February 8, 2014

Snipers knocked out 17 giant transformers in 19 minutes at Metcalf substation then disappeared into the night

No one made much of this last year, but Rebecca Smith of the Wall Street Journal put the story together through interviews, PG&E filings, documents and a police video.

Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism
April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Metcalf Substation, Raises Concern for Country's Power Grid

SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.

Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.

To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.
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The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time….Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S……

"What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid," he said. "This is a huge problem."

Peggy Noonan wrote America's Power Is Under Threat.  The Metcalf incident is a reminder of our greatest vulnerability.

Welcome to my obsession. It is electricity. It makes everything run—the phone, the web, the TV, the radio, all the ways we talk to each other and receive information. The tools and lights in the operating room—electricity. All our computers in a nation run by them, all our defense structures, installations and communications. The pumps at the gas station, the factories in the food-supply chain, the ATM, the device on which you stream your music—all electricity. The premature infant's ventilator and the sound system at the rock concert—all our essentials and most of our diversions are dependent in some way on this: You plug the device into the wall and it gets electrical power and this makes your life, and the nation's life, work. Without it, darkness descends.
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No one who wishes America ill has to blow up a bomb. …..  if you're clever and you really wanted to half-kill America—to knock it out for a few months or longer and force every one of our material and cultural weaknesses to a crisis stage—you'd take out its electrical grid. The grid is far-flung, interconnected, interdependent, vulnerable….

Those who worry about the grid mostly worry about hackers, and understandably: The grid is under regular hack attack. But the more immediate and larger threat may be physical attacks. In any case, as Ms. Smith suggests, the Metcalf incident appears to lift the discussion beyond the hypothetical.
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You always want to think your government is on it. You want to think they see what you see. But really, they're never on it. They always have to be pushed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink

March 13, 2013

Prepping for an Earthquake

It used to be three days but now the city of Los Angeles are advising citizens to prepare themselves for "two weeks on your own"

The Los Angeles police and fire departments were…. telling residents to be ready for “two weeks on your own.”

CBS LA reported Battalion Chief Larry Collins saying, “the message for a lot of us needs to be, ‘Be ready for anything.’”

“The message used to be 72 hours, but we’ve seen in disasters like [Hurricane] Katrina, even [Hurricane] Sandy recently, that, really, if it’s wiped out your infrastructure, and your electricity grid and your communications, it will be very likely be more than three days before you start getting food, water and other supplies coming in from outside,” Collins said according to CBS LA.
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APN’s Chief Operations Officer Mike Porenta spoke with TheBlaze during National Preparedness Month last October, giving more information about how preparing for a variety of situations means more than just stockpiling food:

Porenta’s number one suggestion is to get to know your neighbors before you’re in an emergency situation. There is a benefit in banding together as a group in an emergency, but he said doing so after a disaster strikes is not the best time.
[…]
“People think about food the most, but they haven’t taken into consideration shelter … or access to water,” he said.
In a situation where “normal American life can’t continue, figure out your most essential human needs” and gather those items (or learn how to safely obtain them if you can’t gather them per se):
• Oxygen
• Water and water test kits
• Shelter
• Food

Popular Mechanics has good advice on How to Stock Your Disaster Pantry

A backup food supply that's easy to manage and won't break the bank is a cornerstone of disaster prep.

 Disaster Pantry

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:12 PM | Permalink

November 5, 2012

Pulling together in Sandy's aftermath and Get up and Go

 Composite Sandy Comingtogether

The Kindness of Strangers:  Pulling together in Sandy's aftermath

A heart-warming collection of photographs and tweets has captured the myriad acts of kindness from the past week, as the hardships of Hurricane Sandy brought devastated communities across the tri-state area together.

From the Mayor of Newark inviting constituents into his home to charge their phones and watch DVDs to an East Village doctor offering free treatments and kids selling cookies to raise money for the relief effort, the stories encapsulate how, in their time of need, people were helping each other.
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There have been so many altruistic acts during the storm and its aftermath that a Facebook page called 'Hurricane Sandy Acts of Kindness' has been set up, giving those who received help the opportunity to thank their saviors and share their stories.
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One image shows Staten Island resident Emily Ellington on Friday as she handed out one of 40 pizzas to locals devastated by the storm.

Scores of restaurants including The Dutch in Manhattan and Lonestar Taco served up free food to the many residents who were left for five days without power, food or fresh water, tweeting the news to their followers.
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Many of those who still had electricity offered up their power plugs so passers by could charge their phones and contact loved ones.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker used Twitter to invite Hurricane Sandy victims to his house to charge their electronics, watch movies, and even get a free lunch, warming the hearts of his constituents.

East Village doctor Dave Ores offered his services to anyone in need of help, posting on his tumblr, 'I'm open today if I can help anyone. Until 6pm Spread the word. Thanks. 189 east 2nd street btw A and B.'

And then there's just plain Get up and Go

Today, my husband witnessed a wondrous act of resourcefulness. A man with a horse trailer hitched to his truck was filling up individual 5 gallon jugs of gas in order to transport them back to New Jersey.

He went out into the wide world of American plenty that lies just beyond disaster. He didn't wait like a hopeless fool in a line of idling cars for gasoline that is rationed by the spoonful. His neighbors hired him because he had a big, gas eating truck, and gave him money and jugs and sent him to Lancaster County to go shopping. He brought back not only gasoline, but food, water, clothing, blankets, batteries, and other things they might need. Those people are heroes, because they used their God-given talents and brains and didn't go crying to the cameras, asking for the government to come and help.

Volunteers Flock to Disaster Areas, Overwhelming City Relief Centers

Surfers with shovels fanned out in the Rockaways in Queens, helping residents clear their homes of mud and sand. An army of cyclists strapped packages of toilet paper to their backs and rode into Belle Harbor, Queens. Children broke open piggy banks, bought batteries and brought them to the parking lot of the Aqueduct Racetrack and Resorts World Casino, where a police inspector and his family set up a donation center for blankets, bottled water and other goods.

Many New Yorkers graced with power and heat in their homes on Sunday found it difficult to sit still as images of homeless and desolate city residents filled their television screens. They streamed into the hardest-hit sections of the city, at times nearly colliding with other would-be volunteers and overwhelming city relief centers.

“It feels like we all had the same impulse: This is my city and I want to do something to help it,” said Esther Pan Sloane, of Roosevelt Island, who drove a carload of supplies from Jackson Heights to a post office on Rockaway Beach where food and clothing were being handed out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:34 AM | Permalink

February 2, 2012

Honey's Golden Touch

This is why every home should have honey in its first aid kit.

Honey’s golden touch: Study finds liquid kills 85 per cent of bacteria found in hard-to-treat wounds

Honey could have the golden touch when it comes to keeping bugs at bay.

In tests, manuka honey eased and prevented hard-to-treat wound infections.

Just two hours of honey treatment killed 85 per cent of bacteria, the journal Microbiology reports.

 Honey

The Cardiff University research showed that the honey makes it more difficult for bacteria to take over wounds, by preventing them from forming impenetrable ‘living film’.

While honey’s healing powers have been feted before the science behind its success has not been fully understood.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:33 PM | Permalink

CrimePush

A new smartphone application to report crimes, Crimepush

the latest in mobile technology to provide urban populations with fast, discrete, and intelligent safety assistance. After being held at gunpoint on the streets of Washington, DC co-founder, Shayan Pahlevani thought of a way to conveniently help report and prevent crimes for the 21st century.

The company utilizes Smartphone technology to put crime reporting, literally, in the hands of users. After downloading the free iPhone or Android application, users can report an ongoing crime with the push of a button. A package of information including the location of the crime, photo, video, audio, and text description of the crime are sent to authorities immediately. The application also allows for users to report crime anonymously so that they may continue with their busy lives knowing that with a push of a button, police will know and have everything to pursue the criminal. Ordinary users become the eyes and ears of authorities.
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Pahlevani tells us to take a moment to think about the number of crimes that go unreported. “Often people are witness to crimes, such as sexual assault and robbery, but do not take the time or effort to call the police. There are other times when personal security is at stake and there is no discreet method of alert,” says Pahlevani. “Opening a new channel via a mobile application, youth populations will be more motivated to provide crime tips and informants will have better tools utilizing a phone’s built-in technology to capture audio, image, or video evidence.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:20 PM | Permalink

October 20, 2011

"We can choose to overcome bad news by living better lives"

This is the best retirement advice I've even read.    Walter Russell Mead writes And Now For The Really Bad News.

The bad news is that corporate and public pension plans are horribly and perhaps irredeemably underfunded. ,,,That’s the bad news.  The really bad news is worse.  According to the same issue of the Economist, returns on all classes of assets — stocks, bonds, real estate, commodities — could be depressed for years.
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So your pension is in jeopardy, your portfolio has taken some big hits, and no matter how much you (or your employer) socks away, you won’t get much return on your savings.
What to do?
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The best and perhaps only real choices that most of us have involve two changes.  First, save more and make realistic assumptions about your future rate of return.  There is no way around it; if you want to be financially secure or even sort of secure in the future, you must sock more money away now.  Nobody cares as much about your retirement as you do; if you don’t save for yourself you can’t count on the government or a benevolent employer to do it for you.  Save, save, save.  This is true whether you are twenty or whether you are seventy; Americans have let themselves get out of the habit of saving, and we need to get back to it.  Whether your income is large or small, you need to look for ways to cut expenses.  That will help you save now; it will also mean you will know how to retire more cheaply.  We need less Martha Stuart and more Ben Franklin in our national character these days.  Thrift, friends.  It’s a virtue.
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Second, and perhaps even more important, adopt reasonable goalsStop thinking that the goal of your working life is to get rich enough to quit at 65 and have fifteen years of active leisure. The goal of a working life is to find ways of contributing to the common welfare that sustain you and your family, that fulfill you and help you to grow.  As you go on in life, you should be looking to keep contributing. The goal isn’t to play golf at Palm Beach or veg out in front of the tube.  Retirement is a time to change careers: work part time, or work at something you love that pays less — but that still contributes something to your income.

You want a working life that pays the bills but keeps you connected to the world in interesting and useful ways. These don’t have to be big earth shaking jobs; it can be healthier, more satisfying and morally better to work a few hours a week as a crossing guard keeping in touch with the kids in your neighborhood than to sit around watching daytime TV.  A partial retirement where you work part time and at more user-friendly jobs can be better and more rewarding than total idleness and empty leisure.  Many people with fully funded pensions and ample savings volunteer or go back to work because the boredom and feeling of uselessness become unbearable.

Think of your goal as a long period of partial retirement involving part time and/or community focused work followed by a short period in much older age of living entirely off your savings.  This is a goal that many of us can achieve more easily than the old style of retirement — and makes for a richer, more interesting and quite possibly longer and healthier life.
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Slow, gradual retirement isn’t just more affordable; it is a better way to live and a more noble goal.  We can choose to overcome bad news by living better lives.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:22 PM | Permalink

August 26, 2011

Preparing for Irene

Everyone on the East coast is getting ready for Hurricane Irene. 

I remember devastating hurricanes in New England when I was a very young girl.  Trees were toppled everywhere, blocking every road and we were without power for more than a week.

To see just how scary Irene is, go here and press forward

The best checklist is from Melissa Clouthier , Hurricane Irene:PREPARE!

