Saturday, January 31, 2015

Aftermath- A review

Aftermath, a Story of Survival review (the Rural Economist)

I don't read a lot of fiction, but when given the opportunity to do this review in conjunction with a giveaway I jumped at the chance. This story is written by a fellow homestead and preparedness blogger.

If you would like to watch my video review of this book you can do so below.

Ever wondered what the world might look like if everything connected to the internet were to fail? I had never thought about how fragile the grid and really almost everything else is when it comes to the internet. All it would really take is a super computer virus and our way of life could change dramatically. Now add a major catastrophe occurring in several major metropolitan areas.

This book follows the hero Jimmy as he realizes that his entire world has just changed because of a super computer virus. Jimmy is a blue collar guy and a military veteran. Jimmy runs into several challenges while trying to make is way to his bug out location. Once there he thinks he is just going to try to make it on his own. His outlook on this changes dramatically. I enjoy seeing Jimmy evolve and change in his new world and I think you will too.

How do you think you would respond? Do you think you could make it as a lone wolf? How would the rebuilding of society begin? How would the governments of the world respond?

I like the fact that the book makes it clear that in a society changing event foraging and gardening are going to just be a given. No one can build a future on their own. The best a lone wolf can hope for is to survive. Building a community then quickly having a sense of home and family. I think that part of this book is the most realistic I have read. Good people will come together for their mutual benefit.

This book is a work of fiction, but you can use fiction to help learn about yourself and how you might respond. 

Even if you are not into post apocalyptic fiction, you could still enjoy this book. Not very graphic when it comes to violence which is good if you want to use this book to start a conversation with younger teens. A little action, adventure, and even just a bit of clean romance thrown in to round it all out. This book talks about building community and dealing with challenges that could occur. Very little profanity and no sex or nudity. That is a big deal to me. This would be an excellent book to share with older children as a discussion starter.

Now to the giveaway. Just leave a comment on this blog and a winner will be selected on February 9th 2015. I will be giving someone a gift on my birthday. How much more simple could we make it? I hope you win.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Let the Buyer and Seller Beware

Since the very beginning of wide spread trade there have been those individuals who have tried to take advantage of others. It doesn't matter what industry, there are unscrupulous characters that try to ripoff everyone they can. In the old west the least trusted people were horse traders. Some were decent, honest folks who were just trying to make a living, others would do all they could to maximize their profit at the expense of others. One of these old crooks might sell a horse that they knew to be lame. They would justify the sale by saying the buyer didn't ask, they still knew they were selling a worthless animal and back then an animal was equipment. To many they still are. 

A more modern day example of the horse trader might be the sleazy used car salesman. Just like the horse traders of old, not all are bad but the bad ones get more talk than the good ones.

One thing that is/was good about dealing with these people was that you always met with them face to face. You had the opportunity to get a feeling for the person. I have met some people that I knew right away, I did not want to deal with them.

Now let's spring forward a couple of decades. Fewer and fewer transactions are taking place in a face to face manner. With the advent of websites like eBay and Amazon the variety of products we can purchase and the ability to price shop has dramatically increased.

Both sites give individuals the opportunity to be both a buyer and a seller. I have bought several things from Amazon but have never sold anything there. I have however bought and sold on eBay. There have been challenges as both a buyer and seller. I have had buyers win an item and not pay, I have had buyers retract bids and even had one buyer request that I cancel their purchase. I sent an item to South Korea. As a buyer I had had items come in damaged and had items not arrive at all. Until lately I have never had a problem that couldn't be worked out through talking. That has changed.

Our youngest daughter decided that she wanted to join the high school band. After trying several instruments she decided she wanted to learn the saxophone. If you didn't know,the sax is one of the most expensive instruments in a high school band. 

We started looking for her an instrument. Neither my wife nor I know anything about a sax. We received a list of name brands from the band director that were of good quality and easy to have repaired. After looking at all of the acceptable brands we found that buying a new instrument ranged in price from around $1,100 to $4,500. That was not an option. The band director suggested we rent one from the dominant supplier of band instruments in northern and central Alabama. They wanted $65.00 a month for 48 months for a used sax. That is $3,120 for a used instrument. They wanted $75.00 a month for a new one which totals $3,600, again no thank you. 

After all of this research we decided to try eBay. We had already checked on getting one tuned or repaired if needed. We were sure we had done our due process. We established our budget and were watching about 6 different saxophones. 

This is where the problems start. When you are watching too many items it is easy to bid on the wrong one. That is exactly what my wife did. My wife is a get it done now type of person. If she feels like there is a deadline that has to be met, this drive increases. She also works nights and because of that her sleep schedule tends to be off during her non work days. She placed the bid while she was tired and only half awake.

Once we realized our mistake we tried to retract the bid. EBay has strict rules on retracting bids. Once the auction goes under a certain number of hours, your time to retract the bid goes down and if you do not hear from the seller in time, it is up to them if they will allow you to retract. The seller did not respond so we purchased the saxophone. The total price was between $200 and $300. A fair price and we expected that we might need to have the instrument repaired. 

The seller chose the cheapest shipping method possible. I swear the pony express was faster. What we received was shipped on the 15th of December. We received a small box on December 31st. Below is the correspondence that ensued with the seller.

