Common Sense and Life Skills

Look around how many people do you see on an electronic device? How long do you think they could go with out one? How long could you? What about going other forms of technology in general?

As a society we are becoming so dependent on technology that most people have lost all common sense and are not able to function without some form of it with even the most basic of tasks.

If you need proof Look back at the news interviews from from the google black out or Texas “snowmageddon” black out or even just try to talk to a younger person or anyone these days in person and see how awkward that gets.

When google went down people couldn’t turn lights on in their own houses, or unlock their doors(I don’t know if they forgot you can unlock manually or if google locks don’t have a manual override).

If you try to talk to someone in person if they string a sentence together your luckiest than most. This was one of the biggest problems for law enforcement recruiting prior to 2020 because people cant communicate or function without a device or keyboard in front of them.

Now in Texas they were hit with snow, ice, and subzero temps knocking out the power for multiple days.

In the interviews from Texas you will hear stories of running out of food, food spoiling because they had no power, or having no access to water, no way to cook, no heat, The stories are becoming common place any time there is a new “catastrophe”

Now lets break that down for a moment, Subzero temps, and food is spoiling…. No water….. 5+ inches of snow out side, no way to cook….(Some had gas stoves, or grills) but all should have been able to make a fire.

You can make a fire to cook and melt snow to make water(But few know how to make a fire). If you have a gas stove you can still manually light it with out power. The farther generations get from a time when technology wasn’t everywhere our fridges weren’t “smart” and our lights weren’t connected to the internet, the worse this is going to get.

Now look at yourself and honestly answer can you survive with out your phone, can you start a fire, change a tire, be comfortable or not run out of food if you loose access to power or grocery stores for more than 48 hours.

If the answer to any of these questions is no then make it point to learn. No one thinks they will be stuck in a catastrophe “it can never happen to me” but it can and likely will happen to you on some scale at some point

Now if you answered Yes, Good, now make sure your family knows how too, especially your children. Teach them the basics life skills and how to keep them selves alive. They will not learn this stuff any where else.

For those that don’t know where to start here are some ideas or these may be some things that you just haven’t thought of…

-Starting a fire
For reasons above

-Melting snow/ice to make and treat water
Reason for this is obvious you need water to live

-Change a tire (even or especially your daughters)
This can keep them from having to rely on the good will of strangers and keep them from being preyed on by predators on the roadside.

-Basics of how a car works, what breaks and how you can fix it or what can be limped to safety
This can get them out of a dangerous situation if their car breaks down in the middle of no where as well as the same reason for changing a tire.

-Basic home skills
Breakers, shutting off water, shutting off gas etc in an emergency all of these can cause issues if the systems in your home are damaged.

-Corded land lines work with out power
Allows communications in times of emergency if you can find one(buy one now)

-Basics of first aide
They could save their own life or someone else’s

-Emergency signaling( especially with out power) mirrors, lights, sound, symbols
IF hey get lost or are caught in an emergency/catastrophe they will be able to signal to rescuers where they are.

Now for the people that are better off in this regard, on a day off put your phone in airplane mode and flip the main breaker in your box and go 24 hours without power(probably want to warn your loved ones your doing this) This will show you your weak spots and things that you didn’t think about.

Digital GoBag

With todays tech flash drives are an amazing and under utilized tool. You can use them to store an entire media library incase of emergency or install a whole operating system and carry a “computer” on your key ring. For those interested for more information on this look into linux live drives there is way better info out there than I could ever put out.

Live drives afford many possibilities when it comes to privacy and security especially when traveling, you’re in a situation where you can’t or don’t want to carry a computer or in extreme situations you need to have a secure/concealable system to store sensitive data.

This is often the case with politically persecuted people, people in countries that heavily censor their people. This also applies to investigative journalist that cover sensitive topics that could put a target on their back.

The main way I advocate using them for the every day person is using them to set up an emergency electronic #gobag of sorts.

Using an OS called TAILS you can set up an encrypted drive that you can store important documents such as passport images, birth certificates, visas and so forth within encrypted files as well as the flash drive being encrypted. You can also set up crypto currency wallets for emergency funds if you so desire.

Once this drive is set up properly you can carry or conceal it on your person and plug it into any computer if you need to and access the information you’ve stored, the internet, you’r crypto, what ever you need it for at the time.

The drives OS and anything you do will be isolated from the main system on the computer and leaves no trace of use as it wasn’t using the main systems memory (only its flash memory which wipes on shutdown)

This makes it so that anything you do, your passwords, your information and documents etc all are safe because no tracking software that may be on the main system or the next user can access your info or data because the.