Another good list is on Amazon, Prepare for the Next Hurricane Without Leaving Your Desk though it's too late to order anything to have it ready in time.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:33 PM | Permalink

August 24, 2011

"I've been shot - I hope it doesn't ruin my new hairdo"

'I've been shot – I hope it doesn't ruin my new hairdo': 92-year-old heroine threw herself in front of crazed gunman as he blasted three in salon

A heroic 92-year-old was blasted in the neck with a shotgun when she leapt in front of a gunman who opened fire in a crowded Wales hairdressers, it was revealed today.

The woman sprang into action after Darren Williams, 45, burst through the doors of Carol Ann’s Salon in Newport, brandishing the double-barrelled gun.

The courageous widow was hit in the neck as she tried to protect hairdresser Rachel Williams, 37, from the attack by her estranged husband.

She first kicked a table towards the 16-stone bodybuilder before stepping between the gunman and his intended victim as he raised the weapon.

But Darren still fired both barrels of the shotgun - hitting his wife in the leg, the pensioner in the neck and another customer in the arm – before fleeing to woodland where he was later found dead.

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‘The old lady was worried about where she had been shot because she didn't want surgeons to shave her hair - because she'd just had it cut.

The 92-year-old woman hasn't been named.  She was released from the hospital after being treated.  Hats off to her.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:38 AM | Permalink

June 2, 2011

"You never know that it will be the most important day of your life until the day is over. "

This personal account is the best description I have read of what it was like during the Joplin tornado

45 Seconds: Memoirs of an ER Doctor on duty during the Joplin tornadoes

My name is Dr. Kevin Kikta, and I was one of two emergency room doctors who were on duty at St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, MO on Sunday, May 22, 2011.

You never know that it will be the most important day of your life until the day is over.  The day started like any other day for me: waking up, eating, going to the gym, showering, and going to my 4:00 pm ER shift.
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The whole process took about 45 seconds, but seemed like eternity. The hospital had just taken a direct hit from a category EF5 tornado.

Then it was over.  Just 45 seconds.  45 long seconds.  We looked at each other, terrified, and thanked God that we were alive.  We didn’t know, but hoped that it was safe enough to go back out to the ED, find the rest of the staff and patients, and assess our losses.

“Like a bomb went off. ”  That’s the only way that I can describe what we saw next.

He goes on with the help of those who came to volunteer and help,

Tragedy has a way of revealing human goodness.  As I worked, surrounded by devastation and suffering, I realized I was not alone.  The people of the community of Joplin were absolutely incredible.  Within minutes of the horrific event, local residents showed up in pickups and sport utility vehicles, all offering to help transport the wounded to other facilities, including Freeman, the trauma center literally across the street.  Ironically, it had sustained only minimal damage and was functioning (although I’m sure overwhelmed).  I carried on, grateful for the help of the community.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:27 AM | Permalink

March 17, 2011

Subsidiarity : more survivable, more adaptable and more sustainable in times of disconnection

You never know what you had until you've lost it all. 

We're closer to the knife's edge than we realize because of The Fragility of Complex Societies.

There is no more ordered, successful and humane urban society than found in Japan. Like most Americans, these last few days I have been moved as never before by the courage and calm of the Japanese people amid such horrific conditions, as one of the most sophisticated and complex urbanized cultures on the planet in a split second is nearly paralyzed.
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While a disaster comparable to Tokyo is certainly possible here in California, Americans are by nature less prone to rely on centrally provided resources, and are still uneasy with high urban densities.
We forget that the suburbanite — ranch house, three cars in the garage, and distance from the urban center — is not just an energy waster in comparison with his Euro apartment-dwelling, single Smart-car-driving, train-commuting counterpart, but a far more independent-minded, free, and self-reliant citizen as well. Again, I hope our technological future is not in grand mass transit projects thought up and operated by a huge federal government, but in cleaner, more fuel-efficient, private cars; not in massive power plants, but smaller, more dispersed local generators, be they powered by nuclear, solar, wind, or fossil fuels; and not in vast agricultural hydraulic regimes, but in family-operated, more intensively worked farms that are the anchors of rural communities — as idealistic and naive as that may sound.

           Japanese Aroundcampfire

Desperate families left to forage for scraps in the snow in world's third richest country

Homeless, desperate people clambered over snow-covered debris where their villages had once stood, gathering armloads of firewood as Japan's humanitarian crisis escalated yesterday.

In scenes more befitting a poverty-stricken Third World country than the world's third-richest nation, hungry people wrapped themselves in odd scraps of clothing in a futile attempt to keep out the cold in temperatures only just above freezing.

They foraged for food, crying out with delight when they found an undamaged can of food here, a still-edible packet of noodles there.

They carried their pickings back to refugee centres, set up in buildings which survived the dual assault of earthquake and tsunami on the north east coast of Honshu island, where women had joined together to add the findings to pots of boiled rice.

Richard Fernandez What could go wrong?

But catastrophe has a way of killing ants in ant-heaps more easily than when they are spread out over the ground. Then all the supposed disadvantages of unsophisticated America vis a vis “planned systems” become reversed for two reasons.  The first is that subsidiarity — the ability to addresses some needs at an individual or local level — is more survivable than centralized systems. Dispersed housing,  individual transportation, armed citizens and a tradition of community stop becoming “urban sprawl”, “wasteful driving”, “gun-toting” and “bigotry” and become objects of envy to helpless people cowering in their high rise, foodless apartments. Subsidiary forms of social organization are sustainable at greater levels of national disconnection. They can work, if need be, by themselves.  It is an argument which Leo Linbeck III has been making about governance and health-care, but that is another story.

The second reason is that subsidiary systems are more adaptable.  Complex societies are often locked into their adaptation. They can function only when enabled by a larger system. An Ipod is just a paperweight without a network and a power source.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:50 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2010

The War Next Door

Investors Business Daily asks Anyone Notice The War Next Door?

Mexico's war against drug and alien-smuggling cartels grows ever more similar to the horrors of Afghanistan and Iraq. Beheadings, stonings, car bombs and terrorist attacks speak to a lust for power every bit as implacable as that of the Afghanistan's Taliban or the insurgents of Iraq.

The cartels may seem to be just a police problem, but Mexico's own officials know better: President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about their actions says they mean to take over.

But even with such a nearby threat, there are no U.S. crisis task forces or special envoys. The Northern Command hasn't been bolstered. The unbuilt border fence is one excuse after another, hostage to domestic and electoral politics.
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Does anyone care that a cartel has threatened to destroy a dam in Texas? Oregon officials report huge new cartel marijuana fields on a scale never seen earlier.

The Los Angeles Police Department even warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in America's second-largest city.
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On Monday, another small-town Mexican mayor, Gustavo Sanchez of Tancitaro, was shot dead by cartels for firing corrupt officials. It was the fifth murder of a mayor in five weeks.
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In Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 tops 6,000, while deaths in the entire country have surpassed 29,000. The latest outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old girl. She was murdered as she slept in her bed Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.

Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, population 1.3 million, have fled for their lives from cartels, a citizens group reported last week, with 54% of them gone to El Paso.

This sure gives an added dimension to the issue of border security.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:54 AM | Permalink

August 17, 2010

Geotags

Another in a long list of things I didn't know before.   Most digital photos whether taken on a camera or with a GPS-equipped smartphones have embedded within them geotags that provide the longitude and latitude of where the photo was taken.

Is this important? Only if you want to keep what remains of your privacy - like where you live, where your children live or what you have and whether you're on vacation - when you post photos online.

Web Photos That Reveal Secrets, Like Where You Live

“I’d say very few people know about geotag capabilities,” said Peter Eckersley, a staff technologist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, “and consent is sort of a slippery slope when the only way you can turn off the function on your smartphone is through an invisible menu that no one really knows about.” -----

The Web site ICanStalkU.com provides step-by-step instructions for disabling the photo geotagging function on iPhone, BlackBerry, Android and Palm devices.

A person’s location is also revealed while using services like Foursquare and Gowalla as well as when posting to Twitter from a GPS-enabled mobile device, but the geographical data is not hidden as it is when posting photos.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:37 AM | Permalink

May 12, 2010

Aspirin and dark chocolate

Always have on hand  aspirin and dark chocolate, aspirin for a heart attack, dark chocolate for a stroke.

Dark chocolate 'can reduce risk of brain damage after stroke'

Dark chocolate can reduce brain damage following a stroke, a study suggests.

Scientists have discovered that a compound called epicatechin, commonly found in dark chocolate, protects the brain against strokes by shielding nerve cells.

They based their findings on tests in mice and hope the effects can be replicated in humans.

Advice from the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide.  Aspirin for a heart attack

If you think you may be having a heart attack, you need to get aspirin in your system quickly.  Aspirin works by inhibiting the platelets that otherwise would clot around a cholesterol-laden plaque thereby causing more blockage in a coronary artery

For the best results, chew a single full-sized 325-mg tablet.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink

December 17, 2009

Is your safety deposit box safe?

You will understand why it's a good idea to check on your safety deposit box once a year after you see this.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:33 PM | Permalink

July 20, 2009

Cure for radiation sickness found?

This is great news.

Dramatic discovery by Jewish-American scientists could change world; anti-radiation medication proves effective, safe in tests. Further experiments to be fast tracked, FDA approval possible within 1-2 years

The ground-breaking medication, developed by Professor Andrei Gudkov – Chief Scientific Officer at Cleveland BioLabs - may have far-reaching implications on the balance of power in the world, as states capable of providing their citizens with protection against radiation will enjoy a significant strategic advantage vis-à-vis their rivals.

For Israel, the discovery marks a particularly dramatic development that could deeply affect the main issue on the defense establishment's agenda: Protection against a nuclear attack by Iran or against "dirty bomb" attacks by terror groups.

Gudkov's discovery may also have immense implications for cancer patients by enabling doctors to better protect patients against radiation. Should the new medication enable cancer patients to be treated with more powerful radiation, our ability to fight the disease could greatly improve.
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'Stable, safe, and easy to inject'
The company's subcontractor in Europe is already prepared to embark on mass production. Meanwhile, emergency regulations in Israel allow the government to purchase drugs on short notice, even if they are still in the process of being approved. Notably, the medication in question is not a vaccine, but rather, a preventative drug administered via one or several shots.

The medication works by suppressing the "suicide mechanism" of cells hit by radiation, while enabling them to recover from the radiation-induced damages that prompted them to activate the suicide mechanism in the first plac

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2009

I'm going for the wine

Two more catastrophic events you can worry about if you want.

The 'time bomb' for world wheat crops

The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust, could wipe out more than 80% of the world's wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S.

The supervolcano that may be brewing beneath Mount St. Helen's.

Peering under the volcano has revealed what may be an extraordinarily large zone of semi-molten rock, which would be capable of feeding a giant eruption.

But that's nothing compared to the magna chamber below Yellowstone National Park

Every few hundred thousand years, such chambers can erupt as so-called supervolcanoes - the Yellowstone one did so about 640,000 years ago. These enormous eruptions can spew enough sunlight-blocking ash into the atmosphere to cool the climate by several degrees Celsius.

So I'm drinking red wine with the wonderdrug ingredient

An ingredient of red wine really is a 'wonderdrug', claim scientists, after research suggested it kills cancer cells and protects the heart and brain from damage.

Redwine 1422288C
Photo: GETTY

The key ingredient in red wine appears to be resveratrol which in small doses acts as an antioxidant protecting organs but in larger quantities kills dangerous cancer cells

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 26, 2009

More on Solar Superstorms and the" Geomagnetic Apocalypse"

Wired has picked up the story that I wrote about  Solar Superstorms calling it The Geomagnetic Apocalypse and tells us - And How to Stop It.