I contacted them and asked if they had for some reason shipped the saxophone separately. They informed me that the tracking had stated that the box had been received and that I should look around and find the correct box. I sent them a picture of the box we received, its contents, and a screen shot of the tracking information.

Rather than look at any of the information that I sent, they threatened to file a robbery charge against me. We emailed several times till the seller told me that they would not respond again until I had sent a photo of the correct box, even though I sent them a photo of their label on the box I received.

After all of this I finally asked eBay to step in and rectify the situation. I had to again send photos. Great, no problem. They also requested that I send a scanned statement that I had not received the item that I had purchased. My scanner was broken so I typed up the response as I was directed and tried to send a picture. No good. It had to be in this format and had to be a scanned image. I had to wait till I was at work. I scanned the proclamation and emailed it to eBay. It didn't come from my email address, so it was no good. I scanned the proclamation again, emailed it to myself, downloaded the proclamation and then was able to submit the document. So again another week of fighting to get my money back for something that I never received. 

The good news is that we did get our money back and that I only lost a little hair over it, (not that I had much to lose). I will be a lot more selective about what sellers I bid on their items in the future. During all of this I asked readers from my Facebook page if they had ever had a bad experience while shopping on eBay. I was surprised that there were as many horror stories from sellers as there were from buyers. So how do we avoid dealing with situations like this in the future? Here we go. 


Most people that sell on eBay do so for the same reasons I did. Ease of entry, wider market, and not too high of fees. All of the suggestions I am going to make for sellers will also apply to good customer service no matter what you do.

  1. Provide good descriptions- A good description will help to make sure that there are no misunderstandings. Normally people who do well on eBay have a knack for this, but if you are just getting started, write two or three descriptions and have people read them. They will tell you which one is best. Be as informative as possible. 
  2. Communicate- If a buyer is asking a question they are at least interested in what you have to offer. Answering questions makes a person feel like you value their business. This is important.
  3. Realize there are Costs of Doing Business- If you start selling on eBay you have fees every time you list and sell an item. The upfront fees are standardized, but the final fees are based on the selling price of the item you have listed. You should take fees into consideration when pricing your items.
  4. Some Bidders Don't Pay- When a person places a bid, they have made a promise to buy your item if they are the top bidder. Only one problem- some bidders don't pay. When this happens eBay still takes their cut. You can get it back, but you have to file a request with eBay which takes time and you will still have to relist your item if you still want to sell it.
  5. Not Everyone is Out to Rip You Off- When a buyer has a problem they should and normally will reach out to you the seller first. If you want to keep a good rating and provide excellent customer service so people will continue to buy from you, do your best to take care of your customers.
  6. Familiarize yourself- Know at least the basics of eBay's Terms of Service, how shipping companies work, and customer protection laws. You cannot get out of these as long as you sell something through their service.


As a buyer you are expecting people to be true to their word. This is only right, but there are somethings that will help us not to be disappointed.

  1. Be Realistic-To illustrate this point I am going to tell a story... hey it's what I do. I like old clocks. I have searched for them many times, just looking to see what I could find. I came across this old travel clock. It was very inexpensive. Honestly, I think it was less than $1.00. I bid on it and won. Okay, so if it works I have something cool and if it doesn't I only spent $1.00. Shipping wasn't much either. When the clock arrived I opened the box. It looked exactly as it did in the photo, but it didn't work. When it came time to leave feedback all I said was. "It was as I expected." The seller left feedback for me that I was "A wise and well reasoned buyer". 
  2. Do Your Research-Check seller ratings. Read the worst and the best ratings. Be sure to reader the ratings from buyers. My ranking includes rating from both buyers and sellers, but you can read ratings from one side only.
  3. Don't Bid Impaired-Bidding on an item creates a contractual agreement between the buyer and the seller. If that bid is the highest you have agreed to buy the item and the seller has agreed to sell it to you. If you are overly tired, have taken certain medications, or have been drinking, your judgement could be impaired. No purchase decisions should be made with impaired judgement.
  4. Communicate-Yup, this one works both ways. If you have questions ask them. It is better to ask them before the purchase, but sometimes that is just not possible. If you have a problem contact the seller first before taking it to eBay. If you don't they are just going to make you talk to the seller anyway. Most sellers are trying to make an honest living or a little extra money.
  5. Give a Benefit of a Doubt-Things happen. Things get broken in shipping, things get lost. All kinds of things can occur. Be courteous and professional, normally the seller will return the favor.
  6. KEEP EVERYTHING-If a problem does occur you must make sure that you can prove what you are saying. Do not delete emails and do not throw away boxes. You will have to be able to provide pictures of everything as it was received.
  7. Don't be Intimidated-The seller that I was dealing with tried to use intimidation to get me to just deal with the situation. It did not work.
  8. Be aware of all deadlines-no matter what platform you are dealing with deadlines are set in stone and cannot be extended. The reason this is the case is to keep people from dragging thing out too long. 
  9. Be Willing to Escalate the Claim-There are times people just cannot work things out. When this happens there needs to be a mediator. 
Like I said, we did get our money back, but we still had to find another saxophone. We were able to find a fairly local music shop that had just started offering rent to own band instruments. They are much more affordable than the one we had first contacted and they are close enough to go to if we have problems.

I wish I could share all of the stories that I have read from my Facebook fans and my readers, but I am already very long in this post.

I whish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes.

