August 2005 Archives

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Today's SurvivalBlog posts will exceed your Recommended Daily Allowance of Gloom 'n Doom.

You've all read the news stories, so I'll be brief: Things are very Schumeresque in New Orleans and Biloxi. The damage is much more severe than was experienced with Hurricane Camille back in 1969. Perhaps as many as one million people will become refugees. The Lake Pontchartrain levee breach (currently 200 feet wide) may mean that there will be 20+ feet of water in much of Nah-Lens. Hopefully the breach can be repaired before that happens. There won't be a full death count for several weeks. One official said that the death toll will be "much higher than Camille" (which claimed 200 lives.)

As of Monday night, more than 37,000 people were in American Red Cross shelters, and that number is rising as people are plucked off their rooftops. Nearly 5 million people, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are without utility power, and power won't be restored in some areas for more than a month. (Hmmm.... I guess its time to crank up those generators that people "wasted" their money on in anticipation of Y2K.)

Most of the oil refineries and LNG terminals on the Gulf Coast are offline, so some pundits are predicting gasoline prices to spike over $3.00 per gallon. For some detailed news stories, see World Net Daily

There is currently no effective law enforcement and hence beau coup looting, despite the fact that there is hip-deep water to wade through to get to most stores. Even a few police officers were seen engaged in looting. Officials are predicting a "worst case" situation vis-a-vis sanitation. Gee, this situation sounds like something out of one of those paranoid whacko survivalist novels.

Apparently many families were trapped in their attics and had to chop their way out to their roofs with axes. One clever gent didn't have an axe but did have a shotgun, so he blasted his way out of his attic. (I award him bonus points for creativity.)

Again, I'd appreciate hearing some brief first hand accounts from SurvivalBlog readers that are in the affected area.

Please continue keep all of the folks in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and surrounding states in your prayers!

Like being inside a tribal reservation, owning land that is within a National Forest is another problem. An “inholder” of property within a National Forest or other government land may find himself subject to seasonal road restrictions. “De-roading” contracts started with the Clinton administration, but sadly the process is continuing. There might also be restrictions on land use, agriculture, pasturing, hunting, shooting and so forth. My recommendation is to avoid buying land that inside of a National Forest, or that is in vulnerable a strip of land between National Forest tracts--land that might be designated a "wildlife corridor" and hence either seized un Eminent Domain, or made subject to restrictions.

The following piece of fiction that I penned is just one of example of what might happen sometime in the near future:

At 8:15 A.M. on May 1st, an 18-wheel tractor/trailer backed up to one of the hundreds of roll-up doors at the primary Wal-Mart merchandise distribution center in Benton, Arkansas. (It is the largest of Wal-Mart’s 40 distribution centers.) On the trailer was a typical 53-foot long steel transoceanic shipping “continental express” (CONEX) container. It arrived scarcely unnoticed because hundreds of them arrived at the distribution center every day. Inside the CONEX, a 1,800-gallon tank that formerly held propane was welded to the floor. Just seconds after the container’s double doors were swung open; there were a pair of powerful explosions. First, nine hundred linear feet of Primacord PETN detonating cord glued together in six thicknesses along the upper edges of the CONEX peeled back the top of the container as if it had been opened by an enormous can opener. Two seconds later, a low-order explosive ruptured a main seam on the propane tank. The tank was filled with liquid GD nerve gas (Soviet Army surplus) with the consistency of motor oil. More than half of the liquid GD nerve gas was thrown into a vapor cloud by the explosion. A small part of the cloud was blown into the building. The rest was pushed up into a brownish-tinged mushroom cloud that towered 250 feet high.

Within a minute, everyone in the 380,000 square foot Wal-Mart distribution center was either dead or dying. The cloud expanded horizontally, and was carried by the spring breeze through residential sections of eastern Benton and then to the Little Rock suburbs of Bauxite, Bryant, and Sardis. The wind was traveling due east that day, so the nerve gas cloud headed toward the small town of East End, Arkansas rather than downtown Little Rock, where the death toll would have been an order of magnitude greater. Almost everyone in the path of the cloud died within minutes of exposure.

The GD solution is semi-persistent, meaning that several days of exposure to sunlight will cause it to break down and become harmless. Just one droplet the size of the head of a pin on exposed skin is enough to cause violent convulsions. Two or three droplets are enough to cause death. Parts of the vapor cloud made it all the way to Stuttgart, Arkansas, 60 miles east of Benton, and caused 155 deaths there. Before the first day is over, 12,000 people are dead.

At the time of the explosion, hundreds of cars were passing through Benton, primarily folks on their daily commute to Little Rock. Most of these cars made it to their destinations, or upon hearing the news of the explosion, the drivers took alternate routes home. The contaminated exteriors of these cars eventually ended up in six different Arkansas counties. For the next three days, they caused more than 300 additional deaths, as drivers and passengers touched contaminated body panels, gas tank lids, and door handles.

Central Arkansas was immediately declared a disaster zone by the Governor. Full-scale panic swept through Little Rock and all of the cities east of Benton, then to the Mississippi River, and beyond. Thousands tried to flee the area. This caused a massive traffic snarl that lasted for a full week. Hundreds of cars were stuck in traffic for so long that they ran out of gas. The drivers abandoned their cars, with many still left standing in the freeway lanes. This made the traffic even worse.

A small fire was started by the original explosion. With nobody left alive in the building to fight it, the fire slowly grew and eventually burned the entire Wal-Mart distribution center to the ground.

Five days after the initial explosion, while U.S. Army Chemical Decontamination teams from Fort McClellan, Alabama were picking through the charred rubble, a time delayed explosive at the front end of the cargo container threw a fresh cloud of GD vapor--one-third as large as the first--into the air. The winds had by now shifted to the northeast, directly toward Little Rock. This time it killed less than 400 people--mostly looters in Little Rock, which was still evacuated.

Wal-Mart had been the world’s largest retailer. Two months later the corporation no longer existed. More than one million direct employees were put out of work, as well as 600,000 additional people that were indirectly dependent on Wal-Mart. This included employees of manufacturers of products sold primarily through Wal-Marts as well as contract truck drivers, mechanics, jobbers, box makers, and so forth. The day after the explosion, the price of Wal-Mart stock dropped to $1.27 per share. Within three weeks, virtually every Wal-Mart store in North America had empty shelves. And within another week they all locked their doors. Wal-Mart stock had dropped to 2 cents per share and was de-listed. Nearly all the corporate management had nearly all been killed and the inventory coming into the country available to sell had slowed to a trickle.

The total loss of life was 13,942, with an additional 22,000 people hospitalized. Some were hospitalized as far east as coastal North Carolina, suffering from hysterical reactions.
Initially, all containerized cargo traffic crossing the U.S. borders was halted. This caused the idling of the Big Three auto manufacturers due to lack of parts, since more than 20% or more of the parts for “American” cars were actually sourced abroad. A few weeks later, container traffic resumed when it was assumed that the Benton attack was an isolated terrorist incident. The flow of containers was greatly slowed, due to elaborate chemical agent detection procedures, which began with chemical agent reconnaissance teams inserted by helicopter onto cargo ships when they were more than 50 miles offshore. With added security restrictions, container cargo terminals developed huge backlogs. Perishable cargoes were ruined, costing additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

On June 20th, just as commerce was starting to get back to normal, another explosion occurred; this time, at the sprawling China Overseas Shipping Company (COSCO) terminal in Long Beach California. A “dirty bomb”, consisting of 800-pounds of powdered spent nuclear reactor fuel rods and seven cubic yards of powdered talc propelled by a 650 pound low-order explosive, shredded a 40-foot CONEX container, and sent a large uranium/talc dust cloud into the air. (It was preceded moments before by a “roof ripper”, just like the previous Benton blast.) Initial news reports assumed that it was another chemical agent attack. But after no deaths were reported, it was quickly termed a dud. Hours later, when a FEMA disaster response team leader noticed that his radiation exposure film badge had turned black, it was realized that a “dirty bomb” had been detonated. As this news flashed through the media, a huge panic ensued.

The prevailing winds carried the dust cloud across Lakewood, Bellflower, Downey, and East Los Angeles. Measurable concentrations went as far as Alhambra and Pasadena. Almost two million people were in its path. The vast majority of the heavy uranium dust settled in Long Beach and Lakewood, but the psychological impact of the much lighter talc was tremendous, since it was carried as far as the San Gabriel Mountains. Like the Benton event, the COSCO container explosion caused mass panic--this time all through Southern California and even adjoining western Arizona. With the far greater population density of the L.A. Basin, the panic was monumental. The traffic gridlock extended through 24 California counties. More than 300 motorists stranded without gasoline or water died of exposure in the deserts of California, southern Nevada, and Arizona.

An estimated 212 people in Southern California died of stress-induced heart attacks. The total loss of life in the second attack was 3,000 in the first year (2,500 from radiation sickness), with 38,000 people hospitalized. (Far more hospitalized with hysteria than from actual radiation sickness.) An estimated 5,000 people died in the next three years due to long-term health effects, such as complications of radiation sickness, cancer, leukemia, eating disorders, and various infections exacerbated by weakened immune systems.

The initial economic cost of the two container explosions was at least $650 billion. Long-term costs were incalculable: international trade was disrupted for decades and a large urban region was rendered uninhabitable.

No terrorist group ever took credit for the pair of CONEX explosions. An aging White House defense affairs adviser (an off-and-on veteran inside the Beltway since the Nixon era) ordered tersely: “Round up the usual suspects.” That set the wheels in motion. More than 40,000 people were killed and 65,000 injured during the next two years in a massive campaign of “retaliatory” heavy bomber and cruise missile strikes in Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and scattered targets in North Africa...


Potential Terrorist Targets (SAs: Emerging Threats, Retreat Location Selection)

In the stark reality of this new Century, two distinct target structures must be considered when considering retreat locales: ”World War Three” targets and terrorist targets. Some of these target lists overlap. You will have to decide for yourself which of these is the more likely--or any substantial risk at all--as you evaluate your relocation priorities.
I authored a feature article entitled: “High Technology Terrorism” which was published in Defense Electronics magazine. (January 1990 issue, page 74.) It is one of more than 30 of my feature articles for that magazine. In it, I surmised that international terrorist groups can and eventually will use high technology weapons. These include everything from build-it-yourself nuclear weapons, to EMP generators, or even liquid metal embrittlement chemicals to sabotage structures or commercial aircraft.

Potential Terrorist Targets

It is difficult to accurately predict potential terrorist targets in North America, much less to rank them. But it is possible to make some logical assumptions. While it is difficult to apply traditional logic to analyses of a terrorist’s illogical and irrational thought processes, some fairly safe assumptions are possible. Some potential targets are almost purely symbolic, like the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. Others would certainly be envisioned as having the “Biggest Bang for the Dinar.” These would include seaports and major population centers.

Certainly the most vulnerable targets are New York City and Washington, D.C. Al Qaeda has hit them before, and they’ll surely try to hit them again if they can. Just before this book was readied for press, Al Qaeda’s Number Two man bragged to the media that the organization possesses “several” suitcase-size nuclear weapons. Other large American cities must surely be likely targets. If you are living in a metropolitan area with more than 500,000 people, it is at risk. Weighing the odds is an interesting armchair academic exercise today. From an actuarial standpoint, the odds of staying in Dallas, Phoenix, or Seattle are fairly good. But what if you are wrong? Even if you are outside the blast radius and survive, what are your chances of “Getting out of Dodge”, ex post facto? Also, consider what will happen to the value of real estate in a radioactively contaminated area. The losses will run in the billions of dollars, even with just a low yield nuclear ground burst. Think about it. Then pray about it. If you then feel convicted to mitigate the risk, then move to a relatively safe lightly populated area that isn’t down wind, and do it soon.

In my opinion, the targets at the greatest risk of terrorist attacks in North America are liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) terminals, situated primarily on the Gulf Coast. Most are located right on sea coasts and have tremendous explosive potential. Take a little time to do some web research on the two biggest natural gas explosions in the past 60 years:

Cleveland, Ohio in 1944 (128 killed, 435 injured)
Skikda LNG Complex, Algeria in 2004 (30 killed, 70 injured)

Consider that the cargo capacity of a typical LNG tanker is 23 times the volume that was stored in Cleveland, and that the capacity of a typical LNG terminal is 75 to 100 times that stored in Cleveland! You don’t want to live anywhere near them. And even if you live far away, you will still feel the effect. The destruction of two major terminals would reduce natural gas capacity to the extent that it would cripple our national economy for perhaps a decade.

If just two U.S. LNG or LPG terminals were destroyed by terrorists within the span of year it would surely cripple our nation’s gas supply system. This is just one of several reasons that you should buy the biggest propane tank that you can afford, (and allowed by local zoning), and always keep it at least 60% filled.

Water Supplies
Municipal water supplies are another “big bang for the Dinar” target. Many of these water supply system have multiple points of entry for contamination, most of which are not adequately guarded. This is just another reason to avoid living in a major municipal region.

Psychological Targets
In addition to physical infrastructure, terrorists might concentrate on psychological targets, for mass media attention and a heightened sense of terror. You can compile your own list of potential psychological targets in your region. This list should include nuclear power plants and medical isotope reactors. (The risk of an actual containment breach by a terrorist bomb is minimal, but they remain potent psychological targets, nonetheless.) Also include soft targets such as major universities, hospitals, sports stadiums, and major tourist attractions such as Seattle’s Space Needle.

The preceding are my predictions. In March of 2005, a disaster preparedness office in Hawaii inadvertently released a hush-hush “what if" terrorism scenario list that had been recently published by the Department of Homeland Security. It was surprisingly frank and very frightening.

Hello Jim.
I loved Patriots and have read it four times. You managed to combine a lot of great advice with an interesting story. I'm really enjoying the blog as well. In one of the postings you were discussing knives. I wanted to suggest you take a look at Lone Wolf Knives. It's a small company that works with a number of well known knife designers to produce a very high quality product. I particularly like a Butch Valloton designed knife, the Val-Matic. It's a very stealthy liner lock that uses the scales as a release mechanism. Gives you the best of both worlds in that it combines fully automatic opening with manual features and shows no outward signs of it's automatic capabilities.
Here's a link to the web page describing the knife. Keep up the good work. God bless you and your family. -M.G

JWR's Reply: Consult your state and local laws before ordering any automatic knife! BTW, I will have several specific knife maker/model recommendations in upcoming blog posts.

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things falls apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, ..." - W.B. Yeats

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I just added live gold, silver, platinum, palladium and rhodium price quotations to my Investing page.

Indian (for those readers overseas: U.S. Native American aboriginal) reservation boundaries can be another important criteria for selecting your retreat locale. In recent years, tribal governments in the U.S. have started flexing their muscles. When living inside the boundaries of an Indian reservation you will face an extra layer of bureaucracy, taxes (or “fees” or “permits”), law enforcement, and potentially a myriad of restrictions. You will also lack the ability to recover damages in the case of accidents in many instances. Real estate agents will often try to down play the significance of being "on the reservation", but do some detailed research for yourself before you buy! In essence, when you buy property inside a reservation you only have whatever property rights that are granted to you by the tribe. This varies widely. These rights can be withdrawn at any time and you will have no recourse except though a tribal court that may have a bias.

A regular SurvivalBlog contributor sent me the URL for a company called RealPower. They make a truck frame-mounted power take-off (PTO) genset for GMC/Chevrolet pickups. (If you have a 2001 to early 2004 GMC or Chevy truck with an Allison 1000 automatic transmission, then you have a PTO gear. Note: From March 1 through late 2004 Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks were not built with PTO.  After January 1, 2005, PTO became optional.) Obviously these are not designed for continuous duty, but if you have the budget for a spare generator, then this might be a viable option. My first question: What RPM range is required when the genset is under load?

Proviso: I have not had the opportunity to do research on either the technology of the company's reputation. Perhaps one our readers has some first hand experience with a RealPower genset and can enlighten us.

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

During the years that I was growing up, parents were told that boys and girls were the same. Supposedly it was only the stereotypical way the children were treated that made girls bad at math and boys aggressive. If children were treated just the same, girls would excel at the sciences and boys would be able to express their feelings. In Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, using 20 years of research documents how sex differences are significant and profound.

I found this book fascinating and I would recommend it to all teachers and parents, especially to parents with children that are having difficulty in school. I learned that boys do not hear as well as girls. Many boys have difficulty hearing their soft spoken female teachers and are labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In the majority of the cases a diagnosis of ADD is made by the teacher--not a doctor!

One study cited showed that newborn girls were pre-wired to be attracted to faces while boys were twice as likely to prefer a moving object. A study of the cells that make up male and female eyes showed a profound difference. Female eyes are best adapted to detect color and texture while males eyes are best adapted to detect location, direction, and speed.

In the chapter entitled “School” Dr. Sax shows how gender-blind education is harmful to girls as well as boys. He states, “there is no difference in what girls and boys can learn. But there are big differences in the best way to teach them.” Then he goes on to give examples of how teaching methods can be used to best teach boys and girls.

Because of the difference between the male and female brain and the difference in there stages of development girls and boys should be disciplined differently. Dr. Sax lays out age appropriate and gender appropriate methods. Three chapters in this book are about Drugs, Sex, and Homosexuality. A bit of it is graphic. But even though the topics are disturbing and the material shocking, I still feel the information in these chapter was worth reading to understand the culture of today’s youth and the pressures they are likely to experience from their peers. I found this book at our local library. If your library does not have it, you can likely get it through inter-library loan. I especially recommend this book to parents, and I wish it was required reading for teachers!

I won't belabor this point. Either folks were prepared, or they weren't. Apparently, most weren't and are now suffering. You've read the news stories. Those of you that own televisions have doubtless seen the news coverage. There is a concise compendium on Yahoo that summarizes the effects of the storm. I'd appreciate hearing some first hand accounts from SurvivalBlog readers that are in the affected area. Please keep the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi in your prayers!

The Church of Latter Saints (commonly called the Mormons) and I will never come to agreement doctrinally. (Their doctrinal books refer to Christ as a spirit brother of Lucifer, and one of a pantheon of gods. It is hard to bridge a doctrinal divide that deep!) But I will give them credit for requiring their church members to lay in a substantially deep larder. There are some great food storage tips and some useful recipes for cooking with food storage at this LDS web site.

Iodine crystals for disinfecting water are available as a trade product called "Polar Pure" from most of the regular backpacking supply places such as REI. It comes in a small bottle with a screened top, you fill it, shake it, and then decant a capful or two of the supersaturated solution into your water. The bottle has full instructions and also a thermometer so you know how long the water should sit before use. The cost was about $8 or so, last time I bought any. - "Doc"

JWR's Reply: A highly recommended product! One little three ounce bottle can treat up to 2,000 quarts of water. I recommend that you buy one for each of your G.O.O.D. kits. Warning: The wire screen at the top of the bottle is there for a reason. Ingesting iodine crystals can be deadly!

Polar Pure is sold by Nitro-Pak, Campmor, Great Outdoors Depot, and several other Internet vendors. I recommend that you stock up before the Nanny State decides that the only use for iodine crystals is for cooking up methamphetamines.

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
I think this site has valuable information for your readers as well as offering a Field Medicine School open to all who wish to attend. A three day course is around $325. The school is taught by veterans based on U.S. Navy Combat Medicine skills. It would be difficult to find another school filled with high-caliber cadre as well versed in this area anywhere. This link takes you to the curriculum site. Curriculum - Emergency Medicine - Medical Information

Keep up the great job! - "F1"

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
I think this site has valuable information for your readers as well as offering a Field Medicine School open to all who wish to attend. A three day course is around $325. The school is taught by veterans based on U.S. Navy Combat Medicine skills. It would be difficult to find another school filled with high-caliber cadre as well versed in this area anywhere. This link takes you to the curriculum site. Curriculum - Emergency Medicine - Medical Information

Keep up the great job! - "F1"

"You have never lived
'til you have almost died.
And for those that fight for it,
Life has a flavor that the protected will never know."
- Anonymous quote penned on the wall of a USMC hooch at Khe Sahn, RVN

Monday, August 29, 2005

Wow! 20,000+ unique visits and 451,700 page hits in just 24 days! Not bad for a newborn baby blog. Please keep spreading the word. Brief posts to your favorite blogs or to discussion forums/bulletin boards about would be greatly appreciated!

I very rarely post lengthy excerpts from other sources. However, I am essentially forced to in this case. You see, this prematurely archived article was posted at The Australian newspaper website for just a few hours, earlier today. (Actually late afternoon on the 28th in the U.S., due to the time difference and being on the other side of the International Date Line). It was briefly on their "The World" page--one of their main pages. But it now shows up only in their archives. No explanation was given why it has mysteriously disappeared from their "The World" page. It appears to have been at least partially spiked. A tip of the hat to SurvivalBlog reader "Mr. Coffee" for alerting us to this story. I have made some edits for the sake of brevity and to avoid running afoul of "fair use" legalities.

Headline: Dumping of US Dollar Could Trigger 'Economic September 11'

There is a potentially fatal flaw at the heart of the global economy: the strong possibility of financial meltdown following a collapse of confidence in the greenback, Clyde Prestowitz
tells Bruce Stannard
29 August 2005

THE nightmare scenario that haunts global strategist Clyde Prestowitz is an economic September 11 -- a worldwide financial panic triggered by a sudden massive sell-off of US dollars that would lead inexorably to the collapse of economies around the world. If that happens, Prestowitz predicts: "It would make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a walk in the park." Australia would be sucked into the vortex of such a recession, which would cause great hardship throughout the world, he warns. Prestowitz is not a doomsayer, neither is he alone in his views. As president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank, he is in regular contact with the most influential US business leaders, several of whom -- Warren Buffet and George Soros included -- have taken steps to hedge their currency positions against the possibility of a cataclysmic plunge in the greenback. "Right now," he says, "we have a situation in which the US is running huge trade deficits -- about $US650 billion ($766 billion) in 2004 -- which are financed by borrowings from the central banks of Asia -- mainly the Chinese and the Japanese. All the world's central banks are chock-full of US dollars -- they're holding many more dollars than they really want. They're holding those dollars because at the moment there's no great alternative and also because the global economy depends on US consumption. If they dump the dollar and the dollar collapses, then the whole global economy is in trouble.

[Snipped for brevity]

"It doesn't take any great stretch of the imagination to see what could happen if one of these central bank managers decides to dump dollars. We had a situation recently when a mid-level official at the Central Bank of Korea used the word 'diversification'. It was a throwaway remark at some obscure lunch, but there was instantaneous overreaction. The US stock market fell by 100 points in 15 minutes because the implication was that South Korea might be shifting out of US dollars. "So picture this: you have a quiet day in the market and maybe some smart MBA at the Central Bank of Chile or someplace looks at his portfolio and says, 'I got too many dollars here. I'm gonna dump $10 billion'. So he dumps his dollars and suddenly the market thinks, 'My god, this is it!' Of course, the first guy out is OK, but you sure as hell can't afford to be the last guy out. "You would then see an immediate cascade effect -- a world financial panic on a scale that would dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s." Prestowitz says the panic could be started by something as simple as a hedge-fund miscalculation. "We had exactly that scenario in the US recently," he points out, "when a big hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management went belly-up. These guys were pros. They had two Nobel prize-winning economists writing their trading algorithms, and their traders were the creme de la creme among New York bond traders. "They made a big bet -- a trillion dollars leveraged 20 to one, and they blew it. They went belly-up. That threatened to bring down the whole system so US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had to organise a bail-out through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Now consider this: there are currently 8000 hedge funds in the US alone. Every day $6 trillion of derivative instruments trade on international markets. If there are four people in the world who understand those trades, I'd be surprised. So the potential for another disaster is not insignificant. This is why Warren Buffet, chairman of investment giant Berkshire Hathaway, is betting $US21 billion against the dollar. This is why currency speculator and hedge fund manager George Soros has also made a big bet against the dollar. "Soros is one of the greatest currency speculators of all time. He was the guy who broke the British pound in the early 1990s by betting $US10 billion it would fall. He made a quick billion when it did. In 2002, he warned that the greenback was in danger of losing a third of its value.

[Snipped for brevity]

If the dollar started to melt down, the results could be really nasty. A 1930s-style global depression is not out of the question."
To underscore the point that he is not alone in this, Prestowitz cites Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve before Greenspan, who has said publicly there is a 75 per cent chance of a dollar crash in the next five years. "No wonder people look at this and say, 'Holy cow!'," he says. "No one knows for sure what will happen, but clearly the global markets could implode very quickly. The lack of an alternative to the dollar is the only reason it hasn't taken a big fall already." Prestowitz, formerly a trade adviser and negotiator for former US president Ronald Reagan, believes the US will continue to be the world's most powerful economy for the foreseeable future. But he foreshadows an inexorable decline, a trend that is likely to continue "depending on the way we play our cards".

[Snipped for brevity]

"America's global hegemony is already under challenge, and that challenge is going to become more and more evident as the extent of the relative US economic decline becomes evident. Right now, the US dollar is probably 40 per cent overvalued versus the Japanese yen or the Chinese renminbi. How's the US going to look as a global power when the dollar is at 50 per cent of its current value?"

JWR's Comment: Hmmm... I wonder why they spiked this story, post facto? I'm curious to know if this story made it into print in the hard copy edition of the newspaper. Chalk this one up to FFTAGFFR, folks!

“Homeowners Associations [HOAs] are the classic definition of a tyranny. HOAs are a level of government, with the power to tax, legislate, judge, and punish its citizens.”
- Michael Reardon, as quoted at:

To continue my train of thought on Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale... You will gain several advantages if you live outside of city limits. You will avoid city taxes. You will most likely be on well or spring water instead of city water. In many cities because of zoning laws it is illegal to drill your own water well--since the utility companies want to maintain their monopoly. Operating a home business generally requires a city business license and a visit from the fire marshal. And of course, it is illegal to discharge a firearm inside city limits in most jurisdictions.

It is essential to look ahead to eventual growth. If your new “country” place is on fairly level ground and just a mile outside city limits, odds are that it will be inside city limits in a few years! Do some prognostication on the 'line of march" of the advancing phalanxes of "Ticky Tacky Houses", and plan accordingly.

Avoid states or counties with restrictive zoning laws. Zoning laws and homeowner’s association (HOA) restrictions may restrict the style of home that you build, the number and type of outbuildings, limits on “for profit” agriculture and the size of garden plots, livestock raising, timber harvesting, operation of a home-based businesses, pond and road construction, and hunting or target shooting on your own land.

Those Dreaded CC&Rs
Unless you buy in a pro-gun covenant community, beware of buying a house or land with “covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (CC&Rs.) These are contractual agreements that affect the use of the land. CC&Rs are typically mandated in “planned communities” where the developer or the homeowner’s association (HOA) makes it conditional on owning a home that specific appearance standards be maintained. They can be fairly benign, such as delimiting the colors houses can be painted. In some cases, CC&Rs can be outrageously totalitarian. Some do not allow a car that is more than five years old to be parked in view of the street, or do not allow visiting relatives to park an RV in your driveway or on the street in front of your house.

A “private gated community” might outwardly seem like a safe place to buy a house, but there are some serious potential drawbacks. A planned community with typical restrictions can present an uphill battle for preparedness provisions. At the very least, it makes preparedness much more expensive. In spite of all the disadvantages, some readers may be able to afford both preparedness and luxury, and may wish for the professional networking and social environment that attracts others to luxury gated communities. A private, gated community has obvious superficial advantages in security, in that outsiders are conspicuous. Residents tend to be more aware of those who are out of place. Such communities, at their best may function like small towns and enjoy some of their advantages. (But good luck finding a welding shop or plumber in Pinecrest Estates!) Some gated communities can be more social and insular, so that neighbors tend to be better acquainted than in ordinary neighborhoods. At the very least, members will begin with an “us” mentality as any crisis approaches. See Mr. & Mrs. Bravo's profile at the Profiles page for more on this subject. BTW, I also owe thanks to Mr. Bravo for his contribution to this blog post.

Homeowners in typical gated communities often fit the helpless model of urbanites. However, a community in one of the small-government, low-tax, gun-friendly states is more likely to attract conservatives who share the principles held by survivalists. The retired California executive might not seem like the ideal preparedness neighbor, until you learn that he picked Utah because he is a shooting enthusiast, and is already well ahead of you in preparedness provisions. Even the “ranchette” or “dualie pickup” mindset can be a good start, as owners probably have at least some preparedness inclinations, perhaps without even yet realizing it. If you can, imagine the guys at a neighborhood barbecue boasting about who has the largest propane tank or the best-equipped shop. You get the idea.

Gated communities in such suitable Western states may have a significant number of part-time residents. These occasional residents may already be thinking of their mountain home as a crisis retreat, and some may be especially receptive to programs that enhance the security of their “retreat” when away, and which keep it secure prior to their arrival in a crisis. Some such homes can be expected to remain unclaimed by their owners, and may at least be a last resort to shelter others in need. (With prior consent, naturally.) The collective mindset and character of an existing community should be evaluated before purchasing, to assess whether there is hope for the community to function in a crisis. Meet people, learn about the community “culture,” and decide for yourself. If you are considering a purchase in a new development, ask yourself if you are prepared to be a leader, to educate others, and to set an example without standing out as an oddball. As times change, association rules can be changed, and this takes a leader. Ideally, one influential individual will eventually convince some neighbors of the importance of preparedness. They too have already selected a good geographic region. To avoid marking yourself as the “neighborhood survivalist” (leading not only to social embarrassment, but also to the hordes at your door in a true crisis) start slowly.

Most who pay the premium for a gated community are already quite security conscious. Initiate seminars in security and crisis communication. Foster the “neighborhood watch” mindset. It can later morph into a neighborhood watch on steroids, if necessary, to meet changing conditions. Your neighbors will probably have invested thousands in security systems, and perhaps much more in “safe rooms” or “panic rooms”. Many may be interested in further enhancing their security. A seminar on earthquake/flood/fire preparedness may be welcome, and the discussions should help identify those receptive to much more diligent preparedness. Others may be interested in an expert guest speaker on firearms selection and tactics for home security. Listen to the questions and discussions to identify those with the best potential. Create a “security” subcommittee packed with the right people, and begin to make palatable recommendations to the community board. (This avoids the “lone crackpot” appearance.) Keep in mind that the best prepared and wisest neighbors will not be quick to talk about their provisions, so take the time to get to know your neighbors, just as if you were in a small rural town.

Some communities may have restrictions that are not onerous to preparations, but which require creativity. Private wells may be prohibited, but rainwater recovery is a viable alternative. Where visible propane tanks are prohibited, buried tanks may be acceptable--and desirable for other reasons. Solar systems may be purchased but left uninstalled until a crisis is imminent. This is not ideal, as anyone who has set up such a system knows. Consider getting a self-contained trailer-mounted system that sits in a spare garage bay. A proviso: If you roll it out in your driveway for use during a crisis be sure to put it up on blocks and remove the wheels to make the trailer more difficult to steal. Outbuildings may not be allowed, but large basement spaces provide a good alternative, although at a significant cost.

