out-kit/ A good starting point for an overview of what should be in your “Blow Out Kit” if it makes sense for you to carry one. Also provide a number of high end quality medical kits.

Chinook Medical: They offer a number of kits, below here is a list I made from their site for a blow out kit option for $25:


This gives me a Olaes Modular Bandage, a SWAT-T tourniquet, a N-P airway and EMT shears for $25 or so, before shipping. For the price of a pizza, a good investment. Make two or three cheap kits and pack them in Ziplocs, then drop them in your backpack or your purse or your laptop case.

And now get out there and find something to enjoy. Don’t let them win.

Written by marcuswynne

April 19, 2013 at 6:23 pm

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The Jack of All Trades

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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.

-Robert A. Heinlein

I’ve recently spent time with someone I’ll call “Mr. C.” Mr. C is a tradesman by vocation, and “one of those guys” i.e. someone who can do everything, like the skilled human Robert Heinlein refers to.

I’ve seen Mr. C repair broken water pipes, build a charger for 12V batteries, repair a rifle, load ammunition, patch a roof, tend a child, cook a tasty meal, replace brakes on a 4×4, maintain a Harley and a dirt bike, navigate without a GPS, repair a washing machine, rig up a wireless network and repair a Nintendo.

The washing machine incident was insightful. He noticed the washer no longer agitated during the cycle. He took the components apart, noted the parts number, went online and ordered the parts, which were delivered via Fedex the next day. It took him about fifteen minutes to install the new parts (about $8 dollars) and get the machine running again. Total down time for the washer: about 18 hours, most of it overnight.

My observation was that today most people who own washers (probably the vast majority) wouldn’t know how to diagnose a mechanical problem in their washer, let alone dare to take it apart, figure out what was wrong, find out where to get parts, order the parts, and then put it back together again.

A generation or two ago, the skill set of “being handy” or “mechanically inclined” was taken for granted; shop classes were standard in high school and there was something wrong with the kid who couldn’t fix a flat on his own bike.

Recently, I’ve personally witnessed people who don’t understand how to make a fire with tinder, kindling and small bits of wood; people who cannot walk more than a block from their home without Google Maps on their smartphone, drivers who cannot change a tire and householders who would spend $150 an hour to have someone come and look at their washer instead of trying to fix it themselves. All told, Mr. C’s time in the problem was about 2 1/2 hours, or $375 in repair time.

Somewhere along the line the vast majority of us lost the interest in tinkering and problem solving for ourselves; it’s easier (albeit more expensive) to ask or hire someone else to do it. It would have cost at least $375 – $450 to have the repair done unless it were under warranty, in which case it would have cost a significantly greater amount of time.

Here’s my thought for the day: if you couldn’t afford to hire someone to fix things for you, do you know someone that would be willing to fix whatever for you? And if not, could you work the problem yourself? It’s a good thought for the resilience-minded, or so I think.

Written by marcuswynne

December 13, 2012 at 10:09 pm

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The Farmer’s Market: Hub of a Resilient Community

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This is from a continuing series of dispatches on community resilience in my persona as the Resilient Nomad; some of these may appear in different format over on John Robb’s blog www.resilientcommunities.com.

“They kicked in his door, and put him and his whole family — even the kids — in handcuffs.  Sat ’em down outside, and then, get this — they went in and poured purple dye in *all* the milk vats…every single one.”

“You have *got* to be kidding.”

“Nope.  15 armed SWAT guys vs. an unarmed Amish farmer and his family.  Made me sick to hear about it.”

It wasn’t long ago, while I was on my weekly visit to the local Farmer’s Market, that I heard the story of a federal SWAT team in full battle rattle kicking in the door on an unarmed Amish family for the heinous offense of selling unpasteurized organic milk.  This incident — one of many around the country — provides an opportunity for a resilient community to form.

The Farmer’s Market in Urbana, IL sees 5000 customers come through it on an average summer day.  It’s open from 7-noon on Saturday each week.  Organic and whole food producers of vegetables, breads, and meats set up booths next to artisans and community groups.  The customer base is a cross-section of a community that supports local food and organic production.  This same customer demographic is involved in resilient activity on n individual, family, neighborhood and community level.

“This is the best place to meet like-minded people with their families and their friends,” says Professor Alfred Hubler, an internationally renowned physicists who researches chaos theory and the evolution of resilient networks.  “You meet both the growers and the consumers.”