For scary speculation about the end of civilization in 2012, people usually turn to followers of cryptic Mayan prophecy, not scientists. But that's exactly what a group of NASA-assembled researchers described in a chilling report issued earlier this year on the destructive potential of solar storms.

Entitled "Severe Space Weather Events — Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts," it describes
the consequences of solar flares unleashing waves of energy that could disrupt Earth's magnetic field, overwhelming high-voltage transformers with vast electrical currents and short-circuiting energy grids. Such a catastrophe would cost the United States "$1 trillion to $2 trillion in the first year," concluded the panel, and "full recovery could take four to 10 years." That would, of course, be just a fraction of global damages.
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Worse yet, the next period of intense solar activity is expected in 2012, and coincides with the presence of an unusually large hole in Earth's geomagnetic shield, meaning we'll have less protection than usual from the solar flares.

 Geomagnetic Superstorm

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Wired.com talked to Joseph and John Kappenman, CEO of electromagnetic damage consulting company MetaTech, about the possibility of geomagnetic apocalypse — and how to stop it.
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John Kappenman: We've got a big, interconnected grid that spans across the country. Over the years, higher and higher operating voltages have been added to it. This has  escalated our vulnerability to geomagnetic storms. These are not a new thing. They've probably been occurring for as long as the sun has been around. It's just that we've been unknowingly building an infrastructure that's acting more and more like an antenna for geomagnetic storms.

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What we're proposing is to add some fairly small and inexpensive resistors in the transformers' ground onnections. The addition of that little bit of resistance would significantly reduce the amount of the geomagnetically induced currents that flow into the grid.
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In its simplest form, it's something that might be made out of cast iron or stainless steel, about the size of a washing machine.
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If you're talking about the United States, there are about 5,000 transformers to consider this for. The Electromagnetic Pulse Commission recommended it in a report they sent to Congress last year. We're talking about $150 million or so. It's pretty small in the grand scheme of things.

Big power lines and substations can withstand all the other known environmental challenges. The problem with geomagnetic storms is that we never really understood them as a vulnerability, and had a design code that took them into account.
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Wired.com: Can it be done in time?

Kappenman: I'm not in the camp that's certain a big storm will occur in 2012. But given time, a big storm is certain to occur in the future. They have in the past, and they will again. They're about one-in-400-year events. That doesn't mean it will be 2012. It's just as likely that it could occur next week.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:03 AM | Permalink

January 24, 2009

'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.'

I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully nervous about all these bailouts and stimulus plans.

Cary Doctorow at Boing Boing says the Bailout costs more than the Marshall Plan, the Louisiana Purchase, the moonshot, S&L bailout, Korean War, New Deal, Vietnam war and NASA's lifetime budget COMBINED.

There seems to be no shame I just wonder how Merrill Lynch paid out $15 billion in bonuses after it took $10 billion from TARP.  John Carney calls it Wall Street's Sick Psychology of Entitlement

Even the sharpest critics of the bailout never imagined that it would be used to make wealthy idiots even wealthier.

It seems to have embarrassed Bank of America sufficiently that they have shown the door to former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain.
Mr. Thain resigned from Bank of America on Thursday following news that Merrill Lynch had rushed out its year-end bonuses, paying them just before Bank of America completed its acquisition of Merrill Lynch and sought $20 billion in additional government bailout money.

Nick Gillespie says
taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans.

Political interference seen in bank bailout decisions
"It's totally arbitrary," says South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford. "If you've got the right lobbyist and the right representative connected to Washington or the right ties to Washington, you get the golden tap on the shoulder," says Gov. Sanford, a Republican.

Instapundit hit a bullseye when he wrote
This is not so much a stimulus, as a massive transfer of wealth from the politically unconnected to the politically connected.

It's a good thing that the majority of boomers plan on working in retirement, because more and more will have no other choice,

I want some TARP, they're giving money away for free

Ann Rand Poster

After reading Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 years by the senior economics editor of the Wall St Journal, the book seems prescient.
For the uninitiated, the moral of the story is simply this: Politicians invariably respond to crises -- that in most cases they themselves created -- by spawning new government programs, laws and regulations. These, in turn, generate more havoc and poverty, which inspires the politicians to create more programs . . . and the downward spiral repeats itself until the productive sectors of the economy collapse under the collective weight of taxes and other burdens imposed in the name of fairness, equality and do-goodism.

A few weeks ago I started a post entitled "What are we afraid of".  I didn't publish it because it was all too depressing, so instead I just focused on just how big is a trillion.    But I want to include some quotes by the Anchoress
I wonder if we are finally moving past the adolescent angst, and the numbness, and ... simply waking up to the fact that a bunch of loud, exploitative so-called “friends” crashed the house, called it a party, drank all the liquor, cracked Mom’s prize crystal egg and then decided to have a tug-of-war donnybrook on the front lawn before toilet papering the trees, puking and passing out. The press? Some “friends.” Congress? Some “statesmen.”

Hungover, we’re stumbling around, and realizing that if we do not start demanding adult behavior, adult leadership, less spin and a little honesty, not only from our leadership and our “elites” but from each other, we’re not going to be around to demand much of anything, of anyone.

She in turn quotes Peggy Noonan
In terms of public support, Mr. Obama shouldn't get too abstract. He should be thinking hardhats. People want to make their country stronger—literally, concretely, because the things they fear (terrorism, global collapse) are so huge and amorphous. Lately I think the biggest thing Americans fear, deep down—the thing they'd say if you could put the whole nation on the couch and say, "Just free associate, tell me what you fear?"—is, "I am afraid we will run out of food. And none of us have gardens, and we haven't taught our children how to grow things. Everything is bought in a store. What if the store closes? What if the choke points through which the great trucks travel from farmland to city get cut off? I have two months of canned goods. I'm afraid."

But it was this anecdote that Peggy Noonan told in 2005 that really got me.
Do people fear the wheels are coming off the trolley? Is this fear widespread? A few weeks ago I was reading Christopher Lawford's lovely, candid and affectionate remembrance of growing up in a particular time and place with a particular family, the Kennedys, circa roughly 1950-2000. It's called "Symptoms of Withdrawal." At the end he quotes his Uncle Teddy. Christopher, Ted Kennedy and a few family members had gathered one night and were having a drink in Mr. Lawford's mother's apartment in Manhattan. Teddy was expansive. If he hadn't gone into politics he would have been an opera singer, he told them, and visited small Italian villages and had pasta every day for lunch. "Singing at la Scala in front of three thousand people throwing flowers at you. Then going out for dinner and having more pasta." Everyone was laughing. Then, writes Mr. Lawford, Teddy "took a long, slow gulp of his vodka and tonic, thought for a moment, and changed tack. 'I'm glad I'm not going to be around when you guys are my age.' I asked him why, and he said, 'Because when you guys are my age, the whole thing is going to fall apart.' "

Mr. Lawford continued, "The statement hung there, suspended in the realm of 'maybe we shouldn't go there.' Nobody wanted to touch it. After a few moments of heavy silence, my uncle moved on."

Lawford thought his uncle might be referring to their family--that it might "fall apart." But reading, one gets the strong impression Teddy Kennedy was not talking about his family but about . . . the whole ball of wax, the impossible nature of everything, the realities so daunting it seems the very system is off the tracks.

And--forgive me--I thought: If even Teddy knows . ..

Atlas shrugged.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:12 AM | Permalink

January 16, 2009

Hero of the Miracle on the Hudson

 Plane-Hudson People On Wings

The 155 passengers and crew who were rescued safely after the crash landing of  the U.S. Airways plane on the Hudson River can thank God and their lucky stars that Chesley Sullenberger was their pilot.

Thank too the ad hoc flotilla of commuter ferries and water taxies that came within minutes to pluck them from the icy waters of the Hudson.  That Quick Rescue Kept Death Toll at Zero


For a moment after the water landing, it was a picture of eerie calm, the airplane floating on its belly in the center of the river near West 48th Street under a bright sky. A witness in a penthouse apartment called it a perfect landing, as if on cement.

But very soon the water was churned by an ad hoc flotilla of boats and ferries flying the flags of almost every city, state and federal agency that works the waters around New York City. They sped toward the slowly sinking jet, a rescue operation complicated by river currents that kept dragging the plane south, as its passengers climbed aboard the wings to await help
--
The operation was not without improvisation: Four New York police officers commandeered a Circle Line boat picking up tourists and commuters at 42nd Street and hurried to the jet. Two officers stayed on the ferry and tied themselves to two detectives, John McKenna and James Coll, who stepped onto the wing and helped people onto rescue boats, the police said.

The big hero was Sully the pilot who showed he had more than enough of the right stuff.  He was trained, experienced, prepared and knew what to do.

 Chesleysullenberger

Airliners are not meant to glide, although occasionally they have to. The pilot of this one, Capt. Chesley B. Sullenberger III, is certified as a glider pilot, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Captain Sullenberger, known as Sully, flew the F-4 for the United States Air Force for seven years in the 1970s after graduating from the United States Air Force Academy. He joined USAir, as it was called at the time, in 1980 and became a “check airman,” training and evaluating new pilots or those changing to new aircraft or moving up to captain. He also was an accident investigator for the union, the Air Line Pilots Association.

When all were out,
the pilot walked up and down the aisle twice to make sure the plane was empty, officials said.

"It would appear that the pilot did a masterful job of landing the plane in the river and then making sure everybody got out," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said of the veteran pilot and Air Force Academy graduate.

UPDATE: In the London Times, Giles Whittell writes Heroism: one great decision and no panic.

He made one blindingly good decision, and didn't panic. That was the heroism. All the rest was training, quick thinking by the people on the commuter ferries beneath him, and a wonderfully sturdy aircraft.
--

Sully Sullenberger kept his nerve, and his eyes open. Such is heroism - fleeting and priceless.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

January 15, 2009

"By the time you need it, it's way too late"

What hedge fund managers do when they feel paranoid and start to hunker down.

During the final months of 2008, as the financial markets imploded, talk on trading desks turned to food and water stockpiles, generators, guns, and high-speed inflatable boats.
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Preparations, in Lange’s case, include a storeroom in his basement in New Jersey stacked high with enough food, water, diapers, and other necessities to last his family six months; a biometric safe to hold his guns; and a 1985 ex-military Chevy K5 Blazer that runs on diesel and is currently being retrofitted for off-road travel. He has also entertained the idea of putting an inflatable speedboat in a storage unit on the West Side, so he could get off the island quickly, and is currently considering purchasing a remote farm where he could hunker down. “If there’s a financial-system breakdown, it could take a year to reset the system, and in that time, what’s going to happen?” asks Lange.
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He’s not the only one. In his book Wealth, War, published last year, former Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Barton Biggs advised people to prepare for the possibility of a total breakdown of civil society. A senior analyst whose reports are read at hedge funds all over the city wrote just before Christmas that some of his clients are “so bearish they’ve purchased firearms and safes and are stocking their pantries with soups and canned foods.”
--
It’s like insurance,” says an investor who has stockpiled MREs and a hand-cranked radio. “And by the time you need it, it’s way too late.”

via Suicide of the West

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:45 AM | Permalink

March 7, 2008

Saved by air trapped in his hat

Saved by air trapped in his plastic safety helmet, that plus Buddhist meditation techniques  saved the life of Chinese construction worker who was buried alive.