While gated communities adjacent to big cities in problematic areas like Chicago and Atlanta will never be viable, there are attractive communities in the Intermountain West that are well removed from these risks. For those who insist on the amenities of a planned community, and who can afford them without compromising on preparedness essentials, these bedroom communities may be found within an hour’s drive of cities like Bend, Oregon, Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah, and others throughout the West. For the rest of us who face real-world financial constraints, we are much better off finding a home where we are not asked to pay extra for preparedness constraints that are difficult or expensive to overcome. The greatest mistake is to overspend on a home, perpetually deferring prepared provisions.

Is living in a gated community right for you? Give it some serious thought, and do your research. Experience has shown that a typical homeowners association tends to be organized and operated by a busybody retiree with a Hitler complex and nothing better to do than make everyone else’s lives miserable. But of course YMMV.

Covenant Communities
The flip side to commercially-developed “gated communities” is the prospect of finding (or forming) a Covenant Community with like-minded survivalists. In the late 1990s, the Mormon survivalist leader and highly decorated war hero Bo Gritz formed one such community. It is called Almost Heaven, near Kamiah, Idaho. It has had mixed results, since a good portion of those buying land there were concerned about the Y2K date rollover computer crisis. When Y2K thankfully turned out to be a non-event, many of those landowners moved on.

I will discuss Covenant Communities more in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, if you have any experience with a Covenant Community, I'd appreciate getting your e-mailed comments to incorporate in those upcoming posts.

Hi Jim,
I agree with our mutual friend "Doug Carlton" on the subject of using an under-the-hood powered welder. I used to sell them when I had my metal fabrication business but they don't work with all alternators. They are portable and work great but you need to have your engine at a high RPM to operate. If you are in a retreat, I would recommend a generator because it will also power the air compressor you will need if you have a plasma cutter along with the cutter. The compressor can also be used for pneumatic tools. I don't know the fuel consumption difference between using the under the hood unit versus a generator. - "Dan Fong"

On the question of the 40 cal Beretta, I can recommend the multiple trade in 40 S&W Glocks that are out there. CDNN and AIM Surplus are now stocking police trade-in Glock 22s and 23s at reasonable prices and they throw in high cap magazines.

BTW, I mostly carry a Glock 26 or 17, because I know what a good 9mm round can do. Load it with the Ranger 127 grain hollow points and you have nearly the power of a .357 SIG, but without the problems. - L.K.

Watch the news for the next few days to pick up good stories from the citizens of New Orleans as they bug out in the face of possible 20 ft flooding in what appears to be a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina. This is as always a reminder for the wise survivor that the following will likely apply in a survival bugout situation:

1-carry a weapon if you can, but remember your weapon will not solve most survival issues.
2-If your gear is not with you at work or vehicle it is around 50% likely you will not have it if you need it.
3-Never let your fuel tank drop below half.
4-Cary cash and maybe a spare credit card sealed in plastic on your person sealing it may help you remember it is an emergency reserve.
4-Ham radio stays up when most other forms of communication go down.
5-A good 12VDC-to-120VAC (or 220VAC in some countries) inverter will allow you to charge batteries phones and run small power tools if your car is the only power source
6-Keep photocopies of important documents in sealed packages.
7-A bicycle (folding bike is ideal) is a good item to keep in your trunk.

JWR Adds: A regular reader of SurvivalBlog tells us that he will be deploying to the "ground zero" of hurricane"K" as part of a special multi-jurisdictional team. We hope to get a first hand after action report from him upon his return.

"For it's 'guns this' and 'guns that', and 'chuck 'em out, the brutes',
But they're the 'Savior of our loved ones' when the thugs begin to loot."
- Rudyard Kipling , Tommy Atkins

Sunday, August 28, 2005

I'd appreciate your reviews of this blog on I've noticed that a lot of reviewers there tend to "shoot from the lip", so it would be nice to see some balance from people that are actually familiar with SurvivalBlog. Thanks!

Disclaimer: The laws, regulations, and case citations contained within this blog do not constitute legal advice. Laws change frequently. Consult a lawyer if you have legal questions. If you choose to act upon the details cited here without doing your own research, you do so at your own risk.

Because most survivalists are gun owners, gun control laws should be considered a key factor when deciding where you plan to relocate. Do some research. Ideally, you are looking for a state that allows vehicular and “on the hip” open carry, with non-discretionary concealed carry permits, and with non-regulated private party firearms transactions. (No “paper trail.”) In a subsequent blog post I will include some data on various state gun laws that was kindly provided to me by the gent who writes under the pen name Boston T. Party. See my review of his excellent book "Boston's Gun Bible" at my Bookshelf page.

The worst states to for a gun owner to live in are of course the “Locked up and Unloaded” States such as Neu Jersey and Kalifornia. According to the NRA-ILA, under California law, to legally have an unloaded handgun in your car outside of a locked container you must be going to or from a shooting range, to or from a gun show, or on a hunting trip. Otherwise, they must be both unloaded and locked in a case or in the vehicle's locked trunk. (See California Penal Code sec. 12025 and 12026 for details.) I suppose that means that if you want to carry an unloaded handgun in your car and don't want to have to spend extra time both having to take the time to get it out of a locked case AND then loading it, you should always carry a pair of earmuffs, some shooting glasses, and some targets in your car... “But officer, I was planning to go to the range after work!”

Some states require no permit for concealed carry. Currently, just Alaska, Vermont and New Hampshire are in this category. (The New Hampshire law is pending, as of this writing.) A few other relatively gun-friendly states such as Idaho allow open carry virtually anywhere and concealed carry without a permit only outside of incorporated areas.

For updates on gun laws in various states, see the Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the The National Rifle Association (NRA) web sites.

Laws on owning and carrying edged weapons vary widely from state to state and even between smaller jurisdictions within states. Most of these laws will only be an issue for someone that is a serious knife aficionado. In California, (as of this writing) you can carry a single edged knife as long as it is not concealed. Double-edged knives can be owned but not carried. Carrying any concealed knife, other than a folding single edged knife is a felony. Keep in mind that most rifle bayonets are classified as double-edged knives.

Automatic ("switchblade") knives are legal to own in a few states, but not most. (They sadly got a bad reputation due to some Hollywood movies. In actuality they are a useful tool.) Further, some states allow possession of automatic knives in a collection, but not pocket carry on the street. This is the case in (as of this writing) Montana, Texas, and Wyoming. For current details on various state laws, see:

With the recent profusion of new folding knife designs—many of which can be opened with one hand—there are practical alternatives to automatic knives, assuming that they are restricted in your state. I generally prefer liner lock and axis lock designs with half serrated tanto style blades. I buy knives in medium price ranges, from makers like Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). Avoid any of the low-end brands and anything made in China! Also, since pocket knives often get lost in the field, you might think twice about buying a $600 custom knife. Frankly, I'd rather buy 15+ CRKTs for the same amount of money, but YMMV. I look forward to getting e-mails from some of you folks with extensive knife field use experience for your specific recommendations.

Hi Jim,
First I want to thank you for all the work you have done over the years to help the shorter sighted people like myself get into the survival mindset. If and when there is a collapse you probably will have saved thousands of lives. I first read The Gray Nineties online, and have been somewhat prepared since that time, mainly with bug out bag to get home, and short term (1 month) supplies. I am now in a financial position where I can start purchasing bulk food (i.e. – wheat), and store it, however I would not know what to do with it. Is there a good place I could find on the internet for explicit instructions, or a detailed book? (I’m not a chef, so it would have to be a "For Dummies" guide.) If I’m going to store bulk goods like wheat, I want to be able to use them on a weekly basis so that they don’t go to waste, and so that I can learn the preparation needed for meal making. Thanks! - Scott

JWR's Reply: It is very wise to use your storage food on a day to day basis. Not only will you be rotating it, but just as importantly you will learn how to use it in cooking. There are thousands of "Tommy Tacticals" out there that have no clue about how to cook with their storage food. I even know of one poor soul that had 2,400 pounds of nitrogen packed hard red winter wheat but no wheat grinder until someone kindly (and quietly) pointed out his oversight.

What to do with all that wheat, rice, corn, and beans? For the wheat and corn, I recommend that you get a Country Living grain mill (available from and several other Internet vendors). Motorizing kits are available, or if you are handy with tools you can build your own for less money. If you want to mainly grind by hand, be sure to get the optional "power bar" handle extension for extra leverage.

IMO, the best books on cooking with storage food are Making the Best of Basics and Cookin' with Home Storage. Be sure sure to get the latest edition of each. Since we have chickens, I prefer to make egg breads. I also have a weakness for corn bread, which is a partial--albeit lame--excuse for the extra 10 pounds that I pack around. Stock up on the other items that you'll need to bake bread: vegetable oil, salt, yeast (buy it in the large jars--the little packets are way over-priced), and honey (or sugar). Wheat stores for 20+ years, and honey and sugar store indefinitely. Sadly, the yeast will have be discarded every three years. The oil will have to be rotated as well, but at least it can be burned after it has gone rancid. (See my previous blog posts on diesel fuel alternatives.)

Hi Jim,
I enjoyed seeing "Dan Fong's" letter, since I haven't had contact with him in ages. It was great to see he's still kicking. It's good to see that
you're getting sponsors as well. His plasma cutter topic is on target. One thing people might look at instead of a generator, or as a back-up to the one they have, is a welder with integral genset. Most portable welders are also generators, and being portable you can take it to a work site. Even an under-hood welder, like the kind that many serious 4x4 vehicles have, can be used as a generator (though not as efficient as one
designed to produce power to begin with). In many ways they are a better back-up than just a back-up generator. You gain a useful tool, rather than paying for a spare generator that will just sit and do nothing for you until you need it. They also are more likely to be maintained and in running condition through normal use when you need to press it into service as a generator. It just depends on your power plan. If you're running a full power plant, then multiple generators are a better way to go. If you're using a generator to just run lights and a pump, then a self-powered welder would provide both a tool and an alternate source of power.

I still own the 20 gauge 870 that originally belonged to your Memsahib. It has never failed to impress anyone who's shot it. Everyone that shoots it asks if I'll sell it to them. Training is the most important thing with the shotgun. While hunting in some areas will help with shotgun use, combat shotgunning is very different than hunting with one, and unlike the semi-auto rifle, most people don't have a background with the shotty in the military. Most people that have been in the Army/USMC can handle a semi-auto rifle decently, but unless they've used a shotgun in their service, it's a whole new thing. As with anything, training is far more important than which shotgun, or what you have mounted on it. If you can afford a cheap shotgun and a combat shotgun class, you'll be far better armed than buying an expensive shotgun and no training. There isn't a three-gun match I go to that pumpgun users will short stroke [the action], or have various other problems. The auto guys rarely have a problem. In classes, it's the same thing. One class a buddy of mine went to had to divide the scoring between autos and pumps because all the pump
guys were scoring so low. There was a visible dividing line between the performance of the autos and pumps. This was in a class where most people had minimal training and experience with a shotgun. What I'm getting at is I don't agree that the pumpgun is more reliable because the key reliability factor is the user. Now, I've seen shooters that are highly trained with a pump go against the autos just fine. To be able to do that though requires a lot of trigger time, and a lot of slugs and pellets down range. Yeah, it sounds so easy that all you need to do is rack the pumpgun, but reality is different than concept. [JWR adds: Especially when shooting prone!] Go to any tactical match that has a shotgun stage and watch the people operating under the stress of the match. Short stroking is pretty common with the pump even when the user has experience. The most important thing is to get training. The pump isn't more reliable in the hands of a novice. Don't get sucked into the pattern that many newbie survivalists do and buy guns and gear to make up for lack of skill.That doesn't work. You are better off buying a used Sears shotgun from a newspaper ad and paying for a training class, than buying a fancy Bennelli and thinking that you are all set. It's not what you use, it's how you use it. - "Doug Carlton"

Hi Jim,
I enjoyed seeing "Dan Fong's" letter, since I haven't had contact with him in ages. It was great to see he's still kicking. It's good to see that
you're getting sponsors as well. His plasma cutter topic is on target. One thing people might look at instead of a generator, or as a back-up to the one they have, is a welder with integral genset. Most portable welders are also generators, and being portable you can take it to a work site. Even an under-hood welder, like the kind that many serious 4x4 vehicles have, can be used as a generator (though not as efficient as one
designed to produce power to begin with). In many ways they are a better back-up than just a back-up generator. You gain a useful tool, rather than paying for a spare generator that will just sit and do nothing for you until you need it. They also are more likely to be maintained and in running condition through normal use when you need to press it into service as a generator. It just depends on your power plan. If you're running a full power plant, then multiple generators are a better way to go. If you're using a generator to just run lights and a pump, then a self-powered welder would provide both a tool and an alternate source of power.

I still own the 20 gauge 870 that originally belonged to your Memsahib. It has never failed to impress anyone who's shot it. Everyone that shoots it asks if I'll sell it to them. Training is the most important thing with the shotgun. While hunting in some areas will help with shotgun use, combat shotgunning is very different than hunting with one, and unlike the semi-auto rifle, most people don't have a background with the shotty in the military. Most people that have been in the Army/USMC can handle a semi-auto rifle decently, but unless they've used a shotgun in their service, it's a whole new thing. As with anything, training is far more important than which shotgun, or what you have mounted on it. If you can afford a cheap shotgun and a combat shotgun class, you'll be far better armed than buying an expensive shotgun and no training. There isn't a three-gun match I go to that pumpgun users will short stroke [the action], or have various other problems. The auto guys rarely have a problem. In classes, it's the same thing. One class a buddy of mine went to had to divide the scoring between autos and pumps because all the pump
guys were scoring so low. There was a visible dividing line between the performance of the autos and pumps. This was in a class where most people had minimal training and experience with a shotgun. What I'm getting at is I don't agree that the pumpgun is more reliable because the key reliability factor is the user. Now, I've seen shooters that are highly trained with a pump go against the autos just fine. To be able to do that though requires a lot of trigger time, and a lot of slugs and pellets down range. Yeah, it sounds so easy that all you need to do is rack the pumpgun, but reality is different than concept. [JWR adds: Especially when shooting prone!] Go to any tactical match that has a shotgun stage and watch the people operating under the stress of the match. Short stroking is pretty common with the pump even when the user has experience. The most important thing is to get training. The pump isn't more reliable in the hands of a novice. Don't get sucked into the pattern that many newbie survivalists do and buy guns and gear to make up for lack of skill.That doesn't work. You are better off buying a used Sears shotgun from a newspaper ad and paying for a training class, than buying a fancy Bennelli and thinking that you are all set. It's not what you use, it's how you use it. - "Doug Carlton"

1.) Welding: I'm no welder by an stretch of the imagination but there's a neat light to medium welder that runs on 24 VDC. I first saw it from SnapOn Tools for ~$500. Now it's available from other folks for less money. What's neat is the Trace inverters run on 24VDC and so do my vehicles. Just a thought. I did a stairway with it and repaired a cracked alternator bracket and battery support.

2.) 12 Gauge: I've been using those neat military shell holders. Each pouch holds 12 shells and has web gear clips in the back. Two pouches on each side, and you've got 48 shells handy and available.

3.) Radiac: I have a full set of CD meters and Dosimeters. I also picked up a German Dosimeter set from Steve at Major Surplus N Survival
For WTSHTF, I also got a Radiacmeter IM-179/U Military Gamma Dose Rate Meter (Issued, Certified) Code: 110449 for heavy radiation conditions. It's about the size of two packs of cigarettes.

For daily monitoring I have used a DIGILERT 50 for about 6 years now. Runs on a nine volt battery for about 9 or 10 months. It also has the monitoring and recording software available which works great. All available from S.E. International. It reports Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation. Good high level operation. has digital readout, user adjustable alarm settings, and Total Count mode. There is also pretty sophisticated monitoring software that goes with it. It runs continuously in the background with little load on the computer. Then, of course, I also carry a NukAlert.

Hi Jim,
This is my first time to your blog since my bud, Rod, set me up with a copy of your book (Patriots). I have now read entirely through it in about two weeks. I have a question. When I was in the military, I was instructed by a weapons instructor to always lubricate any weapons that I was going to store before casing the item for long periods of time. My father, who was a Marine (two tours in Vietnam) also suggested this. He said I needed to clean and over-oil the weapon before long term storage. The question is this: is this information true and, if so, don't we have a responsibility to others here to inform them accordingly. I noticed in your book that there was no mention of this practice and I'm surethat a scenario exists where some will store weapons at their retreats for use at a later time. Please advise on your site. Thanks, Fred in Georgia.

JWR's Reply: First, rifles and pistols should not be stored in non-breathing heavy gun cases for more than a day or two. . Those are designed for transport only. Even a well-oiled gun will eventually rust if stored in a gun case, sometimes in the matter of just a few days in a damp climate. They are best stored oiled but loose in a gun vault, with an electric Golden Rod dehumidifier operating at all times. Silica gel desiccant crystals also work well to keep the humidity low in a gun vault. BTW, you can usually get large bags of silica gel free for the asking if you phone around. Call your local piano store. All of the pianos that are imported from Japan come with a large bag of silica gel, usually with hanging straps. To reactivate a used silica gel bag, just leave it in an oven set to 180 degrees, overnight.That will drive out any accumulated moisture.

For long term storage, the bore, chamber, and the face of the bolt should all be well-greased with RIG or the good old U.S. military surplus "Grease, Rifle" As we used to say: "Hey! Pass the Grease Comma Rifle!" All of the other metal parts should be lubricated with medium weight oil. (BTW, don't use WD-40 or other lightweight aerosol lubes. They evaporate too quickly and afterwards leave no effective corrosion protection.) Lastly, be sure to label any gun that has been greased with a prominent "WARNING: GREASE IN BORE AND CHAMBER!" tag firmly attached. (Firing a gun with grease still in the bore can be dangerous.)

The best water purifier for general carry is Iodine crystals. Carry them in a 35mm can, add water, shake and pour into the canteen.
They last, like forever. But, because of drug manufacturing freaks, I can't find anybody still selling Iodine crystals. Any ideas?

JWR's Reply: Unfortunately I don't know any sources. Sadly, most of the hobbyist chemical supply houses are a thing of the past, along with true hobbyist electronics stores. Perhaps someone reading this blog knows a good source for Iodine crystals.

The iodine crystal method works well. A few large crystals will practically last a lifetime. However, be VERY careful not to accidentally ingest even a small iodine crystal as they can be fatally toxic. With large crystals, an old fashioned tea strainer (cage type ) works well, in my experience.

" ...arms...discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. ...Horrid mischief would ensue were [the law-abiding] deprived the use of them."
- Thomas Paine.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

I just added two more profiles for Mr. Lima, and Mr. Coffee. (The latter is a lengthy one, from an American ex-pat living in Costa Rica.) I consider them both "must " reading.


"Dan Fong" on Survival Welding Gear (SA: Tools)

I have a comment on your recommendation concerning the "Dr. November" Profile. In addition to buying an oxyacetylene rig, I would add a plasma cutter. They are far superior to the gas rig and they run on compressed air and electricity. An air compressor and a generator will run these units. They cut faster and cleaner than a torch. The only consumables are the tip/electrode and cup which run ~$6-$8 a set but they last a long time. I would use the torch on structural steel that is thicker than 3/8" but wouldn't waste the gas on thinner material. An arc welder is good for most stuff assuming that you have the correct rods that have been correctly stored. This needs electricity to run but I wouldn't recommend it for smaller applications due to you might end up burning through the work. Again, the main focus is to minimize gas usage. If you are worried about rod storage, you might consider a MIG welder which uses gas and wire.

My personal favorite are welders built by Miller. This is like the best handgun argument where everyone has an opinion and preference. My reason for liking Miller is that I have burned up power supplies with other brands due to the amount and speed at which I was welding. Some of the well known brands were using Al instead of Cu wiring and I guess I was burning them out. The welding supply store used to send me samples units to try out, but I favor the Miller brand. They have an over-temp protection feature that automatically shuts the system down before you damage the system. In addition to this there is support equipment that needs to be factored into using welding equipment that a lot of people tend to ignore. Enough on this subject. - "Dan Fong"

[JWR's note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Dan Fong character. Dan Fong is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is an industrial designer, gardener, inveterate gun nut, beer brewer, aviation enthusiast, and barbecuing expert. (Your basic 21st Century Renaissance Man.) And yes, he really does have a tendency to say: "Oh Maaaaan!"]

The folks at The Daily Reckoning mentioned yesterday vis-a-vis the Housing Bubble: "...What a run it has been. The Center for Economic and Policy Research reports that the housing market added $5 trillion in 'bubble wealth' to the American economy, an amount equal to $70,000 for a family of four. That is the fraudulent money that has sustained Americans at a standard of living they cannot really afford. It is the source of the illusion that the U.S. economy is growing and healthy. It was psuedo-wealth, an asset that really didn't exist. Too bad so many people spent it. "House Party, Finally Over?" asks the Financial Times. We don't know the answer. Maybe it is over today. Maybe it will be over tomorrow. Our advice to readers: Don't be the last ones to leave."

Set aside a weekend afternoon to read Bill Bonner's book "Financial Reckoning Day", or if you are lousy cheapskate at least go through the archives at The Daily Reckoning web site. Their site has a wealth of information on general economics and the inevitable precious metals commentary. They have an excellent free daily e-mail newsletter.)

Some of our readers have been very kind to add their input about goats. I appreciate your comments. First, The Goatlady recommends Nubian Goats to make goat butter:

"I have raised goats for many years and the cream does rise to the top just not in the quantities one gets from cow's milk. The richer the milk the more cream hence the Nubian popularity as a diary goat. Nubians have the most butterfat in their milk for making butter. But more importantly, Nubian milk is the very best for making hard cheeses i.e. cheddar, swiss, etc. Very difficult to make hard cheese with other breeds of goat's milk as so much is needed. I also have a friend who regularly makes goat butter and sells it locally. It can be done but, again, it depends of the breed of goat and quality of the milk." You are absolutely correct in that goats are the perfect survival/homestead animal. They are sooo versatile and productive needing very little in the way of outside feed, if at all. The nice things about Nubians are their non-aggressive personality and the fact that they cross real well with the Boer meat goat and usually have twins at each kidding which give quick buildup of a herd and/or good trade products. The wethers (castrated males) of this cross are big chested and necked and train very well for packing (BOBs) and easily train to plow and cultivate and also are very capable of pulling carts and small wagons. Since they live for 18-20 years and the does are still producing milk all that time, it's an excellent investment at any time. But it is a responsibility also. You need to milk twice a day just like cows although if you let the kids stay on the does you can skip one milking a day, but in a WTSHTF situation who is going anywhere, anyway!. -Goatlady

Next, " Z" appreciates the smaller size and foraging ability of goats:

"Had a few thoughts on that myself. ...You can feed them on ....plants that a cow wont eat. They're smaller and easier to transport (and conceal). They're smarter then a cow..and when it's time to butcher, it's a smaller job..and a smaller you don't have to worry about where to put all the meat, how to store all the meat for your merry band of outlaws... just slaughter what you need, keep the rest on the hoof. ...All this came to me when I was watching them eat brush along the side of the road one day. If the sheet hits the fan.... goats are my choice for a survival animal. Goats, the survivalist/militia man/guerilla fighter's friend." -"Z"

Dear James:
I have been searching for a good quality 20 Gauge shotgun for home/retreat defense. I very much value your opinion and would like to know what make and model you would recommend. Also do you recommend a semi-auto or double barrel? What "extras" and accessories do you feel are the best? - Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR's Reply:
In general, I much recommend a 12 gauge over a 20, unless you are very small-statured. 12 gauge shells are much easier to find (both now and post-TEOTWAWKI), and they pack more of a wallop on the receiving end. There are also a lot of exotic shoyshell loadings available (such as CS tear gas) that are only available for 12 gauge.

I prefer pump actions. I would recommend a Remington Model 870 pump action. They come with 26" or 28" "bird" length barrels standard from the factory. OBTW, the Memsahib has owned both the Rem. 870 and Rem. 1100, both 20 gauge. Both were the "youth" models with short stocks. (The Memsahib is 5'2" and weighs just 95 pounds.) She prefers the semi-auto action of the 1100, but it is generally agreed that they have reliability problems. John Satterwaite (the exhibition shooter) was quoted by a mutual friend as saying that he has three Model 1100s--"One to shoot, one as a spare, and one in the shop for repairs." The Model 870 pump action, by comparison, is bomb proof. So if you opt for an 1100, get a LOT of spare parts!

In terms of accessories, I recommend that you get:
An 18 inch or 20 inch "riot" length spare barrel, threaded for choke tubes.
A full set of "Rem choke" screw-in choke tubes (including an Extra Full Choke tube for shooting rabbits or perched birds at maximum range)
An Uncle Mikes' brand shell holder (The type with a Velcro closure flap)
An extra long sling (I prefer the M60 padded slings)
Locking quick detachable (QD) sling swivels. (The Uncle Mikes' brand works fine.)
Sling swivels. (TOP mount a QD stud on the stock, and side mount in the swivel in the front so that the shotgun won't flip upside down when carrying it assault style)
Choate brand magazine extension tube. (The end of a 6 or 7 round tube will be parallel with the muzzle of your gun's riot length barrel.)
Some voluminous pouches to carry spare shells for your basic combat load. (Shotshells are very bulky.)

I've got this on all of my computers, and printed out (several copies). I picked up on it back in 1996. I figured it was easier to give you a URL as opposed to attaching a doc. I sent this down to Fort Sam Houston [home of the U.S. Army Medical Corps] and they said it was straight and accurate. See: It's from 1996 but it's very good.- The Army Aviator

After reading about your Chernobyl experience and fears I have two tips. First first aid kit or drinking water tabs are not safe to take as a substitute for proper thyroid blocking Potassium Iodide or Iodate. If you are stuck without the proper Iodide or Iodate there is research indicating that 8 ml of 2% iodine (iodine tincture, Betadine, etc) solution painted onto the forearm or abdomen two hours before exposure will be absorbed and give a blocking initial dose. DO NOT SWALLOW IODINE SINCE IT IS POISONOUS IF INGESTED. IT MUST ONLY BE APPLIED TO SKIN!!!

You can buy crystalline KI powder if you feel that buying iodide tablets is too expensive, but the solution must then be diluted, masked, or encapsulated as it is horribly bitter when eaten/drunk straight.

A person must have a way of measuring radiation, a proper Geiger counter is best, preferably one designed to measure high level radiation as most non civil defenseor military will only measure very low dose. The CD models are available cheap and often include a l
ow dose counter, a high dose counter and 8 dosimeter pens with a dosimeter calibrator. I personally keep a Nukalert keychain scintillator counter (always on for 10 years) and a pocket dosimeter in my bag along with some KI. If you haven't the funds for a Geiger counter a dosimeter can be made which will allow you to seek a lower radiation area. The page gives instructions based on a design in the children's science book "Build It Yourself Science Laboratory" from 1963 by Raymond Barrett. This device is a hack job to be used by the unprepared in emergencies only, it doesn't easily give you a real read on the radiation just that it is present but is better than no detector.

Protecting food from radionuclides is best accomplished through green housing and filtering water. Water filters are cheaply available now in the micron level, a heavy metals filter would impart more protection. Ground water will be one of your lowest concern for radionuclides though.

Greenhousing is cheap and easy if you are already used to gardening. It can make your garden output explode! UV resistant plastic sheet, mounted on heavy PVC pipe frame with several poles sunk into the ground for support make an excellent greenhouse. Lay perforated hose under the rows for growing and connect to a water source. Cover the ground with plastic to minimize weeds and water loss leaving small holes for the baby plants to grow through. As your vine type plants grow, hang rope for them to climb and help them twist around these ropes. You will massively increase your season, save water the Israeli way (we feed all of Europe from desert greenhouses) and protect your food from all kinds of contamination that drops from the air. Compost all your organic waste and save it for next year before you lay your new plastic sheet onto the ground.

JWR's Comment: The Kearney Fallout Meter (see: Nuclear War Survival Skills--available for free download) is another "quick and dirty" design. However, keep in mind that any improvised fallout meter is a poor substitute for a proper dosimeter, rate meter, and Geiger counter commercially built to NRC specifications. Buy a set! Someday you'll be glad that you did. Guru says: "Poor Prior Planning Produces Pitifully Poor Performance" (P7) OBTW, Nukalerts are available from and several other Internet vendors.

 "...nuclear warfare is not necessary to cause a breakdown of our society. You take a large city like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago-- their water supply comes from hundreds of miles away . Any interruption of that, or food, or power for any period of time and you're going to have riots in the streets. Our society is so fragile, so dependent on the interworking of things to provide us with goods and services, that you don't need nuclear warfare to fragment us any more than the Romans did for their eventual downfall." - Gene Roddenberry

Friday, August 26, 2005

With the growing nuclear threats from China, North Korea, and assorted Muslim terrorist groups, it is important to get prepared for surviving radioactive fallout. At the minimum, I think that there is a very high likelihood that at least one sub-critical mass radioactive "dirty bomb" will be be set off within the continental U.S. sometime in the next 10 years. Near term worst case: One or more of them go off on September 11th. (Two weeks from now.) Plan accordingly. Study the prevailing wind patterns. Get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills. (It is available for free download from the good folks at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, so you have no excuse not to have a copy on your bookshelf!)

If you have a big budget build yourself a fully equipped blast shelter with HEPA filters. But even if you budget is austere, you should at least buy some potassium iodate (KI) tablets for thyroid protection. The thyroid gland is the most susceptible part of the human body to radiation. Thyroid damage or cancer can result even in a low level radiation event (such as what Western Europeans were exposed to when Chernobyl melted down in 1985). OBTW, I was TDY in West Germany at the time, and did not have KI available. I knew enough not to drink fresh milk, but I still felt very vulnerable.

Potassium iodate works by saturating the thyroid gland so that radioactive isotopes will not accumulate. (Thus minimizing thyroid damage.) Do not take KI until just after you have heard of a radioactive release upwind. Long term use of KI can actually cause thyroid damage! KI tablets are available from and several other Internet vendors.

At times I hear from folks that are concerned about raising their own food during a WTSHTF situation. I have heard, it will be a tremendous amount of work, there will be no seed to put out, there will be no fertilizer to feed the plants, we’ll use up all the nutrients in the soil and will need to leave it lay fallow for a year and other concerns and worries.

If you don’t mind I’d like to address some of those issues. Abigail and I have been using our current garden since 1982. Over those 23 years we may have used a total of 200 lbs of commercial fertilizer on the garden. For instance last fall I worked in about 20 lbs of 12-12-12 before I broadcast the entire garden in wheat. Most years I do not use any commercial fertilizer at all but I thought it might help get the wheat off to a good start.

While we don’t use much commercial fertilizer we do give the garden a yearly addition of organic material. Either a couple of inches of manure or if that is not available at least 6” of leaves that we have raked from under the trees seems to do the job. This year we plowed down wheat planted in the fall to make “green manure.” All this organic material encourages and supports a nice colony of earthworms and night crawlers. These guests in turn work the organic material into the soil as they pass through, aerating the soil as they go on their merry way. As an example this year, our sweet corn is in excess of 9 feet tall, and many of the ears are 12 inches long. All this with a minimum of commercial fertilizer and never a fallow year.