To set this up in the manner that I mentioned above you will need to set up the drive with encrypted persistence.

To do so you will need two drives as you need one drive running TAILS to set up another with encrypted persistence.

SET UP INSTRUCTIONS

ENCRYPTED PERSISTENCE INFO

Once that is done your good to go. Just about everything you should need for a basic privacy set up is on there with the OS.

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Smells and Blending In

Now in most instances unless you are the same heritage as where you are traveling and you are actively living there you are not likely to be able to pull off people thinking you’re a native. However it is possible to get to a level where you look like you belong, and the details are key.
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One detail of blending in, whether in the bush or in the urban environment that most people over look is smell.
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Where in the woods any strong smell is a give away in the urban environment it can be more subtle. While a strong smell can give you a way the wrong smell can also give you away. This comes into account mostly when traveling abroad.
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In the field to much deodorant, or not enough, tobacco, perfume/cologne, and food aroma to name a few can all give you away because they tend to be much stronger than the natural environment and are not naturally present.
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In the urban environments especially when traveling over seas it becomes the wrong deodorant, the wrong perfume, etc. and it’s not necessarily wrong but it’s that it’s not available locally and there for is novel and stands out to people.
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In some cases just like in the woods, deodorant in itself can be a give away in general as deodorants are a very American thing and in a lot of countries it’s not a common product.
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The easiest way to over come this is to buy these products when you get there. Once you get their to buy any deodorants if available, tobacco products, mints etc.
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Eating the local cuisine will take care of the food aroma as well as helps you meet the locals and experience the culture your visiting. In addition body oder changes based off what you eat. Anyone who eats onions/garlic regularly knows this fact. So if you are in a country where deodorant is less prevalent, your funk will match the locals in theory

How to Use Public Restrooms

We assume you know how to use the restroom in the usual sense so were gonna cover how to use it in the tradecraft sense.

Public Restrooms offer you many opportunities in an operational environment to further your personal preparedness, security and situational awareness.

Check out S2 Underground and their videos on LBRY for more quick tradecraft tips.

After you are seated make a trip to the rest room. This gives you a reasonable explanation for walking around the restaurant and getting the lay of the land.

Along your way this allows you to scope the other people in the restaurant as well as the layout, alternate exits, blindspots etc. All while having a reasonable explanation for your actions if you are being watched.

In most cases the rest rooms are usually in the back near employee only locations. In restaurants this means back of the house like kitchens and so forth. By taking a peak in there on your way to the rest room you can get a glimpse of what the back of house staff uniforms look like which furthers your situational awareness.

You will know if someone coming out of there may or may not belong and whether you need to pay attention to them or not.

Another benefit to consider especially if you are being surveilled is that the rest rooms are usually one of the few places in a city that is not under cctv surveillance. Most people don’t think twice about someone changing clothes in the bathroom.

Wear Ambiguous Colors

Wear Ambiguous colors

The general pallet of colors that exist today is gigantic. Just go to your local hardware store and take a look at the paint isle to see how many different blues there are.

With that the average person will usually label colors with as little effort as possible usually lumping them together in either red blue green yellow etc. giving no mind to the shades in between unless they work in a profession that deals with colors to that degree. At most the average person may toss a dark, or light in front of it too narrow it down slightly.

To aide in blending in, or maybe a better way to describe this would be make you harder to identify, is rather easy in theory. Now in practices it is going to depend on where you are going to be operating/traveling and what the color pallet of the area is. No mater how ambiguous your gray shirt may be if everyone around you is wearing brown. It’s not going to work.

Start out by doing your research and see what the general look of the area is. Figure out the type of clothing first then play with the colors. Are they generally wearing jeans? Khakis? Gym shorts? Sports jerseys? T-shirts? what colors? Brands, Logos, and patterns will all play a part here as well.

Figure out the type/style of clothing and then play with the colors. If you’re in a business area you will likely see more suits, khakis and polos, and likely in blacks, grays, whites, and maybe some blues.

In this example you would likely want to wear a suit or at least business casual clothing and choose colors that can be mistaken for multiple others. In this instance lets say you need to wear a suit you would most likely find your self looking for something that is either black (if thats the dominate color) or a color some where in between gray and blue if there is more of a mix.

By doing this your either blending in with the crowd by wearing black or if their is more of a mix of colors your wearing a color that can be mistaken for another color by either the person identifying you to someone or the person who you are being identified to.