Chinese Man Buried Alive Saved by Air Trapped in His Hat

“I had my back to the wall and didn’t know it was falling until it was on top of me. It was suddenly dark and I realised what had happened and found that there was a small air pocket in front of me,” Mr Wang said. That was when the Buddhist turned to meditation to control his intake of oxygen. “I knew it would not last, so I made myself relax and concentrated on slowing down my breathing by meditation.”

--
Doctors were astounded, saying that a person could normally not live longer than five minutes in a similar sealed space. One local doctor said: “It’s a miracle that he’s alive after being buried for two hours.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:32 PM | Permalink

January 23, 2008

The Tongue Sucker

Straight from Davos, via Jeff Jarvis, comes news that first aid kits, which haven't been overhauled since the First World War, are now changing in Britain with the addition of a tongue sucker.

Designed by four young students from the Royal College of Art after the 2005 London tube bombings, tongue suckers are designed to avoid blocked airways and suffocation.

"If you don't open the airway before the paramedics arrive there is no point in them arriving anyway," 
said  one of the inventors, after winning a prestigious 2007 design award.

It looks like a turkey baster, but will keep the airways open of an unconscious person and can be applied by anyone.

Video and demonstration here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:47 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2007

Arm the Women in the Congo

I read something like the report from Africa where the rape epidemic in the Congo war worsens.

Eastern Congo is going through another one of its convulsions of violence, and this time it seems that women are being systematically attacked on a scale never before seen here. According to the United Nations, 27,000 sexual assaults were reported in 2006 in South Kivu Province alone, and that may be just a fraction of the total number across the country.

“The sexual violence in Congo is the worst in the world,” said John Holmes, the United Nations under secretary general for humanitarian affairs.

My thought is -  the women.  Smuggle in small arms so that the women can defend themselves against the sadistic rapists.  The United States has expedited arms to insurgent groups various times; we have not limited such aid to nations. 
---
According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way.

United Nations officials said the so-called Rastas were once part of the Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after committing genocide there in 1994, but now it seems they have split off on their own and specialize in freelance cruelty.

According to victims, one of the newest groups to emerge is called the Rastas, a mysterious gang of dreadlocked fugitives who live deep in the forest, wear shiny tracksuits and Los Angeles Lakers jerseys and are notorious for burning babies, kidnapping women and literally chopping up anybody who gets in their way.

United Nations officials said the so-called Rastas were once part of the Hutu militias who fled Rwanda after committing genocide there in 1994, but now it seems they have split off on their own and specialize in freelance cruelty.


The cruelty to women is beyond all bonds.  One woman said brutality to women is "almost normal."    If some women were covertly trained in self-defense and organizational tactics and equipped with guns, they might have a fighting chance of thwarting some of these savage attacks, killing some of these men, and even, if killed themselves, going down fighting.

i have very little faith in the government groups or the U.N peacekeepers.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:45 PM | Permalink

September 26, 2007

Something else to worry about

This is a very disturbing article that connects a number of alarming events.   

Al Qaeda Targets Our Schoolchildren

Some might argue in too imaginative a manner.  But then didn't the 9/11 commission say in its final report that the most important failure was "one of imagination" and that leaders did not understand the gravity of the threat?

If you've forgotten the horror at Beslan, Wikipedia summarizes the Beslan school hostage crisis

Osama bin Laden in 2004 promised many Beslans in the United States.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink

August 10, 2007

Denial kills you twice, Preparation saves you twice

The worse thing that can happen to a policeman is to find themselves suddenly in harm's way while their loved ones were with them.

Why policemen should Prepare for the unthinkable, as though it was inevitable  with an amazing story of a police chief shot when his wife was with him and what she did.

The sobering fact is that post-traumatic stress disorder is caused by "intense fear, helplessness or horror" in a life-and-death situation.

Denial kills you twice: once because you are physically unprepared at the moment of truth and might die in the incident; twice because you are psychologically unprepared and, even if you physically survive, you are likely to be a psychiatric casualty when your "house of cards" collapses. Denial kills you twice, and it can kill your loved ones twice. In the same way, preparation saves you twice, and it may save your loved ones twice.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink

July 31, 2007

Ignoring Evacuation Orders

Despite the recent experience of Katrina, about 1 in 3 people living in Southern coastal areas said they would ignore hurricane evacuation orders.

Why?
People believe that their homes are safe and well-built, that roads would be too crowded and that fleeing would be dangerous. Slightly more than one in four also said they would be reluctant to leave behind a pet.
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78% felt prepared

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:21 AM | Permalink

July 24, 2007

Emergency Food

If you've delayed putting away an emergency food supply, now is your time.  For only $115, shipping included, you can get 275 servings of food in a weather proof bucket with a shelf-life of 20 years from Costco.
  Emergency Food Supply       

Granted all the food is vegetarian, but a shelf-life of 20 years!  Order here

   7 Day Gourmet Alpine Aire

Personally, I liked the 7 day Gourmet Instant Meal Kit, Costco  offers from AlpineAire - freeze-dried, dehydrated and ready-to-eat instant meals, side dishes, breakfasts, soups and desserts.

The shelf life is 3-5 years.  At a cost of $90 and a shelf life of 3-5 years, all you need to do is add boiling water.  But the menu is far more appetizing with main dishes, sides and desserts.  Order here

If you are a real foodie, then you might want to get your hands on "Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out" (Jon Robertson, Robin Robertson)

,

Costco also has Emergency back-packs all kitted up to support four people for three days are only $125.  Comes with radio, food, ponchos, water, and space blankets.  Order here

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:07 PM | Permalink

July 5, 2007

What an adult should be able to do

Dr. Helen Smith, a forensic psychologist and blogger, better known to some as the Instawife, is now an advice columnist,  Ask Dr. Helen at Pajamas Media,

She's off to a fast start asking "What should an adult be able to do?"

I've combined and categorized her answers and those of the commenters and threw in one or two of my own.

Survival

Understand and be able to use a basic handgun (Helen)
Drive a stick shift (Helen)
Swim a reasonable distance (Helen)
Be able to use basic tools
Cook a simple meal
Change a tire
Build a fire
Read a map
Sew on a button
Know basic first aid
Know how to recognize a heart attack and a stroke and what to do

Financial

Balance a checkbook
Save and invest
Understand the compounding of interest

Digital

Surf the web and send an email (Helen)
Bookmark a website
Use Google

Inter-personal

Give a good backrub (Helen)

Comfort a child
Use turn signals

Keep some things to yourself

Make a sincere apology
Accept a compliment with grace
Be able to express sympathy
Write a thank-you note
Be a mensch

What would you add?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:56 AM | Permalink

May 10, 2007

Preparing for Siberia

Tom McMahon reports what preparedness meant when the Soviet Union had Eastern Europe under its iron grip.

The Bundle of Warm Clothing by the Door

Skirmante was telling me that, during the Russian times, her parents kept a bundle of warm clothing next to the door so that they could grab it if they were arrested in the night and deported to Siberia. They never knew, from one day to the next, if the secret police would burst in and exile them for life.

Then asks why classroom doors aren't equipped with dead-bolt locks on the inside that could be used to prevent another school massacre.  Hey, it works for planes.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

May 7, 2007

Honey for Diabetics

More good news about honey.

Honey could save diabetics from amputation

Spreading honey on a diabetic ulcer could prevent the need to amputate an infected foot, researchers say.

Honey therapy involves squeezing a thick layer of honey onto a wound after all the dead skin and bacteria have been removed.

The honey kills bacteria because it is acidic and avoids the complication of bacterial resistance found with standard antibiotics, Jennifer Eddy, a professor at the University's School of Medicine and Public Health, told AFP.

"This is a tremendously important issue for world health," Eddy said.

She tried honey therapy as a last resort six years ago with a 79-year-old diabetic patient who had developed foot wounds resistant to standard treatments.

"I tried it only after everything else had failed and... we had essentially sent him home to die," she said. "All antibiotics were stopped when we started honey, and his wounds rapidly healed."

Last summer, I noted how honey heals wounds faster than antibiotics and recommended you tuck away  jar of honey in your emergency supplies kit.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:52 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 25, 2007

Why You Should Spy on Yourself

Since just about anyone can find out all sorts of detailed information about you, consider that the best defense is a good offense.

Why You Should Spy on Yourself in the Wall Street Journal tells you how find out beforehand what a prospective employer, college admissions officer or others might reveal about you.

In a 2004 study by U.S. Public Interest Group found that 79% of consumer-credit reports contained at least one mistake.

1. Get your free annual credit report
The first step in running a background check on yourself: Order your credit report. These are from major credit-reporting agencies Equifax, TransUnion and Experian and can be obtained from www.annualcreditreport.com or 1-877-322-8228.

Check for unauthorized credit-card accounts and loans, bad addresses and unfamiliar names that could be evidence of identity theft. Notify the agencies and creditors if anything seems amiss.
The good news: Background reports prepared by agencies like these are regulated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. As a result, you're supposed to be notified of the reason if a negative report results in a missed opportunity, giving you a chance to correct mistakes.

2.  Do a pre-employment self check
While Choicetrust will give you a free annual report, expect to pay about $25 for  a national criminal file check or $50 for a search that included employment or education verification that will include information from public records and some courts.

At Choicetrust you can also review credentials of health care professionals,  verify nursing home credentials and check for lawsuits, liens and judgments against those you are thinking to employ.

Lexis-Nexus will also give you a free copy of information contained in a background screening report if you call 877-913-6245.

3. Do a Stolen ID search
StolenIDSearch.com, a new free service from TrustedID, lets you find out whether your Social Security or credit-card numbers are among some 2.3 million compromised pieces of identification in its database, which it obtains from organizations that compile lists of numbers recovered in fraud investigations.
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4. Clean up unflattering online postings
Among the toughest problems to fix can be unflattering online postings. Even just a few years ago, no one would have worried about it. But the fact is, they can linger in cyberspace forever. ReputationDefender.com is designed to scour the Web for unflattering material about you, then will try to either have it removed or make it show up less prominently in search results.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:08 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

April 20, 2007

"Crazy Campuses"

Victor Davis Hanson had a crazy,  volatile roommate his first year of college, so he has real empathy for students who might find themselves in a similar, scary situation.  His advice

I don’t believe that the university can protect any of them. Its mentality is therapeutic. And in the age of law-suits, and fourth-chances officials always err in the direction of the accused’s rights. I say that not in hindsight or criticism, but in sadness that the best advice one could give a child going to the university would be something like: “You will meet very eccentric people there, with all sorts of problems and strong passions, most of them antithetical to your own. Don’t expect moral guidance necessarily from your professors, or physical protection from your colleagues or the administration. Ask for such help, but don’t count on it. Instead keep you eyes open and at all times expect the worse.”

I am sorry if that sounds pessimistic, but I find it better advice than something like the college brochures’ promises of four years of intellectual and lifestyle stimulation in a cordial tolerant environment.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

November 30, 2006

Every Lock You Have Is Worthless

After reading Nearly Every Lock You Have is Worthless,  I thought it might be worth it to put up a chain - not that it would keep out anyone intent on breaking in, but at least it would be evidence to the insurance company.

The comments are useful  - I never knew about biometric deadbolts or Abloy locks.  I liked this one. 

Cheapest way to do that is an NRA sticker on your screen door. Even criminals perform cost/benefit analyses in their heads.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:11 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Surviving in the Wilderness

Okay, maybe you're not hiking through the Northern woods in the winter, but would you know what to do if you were in a small plane crash or your car went off the road in Death Valley or on your way to Quebec?