Now on to the issue of finding seed. When I bought the seed wheat for our garden it came in a 50 pound bag. Half went on the garden the other half filled a sealed 5-gallon bucket. As this wheat was already covered with insecticide it should be viable for years. This fall I believe I’ll do the same but in either oats or spelt.

Another preparation that we make is to go to the different stores that sell garden seed and buy up the individual packages at 50% to 80% off. I then vacuum seal them, date and set them back for use “someday.” [JWR's note: Store gardening seeds in your refrigerator. The germination rate will drop off with time, but old seed is better than no seed!] We live in a farming community and many of our close neighbors are grain farmers. I am sure that they would be willing to sell us either seed corn or ear corn that we could shell and plant. Now some will say that using a hybrid ear corn for seed is doomed to failure and will not produce. In my experience it may not produce as well as the original but it will indeed produce. So while we may not be able to run to the store to buy seed, there are ways to prepare or make do.

Heritage (or "Heirloom"/ open pollinated seeds) should be in everyone’s cupboard as these will produce the same plant, generation after generation, however we need to be remember that the hybrids were designed to either out produce, store better, be more insect or draught resistance or have more flavor than the original seed. My advice would be to use the hybrid seed the first generation, and then if you have open pollinated seeds plan to go 50-50 the next year. Just be certain to keep the different varieties separated so that the 2nd generation hybrids do not “pollute” the true bloods.

The point is... Go out and do it now, whatever it may be, while our failures are merely educational and our successes bring us satisfaction. Do not wait until the time has come that the difference between failure and success is a full tummy for your children and yourself.

Mr. Rawles-
Thanks for your comments on the avian flu. Just in case you missed it, there is a very interesting article in the Washington Post today about a renowned flu scientist and his thoughts on a possible pandemic. In his words, it is inevitable that one of these strains will mutate into humans and "blow up". FYI, the current H5N1 strain has a 58% mortality rate in humans. Unfortunately registration with the Washington Post is required to view the article, but it is free.
- "Some Call Me Tim"

Just saw your new blog posting on sales taxes in various states. Colorado's overall sales tax is 2.9 percent, however our state allows locality taxes (called 'Home Rule'), For instance: Denver city/county imposes a 3.5% tax in addition, it goes up to 4% for food/liquor that is for immediate consumption and 5.5% for rental cars. There are also special district taxes, like the Scientific and Cultural Facilities tax and the Regional Transportation tax. These taxes cross municipal boundaries as established by special election.

In Denver, for instance the overall tax rate is about 8 percent, 2.9 to the state, 3.5 to the city/county and the rest are special district taxes. A few rural areas do not have additional taxes and pay only 2.9% , but some counties bump that by a percent or two, as well as special tax districts assessments.

When buying major items for sales tax purposes, the rule is that unless they deliver it to you, you pay the rate where the store existed - no you can't deliver it yourself. One of the few exceptions to this is your car, where you pay the rate of your address of record. I, for instance, have my retreat property in SW Colorado and use it for vehicle registration purposes.

So, it might be better to remove Colorado from the Very Low Sales Tax category as even if you do live in a 2.9 percent area, you'll probably be paying the full rate at the store in the bigger cities.
- J. H. in Aurora, Colorado


States with no personal income taxes have begun to impose them in hidden forms, starting in Nevada. I don't know if it is intentional or not, but the way Nevada has done it has managed to make everyone miss the fact that it now has an income tax, however hidden or indirect it may be. While there is no direct state income tax (in which the tax is withheld from individual paychecks, or personal filing is required,) the state has indirectly imposed a personal income tax in the form of a "payroll" tax, arguably imposed on employers, charged on the amount paid to all employees. However, this makes it a hidden income tax that is figured into the cost of hiring; as such, the pay rate to individual workers is lowered by that much. The effect is that workers take home the same amount of pay as if they had a "personal income tax" withheld from their checks, but without seeing any entries making the deduction visible on their pay stubs. Taxing has been described as "the art of plucking feathers from a goose without its knowledge." For a state to put a personal income tax in place in a way that workers don't see it directly coming from their checks is a masterful way of doing that very thing. But just because a tax is not seen doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. -"M." in Nevada

Hi Guys,
Even if those who are skeptical read your blog, they will come back for more. I am very impressed and moreover grateful!

Quick comment on G.O.O.D. Diesel Variants: You have pointed out the great benefits to Diesel power plants, is very important to know that you are looking at a SUBSTANTIAL weight increase on the front axle [versus gas engines]. This should be known not only for adjusting the way you execute a maneuver, but the huge disadvantage that you will have in soft, or bottomless soil, (i.e.- sand/mud). If not weighted sufficiently equally on both axles, you will find yourself spinning circles around the front end that has just dropped in. I recommend the widest tires you can fit on the front end to help out anyway possible. Also, diesels operate at a much lower RPM than gasoline engines. When stuck, Low Range or Low Gear will not sufficiently "clean out" the tread lugs. So [briefly] put it in High gear and let the sufficient torque spin the tires and work up a higher speed at the wheel if necessary to get "un-stuck."

Forever Grateful, - The Wanderer

Mr. Rawles,
I would like to suggest a few links for anyone wanting to know more about Cummins engine equipped trucks. They are:

These links will give everyone a good feel for the differences in these trucks. To summarize them, the Cummins Turbo
Diesel engine placed in Dodge Ram trucks starting in the 1991 model year went through 4 phases to the present day.
Generation I engines were all 12-valve direct mechanical injection engines with a turbo charger. Generation II engines were
introduced when the body style changed in 1994. The Gen. II engines were essentially the same as the Gen I except the
injection pump was changed for higher output. Mid-way through the 1998 model year, Dodge changed to a 24-valve
electronically controlled engine (You can tell the difference by looking at the door-mounted data plates--and the distinctive sound of the engine.) These are the Gen III engines. The fuels system on the Gen III engines is weak due to a faulty transfer pump design causing premature failure of the injection pump. This is very expensive to replace. (I know from personal experience.) The engines changed once again in 2003 when the newest body style came out. These Gen IV engines are much quieter than their predecessors but they are also electronically controlled.

Transmissions in the Gen I and early Gen II trucks were mechanical, and many of the Cummins trucks had manual
transmissions. The Gen II trucks used a NV4500 5-speed manual transmission, and this tranny continued to be used
through the 2003 model year. Beginning in mid-2001 Dodge introduced the NV5600 6-speed manual behind their 24-valve high-output engines. These trannies can be retrofitted to the 12-valve trucks and offers a nice gear split with the extra gear. These manual transmissions feature a PTO access panel on the passenger side of the housing for running equipment if desired. The transfer case was a constant, the NV241HD manually-shifted transfer case. This t-case features a 2.72:1 low range, and coupled with the granny low of the transmission offers some really great [ low] crawl speeds for off-roading. The front axle in 4x4 models was typically the Dana 60 and the rear axle was the Dana 70 (single wheel 2500 models) or the Dana 80 (dual wheel 3500 models.) A limited slip rear axle was offered as an option.

Over the years, power levels steadily rose, and turbo chargers changed slightly, but all-in-all they are extremely reliable, very fuel efficient, and much sought after. Finding a 12-valve Cummins truck in decent condition is next to impossible in my area, and I imagine the same holds true elsewhere. - B.B. in Louisiana

Hi James, First of all, chalk me up as another Patriots fan. It truly is the definitive work on preparing for just about anything. When I found out that you had started the blog, I was ecstatic!

I found this site on wind power today, and thought you might be interested. Scroll down about halfway and look for the section on home built wind power. They detail building an alternator from scratch, carving your own blades, and control circuitry. I don't have a retreat or anything like it just yet (I'm stuck in the city with a 300-1000 mile bugout WTSHTF), but if I did [find a place] with good wind, I'd start looking here. Thanks again for all of the great information you've passed on through the years - Steve

 "The value of a thing is what that thing will bring." - Legal Maxim

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Sales tax is another important issue if you are setting up a retreat. This generally entails buying a lot of “big ticket” items, such as an AC/DC power generator, photovoltaics, tractors, 4WD vehicles, guns, ammunition, storage food, wood stoves, propane tanks, propane appliances, and so forth. Sales tax can be minimized if you buy via mail order, but that creates a paper trail, which IMO should be avoided. In some circumstances you can travel to an adjoining state with low (or no) sales tax to make major purchases. Keep a low profile when making major purchases--especially ammunition. Pay with cash and don’t leave your name or phone number.

NO Sales Tax:
Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon.

Very Low Sales Tax (4% or less):
Alabama, Georgia, Colorado (higher in some cities/counties), Hawaii, Louisiana, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

Low Sales Tax (4.1% to 5%):
Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Moderate Sales tax (5.1% to 6%):
Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and West Virginia.

High to Severe Sales tax (6.1% or higher):
California, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

The State Line Game

Many folks have discovered how to play the state line jumping game: Living near a state line to take advantage of a lower tax or other advantage in one or more adjoining states.
For example, you can live in the Idaho panhandle (very low property tax, car registration, and car insurance), work in eastern Washington (no income tax), make your day-to-day purchases in Idaho (5% sales tax) and your major purchases (trucks, wood stoves, generators, gun vaults, appliances, et cetera) in Montana or Oregon--both of which have no sales tax.

Note: Many states assess a sales tax when you register a vehicle that is purchased out of state. This can often be avoided legally by keeping it registered out of state for at least one year before taking it back to your high tax state.

Another possibility is to live and work in southern Washington (no income tax and fairly low property taxes), but shop in Oregon—where there is a high property tax but no sales tax.

See: for detailed information on the tax rates in various states.

I should add that these discussions skirt around a more core issue: the scale of government in each state. Some states have big, pretentious, intrusive governments that love to get involved in every aspect of your life. My advice is to avoid living in any of these Nanny States. As time goes on, they are only going to get worse.

The bottom line: If you live in a state with severe taxes, then vote with your feet!

Alan T. Hagan has written for Backwoods Home magazine and a couple of other periodicals, and has written a book. He is a genuinely a nice guy who loves to spread the word about preparedness. He's very approachable and may make a good candidate for your Profiles page.


Just passing it on. Thanks for the mention,

- Johnny a.k.a. swampthing

JWR's Reply: Mr. Hagan has a great reputation in preparedness circles, and deservedly so. His Q&A on food storage is a veritable standard reference.

Self-winding watches--I had one of the Russian self winders and it was built like a T-34 tank. You really can't go wrong with one. Higher-end watches, like Seiko, etc. are available from places like Sportsman's Guide,, and E-Bay. Regards, - "Doug Carlton"

Another reader, Jeff, writes:
These things are built like a tank. You can find models from $79 to about $250. Here is a typical model. Excellent in every way and new production. Something to consider. - Jeff

The blog is great! and your book was a valuable purchase many years ago. I am a watch collector and seller, for many years, and have owned & used ...a BUNCH!
In evaluating a long-term need, and factoring in some use in rugged circumstances, I would highly recommend a better quality timepiece. The brands you mentioned, were made cheaply and sold cheaply. They have little water resistance, cheap plastic crystals, and mechanisms not made for sustained abuse - such as exposure to elements, or certainly not a combat environment. There are some excellent alternatives, at a reasonable cost. A Swiss made movement is highly recommended, in a stainless steel case, with a sapphire crystal, and screwdown crown. Examples of personal recommendation for a "best value" would be (see these current eBay auctions) :

I have bought items from Howard and he is a class act, though several other sources are available.

Tritium hands and markers, sapphire crystal and a robust waterproof case down to 330 feet or more, all for in the $300-400 range. Readers might also consider other excellent Swiss brands such as Sandoz, Eterna, Nivada, Aquastar, Enicar, Vulcain and more, are reasonable and have most of the characteristics available for long-term rugged use. I would recommend "diver" style cases, with superior water resistance and sapphire or mineral glass crystals and tritium or super luminova.

Don't buy....repeat do NOT buy Quartz watches...most watches require specific tools to open properly and replace a battery...a quartz is not a serious survival watch, any where, any time. Don't be tempted by the ridiculously over-priced "special forces, commando, seal etc" junk asian watches!

Also consider a manual wind watch with some/all of the characteristics - a la a bolt action versus automatic rifles, a manual wind watch has less to go wrong. Again, Swiss only. For those who can upgrade, an Omega is probably, dollar-for-dollar, a best buy. I have owned many Rolexes, and they are great, but aren't any tougher, or work much better than a Ollech & Wajs (O&W), as above. Rolex movements are all "chronometers", meaning they have to be tested to run +- 2 seconds a day. The others mentioned will run +-20 seconds a day, often better. Rolex and other upscale brands, have all their movements "super tuned" and the costs reflect that.

To service every few years, an O&W, Vulcain etc would be @ $50. A full Rolex service is @$200. I wouldn't spend a penny on the cheap Russian watches. As important as time keeping & awareness is and certainly will be in bad times, this is not an area I would trust to a brass plated case with poor water resistance, and questionable time-keeping expectations.

My personal out-the-door-with-hellhounds-on-my-trail watch, is a Swiss manual wind dive alarm, good to 1000 feet water depth, sapphire crystal, and heavy steel band. The alarm can be a valuable feature when under stress, and able to only grab bits of sleep, and other circumstances. - "Wound up in Texas"

Mr. Rawles:
In this article you state that "...large crash bars in the front, a removable cable cutter post that is as tall as your truck's cab," Do you mean BRUSH GUARDS, because I cannot find any large crash bars! Can you help?

JWR's Reply:
To my way of thinking, a proper "crash bar" for a truck is just a very heavy duty bumper + brush guard with the addition of an extra piece of heavy steel stock welded on vertically (parallel with the radiator) in the center of the brush guard. It should extend from the bottom of the brush guard (or grille trim, whichever is lower) to a height where its top end is parallel with the top of your truck's hood. (BTW, I don't recommend extending anything below your front grille trim, because it would degrade the "approach angle" of you truck. That could cause a nasty hang up when crossing narrow gullies off road.) A piece of very heavy gauge (Schedule 80) 4" diameter pipe works fine as the actual impact-dealing/bearing "crash bar". (So does a section of railroad track, but IMHO that is a bit too obvious for pre-TEOTWAWKI times.) Your local welding shop should be able to handle the welding mod for you. OBTW, I believe that the cable cutter should be removable (bolted on rather than welded on), because, again, they look incongruous under pre-TEOTWAWKI circumstances.)

 "Necessity is the excuse for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of the tyrant and the creed of the slave." - William Pitt, 1763

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I'm delighted that in just over two weeks this blog has had more than 15,000 unique accesses and a whopping 346,200 page hits. We also now have two advertisers, and a couple of more waiting in the wings. Please continue to spread the word. In particular, I'd appreciate it if you could make brief mention of on any forums, blogs, or bulletin boards that you frequent. Many Thanks!

Taxes are another important consideration when choosing the state where you plan to live/retreat. Take a close look at property, income, and sales taxes before you decide where you might like to relocate. Car registration fees are another factor worth considering, especially if you have several vehicles. (In some states registration fees are a piddling administrative fee, while in some of the more populous Nanny States they are a big revenue source.)

If you are retired or nearing retirement age and middle class, property taxes will likely be more important to you than income taxes. Conversely, if you are in an upper income tax bracket or are middle class but still in your prime earnings years then income tax will be a prime concern. I've assembled some figures, gleaned from my research. Sorry that some of the following figures are a bit dated...

States with NO personal income tax include:
Alaska, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.
Note: New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax interest and dividend income. It is also notable that Washington has a business tax of 2-3% of gross business revenues, so business owners should beware.

States with low to moderate income taxes:
Arizona and Idaho.

States with high income taxes:
California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon.

States with the lowest property taxes (per capita, annually):
Alabama: $210
New Mexico: $283
Kentucky: $286
Arkansas: $321
Louisiana: $324

States with highest property taxes (per capita, annually):
New Jersey: $1,591
New Hampshire: $1,555
Connecticut: $1,500
New York: $1,329
Rhode Island: $1,233
Source: The Tax Foundation, based on Commerce Department and Census statistics.

Note: While sales and income taxes can be reduced by effective planning and clever behavior (lawfully, of course), property taxes are different. As The Sopranos mobster said: “Them you gotta pay.”

The Total Tax Burden (Property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes combined--expressed in terms of taxes as a percentage of income, as of 2002):

The Best:
Alaska: 6.3%
New Hampshire: 7.6%
Tennessee: 8.3%
Colorado: 8.4%
South Dakota: 8.9%

The Worst:
Maine: 13.6%
New York: 12.9%
Wisconsin: 11.9%
Vermont: 11.7%
Hawaii: 11.6%

Note: Includes state and local taxes including property and sales tax, excise tax and some business taxes. You may pay even more if your income is considerably higher than average, or if you live in a city or county within the state with high property taxes. Source: The Tax Foundation, based on 1997 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Why I Derisively Call .223 Rifles "Mouse Guns" (SA: Survival Guns)

A good friend sent the following e-mail excerpt from a young gent who is now a Lance Corporal, in the USMC. (When he sent the e-maile was a PFC on his first
deployment. It poignantly underscores the importance of the phrase Use Enough Gun!

"I've never been more disgusted with a weapon than I am with the M16. The accuracy is great and I'm comfortable with the operation of it but beyond that it's worthless.
A couple weeks ago we had reports of a different squad in our platoon taking contact from two gunmen. They returned fire and swore up and down that they hit multiple times but both guys got away. Within 30 minutes we received a call from the hospital that they received two gunshot wound patients: One had suffered 28 wounds and the other 10. Both were still alive. This doesn't even seem like a bad joke to me. It's pretty much tragic. There are so many stories, especially from the Force Recon guys, of the .223 costing Marines their lives. When is something going to be done about this? How many Marines and soldiers have to die before someone will decide that maybe it'd be a good idea to get a better system? Next time I come out here, I'm bringing at least a couple magazines of ballistic-tipped ammo or something..."

JWR's Comment: Unless you live in Alaska, the majority of your defensive rifle battery should be chambered in .308 Winchester (7.62mm NATO). I only consider .223 (a.k.a. 5.56mm NATO) useful as a transitional training round for youngsters, or perhaps as a tertiary cartridge for arming elderly or disabled retreat residents. Period.

A tip of the hat to Claire Wolfe's Blog, for mentioning the non-fiction BBC television series Tales from the Green Valley. It follows historians and archaeologists as they recreate farm life from the age of the Stuarts. They wear the clothes, eat the food and use the tools, skills and technology of the 1620s. There are some valuable lessons learned from these exercises.

1.) Jim:
GM diesel models 1994 or later have an electronic injection pump, and are vulnerable to EMP. Some models made before 1994 will have an electronic glow plug controller which can be easily bypassed. From what I can gather GM also went to "electronic" transmissions around 1994. Before then most diesels had th350 or th400 transmissions. Some pre-1994 GM trucks also had th700r4 transmissions that had minimal electronics, and can be rebuilt with the electronics bypassed. Of course anything with a manual transmission should be safe. I believe most light diesels follow the same timeline because of EPA smog regulations that were implemented at the time. - C.G

2.) I just had to replace the glow plug relay in my 1982 Mercedes 300SD, and took the old one apart and found some transistors in the turn-on timing circuit. These may get fried, but I can always put a pushbutton on the dash to simplify the circuit. - A Marine Corps Reader

3.) Hi,
I can only speak for Fords, of which I own a 1988 F250 Diesel. The early 80's to 1994 ford In-Direct Injection (IDI) 6.9L and 7.3L diesels,
actually an International motor, have no computers. Everything, and I mean everything, is mechanical in these motors (even the fuel pump). In
1989, Ford went to a 4 speed automatic transmission that is computer operated, and that is the only computer in the truck. Of course, there
are electronic components in the truck: Glow Plugs, Alternator, Gauges, etc, but the truck would keep on running and driving even if it took an
EMP hit. If the glow plug controller goes out, it might be a little hard to start on cold days. Losing the electronic starter would cause
problems too. After 1994, the Ford diesels are called PowerStroke, and they have computers controlling the motor.
My '88 F250 4x4 Diesel is my G.O.O.D. vehicle for good reason! - "Analog"

Here's some of my views on some of the questions you've had in your letters about the Beretta M92/96 series. My experience with the gun, after use in the Army and use and ownership in the civilian world is they work as well as any gun out there. People get entirely too territorial about handguns, similar to the way people used to put some mystical significance to their sword they would be carrying in feudal times. The fact is that you really aren't any less or better armed with nearly any of the current crop of service pistols from any of the makers. FOR THE ARMY the M9 is fine, but notice I said FOR THE ARMY. Too many people put too much significance on what the Big Army uses instead of looking at what they themselves need. Just because the Army uses the M9 or M11 (SIG P228), or some police department uses Glocks, or some instructor uses a M1911A1 doesn't make it THE BEST FOR YOU in your individual situation. What matters is buying a quality gun that fits your needs. Too many people go nuts over the latest gadget, kit, or weapon they see on an internet picture of troops in combat and instantly want that item because that must be what's needed. But even in Iraq the situation is different than what we'd experience here in the USA, even if the same type of war was going on. People need to take a long hard look at what they need, and gear up for those needs, not someone else's. That covers everything from guns, calibers, ammo, to uniforms and radios and even food. Survival is all about your personal needs.

On the 92/96 conversions--The 92/96 conversions were originally sold by Beretta as a set on a common frame. The factory would actually fit both top halves to the one frame, and insure that they worked. The CDNN offering is worth buying IMO, but there is a very small chance it might not be reliable on a standard 9mm frame. There's no drama in getting it to work right either, but no one should buy one and store it "just in case they need a .40" and not first test it out extensively to wring out any problems before it is needed. The low cost, and the flexibility it adds is worth the price, and 99% of the time these will work fine out of the box. Just make sure that the people with the 1% get them running before they need them.

On ball versus JHP ammo--ANY handgun is marginal at best for stopping power compared to a rifle. The only virtue of a sidearm is it's portability. So when it's possible, JHPs should be used regardless of caliber. The "one box method" is a good one for weeding out early ammo purchases, but in general no gun should be relied upon unless the user has shot at least 500 rounds out of it without failure of any kind. 500 rounds is not much of anything in real terms, just ten boxes of ammo. Most of today's quality pistols will easily shoot several thousands without any problem, and most will digest tens of thousands easily. While I understand that you meant that one box just to weed out incompatible ammo, someone might think one box is all you need to shoot to test for serious use. Once you find one box that does run through the gun, they need to run another 9 boxes at least through it to make sure it works before really having confidence in that gun/ammo combination. FMJ is attractive from a price standpoint, and that IS and important consideration. We've all been in a position where we had more needs than money, and just can't run down to the store and buy 2500 rounds of JHPs or a new P220 for them to go in. So again you have to use your own judgment. If your only handgun will only feed FMJ and you can't afford one that will, or mods to yours to make it feed different bull;et shapes, then buying FMJ as an interim plan isn't a bad way to go. It's far less effective than JHP, but a jammed gun is far less effective than one that's spitting out ball every time. Ammo is never a waste, since you can use it for barter later, or practice now. It will buy you time to find out what JHP works and time to buy it. It's NOT the optimum solution by any stretch. Any time you take the "cheap way" over the "best way", then you're losing something and cutting corners, but the reality of life in the real world is you sometimes have to do that. Just view it like driving your car on an emergency "doughnut" spare. You can still move, but it's not the best solution to needing the right tire.

Speaking of tires, on bullets bouncing off of tires--This is a well known phenomena. So well known that many PD's won't shoot at truck tires. The U.S. Army first used stacks of tires in the early MOUT training days (i.e. "tire houses") and found out that bullets and grenade fragments bouncing off of them were a serious danger. Serious enough that the Army does not use them any longer , and neither does anyone else that has any sense for that matter. They were used for only a couple years, and quickly dropped because too many people actually got shot by rounds that were bouncing around. Shooting at tires of any kind is a dangerous thing to do!

On U.S.G.I. Beretta magazines not working--The problem with them is the government went cheap and bought essentially aftermarket mags. Gee, any lesson there? All the bad mags are marked Checkmate Industries, or CMI. Since they've been recalled, they may start popping up on the surplus market. Again, just because it's "U.S.G.I." doesn't mean it's the best way to go. Sometimes it is surplus for a reason. OBTW, the later Checkmate mags actually have different tolerances and supposedly work. Also BTW, "MDS" marked mags are actually a Beretta factory product. Beretta owns MDS and that's the factory that they use to make all their mags. Buy what you want, but this is a good case of where "U.S.G.I." might not always be the best route to take. - Doug Carlton

[JWR's note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Doug Carlton character. It is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is a former U.S. Army aviator.]

Our friends at World Net Daily just posted excerpts from an interview with Michael Scheuer, the man who headed the CIA's Osama bin Laden desk. Scheuer discussed Bin Laden's relentless quest to obtain nukes and the prospects of a nuclear terrorist strike on the U.S. by Al Qaeda. He said: "I don't believe in inevitability. But I think it's pretty close to being inevitable. ...Yes, I think it's probably a near thing." Read the entire article. This is some serious FFTAGFFR, folks!

It seems obvious to anyone who has worked in a fire department or EMS but even now that I am not directly in this field I still keep my clothing ready to go instantly. We are almost useless without at least shoes. I keep my zip off boots (tongue zipper kits are sold by Red Wing shoes), pants and shirt from the previous day next to the bed. That means I don't have to think about having a cell phone, flashlight, or pistol when it is needed. In just 10 seconds I am ready to go.

“But how is this legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”
- Frederic Bastiat, The Law

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I don't write many product reviews, but I am uniquely qualified to write this one: In November of 1994 I rolled my 1968 Bronco on black ice on a winding stretch of Highway 12 paralleling the Clearwater River in Idaho. In that accident I suffered a severe back injury--so severe that the chiropractor that took the x-rays commented that he was surprised that I hadn't severed my spinal cord. Because of the injury, despite the best efforts of the doctors and chiropractors I've been unable to sleep in a bed for the past 11 years. (Any bed is too soft and causes muscle spasms.) Since December of 1994, I've spent virtually every night sleeping on the floor in a Wiggy's Hunter Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS) sleeping bag. It is a two bag sleep system with two different weight bags that can be used together or separately. I spend roughly 8 months out of each year in the light weight bag, and 4 months in the heavy weight bag.) I've slept for more than 4,000 nights in that FTRSS--that is the equivalent of two lifetimes of heavy recreational use for a sleeping bag. (Here is the math: An intensive recreational user probably camps out about 35 nights per year, multiplied by 50 years of camping equals 1,750 nights. Hence, two lifetimes for a bag would be roughly 3,500 nights.) Since 1994, I have spent approximately 4,000 nights--including about 250 nights in the field--in my FTRSS. Again, that is something in excess of two lifetimes worth of use.

The FTRSS has been very comfortable and exceptionally durable. The bag has had ZERO zipper failures, and NO rips or tears. Most importantly, is has never lost its loft or had its filling get clumped or re-arranged, despite countless machine washings. (I should have kept track of the number of times that I've washed it!) I highly recommend Wiggy's brand sleeping bags. The FTRSS models in particular are ideally suited for anyone that expects to give a sleeping bag demanding use. OBTW, I should mention that I have not been compensated in any way for making this endorsement. I'm just a very satisfied customer. If you want the best, buy yourself a Wiggy's bag!

(Third Edition, 987 pages.) This is a huge book. The price is huge too, at $59.95. This book has information on over 700 botanicals as well as a new section on nutritional supplements. Each botanical entry gives common names and scientific names. A plant description is given. (Though not good enough to help you recognize the plant in the wild.) It tells the chemical compounds found in the herb and the effects of the compounds. A very strong plus! There is usage (both proven and unproven) for each entry. Mode of administration and sometimes dosage amounts are given. The reason I really like this book is for the section on precautions and adverse reactions. Remember the Hippocratic oath---Do thy patient no harm! (There are many books on herbs out there which say nothing about overdoses and adverse reactions.) There is a section of color photos of 300 or so of the botanicals. Which leads me to what I think is the real lack of this book, which is plant identification. There are photographs for less than half of the plants. And the photos are each hardly larger than an inch square. Not to mention the pictures are generally bad. So you are going to need to find at least one other herb book--specifically for plant identification. I have mixed feelings about this book. It probably has way more information in it than most people need. And it is more expensive than most can afford. Further, if the balloon goes up we aren’t going to have access to all 700 botanicals detailed in this book. But on the other hand if it is TEOTWAWKI, I’m going to want some really good books on herbs. And this will be one of them. - The Memsahib

Since it is a major focus of your blog, I thought you would like to see a few of the Jewish laws regarding Tzedaka. All things in this world are created by Hashem, the only thing we can claim is our ability to choose good or evil. To remind us that he is the owner (among other reasons) he requires we contribute 10% of all our produce from the field (plus another 10% to the Levim and another 2-3% to the Cohenim (aka, the Priests and their assistants) We extend the 10% of Tzedaka to all income almost like a tax. Even if a person is so desperately poor they cant give 10% they must give some level of tzedaka. If a person is middle income they may give up to 1/5 of their income although this next 10% above the minimum is much more free as to to what it may fund. Finally a wealthy person may give any amount they want above the 20% to whatever cause they choose.
Restrictions on giving: You may not impoverish your family through tzedaka, it is a sin to over give and put your family behind others. There is a bulls eye of giving, starting in the middle with yourself, you must ensure your survival first, next your wife, then your children.
Next comes your Torah instructor then your parents.
Next comes close neighbors, further out neighbors are their next door neighbors first responsibility not yours. Finally, if everyone in your community is taken care of may you give outside to other communities. I am sick when I hear of Tzedaka given to "save the animals" causes. This is effectively giving to a sweet and emotional cause but it must come from recreational or optional monies not from money designated for the mitzvah [blessing] of Tzedaka.

You may not use Tzedaka for your own or family education unless you are desperately poor, if possible this loan if taken must be documented and repaid. Holy books may be purchased but must be marked as purchased with Tzedaka so they are not included in any inheritance and must be freely loaned. Measure for measure Hashem promises a return on this investment even stating we are to test him in this matter. When we act as agents of the creator in bringing the flow of his blessing into the world we increase the flow directed through us.

Thanks for the great blog. I have been looking for this information for a long time. Thanks.

In regards to the flu: here is some information from two good sources. The first is from the August 13th issue of the Lancet (major medical journal from the UK):
The Lancet 2005; 366:533-534
H5N1 Influenza Pandemic: Contingency Plans
Kenneth WT Tsang email address a, Philip Eng b, CK Liam c, Young-soo Shim d and Wah K Lam d

The current epidemic of the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian influenza, with a mortality of 58%, appears relentless in Asia, particularly in Vietnam and Thailand.1 Although inefficient, there is some evidence of human-to-human transmission for the H5N1 virus.2 A possible catastrophic pandemic could, therefore, emerge should re-assortment of viral antigens occur resulting in a highly infectious strain of H5N1. Influenza pandemics in 1917–18, 1957–58, and 1968–69 have already caused approximately 15, 4, and 0·75 million deaths worldwide, respectively.