Say you are being followed by hostile surveillance and your tail is handing you off to another tail. If he describes you as wearing gray, but the new tail looks at you and thinks you are wearing blue he may pass you by or think someone near by wearing gray is his actual target.

That was a highly simplistic explanation of it but you get the idea (I hope). The more ambiguous the color, providing it blends in with the general pallet of the area, the higher likelihood that anyone describing you may confuse anyone they are talking to due to personal color bias of the describer and the listener.

Quick Change Disguises

Some basic disguise techniques is a good skill to know and very well could save your life.

Now I am not talking the synthetic face, mission impossible type disguises as that is out of financial possibility for most people as well as unnecessary in most cases.

The level of disguise that some one would need to escape from a pursuer. This level of disguise is the art of the quick change. This is the ability to change your appearance in a relatively discrete manner in a short amount of time.

As with most other escape and evasion techniques the first step is to break out of your pursuers line of sight, and then make your move.

In this case you add to, subtract from, or change your outfit in a way to change your appearance while out of sight and then blend in to the crowd and avoid drawing attention to your self as you make your way out of the area and away from your pursuers. Changing your direction once out of site can also aide in your escape.

You can plan a head and plan your clothing in a way that you can perform a quick change or in an emergency you can improvise in the field.

It is relatively easy to build quick change ability into your EDC. You can wear a reversible jacket or throw one in your bag to take with, bring or wear a hat, there are many options.

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Notebooks as a Tool

The pocket notebook has become quite popular these last few years and even more so the travelers notebook. (basically a larger version some times used as a wallet)

Some find the Cult of the moleskin or midori distasteful But the pocket notebook has a long, important history used by men such as Thomas Jefferson and Da Vinci, so don’t let the pocket notebook’s current status keep you from using one yourself. Even some note cards clipped together or some paper folded over will get you started.

No man be he a scout, explorer or soldier should go into the woods without a notebook and hard lead pencil.

~Daniel Carter Beard

The most basic and essential function of the pocket notebook is to provide a place to capture the ideas and important information that come up throughout the day. You may get a business idea, hear a quote you wish to record, maybe you need to jot down the license plates of a suspicious vehicle that seems to be following you and your principle or you want to take notes from a book you’re reading. Most people would use their notes app and while there are some benefits to that the main weakness is without electricity they will eventually go dark, plus the simple act of writing on paper will improve your memory retention greatly compared to typing on a keyboard.

Even though you feel sure in the moment that you’ll be able to remember these thoughts when you get back, every one of us has experienced the agony of realizing that no amount of mental gymnastics can bring it back after that info is lost.

They can also be used for brainstorming sessions, a place to write down and review personal goals, To do lists, cheat sheets, frequency plans, or maybe just

a place to doodle when you’re stuck on a long layover.

Travel notebooks being larger also offer a place to carry maps, cash, cards, calendar, tickets, passports if you must not have it on your person. business cards and other odds and ends.

They are a great place to write down the destination research you conducted before departure such as important local phone numbers and addresses you looked up before traveling such as to local police departments, hospitals, the local embassy or consulate as well as to keep track of your adventures as you go.

PS Not only is a note book an off line tool and cannot be hacked remotely, the slight hipster factor may work in your favor as far as appearances go and not standing out.

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How to use a passport for privacy

The passport if an often overlooked basic privacy tool because of the lengthy form and process it takes to get one. This is a mistake. To start off the government already has the info required for you to get one on file somewhere so there is no new info being thrown out. As well, If you are instituting a comprehensive privacy plan then at least some if not most of this info is likely to change in the near future anyway. There is a little bit of a wait and I am not sure what that wait is like due to all the shit in the last year but the wait is normally not that bad and is worth the Benefits the passport provides.

There is a hand full of benefits of obtaining a passport. The most obvious of which is international travel. At least for now this is all you need to travel to most places(at least from your own gov. Visas and other requirements maybe needed for certain countries) However that is likely to change in the near future but we shall see how that plays out.

Now forgetting privacy for a moment just as an emergency/spontinitity preparation its good to have your passport in hand. It could be your buddy drops by and want to take spontaneous trip to Mexico, (though I would try to talk them out of that one) or maybe you have relatives out of country, one of them passes away ad you need to get to the funeral. If you don’t have your passport you may be out of luck if you don’t have adequate heads up.

Now when you fill out the application you should also have the option to get a passport card which fits in your wallet. I personally have not had one but others have made the case for them. As a day to day ID this is likely to be more convenient. It will however not work for international travel in most if not all cases However a passport and passport card are Government issued ID, and must be accepted under any circumstances that requires you prove you’r identity with a gov. Issue ID. The main exception for most people to this will be driving but there may be some others where a specific license is required.