From Popular Mechanics, Outdoors Survival Strategies along with case studies from some of the 50,000 wilderness search and rescue 

missions each year in the United States.  Now, I'm not a regular reader of the magazine, so a tip of the hat to Instapundit who shares my interest in disaster preparedness, but not my interest in Heloise.

Here are 8 practical tips to stay alive for three days so rescuers can find you.

1. Leave a detailed plan with someone on the home front.  When you don't arrive, rescuers will know where to start looking.
2. Bring the right clothes.
3. Stay found by carrying and using a map so you can always where you are.
4. Remain in one place if you are in trouble.  Think of your car is your survival ark, giving you shelter from the wind and the rain
5. Stay warm.  It's the rule of 3s.  You can live for 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 hours without heat, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.
6. Signal for help in the most obnoxious way possible.  Blow your car horn.  Make a giant  X so that you are visible from the air.  Hang clothing from branches or lay out anything colorful so that it's visible from the air.  What catches the eyes of rescuers are contrast and movement.
7. Build a fire.  Keeps you warm and signals where you are.
8. Find water if necessary.  Don't ration the water you have.  Better to stay hydrated.  Drink found water even if you think it's impure if you have to.  Who cares about an intestinal bug if the water can save your life?

Finally, determine you will survive and live.  Most of survival is psychological.  Don't ask why this happened to you, a fruitless, useless question just about anytime.  Ask instead, What is the best things I can do in this situation.

Gear
If you're smart, you already have a first aid kit,  a flashlight, a few bottles of water and some fruit and nut bars in your car just in case.  Any of these inexpensive additions may save your life if you're lost in the wilderness.

Trash bags, large ones.  Good for staying warm.  Crawl right in.
Duct tape.  Did you know it prevents blisters and can splint broken bones. 
Whistle
Dental Floss  It's so strong, you can repair a backpack or tie together branches.
Waterproof match cases.  Two of them.  One with matches, the other with  Vaseline-soaked cotton balls.  Who knew they were such excellent fire starters?
Condoms.  Excellent for carrying a gallon of water.
CD.  If you don't have a signal mirror, you can use a CD to signal aircraft.  Just line up the aircraft in the hole and flash, ideally in a series of 3.

If survival is mainly psychological, so is preparedness.  Preparedness is the determination to be your best strong and courageous self whatever happens.  So read the tips again and may you remember them when you need them most for both know-how and will.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

October 30, 2006

Making Final Choices

He says what I say, Tom Lauricella in today's Wall St Journal, Making Final Choices While They're Yours.

In an era where many retirees have multiple retirement accounts and homes that have appreciated considerably in value, there often needs to be a well-thought-out plan for how these assets will be handled at death.

And no matter what your net worth, it's vital to give someone you trust the power to make financial and health-care decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

By making these arrangements ahead of time, you'll spare your family and friends emotional anguish, minimize the time they'll spend with lawyers or in court, and protect the assets you worked so hard to accumulate. If anything, knowing that these matters are taken care of should help you enjoy retirement that much more.

The legal trinity of necessary legal documents that every adult should have includes:

1. A Durable Power of Attorney
2. Health Care Proxy
3. A Will

Check your beneficiaries for all those assets "outside the will" - like your IRAs, 401(k)s, and life insurance policies

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

September 19, 2006

Fish as Canaries Protect Drinking Water

Ever since I worked at the Department of Interior, I've been fascinated by the use of bio organisms and processes to solve problems.

Canaries were taken into coal mines as a safety precaution against the odorless, colorless, tasteless methane gas which can explode when mixed with coal dust.  Canaries, far more susceptible to the methane gas, would die when even small amounts were present, and thus alert the miners.

Now the small fish known as bluegills, bream or sunfish are being used to monitor the drinking water supplies for the cities of San Francisco, New York and Washington.

When a fish becomes a canary
"Nature's given us pretty much the most powerful and reliable early warning center out there," said Bill Lawler, co-founder of Intelligent Automation Corporation, a Southern California company that makes and sells the bluegill monitoring system. "There's no known manmade sensor that can do the same job as the bluegill."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:32 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

August 8, 2006

Sweet tip

Everyone should have a jar of honey tucked away for emergencies.

  Honey Pot

Honey heals wounds faster than antibiotics

“In hospitals today we are faced with germs which are resistant to almost all the current anti-biotics. As a result, the medical use of honey is becoming attractive again for the treatment of wounds,”

said Dr. Arne  Simon, one of the researchers at the University of Bonn hospital that conducted the study.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 AM | Permalink

July 3, 2006

Preparing and Recovering

If you have an expensive home ($1 million or more) and pay a fortune in homeowner's insurance($3500-$20,000), be sure to take advantage of the "concierge service" some insurers are offering this summer to deal with natural disasters like wildfires, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Insurers Cater to High-End Homeowners. (Wall St Journal, subscriber firewall).

They will work out a customized disaster plan and send out risk managers to your home to give you advice. Some even offer pre-screened specialists to give you priority and discounts in clean-up and restoration.

The rest of us can us Amazon's virtual Emergency Preparedness store which gathers together everything you need to prepare before and recover after.

Prepare for the worst. Hope for the best

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:12 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

June 5, 2006

Sputnik in Brooklyn

This is how easy it is to lost track of stuff you thought you could never lose.

A cache of emergency war supplies, to aid in survival efforts in the event of nuclear attack, was discovered in a Cold War bunker found in the masonry of the Brooklyn Bridge.

But no one in the Department of Transportation knew anything about it. Nor apparently did anyone else.

Like a time capsule, the cache revealed.

Some containers were marked with two dates notorious in the annals of the Cold War: 1957, when the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space, and 1962, the year of the Cuban missile crisis when the two superpowers may have come closest to war.

Sarlin said one of the containers was marked, "To be opened after attack by the enemy."

The stockpile included empty water drums and boxes of medical supplies, such as tourniquet bandages and an intravenous drip. Also, there were cans of high-calorie crackers with instructions to consume 10,000 calories a day per person. The instructions said the crackers should be destroyed after 10 years, but they were mostly intact.

I imagine most people would focus on the age of the supplies, the out-datedness of the stock.

I'm thinking of the person or persons who put this cache together. How frightened yet responsible they were in 1957 and again in 1962, the date written on the containers.

In 1957 the Soviet Union launched the world's first satellite. The total surprise of Sputnik so galvanized the nation that even students like me, in the sixth grade, felt responsible for studying harder to close the Sputnik gap and beat the Russians. In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis had a lot of us thought it was possible that there would be a nuclear war.

Some group thought to prepare for the future in case the worst happened.

Varifrank writes

Today, My pal Ray stops me and makes a very good point:

"So here were talking about a losing a fixed-in-place Cold War bunker in the middle of New York City, one of the most populated cities in North America. Worse, the bunker is literally in the Brooklyn Bridge, a prominent city landmark... Lost, just completely lost it - For 50+ years.

Yet everyone on the left is constantly screaming that we didnt find Saddams WMD's in Iraq?. Hell, we cant even find our own stuff here at home!"

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 AM | Permalink

May 16, 2006

A real civil defense

Peter Canellos, the Boston Globe's Washington bureau chief has an interesting idea . Those courses offered to military officers and war reporters on how to conduct themselves when faced with a terrorist, why not offer them to ordinary citizens in clubs, churches, even schools.

Ordinary people do fight terror.

But while the Department of Homeland Security has made efforts to help communities get ready for possible attacks -- including the creation of nearly 2,000 local Citizens Corps Councils -- they have focused mostly on FEMA-style preparedness; the Citizen Corps website offers advice on how to create a ''three-day disaster supply kit," but not what to do if confronted by a hijacker, a kidnapper, or a suspected terrorist.

Homeland Security officials did not return messages asking for further information on civil defense programs. But giving people a sense of when and how to fight back might do more than just prepare them for the unlikely chance that they'll be aboard another United 93
. It could rob the terrorists of their best weapon: the fear that nothing can stop them.

It would be real civil defense. I can think of a number of men and boys who would jump at the chance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:13 PM | Permalink

April 13, 2006

Cowboy Boots for Every Woman

That's what Manolo says in The Boots of the Cowboys.

Mine are red.

  Cowgirl

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:23 PM | Permalink

March 31, 2006

Good Sense to Question Authority

When it comes to a disaster like Katrina or 9/11, it's often better to question authorities especially when your gut tells you to.

The release of the tapes of 911 calls from September 11 is heart-breaking because

No more than 2 of the 130 callers were told to leave, the tapes reveal, even though unequivocal orders to evacuate the trade center had been given by fire chiefs and police commanders moments after the first plane struck. The city had no procedure for field commanders to share information with the 911 system, a flaw identified by the 9/11 Commission that city officials say has since been fixed.

I wrote in Good Sense and Preparation that

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive if something terrible happens, a terrorist attack, a fire, or in what seems increasingly likely next year or the next two or three, a pandemic of avian flu.

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive because the federal government, state and local governments are not prepared as they should be and never will be.

This used to be commonly accepted.

Civil engineers who studied the collapse of the World Trade Center towers said some 2500 people saved their lives because they disobeyed authorities who told them to stay put and instead engaged in "reasoned flight". They didn't flee in a panic but stopped to help the injured and assist the disabled. They knew more than the authorities because they had better access to what was happening than the authorities did.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 PM | Permalink

March 24, 2006

Guided by History

Wells Fargo launches a blog to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire.

Called Guided by History, it's the first public blog by any Fortune 500 financial services company says Debby Weil in Business Blog Consulting.

A great name, Guided by History because through the historical first-person accounts of the San Francisco quake, you can begin to understand the personal qualities and resources needed to survive such a catastrophe. Helpful bookmarks make this blog especially useful for anyone in earthquake terrritory

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink

February 28, 2006

Checklist for the Business of Life

The Financial Planning Association and the National Endowment for Financial Education have teamed up to create an online life-stages financial planning tool.

  Life Events And Financial Decisions

Life Events & Financial Decisions is definitely a site to bookmark if only for as a checklist for the Business of Life™.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 PM | Permalink

January 27, 2006

Elderberry extract effective against bird flu and Oprah

(I just posted this at Estate Legacy Vaults and decided it should go here too)

Now that Oprah has devoted an entire show to avian flu, the need for preparedness has finally hit home. You can hear the "untold story" here.
Her tips

• Stock your cabinets with enough canned goods to last four to five weeks.
• Stockpile your prescription drugs, if possible.
• Speak with city officials to make sure your community has enough chlorine on hand to purify the water, in case shipments stop coming. Many cities only keep enough chlorine on hand to last five to seven days.

Her guest was Dr. Michael Osterholm who said we can learn a lot from the lessons of Katrina. He said we need to be prepared to live without modern luxuries. He also said communities need to have a plan to bury their dead in a timely, respectful way. Nothing got people more upset during Katrina than the dead bodies that lay on the streets for days, sometimes weeks.

Your best all around resource is CIDRAP, the Center for infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.

For me, the idea that elderberry extract may be effective against the bird flu is the best news I've heard all week. Elderberries were always an old folk remedy against flu and often called the "medicine chest" of the country people.

Now it turns out that an Israeli grandmother Dr. Madeline Mumcuoglu, a world-renowned virologist, has been working on an elderberry extract cure for the past 12 years.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this "comfortable and grandmotherly" woman has developed the cure for one of humanity's biggest threats?

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:06 AM | Permalink

January 20, 2006

Unprepared

Sounds as if a lot of our college students are not even remotely prepared for the Business of Life.