A vaccine for H5N1 will not be available in the foreseeable months. Even if pharmaceutical manufacturing begins soon after an outbreak, there would not be a sufficient supply for the countries most in need—ie, the Asian nations. Antiviral drugs are consequently the only specific treatment, pending availability of effective vaccines. These include M2 inhibitors (amantadine and rimantadine), which are ineffective against H5N1 in vitro, and the neuraminidase inhibitors (oseltamivir and zanamivir).3 The neuraminidase inhibitors reduce the severity and duration of symptoms, and prevent
clinical influenza as post-exposure and seasonal prophylaxis.4 Influenza contingency plans by the WHO and most governments generally advocate detection, isolation, staff protection, and the start of antiviral treatment for patients, and their contacts.5 Many governments, including those of Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Korea, have already stockpiled, at a very substantial expense, vast quantities of oseltamivir to prepare for an outbreak.5

This next one comes from an ACIP ( Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) publication: Influenza Vaccine Composition
Both the inactivated and live, attenuated vaccines prepared for the 2005--06 season will include A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like, A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like, and B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigens. For the A/California/7/2004 (H3N2)-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent A/New York/55/2004 (H3N2) virus, and for the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like antigen, manufacturers may use the antigenically equivalent B/Jilin/20/2003 virus or B/Jiangsu/10/2003 virus. These viruses will be used because of their growth properties and because they are representative of influenza viruses likely to circulate in the United States during the 2005--06 influenza season. Because circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses are a reassortant of influenza A (H1N1) and (H3N2) viruses, antibody directed against influenza A (H1N1) and influenza (H3N2) vaccine strains provides protection against circulating influenza A (H1N2) viruses. Influenza viruses for both the inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines are initially grown in embryonated hens eggs. Thus, both vaccines might contain limited amounts of residual egg protein. For the inactivated vaccine, the vaccine viruses are made noninfectious (i.e., inactivated or killed) (63). Subvirion and purified surface antigen preparations of the inactivated vaccine are available. Manufacturing processes differ by manufacturer. Manufacturers might use different compounds to inactivate influenza viruses and add antibiotics to prevent bacterial contamination. Package inserts should be consulted for additional information.

Hope these are helpful (or at least interesting)! - Nurse Alma Frances Livengood

I'd like to compliment you on having one of the most informative new blogs I've seen. I've enjoyed reading it, so far.
I have a couple of things to contribute, one on the subject of gardening, and one on the subject of good cars to have around.

On the car, first, as it's short: Subaru stations wagons, 4WD drive ones, if older--all new ones are all wheel drive, are fantastic vehicles for rough driving conditions. Their only drawback is that they are not diesel. My Outback has actually done the stuff you always see in Subaru's commercials--and then gotten on the freeway and done 80 mph--all in a day's work, no problem. I have even seen it handle rough roads and mud better than a 1-ton dually 4WD diesel truck--no exaggeration! I've had more than one Subaru. If you need a car, rather than a truck, for some reason, they take a lickin' and keep on tickin'. The one I had before my current one was an early '80's model 4WD that had 250,000 miles on it, when I sold it to my neighbor, who then used it to place in the local demo derby 3 times that I know of, winning once. Parts are reasonably cheap & fixing is reasonably easy. Japanese brand, but made in Indiana. (Our other vehicle is a big diesel Dodge, so we have our bases covered.)

On to the gardening. When you are buying seeds for gardening, you want to be sure to buy open-pollinated seeds. These are non-hybrid and often heirloom varieties. You can't save seeds from the fruit of plants grown from hybrid seed, because you those seeds will not breed true. Open-pollinated seeds will breed true from saved seed, and are, therefore, a far better choice for a preparedness-oriented gardener. There are techniques to be learned for saving seeds, and plenty of how-to info around. Squash, for example, requires hand-pollination if you want your seed to breed true, as all squash breeds cross-pollinate with each other. I have some interesting crosses that "volunteered" in my garden this year! Most sorts of seed will keep a few years, if kept in a cool dry place. My favorite source for open-pollinated seeds is Fedco Seeds, in Maine. They are a co-op, so only do ordering once a year, but their prices and available variety are top-notch!

A little-known vegetable that makes an excellent substitute for potatoes and, if you can't find it growing wild, is extremely easy to grow, is known as a Sunchoke, or Jerusalem Artichoke. This is actually a species of sunflower with edible roots. You plant them like potatoes, and, after frost, dig the tubers up only as you use them--they don't keep well out of the ground. I'm thinking they might keep well in a box of dirt in a root cellar, but I haven't tried this yet. They're very undemanding as far as watering or garden care is concerned, and extremely tasty fried up with onions! - Mrs. H.J.

Hi Jim, thought I'd make a suggestion concerning one of the problems that we are likely to face once society turns south: Feral dogs roving in packs. A friend of mine in Southern California who relocated to the rural section of Riverside County remarked to me after soon moving there that they really didn't have any problems with coyotes or mountain lions (which are prevalent) but in fact domestic dogs turned feral were a big concern with the land owners (most folks in his area have between 2.5 and 20 acres). Seems that dogs that were abandoned for one reason or another were forming into packs and threatening the safety of children waiting at rural bus stops as well as coming right on peoples' property and threatening people there as well. Some people had even resorted to shooting these dogs on site, they apparently are more vicious than the coyotes. Imagine what a problem this would be once folks can no longer feed Spot and Fido. Which brings me to the AK-47 variant rifle that many of us own. I for one have a Romanian semi auto variant along with several thousand rounds of inexpensive 7.62x39 ammo. As we all would agree the battle rifle of choice should more than likely be a .308--which relegates the AK to backup status. These are excellent little rifles, reliable, easy to disassemble, cheap to feed and magazines are plentiful and cheap. Seems to me this would be a great rifle to use to dispatch the feral dogs you are likely to encounter on your property--why waste your .308 on them when you have these high capacity, reliable and cheap to operate rifles in your battery. I've often thought of getting rid of the AK but when I started pondering this likely scenario I chose to keep it--just in case.
Anyway, food for thought. Best Regards,- J.M. in Northern Idaho

The U.S. BATFE has ruled that ex-military barrels are not to be imported. No new requests are being approved for import, and all previously approved requests must enter the country before the end of 2005. But on the other hand , ex-U.S. Military arms are going to be allowed back in, so the FAL/L1A1 are going to become more expensive with U.S. made barrels and the M1 Garands are going to come down in price from what ODCMP [currently] sells them for.
Current CMP prices are as follows:
1. Ex-Greek used "Service Grade" (ok to return to service from depot grade) M1 Garand from $500-550 + S/H and qualification (DD214 or match participation)
2. Ex-Greek/non-Greek used "Field Grade" (okay to remain in field usage grade) M1 Garand at $375

BATFE Web Page References:

On the Import Ban:
Extension on Current Import Licenses Until the End of 2005:
U.S. Military Arsenal Manufactured Rifles Now Importable:

- R.D.

"I'd like France to have two Armies -- one for display, with lovely guns, tanks, little Soldiers, fanfares, staffs, distinguished and doddering Generals and dear little regimental officers, who would be deeply concerned over their General's bowel movements or their Colonel's piles: an Army that would be shown for a modest fee on every fairground in the country.

The other would be the real one, composed entirely of young enthusiasts in camouflage battledress, who would not be put on display but from whom impossible efforts
would be demanded and to whom all sorts of tricks would be taught. That's the Army in which I should like to fight." - Jean Larteguy, The Centurions

Monday, August 22, 2005

Getting any dairy animal is a very big commitment. But I believe they are a valuable part of your livestock preparedness. Even more importantly, I believe that goats are the best dairy animals for the survivalist.

My reasons to recommend goats over cows for a survival situation are as follows:

1. A dairy goat costs only about one fifth as much as a dairy cow.

2. Five goats can be fed one the same amount that it takes to feed one cow.

3. If your dairy cow dies, then you are out of luck. But the odds of losing all of your goats is small.

4.Goat browse rather than graze and can make use of a wider variety of forage.

5. Goats are easier to handle

6. Because of their smaller size, goats are less likely to cause serious injuries to humans or other livestock.

The downside is that it will take more time to milk five goats than one cow. You'll have to get five animals in and out of the stanchion, Wash five udders, milk five does (female goats), strip five udders, etc. But I really believe that the benefits of having the insurance of multiple dairy animals far outweighs the extra effort.

The main drawback is that the cream does not separate in goats milk, so that you will not be able to skim the cream off. And therefore you will not be able to make butter. On the other hand, goat milk is much easier to digest, and many people who cannot drink cows milk can drink goats milk. And of course you can use goats milk to make yogurt, cream cheese, hard cheese, and ice cream, as well as use it in recipes just like you would cows milk.

As I mentioned earlier, dairy animals are a big commitment. This is because they are traditionally milked twice a day, at the same time every day. Perhaps your current schedule doesn't allow for this. There are ways to get around this, yet still be prepared. You could for instance milk in the morning but let the kids nurse during the day. You could also have a small herd that you do not milk at all, but instead just let them raise offspring until your family NEEDS the milk. Or maybe have a small herd but don't even breed them until TEOTWAWKI. (They will not produce milk if they do not give birth.).

I thought that the SurvivalBlog readers might like to hear about our experience in raising wheat for our own use. My wife and I have lived on a small farm for many years. We raise most of our own vegetables, have chickens for eggs, run a couple of steers in the pasture and at times feed out a hog. We both have full time jobs so there is not enough time to raise everything that we need but we do what we can. As most of our kids have moved out or are off at college we no longer need to put back as much canned and frozen vegetables as we had in the past. Last fall I cleaned up the plant remnants in our garden and then simply broadcast seed wheat on top of the ground. I purchased a 50lb. bag from the local feed store, it took about 1/2 of the bag to sow the garden, the rest was stored in a sealed 5 gallon bucket, to be used on the garden this fall. By spring, even though we had an exceptionally cold winter, the wheat was several inches tall. When planting time came we plowed the wheat under as “green manure” in the upper half of our garden the lower half was left in wheat. I plan to rotate halves and see if I can gain some weed control from a year in wheat. At this point raising the wheat was simplicity itself, we did nothing other than watch it grow as we put out the rest of the garden. No hoeing, fertilizer, weeding or bug dust like with the conventional garden.
As the wheat ripened I kept an eye on my neighbors commercial wheat fields. When they started harvest I checked my wheat, it was dry enough that you had to bite fairly hard to get it to crack, not real scientific but in the event that you can’t get to your local grain elevator to have it tested, a handy gauge.
Abigail and I see this type of exercise as training in the event that the balloon does indeed go up. So as the next step is the harvest I sharpened up the hand scythe, grabbed the wheel barrow and filled it with the wheat and straw.
I then wheeled it over to a shaded area in our yard and we started the gleaning process. I had considered using the flail method to glean the wheat, but chose to use two washboards instead. I wanted to have some washboards around the house just in case they were ever needed for their intended purpose, and it would appear to take about as much time either way. Sitting on an old bed sheet we would take a handful of grain heads in the palm of our hand and rub them up and down on the washboard, the grain and chaff would pile up on the sheet. We would pile the empty straw behind us and when finished gleaning we would lay the straw between the rows in the conventional garden for weed control. We then scooped up the grain and chaff from the sheet and placed it in a large plastic bowl. It was then swirled around as we blew on the bowl. This removed about 90% of the chaff. One wheelbarrow load took two of us about an hour to process. After 3 wheelbarrows we had a gallon jar full of grain. We then took an electric fan and dribbled the wheat in front of it removing most of the remaining chaff. This process took us an additional hour as some of the wheat kernels were still covered with a sheath that we removed. We then ground the wheat in a electric mill that we had recently purchased from Lehman’s. That took about 5 minutes and yielded a little over a gallon of delicious whole-wheat flour.
1.) While the gleaning process was not hard work by any means it took far longer than I ever anticipated. It was enjoyable in the fact that my wife, daughter and I had some quiet time together, in these busy times an all too rare occurrence. If the balloon would ever go up, and the neighbors won’t or can’t show up with their combines, I can easily see a return to the threshing floor that Ruth and Boaz enjoyed. The neighbors will get together and help each other thresh their wheat as a social event.
2.) Economically this made no sense whatsoever. We spent 4 hours of labor to obtain maybe 10 lbs of whole wheat, which I can buy at the local bulk food store for $4.70. That works out to 59 cents per hour per person, not very good wages these days.
3.)In terms of satisfaction, the experience was great! We raised, harvested, gleaned, milled and baked our own bread from our own wheat. Not too many people can say that.
4.) Because of the amount of time involved we more than likely will not harvest the rest of the wheat this year, but it will be there in the unlikely event that we need it.
5.) I plan to repeat the process next year switching halves of the garden.
6.) It was a great process and very educational. We now know what will be required if we ever have to depend on raising our own wheat. I would urge people to give it a try. Not much land is required and you too will be better informed.
7.) Because of this I am now getting into sourdough bread cooking, a whole new challenge, and a skill that may come in very handy some day.
If you or anyone else has any questions please let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them. (JWR adds: I will be happy to post or forward your questions to John and Abigail.)

Dear Jim,
For what it's worth, I think your new blog is excellent and I've read your book Patriots numerous times. I find them both entertaining and educational at the same time.
Please continue with dispensing your knowledge to us "new guys".

I have a question about your 08/20/05 post regarding the Beretta 92 upgrade to .40 S&W. You stated that one should have 2500 rounds or more of ammunition if this is your primary weapon. My question is this: What do you suggest as far as FMJ or Hollow Point? Should all of that be either one or the other (FMJ / HP) or if not, what percentage do you suggest of each configuration. Thanks for your insight. - D.

JWR's Reply:
Since .40 S&W is IMO a barely adequate stopper, I recommend that you primarily buy all jacketed hollow point ammunition. If you ever get into a gunfight with looters that are wearing body armor, .40 S&W FMJ projectiles will not penetrate anyway, so there is no reason to stock anything but hollow points. (And, BTW, if you suspect an opponent is wearing a vest, take head shots!) The .40 S&W Federal Hydrashok is reportedly excellent. Perhaps some of the readers of the Blog will have other suggestions on other factory brands that feed reliably and blossom out well.

At this juncture I should mention that my usual approach with any newly-acquired handgun is is to first buy just ONE box of your proposed premium self defense ammo.Then shoot that entire box, using at least three different magazines. You will be testing both for accuracy and reliable feeding and ejection. Make sure that you shoot at least one magazine--preferably the last one, since much of your earlier testing will be for accuracy--in very rapid fire. If there is even a single failure to feed or eject then you should dispassionately move on to another brand until you find one that both functions flawlessly, and has good accuracy. Once you've established that, if you can afford it then buy your entire planned stock of ammunition for that pistol--all from the same lot . (Lot numbers are typically printed inside the flap of cardboard pistol ammunition boxes.) Regardless of your budget, as time goes on, you will purchase ammo from different lots. So mark the ammo cans accordingly. (Such as: ".40 S&W, Federal HP, LOT 1") Then as you use up ammunition, expend one lot completely before you start shooting up the next lot. Be sure to confirm the point of impact ("zero") whenever you change lots.

James -
I am concerned about your post regarding the slide change on Berettas - the 9mm has a nasty history of frames cracking at 5,000 rounds in the service - using the .40 on a 9mm pistol sounds like a guarantee of broken guns. As a measure of experience, one of my mentorees (I sat on the congressional board that selected him for attendance at USMA) who is in Iraq for his second tour, has shared stories of he and his troops plinking at the tires of a shot up truck with their 9mm Berettas. When they could get the magazines to allow the pistol to cycle upon firing, their 9mm ball rounds BOUNCED OFF THE TRUCK TIRES!!!

My advice is to sell the Berettas (isn't that Italian for malfunction?) and buy Glocks. For $600 you get a pistol that will run - period! Why pay twice as much for a 1911 that will still need to be tweaked and fitted with additional items? (an ambidextrous safety, for example) My Kimber compact self destructed when its two piece recoil rod unscrewed and wrecked the trigger. Sure, the factory was prompt at fixing it and returning the thing, but then I had no confidence in it, so out the door it went, to fund a Glock purchase. Besides, 10 or 13 rounds of .45ACP (vs. 7-8 in a 1911) in a Glock 21 is pretty good medicine for bad circumstances. Obviously shot placement, shot placement, shot placement, however, wolves travel in packs so 13+1 is comforting to me.

I also noticed that in all of your profiles no one mentioned PT. You will be much more likely to survive an illness or the stress of TEOTWAWKI if you are in good shape. After initial defense needs, FOOD, FOOD, FOOD. MEDICINE, MEDICINE, MEDICINE. After all self-reliance stuff is secured, then maybe it is time to upgrade the C&R Mosins/Mausers to FALs? If I had to do over again and could keep my love for rifles out of the preps, I would do it that way.

I have been looking for self-winding watches for 5 years! Where are you getting yours? All that Chinamart and other stores have these days is EMP-sensitive wrist jewelry. - The Cavalryman

JWR's Reply:

On Berettas: IIRC, slide cracking was only an issue with the early production lots of military contract 9mm M9s--all of which had their slides replaced by the factory. I have not read about any slide failures with the later 9mm models or any of the .40 S&W variants. (BTW, in fairness I should mention that it has been documented that some of the .40 S&W Glocks had their own problems, involving rear frame rails.) But I do concur with you that Glocks are "more gun for the money." If I were to buy a .40 S&W it would most likely be a Glock Model 22 or 23. However, there are people that intensely dislike Glocks because of their lack of a manual safety. (Some even irrationally fear them, for the same reason.) For folks in those categories, I believe that a Beretta in .40 S&W is a viable alternative. OBTW, in case you are wondering, I don't currently own any handguns chambered in either 9mm or a .40 S&W. All of the primary handguns in our family battery are .45 ACPs. We also have a variety of secondary handguns in .22 LR and various big bore revolver chamberings--the latter in deference to being in bear and wolf country.

On PT: I agree that physical condition and watching one's weight are both very important and should not be overlooked. Coincidentally, I added a new Profile last night that specifically talks about PT. (Mr. Delta's profile.)

On self-winding watches:
I've been successful at finding used self-winders on E-Bay. Used ones, (brands such as a Bulova, Caravelle--also made by the Bulova works, Benrus, and Hamilton) with scratched or cracked crystals often sell on E-Bay for under $100. Next, a quick trip to the local watch/jewelry shop for a new crystal and a cleaning, then add a "Tommy Tactical"-looking nylon band Velcro closure flap and you'll have a relatively bomb-proof watch that should provide decades of service.

OBTW, I know nothing about the Russian self-winders that are currently on the market, so I don't feel qualified to talk about those. Perhaps one of your fellow blog readers that has owned one for at least a year will drop me a "review" e-mail...)

Thank you for your website. I am only now beginning to read through it and so far I am finding it excellent. I have been meaning to ask this survival-related question and maybe it will spark some interest on your blog: Why bother with gold and silver? As far as survival economy goes, I understand that things with intrinsic value such as fertile land, water, manpower, armamentaria , food, and medicines will be useful for trade for the simple reason that they are valuable items. Gold and Silver may be very handy if the global, stable
economy is restored since the WHOLE WORLD rarely goes into a tailspin at the same time; and the return of a stable economy will mark the return of the value of precious metals. But I can tell you that before that, maybe a dentist can find intrinsic value in gold/silver for filling cavities. But unless two people agree that your 10-dollar-gold-piece is worth anything it is almost valueless. Also, related to the above, people being people with weaknesses means that there will still be a market for 'non-essential items'. A review of war-torn Europe after the 20th Century world wars shows that three items in particular that were the hottest black market items: alcohol, cigarettes, and chocolate! For folks like you and me who can live happily without any of the three, they are almost a source of surplus wealth! If I wanted something from you I know I'd need to fork over some service, or tool, or ammo etc. But to the 'regular, unprepared' population- and some will indeed survive- you could make a great friend with a litre of cognac and a box of cigars! (Based on historical example, anyway.) Anyway, I can accept that I missed the published reasons for precious metals retaining value in WTSHTF-survival-economies because I am somewhat new to the arena. But I would like to know why gold and silver are expected to remain valuable. Thanks in advance for your, and anyone else's, time. - Dr. P.R. Ophylaxis, Athens, Greece

JWR's Reply:

To begin, I DO NOT consider gold and silver particularly good barter items for the depths of an economic collapse. Rather, I consider them a sort of "time machine" vehicle to preserve wealth from one side of an economic collapse to the other. (Something that almost certainly no paper currency will do.) As I pointed out in the Barter Faire chapter of my novel Patriots, even small gold coins are much too compact a form of wealth for day-to-day barter transactions. however, easily recognizable silver coins (such as pre-1965 mint date U.S. 90% silver dimes and quarters) might have some utility for barter. But in the very depth of the chasm, only truly practical items like common caliber ammunition and canning lids will be in great demand as barterables. The greatest utility for gold and silver will be in the later recovery phase, and post-recover--again, as a time machine. Perhaps someday you'll have the chance to trade a dozen one ounce Krugerrands or American Eagles for a ranch house on 40 acres.

The Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) effect was first discovered during the Starfish Prime high altitude hydrogen bomb test in 1962 where electrical systems were damaged in Hawaii, 800 miles from the blast. EMP has become the big voodoo sci-fi scare among survivalists right up there with radiation zombies on our list of expensive priorities. EMP can be combated without massive expense by using common sense and some easily made preparations. EMP is a wide spectrum short duration radio pulse generated most famously by a nuclear detonation in the atmosphere. Any conductive object is an antenna, radio waves resonating in a conductor create an electrical field and voltage and amperage are generated, just like your crystal radio set made enough electricity to actuate the earphone from the radio/electrical resonance of your long wire antenna. What is at risk? Anything with a run of metal can couple a voltage spike when exposed to EMP, simple electrical motors and radio tubes are unaffected by EMP just like static electricity would not do them any damage. The most vulnerable devices are those connected to a wire, both the power cable and the antenna both couple EMP, in fact the power cable is connected to the grid which acts as a giant antenna. What can we do? There are two options for most people: shield or divert the EMP. Shielding can be complex like wallpapering the walls, ceiling, floor, windows, and door with metal screen and grounding it making a Faraday cage. Almost no RF energy could enter or exit this room, but external antenna feeds would be required for any radio equipment. A simpler way is to remove or fold all antennas and wrap your device in aluminum foil. Shielding is fine for stored electronics but if antenna or power supply extends your protection is eliminated, if a radio device is able to receive your shielding is not effective.

Diverting or discharging EMP is how "in use" electronics are protected. EMP can be in the thousands to million volts range but its amperage is typically very low and not a health hazard. These voltages will quickly run to the closest ground when the correct equipment is used. Gas discharge dissipation eliminates high voltages by using a gas filled tube (typically neon) which once ionized conducts electricity, it is shorter to dump across the ionized gap and to ground than burning through your expensive solid state radio. A proper ground is required to be most effective a copper rod driven 6 feet into damp earth is excellent. Also very good is a cold water pipe to well or municipal water. A dissipator can be made by splitting a piece of copper tube and running your antenna line through the tube. Solder one or more neon lamps between antenna and the tubing then solder up the seam connect the tube to the cables ground jacket run an extra grounding cable. these can be placed throughout your antenna system or you can purchase higher quality factory models especially for the connection to your radio. The longer the wire or antenna the higher the risk of developing damaging voltages. Dissipation for grid power is quite easy, cheap, and readily available now. A quality surge protector is designed to protect from our common EMP problem--lightning. If you or your home has survived a near lightning strike than you have experienced something like an EMP attack!

EMP is not voodoo and like many Cold War topics it was blow out or proportion by Hollywood. While having a spare distributor with points instead of a GM High Energy Ignition (HEI) system can't hurt (any spare is good), it may be better to have a long life burned-in HEI rig which will last much longer and keep your vehicle running over all circumstances other than a nearby nuclear strike which would likely melt your car shortly after destroying your ignition. HEI ignition is already uses high voltages and sparks, short wire runs won't develop the energy required to burn out older heavy duty HEI systems. I make no claims on later model computer driven systems. The phone system was very EMP hardened in the old Bell system days, deregulation has likely reduced these preparations as has the Cold War threat reduction. Power grid is questionable with many miles of "antenna" ready to fry regulating components. Have no doubt that your DSL and cable modems will die a quick death, likely shoving a serious spike through your wired network, the tiny WiFi antennas with 1-2 db gain will likely survive even if the WiFi card fails so this may actually protect your laptop if it is properly surge protected again you can make dischargers for your network cable if you want to take the time. DSLAM's on the Telco side have no requirement to be EMP resistant, so it is likely all broadband will die after a EMP incident.

BTW, up to the old Intel 386 there was EMP hardening designed into processors I am not sure which 386 model was the last to include this feature.

Great to see a real survival site on the net. One that actually provides useful and accurate info. Would rate you in the top two percent of all the sites I have looked at.
Keep up the good work. I have always been a gasoline man for vehicle power, however, I have to admit that you make a very good case for diesel in your recent blog. Will have to re-think my BOV plans. A couple of questions on Bug-out Vehicles (BOVs):

Are all diesels safe from an EMP burst? I've heard that only those made prior to 2000 are and that the newer ones are as bad as all the gas cars and trucks. What's the straight scoop?
Also at what year did the gas cars and trucks go computerized and become sensitive to EMP?

Thanks and again keep up the great site. Best Regards, - J.W.S.

JWR's Reply:

The major U.S. (Detroit, Michigan) car and truck manufacturers started using electronic ("computer") ignition systems in or around 1975. Chrysler was the first of the Big Three manufacturers to abandon the traditional "points and condensers" for an electronic ignition. IIRC, that was in 1974. Ford and GM followed with most of their product lines in or around 1975. (The conversion in ignition systems usually took place in automobile product lines before trucks.) By 1976 or 1977, virtually all gas engine cars coming out of Detroit had electronic ignitions. The trucks had all gone electronic by 1978.

The general consensus I've read is that indeed, most diesel engines are immune from EMP. However, my knowledge of the latest diesel engine electronics is limited. Perhaps a reader with some first hand knowledge can fill us in. Does anyone out there work in Detroit? And, BTW, do any of you Detroit guys know what the "point of no return" year was for each of the major makers for retrofitting a gas engine to a traditional points/condenser ignition is? (I've been told that it is impossible for a lot of the late model engines--most notably the Dodge and Jeep engines with "selectable 4 or 8 cylinders firing" arrangements--to be retrofitted.)

"Knowledge itself is power." - Sir Francis Bacon

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Three more profiles have just been added to the Profiles Page. Read between the lines. There is some valuable FFTAGFFR there, folks!

I've had several e-mails WRT to my post on Friday (August 19) titled "Seek a Diverse Economy." To clarify, this is important whether the scenario is mild or severe. To be suitable for a retreat, a local economy must be sufficiently diverse. It should include small scale agriculture with a wide variety of crops, and some livestock raising. As previously stated, a vegetable “truck farming” region would be ideal. Single crop regions (monoculture) make a poor second choice. Because long distance commerce may break down (due to lack of fuel or lawlessness) it might be difficult to trade locally grown wheat for vegetables from the next county, and so forth. If an area also produces grass hay, alfalfa, and timber, even better! And, as noted in previous blog posts, all crops must be grown without the aid of electrically pumped irrigation water.

A viable local industry or mining are important in the event of a “slow slide” scenario in which the power grid is intact. In the event of a deep, prolonged recession or a depression similar to the 1930s, the payroll from local industry will be important. Without it, even if families are able to feed themselves with truck farming, there won’t be sufficient cash available to pay for their mortgages (or rent), seed, tools, fuels, sundries, and property taxes. Conversely, if a community is dependent on local industry or mining and has NO agriculture, it would be a horrible place to be in the event of a long term worst-case grid-down TEOTWAWKI situation.

Well done, Mr. Rawles!! Excellent info. I have been involved in survival skills for the last 30 years (former U.S. Army survival instructor) and have been a student of herbal medicine and wildcrafting for many years. I have an excellent source for herbal medicine information. The web site that belongs to the herbalist Michael Moore (no, not THAT Michael Moore!) has tons of downloadable material which has an incredible amount of free herbal medicine information. I certainly hope this info may be of help to you and the survival minded community in general. Best Regards and may God bless you. - R.L.

Most of your readers probably know most of the following by now, but for the sake of those for those who have not grown up hunting and have not had the luxury of being able to shoot often and learn the information below. Please note that my goal is not to show what I have learned, but to help those who may have missed these facts along the way to consider what they need to do in order to become more prepared:

Guns are one of the highest priorities on most survivalists' buy lists, yet many people are not fully experienced on how they will work under field conditions. Some of us have grown up shooting and hunting all our lives. Other folks have only shot their guns once or twice and may not realize a few facts that could bring about negative consequences if they ever had to count on their firearms.

As a hunter, I work reasonably hard at becoming a good long distance shot. Over the years I meet and get to know folks from gun shows or at the local range - many of whom seem to be relatively well on their way in their preparations, I am amazed to find out how many of them have misunderstandings of "shooting skills". For example, several people I know have multiple rifles, but have not ever fired them, yet consider them part of their "home defense arsenal". The don't really know if they would function or not, and what ammo will shoot well and what ammo will fail to function in the semi-automatic actions. Others, have ammo cans filled with mixed loose rounds, some may be good, some bad but all are UNTESTED but "believed to be good".

Most folks I talk to do not understand that different types of ammunition and even different lots of the same brand ammunition can have different points of impact on their target. Some are very different points (up to 12 inches variance at a hundred yards!) - even with the same bullet weights. This can be especially true if you are comparing some of the Chinese or Russian ammo to European or US made NATO stuff. It's a little hard to believe, but even a few ex-military guys who are used to shooting whatever they were given don't realize this.
Other factors such as ambient temperature, barrel temperature, uphill/downhill shooing, and wind can have a big effect on bullet point of impact. The effects of all of these factors get multiplied when you are shooting long ranges. I heard another fellow say he only had short range weapons because he would only be shooting short distances (100 yards or less). If we do have to defend our home and country - we should do it at long distance if at all possible so that we can hit our targets but we cannot be hit. It is also quite important to know the distance you are trying to shoot at. If your rifle is zeroed at 100 yards (I recommend 200 yards) you will probably need to hold a little high at 300 yards. Sometimes in "big country" the distance you are shooting may be much longer or even shorter than you think and it is easy to shoot under or over your target. A range finder can be invaluable for determining the distance to your target, and therefore getting a correct aim point on your target.

In conclusion: I encourage all those who are not rifleman to get out and function test their weapons with the ammo they have on hand. Buy your ammo in bulk, getting as much as you can from the same lot. Test and know the difference between the ammo you have for each gun you own. Shoot at as long of distances that you can once you have your rifle zeroed in. Know the trajectory (the path of the bullet your shooting) at the various distances you may plan on shooting. Practice shooting close, medium and long distances and know where your bullets will hit. Shoot in the various field positions - prone, standing, seated, kneeling, etc. Know that shooting from a barrel-mounted bipod usually results in shots that hit in a different place on the target than when shooting offhand or some other standard rifleman method.