Now the most notable benefit for privacy is that your home address is not present on your passport, in fact no address is, or even a city, unlike most drivers license. Some states do allow Po Boxes on your drivers license and some put your mailing address but they are the exceptions to the rule. However why use an ID that shows any address when you can use one that shows none?

As you will learn more in future articles your home address is the single most important piece of personal information you need to protect. This is the precise location you and your family lay your head down at night and are most vulnerable. Sadly this is probably the hardest piece of information to protect. Using a passport is one step towards this goal and keeps anyone that you have to show your ID to or anyone who may come to posses your ID from being able to learn where you live to later target you.

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To Tell a Lie

A lie is a false statement made by one, to another who is entitled to hear and know the truth and which false statement tends toward injury to the other.

~JJ.lune

Whether to Lie or not, with only a few exceptions, is a moral issue. This means everyone has to make their own decision on when it is acceptable to lie. Of course with the few exceptions, when telling a lie is in fact illegal.

This mainly applies to your personal information security which in this day and age can also be your physical security. Does the random person on the subway that started talking to you need to know where you were born, how old you are, where you live, where you work, how many kids you have and that you were just promoted to a new project at work?

Is this person just a friendly commuter looking for conversation? or are they a corporate spy looking for info on this new project that they can exploit or maybe they saw your suit and nice watch and want to know where to you live to steal your stuff.

The point is you can’t always tell a persons intentions from a single meeting and I get it most people naturally want to open up and after generations of cultural pressure feel un comfortable lying or even not telling the full story. This can be used to your advantage if you are the one gathering the information but be careful if you are on the revealing end.

I am not saying lie to every one who strikes up conversation with you but maybe be more vague in your answers until you get to the know the person. Trust but verify.

If you are having moral hesitations ask yourself these questions and it light put you at more ease. is there a benefit or a risk to revealing this information and does telling them make you safer or less so?

JJ Luna gives an example of his personal guide lines that he follows in his book How to be invisible.

1. If no harm will be done, and no oath is sworn he gives false information.

2. If an oath is sworn or to be sworn he does not lie.

3. He MAY withhold or not volunteer info to government representatives unless specifically asked depending on the situation but he will not lie.

4.Under no condition whatsoever will he file a false tax return.

These are easily applied in person and can be used for your digital life as well. I have however modified these rules as these days its not so much about giving false info as it is about giving varied info, having sets of information for different purposes and making sure these sets don’t cross over with one another( thats the hardest part) I will cover this in more detail in a future post.

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Operating in the Dark

The draw back of the dark is pretty obvious…. it is dark and you cannot see as well. There are however some things that you are able to do to compensate at least partially. And while there is downsides to the dark, there are some benefits too if you know what you’re doing.

For starters when you’re standing in the light you cannot see into the dark, but when you’re standing in the dark you can see into the light. This can give you obvious advantages in escape and evasion in both urban and rural environments.

Now the obvious way to over come the dark is Night Vision Tech, and while some of the cheaper stuff is getting better, for the most part, quality night vision is outside the budget for most people.

During the gulf wars many long range recon units learned that they stand out with night vision and when they stopped using it their natural night vision actually improved to a decent level where is was not as hindering as they thought it would be.

There is a list of supplements that one source or another says can improve your night vision. They can be found with a startpage search with little effort but as I am not a doctor or have any experience with it personally I am not going to include them here. We are going to focus on tactics and behaviors that you can use instead.

First off prepare your eyes by allowing it to relax and slowly transition to the dark. This can either be done naturally and just being outside as the sun goes down (don’t use any artificial light) or sit a quite darker place than the one that you are currently in. Another option is to cover your eyes with something for a few minutes before heading into the dark. While doing the above you can also gently massage you’re closed eyes to help them relax.

Now once you have got your eyes relaxed and you’ve headed into the dark don’t just stare at one object or location. Look off to one side of what you want to look at specifically and continue to look around so let your eyes adjust the best they can.

Try to avoid looking at a direct source of light such as the sun, flashlights, headlights etc. When you look at sources of light directly, the pupil of your eyes constrict and undoes the work you have done so far. If you have to go into the light, or a light source is unavoidable try closing one eye to preserve as much of your night vision as possible. Fun fact this is why pirates wore eye patches (or so I hear) so that when they went below deck on a raid they could take it off and have better vision below.