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How we need to prepare

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Knowledge and understanding

One of the many things that cause confusion for inexperienced people is jargon and procedures. Jargon and process are ways for people who are working somewhere make it more difficult for newcomers to come in and take over their jobs. Whole careers are made up with this today and where before anyone could be in personnel you now have to have a set of NVQs and a degree at understanding the jargon to work in HR. It’s the same with gas fitting, electrical work and soon sweeping up. The people making the courses have a job for life and the people in the jobs can’t easily be removed or replaced. Many of us could easily move between jobs if it was not for the artificial barriers put up by those that want to show they are skilled and irreplaceable people.

The issue we, as preppers have, is that we want to be generalists, we want to learn all we can about everything because at some stage that could work out to be a critical skill. Now, you can’t perform gas fitting in your own home, that is now illegal, but you can practise the fitting, testing and removal of gas fittings to build up your skills for the main event. Same with practically everything as long as you can purchase the materials although you need to be careful what you end up with as Phil Luty found out to his cost. You just can’t do some things even in the privacy of your own home. Having the books though is simply just not enough. There is a vast difference between knowledge and understanding. That diffierence is the difference between doing something and failing.

One issue that practising on your own and not in a training environment or real life work is that the little things catch you out. If it is something you notice like a leak and you are not sure how to fix it you can look around for a solution and have another go. It is how we learn. Perhaps it is something you just don’t notice like a weak joint or a flawed component. An experienced person could spot this straight off and repair the joint to make sure or replace the component. We don’t even see anything wrong with this and use it as it is. In most cases though it doesn’t take much experience to make you competent in many of these basic skill sets and we should all be able to perform the basics in many areas. Experience can be gained on the job even in a disaster scenario but the penalties can be more than just buying replacement parts, what if there is one and one only?

There are some areas though where knowing how to just isn’t enough. Take explosives for example. Its all well and good knowing what goes in a homemade explosive to clear a tree stump but mixing them yourself will end badly in most cases. You need to have clear instructions. In addition people tend to make assumptions and with some areas those assumption can have fatal consequences. Many of the instructions for making explosives on the internet are fatally (sic) flawed and although they may work for many they will lead to injuries or death. Mixing chemicals intended for different uses means the ingredients are not quite right and unskilled people don’t know the difference. There are significant differences between products in the US and the same named products in the UK. Learning these differences is not a job for generalists.

If you know what you are doing you can do anything, tradesmen in Pakistan build guns from raw metal and produce ammunition from raw ingredients. People all over the world build fertiliser bombs from ingredients found in farms. It’s the knowing that causes all the problems. The jargon confuses us. Think about this ‘Bring to the boil, put the egg in and boil for 3 minutes’. We all know what that means but consider what exactly bring to the boil means. To me I wait till it is bubbling nicely. Others won’t wait that long and put it in early. The egg is fine either way but it makes a difference if you are mixing chemicals for a medicine. To long boiling may damage the active ingredient and render it worthless while not boiling enough could leave it poisonous.

We need to ensure that we get the training necessary for the task. In cooking basic skills don’t need an expert to pull it off, bush craft skills to identify plants to make rope from are going to be difficult to pick up from a book and needs some real life experience and as for making a working bow and arrow you need plenty of practise. Identify the skills you need to try and then arrange a course or spend time with someone doing the task. When I was younger I helped rewiring houses. Didn’t learn much besides that replacing something is a lot more work than installing fresh and ducting is well worth installing. Learn by experience on everything you can it will be well worth it.

As you can tell I had a go at making a bow and some arrows today from a book with the kids. How they ever managed to find wood back in the olden days to make the arrows is beyond me. We found some good bow material, good for us anyway although I’m sure it was the wrong tree, but no straight sticks for arrows. I had to cheat by making them from scrap wood in the garage (It was getting cold in the woods) and even then it was not one of my best achievements. The bow worked out OK though but it did not have anything like the power needed to hunt anything beyond sparrows. Even then they would have to stay really still while I had about 10 shots at them. I need some time with Ray Mears or Bear Grylls. Ray’s videos make it look so easy.

2 comments to Knowledge and understanding

  • Justin

    Excellent post! I try to learn everything I can from everyone I can. When doing something I know little about for the first time, I tend to go by the method of basically trebling how long I think any job should take. Seems to work almost every time…

    BTW, Phil Luty’s books are excellent. Thinking about it, maybe that’s why I didn’t get an interview for the job in MI5s maintenance dept…

  • Skean Dhude


    Phil is still being persecuted by the governments thugs. How dare he point out flaws in the governments edicts. He seems to have disappeared again. The last time be was arrested under the catch all anti terrorism laws.

    Good plan to adjust the times. How much could you add for something you have never done before and only just heard about? You may never do it right. That is why we need to identify these things and spend some time on them.

    Who is up for investigating a nuclear reactor?

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