Don't forget to check you rifle's zero from time to time. Things can change; scopes can shift - especially when traveling bumpy roads. Even different forms of lubrication can affect your guns over time. Check how well your scope does in low light (near dawn or dusk).

Practice regularly. Test your gear and KNOW that it works. Then leave it clean, properly lubricated, and ready for use when the time comes.


Regarding driver's licenses for weight classes: The "Class D" that T. H. refers to seems to be for a specific state - and states have all sorts of differing laws. Case in point, I've got a Deuce and a half [an Army surplus 2.5 ton 6x6 cargo truck] , 13,450 curb weight, and 23,450 all up. Technically, it's under the weight limit for federal commercial vehicle ratings, so federally I don't need a commercial license. However, living in one of the great Nanny states, I've had to deal with getting a Class B Non-Commercial license to drive this truck. California classifies trucks under 26,000 GVW or so as non-commercial, if they've got two axles. Deuce and a halfs have three axles, ergo, they're "commercial" according to California. But fortunately since mine is registered as a "Historic Vehicle", I'm OK with just a Class B (Commercial) Non-Commercial license. This [California axle count rule] holds true even for motor homes, and all the way down to something like a WC-63. -G.T.

JWR's Comment: There is some good information on military surplus vehicles at the MVPA website. I also recommend Dave Uhrig’s website as a great source for vehicles.

A recent article in The Hong Kong Standard points out that if the Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) virus mutates into a strain that could easily be transmitted between humans then it could cause a pandemic that could kill 10 million+ people and hence trigger a global economic Great Depression. Plan accordingly.

While we all hope and pray that a human to human strain of Avian flu doesn't happen, do not forget that the major form of transmission of this disease is between fowl.
Water fowl especially. Since chickens don't fly very far, waterfowl seem to be the primary carriers of this flu from country to country and county to county. What that means is that should it start to spread across your country (wherever that may be) your chicken flock is at risk of getting the stuff themselves unless you plan ahead.

Chicken coops that are enclosed from other birds are a must. The use of 1/4" hardware cloth instead of typical chicken wire is necessary [to prevent small wild bird from entering your poultry pen.] If you are range feeding your chickens you may have no choice but to pen them up away from wild birds droppings. A vaccine for chickens has been developed but I don't know how long it will be before being available to the small "hobby" farmer.

A further note on vaccines: It was reported on CNN that a vaccine had been developed against avian flu for humans. What they aren't telling us is that this vaccine may not even help at all if the avian flu mutates drastically into a form that passes from human to human rapidly. They are hoping that the new vaccine will give just enough immunity to drop the fatality rate from the current 80 percent. A vaccine cannot be made for something that doesn't yet exist! - B.W.

Sir : You mentioned this subject on an earlier blog post, but I think it is so important that I would like to see it addressed.

Post-TEOTWAWKI, we will probably be on our own for an extended period of time, and dependent on our knowledge and training, much of which can be garnered here at this excellent website.

My question is: how can we find out which medicines - antibiotics, pain relievers, etc., acquired legitimately of course, are appropriate to our survival situation? I understand your general provisos and accept them, but how do we "snuffys" get this info which is so critical to our survival? In my personal experience, the vast majority of medical professionals are unwilling to say much due to liability, etc.

My questions would be: Which of each Rx is recommended, how much of each, and the realistic storage life if kept cool, dark, and dry - like in a survival stash. Diagnosis and dosage can be ascertained by a survivalist pro (medically trained), or medical manual (like the Merck Manuals), or PDR, or personal experience.

I would encourage any medical pro, and I'm sure several must read this blog, to contribute to the rest of us. When it's post-WTSHTF, we'll be your only patients!!

Semper Fi, - Old Sarge

JWR's Reply:
Regarding, herbal medicines, I recommend the book From The Shepherd's Purse. Another useful resource is Michael Moore's website (coincidently mentioned in another letter today). Regarding prescription drugs, I concur that get every reader should get a copy of the latest edition of the Physician's Desk Reference (PDR). A full set of the Merck Manuals is another must. OBTW, I mention several other highly recommended medical references on my Bookshelf page, including:

  • American Red Cross First Aid
  • Where There is No Doctor, by David Werner
  • Where There is No Dentist, by Murray Dickson
  • Emergency War Surgery (NATO handbook) Dr. Martin Fackler, et al.

My philosophy is to store as many medical supplies as I can afford, and, as they near their near their expiration dates to rotate them out--donating the old stocks to medical missionaries.

There are some approaches that can be taken to minimize the frequency/expense of rotation. Some items such as isopropyl alcohol and baking soda essentially have no expiration date. I tend toward the old-fashioned method of bandaging wounds--using separate gauze and bandage tape rather than modern self adhesive bandages. Since gauze stores indefinitely, all that I need to do is buy a few fresh rolls of bandage tape once every two or three years. And BTW, if you ever find a medical (ultra-cold) freezer for sale as surplus, jump on it!

I am confident that one of the several doctors that regularly read this blog will e-mail me some other references and specific recommendations on exact varieties and quantities of medications to store. (For their privacy I will of course keep their comments anonymous.)

"America is sliding deeper and deeper into a politically correct, scholastically indoctrinated, regulated, credentialed, homogenized and degenerate hole. If catastrophe does not interrupt this decline (as it surely will), then America shall become a land of subhuman semi-illiterates, utterly dependent on government, profoundly alienated from one another and entertained to the point of stupefaction." - J. R. Nyquist

Saturday, August 20, 2005

There may come a day when you have to put all of your training and preparations to use. That will be ultimate test of whether or not you have a true survival mindset. Do you think that you are ready for WTSHTF, physically and mentally? Assuming that you live in the suburbs, try a weekend “grid down” test with you family. This will test both your mental preparedness and how well you have prepared for the basics. Here is how it is done: Some Friday evening, unannounced, turn off your main circuit breaker and shut the valves the gas main and the water main. Leave them off until Monday morning. You might be surprised how the weekend goes. One thing that I can guarantee you: Some of the most accurate lists of logistics that you will ever compose are those written by candlelight.

Now, assuming that your weekend test goes well, extrapolate to a situation where your entire community is in the same circumstances. Then add to that some turmoil: bullets are flying and perhaps there is even the occasional stray mortar round. The recent civil wars in Kosovo and Macedonia are good points of reference.

The following are lessons that can be learned from the recent civil wars in the former Yugoslavia:
Pray, repent, and obey God's commandments. I fervently believe that God will put his covenant people in the right place with the right friends at the right time. Read the 37th and 91st Psalms! If you are a Christian but a backslider, repent and renew your Christian walk!

If at all possible, don't become a refugee. Refugees have a short life expectancy. If you have done any reading about the many wars of the last century you will note that many of them caused massive dislocations of civilian population. The last category I want to be in is "refugee." In war, life is cheap and refugees are vulnerable to untold horrors.

No matter what happens, blend in. Remember the old Japanese proverb: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down."

In the event of a civil war, decide early on if you and yours will be combatants or if it is the time to bug out. Make that decision early, and then don't hesitate. Those who left Macedonia early on were able to take some possessions with them. But those who waited too long had little more than the clothes on their backs.

Stock up on key logistics for your family, in quantity. Consider what you will need for a situation that will last for months or even years.

Most importantly, always have a plan B, and a plan C. (Because Plan A is not always a sure thing.)

A recent article about job offshoring at Yahoo Business was some serious FFTAGFFR. The global economy is undergoing nothing short of a full scale paradigm shift. Ten years ago I was anxiously looking forward to the day when I could telecommute from out in the boonies in Idaho, and yet still make a good salary. However, the advances in telecommunications have allowed bottom line-driven corporations to leapfrog beyond setting up their American information workers as telecommuters. Instead, they contract out to teleworkers in Third World countries. Increasingly, most new customer service call centers are being set up not in low cost Arkansas, but instead in in ultra low cost India. Likewise new software development centers are being set up not in low cost Oregon, but instead in in ultra low cost Pakistan or Communist China. I expect this trend to continue. And with university systems expanding in the Third World there will be no shortage of high tech teleworkers in the Third World. The University of Bangalore cranks out tens of thousands of programmers every year that are gleeful at the prospect of earning a whopping $10,000 a year and willing to crank out beau coup lines of code, working 60 hours a week, sitting elbow-to-elbow with their co-workers. At $10,000 a year, they can afford to live in a nice house and have a lower caste servant to do the washing. (Someone who is willing to work for $300 a year.) If you work in high tech, my advice is to maneuver yourself into an offshoring-proof job. There aren't many of those. Note, however, that offshoring is impracticable in any job that his highly dependent on face to face contact. It is also unlikely for offshoring to occur in some highly regulated sectors or such as banking, gaming, and defense. (At least the defense jobs that require a security clearance.)

I have always considered 9mm Parabellum (also known as 9mm Luger) marginal at best at stopping two-legged predators. For those of you that own a 9mm Beretta Model 92 or Beretta Centurion, be advised that Beretta USA now produces a .40 S&W conversion kit for your pistol. These are complete "top halves" and come with one 11 round .40 S&W magazine. The folks at CDNN currently have these factory-made conversion kits on sale for $149.99. Since these kits don't include a frame, no FFL is required. If you are one of those folks that has a Beretta 9mm that you don't shoot much, or if you have both a Beretta 9mm and any other pistols in your battery that are chambered in .40 S&W, I recommend getting one of these kits. The .40 S&W is a fairly reliable stopper. (Not quite up to the benchmark of .45 ACP, but sufficient.) Make sure that you specify M92 or Centurion length when you order.

One key proviso: You should line up a supply of Beretta factory made Model 96G (.40 S&W) 10 or 11 round magazines before you order a conversion kit. Parenthetically, I would consider 5 spare magazines a bare minimum--but 10 or 12 spares should probably meet your comfort level. After you've made the switch, I recommend greasing up your old 9mm top half and all of your 9mm magazines with R.I.G. Then seal them up in double plastic bags with a little silica gel desiccant inside the inner bag for good measure. Tuck them away in an ammo can--right next to those cans full of 9mm ammo that you can now resign to the category of ballistic wampum. OBTW, I recommend that you consider having a set of Meprolight or Trijicon tritium sights installed on your new .40 top half. Lay in a supply of at least 1,200 rounds of .40 S&W if your Beretta will be your secondary handgun, or at least 2,500 rounds (or more) if it will be your primary handgun.

This "Mr. Housing Bubble" T-shirt sums up the current situation nicely. 'Nuff said.

"There's nothing like a nice piece of Hickory." - Clint Eastwood, in Pale Rider

I grew up with burning wood for heat. My grandfather had a big old "octopus" looking wood burner in the basement. The heat was nice and even. After growing up and moving away with my family, I have always had a wood stove of some type and I do not feel prepared for winter unless I have a good wood supply.

My issue is with the axes. We will be using to trim and split the wood we are putting up. Now is the time to buy plenty of handles for your axes, splitting mauls, and gardening tools. You will find many axe heads after the crash but handles will be scarce. I extend the life of my axes and mauls by wrapping fiberglass tape just behind the head for about 6 inches. This is the area of the ax handle that gets the most abuse and will save you from replacing the handle prematurely. I have tried 18 gauge copper wire soldered, and duct tape. The copper held up the best but was difficult to put on. The duct tape was not strong enough and still let the handle break with a bad strike. The best compromise I have found is the fiberglass tape at least 4 layers deep. The tape is cheap. I do not like the feel of the fiberglass handles available and it is tedious to remove the epoxy and fiberglass from the head. You can break a fiberglass handle! Have extra wooden wedges and rasps to set a new handle. The metal wedges can be reused. After an extended period of storage, the wood dries out and the head is loose. Just soak the head in a bucket of water for at least several hours to overnight. The wood will swell and grip the axe head. I do not recommend applying any epoxy between the handle and head. This will make it difficult to replace the handle..- T.T. in Northern Idaho

Thank you for writing “Patriots”. I re-read my copy at least yearly and it is very dog-eared and highlighted. I currently have 2 – 3 years worth of wood under cover and today I was adding a little. This fits in with the latest posts to your blog. I've been ignoring reality for awhile now on one subject. Here is a point regarding EMP protection. I carry my portable printer, laptop solar charger, manual squeeze charger, floppy drive adaptor, CD/DVD RW, et cetera in a shiny aircraft aluminum foam lined case which I keep in the truck because yuppies and socialites look at you funny otherwise.

My laptop has a great yuppie accepted case........ except it's fabric. So for my laptop I ordered in a foam lined, aircraft aluminum case in yuppie acceptable black. If I'm going to carry it around like I always do, I might as well protect it.

Most stuff will live in a foam lined, well sealed metal case whether it's grounded or not. The rest of it will become boat anchors. I can't believe that I put off this easy-to-do thing.

This is a good source for a solid laptop case--not a riveted style which tend to be RF porous.

Seems to me you said "Hindsight is 20/20". Guess a little foresight wouldn't hurt. :-) - The Army Aviator

"It is by no means an irrational fancy that in future existence we shall look upon what we think our present existence as a dream." - Edgar Allan Poe

Friday, August 19, 2005

A diverse local economy is of great importance when evaluating potential retreat locales. Unless you are retired or about to retire, the opportunity to find steady work pre-TEOTWAWKI is also very important. Depending on the scenario you envision, you should probably look for a town with:

A robust, growing economy
A good mix of jobs in dry land farming, ranching, mining, industry, high technology, and service sector jobs
City and county governments that are pro-business
A “Farmer’s Market” on summer evenings and/or weekends (evidence of sufficient small scale truck farming)
A good mix of established local businesses such as a grocery store, sewing shop, car parts store, hardware store, and so forth.
A high rate of church attendance. Even if you aren't religious personally, a high ratio of church attendance equates to a high ratio of law-abiding citizens.

And a town without:

A single industry economy
Predominantly government payroll jobs
A predominantly retired population
A large seasonal tourist population
A large seasonal student population
Lots of bars
Tattoo/piercing parlors
Welfare dependency
Nearby prisons
Nearby military bases

Do your homework in detail before you buy!

Attitude Adjustment--Yours! (SA: Survival Mindset)

Just as important as finding a town that fits your needs is re-making you to fit your new town. For someone accustomed to the Big City pace of life, this can be a major adjustment.
Get to know the local way of doing things in your new town. Get accustomed to the pace of life. Don’t expect to get a lot done during deer season. (Nearly every building contractor, plumber, and electrician will be out in the woods, with tags to fill!) Dress like the natives. Don’t be ostentatious. Don’t whine about the lack of “good shopping” or culture. Learn how to pronounce the local names quickly. Don’t stand out. Join the local church.

Don’t just talk about preparedness. If you have concerns about the future --do something about it: Plant a vegetable garden, get weapons training at Front Sight, learn how to can your own vegetables, change your own motor oil, learn how to knit and darn, take up hiking, help a friend (or a local church) with a building or remodeling project, et cetera.

The difference between a genuine survivalist and an armchair commando (a.k.a. “Tommy Tactical”) is that a genuine survivalist collects useful skills whereas an Armchair Commando collects gadgets that he doesn’t know how to use.

Rethink your budget and your priorities in life. Here are some examples:

Cut out unnecessary travel.
Sell your jet ski and buy a canoe. Sell your television(s) and buy a general coverage short wave receiver.
Sell your fancy engraved guns, and commemorative guns, and customized “race” guns. Replace them with practical guns in non-reflective durable finishes.
Make sure to buy guns from a private party with no paper trail. Sell off your guns that are chambered in oddball calibers such as 16 gauge, 28 gauge, .280 Remington, .240 Weatherby Magnum, .35 Whelen, .25-20, and .41 Magnum. Replace them with guns in the most common standard calibers like: .30-06. .308, .223, .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 12 gauge, and .22 Long Rifle. (In Canada and Oz, that list should also include the venerable .303 British rifle cartridge. )
Sell your Beanie Baby (or whatever) collection on eBay and use that money to buy storage food.
Sell your Rolex and buy a half dozen inexpensive used self-winding watches. (These will come in handy for coordinating tactical rendezvous and guard shift changes.)
Sell your fancy late models cars and replace them with 5 to 10 year old low mileage American-made 4WDs with good ground clearance. When you move to the country you don’t want to stick out or be the focus of envy, so it is better to have older and dinged up vehicles than to have ones that look nearly new.
Get out of debt.
Live frugally.
Dress down.

Prepare for the worst case Schumeresque situation. Thus, you will always be ready for less severe circumstances and you can take them in stride. Such preparations will take a lot of money, but ask yourself:: What is your life and the lives of your loved ones worth to you? If being truly prepared requires moving to a small town in a lightly populated region, then so be it!

I'm not a wordy kind of guy but I just want to say thank you for getting me back in the survivalist mentality. Without knowing it, I grew up a "prepper" thanks to my grandparents who raised my brother and me. After I got married and moved to Memphis we got mesmerized with all the glitter of affluence. Started having kids and buying toys (kids and grown up) and blah, blah, blah. Then I read Patriots in 1999 and it got me back into the swing of things, full bore!!!

Thanks Again,

Johnny (a.k.a. swampthing)

JWR's Comment: Swampthing really knows his stuff! Don't miss his posts about the current spike in fuel prices over on Mutterings.

I would like to share a little info on box trucks and fuel storage. I have been self employed in the delivery business for 8 years and 5 years as an inspector on crude oil ships.

First you only need a Class D Drivers license for any truck under 26,000 GVW. These trucks generally weigh 10,000-to-11,000 lbs. So if needed 15,000 lbs of supplies could be stored in one of these trucks.

I have owned or been exposed to just about every make of box-bodied truck available. The most reliable trucks IMO are the imports: UD/Nissan Fuso/Mits and Isuzu. I have over 900,000 miles of experience with these brands, combined. The only issue I have had with these trucks seem to be fragile interiors. With 4-to-5 different drivers in a trucks life, they can get rough. The Internationals can be had with several different drive train combos: Cat, Cummings, Allison transmissions, etc. In my experience the problems with these trucks are almost always electrical and can/have rendered trucks useless.

In regard to loading these trucks always load the heaviest items to the nose/front of the truck. Loading heavy to the rear can cause higher fuel consumption due to the front raising and the back squatting = high wind resistance and instability. If you leave these trucks sitting for a long period of time in highly humid or salty air conditions YOU WILL have issues with your clutch, alternator and starter. All of these items will corrode the vehicle will become useless.

Water cut paste [also called Water Finding Paste] is used to detect or measure amounts of sediments and water at the bottom of your fuel tanks. To use: smear paste on a BRASS sounding rod lower into your tank when it hits bottom let it sit for 20 seconds and pull up and read. Two types of paste are needed--one for diesel and one for gas. I STRONGLY URGE YOU to use caution when water cut measuring your gasoline. ALWAYS ground yourself and use a non-sparking (brass) sounding rod. Use only cotton string for your sounding rod 1/8 inch diameter is fine. Also, use a MHSA approved flash light when doing inspections at night. Liquid gasoline is not 1/10th as explosive as its vapors. Static electricity is a killer!

Sincerely, - T.H.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

If you have a particular area of expertise in any SA related to survival, please share it. Your fellow SurvivalBloggers would greatly appreciate reading short pieces on everything from Apiaries to Zener Diodes. It doesn't have to be lengthy, and you don't have to be an expert writer. (I'll clean up any typos.) Many Thanks! - JWR.

As a survivalist, you should plan for every contingency. Part of this planning is identifying alternate fuels for after TEOTWAWKI. If possible, it is best to pick a retreat location with multiple fuel sources. In a recent blog post I mentioned coal seams . Natural gas wells are another possibility. Noted economist and newsletter writer Dr. Gary North advocates finding a retreat property with an existing natural gas well. Gary is one of the few folks in the country that doesn’t have to worry about running out of fuel for his generators. He has several, all natural gas powered.

Important Note: Generators built to run on propane need to have different jets installed to run on natural gas. Propane and natural gas have differing chemistry. Natural gas runs at lower pressures and uses a larger orifice in burners. If you run propane in a device configured for natural gas without modification, you might experience a most unpleasant fireball!

Most people don’t realize that even their piped (utility) natural gas service is dependent on the power grid. To push gas through the many miles of pipeline, gas companies depend on electrically-powered compressor stations to pressurize the distribution pipelines. It is important to distinguish between local (natural) compression versus long distance grid-powered compression. People living right near gas fields will benefit from the natural wellhead compression and thus will probably have continuing gas service in a long term grid-down situation, whereas those living farther away will not.

OBTW, the U.S. Department of Energy has some useful maps of natural gas producing regions.

Natural gas comes from two different types of wells. “Wet” natural gas is generally a by-product of oil fields. (Oil wells often alternately produce natural gas and oil.) This is often called “casinghead gas” or “associated gas.” In contrast to wet natural gas, “Dry” natural gas generally comes from dedicated gas wells. Both wet and dry natural gas wells produce a light oil or hydrocarbon condensate that is commonly called “drip oil” or in slang simply “drip.” (Technically, the term drip refers only to the tank (or other vessel) that is used to collect condensed drip oil and other contaminants from low points (the “drip legs”) in natural gas piping, while drip oil is what is collected at the drip. But in common usage, drip oil is often just called “drip”.)

The oil and natural gas companies look at drip oil as a big nuisance. At natural gas fields, the companies typically send tank trucks around on a regular basis to collect the drip oil from umpteen drip tanks. It costs them a lot of money to haul it away. They would much prefer to not have to collect the drip oil quite as often, or at all. Most cars and trucks with standard gas engines can run on drip oil almost as well as they do on gasoline. A mixture of drip oil and gasoline works best. (Since drip oil has a lower octane number and slightly higher volatility than standard gasoline.) It is common knowledge that many natural gas companies intentionally leave their drip tanks unsecured, in the hope that the locals will come and collect the drip oil for them—and they do! In fact, some drip tanks have dispenser hoses and hand lever valves just like you would see at a gas station pump. How convenient.

The major sticking point with drip is that technically, it is illegal for the gas companies to let people come and take it. When people collect drip oil and burn it in their cars or trucks, they are circumventing the federal tax on “road” fuels. So once every few years, the tax “Revenuers” come poking around the major natural gas fields, trying to find out if anyone is running their pickups on drip and cheating on the road tax. Magically—almost overnight--all of the drip tanks get locked up, and the word quickly goes out around the county to stop collecting drip until the federal tax agents leave town. A week or two later, everything reverts back to normal. You just gotta love free enterprise and the American way of doing things.

If you live in an area where drip is available, I’ve heard it suggested storing a couple of hundred gallons of extra high octane aviation gas to mix with drip, to raise its octane level. (A 80% drip/20% aviation gas mixture reportedly will run well in high compression engines.) Another approach is to store a can of tetra-ethyl lead or a similar octane booster. Be warned, however, that these chemicals are highly toxic and special safety precautions must be used for storing and handling them. Just breathing the vapors can be very dangerous! I’ve also heard recommendations to buy a pre-World War II vintage pickup truck with a low compression engine that can run on straight low-octane drip.

Behind virtually every restaurant in America, you will find three dumpsters: One for trash, one for flattened cardboard boxes, and one for used cooking oil. (The latter is actually more of rectangular tank on wheels than it is a dumpster.) It is not widely known, but virtually all diesel cars and trucks can run on cooking oil--new or used. This is commonly called “biodiesel” or “greasel.” In essence, all that you need to do is filter the liquid cooking oil through some cloth (typically a couple of thicknesses of cheese cloth) to get rid of the particulate crud, and voila! Free fuel.

When diesel engines were first designed, they were envisioned to run on peanut oil or other vegetable-based oils. In fact, it was only because the gas companies set up a large refinery/fractioning infrastructure that crude-oil based diesel came to dominate the marketplace. I have read that running diesel engines on cooking oil results in longer engine life due to better lubrication and reportedly fewer harmful emissions.

Greasel Conversions, Inc., a small company headquartered in Missouri, makes a greasel conversion kit for diesel engines. My advice: If you own a diesel vehicle, get a Greasel kit. If you have not yet bought a 4WD for your retreat, make it a diesel (unless the exhaust smell gives you headaches), and get a Greasel kit.

Here is the company's contact information:

Greasel Conversions, Inc.
HC 73 Box 157D
Drury, MO 65638 USA

E-mail: or
Phone: 1 (866)473-2735

For some information on commercial biodiesel, see the Freedom Solutions website, as well as the Grand-daddy of biodiesel web sites.

I should also mention that you don’t have to burn used cooking oil. Newly-pressed oil works fine too. (Newly-pressed corn, sunflower, rapeseed, or canola oil also work fine.)For example, biodiesel fuel can be purchased at the pump in Europe, where the plant source is usually rapeseed oil.

When the corn oil that your store in your pantry goes rancid and you replace it, SAVE that old stuff. (Mark the label with a big red X with a magic marker so that you don't use it for cooking by mistake.) Save it to burn in your diesels!

It is common knowledge that all diesel cars, trucks, and tractors can run on home No. 2 heating oil, just as well as they do on diesel fuel. The only differences between the two is that there is a different federal standard on the amount of ash is allowable in home heating oil, and that a dye is added to prevent folks from circumventing the Federal road tax. In actuality, however, the only difference in most batches is the dye, since heating oil and diesel fuel both come from the very same cracking plants, running the same process. This is yet another reason why you should buy at least one diesel 4WD for your retreat. With multiple fuel options, after TEOTWAWKI it is safe to assume that diesel fuel vehicles will be on the road long after gas engine rigs have been deadlined.

I read yesterday that Trijicon was just awarded a big military contract for their tritium-lit tactical day/night scopes. Congrats to them! They make a great product. I'm glad to see that the U.S. military has finally come to the realization that every front-line soldier deserves an ACOG scope atop his RBC device. (The Brits figured this out 25+ years ago, during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.) The news of the big contract award may have a potential impact on you. The award means that the folks at Trijicon will probably be running two shifts for the next six years fill all the orders. The law of supply and demand dictates that the supply of ACOGs will hence be tight. So if you've ever considered buying one, buy it now, while there are still some left in the civilian market pipeline. OBTW, I have TA-11E AGOGs (with .308 cams) mounted on two of my L1A1s. They are Hotel Sierra! The best prices that I've found on ACOGs are from individual sellers on Buddy's Sturmgewehr Parts and Accessories Market Board.


The SurvivalBlog is looking better and better all the time. I think that you are getting really good information out there.

I'm not sure about J.M.'s letter about the Penske trucks. But it's worth considering. I still think the GMC 2500 HD is the way to go. OBTW, they interviewed the CEO from last night on TV. He said they now have one million SUVs listed on their web site. I guess that your axiom is correct: Buy when everyone else is anxious to sell, and you'll get the best price.

Diesel is very expensive now. It is $3.32 per gallon down here in California. Yikes!

I see fuel as a real problem [in the] long term. I don't have an answer unless you live in Kern County next to an [oil field] cricket. :-)

OBTW, I think everyone should own at least one tube radio. [For EMP protection.] Yup. You read that right. A tube radio. I have several. I've also put a few of my spare transistorized shortwave receivers in storage in milsurp ammo cans, just in case. (The poor man's Faraday cage.) I am seriously concerned about [the nuclear threat posed by] Iran and North Korea.

Regards, - The Rabbit Man

Sir - I think your novel Patriots is great, not only as a good read, but as a survivalist manual!! Your website is the BEST! Please keep it up and running, as we hoi polloi need the info.

This isn't a criticism, as I think up-to-date info and tech is important; but, when TEOTWAWKI happens, many systems are going down and won't be resurrected - so an emphasis on more primitive things might be more practical. My suggestion would be to balance the modern with the older, tried-but-true, technologies. Hate to be a Neo-Neanderthal, but there it is.

Keep up the good work! Semper Fi! - Old Sarge

"On the occasion of every accident that befalls you, remember to turn to yourself and inquire what power you have for turning it to use." - Epictetus

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

This blog is just 11 days old, but its has already had 182,250 page hits and 8,200+ unique accesses (the latter is the number that really counts.) I can't tell you how happy that makes me. Please continue to spread the word via e-mail. And BTW, if the subject of preparedness comes up on your local talk radio show, please call in and mention Thanks!

I've just added another profile to the Profiles page. (Mr. Sierra.) His profile is evidence that not all of the readers of this blog are rich doctors. :-)

Even if you presently heat your home/retreat with propane or home heating oil, get a good quality airtight stove or fireplace insert with a large, long firebox. (If the firebox is too small, there will not be enough fuel to burn all night.) Buy a lot of firewood. A two year or even three year wood supply would be prudent. If you burn four cords per winter, that will mean building a large woodshed. Keep your firewood in a well-ventilated covered shed. If your wood shed has a dirt floor, stack the wood on wooden shipping pallets. Pallets are plentiful and free many places if you ask around. You have no excuse not to get enough to keep your firewood supply from getting damp and moldy. While you are at it, get at least a half dozen extra pallets, or a lot more if you have the storage space. They have 101 uses around a ranch!

Putting wood under a flimsy tarp is throwing away your time and money. Wood that is shed-stored will last for decades. Build a wood shed that is twice as big as your neighbors. Why? Properly stored dry firewood is like money in the bank. The extra that you have can be used for barter or charity. Your extra supply will represent that much less time and gasoline you’ll expend WTSHTF. A chainsaw can be heard for miles, and the loud noise would make it easy for someone to approach you without being noticed. So store plenty of wood before TEOTWAWKI.

Cut or buy the hottest burning wood that you can afford. If you are near a National Forest, you can get a very inexpensive firewood-cutting permit from your local ranger station. Use all appropriate safety precautions.Buy a pair of goggles, sturdy gloves, ear plugs, a "bump" cap (logger's helmet), and most importantly: invest in a pair of protective Kevlar chaps. They are available at most saw shops. They are money well spent! (A chainsaw accident could be devastating for a family, especially post-TEOTWAWKI.) If you’ve never cut firewood before, have a local “old hand” take you out the first couple of times to show you safe felling techniques and the best places to cut wood for easy loading. Her in the West, I personally prefer Tamarack, Oak, Madrone, Walnut, and Red Fir. Buying soft pine is a waste of money and effort. Ask your neighbors that heat their homes with wood how many cords they burn each winter, and which wood varieties found in the area burn the best. Again, lay in at least a two-year supply, and keep all of it under a sturdy shed roof.

Since you will probably be burning firewood extensively and won’t have the services of a commercial chimney sweeping service available, buy a set of chimney brushes and the appropriate extensions. Practice using them. To prevent creosote-fueled chimney fires, chimneys should be cleaned annually, or perhaps even twice a year if you live in an area where you burn more than four cords annually. Also be sure to buy smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as fire several extinguishers to place in key locations inside your retreat house, barn, and shop.

Surface coal seams are found in some areas. If you can buy a piece of land that has a coal seam (and mineral rights to go with it), so much the better! Coal burns much hotter than wood, so you will need a special cast iron grate, or else the coal will fairly quickly burn out the bottom of your stove. Whether you burn wood, coal, propane, or home heating oil, lay in at least a two-year supply. If you use oil or propane, set yourself up with a back-up wood or coal stove to use when your liquid fuel runs out. DO NOT buy a pellet stove. It will become a useless ornament once the power grid goes down. Yes, I know that some pellet stove models can run with a battery. But even if you have a foolproof solar-charged battery arrangement, where will you find wood stove pellets in a long term TEOTWAWKI?

