A Lesson From Maui

maui wildfire

You may have noticed our new look. I updated our site to conform to more modern web standards. The changes aren’t huge, but I hope they make visiting easier for most. Mrs. Lioin growled a little when she expected to find what she wanted on the right side of the page. I moved everything left. Most readers don’t care about the extra info and just want to get to the posts. I hope you like the change.

The recent wildfires on Maui got a lot of people thinking. The fires wiped out all cell service, power, and the Internet. Cell phones are useless. This is the sort of disaster that’s been worrying me. It’s why I got a ham license and invested in radios. As long as I can get power (we have a generator and the radios also work from car batteries), I can communicate. Thanks to some nonprofit foundations, I can send and receive email without the internet using my ham radio. Clubs and others maintain repeaters. These are radios located in high places that can receive and rebroadcast signals from less powerful radios. We are set to use them if needed.

I asked Mrs. Lion to get her ham license. She has no interest in the hobby. I realize that. We already have two GMRS (5-watt, license need–we have one) walkie-talkies. They are good if we are near each other and need to communicate. I have a ham radio walkie-talkie that is 8 watts and can work with repeaters. My idea is for Mrs. Lion to get her Technician license so she can operate one. That will help us if we are separated in a disaster. We have a more powerful radio that is our base station. We set up a large antenna to support it. This will help with email and other long-distance communication.

We also have a ten-day supply of freeze-dried meals and water. Local disaster relief organizations (Red Cross, local governments) strongly suggest at least a 72-hour supply. We live in the shadow of Mount Rainier and are overdue for an earthquake. There is also the chance of local flooding. Mrs. Lion picked our house because it is out of any known flood zone.

If all this sounds like paranoid prepper ravings, it isn’t. Maui is an excellent example of how the unthinkable can happen. My biggest nightmare is that Mrs. Lion and I are separated when disaster hits. Aside from simple survival, my biggest priority is to find her and be with her. That’s why we need to think outside of the box when it comes to communication. My Weblink (that’s the service that lets hams send and receive email without the internet) account comes with an email address that any ham with digital capability can reach. With her license and walkie, she can find someone to reach me.

We assume that our ability to reach others is always safe and available. It’s probably safe, but its availability depends on too many things that can go wrong. Cell service can’t work without communications between cells and the mothership. A single strand of fiberoptic cable connects them. Ham radio is old-fashioned. It has a huge advantage over the Internet and cell phone service. It’s completely decentralized. Each station is owned and operated by regular people. They only need power and a piece of wire for an antenna to operate. I may be sitting in the dark with my radio and a car battery to power it. I can use it to reach someone who isn’t affected by the disaster and who will help me. I sleep better knowing this.

Listen to this post.


  1. This is well written and 100% spot on. Prepping is only crazy until you need it (and i hope we never do).
    For another 2-3 hundred you can get a battery, 3 solar panels and a charge controller. Then you are fully independent from any current infrastructure and you can operate anywhere on the planet. And, as you know, If you have the right radio you can exchange information with any other radio on the planet.
    My wife is also not interested in getting her licence but if things seriously break down I’m not going to be concerned with the FCC, she will know how to operate a radio.
    The more we rely on modern electronic infrastructure the more fragile it becomes. In Iran the government turns off the Internet on a whim. Any government can do that. It just hasn’t been done to us.
    Plus amateur radio is FUN. I’m on it everyday 😊

    1. Author

      I agree! We live in the Pacific Northwest. Not a lot of sun here for solar.However, we do have a small battery/solar setup. Mrs. Lion read my post and is now taking a study course for her Technician license. That’s a good start. I love being a ham and I’m very happy about Winlink which is Internet-free email.

  2. Regarding the new “Page Layout,” I find your new “Dancing Tile Bar” to be very distracting and annoying.

    (1) It reduces the amount of space for the actual text / posting I want to read;

    (2) Many people, like myself, have higher levels of “distractability” (ADD?). Having the title bar jumping up-then-down-then-up. . .” is extremely distracting. For me, it’s like someone suddenly slapping me in the face; I just want to read the posts.

    (If you really want the title bar always available (e.g., for navigation), why not just “lock it” at the top, rather than having is “slide and jump?)

    Just my opinion, but I’ve spoken to many other people who feel the same way. (It’s almost as bad as those old “html-flashing words/paragraphs” from twenty years ago.)

    Have you even considered doing a “survey” to learn what your particular readers really want / feel?

    1. Author

      My intent was to have the title available no matter how much you scroll. The theme I’m using seems to have trouble managing that seemingly-easy task. I agree that it is distracting and annoying. Thanks for your feedback. I’m locking the title at the top from now on.

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