More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.
That means they could not interpret a table about exercise and blood pressure, understand the arguments of newspaper editorials, compare credit card offers with different interest rates and annual fees or summarize results of a survey about parental involvement in school.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:28 PM | Permalink

November 2, 2005

The Interdependence of Preparedness

Because I've written a lot about Being Prepared, I was delighted to hear "Stockpiling supplies and developing family response plans in case disaster strikes not only might save lives — it's also a civic duty," coming from no one less than the Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff in an interview with The Associated Press.

Two months of hurricanes ravaging the Gulf Coast should prove that people need to make preparations so emergency officials can focus on those who are poor, elderly or otherwise can't help themselves, Chertoff said.

"For those people who say, 'Well, I can take care of myself no matter what, I don't have to prepare,' there is an altruistic element — that to the extent that they are a burden on government services, that takes away from what's available to help those who can't help themselves," Chertoff said. "That is a matter of civic virtue."

Chertoff's comments mark a new stage in Homeland Security's "Ready" campaign — which was widely ridiculed two years ago for urging homeowners to stock up on duct tape and plastic sheeting to safeguard their homes against a chemical or biological attack.

Now, Chertoff said, the department plans to reach out to school students to carry the preparedness messages home to their parents. Additionally, Homeland Security and the Ad Council launched a newspaper and radio campaign Monday pitched at small businesses to develop disaster plans for workplaces.
---

Chertoff's plans are an optimistic and pragmatic mix.

If gas stations keep power generators on hand, Chertoff argues, they can pump fuel for commuters to drive to work. If utility company employees can get to work, they can provide power to grocery stores. Once grocery stores are open, households can restock food, water and first aid needs while emergency responders focus on people who can't get their own.

"The great lesson of all of these events is interdependence," Chertoff said. "We're all dependent on everybody else. Everybody has their role to play, and if people fail in their role, it's going to have a cascading effect."

DHS "Ready" campaign: http://www.ready.gov/

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:04 AM | Permalink

September 24, 2005

Third Age Blog

I'm one voice in a group of talented people each with a distinctive voice, experience and expertise: Connie Goldman, Jacqueline Marcell, Jed Diamond, Lisa Haneberg, Rinatte Paries, Ronni Bennett, Sharon Whiteley, Susan Anderson, Susan Mitchell, Tom Blake and Yvonne Divita.

I write about many of the same things I do on Business of Life and Legacy Matters but often in a more personal way.

Until I can get me on of those doohickies that signifies a new post on another blog, I'm just going to periodically round-up a group of posts and link them here in reverse chronological order.

Rules of Life
Responding to Suffering
Make Haste for a Neighborhood Barbecue
Lessons of Katrina
Afraid to Get Prepared?
Intensely Alive While Dying
Why Can't We Talk About the Important Things?
A Gift of Stories
Good enough is good enough
Learning from Life

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:43 PM | Permalink

September 22, 2005

Best Emergency Radio

According to Walter Mossberg who writes the personal technology column for the Wall St. Journal, the best emergency radio is the Multi-purpose radio FR300 by Eton Corp and available at Hammacher Schlemmer.

Multi-purpose is right. It's sturdy with a case and a carrying handle.

Its front displays a speaker, small flashlight, and tuning display for five settings: AM, FM, the TV1 and TV2 television audio bands, and a "WX" band for the government's weather channels

You can use batteries or the hand-crank, two minutes of which gives you an hour of radio time.

A small cellphone-charging piece plugs into the back of the FR300, and five included adapters permit charging of certain Samsung, Motorola, Nokia, Siemens and Sony Ericsson phones. Katie easily plugged her Samsung cellphone into the adapter and had it charging after a few cranks.

Well worth $50 for the peace of mind it can give you.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:17 PM | Permalink

September 20, 2005

Preparedness for everything

If you're prepared for one disaster, you're pretty much prepared for all of them.

If Katrina didn't motivate you to assemble your personal disaster kit and supplies to get you through 3-7 days of a natural disaster, consider two other distinct possibilities on the horizon.

avian flu
The World Health Organization said last week that the world has a slim chance to stop an avian flu pandemic that may kill millions because the potentially catastrophic infection may not be detected until it has already spread to several countries.

terrorist chemical attack
Al Qaeda is actively creating and using chemical weapons. Fortunately, two of its planned chemical attacks against France and Britain and against Jordan were thwarted. Last week in Iraq, a house filled with chemicals and rigged for demolition was found by U.S. troops. Bill Roggio has the details in Chemical games.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:10 PM | Permalink

August 31, 2005

This is Our Tsunami

Hundreds are on rooftops awaiting rescuers who can not get to them as water continues to rise. 
Martial Law has been declared in New Orleans.

We have nowhere to go," one broken man whose wife and house were swept away by floodwaters in Gulfport, Miss.,
told FOX News. "I lost everything. That's all I had. That's all I had."

In Gulfport more than 75% of houses have major roof damage the police chief says.

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "This is our tsunami". 

We don't know about some of the out-lying areas but I expect hundreds if not thousands of deaths.  One reporter said there were bodies floating in the water in Slidell.

More than a million 2.3 million people lack power.  You can't drink the water in New Orleans without boiling it first.

The hundreds of thousands who have evacuated will not be able to go back to see if they have any homes left for a week or more.

One poor weeping man on TV told a reporter that he was on the roof  of his house to escape the rising waters when it split in half.  His wife?

"I can't find her body.  She gone."

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:11 AM | Permalink

August 9, 2005

Keeping Our Wits

One of the more remarkable outcomes of the Air France crash in Toronto last week was how calm everyone was. 

It turns out to be not so remarkable at all.  And what good news that is.
Baruch Fischhoff, a professor of social and decision sciences at Carnegie Mellon University and president of the Society for Risk Analysis writes in the New York Times, there was a hero in every aisle seat and we could have been one of them.

The Air France evacuation required an extraordinary degree of social coordination - which emerged among a group of strangers with virtually no time to prepare. Once out of the wreckage, they were aided by other strangers who, on the spur of the moment and with no expertise in emergency situations, had pulled off a nearby highway and calmly charged into the scene, despite the risks posed by an exploding plane. 

While this sort of behavior is often described as remarkable, it is actually what researchers have come to expect. Studies of civilians' intense experiences in the London Blitz; the cities of Japan and Germany in World War II; the 1947 smallpox outbreak in New York; the earthquake in Kobe, Japan, in 1995; and even fires have found that people, however stressed, almost always keep their wits and elevate their humanity.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 AM | Permalink

July 27, 2005

ICE: In Case of Emergency

Here's a good tip if you haven't gotten around to making your wallet card yet.

Store your emergency contact numbers on your cell phone beginning with ICE (in case of emergency).  So, ICE followed by the telephone number of Mom or Dad or your spouse. 

If your unconscious or unable to respond to emergency personnel, paramedics need to get in touch with the right people and  ICE numbers on your cell phone are a good way.

Barbara Mikkelson at Snopes  adds a lot more

Now, Bob Brotchie, a paramedic who works as a clinical team leader for the East Anglian Ambulance NHS Trust has launched a campaign (sponsored by Vodafone's annual Life Savers Awards) to get people to store "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) information in items that have become ubiquitous in many parts of the world: cell phones.

According to Vodafone:
[R]esearch carried out by Vodafone that shows more than 75 per cent of people carry no details of who they would like telephoned following a serious accident.

Bob, 41, who has been a paramedic for 13 years, said: "I was reflecting on some of the calls I’ve attended at the roadside where I had to look through the mobile phone contacts struggling for information on a shocked or injured person.

"It's difficult to know who to call. Someone might have "mum" in their phone book but that doesn't mean they'd want them contacted in an emergency.

"Almost everyone carries a mobile phone now, and with ICE we'd know immediately who to contact and what number to ring. The person may even know of their medical history."


If you take the time - 15 min - to do your wallet card, the vital information a paramedic needs to know about your blood type, allergies, significant medical conditions, and medications would be all there.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:56 PM | Permalink

July 22, 2005

Getting Tagged

Tommy Thompson, the Health and Human Services Secretary in President Bush's first term and former Governor of Wisconsin is having an RFID tag the size of a grain of rice implanted under his skin.

Thompson is, a director of the company Applied Digital which owns Verichip who makes the subcutaneous RFID chips for humans and pets.

the chips will contain personal information that will help medical professionals and others provide emergency treatment. The chip provides a form of identification that's tough to lose. By clicking the number found on the chip into a password-restricted database, paramedics can get an accident victim's medical history in the field.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:49 AM | Permalink

July 20, 2005

New Yorkers Prepared.

Most in city have terror survival plans

Nearly nine out of 10 New Yorkers now stock emergency supplies in their homes in case of a terror attack or other disaster, according to a survey released yesterday.
The city's Office of Emergency Management, which launched a preparedness campaign two years ago, said New Yorkers have responded in a big way.
A recent survey by Marist College found:

88% of New Yorkers stock some emergency supplies in their home.

51% say they have an emergency plan.

55% have a "Go Bag" of supplies to take with them in an emergency - including copies of important documents, contact numbers, cash, bottled water and snacks, a flashlight, a portable radio, prescriptions, and a first-aid kit.
"As the poll results suggest, many New Yorkers are aware of the hazards we face," said OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno.
"Taking some basic steps - making a plan, assembling an emergency supply kit and putting together a Go Bag - can go a long way in the event of an emergency."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

July 11, 2005

The Salvation of Delay

The next time you are late or delayed somewhere, it may save your life writes the Mac Ranger.

Since that day I've been a firm believer that "seconds" can make the difference between life and death. I don't know "why them" and "not us", that's in God's hands. But when I think of that day I am in awe of the difference a slight change can make. Now when I'm delayed in traffic, or especially now that I fly frequently, and I get delayed or bumped from the flight, I remember that day. Since that day, I've never really been in a hurry. Today's article simply reminds me of the brevity of life and the "salvation of delay".

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 AM | Permalink

July 7, 2005

Working Together on Borrowed Time

I learned last week a new word PIETAS

Pietas is an ancient and noble Roman virtue that teaches reverence and gratitude for  those on whose shoulders we stand.  I want to to applaud today not the famous people in American history, but all those Americans on whose shoulders we stand because of the way they worked together. 

Alexis de Tocqueville, that famous French observer of Democracy in America,  observed how uniquely American was the characteristic to working together IN ASSOCIATION to achieve common goals.  Political factions and religious groups are the most obvious associations but de Tocqueville found Americans coming together in associations to plan fetes, raise churches, build inns and distribute books. 

In 1831, he remarked that at the head of a new undertaking, you would find the government in France, a great lord in England, and an association in the United States.

When we want to get something done, we find people of like minds and we do it together.  We connect and we share alike in a common endeavor.  Toastmasters is a wonderful example.  Each of us wants to become more comfortable speaking in public.  Together, we all help each other do precisely that.  Another great example is Alcoholics Anonymous.  Without a doubt the most successful way to deal with addiction,  AA exists only to help each member get and stay sober with the help of every other member.

Apart from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, my most treasured American possession is the free public library.  In 1833, not far from here in Peterborough NH, the first public library was spontaneously organized by ordinary people like you and me who wanted knowledge to be available to anyone who wanted to educate themselves.   

One can say that the World Wide Web is an example of an association or a network that exists only in its links and connections.  No one is in charge, no one runs it.  We are "small pieces loosely joined" in the words of Dave Weinberger which is also a wonderful book.

This self-organization of people into associations and networks can only happen in an open society where everyone is free to do whatever they want.  Even free to disobey authority.