Have you had a bad experience or even a great one? I would love to hear it. Tell us all the story in the comments.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

13 Things We Need to Learn From Our Ancestors

For many of us our parents, grandparents, or even great grandparents knew how to do things about which we have no idea or no desire to learn. While I can see the argument that we have advanced beyond the need of these basic skills, I respectfully disagree. We don't have to leave these skills as they are per say,  but can modify them to fit our modern lives and be all the better for them. I was extremely blessed in that I not only was able to know my grandparents from both sides, but also had 3 great grandmothers that I was able to meet and get to know. My grandparents were children or young teens during the Great Depression. Their memories of that time shaped their entire lives and how they looked at the things they owned. My great grandmothers were all adults during the Great Depression, so they saw things from a different light as well. I loved all of their stories and the lessons they taught. I am going to try to share a few nuggets of wisdom they taught me.

1. The Little Things Matter

I remember one of my great grandmothers telling me a story about how my great grandfather brought home some honey comb one day. He had found a bee tree while he was out in the woods. He cut the tree down and robbed the bees. I don't know how much honey he was able to bring home, but I do remember the look on my great grandmother's face when she talked about the next morning having biscuits with fresh honey. She said it was the best honey she had ever tasted. We take so many thing for granted today that we have lost a lot of joy from a simple surprise.

2. Make Everything Last as Long as You Can

My grandfather used to tell all of us kids that we should be thankful for everything we had. He only got one new pair of shoes a year and that was in the fall before school started. They only wore their shoes to school and to church most times because that would wear them out faster. By the time the next year rolled around those shoes were history, either outgrown or destroyed by use. Half of the summer the boys went barefoot everywhere they went, yup even church. 

Clothes were always patched or repaired until they couldn't be fixed any more. Part of this practice made it all the way to me. I remember wearing pants with patches on the knees. I actually have a couple of pairs right now that could use a patch or two. 

Even after clothing became too far gone to repair they were not thrown away. They would become patches for other clothing, dish cloths, or even rags for use in cleaning or repairing things around the home. It wasn't until there was no use left in the cloth at all that they were thrown away. Talk about re-purposing things, they were masters. 

3. Never Be Wasteful 

I will confess that sometimes when I am putting things into the compost pile or feeding leftovers to the chickens, I feel a little guilty. Even though I know that I am putting those scraps to another use and I know that they are helping our little part of the world be more productive, the fact still stands that we cooked more food than our family ate. 

I don't know if you have ever heard of Jerry Clower, but he tells this story well.

The lesson of never being wasteful does not just apply to food. My grandfather kept every nail, nut, bolt, and screw that he had ever bought. The last thing we always did after working on something was to walk around the area and make sure that we didn't drop anything that could be used in the future. He always had boards or pieces of metal around and most things that we needed to do, we could find the supplies around the barn to get it done without having to run to the hardware store. 

4. Never be Envious 

This may vary from family to family, but once again I remember the stories. When electricity came through our small community one of my great grandmothers talked about going to the only house that had it put in. She talked about the light and how they didn't have to feel around for matches, but she also talked about how worried she was that they would get used to this new thing and not be able to pay their bill. She put off getting electricity for a couple of years before she was willing to pay the 15 cents a month power bill. Yup, 15 cents a month and she was worried that her neighbors wouldn't be able to pay the bill.

5. Be a Reliable Family Member or Friend

I cannot remember any of my great grandmothers driving. Anytime they needed to go anywhere, someone in the family would take them. They never had to worry about being left to fend for themselves. Great grandmother Humphries was so afraid of storms that if she even heard it thunder she would call and have my grandparents come and get her so she could be close to their basement. 

If my parents needed to go somewhere and needed someone to look after me, one of them were always available. I cannot tell you how many times I have played with a set of dominoes that my great grandmother kept on top of her cabinet. 

6. Pitch in and Help

Every late summer and early fall when the crops started coming in the whole family would converge on my grandparents' house. This was especially true when the sweet corn was coming in. All of the men and boys would be in the field pulling corn till it was all gathered. Then we would pull the trailer up to the side of the house and we would start shucking the ears of corn. As soon as there were a couple of pans shucked my great grandmothers would start silking the corn. Then it would go to the younger ladies to cook and cut the corn. Everyone, and I do mean everyone had a job. Even the small children would pick up the shucks and throw them to the cows. It was a great system and everyone was working for the benefit of everyone.

7. Be Content

My great grandparents never had a lot. They didn't have fine china, they didn't have fancy cloths, heck they didn't even have a car, but they were happy. I remember when one of my great grandmothers moved out of her old house and into a single wide trailer. She didn't complain about not having as much room, in fact the only thing that I remember her saying was how much easier it was to heat and how thankful she was for an air conditioner.

8. Work Your Garden

My Great Grandmother Carter worked in her garden until the year she died. She had the most beautiful roses that I have ever seen. She just knew what and how to do to make them shine. All three of my great grandmothers had something outside that was their passion. One was her pear tree and the blackberries, one her roses and vegetable garden. The other was a vegetable garden and fruit trees, primarily a massive fig tree. All three lived into their 90's and all three stayed active in both body and mind. Working a garden is not only healthy and light exercise it is also very therapeutic. 