The Farmer’s Market is a place to build resilient relationships.  Resilient relationships build resilient communities.  Those relationships can provide what you need in hard times as well as in the face of bureaucratic nonsense like SWAT teams raiding Amish dairy farmers.

How so?

Let’s take R (name changed for his privacy and to avoid SWAT teams kicking in his door).  R sells produce at the Farmer’s Market.  He has an extensive and loyal customer base built over many years.  When you buy from R, he chats with you and works at building a relationship.  He’ll remember your name and what you bought.  The next time he sees you, he’ll recommend something or give you something to try.  Once he knows you, he’ll invite you to join his list of best customers.  You give him your phone number, and R will call you once a week, and tell you what he has on special offer.  That may or may not include certain *regulated* products like organic and unpasteurized milk.  You tell him what you want.  He tells you where he will park his van for a certain window of time on a certain day and how much your order is.

So on Tuesday between 3-6pm (the time, day and location change weekly) you drive to the rendezvous where a plain van is parked.  R greets you and hands you a brown paper bag with your order sealed inside, and your name and the amount due on the outside.  Cash changes hands, you take your bag and go your merry way.

Sound familiar?

Should be to any observant urbanite.  It’s a sales procedure modeled on street drug dealing.  Just as in the world of drug-dealing, establishing relationship and trust is an integral part of operational security.  It’s a proven and robust model for providing and receiving product that might be “regulated” in a bureaucratic atmosphere — like the oppressive taxation and regulation targeting small organic food producers.

That’s one resilient networking opportunity that can grow out of your local Farmer’s Market.  And you better believe there’s a community/network that grows around those kind of reliable producers who are willing to meet peoples needs — and are savvy enough to duck around the bureaucrats.

Another opportunity is the Farmer’s Market is a great place to make new resilience-minded friends.  Got kids?  They love the Farmer’s Market.  Bring them.  They’re perfect ice-breakers with other parents.  Like to bike?  Chat up the other bicyclists.  Ask questions of the Market regulars.  Seek recommendations.  Start conversations.  Exercise the social skills that texting and FaceBook don’t reinforce.

The key to a truly resilient community is a functioning network of individuals that provide skills and resources to each other.  That community and network may very well *already* exist right under your nose — at your local Farmer’s Market.  Get out and find it.

cheers, m The Resilient Nomad

Written by marcuswynne

September 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

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Neural Based Training, Situational Awareness, and Personal Resilience

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Three of my favorite topics in one sentence! I’m working on several things simultaneously, as I often do, and a question came up from some friends about how to integrate all their learning to solve certain problems in their lives.

One of the basic principles of neural-based training is the brain likes to answer questions. We are hard-wired to seek answers and solutions. The brain is a hunter-gatherer of information (one of the reasons we’re all addicted to the internet and electronic communication — never before have so many had access to so much information at the touch of a finger). So one technique in neural-based training is formulating questions that stimulate the brain to solve specific problems.

In no particular order, here are some questions I like to ask in certain training situations. The people I facilitate have found it useful to mind-map their answers while exploring the process.

  • If you were a street mugger sizing you up, what would you observe about yourself that would indicate you’re a good target? Or a bad target?
  • Do you know what an attacker would look for, or are you looking for what you would look for?
  • If you were a burglar looking at your house, what would you see that would make you a nice juicy target? Or not?
  • If you were a stalker following a loved one, what would make that loved one (of yours) a vulnerable target?
  • If you needed to borrow $100 in cash, right now, how many people within a day’s walk of where you’re standing would a) have it and b) be willing to lend it?
  • If you were sick and you needed someone to take you to the hospital or to come to your home and care for you, how many people within a day’s walk of where you’re standing would a) be willing to do so and b) have the time or the willingness to take the time to care for you? And for how long?
  • If you have children or pets, how many people within a day’s walk of where you’re standing would you turn to if you needed someone to take care of those children or pets at 2 a.m.? How many would you a) trust to care for them and b) be able to care for them and c) for how long?
  • How far can you walk in one day?
  • How far can you walk carrying 25 pounds, in one day?
  • Could you carry an adult or child up or down a flight of stairs?
  • How far can you drag 150 pounds before you have to stop to catch your breath?

Those are enough questions. Feel free to share your answers below (or not) and perhaps we’ll discuss the implications of these particular questions.