Engineers who have studied the collapse of the World Trade Towers for the past 4 years  learned something remarkable.  In a connected world, ordinary people have better information than officials and disobeying authority may be the best thing to do.  By ignoring official advice not to use the elevators and to stay put in their offices, some additional 2500 lives were saved on September 11.

Living in America, I am an optimist, confident that the good sense of the American people will prevail whatever happens or we will at least muddle through.  But I wouldn’t be so confident if I didn’t believe in the constructive use of pessimism to anticipate what could go wrong and how to prepare against it.  I was trained as a lawyer after all.

That’s why I’m such an advocate for preparedness.  Being prepared for just about anything gives you not only peace of mind but the confidence to prevail whatever happens.  With such confidence comes courage.  Courage is action in the face of fear.  Action itself dispells fear which I liken to a cloud of unknowing.

You will need that confidence and that courage as well as the American talent for association to prevail and survive if what appears likely to happen, happens.

A global pandemic of avian flu is likely this year or next or the year after that that could kill tens of millions worldwide.  Avian flu, in particular, the H5N1 virus has been evolving, crossed the species barrier, infected and caused the death of 54 people.  The World Health Organization openly admits that everyone is unprepared and says we are living on borrowed time.  We don’t yet have a national plan or vaccines for more than 1% of the population.  Our public health response is in no way prepared.  Given television and the Internet, the potential for panic is huge.

A medium level pandemic in the United States would cause half a million deaths, more than two million hospitalized, sicken a third of the population or some sixty seven million of us and cost $166 billion in direct medical costs. 

If such a pandemic were to break out today, the US Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy said, “We’re screwed.”

As I wrote earlier in On Borrowed Time

If there is a pandemic, it will be everywhere.
The scene of the disaster will be everywhere.
Everywhere is local. 
All the battles will be fought on the local level.

That’s where I’m counting on the American genius for self-organizing associations to prevail.

Here are some useful links where you can learn a lot more.

Trust for America’s Health, report on A Killer Flu, June 2005.

Flu Wiki
Wikipedia entry  on
bird flu

Nature Magazine's special report,
Are We Ready
Its
fictional blog by Declan Butler, senior reporter,  describes the imagined outbreak and first alerted me to this growing threat

Foreign Affairs, July-August, 2005
The Next Pandemic, by Laurie Garrett

On Borrowed Time, my first blog post on the subject of Avian Flu

Effect Measure,  a blog of senior public health scientists

Canada Sue imagines a pandemic in her hometown of 100,000

Avian Flu blog What we need to know

World Health Organization,
Avian flu

U.S. Centers for Disease Control
Key Facts: Avian Flu and H5N1 virus

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:24 AM | Permalink

June 15, 2005

Living in a Zone

For seventy five minutes yesterday, a tsunami warning was in effect for the California coast triggered by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck about 83 miles off the coast of northern California. 

Below is the seismograph image

   Quake Off Coast

The Asian Tsunami, triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake off Sumatra, killed more than 290,000 people with its surge of 16.5 feet.

If yesterday's earthquake had been a magnitude 9, it would have triggered a surge of more than 20 feet along the Washington and Oregon coasts according the UC Santa Cruz geophysicist Steven Ward.

The San Francisco Chronicle displays Ward's graphic of the impact of such a Tsunami surge along the West Coast here.  (HT  Wizbang)

Those of you in an earthquake zone living aside the beautiful coast of the Pacific  should look at yesterday's quake and brief tsunami warning as a SIGN or a BUMP.    Time to pack a go-bag and be prepared to flee with what you hold most dear.

A guy named Lileks commented on Gerard Vanderleun's Bump.

I have a Go-Sack, a Go-Bag, and a Go-Box. The Sack is in the closet, and contains requisites necessary for a trip from here to there, God forbid. The Box is in the garage, and can be thrown in the car in a second; it has food, electronics, fire, cooking tools, wind-up radios, pointy things, all that Coleman crap you can buy at Target. The Bag has all the digitized histories. Worst comes to worst: one, two, three, and we're off.
I often feel foolish for having these things, let alone updating them from time to time. Until I read entries like yours. And the comments! I'll add a notebook and a book to the Box.
Tomorrow. Or one of the days that follow. Hell, next week. What's the ru

I like Gerard's new banner quote,  "A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow." - George Patton.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:03 PM | Permalink

June 14, 2005

Being Prepared

At some point in your life you realize that not everything turns out well and in fact your world can change in a moment.  If your country is at war and you're in a war zone, you know this without a  doubt. 

The smarter or more experienced of us realize that you can't waste time worrying about "something happening" but that it's better to be prepared "just in case".     

I wrote once about being prepared.

"Be prepared for what?" someone once asked Robert Baden-Powell, the Founder of the Boy Scouts.

"Why, for any old thing," he replied.

Baden Powell's idea was to prepare boys to handle emergencies and to prepare them for life. He wanted his Scouts to be prepared body and mind for any struggle, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead.

He understood that knowing you had done your best enabled you to live more happily and without regret.

Gerald Vanderlein the wonderful writer who blogs at American Digest lives in Laguna, California and live-blogged the slide of many of his neighbors' houses down, down  the hillside in There Goes the Neighborhood.

Yesterday, he felt an earthquake.  He calls it  BUMP!    He realizes he was "an unreconstructed fool" like most of us.

My neighbor shrugged. "What you gonna do?" he said in the manner of those who, faced with their continuing powerlessness, have nothing at all to say.

"I don't know about you," I answered, "but I'm getting dressed."

"There's a thought."

I went back inside and got dressed thinking, "Now what does one wear to a truly stunning natural disaster?" This thought revealed to me that I had not a smidgen of an idea about what to wear or what to do at all. Not a single brain cell in my over-furnished brain had been tasked with determining how to survive the most likely disaster in my little world.

Like millions of others on this shaky slab of the planet, I just woke up every day, took a breath, had some coffee and ran my "I'm okay and I'm okay" tape in the background and got on with "havin' a good one." Like millions of others in this state which is, like all states, just a state of mind, I "had the experience but missed the meaning." Like millions of others, I had -- in my heart -- scoffed at the old man in the Lexus who had, probably for the hundredth time, pushed to wife and the cat into the car and driven to the valley with his various survival supplies rattling in the trunk. Unlike millions of others, I stood in my bedroom and, not for the first time, realized that I was an unreconstructed fool. Worse still, I was a fool that laughed at the wise. Worse yet, I had no plan for a disaster that was not an if, but a when; a bad day that only lacked a date certain.

Today he got a plan.  And a Go-Bag. 

Experienced sailors, having seen the lethal caprice of the sea and survived it, have a habit of packing a "Go-Bag." People who advise about emergencies also advise you to have one. These bags are supposed to contain all sorts of items handy in a survival situation: radios, batteries, flashlights, first-aid kits, ropes, knives, and so on. All the items deemed necessary to get by and keep going if the world around you is, suddenly, transformed to one state or another of, well, rubble.

He's smart enough to know you add the most precious things you can carry.

• A collection of photographs of my daughter in a small album. It stops at age 11.

• A card she once made for me for a long-ago father's day.   

• Pictures of my wife and stepson.

• A long letter of advice from my father that he wrote to me when I was too young to know how valuable it was.

• A photograph of myself and my two brothers in our Sunday School best posing with my mom and dad on some long ago summer afternoon.

• A sheet of paper with a hand-written haiku made for me by my first love.

• A slim King James Bible owned and bearing the initials of my paternal Grandfather, that old reprobate.

• A page from a notebook containing idle doodles and a few self-portraits of my daughter that she did, off hand, while being bored at my apartment in New York five years back.

• Tom Mandel's Marine dog-tags.

• A small oval tin given to me by my wife Sheryl containing a very small picture of her and two silver hearts that make a soft rattling sound when you shake it.

What are your very favorite things you would be desolate without?

Think about your own GO BAG.  At minimum, take digital photos and store them on a memory stick in your Go-Bag. 

You can either assemble the essentials in a  Go-Bag yourself or buy anyone of a variety of pre-packed "ready kits"  at the Red Cross or others that I've listed at If you're not prepared, Ready Kits are for you

Laughing Wolf has a lot of thoughts like my own only he factors in bureaucrats in Some Additional Thoughts on Practical Preparedness

His earlier posts on preparedness when firestorms and blackouts in California were everyday matters.  No unreconstructed fool, he.

Rational Preparedness: Power

Rational Preparedness -Part Two

Rational Preparedness - Part Three

Practical Preparedness: Bugging Out

Snivel Gear for Bugging Out.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:58 AM | Permalink

June 6, 2005

Good Sense and Preparation

There's a telling story in the Washington Post today in a column by Claire Berlinski.

....a revealing drama on a Paris sidewalk: A shady-looking character ran up the street. Suddenly, a man wearing the familiar outfit of a French waiter rushed up behind him, yelling at him to stop, then charged into him, knocking him to the ground with a clatter. The waiter straddled the man and began slapping his face, calling him a filthy thief.

A police motorcycle roared up. Off hopped a cop who could not have been more than 25. He interposed himself between the thief and the waiter, and then, with his finger in the air, began a lecture. Never raising his voice, he told the infuriated waiter that no matter what the thief might have stolen -- some customer's wallet, it seems -- he had no right to settle matters privately. The policeman outlined the procedure for filing a civil or criminal complaint.

Then he said, slowly and quite distinctly: "In France, we have the law."

Now the policeman did take the alleged thief into custody and the waiter shouldn't have slapped the man, but it struck me quite forcibly  as explaining something about  the French character.   

The sense of personal responsibility has been so attenuated that people expect the government to solve their problems and if someone exercises initiative, say in catching a thief, it's immediately questioned. 

After all, 15,000 (or was 20,000?) seniors died in France during the summer of 2003 because of a protracted heat wave and neither their children nor government officials  bothered to come back from vacation.     

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, "Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility."   

If you are unwilling to take responsibility, you don't act, you do nothing. 

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive if something terrible happens, a terrorist attack, a fire, or in what seems increasingly likely next year or the next two or three,  a pandemic of avian flu.     

You have to depend on your own good sense and preparation to survive because the federal government, state and local governments are not prepared as they should be and never will be. 

This used to be commonly accepted.  Louisa May Alcott wrote, "I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship." 

First a terrific example of good sense from Wired.  -Question Authorities

For nearly four years - steadily, seriously, and with the unsentimental rigor for which we love them - civil engineers have been studying the destruction of the World Trade Center towers, sifting the tragedy for its lessons. And it turns out that one of the lessons is: Disobey authority. In a connected world, ordinary people often have access to better information than officials do.....

After both buildings were burning, many calls to 911 resulted in advice to stay put and wait for rescue. Also, occupants of the towers had been trained to use the stairs, not the elevators, in case of evacuation.

Fortunately, this advice was mostly ignored. According to the engineers, use of elevators in the early phase of the evacuation, along with the decision to not stay put, saved roughly 2,500 lives. This disobedience had nothing to do with panic. The report documents how evacuees stopped to help the injured and assist the mobility-impaired, even to give emotional comfort. Not panic but what disaster experts call reasoned flight ruled the day.

HI
Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing

As for preparation, more to come.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:06 AM | Permalink

May 2, 2005

33 million times a week

Someone is trying to steal your identity through Phishing scams

Phishing, if you don't know the word, is the scam that deceives users into revealing personal information that can then be used to steal your identity.

33 million times a week according to Symantec.

Here are a few tips to protect yourself from Computer Security News

1. Don’t click on links offered in email text, which can often be redirected to illegitimate websites. Instead, type the domain name directly into your browser.