9. Have Redundancies

Here is a statement I remember, but I cannot remember who said it,
"Just because you have city water doesn't mean you fill up your well."
For many this statement may not make much sense so I will try to explain. Our little community didn't get city water, or water from a utilities company until I was a child. When the water lines came through the utilities company of course tried to convince everyone that they needed to abandon their wells and be tied to the lines. Lots of people did just that. They capped or filled their wells and were hooked onto the system. There were a few though that refused outright to be on city water. There were others like my grandparents that hooked up to city water, but kept their well and just re plumbed their system so that the well water went were they wanted it to. One year there was a major problem with the water system and the community went without water for a couple of days. Well most of the community did. Those that were either still on the well or still had the well as back up went on as if nothing had happened.

If you will think about it every old country home had oil lamps and a variety of things that enabled them to get through whatever the world threw at them. This is still a great idea for today.

10. Be Willing to Barter and Trade

My great, great grandfather was a self taught country doctor. We still have a couple of books that he studied from and even have his ledger. Paper money is a fairly new creation and it really only serves those who have it. In my ancestor's ledger you can see that he was paid with a pig, chickens, even getting to pick up a gallon of mild once a week for a year. He served everyone in his community without regards of their ability to pay with money. These people his friends and neighbors paid him with whatever they had. Some even paid him in labor on his own farm. Just think about how much better a world it would be if we were not so fixated on currency and paid more attention to the things that have true value no matter what were to happen to the economy of stock market.

11. Pay Attention to Nature

My grandfather could tell you hours in advance when it was going to rain, when it was going to be hot, dry, or cold. He would predict with as good accuracy as the weatherman what the winter or summer would be like. How did he do it? He knew that nature knows the weather patterns long before we do. He had learned over the years and listening to those who were much older than him what things meant. The way animals and plants act will tell you a little about what to expect from the weather.

12. Know as Many Skills as Possible

My grandmother could sew clothes, cook and incredible meal, and shoot a crow in the field. Everyone knew multiple skills. Very few people specialized. There was a good reason for this. When something broke down you couldn't just call a repairman. You had to do as much as you could for yourself.

13. Always Be Thankful

It is so easy to get wrapped up in whatever is happening at the moment, but we must take time to be thankful for all of the blessings in our lives. I remember my grandfather talking about a Christmas where all they received as a gift was a nickle's worth of hard candy split by 6 children and an orange each. That was one of his favorite Christmases and he told that story often.

I remember my one of my great grandmothers being so happy every time we came over and we did so fairly often. Saying the blessing over the meal was not optional and after you reached a certain age you were not allowed to just recite some generic prayer.

I do not know if my dad started this or not, but it has left an impact on me that I will never forget. Every time we would plant the garden as the first seeds hit the ground he would say "We sow in hope and we will reap in joy". Think about that for a moment. There are few things that illustrate faith better than the sowing of seeds. Honestly, everything we do should be done in hope and we will receive our reward with joy.

sunday social feat 200Tuesdays with a Twist Featured

I wish you all Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Developing a Violence Response Plan

The world can sometimes be a violent place or at least it seems so. Fairly often we will hear reports of everything from terrorist, to workplace violence, to riots, and we haven't even mentioned normal crimes. The way we present ourselves can reduce our likelihood of being involved in a violent interaction. But if something were to occur how would you react? What would you do? A little bit of self evaluation will help us determine how we are likely to react. I know that none of us really know until something like that occurred, but making a plan in advance will help us be able to react in the way we would hope.

What is Your Action Type

Your personality determines the way you respond to stimulus. Knowing a little about yourself will help you determine the way you are most likely to react.

The Spectator

Everyone knows at least  one spectator. These are the people who will go out of their way to see a wreck or will drive across the state just to look at storm damage. These people are unwilling to help others out. These are folks that are interested in their own entertainment above all else.

The Self Preservationist

I know a lot of these people. Some are risk averse, others are very fearful. These people make every decision based on the least risk. These are the people that their automatic response to nearly every situation is flight.

The Opportunist

I really hate even having to cover this, but these are most of the people who participate in riots. These folks wouldn't start anything by themselves, but they are very willing to follow along if they see some way to profit from a situation. They wouldn't break the window but they would take something they wanted if everyone else was doing it too.

The Fast Talker

Even as I write this I automatically think of salesmen and politicians. These are the people that honestly believe they can talk themselves out of any situation. They will try to negotiate their way out of a situation.

The Hider

This one can be closely related to the self preservationist. Only this person under stress tends not to think of evacuation. They however will look for somewhere to hide until an event has passed. Driven by fear almost to the point of paralysis. Not capable of full thought: just hide.

The Victim

Victims are very easy to spot. They do not think ahead. They only react to whatever is happening and they do so in a none active way. They just let whatever happen to them and if they live through it they will talk about how horrible the situation was. No action, no planning, no nothing.

The Agitator

These are the people who in and of themselves wouldn't start anything, but will quickly encourage others to start something. These people may also be opportunists, but take on a greater role in the beginning of a violent action. The first person that comes to mind for me is Al Sharpton. He doesn't participate in violence, but is very willing to "stir the pot".

The Warrior

These are the people that when something occurs, go charging in without thinking. Sometimes the results are good and sometimes not so good. These people are very brave and have a good heart, but do not think things through. They are likely to get hurt trying to help others.