Coal is plentiful in a number of regions such as the Powder River Basin. (Around Gillette, Wyoming.) Do some research before you talk to real estate agents.
For more on coal deposits in the U.S., see the DOE's State Coal Resources Map.

Briefly, SurvivalBlog reader B.H. e-mailed us the URL for a news story about a recent riot over used laptop computers, in which some folks were trampled. B.H. noted: "Can you imagine if this was a rush for food during TEOTWAWKI?"

From the news wires comes word that the United States has issued a tender for up to 80 million doses of a smallpox vaccine to guard against terrorist attack. The order will be worth over $1 billion. My question is: What does Uncle Sugar plan to do about the dozens of other potential biological warfare threats? Chalk this one up to FFTAGFFR.

What does the biological warfare threat mean to you and your family? Be prepared to live in isolation for an extended period of time to protect yourself and your family from diseases that are spread by human contact. (Unfortunately smallpox is airborne.) Also stock up on vitamins and antibiotics. The incredibly cheap (but by no means FDA-approved) method of storing antibiotics is to buy a big veterinary 5, 10, or 15 pound bucket of tetracycline hydrochloride (water soluble powder) such as that made by Vedco. It is available without a prescription from your local feed store, or from KV Pet Supply, or any of the several other large Internet vet supply vendors. A 15 pound bucket costs less than $25. The equivalent quantity in human doses would cost thousands of dollars. Keep it in the back of your refrigerator. Replace it every three years. (Donate any that is nearing its expiration date to your local 4H Club swine or equine project leader.) Proviso Maximo: I'm not a doctor, and I don't give medical advice.Use veterinary medicines only in the most dire circumstances. (You will of course be buying yours to put in the water trough for you hogs...)

"Today the nations of the world may be divided into two classes - the nations in which the government fears the people, and the nations in which the people fear the government." -Amos R. E. Pinochet

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Some prognosticators contend that a massive economic shift will occur if and when the world’s oil supply begins to run out-- as oil is consumed faster than new sources are located so that our “known reserves” begin to decline. (This tipping point is known as “Hubbert’s Peak.”-- a.k.a. "Peak Oil") Some of the most alarmist analysts suggest that this may start as soon as 2010. Here, I should forthrightly note that since I have faith in capitalist ingenuity, I believe that any such shortage will occur much later. They say that as wells shut down and supply decreases, we will have blackouts by 2015. Roughly two billion people are fed using petrochemical-based fertilizers, which will become prohibitively expensive when oil starts to runs out. There is the grim prospect of mass starvation and massive global wars over increasingly scant resources. For details on these predictions, see: and,

These grim and alarmist predictions aside, it is important that you have your retreat well stocked with fuels—both solid and liquid. Aside from increased risk of fire or siphoning theft, you can look at your stored fuel as non-dollar denominated “money in the bank.” As of today's date, the price of oil is spiking past $67 per barrel. Those of us who bought storage fuel when diesel was $1.29 per gallon did well!

A large stored fuel supply at your retreat will make you immune from short term price spikes, and you will have extra on hand for barter and charity. Storage life is a problem for some liquid fuels, especially gasoline. Here is a quote from my first novel, Patriots:
"The category of fuel that I am most concerned about is liquid fuels. Our diesel storage tank is presently almost full--about 900 gallons. It has been stabilized, and it has been treated with an antibacterial. You've all heard this before, but for Rose's benefit, I'll repeat it. The basic rule for fuel storage is: the more highly refined the fuel, the shorter its storage life. That means that kerosene will store for 15 years or more, diesel stores for eight to ten years, and gasoline normally has only about a two-year storage life. Beyond that, it builds up gums and peroxides, and suffers decomposition of anti-knock compounds to the point that fuel filters clog up and engines won't run. Also, the butane that is added to gasoline tends to evaporate. Once the butane burns off, starting an engine can be hard. You usually have to use ether. In general, high temperatures and exposure to oxygen encourage the decomposition process. Stored fuel also tends to attract moisture, and that causes a whole 'nother set of problems. The storage life of all liquid fuels can be extended by the use of a special additive called Gas Saver that delays the decomposition process, and we have plenty of that on hand. Overall, the best way to store fuel is in a completely full, sealed underground container."

Because of the relatively short storage life of gasoline, it is best to standardize with diesel and/or propane for your vehicles and generators, if possible. Add fuel stabilizer to your stored gas, and rotate it very frequently. Note that you will have to get anti-gel and anti-bacterial additives for your diesel tank. It may sound hard to believe, but there are bacteria that can grow in diesel fuel!

My old compadre Fred the Valmet Meister sent me the URL for this story on the variance in gas prices around the world. Consider this article Food For Thought and Grounds For Further Research.(FFTAGFFR.)

Jim, agree with your advice on vehicles. Trucks are the way to go and the more towing/hauling capacity the better. Here is one area of vehicles I have often been interested in and thought would make an excellent choice is the event of evacuating: Commercial vehicles, i.e. former rental trucks (Penske comes to mind because of the great care that is given to these vehicles why they are in the fleet and the low miles that they are released at.) These trucks not only have a large load capacity but have the added advantage of keeping your belongings hidden from prying eyes as well as safe from the elements. These trucks almost always come with a time tested and reliable diesel--the one I most recently rented and drove nearly 6,000 miles--had a 190 H.P. in-line 6 cylinder International engine that gave us NO problems. I'm sure there are disadvantages to using these but some other plus's are mileage--we averaged close to 10m.p.g. with a gross weight of 22,000+lbs! These trucks are of course 2WD but can be converted to all 4WD. All that it takes is bucks. eBay Motors is an excellent source for these vehicles. You may find that they are cheaper that purchasing a dually 4WD pickup (new ones are nearly $50K, while used still command top dollar as well, saw one 2003 GMC fully loaded Duramax for $37K--not really a bargain). Extra fuel tanks can be fitted as well. (They normally come with a 50 gallon fuel cell.) Boyce Equipment of Utah sells refurbished transfer cases and entire axles that would more than likely fit these vehicles. The suspension on these vehicles is typically very robust and any modifications would just enhance that. As well you can add extra cabs, sleepers etc. to these vehicles for hauling other people. Of course, like you say, its better to be in your retreat location in the first place but think of the amount of gear you could your pre-postioning location. I would imagine that in a city environment storage of the vehicle would be a concern but spaces can be rented at the numerous storage facilities that all good-sized towns now seem to have. I see dozens of vehicles parked in these secure, guarded areas. Also, once stationary at a retreat the engine could perhaps then be utilized as a makeshift generator. With a properly maintained cooling system a diesel engine can run many, many hours. Anyway, that's my $.02 worth. - J.M.

Hi Jim,
I was reading the Profile on Dr. November and you are right--lots of great preparation! One item though, at least from my perspective, seems to be in short supply. That is the amount of diesel fuel he has on hand for his equipment and generator. It would appear to be out of line with the rest of his stocks.

Of course we don't know how much solar power he is able to produce, and how much he needs to run his genny, but if he lived in gloomy Ohio he would not have enough diesel on hand to go along with his six years worth of food.

I believe he should at least calculate how much diesel fuel he uses when he is off grid. We have a new 10 KW Kubota and use about 3 gallons of diesel a day. His tank would last us a little over two months.

Of course everyone's circumstances are different but it would appear that the Doctor should look into burying a large underground tank for his needs. Off road diesel fuel [un-taxed home heating oil] with the proper additives will easily store 7-to-10 years in an underground tank. If the fuel begins to show signs of aging and has not been used he can then have his fuel supplier pump out the old and replace it with fresh.

Lastly in the event that he can no longer obtain On Road fuel [taxed diesel] for his equipment and trucks he could use the diesel in the underground tanks for those needs.

In regards to the rest of his preparations, repeat after me: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house,Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house. :)

Respectfully Yours,

- John Adams

"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard
and defend it." - Daniel Webster

Monday, August 15, 2005

I intentionally emphasize the theme of Christian charity in my writings. I strongly encourage charitable giving both the present day and post-TEOTWAWKI. It is important to keep far more storage food on hand than you expect to consume. If all that you have is the bare minimum to supply your own family or retreat group, you won't be in any position to dispense charity.

If times get really hard and there is a breakdown of law and order, it might become dangerous to dispense charity to strangers on your own property. I described in ny novel Patriots how to dispense charity "at arm's length" when living under Schumeresque conditions.

In particular, I recommend that you stock up on extra wheat, rice, beans, and sprouting seeds. If purchased in food grade 5 gallon buckets they are currently very inexpensive. Just an extra two or three hundred pounds of grains and legumes could save dozens of lives. God's providence is a gift. Share it. Everything that I've earned and saved, I consider a gift from God. I intend to share it with those that are less fortunate and those that currently lack the foresight to stock up for potential bad times. I'm sure that there will be a lot of such people wandering about when the balloon goes up. Consider yourself an ambassador for Christ, and act accordingly. Do it for God's glory rather than your own. BTW, it won't hurt to hand out a few gospel tracts along with the grub. Do so with the accompanying words: "Its the Christian thing to do." That might sink in with a few of those folks. 'Nuff said.

The level of severity for any survival scenario will be tremendously greater if the power grid goes down ("grid down") for a period of more than a week. Consider the following:

If “grid down” most towns and cities will be without municipal (utility) drinking water.
If “grid down” for more than a month there will likely be huge outflows of refugees from cities.
If “grid down” there will possibly be mass prison escapes.
If “grid down”, virtually all communications will go down. Telephone company central offices (COs) do have battery back-up. These are huge banks of 2-volt deep cycle floating batteries. But those batteries will only last about a week. Backup generators were not installed at most COs, because no situation that would take the power grid down for more than 72 hours was ever anticipated. (Bad planning, Ma Bell!) Thus, if and when the grid goes down then hard-wire phones, cell phones, and the Internet will all go down. When both the power grid and phone systems goes down, law and order will likely disintegrate. There will be no burglar alarms, no security lighting or cameras, and no reliable way to contact police or fire departments, and so forth.
If “grid down” for an extended period anyone with a chronic health problem may die. There will be no power for kidney dialysis machines or breathing machines for respiratory patients, no re-supply of oxygen bottles for people with chronic lung conditions, no re-supply of insulin for diabetics, et cetera.
If “grid down”, most heaters with fans won’t work, even if you can bypass the thermostat. And pellet stoves won’t work at all!
If “grid down”, piped natural gas service will be disrupted in all but a few small areas near wellheads.
If “grid down”, then “seasonal affected disorder” will seem mild compared to the depressing effects of spending 13+ hours a day in the dark during winter months—especially at latitudes north of the 45th Parallel.
If “grid down”, there will be no 911 to call—no back-up—no “cavalry coming over the hill” in the nick of time. You, your family, and your contiguous neighbors will have to independently handle any lawlessness that comes your way.
If “grid down,” sanitation will be problematic in any large town or city. Virtually everyone will be forced to draw water from open sources, and meanwhile their neighbors will be inadvertently fouling those same sources. I heard one survivalist lecturer state that a grid down situation would “almost immediately reduce sanitation in the U.S. to Third World standards.” I think that he underestimated the impact of an extended power grid failure. At least in the Third World they are accustomed to living with poor water and sanitation. Here in the U.S., we don’t even have Third World facilities or folkways. With the grid down and city water disrupted, toilets won't flush and most urbanites and suburbanites will not dig outhouse or garbage pits! Furthermore, the long-standing Third World village norm of “Draw your drinking water upstream and wash your clothes downstream” will be ignored. A “grid down” condition could be a public health nightmare within a week in metropolitan regions.

There will possibly be “islands” of power remaining if the grid goes down for an extended period. Logically, these islands will mostly be near hydroelectric dams or wind farms in rural areas. These localized islands could have their power restored in a few weeks, while it might takes months of even years for power restoration in other areas, depending on the severity of a full scale TEOTWAWKI-type infrastructure collapse. Finding where these islands are will take considerable research. And even if you find a potential “island”, don’t count on it. Circumstances may dictate that power is not available, or that it is all shunted elsewhere by government decree.

You can improvise on almost anything at a retreat except water. Without it, you and your family will become refugees, muy pronto.

If you plan to buy an “in town” retreat, have a long conversation with the City Engineer before making the final selection of a town. Don’t just ask: “Is the water gravity fed?” Nine times out of ten, the engineer will answer yes, but will neglect to mention that it is gravity fed only after it is electrically pumped up hill! You are looking for a town with true end-to-end gravity fed municipal water. Such towns are often found in mountainous regions, or at the base of a mountain range.

If buying an isolated retreat, set your sights on a place with copious spring water or an artesian well. A far less desirable second choice would be a property with well water and/or a true year-round stream. I would rather buy a land with a spring, thin topsoil, and infested with weeds than I would buy place with well water and the best topsoil on earth. Why? Because I can improve topsoil and I can eradicate weeds, but I can’t strike a rock like Moses!
If you are going to have to depend on well water, before you buy the property make sure that the well:

Produces at least 12 gallons per minute (GPM),
Has a stable static level--preferably 40 feet below ground level or less,
Has good water quality (have it tested for both toxins and bacteria!)
Has good southern solar exposure at the well head. (You’ll need this exposure to provide for PV panels.)

Deep wells are problematic. If you plan to use a deep well with photovoltaic power you are going to need a more complex PV system. Due to the massive voltage line loss inherent with DC cabling, you will either have to add lots of panels or you will have to run an AC pump on an inverter from a DC power source if the well is more than 60 feet deep. Including an inverter in the system adds complexity and is inherently inefficient. Also, keep in mind that if you want a back-up hand pump, you will be limited to a well depth of 40 feet or less.
Two other options for deep wells are a traditional windmill (with sucker rod pump cylinder at the bottom of the shaft, pumping up to a large cistern), or a “jack” type pump. A “jack” pump looks like a miniature oil field “cricket.” Jack pumps use a reciprocating “traveling” arm to actuate a sucker rod connected to a pump cylinder at the bottom of the shaft. (Again, pumping up to a large cistern.) Due to their complex design, jack pumps tend to develop mechanical problems in the long run. Parenthetically, I should add that I had a jack pump for five years, and it was nothing but trouble: fly wheels that flew off, gearboxes that disintegrated, et cetera. I’ll never make that mistake again!

Comrade Mugabe, the Marxist dictator in Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia) has instituted a virtual news blackout in that once great nation. Mugabe's "War Veterans" (read: ex-terrorists) are busy again. After spending two years forcibly occupying some of the best farmland in the country (and thereby rendering it fallow) they are now bulldozing the homes, shops and subsistence garden plots of average city dwellers. As usual, the minority tribe is getting the worst of it. But that is hardly a news flash.

Rhodesia was once the bread basket of Africa--its food exports fed much of the continent.But now, after 25 years of Mugabe's rule, the agricultural infrastructure has been destroyed and its own citizens face starvation. For some background on Zimbabwe's plight, read Cathy Buckle's Letters.

I would greatly appreciate reading some first hand accounts from any SurvivalBlog readers who live in Zimbabwe or that have been there recently. For your safety, I will of course conceal your identity.

I pray for all of the Zimbabwe's citizens. May God grant them the means and the visceral fortitude to loose the bonds of tyranny.

In reading the profile I see that I left one concern out. The situation in Venezuela is pretty bad -- and the U.S. gets a lot of crude from Venezuela and relatively little from the Middle East. Any disruption in the supply by that Kim Jong Il wanna-be down there [Presidente Hugo Chavez] is going to ripple through the world's economy. I have a friend in Argentina, the economy is going down the tubes there as well. South and Central America are going to explode, much like they did in the '60's, I'm afraid. With corrupt morons (most of the Middle East) or Communists (Venezuela, and China is coming along) controlling or influencing the oil supply we're potentially in deep trouble there. Add that to the "NIMSS" (Not in My Solar System) environmentalists that won't let us build refineries (the bottleneck right now, not production) or use nuclear power and the nation will die with a whimper.

Letter from The Bee Man (SAs: DIY Veterinary, Relocation, Survival Tools, and Survival Firearms)

Hello Jim & Family,
I'm glad to see your Blog Site has taken off with such success! I've passed on your site address to several other people in hopes to get some advertising to come your way. I also hope you and your own are doing fine. It's hot and very dry here now. Got those brush fires to contend with. The yellow star thistle is waist high on the hills. I believe your timing of your Blog Site is about right. We've had numerous inquiries about land sales here. To listen to these people, one can see the the concern they have about the coming times ahead. I've noticed that many are ill equipped in knowledge and skills to take on the job at hand. Example: Right now if you have any livestock that needs a vet, you have to take the animal to Lewiston [Idaho--50 miles away]. The local veterinarians have quit doing large livestock. There is more profit in treating dogs and cats. So one needs to be up on their vet skills and knowledge. Old time ranchers still have these skills, but no-one is willing to learn from them. Our most valuable resource is our knowledge pool. This fact may help one "fit in" a rural community. The more multi-functional one is in his skills, the more likely one is able to fit in.

As for waiting to "bug out" at the last minute, forget it. Some people in the outlying areas are well aware of this fact and are so ready for the influx of such personnel. There are areas right now where such people have already taken up homes and the locals are waiting for a social calamity to even scores with "those outsiders". I don't agree with this line of thinking, but it does exist. As for the "Government Owned" national parks and forests, these are bad choices also. Most of these areas now have "Dual Use" facilities meaning they can communicate, house, and maintain some type of troop or covert operations personnel for an indefinite period of time. I have personally seen this happen in the Clearwater National Forest.

I'm not even going to attempt to go into the "best" firearms. More garbage has been written about this subject than Carter has pills. The best gun is the one that is loaded and in one's hand at the time of battle or whatever task is at hand. The most deadly weapon on the planet is the one that sits atop one's shoulders. How one applies his knowledge towards tool selection is important. Never go the "cheap" route with tools or gear. This applies to everyday tools like hammers and shovels. The purchase of task specific tools should be avoided if one is on a budget. (Example: A .50 BMG single-shot rifle makes a poor tool when the deer are in the brush or the coyotes are after the chickens.) Buy those basic multipurpose items first.

I do agree with your wife about "doom and gloom" conversations. It does wear on ones' soul. It happens & those moments when one can enjoy a laugh and a moments peace seem that more precious (to me anyhow). I just recall that the price of Liberty and Freedom is Eternal Vigilance. Not cheap. We do have to pay for it somehow, so that our next generation may not have to because we failed to do anything. Thank You. - The Bee Man, Near Kamiah, Idaho

I had planned to write first about how impoverished Jews lived in old Europe but today being tisha b'Av (the 9th day of the hebrew month of Av) I have a trove of material for a post. Tisha b'Av is the day that the Roman legion after fighting in and taking Jerusalem began burning the second holy temple. It has always been a dark day for Jews and humanity. Among the bad things that happened on this day were: the spies Moses sent out came back with a bad report that we had to wander for 38 more years, the first temple was destroyed, second temple was destroyed, Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, WWI starts--beginning the slide toward the Holocaust. And today, another Tisha b'Av, comes the announcement that the clearing of Jews from Gaza and north Samaria begins in 48 hours.

On this day Jews fast and study and act like we were mourning a death of a family member so that the creator of the universe may remember us and redeem us from our travails.
Siege and Starvation: One of the ways divine justice arrives in the world is famine another is war. Both can lead a person to starvation. As I sit on a low stool and fast this 9th of Av my planned learning mostly deals with accounts in the bible and other writings about the starvation we received at the hands of Rome and Babylon.
One story from a siege Jerusalem deals with stockpiled supplies. Two rich men had stockpiled enough grain for flour and wood for fire to bake bread to last seven years of siege, zealots wishing to fight and kill the Romans burned the warehouses to force the inhabitants to break out and fight. It seems everyone has a little food set aside in their plans, but who thinks about long term fuel supply. Yeheskel (Ezekiel) is given a recipe by God (Ezekiel Chapter 4, verses 7-12) to eat while he is demonstrating to Israel what its siege would look like, here is a decent translation from the net:
For your reference:

a shekel = 8.5 grams or .27 oz
a hin is around a gallon

A serious starvation ration, the cake is cooked in a pan like a pancake. Normally I would expect it to be fried in oil, although it seems Yeheskel likely had to dry fry it during his demonstration of the future siege. Fast forward to to the present day. This is what Yesha council suggested that settlers in besieged communities to stockpile. All families must collect enough supplies to last them two weeks: Canned goods, pasta, rice, oil, sugar, powdered milk, crackers, toilet paper, candles and matches, can openers, flashlights, medicine, and first
aid equipment.

OBTW, as a data point, here is a list of the food ration from the independence war and siege of Jerusalem era up until 1959. "26 April, 1949: The cabinet declared a state of national austerity and rationing of basic food products... The citizens received their rations by means of a local grocery stores. Minister Yosef provided a detailed program, according to which each citizen would receive a monthly supply of food worth IL6. The national austerity menu designed by the new minister was made up of the following daily rations: an unlimited amount of standard bread; 60 grams of corn; 58 grams of sugar; 60 grams of flour; 17 grams of rice; 20 grams of legumes; 20 grams of margarine; 8 grams of noodles; 200 grams of skim-milk cheese, 600 grams of onions, and 5 grams of biscuits. The meat ration was 75 grams a month per person."

Please say a prayer that the siege be lifted on the Jews of Gaza and north Samaria.

"In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man and brave -- hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds however, the timid join him. For then it costs them nothing to be a patriot." - Mark Twain

Sunday, August 14, 2005

I've just received four more Retreat Owner Profiles. Three of them have already been edited and posted to the Profiles page. I hope that you find them both informative and motivational. One of them (for Dr. November) is nothing short of astounding! OBTW, I would greatly appreciate seeing some profiles from any of you folks that live overseas!

I often have folks e-mail to ask me which is the best all-around rifle for retreat defense. The following may sound a bit like a proverbial Chevy versus Ford rant, but here goes...

To begin, let me state that I firmly believe that .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO is insufficient for self defense. That cartridge was designed specifically for killing woodchucks--not men. It does well at wounding men, which is fine for military organizations. (An incapacitating wound removes three enemy soldiers from the battlefield--the wounded soldier plus two stretcher bearers.) But the last thing that I would ever want to do post-TEOTWAWKI is wound a looter. I want them 100% RBCed, and I want to insure a less than 0.001% probability that they are going to crawl off and snipe at me and my family for the next day or two.

For serious social engineering, .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO will do the job. It is also a fine deer hunting cartridge. Which .308? In essence, I consider M1As, HK-91s, FALs, L1A1s, and modern AR-10s all functionally equivalent. All four are quite suitable for retreat defense. However, pre-ban HKs are currently way over-priced, and M1A parts and spare magazines have become much too expensive! Meanwhile, most AR-10s use very expensive magazines. (Note: A couple of AR-10 manufacturer have cleverly introduced variants that use FAL magazines. That is the ideal type to buy if you decide to opt for AR-10s.)

Three years ago, I sold all five of the M1As from my family battery and replaced them with five L1A1s and a Para FAL that had been converted to take inch pattern (L1A1) magazines. FWIW, I was an dyed-in-the-wool M1A owner from 1978 to 2002. I switched to L1A1s because of the profusion of inexpensive L1A1 magazines and spare parts. I had 47 spare M1A magazines and nearly one complete spare parts kit. Propitiously, I sold off all those M1A magazines shortly before the 1994 ban expired, for $30 to $45 each. (Some of them were still in original U.S.G.I. wrappers.) Now, for less money than I realized from the sale of my M1As and their accessories, I have 138 spare magazines and four complete L1A1 spare parts sets, plus scopes for all six of my L1A1s. To borrow the modern parlance, the decision was a "no brainer." Most of my L1A1s are built on pre-ban receivers. IMHO, L1A1s and FALs are the clear choice in today's market. See The FALFiles for sources. IMO, Century Gun Works (CGW) of Gardnerville, Nevada custom builds the very best FALs and L1As. If you have a FAL or L1A1 kit, then Rich Saunders at CGW is the gent to build it for you. The quality of work at CGW is followed very closely behind by T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems. Mark is also a great gunsmith. I had Mark convert a couple of pre-ban SAR-48s to inch pattern specifications for me. Of the large scale production FAL clones, I think that D.S. Arms rifles are hard to beat. See my FAL FAQ for additional details about FALs and L1A1s.

After all that talk about FALs and L1A1s, you may wonder why I showed HK-91s as a "group standard" in my novel Patriots. Ironically, I've actually never owned an HK-91. However, several of my friends have, and swear by them. I portrayed them as standard partly in an attempt to make the novel appear less U.S.-centric. (At the time I would have otherwise touted the M1A.)

To re-iterate: I consider the L1A1, FAL, HK-91, M1A, and the new production AR-10 variants all roughly comparable in terms of reliability and putting lead down range. Here are my quick and dirty comparisons of all four rifles:

The M1A has an edge in accuracy--at least the more expensive match grade models. (But the charging handle is on the wrong side except if you are a lefty.)
The HK-91 has an edge in reliability. (But it has inferior ergonomics and it's action doesn't lock open after the last round in a magazine is fired.)
The AR-10 has an edge in light weight. (But it shares the AR-15's filthy gas system design.)
The FAL has the best ergonomics, and is currently the most reasonably priced.

At the time that I wrote the first draft of the novel. (the winter of 1990/1991), M1As and HKs were both roughly $700 and FALs were $2,200. (The FAL clones hadn't yet hit the U.S. market.) If I were writing the novel today, I'd definitely pick the L1A1 to portray as group standard.

I prefer L1A1s over FALs because of their sturdier Maranyl stock furniture, bigger selector switches and magazine releases, their folding charging handles, and most importantly their ability to accept BOTH inch and metric magazines. (Tactically, that is an advantage, as the Brits found when they invaded the Falklands.) YMMV, but I do think that "inch is best." And if you live in a State that borders Canada, I consider inch guns absolutely the way to go. (Since inch pattern spares and accessories are likely to drift across the border WTSHTF.)

OBTW, if you don't yet have a copy, I strongly recommend that you buy yourself the latest edition of "Boston's Gun Bible." Among other topics, Boston goes into great detail about weighing the merits of various battle rifles. My review of Boston's Gun Bible is included in my Bookshelf page.

One closing note: If practicable and affordable, arm all of the defenders of your retreat with the same model and caliber of rifle, for three reasons:

Commonality of spare magazines
Commonality of training (Any group/family member can pick up any rifle and know how to use it--although its "zero" will probably be slightly different)
Commonality of spare parts

I'm sure that you've read about the bubble in residential real estate prices, most noticeably on the coasts in the U.S.. (There are similar bubbles in Oz and England, both of which have already seen their peaks. Far too many people have over-extended their finances buying houses. In fact, up to 35% of the houses being sold in some markets are being bought purely on speculation, with the goal of "flipping" them within six months to take advantage of the rising market. This is making some speculators a lot of quick money, for now. But at some point the music will stop and there will be lot of speculators caught without a chair.

Most people don't realize the full implications of the housing bubble. The over-inflation of house prices is keeping the consumer economy afloat. People are "taking equity out of their houses" to pay for geegaws and electronic gadgets. When the bubble bursts it will at the very least throw the American economy into a recession, and possibly a depression. For background, read Gary North's recent Reality Check article titled: MOM, APPLE PIE, AND HOUSING BUBBLES. (Issue #472, on August 12, 2005.) Also read the piece titled Don't Let Me Burst Your (Housing) Bubble by Steven Greenhut, a senior editorial writer and columnist for The Orange County Register.

When the bubble does burst, watch out. Things could get ugly. I predict that people that are caught "upside down" in their mortgages will just turn in the keys at the bank and walk away from their houses. This has happened before--most notably in Texas in the 1980s when the Houston Oil Boom fell apart and took the real estate market for the region with it.

My advice: Sell any rental or non-retreat vacation houses that you own. Take your profit now. It is better to be a year too early than a day too late. Keep that money on the sidelines, with at least a portion of it in precious metals. Then after the bubble bursts, you'll have the chance to step in with cash and buy at perhaps as low as 40 cents on the dollar versus the currently over-inflated prices. When you eventually do decide to buy, concentrate on productive farm land in a lightly populated rural region. (See my previous posts for guidelines on the best type of property to buy.)

If you can afford it, buy yourself a Crew Cab 4WD pickup in an earth tone color. A crew cab is the best of both worlds--room for extra passengers like a Suburban, plus lots of cargo room in the cargo bed.) Buy a diesel if you can stand the smell. (I'll discuss alternative fuels in upcoming blog posts.) You should plan on either buying a low mileage rig that 1 to 5 years old, or buy an older one and have it fully restored/modified. Either way, the total cost will be about the same when all is said and done. I actually prefer the new Dodge engines/power trains, but long term parts availability in the event of TEOTWAWKI could be problematic since there are 20+ Fords and Chevys on the road for every Dodge. So it is probably better to go for the Ford F250 or F350 or one of the equivalent Chevy 2500 HD (Heavy Duty) series pickups.

Buy a low profile camper shell that can be removed quickly in a pinch. Winches front and back may look cool, but for the weight and expense they really aren't worth it! You are better off spending some money on heavy duty front and rear bumpers. (Reunel is a good brand). Recommended bumper mods: large crash bars in the front, a removable cable cutter post that is as tall as your truck's cab, and 10+ heavy duty towing attachment J hooks (front and rear center and all four corners.) Buy two or three heavy duty Dayton come-alongs (ratchet cable hoists), and a couple of 48" Hi-Lift jacks. Carry two spare tires on rims. That, plus shovels, pick, axe, a couple of heavy duty tow chains, some shorter "tree wrapper" choker chains, and a pair of American-made 36" bolt cutters will get you through virtually any obstacle, given enough time.

Also get the rig set up with range tanks and a tow package. Determine the amount of fuel required to get to your retreat using the slowest possible route with a maximum load of gear. Add 10% to that figure for good measure, and be sure to always have that amount of fuel on hand. Regardless of the fuel capacity of your rig, buy at least 6 additional jerry cans to keep at home. (First consult you local fire code regulations.) Keep those cans filled with fuel and rotate them regularly. Even if you don't need it to G.O.O.D., this extra fuel will be useful for barter or charity. An aside; I have a friend named John who installed a custom 120 gallon fuel tank in the bed of his 4WD Ford F250 that already had two fuel tanks of its own. Talk about range!

If you are worried about EMP, do some research before you buy your next vehicle. Some models that are less than 10 years old can be retrofitted with a traditional carburetor and spark coil/condenser ignition system. This is an expensive proposition, but it will leave you with a rig that is virtually invulnerable to EMP.

Most importantly: pre-position the vast majority of your gear, guns, and groceries at your retreat! Make sure to store plenty of fuel there. Buy a utility trailer, but leave it at your retreat to use for wood and hay hauling, or in case you need to bug out a second time. You may have only one trip out of the Big City, and messing with a trailer in heavy traffic or on snowy/muddy roads could lead to your own personal disaster within a disaster.)