2. Be suspicious of any website address that doesn’t end in “.com”.

3. Check that the website is secure. A secure website begins with “https” rather than “http”. Look for a “lock” symbol at the bottom corner of the web page and click on any “SSL Certificates” to make sure they are valid.

4. Keep your browser and Windows operating system updated. Microsoft and other software providers frequently release security patches that close holes in your computer system. These holes could be exploited by Phishers if left un-patched.

5. If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click on the links. Legitimate companies do not ask for this information via email.

6. Review credit card and bank statements as soon as you receive them. Notify your bank immediately if you notice any unauthorized charges or suspect you are the victim of identity theft.

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Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:36 PM | Permalink

March 29, 2005

Can you do this?

If you can fold a shirt like this, you can do anything.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:01 AM | Permalink

March 28, 2005

Your Secret Nest Eggs

If you haven't left an information map as to where the money is, your family might give away your secret nest eggs and not even know it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:53 PM | Permalink

March 19, 2005

Find A Human

If you wasting too much time and experiencing too much frustration with those damned phone trees that keep you circulating in the nether reaches of hell, bookmark this site.  Find A Human

Intuit has put up a page for which they should receive some sort of consumer award.  It helps you cut through those automated phone systems that drive everyone mad.

With a big tip of the hat to Tom Kane at the legal marketing blog.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:17 PM | Permalink

February 23, 2005

School Nurses Want More Terror Preparation

School nurses nationwide say they need to be more prepared for emergencies such as terrorist attacks.

Many are trying to work around tight school budgets and a lack of respect as front-line responders to get the training needed to prepare for the worst.

"Because of 9/11, so many things have changed," said Kathy Steffey, a nurse at Lakeview High School in Cortland. "We have to be prepared for almost anything." 

Nearly half the nurses who responded to a National Association of School Nurses survey listed emergency preparedness as their highest priority.  Schools were recognized as potential terrorist targets long before the seizure of a Russian school in September in which 330 hostages were killed.

"There's a great unmet need for training and additional security," said Julie Underwood, general counsel for the National School Boards Association.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:51 PM | Permalink

February 16, 2005

Catch Artery Defect Before It Kills

If you are a man, love a man or happen to know one that ever smoked cigarettes and they are between 65-75, they should be screened for aortic aneurysms. 

That's the recommendation of the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) who estimate they will save one life for every 500 men screened. 

"You can die from an aneurysm in five minutes," says Dr. Allen Hamdan, a vascular surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center.  Each year, 9000 US adults do die from the condition.

The US Preventive Services Task Force is an independent panel of experts in primary care and prevention that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:49 PM | Permalink

February 7, 2005

Save yourself grief with wallet cards

Would you know what to do if your mom or dad has a medical emergency?  What if they were unconscious or delirious, and the emergency room or hospital called you for essential information they need.  Would you have their vital information?  Would you know the names of their doctors, the medication they are taking, the surgeries they’ve had? 

I  suspect the answer is no.  Most older parents don't think to share this information with their adult children.  Then there's an emergency and their adult children don't have the necessary information.  Result: slower treatment and adult children veering between panic,  confusion and guilt. 

The more you know about your parents' health, the more quickly they can be treated in an emergency.  Not only should you have an emergency card for yourself and your children, you should have one for your parents.    I think if you told your parents you were filling out an emergency wallet card for yourself and your children and you wanted to do the same for them, they would be very happy to give you the information you need. 

Save yourself grief.  Be prepared.  Have the information you will need when you will need it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, below, in order of importance,  is the most critical information  you should know about your parents' health.

1.  Names of doctors. If you don't know anything else, this is probably the most important piece of information. Why? Chances are good that your parents' doctors can provide much of the rest of the information needed as well as more details about your parents' specific health histories.
2. Birth date. Often medical records and insurance information are cataloged according to birth date. This can improve communication in an emergency or a crisis.
3. List of allergies. This is especially important if one of your parents is allergic to medication — penicillin, for example.
4. Advance directives.An advance directive is a legal document that outlines a person's decisions about his or her health care, such as whether or not resuscitation efforts should be made and the use of life-support machines.
5. Major medical problems.This includes such diseases as diabetes or heart disease.
6. List of medications. It's especially important that a doctor know if your parent uses blood thinners.
7.  Religious beliefs.This is particularly important in case blood transfusions are needed.
8. Insurance information. Know the name of your parents' health insurance provider and their policy numbers.
9. Prior surgery. List past medical procedures, such as cardiac bypass surgery.
10. Lifestyle information. Do your parents drink alcohol or use tobacco?

As for those wallet cards,  everyone should have one.  You should have one for yourself, each of your children and your parents.  Each card  should have the necessary information for emergency contacts and emergency treatment.  The cards should be  to duplicate and revise. 

I've done a mock-up of what a wallet card should look like.  I did it in Microsoft Word.  First, I made rectangles the size of a  business card. Then I put in the necessary information in small type.  I used two rectangles for the  front and  back.  It fits nicely behind my driver's license.  Click on the image for a larger view.

Example Wallet Card Book-1

The virtue of making such a template is that you can have all the necessary information on one page for yourself and your loved ones, you can easily make revisions, you can print out as many copies as you need.

It's a good idea to double check the information at least twice a year.  I suggest spring and fall when the time changes, the same time you check on the batteries for your smoke detectors.  Both wallet cards and smoke detectors can save lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:07 PM | Permalink

January 28, 2005

When Beer Can Save Your Life

If you are ever in a car and trapped by an avalanche, check your available resources.
You may be able to escape death like this man did.

Man peed way out of avalanche
A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it. Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains.

He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out. But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it.

Rule: carry lots of beer in your car when driving in the mountains during wintertime.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:18 PM | Permalink

January 15, 2005

Identities Lost at Sea

They survived the tsunami, now comes the hard part writes Amitav Ghosh on the op ed page of today's New York Times.  Refugees in the emergency camps in Port  Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, came there from different parts of the Indian mainland in search of land and opportunity.

For to be middle class in India, or anywhere else, is to be kept afloat on a life raft of paper: identity cards, drivers licenses, ration cards, school certificates, checkbooks, certificates of life insurance and records of deposits.

An earthquake would have left remnants to rummage through; floods and hurricanes would have allowed time for survivors to pack up their essential documents. The tsunami, in the suddenness of its onslaught, allowed for no preparations: not only did it destroy the survivors' homes and families; it also robbed them of all the evidentiary traces of their place in the world.

And this, more than anything, was the cause of the panic that morning at the Nirmala School.... the refugees reduced their demands to a single, modest query: could they have some paper and a few pens? No sooner had this request been met than another uproar broke out: those who'd been given pens and paper now became the center of the siege. People began to push and jostle, clamoring to have their names written down. It seemed to occur to them simultaneously that identity was now no more than a matter of assertion, and nothing seemed to matter more than to create a trail of paper. Somehow they had come to believe that on this, the random scribbling of a name on a sheet of paper in a refugee camp, depended the eventual reclamation of a life.

The question that comes immediately to my mind is how any of us would survive without our computers or our important papers, vital documents, credit and ATM cards, driver's licenses, passports, bank account numbers, and the contact numbers of our family and friends.    Consider what the victims of floods, fires, earthquakes, hurricanes and mudslides must do to put their lives back together.

Mudslide California

Few of us are prepared to deal with any sort of an emergency and that's why I'm writing a book - to tell people what they have to do to be prepared to handle just about anything.  I'll be posting chapters on this site for comments.
More anon.  Right now, I'm in the process of revamping both blogs which should debut next week

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 AM | Permalink

December 29, 2004

Mobile phones used to locate stranded in Sri Lanka

Many stranded people are being found in Sri Lanka because they had Mobile phones

Thirty six stranded British tourists were rescued in Sri Lanka thanks to a mobile phone with one of them and technology that could pin-point the user, an official involved in the rescue told AFP. The Britons were picked up from the southern beach resort of Hikkaduwa where they were stranded after the tsunami lashed three-quarters of the island's coastline, killing nearly 13,000 people.

A private initiative involving all phone companies here began monitoring mobile phones with international roaming and traced the call patterns to figure out the location of the phone users. "There were 10,252 international roaming phones working on Sri Lankan networks at the time of the tragedy," Chris Dharmakirti, who is heading the Tidal Wave Rescue Centre said. "We sent everyone an sms and got responses from 2,321.

He said 5,983 roaming phones had gone dead since the disaster while 4,269 phones had been used to make at least one call after the tragedy. "Whenever anyone used the phone, we could track where the person was and restrict our search to affected areas of the country."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:14 PM | Permalink

November 1, 2004

Playing the Odds Against Terrorism

Americans are playing the odds when it comes to a terror attack according to a recent survey by the New York Times.

    In the survey, 46 percent of the respondents said they did not think the United States was prepared for a terrorist attack, while 43 percent said the country was prepared. To questions of personal readiness, 61 percent responded that they did not have a stockpile of food and water at home in preparation for a terrorist attack. More than 70 percent said they had not selected a family meeting place in case of an evacuation due to terrorism, nor had they established a plan to communicate with relatives.

    Asked why her family had not designated a gathering place or plan to stay in touch, Gloria Peters, a retiree from San Pablo, Calif., said, "We really haven't discussed that, but we should." She added, "The roads are going to be so packed jammed that it's going to be insane."

    The survey found that women were more likely to regard both the country and their local communities as ill prepared to deal with another attack. Women are also more apt to express concern that someone in their family could become a victim of terrorism: 46 percent of women said they were very or somewhat concerned compared with 26 percent of men.

    David Ropeik, who teaches risk communications at the Harvard School of Public Health, said the survey results reflect a well-established, intuitive human response to risk known as optimism bias, in which individuals disproportionately believe that they will not be victims of a peril even though they widely acknowledge that it will occur.

    "We see the same phenomenon with smoking, obesity and natural disasters. If you don't think it will happen to you, then you won't take any precautions," Mr. Ropeik said. "When it comes to terrorism, there is some truth here. If an attack happens, it's unlikely that you or I will be a victim. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be prepared."


Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:27 AM | Permalink

September 5, 2004

If you're not prepared, ready kits are for you

After Hurricanes Charley and Frances, after a series of terrorist attacks in Russia -two planes down, truck bombs in Moscow, and the even more horrific school hostage tragedy in Beslan, and coming up on the 3rd anniversary of September 11, you can expect a number of news stories and features about disaster preparedness.

More than 80 organizations -t he Department of Homeland Security and the American Red Cross among others - and are joining together to launch national preparedness month to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare themselves and their families for any possible emergencies.

The American Red Cross is now offering a variety of survival kits online. 1 ARC safety tube %$5

The Safety Tube is designed to velcro stick under your office desk. Inside the six-inch tube is a dust mask, a light stick, a water packet and a whistle -cost $5.00.
Emergency Preparedness BackPack is enough for 72 hours for 2 people and costs $50.
The Deluxe Emergency Preparedness Kit is $65.

2 ARC 2 person disaster supply

The Red Cross is also beginning a new "Connect" program. For a $19 individual membership or $34 family membership, you get 1.a starter kit (a connect emergency card, a first aid & emergency preparedness compact guide; 2. discounts on courses and products and a unique URL for medical personnel to access additional contacts.

Other companies are selling "ready kits" . HomeGuard began marketing survival kits after 9/11 and says "make a plan, get a kit, be informed" CPR, founded by emergency safety service personnel, sells emergency and survival kits to consumers and businesses.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:11 PM | Permalink