The Would be Hero (aka the Buffoon) 

I am not real sure how many of these exist, but I do know a few. One person comes to mind immediately. They have a good heart and are very brave, but either lack strength or presence of mind to properly evaluate the situation. They are a warrior who just happens to be clumsy or not very bright. 

The Hero

The hero can be somewhat of an anomaly. They do not have to be overly brave or even strong. They are normally people who are stirred to action by the suffering of others. They tend to evaluate the situation and find the best way to respond. Not slow to action, but also not rushing in foolheartedly. 

I am sure there are more, but I think that is enough for us to do a quick personality evaluation. 

Corporate Training

Lots of corporations have initiated workplace violence training. What do they suggest you do? Well, you know in advance that an organization in not going to tell you to put yourself in harms way and most of the training is for prevention. The answer to almost everything is "report it to management", like management has some magical way of dealing with every situation. In a dire event call the police. While in most circumstances this may be a good idea, it is not really going to help in an active shooter situation.

One of my favorite recent quotes is from a friend of mine and fellow coworker. During the workplace violence training, the video stated "don't try to be a hero". His response was epic, "I don't have to try, it is who I am." There are a lot of people out there just like him. Some people have what I call a hero complex. A hero complex should not be confused with hero syndrome. 

Wikipedia defines hero syndrome this way.
The hero syndrome is a phenomenon affecting people who seek heroism or recognition, usually by creating a desperate situation which they can resolve. This can include unlawful acts, such as arson. The phenomenon has been noted to affect civil servants, such as firefighters, nurses, police officers, programmers, and security guards. Acts linked with the hero syndrome should not be confused with acts of malicious intent, such as revenge on the part of a suspended firefighter or an insatiable level of excitement, as was found in a federal study of more than 75 firefighter arsonists.[1] However, acts of the hero syndrome have been linked to previously failed heroism. The hero syndrome may also be a more general yearning for self-worth.[2]

A person with a hero complex does not cause a situation that they can resolve and does not necessarily seek glory. They are simply moved by action based on an inner feeling that they are supposed to respond to those who are in need. I believe that there are lots of people that if they honestly look at themselves will realize they have a hero complex.

Developing a Plan

Okay, I hope you have done some evaluation and determined your most likely action type. With this information we can begin to develop a plan. You may not fit into one category perfectly and that is fine. You probably have at least two that you could easily fit into. With this in mind we will talk about how to develop a plan for a couple of different situations.

Home Invasion

In this situation I am an unashamed warrior. I am going to do whatever in necessary to put myself between my family and any danger. It doesn't matter if you believe in firearms or not, most parents are going to rise to the challenge and defend their children. If you are going to own a firearm I really want you to think about it and not just from one side. If you keep your firearm locked in a safe time yourself and see how long it takes you to get to your firearm. Is that quick enough? Probably not. What is the average response time of your local police office? Is it quick enough? Again probably not. If a person breaks into your home, especially while you are there, you have to act under the assumption that they mean you harm. My suggestion on firearms is to train your children. Don't teach them that firearms are bad, teach them that they are to be respected. I got my first BB gun at around 5 and my dad taught me how to shoot it and to never point it at anyone. After the children are old enough to understand, no problem. I really believe that and am unwilling to discuss it. Don't worry, we are going to talk about other ways to defend your home. Please consult local laws before attempting to purchase a firearm and seek out professional training especially if you were not raised around firearms. 


By looking around and thinking in advance you can develop a plan in your mind of what you would need to do and the tools you have on hand in the event of a home invasion. Think, "If necessary, what here could I use as a weapon to protect my home?" Most people will think about kitchen knives and while they are very good weapons, you will have to make it to the kitchen to retrieve them. I do not suggest that you sleep with a butcher knife by your bed. There are other tools that you may already have or can acquire that make for better weapons. Something as simple as a ceramic planter in a dire situation can be pressed into service and used to protect your family. But if possible you do not want to have to improvise. We are going to talk about some alternative weapons that you could use in the case of a home invasion and some pros and cons of each.

Baseball Bat: A bat can be an effective weapon. It has the ability to do a lot of damage and still give you a little distance between you and the perpetrator. It can be used as an offensive and a defensive weapon. You can use your old softball bat or you can purchase one specifically for home defense like the Cold Steel Brooklyn Smasher. Drawbacks are you still have to be fairly close to the bad guy and your strength level and speed determine the effectiveness of this type of weapon. Practice helps so hit the batting cages.

Pepper Spray: I like pepper spray. Why? This is something that you can have stuck to the bottom of tables throughout your home with Velcro and the only people who will know they are there are the ones you wish to know. I like the ones with a longer range like this one SABRE RED Pepper Gel - Police Strength - Professional Size with Flip Top, Belt Holster; 18' Range. With an 18 foot range you would not have to get too close to a bad guy. Since this one is a gel it is more targetable than a spray. Another one I like is the Cold Steel Inferno 3.5 oz. (112 gram unit) Pepper Spray. It has a finer propellant so more of the agent is absorbed by skin or inhaled. Both have benefits over the other. The Cold Steel Inferno is a foam so it is also highly targetable, but only has a range of 10 feet. Still a lot better than a bat. The Inferno has been shown to have more stopping power but you do loose 8 feet of range. Drawbacks of pepper sprays are that there are some people who are not affected by them. This is a small percentage of the population, but worth noting. One major benefit is if a child were to get a hold of it and had not been educated in its use or even not to mess with it till older, it would be none lethal. Yes it would hurt and yes it would be bad, but no one would die because the parents decided not to educate their children. Yup, I said that. It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children about everything.