If there won't be somebody who is extremely trustworthy living at your retreat all the times to secure it, buy a 24'+ CONEX steel shipping container, and have a extra lock shroud flange welded on. Ideally, your trailer should be custom built (or re-built) to use very the same rims and tires as used on your primary vehicle. That way with two spare tires carried on your vehicle and one more carried on the front of your trailer you will have three spares available for either your trailer or your pickup. If you end up getting a good-sized CONEX, you should be able to leave the trailer in the front, ready to roll out.

BTW, with the recent spike in fuel prices, this is probably a great time to twist the arm of your local car dealership for a discount price on one of their used 4WD pickups. Presently, anything that gets less than 15 miles per gallon is a slow seller. Before you visit any car dealership, do you homework about exactly what you want to buy. Get savvy on current values at Edmunds.(A great site with "blue book" type calculators that take into account all the options.) Once at the dealership, solicit their "best possible price," and then tell them that you you'll think about it, and then walk toward the door. Don't be surprised if you get intercepted and offered an even lower price. I predict that once gas passes the $3.00 per gallon mark, dealers will probably be willing to their sell fuel-inefficient rigs at near cost, just to get them off their lots.

One thing that I wanted to mention about your caretaker/renter post: In many states, if you charge any form of rent, then that person is a renter and has all the legal rights of such under the law. For any of your readers that are considering such an arrangement, I'd recommend they check with a lawyer that knows the rental law of their retreat's area before going such a route. Laws differ greatly from state to state. One possible route is to provide a separate residence for the caretaker (like a small cabin, whatever) with defined boundaries, then an employment agreement to take care of the rest of the property. Even if no rent is being charged, the exchange of housing for labor may constitute rent, again depending on the state. Another thing is there has to be a plan on what to do with the caretaker post-TEOTWAWKI. Are they going to be gone, there, or what? What are they planning? That their entire clan should stay there? That maybe if you show up, you don't need to be there? Even if they are a relative, this should be thought out well in advance. - "Doug Carlton"

[JWR's note: Some of the readers of my novel will remember the Doug Carlton character. Yes, it is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is a former U.S. Army aviator, now working in the transportation industry on the East Coast. Well, at least its a "Red" State.]

"It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were.
And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed
with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning
back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."

"What are we holding on to, Sam?"

"That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for."

- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

Saturday, August 13, 2005

“Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.”
- Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

When starting your search for a retreat location, concentrate on “dry land farming” regions, and of those, the ones that specialize in truck farming. Dry land farming regions are where crops can be grown with seasonal rains and are not dependent on electrically pumped irrigation water. Remember that when grid down, the areas in the West that were originally desert will revert to desert, in a hurry! Even an area that might otherwise look good for a retreat at present may be uninhabitable if and when the grid down era begins.

Elevation and exposure are both critical factors. By concentrating on properties at low elevation and with a southern exposure, you will greatly extend your growing season. A growing season that is 30 or 40 days shorter might seem trivial now, but WTSHTF it will be incredibly important. Do a detailed study of both the regional climate and the microclimates in the counties that you are considering for retreats. See for detailed temperature, rainfall, and snowfall data for most locales with a population of 5,000 or more. By the way, there are lots of other interesting statistics there too, such as median age, education levels, and so forth.

In many parts of the country, the reverse side of a ridge (northern facing) can be snow-bound for an extra three months of each year! So be willing to pay a little more for a piece of land with an unobstructed southern exposure.

Environmental scientists can’t seem to agree whether or not the much-touted Global Warming is actually in progress. A minority of scientists have asserted that we might actually be in a cooling trend or perhaps even on the cusp of another “Little Ice Age.” If there is a large volcanic eruption or a comet or meteor strike, there could be some profound climate effects. This is a good reason to have at least two years of food storage. Even the best gardener in the world will not be able to feed their family if there are killing frosts in every month of the year for a couple of years. You might consider making preparations for the remote chance of sudden climate change. I even had one late friend who lived in the Philippines who had a large stock of cold weather gear!

For researching rainfall, population data, tax information, and so forth, a very useful resource is the Home Fair web site.

I have observed that my husband and his male friends like to spend quite a lot of time discussing what we call “Doom and Gloom.” They talk about the falling value of the U.S. dollar, the threat of dirty bombs, the immorality of popular culture, uncontrolled immigration, hyperinflation, and the like. They actually seem to be enjoying themselves as they discuss the collapse of western civilization and the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI). In fact, talking about it somehow seems to bond them. And I have even observed doom and gloom conversations lifting their spirits.

Naturally, Jim wants to discuss these topics with me as well. But conversations about the aforesaid topics only serve to depress me. I have been told by other women that doom and gloom conversations depress them as well. In some cases it has stressed the wife so much it has affected her health. Yes, really!

When Jim talks doom and gloom his perspective is from a national or even world wide one. But, when he mentions the falling value of the dollar I immediately think of my elderly aunts who are on a fixed incomes. What will they do? When he mentions dirty bombs I immediately worry about the safety of my siblings who live in a major metropolitan area. When he talks about the immorality of popular culture I think of my nieces and nephews who attend public schools. I'm sure that you get the idea. With every doom and gloom subject my mind immediately jumps to beloved family members who will be sure to suffer when things get bad.

To Jim, doom and gloom topics are abstract ideas. To me (and I suspect to other women also) doom and gloom is very personal. Because of our differences we have come up with the Doom and Gloom Rule which is: That there will be no mention of gloomy topics after 8 p.m. at night. With this rule there is enough time between the depressing conversations and bedtime. There is enough time for my mind to focus on other things and my depressed mood to lift before going to sleep. Before we instituted the Doom and Gloom Rule, I had difficulty getting to sleep, and/or had bad dreams.

For you husbands out there, please keep in mind that a woman's mind is wet-wired very different than yours. You may be barraging your wife with just too much doom and gloom. She finds it depressing rather than enlightening. Be sensitive to her feelings and you will be more likely to have a wife who will be a partner in your survival preparations.

Hi Jim,

Well, as requested, I'll give a bit of a review of the Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed - since it's the one breed I've settled on.

I've had two Ridgebacks so far, both females, and both were spayed. The first one was a first generation working Ridgeback - Red Mahogany color, 128# - exceptionally muscular dog. Muscular to the point of having a veterinarian that I took her to insist that she must have "undescended testicles" - otherwise there was no other explanation for the build. Well, she didn't have those, but her sire and dam were big, tough dogs, 150# and 120#, respectively. Both from Bophuthatswana area, and both were originally from the South African area, all the way back in their lineage. The second one I have now is a pound rescue - approximately 90#, Brindle in color. (Standard colors for Rhodesian Ridgebacks are the Mahogany colorations - both red and "champagne", but historically, Ridgebacks are known to have been brindle, black and tan, black, red mahogany, brown, etc. At times, even to the present day, you'll see these colors.) With regard to their coat, they're a short coated, low shedding rate dog. Ideal for grassy areas, or areas that have brambles.
[JWR adds: And of course they have the distinctive "ridge" of fur on their spines that has the hair running with the grain in the opposite direction as the rest of their fur. Hence the name Ridgeback.]

As to demeanour - they're an independent dog, not given to slavish obeying of commands. Somewhat of a primitive dog (they'll dig hides under rocks, logs, etc., and lay up in them), they have a very attuned notion of "pack". At least more so than some other breeds I've been around, like Yellow Labradors. If a pack member is missing, the Ridgeback gets more worried than many other breeds - I'd put it as being more loyal than some other breeds. They're friendly to people that aren't from their "pack" - as long as they've been brought up that way. If they're brought up more or less isolated, they will defend their territory quite vociferously. One interesting thing though - the ones I've been around have been more or less "heelers" - they approach from the back, baying, and nip at the heels of intruders. They're not prone to making frontal attacks. Just from the history of the breed, I'd hazard a guess that this has been bred into them. Dogs that performed frontal attacks on lions probably didn't make it much further into the deep end of the gene pool. They're not great at obeying commands - this is not a breed that will pay much attention to more than the basic commands --anything past "sit, stay, heel, down, halt, come" will probably take a while to sink in - and plenty of reinforcement. Even though the first female I had actually did figure out many more commands than those few listed above. A classic Ridgeback behaviour is related to fetching the balls that are thrown for them - first time, ok, second time, ok, third time, ball is ignored. The attitude seems to be that they get disgusted with bringing back a perfectly good ball that the dimwit human keeps throwing away.

If brought up with children, they make outstanding protectors. Good ranch dogs, and a great breed to have in an isolated area. They're classed as "gaze" or sight hounds too - so be prepared to have them chase various varmints. Terrifically fast sprinters, but not good long distance runners (nor are any dog breeds for that matter) but they're also cat-like in the amount of sleep they demand - more like some hounds in that way. In relations with other pets, the Ridgebacks I've seen and had, have figured out that everything within X boundary, is a pack member. Even if it's a really strange looking animal...birds, cats, reptiles, all are considered okay after a while. But as for anything not known or recognized -- "Katie bar the door!"

The Ridgeback is a breed that needs a firm hand - you can't let them think they're the alpha. Being pack oriented, they really need a clear understanding of who is boss.

The last thing I'd mention is that they're a relatively silent dog - not given to pointless barking. If they're barking, best go check it out - something's up.

Well, in any case, I'm sold on the breed, and I'll have them 'till the day I check out. - G.T.

JWR's Reply:

The only other thing that I'd like to add to G.T.'s well-informed observations is that Ridgebacks have an amazing propensity toward climbing. I think that they are the most tree-climbing prone breed on the planet. If you build your Ridgeback a dog house it will probably spend as much time on top of the house as it will inside it.

The first topics that come to mind are European survival and poverty, and Arab/Jewish poverty survival. We must work down to the basics of the survival pyramid and forego the
night vision goggle and satellite phone fantasies until we cover our basics... staying fed and housed! Not so romantic, but I don't know how to to stir fry an image converter tube.

I suppose I should first enlighten you to my personal survivalist philosophy. I started out as a survivalist while living in a rural area outside Portland, Oregon in high school spending summers and weekends either working at the Army/Navy store or out shooting at the range or backpacking into the woods. I went to college part time and was a camping, fishing, and hunting salesman taking off summers to work for forest service fire crew and volunteering for fire department the rest of the year. After four years I went to firefighting and paramedic school in Bend [Oregon] and lived in Sisters [Oregon] working as a Firefighter/EMT to pay for school. After 3-1/2 years there I married my wife and returned to the Willamette Valley, wasting 2 years as a telco DSL NetOps center manager then quitting to be a Portland firefighter/paramedic. It was there that I really started to figure out my Jewish identity which I had dropped out of after Bar Mitzvah at age 13. After about a year I took a job running the EMS system of most of an eastern Oregon county, I finally bought my real survival retreat in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, had all of my gear and a budget to support more. Once there, I realized a major miscalculation--my wife and I are Jewish...

This is a major complication in a survival scenario. I was spending every third week (worked 2 weeks on 1 off) in Portland to be around my Orthodox Jewish community. The real problem was I didn't fit in. Making the move to a rural community with no outsiders sounds fine to somebody who has lived there forever but often outsiders have one possible social "in" in a small town, namely the church. Without any kind of "in" and maybe even a big "out" (we keep kosher which precludes eating food from non kosher sources except in starvation situations) being unable to dine at the homes of our neighbors; our survival chances once the neighbors became stressed by trouble was just not as good. Never any anti-Semitism; just that without belonging to the social fabric we would need to be much more of an island than others when it came to neighborly favors in tough times. Our first experience with having a practical retreat had failed miserably and we returned to Portland for this as well as work-related issues. After trying to set up a .com during the bust and finish a Economics degree we decided partly for religious reasons and partly because of survivalist motivation that it was time to move to Israel.

Our first move was to an absorption center, basically a government cheap apartment complex subsidized until we found a place to live. After three months of bad ventilation and mold (in a stone structure mold can cause serious respiratory problems) we moved to our current residence in the west bank. The average response I would expect after reading the foregoing is how could a survivalist move to the West Bank? To survive you need a community. (Being a lone survivalist is dangerous and difficult.) I currently live with the cream of the Israeli crop, motivated and serious about their own survival as well as the survival of Jews everywhere.

The first settlers of Israel were said to be farmers with rifles on their backs, turning a desert into green, the future produce and flower grower for most of Europe. Sadly the grandchildren of these pioneers have lost much of this drive and have been weakened by their taste of American style greed and prosperity when they profited from the 1990's tech boom (Israel's economy is mostly high tech, military, and aerospace). Affluence after many rough years often leads to a spoiled generation. A spoiled pampered younger generation has trouble dealing with difficulty. The West Bank and Gaza were slightly different re-conquered after 19 years of Egyptian and Jordanian occupation these lands were much less settled than the northern coastal areas near Tel-Aviv or Haifa. Being unsettled weeds out the timid who moved to larger cities and left the more motivated--both Zionist and/or religious.

Back to survival: Live in a community which has your values and ideals this is one way to help you have a happier and simpler life. Choosing a community is almost as careful a selection as choosing your spouse. Choose wrong and prepare to lose a fortune and be miserable for many years. We chose a community for its high percentage of Americans as well as for its involvement in protecting itself through volunteer rescue and anti-terror teams but most importantly because we felt at home and accepted by the community. A community takes care of its own members first.

Depending on what happens with Gaza and Shomron (Samaria) which is on top of my priorities, I may be able to generate a few posts for you in the next three weeks until the Elul Zman where I will be back in Yeshiva.

All the Best,

Kol Tov

"Something happens when an individual owns his home or business. He or she will always invest more sweat, longer hours and greater creativity to develop and care for something he owns than he will for any government-inspired project supposedly engineered for the greater social good... The desire to improve oneself and one's family's lot, to make life
better for one's children, to strive for a higher standard of living, is universal and God-given. It is honorable. It is not greed." - Rush Limbaugh, The Limbaugh Letter, 1993

Friday, August 12, 2005

SurvivalBlog is now just one week old. We've already had 4,700+ unique blog accesses and more than 108,000 page hits. Therefore, I surmise that we must be doing something right. If you find this blog useful and informative, then please help spread the word! Please send a brief e-mail, BCCed to the folks on your personal e-mail list.

This blog and the associated FAQs are available free of charge. But the only way that I can afford to keep up this level of effort is if we increase readership and thus attract some more advertisers. I greatly appreciate your help!

If you are setting up a remote retreat you should definitely plan ahead to double up or even triple up with other capable families to provide security, as described in my novel Patriots. The manpower required for 24 hour, 7 day a week, 360 degree security should things go truly “worst case” with a complete breakdown of law and order is tremendous. One family with just two adults on its own cannot both provide security and handle the many chores required to operate a self-sufficient retreat--particularly in summer and fall with gardening and food storage tasks. The physical and emotional toll of manning 12-on/12-off security shifts would bring a single family to the breaking point in just a few weeks. (As a former U.S. Army officer, I can personally attest to the terrible drain that continuous operations create--even on physically fit soldiers that averaged 21.5 years old.) Any lesser security will leave your retreat vulnerable to being overrun.

In the event of TEOTWAWKI, I predict that the dilemma for many will be: “Either we have insufficient security and we eat, or we have full security and we starve.” Thus, manning an isolated retreat will take a bare minimum of four adults, and ideally six. (Typically, three couples, plus their kids.) This will mean buying a five to eight bedroom house with a full basement. In Utah, this type of house is termed a “Mormon bunker.” One alternative is to buy a pair of homes on contiguous parcels with direct lines of sight to each other and that could both be over-watched by a single listening post/observation post (LP/OP). One approach to defending an isolated retreat in a “worst case” is described in my novel Patriots and will be discussed in detail in a subsequent blog posts.

One dilemma often faced by would-be retreat owners is that they are chained to the Big City because of work or family obligations. Ideally, you should live at your retreat year-round. It will give you crucial experience in gardening and animal husbandry. And of course you will be there to keep an eye on things. One crucial intangible benefit to living at your retreat year round is that you become a “neighbor.” If you don’t move in full-time you simply won’t be considered a neighbor. This can take years. Building neighborly relationships may be crucial WTSHTF. You do not want to be seen as the expendable newcomer.

In some potential situations you won’t have the opportunity to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) until it is too late. The following advice is for those of you that plan to take that gamble:
It is essential to pre-position the vast majority of your logistics at your retreat. Circumstances may dictate that you only can make only one trip to your retreat before roads are unusable or unsafe to use. It would be tragic to have to pick and choose the portions of your gear to take for that one trip. Show prudence and foresight: pre-position most of your gear! Incidentally, it is wise to do a “test load” once every two years to insure that those items that you keep in your home will fit in your vehicle(s) for that one trip.

Plan multiple routes using secondary roads in case the freeways are clogged, roadblocks have been set up, or bridges are washed out or intentionally demolished. Have a Plan A, B, C, and D for getting to your retreat. The latter may be on mountain bikes or on foot! Pack your G.O.O.D. backpacks for each family member accordingly. (See the “Shank’s Mare” chapter of my novel Patriots for ideas on what you should pack.)

If family or work circumstances dictate that you can’t live at your retreat year round, then at least look local. If your retreat is across a state line then carry the driver’s license of the State where you have your retreat (with the town nearest your retreat listed as your home address), and get dual registration for all of your G.O.O.D. vehicles. The latter is so that you can get past roadblocks. (If things get really bad, there will be roadblocks--either official, quasi-official, or impromptu.You will want to be able to have documentation to prove that you are headed home to your retreat rather than just another refugee from The Big City. Paying a little extra each year for dual registration could save your life.

So are you "stuck" in the Big City? You make a great salary and can afford to buy a retreat, but you can't telecommute. Finding a trustworthy caretaker for a retreat can be problematic. I have one close friend who has a large, very elaborately prepared retreat in the Inland Northwest: A big house, shop, springs, ponds, a year round creek with a micro-hydro generator, photovoltaics, diesel and gas storage, you name it. My friend found a man from the local church who agreed to be a renter/caretaker. He charged him just a nominal sum for rent, with the understanding that the difference would be made up in the effort required to keep up the property. Just watering and pruning the dozens of fruit and nut trees is a big chore.

He has had a live-in caretaker for four years. There was some confusion at first about whether the caretaker was a renter, with a renter’s expectations of privacy, or a house sitter, with no expectation of privacy. Late in the first year of their arrangement, the caretaker insisted that the owner give six months notice before taking a two-week vacation at his own retreat! This may sound comical, but it really happened. Finally, a year later, after eliminating the rent entirely, the owner came to an agreement whereby he can use his retreat with just 30-day notice. Don't make the same mistake. Instead, make each party's rights and responsibilities perfectly clear from the outset. And do not confuse the renter versus employee relationships. Your caretaker must be entirely one or the other, or you are bound to have difficulties.

When selecting a caretaker, it is important to find someone committed to staying long-term, someone of like faith that you can trust with certainty, and someone who has practical skills and who is not afraid to get his hands dirty or paint-stained.

One compromise approach is to leave you retreat house unoccupied and rent a commercial storage space in the town nearest your retreat. I have one friend who leaves his retreat cabin virtually empty. All that he keeps stored there is some second-hand furniture, four cords of firewood (in a locked shed) and a pair of underground gas and diesel tanks, which have their filler and dispenser necks camouflaged by a rusting clothes dryer and water heater--part of a junk pile. He rents a 12 foot x 25 foot commercial storage space that is crammed full of all of his gear. His plan is to bug out at the 11th hour, and then use his 4WD pickup and his 5 foot x10 foot box trailer to hastily move his gear to his retreat. This constitutes pitiful operational security (OPSEC), but it is better than leaving his valuable gear unattended and vulnerable to burglary. I should also mention that it makes it difficult to practice using his gear, or to rotate his storage food or to establish a garden and livestock between now and TEOTWAWKI. I just hope that he gets to his house before some armed squatters do!

I have a couple of questions

1.) I agree that the best possible course of action for TEOTWAWKI would be to have a retreat. Today you described how strategy's like the "Batman in the Boondocks" approach, or "RVing" would probably fail. How does someone who does not have a retreat, (or the funds for one) plan?

2.) In your book "Patriots", the main characters had formed a group years in advance. How does one find like-minded individuals to join groups such as theirs? Talking to your neighbors about things like this get you labeled as a kook pretty fast.

JWR's Replies:

1.) If you cannot afford to buy a retreat, then perhaps you have some country cousins? Or a friend that owns a farm or ranch? Make some overtures to them about storing some grub and gear at their place. Assuming that they have acreage and outbuildings, offer to buy your own locking CONEX to leave there (to stock with your tools and logistics), so that you don't use up all of their available storage space. (Nor will have you have to worry about things getting used up, misplaced, or pilfered.)

2.) Your best course of action is to seek out like-minded individuals at your church or perhaps at your local rifle range. A seemingly casual but "directed" conversation can garner you a lot of useful info without tipping your hand. The key is to ask questions rather than expounding on your view of the future. Proceed with caution--and prayer!

Jim, great blog!
Another issue you might mention with regard to sailboats - piracy is currently an issue on the seas, particularly off the coasts (in the Americas) of Nicaragua and El Salvador. It's a huge issue in the Indian Ocean.

Also, most foreign governments have very close to a zero-tolerance policy on weapons of ANY sort. A bluewater sailor who put into Mexico after suffering storm damage a few years ago was thrown into jail for having an AR-15 onboard. His original plans were to sail to the Canal Zone and then to Florida. It took more than a year to get him out of jail, the boat is now a trophy for the corrupt local authorities.

However, it's quite possible to blend in on a sailboat. Just equip the boat for long-distance bluewater cruising. Solar panels don't have to be very large, a small wind generator can be hung from the backstay to provide sufficient electricity to keep the batteries topped off from daily use of lights, radios, etc. Water makers (reverse osmosis units) can make water, but require running the engine at a least a bit. Storing sufficient food and spares can be accomplished, but you'll get quite tired of freeze dried foods.

However, the main reason to stay away from a boat is simple: Where do you go? In case of any serious emergency, you're on your own. If the boat catches on fire, hits a shipping container (and they're out there, floating just below the surface of the ocean), hits a whale or log, or whatever, you're in a raft. And the Coast Guard probably isn't going to even look for you, in an emergency. At least with a properly designed retreat you have a hope of Escape and Evasion (E&E) in an emergency, and if you've cached supplies and weapons, you might be able to return to your retreat and evict the aggressors. At least it's a hope. Dying in a raft isn't much of a survival option.

As far as retreating or E&Eing with large vehicles, you'll be out of fuel in a day or two. Not terribly practical. A 5-ton towing a fuel pod is an option but it's a big, slow, relatively fragile target. The best (theoretical) option I can think of is something like a 1-ton long bed pickup with a turbodiesel engine, and a 100 gal aux tank in the bed. Combined with the standard tank this will provide on the order of 1500-2000 miles range at highway speeds with a load, less if negotiating poor roads and a lot less if going off road. Not great. Biodiesel is an option once you're at your retreat but options like burning scavenged cooking oils strike me as being both uncertain, and risky to the hardware.

Again, good work on the blog. Good luck! -"Foxtrot"

JWR's Reply:

Mr. Foxtrot's points are well taken. He obviously speaks from experience. OBTW, anyone that is seriously considering living abroad (or living aboard and living abroad--pardon the pun) should sign up for a free subscription to The Sovereign Society's Offshore A-Letter.

"Is the American tradition of self-reliance disappearing? That's a painful question for conservatives to ponder. After all, we're dedicated to reducing the role of government and promoting individual freedom and opportunity. But the facts, while sad, are clear: More Americans today depend more heavily on government than ever before." --Edwin Feulner

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I just added a seventh Retreat Owner Profile. (For "Mr. and Mrs. Yankee.") I'd appreciate getting some more profiles to show greater diversity of geography, finances, and retreating approaches. How about someone from the South? Or someone from overseas? Send 'em in! (I'll handle the editing and fictionalizing/de-attribution.)

There are two distinct modes of fixed location survival retreats: ”In Town” and “Isolated.” The former depends on some local infrastructure while the latter is designed to be almost entirely self-sufficient and self-contained. Isolated retreats are also often termed “remote” retreats.

Not everyone is suited to tackling the tasks required for self-sufficiency. Advanced age, physical handicaps, lack of trustworthy family or friends, or chronic health conditions could rule that out. If that is your situation, then you will probably want to establish an inconspicuous “in town” retreat rather than an isolated “stronghold” retreat.

If opting for “in town,” buy a masonry house with a fireproof roof on an oversize lot. (Make that wood frame construction if you live in earthquake country.) Carefully select a town with a small population—somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 if it has a true “end to end” gravity fed water supply, or from 200 to 1,000 if the water system is in any way dependent on the power grid. (The 1,000 upper limit is for fear of sanitation problems.) IMO, towns and larger than 3,000 lack a cohesive sense of "our community”, and any town with a population smaller than 200 would lack a sufficient mix of skills and the manpower required to mount a sufficient defense in the event of a true “worst case.” I believe that it is best to avoid larger towns. At some point over the 3,000 inhabitant threshold, the "we/they paradigm" will be lacking, and in a true TEOTWAWKI it could be every man for himself.

The late Mel Tappan wisely opined that if your house is at the end of dead end of a road at the edge of town with no close by neighbors, then it might just as well be five or ten miles out of town--since it will be psychologically outside of the invisible ring of protection that will constitute “in town.” Post-TEOTWAWKI, the “we/they” paradigm will be forcefully if not painfully obvious. If you are “in town” you will benefit from a de facto Neighborhood Watch on Steroids. Make sure that your retreat is either clearly “in town”, or not. A property that is halfway in between will have none of the advantages and all of the disadvantages.

Tappan championed the concept of “small town” retreating: owning a mini-farm that is physically and psychologically inside of an existing small community. This approach has several advantages. Before making your decision, consider the following pro and con lists:

Advantages of “In Town” Retreats:

Better for a slow slide scenario or a “grid up” depression wherein the local agricultural and industrial payrolls may still be viable.
You will be a member of the community.
You will benefit from local security arrangements.
Ready access to local barter economy.
Ready access to local skills and medical facilities.

Disadvantages of “In Town” Retreats:

Privacy is very limited. Transporting bulky logistics must be done at odd hours to minimize observation by neighbors.
Fuel storage is severely limited. (Consult the local ordinances before you buy a home.)
Poor sanitation in the event of “grid down” situation, unless your town has a truly “end to end” gravity fed water system. (More on this in a subsequent post.)
You can’t test fire and zero your guns at your own property.
You can’t set up elaborate antenna arrays or your house will look out of place.
You can’t hunt on your own land.
You can’t keep livestock other than perhaps a few rabbits. (Consult the local ordinances before you buy a home.)
You can’t make substantial ballistic and anti-vehicular barrier retreat upgrades.
Greater risk of communicable diseases.
Greater risk of burglary.
Greater risk of having your “hoarded” supplies confiscated by bureaucrats.

Advantages of Isolated Retreats:

More room for gardening, pasturing, and for growing row crops.
Lower house and land prices. (More for your money.)
Better for a total wipeout “grid down” scenario when virtually everyone will be out of work. (Hence the local payroll will be a non-issue.)
You can stock up in quantity with less fear of the watchful eyes of nosy neighbors.
You can test fire and zero your guns at your own property.
You can build with non-traditional architecture (earth sheltered, for example.)
You can set up more elaborate antenna arrays--and other things that would look odd in town.
Better sanitation in the event of a “grid down” situation.
You can hunt on your own land.
A place to cut your own firewood.
You can keep livestock.
You can make ballistic and anti-vehicular upgrades. (As described in my novel Patriots.)
A “dog run” chain link fence around your house won’t look too out of place.
Virtually unlimited fuel storage. (Consult your county and State laws before ordering large gas, diesel, heating oil, and propane tanks.)
Much lower risk of communicable diseases. Particularly important in the event of a biological warfare attack—but only if the bug is spread person-to-person rather than airborne.

Disadvantages of Isolated Retreats:

Impossible to defend with just one family.
Cannot depend on much help from neighbors or law enforcement if your home is attacked by looters or in the event of fire. You will likely be entirely on your own to resolve those situations. If and when a gang of looters arrives, it will be you or them--no second place winner.
Isolation from day-to-day barter/commerce.
A longer commute to your “day job”, shopping, and church.

A careful analysis of the preceding lists (plus specific localized considerations) should lead you to concluding which approach is right for you, given your family situation, your stage in life, and your own view of the potential severity of events to come. Pray about it before making a decision of this gravity.

A town situated in a hilly or mountainous region is preferable to one on open plains in the event of a worst case. Why? If and when roadblocks are needed to turn back the tide of refugees and looters, then towns on plains simply have too many vehicular ingress routes. By comparison, hill or canyon towns are typically limited by terrain to having just a few ingress routes. If the situation dictates that each ingress road must have defensible roadblocks, each manned 24 hours a day 7 days a week by three to 10 armed men, then the manpower requirements will jump considerably in towns with level terrain. Count the access roads and do the math!

Buy vehicles that will blend in day-to-day, but that will be eminently practical WTSHTF. Say, for example, a crew cab 4WD pickup with range tanks, towing package, and a camper shell. Select one with both the body and camper shell in flat earth tone colors--like a forest green body with a tan shell. Do not get a vehicle in a camouflage paint scheme. That will instantly brand you as the local whacko. Stock up on some cans of flat brown, green, and black paint to use to paint over the chrome trim, but only do so after the balloon goes up. Buy a military surplus camouflage net and support system for each vehicle. Why? Read my novel Patriots and it will be abundantly clear.

Before I go into detail on how to make you retreat/home nor defendable (as I will in subsequent posts), here are a few basics:

Buy a house with at least one more bedroom than you currently need, preferably with a full basement. (Proviso: A basement only if the local water table level will allow this without aid of an electric sump pump. It must have a "dry and tight" basement!) Stock up on extra tools, sturdy clothes, food, guns, web gear, and necessities for family and friends that will surely show up on you doorstep on TEOTWAWKI+1. Don’t do anything externally visible that might tip looters that they can “get your supplies here.” Put in an oversize vegetable garden, preferably out of line of sight from the street. Ring the garden with flowerbeds and some tall flowering shrubs to make the garden look more decorative than practical to the casual observer. Get a big, quiet, mean-looking (but obedient) guard dog. I tend toward Airedales (the largest of the Terriers) and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Both are fairly large breeds with loyal, and highly territorial temperaments. Note , however, that selecting a dog breed is a very personal choice. Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). BTW, I'd love to get a "review" letter from anyone who has owned either breed for an extended period of time. (I'm the first to admit that I'm too biased to write anything about dog breeds dispassionately.)

Plant several rose bushes or thorny Bougainvillea vines beneath each window. (“Don’t those look lovely!“) Bush roses and climbing varieties can be used in various ways to defend your home. Use your imagination. If you buy defensive wire (military surplus concertina wire or civilian razor wire), keep it stored discreetly in your garage out of sight and put it up only in the event of a true “worst case” situation where the town must be barricaded. When you donate that wire to the local security committee you will be looked at as a forward thinking life saver, not a whacko!