Written by marcuswynne

September 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Random Thoughts on Resilience

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I spent a significant portion of the last four months looking at resilient communities all over the country for John Robb’s site www.resilientcommunities.com. I have a post there today, about how to jump start a barter economy. We’re seeing the exact thing happening in Greece, Italy, Spain…everywhere the economic structure is collapsing. There’s some useful information in there. Click over and have a read.

Some other random observations:

The recent earthquake swarm in Southern California disturbs me and many of my geologist friends. If you track that fault line and you see the unprecedented surge of significant activity (3-5 magnitude earthquakes, over 400 in the last several days, including a major one off the coast of South America), it might be a good time to review basic preparedness. The implications of a major earthquake affecting southern California are significant and national in scope.

Likewise with the pending storm in and around New Orleans, almost 7 years to the day from Katrina. I’ve noticed already a huge jump at the gas pumps because of the rigs closing down ahead of the storm. Gas has gone up between $.30-$.40 cents a gallon in the last two days here. When I returned from my trip, gas had averaged around $3.50 or so. It’s right at $4.00 a gallon today.

Today on the bus, I sat near a number of local gang members, who had a long and loud conversation about the pros and cons of different robbery approaches targeting the new students in this college town. According to these experienced street robbers, walking up and demanding iPads, laptops and backpacks from students, especially the young Asian students, is safer for them (the robbers); less likely to get resistance, and if the police come and arrest them, the charges and subsequent sentencing is “two years more, if you show a knife or a gun or lay hands on ’em!” Their prospective prey, most of them teenagers at their first week of college, sat frozen and scared and stared straight ahead.

More specifics in coming posts about resilient strategies, along with some recently tested and vetted emergency gear reviews, and some more posts over on John’s blog.

Written by marcuswynne

August 28, 2012 at 7:55 pm

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A Million Gallons of Water

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This is part of a continuing series on various disaster and emergency preparedness issues offered as a way to promote local community resilience. I also contribute these articles often on John Robb’s site www.ResilientCommunities.com.

During the First Gulf War (Desert Shield and Desert Storm) I worked, often, in Bombay, as Mumbai used to be called. I moved around quite a bit, but stayed in several upscale hotels, including one that was a major target in the Mumbai terrorist event. Clean water and general sanitation can be issues for the traveler in India, but most of the guests at the luxury hotel I stayed in didn’t worry too much — they either drank expensive premium bottled water or the hotel’s proprietary label bottled water — and prayed for the best.

I noticed that often, despite those measures, guests would come down with The Bombay Belly, as the local version of traveler’s diarrhea was called.

I always travel with a water purification system of some kind. I’ve learned (the hard way) after traveling in over one hundred countries not to trust other people’s opinions about what constitutes clean water. Water related diseases sicken and kill millions, and a traveler, especially a working traveler, can’t afford the downtime and the debilitation that comes with waterborne disease. So I purified my water, including the so-called bottled water, and never had an issue.

One morning, while out for a walk, I happened across several of the hotel employees refilling and capping the hotel’s “proprietary” labeled water — using water from a garden hose drawing from the municipal water supply, with a broken sewer main just outside the main gate.

As I said, I don’t trust other people’s opinions about what constitutes clean water, and prefer to rely on Machiavelli’s sage advice: “The only means of security that are sure and lasting are those you see to yourself.”

In considering your personal and community resilience in the face of a natural disaster, power outage or extended regional crisis, have you planned for water security? Have you considered the source(s) of the water you drink and utilize each day? If for some reason your municipality could no longer supply water at the turn of the tap or could not assure the purity of that water, what would you do? You can only go maybe three days tops without water, and here in America, we tend to take the massive use of potable water in toilets, irrigation, bathing and so on for granted.

Here are some points to consider if you were to examine your water security:

⁃Where is your closest source of open fresh water? It is a pond, river, stream, lake, reservoir, containment facility of some kind? Do you have a well or spring on your property or nearby?

⁃How far away is it? If you could get there, would you have access to the water?

⁃If you did have access to the water, how would you transport sufficient quantities back to your home or shelter? You need a minimum of one to two gallons of clean water a day, per person, for drinking purposes. That doesn’t include any used for food preparation, washing, irrigation, bathing or other purposes. A gallon of water weighs around 8.3 pounds. Do you have containers sturdy enough to carry enough water out of your source and back to where you needed to take it? A five gallon bucket of water weighs about 41.5 pounds — can you carry that much weight for any distance? Like to your car, a wagon, or up a hill?