Stun gun:A stun gun can be a highly effective non lethal defense weapon. What a stun gun does is pushes high voltage through the perpetrator's body, many times rendering them incapable of movement. This one is the one I purchased my wife VIPERTEK VTS-989 - 19,000,000 V Heavy Duty Stun Gun - Rechargeable with LED Flashlight. They are reasonably affordable and are not as restricted as firearms. You will still need to check local laws to see if you can even legally own one of these. Drawbacks are you have to get really close to the bad guy to use this and there are some people that can power through the shock, but the ones who can are mostly so geeked out on drugs that only lethal force will stop them. Still, I feel better knowing that my wife has a way to defend herself and I would not be concerned in the least if she wanted to sleep with this by her bed. If a child were to get a hold of it and were not taught to respect it (again because we as parents failed to educate our children), it would not be lethal.

A Riot

A riot is a toughy for me. There is really no way to actively defend yourself or your belongings when mob mentality takes over. I do not care who you are or how much ammo you have, this is a dangerous situation. You cannot set yourself up in a window and mow people down. These people may be acting like zombies, but they are not. This is one situation that I suggest you be a hider or a self preservationist. Lock and bar your doors and window and hunker down or get the heck out of Dodge, but have a plan in place a head of time. 

If the Ferguson riots have taught me anything it is that violence spreads, but it doesn't spread as quickly as some people want to believe. Where I am riots are not very likely to occur, but I do live within an hour drive of a major metropolitan center. If riots were to occur anywhere in our state that is where I would bet they would happen. Most of the rioters moved on foot so I would have plenty of warning that the hordes were coming. Just pay attention and have a plan. If violence made it to a particular small town that is twenty minutes away from here, we would be ready to evacuate.

Workplace Violence and an Active Shooter

I am lumping these two together for a reason. Normal workplace violence is limited to two people. One person has a problem with another and has come to kick their butt. In that scenario I would just deal with it and move on. An active shooter is a different animal all together.

Developing an active shooter plan takes time and attention. The likelihood that you will ever have to deal with this type of event is very small, but if it were to occur it can pay off to think about it in advance. Know all of the possible exits for evacuation. Know all of the good hiding places either for self preservation or for ambush. When you have time and opportunity walk your area and familiarize yourself with everything and anything that you can use as a weapon. A stapler may not be your weapon of choice, but it sure beats just your fist. A broom can be a great weapon in a pinch. Know your companies weapons policy and your state and local laws. 

Thinking about events before they occur is the heart of preparedness. Take some time and think about it so you can plan your response.

I wish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Why I REALLY Like The Hunger Games

Hunger Games book

The Hunger Games books and movies have really taken on a life of their own. If you don't know what they are I am truly surprised. But just in case I will provide a summary. Warning: If you have not read the first book or seen the first movie there are some spoilers included.

74 years prior to the first book there was a revolution, the reasons for the revolution were not covered. The government won over the rebels. Instead of addressing the reasons for the uprising, the government decided that the best way to handle the situation was greater control.

The United States is cut into districts, each district specializes in the production of one type of resource. Your job is for the most part decided by where you live. Where I am would be agricultural, even though most of the food produced would come from our area. Anyone caught taking food that was not given to them by the government would face severe punishment.

The greatest control however are the games. Each year a boy and a girl from each district (except the capital of course) is chosen via lottery for a fight to the death. All of which is broadcast to the districts and required viewing.

The heroine of the story is just trying to take care of her family. But by trying to do so is thrust into the games. That should be enough of a summary. Now to why I really think everyone should watch the movies or read the books.

Social Commentary

The government of Panem uses a variety of methods to keep the population under control. Here are some of those methods. 

Each of the outlying districts are kept in varying states of poverty.  Keeping people just barely making it keeps them working. If you cannot eat because you missed one day of work, you will work sick and you will work till you die.

By controlling all of the information a people receive you can shape most people's opinions to a point that you can predict how they will respond to every situation. Very few people naturally exercise critical thinking.
Many people will take what they get, complain about it but never really do anything about it.

There will always be some people who benefit from the suffering of others and they will never look at the injustice.

Some people are willing to risk everything for glory and fame.

Communication between the districts is limited to what the Capitol wants the people to see. Huge fences separate the districts and no travel is permitted unless sanctioned by the government. 

Fear is used to control the masses. Fear can destroy hope. Hope is dangerous if you are trying to dominate people. There is no quicker way to instill fear than through a person's children.

Lessons Taught in The Hunger Games

Skills and Knowledge Are Important

Katniss, the primary heroine' had become the primary provider for her family since the death of her father. How did she do this? By foraging and hunting. The book of course covers this in more depth than the movie. Katniss is named after an aquatic plant that has edible tubers. I have included a picture of the plant below.

One of the most powerful quotes in the first book for me was, 
I knelt down in the water, my fingers digging into the roots. Small, bluish tubers that don’t look like much but boiled or baked are as good as any potato. “Katniss,” I said aloud. It’s the plant I was named for. And I heard my father’s voice joking, “As long as you can find yourself, you’ll never starve.”
In the first part of the first book, time was spent showing just how much knowledge Katniss's father had imparted to her. She knew which plants could be eaten, how to catch fish with a net, how to rob nests of eggs, and how to kill small game. This was a really resourceful young lady and she was driven only by feeding her family. This is worthy of admiration from those of us who think that way, but not from the general public.

