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Why we prep

Here’s another reason why you – and your friends and family – should prep:

AP-NORC poll: Divided Americans fret country losing identity

Even considering the source for this poll (liberal university folks and an Associated Press poll reporter), the news is dire.

In a nut shell, the results of the poll find that 7 in 10 people – regardless of party – say America is losing its identity. The difference between the parties is that Republicans believe (truthfully) that our culture is defined by our Christianity and our European founders, while the Democrats think (quite wrongly) that it’s been the melting pot of immigrants and refugees that have defined America.

There’s no logical way the Democrats can make a case for their beliefs. Immigration has only worked, in so far as it has worked, when immigrants have surrendered every vestige of their previous culture for that of the American way of life. But recently, they’ve had no need or requirement to do so.

Anyone out there want to tell me what can actually be done to close the ever-widening divide between the left and the right?

The socialists of the left cannot allow Trump to succeed. It would mean their ruination. This is going to be a bell-weather year, and I’m afraid a whole lot of people are going to get hurt, or worse, come summer.

So get your house in order. Strengthen your community relations. Jack up your preparedness.

And that’s one of the reasons we prep.

Amateur radio equipment

Starting today, we’re going to take a look at prepper communication methods, notably those types that fall under the category of amateur radio. Like my previous conversations about guns, I’m sure to tick off a bunch of amateur radio enthusiasts.

I’ve got to walk a very fine line here, because amateur radio has performed stellar service to the country in times past with emergency communications. Organizations such as ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) have often stepped up to the plate to provide essential communication in emergencies.

Some recent examples:

  • Wikpedia: “… After [Hurricane] Katrina, Hancock County, Mississippi had lost all contact with the outside world, except through ARES operators who served as 911 dispatchers and message relayers.”
  • NCBI, written testimony of ARRL President Jim Haynie, on Amateur Radio’s response in the Hurricane Katrina disaster to the U.S. House Government Reform Committee: “The United States absolutely can rely on the Amateur Radio Service. Amateur Radio provides immediate, high-quality communications that work every time, when all else fails.”

Amateur radio really does work, and it does so because it is decentralized and relatively uncomplicated. We all owe a debt to the fine folks who voluntarily invest heavily in money, time and security to maintain the emergency radio systems.

So what’s the other side of that fine line that’s going to get so many radiophiles mad at me? Well, simply put, too many preppers place too much emphasis (and money) on acquisition of radio gear.

Is prepping the right thing for to do for Christians? Or should we just be trusting in the Lord? Learn about that balance in “Be Thou Prepared” by Carl Gallups – “Equipping the Church for Persecution and Times of Trouble.”

Now a disclaimer: Note I said “too” much emphasis. There are specific uses and benefits for radio that can be a force multiplier in prepper safety. But there are other aspects of amateur radio that are simply of dubious benefit to preppers and even, in one very specific way, a threat to the prepper security. We’ll touch on that in the next column.

So what is a radio and how does it work? Good grief, there’s no way I’m going to get into that. But here’s a fun historical explanation reminiscent of the in-class movies we were obliged to watch when I was in grade school (and yes, they were old even then):

The room full of equipment featured in the above video would fit in shoe box today; but it illustrates the simple function of radio communication, namely how information can be sent and received by devices that can generate or interpret modulated electromagnetic waves.

Whew! Enough of that. Let’s get down to the ground here. By far and away, today the most common way to communicate remotely is the cell phone. Practically everyone owns a cell phone. Well, a cell phone is a radio. It creates and receives modulated electromagnetic waves from other phones through a series of re-transmitting towers. As fancy as they get, a cell phone is, at its base, the same beast as that walkie-talkie you played with as a kid.

Cell phones by themselves have very limited transmission power, typically at two levels of 0.6 and 3 watts. The only way cell phones have become so ubiquitous is because there are literally millions of cell towers (each considered to be a cell, hence the name) out there, receiving, amplifying, and transmitting cellular information from tower to tower or to satellites until it arrives at its intended destination. It’s almost a house of cards in its fragility. Without cell towers, most cell phones are just very fancy walkie-talkies.


But with cell towers, a cell phone is better – way better – than any amateur radio system in existence. Just a fact, radio guys. Suck it up.

However, like any human-created system, cell phones have their weaknesses. In an emergency situation, cell phone tower access can be shut down simply because too many people are trying to call at one time. There have also been cases, often officially denied, when authorities have shut down cellular transmission in a given area for various reasons related to crowd control or security concerns.

Cell service following Hurricane Katrina was severely degraded because of call overload and power failure to the cell towers. Even those towers with propane-powered generator backups went offline because there was no way to reach them for refueling.

Another more prosaic failure of cellular systems is pretty common here in the hinterland: cellular transmission is line-of-sight. If there’s a mountain between you and the tower, well … all of us locals know you have no bars (meaning cellular connectivity, not taverns, of which there are plenty) along State Route 32. If your truck won’t start after a day of fishing at Loon Lake, you’ve got a long walk ahead of you because you can’t call out for a ride.

But larger and more persistent cellular failures are not uncommon:

  • On Aug. 4, 2015, a single fiber-optic cable was cut and cell phone services for all four major carriers in parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia disappeared. It was restored within a few hours.
  • Another large systemic failure occurred on Oct. 28, 2016 which effected coverage in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Minnesota and the Philadelphia region.

So what happens if there’s a more widespread or catastrophic event? Will an EMP (electromagnetic pulse, either man-made or solar) kill your cell phone? There’s a lot of pedantic debate about that, with a majority of the “experts” (who’ve never seen an EMP) suggesting your cell phone will be just fine because it doesn’t have “the antenna effect” of wires, being solid-state electronics. However, since cell towers are pretty much all antenna, that might not make you feel too good about your chances of calling home after an EMP (but at least your phone can still be used as a low-powered flashlight).

Check out some options in the WND Superstore preparedness department. New products of all kinds being added regularly for all your prepper needs – from informational books, movies to shovels, water purifiers, and food from soup to nuts!

One good bit of news as far as cell phone usage when the lights go out is there are a number of options being developed to allow your cell phone to go “off-grid” and work as a local communication device (like a walkie-talkie). One that I’m interested in checking out is the Beartooth, a hand-held unit that the company says will allow your smart phone to send and receive voice and text over a distance up to five miles with pretty strong encryption. I’m not endorsing it because I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds pretty interesting.

So what’s all this got to do with prepping? Well, communication is a major part of community; and community is every bit as important for your survival as weapons and food. Knowing what’s out there, and when it will get around to affecting you, is imperative. Being able to coordinate and direct the proper reception for what’s coming can make the difference between life and death

Next week we’re going to turn our cell phones off and start covering the other older-school tools for reaching out and touching someone: amateur radio communications, the good, the bad and the ugly

Keep up your prepping. It’s going to be a very interesting year … in the Chinese-curse sense.

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