⁃Do you have the knowledge and equipment to determine if your water is safe to drink? To determine whether the water is free of bacteria, protozoa, dangerous chemical run off? Is viral infestation an issue and would you know?

⁃Do you know how to purify water? Could you make a fire (and have a container) to boil water, or iodine or chlorine bleach or other chemical purifiers to kill micro-organisms, or a mechanical filter to take the nasty stuff out? Do you have the knowledge to do so and/or the reference materials and a way to read them that will work in the absence of electrical power so you can find out how to do so?

⁃Do you have a way to store purified water and keep it separate from untreated water? Sanitation methods to support and maintain the cleanliness of your water?

If you’re interested in doing a REAL assessment of your water security, take a walk or a bike ride or a drive and do a recon of your local water sources. You may be surprised at how little resilience or redundancy is built into your municipal water supply, and how far you might have to go to find an open water source if that municipal supply stopped working.

There are some recent advances in water filter technology drawn from medical dialysis equipment that have brought the cost of very high quality water filters way down. I used an old Swiss made Katadyn Guide Purifier for many years. It was the gold standard, at the time, and had a price tag to go with it, right around $300. It was good for many thousands of gallons of filtration, but was hard to use and keep clean under lengthy field conditions, especially with turbid water.

I’ve replaced *all* my water filters with the kit below, built around the new filters manufactured by Sawyer, as the Sawyer system is lighter, cheaper and way more efficient than my previous set-up. For around $70 I have a water filtration system that will provide ONE MILLION GALLONS of pure water for me, my family, and my neighbors.

Sawyer’s All In One Water Filtration System (also called the Point One Emergency Filtration System): This innovative filter is the heart of my new system. It’s a brilliant design with no moving parts, utilizing the same kind of filtration system used in medical dialysis. It’s tested and approved to remove 99.99999% of ALL bacteria and protozoa. The filter has an intake port threaded to take a squeeze bag for gathering water; the thread is the same standard thread as on water and pop bottles, which makes it very easy to find a container to run your contaminated water from. Fill up a water or pop bottle or the dedicated bag, attach to the filter, squeeze. Fresh clean water comes out the other end of the filter through a pop up cap just like those on water bottles. When the flow starts to slow from particulate build up inside (depending on how mucky your water is; the manufacturer recommends every ten gallons) you backwash it with clean water from the enclosed syringe and you’re ready to start over again.


Note that this filter is not rated to remove viruses. Viruses can be an issue if there is human or other fecal contamination to water. You can add another level of protection to your water with this filter by utilizing Katadyn Micro-Pur tablets or iodine, or you can use the the Sawyer Water Purification Filter, which does remove viruses.


My mainline kit at this time has the All-In-One Filter package, which includes the filter, a squeeze bag, an adapter for the faucet so you can drink pure water directly from the faucet or a hose (like in the instance of a boil order), and an excellent kit for modifying a plastic 5-gallon bucket into a steady gravity fed purifier for a large group.

In addition to the filter, I have:

One quart Nalgene bottle. I put all my water purifier gear inside this bottle.

Katadyn Micro-Pur water purification tablets: thirty of them wrapped in foil for additional protection from viruses and so on.

Cheesecloth, two to three feet worth. For filtering heavy crud out of the water before you run it through the filter. Double up the cheesecloth and put it over the mouth of your unfiltered water container as you fill it. When the cheesecloth gets dirty, rinse it out and let it air dry in the sun.

One quart Sawyer Squeeze bag: Sawyer makes several sizes. The one quart folds up and fits easily inside the Nalgene bottle.

One yard of surgical grade plastic tubing. Used as a siphon to get at hard to reach water sources to get into the bottle or squeeze bag.

The filter, the tablets, the cheesecloth, the squeeze bag and the surgical tubing all fit inside the one-quart Nalgene bottle and take up little space in my emergency gear or go-bag.

I have been field testing the Sawyer for a month now. It is dramatically easier to use and maintain in the field than any other water filter or purification system I’ve used, and in over forty years of outdoorsmanship, I’ve used *every* kind of water purification system. The bucket system is pure genius; you can take a salvaged five gallon plastic bucket and set up a water purification system that will easily keep a large group supplied with plenty of drinking water. Highly recommended.

Here’s two resilience steps you might take today:

1. Do a water recon around your home with your family. Find out where your water is, and go through the questions listed above.