Primitive Skills are Good to Have

 The only people who have firearms or advanced weapons of any type are the government. Everything everyone does to provide for themselves is with very basic weaponry. Katniss is extremely good with a bow that she keeps hidden to keep the "Peacekeepers" from taking away from her. This skill proves invaluable when she is thrust into the Games.

I am a big fan of primitive weapons, weapons that can be made. This book series and the subsequent movies have caused a surge in interest in these type of weapons. Mostly bows because of the primary character, but swords, spears, ropes, and even a trident are mentioned individually.

Before the Games the contestants, as they are called, are allowed to gain knowledge that will help them in the terrain into which they will be thrust, things like camouflage, foraging, herbal medicine, primitive fire starting, and the like are taught. The contestants can choose to learn them or not, it is their choice. All of the survival skills that are mentioned are real as are all of the tools shown.

Every Show of Kindness is Rewarded in Some Way

During the Games, Katniss befriends a young girl from another district named Rue. They work together. Little Rue reminds her of her sister. When Rue dies, Katniss takes the time to give her a worthy memorial and salutes the family. This expression tenderness endears her in the hearts and minds of everyone in that district. That is saying something. Katniss is not a very likable person, she is strong and responsible but not very likable. If you did not understand her thought process you probably would not like her. But Rue had struck her heart.
I want to do something, right here, right now, to shame them, to make them accountable, to show the Capitol that whatever they do or force us to do that there is a part of every tribute they can't own. That Rue was more than a piece in their Games. And so am I.
A few steps into the woods grows a bank of wildflowers. Perhaps they are really weeds of some sort, but they have blossoms in beautiful shades of violet and yellow and white. I gather up an armful and come back to Rue's side. Slowly, one stem at a time. I decorate her body in the flowers. Covering the ugly wound. Wreathing her face. Weaving her hair with bright colors.

Being True to Yourself

All this time I have talked about the heroine, but there is also a hero in this story. His name is Peeta. He is much more likable than Katniss, he is also softer. He would have been considered middle class in his district. He was the son of a baker. He did not face starvation, but he did face the Games. I love this quote.

"I don't know how to say it exactly. Only…I want to die as myself. Does that make any sense?" he asks. I shake my head. How could he die as anyone but himself? "I don't want them to change me in there. Turn me into some kind of monster that I'm not." 
I bite my lip, feeling inferior. While I've been ruminating on the availability of trees, Peeta has been struggling with how to maintain his identity. His purity of self. "Do you mean you won't kill anyone?" I ask. 
"No, when the time comes, I'm sure I'll kill just like everybody else. I can't go down without a fight. Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don't own me. That I'm more than just a piece in their Games," says Peeta.
Now tell me that quote is not powerful. The will to maintain who you are even in the face of adversity even to the point of death if necessary. That is true bravery.

True Hope can Spring Up Anywhere

I will not go into any detail, but hope grows through all of the mess. People will come together to deal with a common foe. It has happened throughout history. Tyranny only lasts for so long.


I have heard some say that the books are about the empowered poor rising against the ruling class, I do not see it that way. With the exception of the military or Peacekeepers, the population of the Capitol are kept ignorant on purpose. They honestly do not know of the hardships in the other areas of Panem. They honestly think that competing in the Games is an honor for those who are chosen. I believe it is more about a people rising up against a dictatorial/communist government, trying to claim the freedom that is their God given right.

I watched the first movie before I read the books. I do not remember if my wife brought it in or if it was my daughter. When I watched the movie, I was angry. I can see a government doing exactly the type of things Panem did to control its citizens. There is a much deeper message.

There is a lot of violence. I would not suggest this for young children, but if you have children or grandchildren old enough for the theme, these books or even the movies can start some very deep conversations. Be ready for them. Allow the books to challenge you to learn new skills.

I am not telling you to go to the theaters. I am saying rent the movies or buy the books used or in digital versions. (Sorry movie guys, I am not your primary target audience)

I wish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Kobalt Multi Tool a product review

I have decided that I am going to start doing some product reviews. First, I promise to always be honest in my evaluation of anything. If a company gives me a product, I will tell you up front. Even when a company gives me a product to review, it will in no way change the end result. If a product is great I will tell you, if it stinks I will tell you that as well. I am fairly rough on stuff to begin with, but if I am testing something I will really be tough on the product.


The categories that I will rate will vary from product to product, but will always include price, function, durability, and warranty. There may be other criteria or even sub categories of those listed above. I am going to do my best to provide an in depth review of any and all products. Where and when I can, I will provide video documentation of at least part of the tests so you can see the use of the products.

Grading System

As strange as this sounds I like being a little different. When I decided that I was going to start product reviews I thought about the star system that many companies use. You know what I mean. Amazon for example will give a book 4 starts, eBay uses stars, everybody uses stars. I just couldn't bring myself to do that so here is the grading system and what a review may look like:

Overall Score 
The same basic system, but with a touch of who we are. Five being the best and one being the worst. Everyone will still be able to understand what I am saying, but with a rural flair. Sound good? On to the review.

