Expedient Hurricane Preparation

At the time of this writing, Hurricane Irene is barreling up the East Coast and will impact Survival Think Tank HQ tomorrow.  This article's companion video could give you a couple last minute survival tips when deciding to "bug-in" or remain in your home during a hurricane like Irene.

We believe it's advisable to remain in your home whenever safe to do so.  It's an easy choice when facing a category 1 or category 2 hurricane.  For category 3 and above, you really want to do some planning to make the right choice.

Is your home in or near a flood zone?  Ask neighbors that have lived in your area for twenty or even thirty years if they've ever experienced flooding.  What is the socio-economic situation in your area?  We don't recommend that you "bug-in" or remain in place if you live in a very high crime area prone to looting during a disaster.  Are you well provisioned with water and food, enough to survive at least a week?  Are you well armed in the event you'll need to defend yourself or your loved ones?

Those are just a few questions you'll need to answer for yourself to determine if you need to bug in or bug out before or during a disaster.  Ultimately, your safety and survival is up to you.

Although this video is not a full tutorial on hurricane survival, it should give you a quick primer on some things you might have missed.

Good luck, we'll see you on the other side.


Ditch Cable, Save Money and Free Your Mind!

I recently sold my town home for a small gain and moved out of the greater Washington DC area for good.  In my new rented home, I decided to really trim the fat on my budget and implement austerity.  I rented a place below my means ($700 cheaper per month than my previous mortgage), I cut my landline phone, I took a serious look at my budget and kept slashing.

One of the items on my chopping block was cable TV.  The Verizon FiOS package I paid for while living in DC cost me well over $200, most of which was for channels I never watched.  In fact, most of the programming I paid for, is what I consider a form of mind control.  Like the movie, They Live, I felt as if I was being clandestinely programmed by watching all the IQ lowering programming.  Your eyes truly are an input device, just like the computer keyboard in front of you.   You are simply allowing evil to access your mind's keyboard, and subsequently, your mainframe, by watching most TV shows.

still shot from the movie, They Live
The matrix had me, I wasted hours watching mind candy like the latest reality abomination or mainstream news.  This mind control robbed me of my time to devote against the real enemy at the gates.  I can now honestly say that I have not watched mainstream news in three months and I only pay for specific entertainment that I choose consciously to watch and enjoy.  My mind feels healthier as a result.  What follows is my guide for getting off monthly paid TV addiction.  Instructions start with the basic techniques and progress to more advanced cable/satellite TV busting options.  None of the options below include monthly charges unless you choose to pay for a Netflix or Hulu subscription.  Let's begin.

Note: All TVs made after 2007 should have an ATSC built in; this is required. (If your TV says “HD ready” it does not have a digital tuner built in).
  1. Examine your expectations.  Be realistic.  You won't be watching as much TV anymore, and this is a GOOD thing.  You'll actually have more time for projects, or time to spend with your family.  After you have accepted you won't have--"1,000,000,000 premium HD/3D, explosive channels for $199.99 a month for the first year!!!"--anymore and that you may need to pay for individual TV shows that you can't live without, then you are ready for the next step in unplugging from the mind control matrix cable/satellite TV complex.
  2. Whew!...now that we're beyond step one, it's time to select an antenna.  This is all based on your home configuration, location, proximity to trees and shrubs, other buildings, etc.  The first thing you will need to do is go to AntennaWeb.Org.  This site will tell you exactly what type of antenna you need to receive the channels you want for FREE, after you enter your address (or your neighbors if security minded).  The site does all the signal calculations for you to include what direction to point your antenna.  Most likely, you'll need the Antennas Direct DB2 model, available fairly cheap online at Amazon.  If you don't already have a mount and you want it on your roof, you can also purchase the optional J-Mount for the antenna.  If you live in a rural setting and want a more capable antenna with multi-directional capability, choose the DB4 model.  If you live near a tower relay, choose this small indoor antenna.  I use the DB2, mounted on a cheap camera tripod behind my TV (photo below).
  3. Connect the antenna directly to your digital ready TV, open up your TV users manual and then initiate the antenna TV channel scan via your TV remote control.  The scan will find all the channels that you are capable of receiving for FREE with your $35 antenna.  The good news is that you'll already know what channels you can receive because you've already been to AntennaWeb.Org.
DB2 antenna, zip tied to a tripod, hooked to my TV with regular coax cable
I receive the following channels for FREE using my $35 dollar antennacheap tripod and some zip ties.  I never watch many of the channels, but they are there in the event I need to receive emergency broadcasts or other information FREE over the airways.

By the nature of the way you receive these channels, you will notice that they are many times more high definition and clear than your cable provider.  Your paid TV provider uses lossy compression algorithms on your signal to save bandwidth and money.  With the OTH HDTV antenna method, you are receiving the clear, raw HDTV signal.  It's very clear, you'll see.

Screen captured from AntennaWeb
STT note:   You are also getting the benefit of losing your cable box or satellite TV box in the process.  There are some that claim these boxes have the capability of reporting your viewing habits and/or TV status to the host company, and with court order, to the authorities.  We currently have no evidence to prove this, but we assess it is possible.  A second order effect is that you will also consume, and pay for less power, saving you more money.

Advanced Off Cable/Satellite Grid TV - From this point on in the article, we explore advanced techniques for watching TV beyond the Over-the-air (OTA) antenna technique outlined above.  This is where it gets a little more expensive, but greatly increases the quality of the things you watch and listen to.

Advanced setup with Mac Mini, Apple TV, DB2 Antenna
For a more advanced cable free setup, you are going to need a high speed internet connection and some extra hardware.  The extra hardware will cost money up front, but will be paid for in less than one (1) year because you are not paying a $130 per month cable bill, with all those hidden taxes and fees included that they didn't tell you about up front.

The cheapest advanced setup requires an Apple TV ($99).  With the Apple TV and a high speed internet connection you can stream Netflix, rent movies and TV shows and watch all those  subscribed YouTube channels (hopefully Survival Think Tank is one of them).  The APPLE TV has an HDMI connection and provides clear HDTV to your set if equipped.

Behold, the $99, hockey puck sized, Apple TV
The "Tier One" advanced setup includes the Mac Mini.  The price of this little computer depends on the options you add on to the computer.  This little computing powerhouse brings the entire internet to your fingertips--and your HDTV.

Mac Mini connected via HDMI cable
With the Mac Mini, you can do everything you do on a normal computer but you are using your HDMI connected HDTV as a computer monitor.  If you go with the wireless keyboard and trackpad, you can surf from your couch with ease.  Mac Mini has an HDMI port in the back for easy connection to your HDMI equipped TV.

HDMI cables are cheap online.
Apple wireless keyboard and trackpad
With both the Mac Mini and the Apple TV, you will have the option of using iTunes to purchase specific programs that you enjoy, instead of paying for programs you don't.  Purchasing TV episodes ranges from $2 per episode or $16-22 per season.  You can rent some episodes for 99c.  Of course, if you don't want to pay for TV, you can just wait for the episodes to get posted on legal websites and watch them for free.  This puts control back into your hands instead of the cable or satellite TV companies.

Now that we have opened your mind to the basic and even the "Tier One" post-paid TV setup, we encourage you to experiment and research your options and come up with the best option for you.  Honestly, I've been severed from the cable company for months and don't miss it.

Here is our video, if you are a more visual person:

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