2. Invest in a small, portable and highly efficient water purification system as I’ve listed above. The whole thing costs less than what a night out at the movies and dinner will run most families, and in an emergency, be worth more than it’s weight in gold.

PS: here’s an excellent article from Lifehacker on how to test your water quality for yourself: http://lifehacker.com/5927732/afraid-of-contamination-how-to-test-the-water-in-your-house

Written by marcuswynne

July 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm

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Random Tips for the Street

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I’m at a point in a book project where I have this old gray beard, who’s done a few things in his time, passing a few tips along from a lifetime of dealing with various problems…a few of the things on this list are things I’ve heard, a few are my thoughts, some of them I’ve read from the Marines to Clint Smith, to a tough old guy from Liverpool named Martin, and some others…

So here are some thoughts from an old fictional character on fighting —

Random Tips for Winning On The Street

• The number one option for personal security is a lifelong commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation.
• Make up your mind right now about what you are willing to do to win in a fight.
• Be alert to your surroundings.
• Avoid conflict.
• There’s always someone better than you.
• Keep moving
• Action beats reaction
• There is no “second place” on the street
• Always cheat. Always win.
• Keep breathing and moving your head.
• Don’t escalate the situation. If they escalate, finish them.
• Keep your head moving and your vision in play.
• Always, always check behind you (check six); always, always check around you (check 360).
• Have the mentality to do whatever has to be done. Make up your mind in advance.
• Fight until the threat is over. Be sure it’s over.
• Watch the triangle (head (eyes) to shoulders) and the hands.
• Have a plan.
• Have a back up plan, because the first one won’t survive first contact.
• Don’t drop your guard.
• Be aggressive enough, early enough.
• The faster you finish the fight, the less hurt you will be.


Written by marcuswynne

February 17, 2010 at 1:25 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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Preparedness for the Unprepared

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In preparation for the serious weather settling in on us, here’s some useful information from my files.  The first is a yes/no survey to assess your general level of preparedness; the second assesses your ability to handle a minimal power outage/winter storm scenario; the third is a very basic home preparedness checklist.  For your information!


(These yes or no questions will clarify your state of readiness for emergencies)

1.              Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?

2.              Does your family know what to to do before, during, and after an emergency situation?

3.              Do you have a functioning flashlight in every occupied bedroom?

4.              Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet in a night emergency?

5.              Do you know how to shut off the water line to your house?  Do you need a tool to do so?

6.              Do you know how to shut off the gas to your house?  Do you need a tool to do so?

7.              Do you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the proper places in your home?

8.              Do you have and know how to use a fire extinguisher?

9.              Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?

10.           If your family had to evacuate your home, do you have an identified meeting place?


(These yes or no questions will clarify your readiness to take care of yourself for the minimum 72 hours recommended by the American Red Cross)

1.              Do you have sufficient food on hand to feed everyone in your household without resupply for 72 hours?

2.              Do you have the means to cook food without house gas and electricity?

3.              Do you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?

4.              Do you have an 72 hour evacuation kit in case you were ordered from your home?

5.              Would you be able to carry these kits if you had to evacuate on foot or government mandated transportation (buses, trucks, etc.)?

6.              Do you have an established out of state contact?

7.              Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?

8.              Do you have work gloves and tools for minor rescue and clean up?

9.              Without electricity and gas do you have a way to heat at least part of your house?

10.           Do  you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?

A Minimal Emergency Preparedness Checklist:


1.              Water: one gallon per person, per day

2.              Food: select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation or cooking, and little or no water.

3.              Flashlight and batteries

4.              First aid kit

5.              Medications:  especially any prescription or non-prescription medications you or your family require regularly.

6.              Battery operated radio and batteries

7.              Tools:  wrench, manual can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting, garbage bags and ties.

8.              Clothing: seasonal appropriate change of clothes for everyone and sturdy shoes.

9.              Personal items:  eyeglasses, copies of important documents, insurance polices, toys and books for children.

10.           Sanitary supplies: toilet paper, moist wipes, feminine supplies, personal  hygiene items, bleach, hand sanitizer.

11.           Money:  have cash.  In an emergency, many banks/ATMS may not be open.

12.           Contact information:  print out current list of family phone numbers, lawyers, doctors, insurance agents.  Include the number of someone out of state you can call to take messages for scattered family members.

13.           Pet supplies as appropriate.

14.           Maps of the local area and surrounding areas.

Written by marcuswynne

February 5, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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