If you have read much of my writing at all you know that I am a big fan of a multi tool. I also know that not everyone can afford to spend $50+ dollars on a tool that they may only use occasionally.

I use a multi tool almost daily. I use it in several ways, mostly at work. I do not necessarily use the tool for its intended design. There are a couple of things that are must haves. If a multi tool doesn't have these I will not buy it, even if everything else is there.

First must have is a can opener. I have seen several that skipped this and I just ask- Why? Because I use it fairly often. Most of the time I pack my lunch for work, but even when I don't, I have food available. It may be a can of soup or canned ham or chicken and crackers. I must have a way to open these cans.

Second must have is a saw blade. I have a folding saw in my backpack, but there are times I only want a small blade and don't want to get out the larger saw. A knife blade is pretty much standard in all multi tools, so I don't even include it on my list, though I must admit I do not think I would buy a tool that did not have a knife blade.


For me a warranty is very important. I don't have money to waste on something that doesn't work. When I was looking at purchasing a multi tool, price and warranty were very important. There are several companies that say they have a Lifetime warranty or Limited Lifetime warranty. As I was reading several of the warranties, many of them stated that they warrantied the materials or workmanship of the tool, others had stipulations that made me nervous "improper usage is not warrantied". Improper usage? Of a multi tool? I am not going to use it as a target, but I am going to use it all the time. Kobalt has a hassle free warranty. They mean it, I have put it to the test, it really is hassle free. If you break the tool, take it to a Lowe's, go to customer service and get another. They process the transaction and that is it. Truly hassle free. Warranty score?


This tool has a price point of less than $20.00 which makes it really affordable for really everyone. During certain times of the year multi packs are offered that make the price even more desirable. I talked with one of the guys in the tool department at Lowe's and he told me he can look at the tool and tell me when I bought it. Apparently the style of the tool changes in each of the specialty packs. The one that I first bought was I believe around Father's Day. 

You can tell from the photo that it has seen some use.
Price score?

Workmanship and Quality

If you buy one of the tools by itself the sheath is fairly rigid and works well, if you buy one of the sets that has a sheath that fits the tool and say a knife the quality of the sheath goes down. The belt band stretches, so within a short period of time it will no longer sit neatly on your belt loop. In fact my original sheath's belt loop tore so I had to carry the tool in my pocket. The new sheath I have taken the knife and clipped it on my pocket and have started carrying a small flashlight in it instead. 

The Phillip's head bit is pitiful. I haven't found a screw head that it fits well into. I think it is sized somewhere between and #1 and a #2 bit size. You can unscrew a few things with it as long as the screw isn't too tight, you can put a screw in as long as you are using an existing hole or you are working with very soft wood, if not, you are out of luck.

I work a lot with Phillip's head screws so what did I do? I used the smallest blade bit. I was able to get the screw out, but I bent the blade. In fact I have bent a couple of the slot screwdriver blades. 

The knife blade could be a lot sharper from the package, but is sharp enough to do basic things. You can get a decent edge on the blade using a drag type sharpener (  I keep one like this in my backpack. Smith's CCKS 2-Step Knife Sharpener), but the edge doesn't last very long. In order to get a good edge I had to use a whet stone fairly severely (Smith's TRI-6 Arkansas TRI-HONE Sharpening Stones System).

The can opener, which is one of my must haves, works fairly well but not great. The saw blade works fine. A saw blade is difficult to find in a tool of this price point.
Workmanship and Quality score


As I have already stated above, I have had issues with all of the screwdriver bits, after a period of heavy usage the pliers tend to become loose to the point that they will no longer cut even semi fine wires, they just crimp them. I have even had one of the screws holding the whole thing together come out and of course be lost.

The set pictured above had blade locks, the new set does not. The blade locks of the set above wound up bending and becoming unusable, that might be why they got rid of them. I do not like having a tool that does not have blade locks, I think I am going to add that to my must haves list. They do the job, most any job, but when you get done you may have to turn them in for a new set.
Durability score

Overall Score

I really want to be fair here. I use this tool a lot. I am sure I use it more than most and as I said above it really comes with a hassle free lifetime warranty. If you need a tool that you are going to use occasionally or you are close to a Lowe's and can exchange when they break this is a good tool. Really good for the price, but if you want something that you do not have to worry about breaking in the first place, you might want to save your money a bit longer and get one of the higher end tools. Even then you might want to keep a couple of these around. They do make a good, not too expensive addition to a backpack.
Overall Score

There you have it. That is my review on the Kobalt multi tool. If you would like to purchase one of these for yourself you can do so HERE (not an affiliate link). If you are promoting a product and would like The Rural Economist to do a review please feel free to contact us at

I wish you Rural Dreams and Homestead Wishes

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

You can like The Rural Economist on Facebook follow on The Rural Economist on Gplus. We now have a YouTube channel and we cover all sorts of things. Hop on over and check them out, oh and don't forget to subscribe. I have just joined Instagram if you would like you can follow us HERE. We will be sharing several things over the next year, I hope to see you there. 

Check out The Rural Economist on Pinterest

Affiliate Link Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for links, endorsements, testimonials, or recommendations for any products mentioned on this blog. Any time you use one of our links for Amazon, if you purchase something The Rural Economist receives a small commission and it doesn't cost you any more. Even if you do not purchase the items I list. In this way you will help support us trying to teach people about self reliance and homesteading. Thanks for your consideration.