Replace all of your exterior doors with sturdy steel ones in steel frames. If your house has a connecting garage, pay particular attention to beefing up the door that connects it to the house. Turn your garage into a mini-warehouse, with lots of heavy duty shelving. And then avoid opening your main garage door unless absolutely necessary. Train all of your family members to never let visitors see the interior of your garage. Pick up your mail in town, and don’t subscribe to controversial publications in your own name.

A tip of the hat to The Rascal for pointing me to this URL for 80% complete AR-15 receiver kits and completion tools/jigs/instructions. This could prove useful if you live in a State that has registration requirements for "private party" gun purchases, but not for home built guns. Consult your State and local laws before ordering! You should also order through a drop box to avoid a paper trail.

To U.S. readers: Resist the urge to drill an extra hole above the selector switch hole. With practice, you can squeeze your trigger finger very rapidly with just semi-auto. There is NO REASON to risk a five year stay at the Gray Bar Hotel and the permanent loss of your gun ownership and voting rights! I'm dead serious about this.

OBTW, I'm not a great fan of Mouse Guns. However, they do have their purposes, most notably for use by children, the elderly, and anyone confined to a wheelchair. Also keep in mind that AR-15 receivers can be used for more than just building a .223 AR-15. For example, the Ferret .50 kit (.50 BMG single shot) requires NO FFL. Nor does the BRP Guns MG-42 (semi-auto belt fed) kit. Both use AR-15 receivers. Parenthetically, a strange quirk of U.S. law makes the lower receiver on an AR legally the receiver, rather than the upper receiver. It is a good thing that Eugene Stoner set the precedent of stamping the serial numbers on the lowers of the first AR-10s, some 40+ years ago. The rest is history.

Dear Mr. Rawles;
Nice to see your Blog.
As a recommendation, try an older book, titled "Five Acres and Independence " by M.G. Kains, B.S., M.S. It was first published in 1935, updated in 1940 and 1948, But still very relevant! You can find it on Advanced Book Exchange for very low prices. It outlines exactly what your wife has advised for breeding livestock, as well as similar programs, even for corn and vegetables, as well as fruit trees. Well worth the low cost as a second hand book. - P.W.

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, and die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." - Robert Heinlein

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I have considerably expanded the SurvivalBlog Glossary. You may find a few of the entries entertaining as well as informative.

Batman Fantasy Land (SA: Retreating Options)

You should discard any fantasies that you might have had about strapping on a backpack and disappearing into nearby National Forest to “live off the land.” IMHO, that is an invitation to disaster. Too many things can go wrong: You will lack sufficient shelter. You will not be able to carry enough food reserves. Your one rifle and your one pistol, and your one axe, once lost or broken will leave you vulnerable and unable to provide for your sustenance or self defense. Any illness or injury could be life threatening. Even just a dunking in a stream in mid-winter could cost your life. Also, consider how many thousands of urbanites will probably try to do the same thing. Even if you manage to avoid encounters with them, those legions of people foraging at once will quickly deplete the available wild game in many regions. Furthermore, on your own you won’t be able to maintain sufficient security. (You must sleep, after all!) For countless reasons, playing “Batman in the Boondocks” just won’t work. So forget about the "one pack" solution, other than as a last resort--for example, in the event that your retreat is overrun. Also note that any of you that do not live at your intended retreat location year round should have a “Get out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) pack ready at all times. Keep it in the trunk of your car in case circumstances force you to hike all or part of the way to your retreat. (A sub-optimal situation, as described in my novel Patriots.) Be sure to inspect your G.O.O.D. pack regularly and rotate any first aid supplies, chemical light sticks, jerky, dried fruit, or other perishables.

“Land mobile” retreating in a recreational vehicle (RV) is another invitation to disaster. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, a fixed location retreat is vastly superior to going mobile. IMO, the myth of ”Road Warrior” mobility and firepower is in actuality just an expanded opportunity to wander into ambush after ambush. No vehicle short of a $70,000+ Cadillac Gage V100 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) would have both the cargo capacity and the ballistic protection required. (A little Ferret scout car just doesn't have the capacity. I speak from personal experience on that!) Also, consider that you would need a pair of APCs to provide mutually supporting defensive fire. And then of course you will probably want a belt-fed for each. With spares and accessories that is an additional $3,000 per vehicle. If by chance you already have a fully stocked retreat established and have $150,000 in cash laying around for a couple of ultimate G.O.O.D. vehicles, see: Dave Uhrig’s website and then click on “Armor”. (I should mention that I have done business with Dave Uhrig on two occasions. He is quite reputable.) Note: I will discuss survival vehicles in greater detail in blog posts later this year.

Here is a dose of reality for you: If you choose to go entirely vehicle mobile eventually you will eventually lose a battle--most likely in a roadblock ambush--or your RV will break down. Or it will run out of fuel--with some likelihood that it will be on exposed terrain in an untenable situation. Also, since the logistics that you could carry would be limited, you will start out with an inherent disadvantage to fixed location retreats. This also creates the prospect that once your food supplies are depleted you will be tempted to take what you need from others. To paraphrase John Dibari (my high school chemistry instructor) when he described troublemakers: “If you aren’t part of the solution--you’re the precipitate.” (That is, someone who precipitates trouble--part of the problem, not the solution.) Scratch that idea!

A live-aboard sailboat or motor cruiser is another frequently touted retreat option. Unless you are an experienced blue water yachtsman with many years of experience, then I cannot recommend “sea mobile” retreating. I only know a few yachtsmen with this level of experience--most notably Mark Laughlin and Matthew Bracken. (BTW, Some of the characters and descriptions in Matt Bracken’s recent novel “Enemies Foreign and Domestic” shed some light on sea-mobile retreating.) IMHO, for a long term Crunch with anticipated fuel shortages, only a sailboat with an auxiliary engine makes sense. If you do choose this route, then by all means select the largest sailboat you can afford (and that can be manned by a small crew) with the following features:

A minimal radar cross section.
A retractable keel so that you can navigate shallows.
A very quiet auxiliary engine.
The largest fuel and fresh water tanks possible.
A full suite of communications gear (marine band, 2 Meter, CB, and HF.)
At least two Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, plus a sextant in case the GPS satellites ever fail. (Or in case the GPS constellation is destroyed or significantly degraded by anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons.)
A hull and rigging design that will “blend in” with the crowd of seasonal yachtsmen.
Plenty of spare parts.

Be forewarned that your inevitable desire to add a large photovoltaic array will be in direct opposition to blending in. If you buy photovoltaic (PV) panels, buy canvas covers to make them less obvious when sailing near shore. A sailboat moored at night is vulnerable to sea-going looters. Even today, piracy is a problem, particularly in the Caribbean and the waters around Southeast Asia. This threat will surely expand by an order of magnitude WTSHTF. So plan your landfalls carefully!
Mobile approaches to retreating have too many drawbacks to recommend them, except perhaps in a few cases for someone with a huge budget. Pragmatically, you will need a defensible fixed location with a deep larder, tools, weapons, barter goods, and friends that you can count on. In essence, the only tenable “mobile” approach is for the very short term: a reliable vehicle that gets you to a well provisioned and defendable fixed retreat. (But I highly recommend living at you retreat year round, if at all possible. I will articulate this fully in future posts.)

In yesterday's post I should have been more specific when I used the term "British Commonwealth." I had intended to direct my comments mainly toward the United Kingdom which is heavily urbanized and has a low quotient for self-sufficiency. A reader from Australia kindly pointed out my lapse in articulation. To clarify: I do believe that some of the more remote areas of Oz (particularly up at the fringe of The Wet), much of Western Canada, and perhaps parts of New Zealand that are well removed from major population centers could be a good places to survive WTSHTF. See my revised post, under the August 8, 2005 divider. Mea culpa. OBTW, a recent poll of Canadians showed that at least 35% of residents of the Western Provinces favor secession from the Ottawa government. Let freedom reign!

My first bugout bag was actually a large army box that I had acquired in my many years in the military. I’m not sure how much that weighed but seemed like a hundred pounds. Most of the gear that I used back then was surplus army gear, actually the gear I was issued. I believe that most army gear was designed during The Inquisition. Any of you who have carried it know what I mean. Even my civilian pack topped out at 60 pounds, I didn't know any better. In the last few years I’ve gotten into lightweight backpacking. There is a sect of backpackers that use the term “Ultra light” to describe their style of packing. Base weights of as little as 9 pounds are not uncommon if you have the money to buy them. 15-20 pound base pack weights are not too uncommon and fall into my category of light weight backpacking. Your base pack weight consists of everything you need to survive except expendables such as food, fuel, or water. Now understand that I’m not talking about a bug out bag at this point but shaving weight in some areas will shave weight for your bugout bag as well.

To start off with, I like to use civilian gear, for a few good reasons. The first is camouflage. If you go walking around in the city with a military rucksack on you are either a nut or a terrorist in the eyes of the sheeple. Not too many people would think twice of a person in clean clothes walking around with a nice internal frame backpack or even a duffle bag. Just think, you could carry around your bug out bag to work every day and just tell people that you are getting in shape for an upcoming backpacking trip. Secondly, it’s just so much more comfortable. That reason alone is enough to change for me. A good internal frame pack from any backpacking store will do fine. A balance in the volume to the weight of the pack should be looked at if you really want to reduce weight. I went for a 2900 cubic inch pack, to intentionally limit the volume that I have available. A lot of people buy a pack that is way too large for them and fill up the empty space with useless junk. I know, I’ve done it and went over a mountain with that pack, and I felt like a mule.

"A remarkable fact is how unafraid people are of influenza, even though the 1918-1919 pandemic killed upwards of 20 million people in a short period of time, a similar pandemic could recur, there is no cure for the disease, and flu vaccines are unreliable due to mutability of the virus." - Judge Richard A. Posner, Catastrophe: Risk and Response

Tuesday, August 9, 2005

If you are an eastern urbanite and come to the conclusion that you need to buy “a cabin in upstate New York” or “a brick house in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens,” then you are wrong, quite possibly dead wrong. (By the way, I had both of those earnestly suggested, in e-mails from readers of my novel Patriots.) A rural area that is within an overall heavily populated region is not truly rural. It lacks real isolation from the basic problem--population. Most of these “rural” areas—except perhaps for a few fortunately bypassed zones, as I mentioned yesterday--will be overwhelmed by refugees and looters in a true TEOTWAWKI. You will need to be at least one tank of gas away from the larger metropolitan areas--preferably 300 miles or more, if possible.

A retreat is not just “a cabin in the mountains.” Rather, it is a well-prepared and defensible redoubt with well-planned logistics. A proper survival retreat is in effect a modern day castle. Be prepared to escalate your defensive posture to match an escalating threat, and in a “worst case” your retreat will be so well defended that looters will most likely give up and find someone less prepared to prey upon. Ideally, a survival retreat is located in a region with the following characteristics:

A long growing season.
Geographic isolation from major population centers.
Sufficient year-round precipitation and surface water.
Rich topsoil.
A diverse economy and agriculture.
Away from interstate freeways and other channelized areas.
Low taxes.
Non-intrusive scale of government.
Favorable zoning and inexpensive building permits.
Minimal gun laws.
No major earthquake, hurricane, or tornado risks.
No flooding risk.
No tidal wave risk (at least 200 feet above sea level.)
Minimal forest fire risk.
A lifestyle geared toward self-sufficiency.
Demographics not factionalized either economically or racially.
Plentiful local sources of wood or coal.
No restrictions on keeping livestock.
Defendable terrain.
Not near a prison or large mental institution.
Inexpensive insurance rates (home, auto, health).
Upwind from major nuclear weapons targets.

After digesting the foregoing list and taking it seriously, you should be able to greatly narrow your search for potential retreat regions.

You will note that in my blog posts that I don’t make specific recommendations for regions in British Commonwealth countries that I consider safe havens. This is for two reasons: First, Because of my lack of familiarity with the terrain and microclimates, I don’t feel qualified to do so. Second, and more importantly, in my opinion there are no safe areas! The gun control laws and other facets of The Ubiquitous Nanny State have made your nations a poor place to stay in WTSHTF. Your laws prevent bearing arms for the defense of you own life and property. (And in most cases even owning guns or even some types of swords and knives!) Further, the multiple generations of people accustomed to deep dependency on the welfare state will make very dangerous neighbors. You will be outnumbered. It will mainly be criminals that will have guns, and you will be at their mercy. I cannot find words strong enough to implore you to emigrate to the United States if your circumstances make it feasible. You and your family will be much safer here! The only exceptions might be for those of you who live in some of Canada's western provinces or the more remote regions of Australia or New Zealand. But even then you still have to live with some fairly draconian gun laws. If you plan on staying put, you should probably buy two fully redundant sets of guns. One to use, and one to cache. Your own government may come and collect the first set. And then it will be up to you just how you'll interpret Rule 303.

I am also directing these comments to those of you living in unstable countries such Indonesia, Israel, Pakistan, The Philippines, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Many of you are presently living in circumstances that are very similar to what I describe in this book. My hat is off to you. I can’t teach you what you already know so well. But I can recommend relocating to a rural region in the U.S. while it is still possible to do so. As they say at British football matches: “Take the gap!,” ladies and gents.

Selective breeding of small livestock is important to the survivalist because you will not be able to get replacement livestock from other sources if things get truly bad. You will have to maintain your own breeding population to replace those animal you consume, are killed by predators, die of disease, or even old age.

The first principle is that you will keep only a few male animals and a preponderance of female animals. The females of course gestate. The more females you have the more offspring can be produced. You will need some males. You certainly would want to have a “herd sire” and a spare. But you probably would not keep more than two because one male can service many females, and your space and feed will probably be limited. That having been said, your rooster, ram, buck goat, etc. should be the very best you can get. The old saying is that the male is 50% of the herd. He will provide his genetic material to ALL the offspring.

Once your animals are producing offspring, you will want to select the very best to raise up as replacements. First, they ought to be the daughters out of your very best females. Which are your best females? These would be the females that are healthy and have never been prone to any illness. Select chicks from your hens that started laying eggs the earliest, laid the most eggs, and kept laying even into the winter when the other hens stopped laying. For rabbits, select offspring from the does that raised the most bunnies to butcher weight on her milk alone. Select ones from does that breed readily, have large litters, but also have plenty of milk to feed their babies. For sheep and goats, select the offspring from the mothers that had no problems during their births, are calm mothers with lots of milk, never suffered from hoof or teeth problems, with well-formed udders and teats (“easy milkers”), and have been free of udder infections. Also, only select from ewes and doe goats that have twins. Twinning is an inherited trait. (Make sure your ram was a twin as well, because he can pass this gene on to his daughters).

The offspring you ought to eat first are the offspring from the inferior females that don’t lay as many eggs, don’t have twins, are prone to illnesses, are nervous mothers, or are less productive in some way. Your next step ids then to start raising up replacement young females. At the point when the yearlings come into production themselves you will want to cull your senior females that were not as healthy and productive as the others in the herd or flock. Your will also need to raise up a few young males to be eventual replacements. If you decide you have space to raise two young males you would be wise select males from two different mothers so as to maintain some genetic diversity.

In conclusion, I believe that your goal should be increased productivity and vigor in your herds and flocks. Obviously your goals will not be the same as someone who is breeding for “show”that is breeding for a certain look.

“The diligent farmer plants trees, of which he himself will never see the fruit.” (“Abores serit diligens agricola, quarum adspiciet baccam ipse numquam.”) - Marcus Tullius Cicero, Tusculanarum Disputationum (I,14)

Monday, August 8, 2005

Most major routes out of major cities will be very dangerous places to be in the event of a massive involuntary urban exodus. Imagine the situation WTSHTF in small towns on either side of the Snoqualmie Pass in Washington, or near I-80 across the Donner Pass in California, or on the Columbia River Gorge (dividing Oregon and Washington), or virtually every other stretch of interstate freeway that is within 150 miles of a metropolitan region. These channelized areas (also called “refugee lines of drift” by Military Police war game planners) should be studiously avoided.

Conversely, there are areas between lines of drift that will likely be bypassed by refugees and looters, due to poor access.(Constrained by small winding mountainous roads, water obstacles, intervening canyon lands, et cetera.) Some of these bypassed zones may be fairly close to urban areas. It is a dangerous gamble, but if for some reason you must live near a city, I suggest that you carefully search for what may be a largely bypassed zone for your retreat and/or home. A few regions that may be bypassed come to mind, based on my travels and from first hand accounts by my associates. (There are many others that are similar--do some research to find ones in your region). These include:

Portions of the Ouachita Mountains, west of Little Rock, Arkansas
Some islands in the Great Lakes region
Parts of Sabine County, south of Shreveport, Louisiana
The periphery of Harry S. Truman reservoir, 60 miles southeast of Kansas City, Missouri.
Portions of Dewey and Custer Counties (80 miles west of Oklahoma City.)
The Santa Rita Mountains, southeast of Tucson, Arizona
The Chiracahua Mountains, in the southeast corner of Arizona
The Mount Hamilton region, Alameda County, California. (East of San Jose, and south of Livermore.)
Parts of the San Joaquin River Delta, east of San Francisco, California
Some islands in the Puget Sound, Washington

Driving the back roads of your region will probably reveal other similar areas that might be bypassed. BTW, I'd appreciate input from readers about other potentially bypassed areas.

I've been amazed and gratified that this blog has already has already had 1,960+ unique blog accesses and a total of 29,395 page hits. That's not bad for a site that is just three days old... I'm asking a favor: Please send a brief and informal announcement to all of of your family, friends, or co-workers that have an interest in preparedness, self-sufficiency or related survival issues. Let them know about Please help spread the word! Just remember, if they get motivated and squared away, they will be one less person knocking on your door in need of charity on TEOTWAWKI+1.

Glad to see your Blog page starting up. I wish you well with it. To add to your son's warnings on a rabbit meat-only diet: Eating strictly rabbit meat, the lack of fat causes the human body to start to crave. Early mountain men & wilderness travelers found this out the hard way. It is sort of like a salt craving: One's body goes through some hard times when this happens, up to including malnourishment symptoms. By the way, it is noteworthy that "New" vegetarians experience these symptoms until their body becomes accustomed to vegetable fats. This can be a long process. I hope this bit of info will help. Take care.
- The Bee Man

[JWR's note: Some of the readers of my novel will remember The Bee Man from the Barter Faire chapter. Yes, he is a real life individual. And a real "character" to boot!]

Jim, read the 'population density' analysis and couldn't agree more. When I was on the road moving to North Idaho earlier this year I came up[U.S.] I-5 and swung over through Washington. There are a lot of people in that corridor. But when I went back for the second load I went down [U.S.] 395. I was amazed at the absence of civilization (at least on a large scale) From John Day [Oregon] through northern California it was DESOLATE. To the uninitiated this would seem frightening. Sometimes a half hour would pass before you passed another car. And the Eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada isn't bad either. (Except for the fact that its in California). When we again headed north it was up 395 to Reno then North/east on 80 to Winnemucca. That stretch as well is quite appealing. Checked eBay and there is a lot of land for sale in those parts 'dirt cheap'. And the area you mentioned in Idaho County as well appealed to me for the same reasons--small towns and few of them! Good growing climate and lots of wildlife. Northern Idaho is quite frankly TOO CROWDED and we will be leaving here soon. My circumstances (family) dictate that I leave this area but I will be relocating to a smaller town in Nevada and will keep my eyes on these areas that you have mentioned. OBTW, I lived in D.C. in the eighties while in the Air Force and was amazed at the number of people there. You are right, less is better!
- J.M. in Post Falls, Idaho

JWR's Reply:

I agree that the Coeur d'Alene area of northern Idaho has too many people. However, there are a lot areas that are outside of commute distance to Spokane and the Aluminum Gulch that are very lightly populated. And those same areas are also where rural acreage is still affordable.

Howdy Jim & Memsahib,
Regarding getting rabbits free after the usual Easter bunny buying frenzy - great idea. Get them producing, and optimize your cage designs at the same time by using those Easter bunnies as test subjects.

One notes however that the "pet" rabbits are generally not designed specifically for meat production, and there are oftentimes sizeable efficiency differences between the breeds. As soon as possible, consider sourcing true breed lines that are designed for meat - you'll kick up production quite a bit. Using the 4H as a source is probably the best idea - depending on where you're at. Our 4H locally has been absolutely decimated by PC folks....not many of the 4H clubs still extant here.

If possible, stay away from wooden cages, or wooden cage frames. The rabbit's eat and chew the woods, damaging and weakening it - and the urine will soak in, making it pretty nasty after a while. If you've got to build from wood, make sure you staple the cage wires to the inside of the frames. For cleaning, a 15% bleach/water solution sprayed on liberally and allowed to soak in works well. I'd also say, if you've got to use wood, use Cedar or Redwood only.
Good sources for these (at least in urban areas) are old fences, decks, spa surrounds, etc. (At least once a year I advertise for free demolition and removal of a deck. That keeps me with enough Redwood for my projects.)

Ideally, make those cages out of only metal mesh. The wire cloth (hardware cloth, hot dipped galvanizing) that's out there is miserable stuff to work with, but it'll work in a pinch. Lot's of sharp edges and spikes on it, so wear gloves. Plus it's got the problem of spiking the rabbit's feet, sometimes giving some nice cuts and abrasions.

The best mesh material is [Smooth] Welded Wire Mesh - 16/14 GA will do just fine. Something like 1/2"x1" openings. Get some hog ring pliers and hog rings, wire cutters, 4x4's and hinges for a bending brake (not absolutely necessary, but sometimes will save time and materials) and a tape measure and you're in business. (OBTW, this stuff is also great for building aviaries, live animal traps, shrimp/lobster cages, fish weirs, etc.)

Great blog so far - looks like it'll be a winner. I'll be making it one of my commonly visited sites. - G.T.

JWR's Reply:

Many thanks for your well-informed observations! I concur that wood-framed rabbit cages are a bad idea. At the Rawles Ranch we use only all-wire rabbit cages. We were able to find our latest batch (made by Bass Equipment, Inc.) via mail order when one of their distributors had a sale a couple of years back. The only wood that ever goes in our rabbit cages is a resting board. (A piece of scrap lumber--usually 2"x6" or 2"x8", about 18" long. This keep the rabbits from getting infected haunches from extended exposure to wire mesh.) We change the resting boards regularly!

I have an idea for a topic that I would certainly like to get your thoughts on. As you probably know, scientists are nervously watching poultry in Southeast Asia for signs of a new virulent strain of flu. Just today the Guardian published an article on the topic, and how scientists think they can contain the epidemic to 200 people. I am not so confident in their efforts, and would like to hear your thoughts on the topic of how one can prepare for the possibility of a possible flu epidemic. - "T"

JWR's Reply:

Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) is indeed an important topic. Perhaps we have a reader out there who is an epidemiologist lurking out there who can give us some further details. (Hint, hint!) Like you, my main concern regarding the Asian Avian Flu is that the virus could mutate into a strain that could easily be transmitted between humans. That could result in a pandemic worse than the flu pandemic of 1918/1919. (Which killed 20 to 30 million people--far more people than World I did.) For anyone interested, I recommend the books Plagues and Peoples and Plague of Plagues by William H. McNeill. I also recommend the science fiction novel The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton. While it is ostensibly fiction, Crichton manages to weave a lot of non-fiction into the storyline. His succinct description of natural mutation toward non-lethal strains is easily understandable to the layman.

T's letter reminds me: Every forward thinking survivalist should have the ability to hunker down at a retreat in complete isolation for six months or more. With apropos warning signs (and perhaps a few prudent warming shots), this this would ostensibly protect you from a pandemic that is spread by casual human contact. (Typically, unwashed hands and/or spittle.) That means an independent water supply and a six month supply of fuel, food, and so forth.) This approach would of course be of no use if the bug is carried by the winds.

Consider preparing large convincing (official-looking) “Plague Quarantine Area” signs. Place those at the perimeter of your property. Those ought to scare off most looters. Closer in to your retreat/house post large “Warning: Land Mines and Man Traps!” and “Looters will be shot on sight!” signs. For those readers in The Americas, the latter signs should be bilingual. The bottom half of each should read: “!Se prohibe entrar! !Disparamos al intrusos!” Needless to say, post your signs only after it is clear that it is absolute TEOTWAWKI.

OBTW, I'll cover antibiotics storage in an upcoming issue.

“The larger [Persian] Ismaili fortresses provide outstanding examples of military architecture. Their strategic position and the skilled use of natural resources to ensure, that despite the difficulties of the terrain, the castles were well supplied with food and water and therefore able to withstand a prolonged siege of many months, even years. In his account of the destruction of Alamut by the Mongols, the historian Juwayni (d. 1283) describes with considerable admiration the vast underground store rooms built by the Ismailis and the difficulty the Mongols had to destroy the castle’s fortifications.”
- from Nizari Ismaili Castles of Iran and Syria, published by the Institute of Ismaili Studies, London

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Because of the urbanization of the U.S. population, if the entire eastern or western power grid goes down for more than a week, the cities will rapidly become unlivable. I foresee that there will be an almost unstoppable chain of events: Power -> water -> food distribution -> law and order -> arson fires -> full scale looting
As the comfort level in the cities rapidly drops to nil, there will be a massive involuntary outpouring from the big cities and suburbs into the hinterboonies. This is the phenomenon that my late father, Donald Robert Rawles--a career physics research administrator at Lawrence Livermore Laboratories--half-jokingly called “The Golden Horde.” He was of course referring to the Mongol Horde of the 13th Century, but in a modern context. (The Mongol rulers were chosen from the 'Golden Family' of Temujin. Hence the term “The Golden Horde.”) I can remember as a child, my father pointing to the hills at the west end of the Livermore Valley, where we then lived. He opined: “If The Bomb ever drops, we'll see a Golden Horde come swarming over those hills [from Oakland and beyond] of the like that the world has never seen. And they’ll be very unpleasant, believe you me!”

In my lectures on survival topics I often mention that there is just a thin veneer of civilization on our society. What is underneath is not pretty, and it does take much to peel away that veneer. You take your average urbanite or suburbanite and get him excessively cold, wet, tired, hungry and/or thirsty and take away his television, beer, drugs, and other pacifiers, and you will soon seen the savage within. It is like peeling the skin of an onion—remove a couple of layers and it gets very smelly. As a Christian, I attribute this to man’s inherently sinful nature.

Here is a mental exercise: Put yourself in the mind set of Mr. Joe Sixpack, Suburbanite. (Visualize him in or near a big city near where you live.) He is unprepared. He has less than one week’s food on hand, he has a 12 gauge pump action shotgun that he hasn’t fired in years, and just half a tank of gas in his minivan and maybe a gallon or two in a can that he keeps on hand for his lawn mower. Then TEOTWAWKI hits. The power grid is down, his job is history, the toilet doesn't flush, and water no longer magically comes cascading from the tap. There are riots beginning in his city. The local service stations have run out of gas. The banks have closed. Now he is suddenly desperate. Where will he go? What will he do?
Odds are, Joe will think: “I’ve gotta go find a vacation cabin somewhere, up in the mountains, where some rich dude only goes a few weeks out of each year.” So vacation destinations like Lake Tahoe, Lake Arrowhead, and Squaw Valley, California; Prescott and Sedona, Arizona; Hot Springs, Arkansas; Vail and Steamboat Springs, Colorado; and the other various rural ski, spa, Great Lakes, and coastal resort areas will get swarmed. Or, he will think: “I’ve got to go to where they grow food.” So places like the Imperial Valley, the Willamette Valley, and the Red River Valley will similarly get overrun. There will be so many desperate Joe Sixpacks arriving all at once that these areas will degenerate into free-fire zones. It will be an intensely ugly situation and will not be safe for anyone. In some places the locals may be so vastly outnumbered that they won’t survive. But some of the Joe Sixpacks will survive, and then the more ruthless among them will begin to fight amongst themselves for the few remaining resources. They will form ad hoc gangs of perhaps 6 to 30 people.

Once the Golden Horde has been thinned (and honed to ferocity) and they’ve cleaned out an area, the thugs at the pinnacle of ruthlessness will comprise the most formidable rover packs imaginable. They will move on to an adjoining region, and then another. But the inverse sqaure law will work in your favor: Imagine that you take a jar of marbles turn it upside down on a wooden floor and then lift the jar suddenly upward. The marbles will spread out semi-randomly. But the farther from the mouth of the jar, the lighter the density of marbles. Hence, the rover packs will attenuate themselves into a huge rural expanse that is peopled with well-armed country folks. By the time the looters work their way out 150 miles from the big cities, they will be thinned out considerably. The rover pack is your primary threat in a total collapse, no matter how remote your retreat. Here are your potential adversaries: A squad to company size force (12 to 60 individuals), highly mobile, moderately well armed with a motley assortment of weapons and vehicles, and imbued with absolute ruthlessness. Be prepared.

I suggest that when in comes to small livestock equipment, start out with used equipment and/or build it yourself. If you want new, your local feed store is likely to have fair prices. But do not buy your equipment at a big chain pet store. Compare these prices. Used rabbit cage at a garage sale: $10 with everything included. Build your own: $20. Buy a similar cage at the chain pet store: $75!
The handy person can construct much of the necessary equipment themselves. But if you want to buy it, I have some suggestions for you.
A great time to get set up for rabbits is a month or two after Easter. Likely there will be families in your town who thought if would be fun to get Junior a little pet bunny for Easter. Now the bunny has grown in to a large cranky teenager that bites!. You can likely get the rabbit, cage, and all the equipment for an low price. Most people at this point just want to get rid of the rabbit and will not question if you are giving it a “good home”. But if the seller want a “good home only”, I would respect that, and pass up on the deal. Another good place to get good used equipment is from your local 4-H Club. Contact the Rabbit Leader. He or she may know a youth who is leaving 4-H and has rabbits and/or cages to sell. And don’t forget garage sales...
I have used a lot of kitchen items from Thrift Stores as feed pans, water bowls and the like for my small livestock. Occasionally thrift stores will have “pet supplies” at good prices too. Just remember that you can start your small livestock project for less money than you thought if you shop around and are creative.

"In the summer of 1994, I visited the safest place in the United States. I can honestly say I stood in the most protected room in this entire nation. During one of my visits to Washington, D.C., another Army officer, assigned to the White House military office, asked if I would like to experience something that few people have ever seen. Of course, I agreed, and he proceeded to take me to the bomb shelter beneath the White House that would house the President and his family if nuclear attack or civil unrest ever hit the city of Washington. This Army captain showed me the briefing rooms for the Cabinet members, the housing for the troops that would be assigned to guard our nation's leaders, and even the living quarters for the First Family. I realized at that moment that I was standing in the single most protected spot in the United States, that no other room in America could provide equal safety or protection from harm. In my experience, then, the safest place in this country is in Washington D.C. But the safest place in this world, the safest place in your world and mine, is wherever the sovereign God of the universe takes us. You can be no more secure, you can build no thicker walls, you can find no greater protection than being in the very center of God's divine will for your life. If God calls you to a place, you can be sure He has gone before you and prepared the way.” - Trey Graham

Saturday, August 6, 2005

I posted the following to the misc.survivalism Usenet newsgroup on February 8, 2001, under the title: Rawles Calls Major Bottom in Silver Price: [Begin quote] "I have come to the conclusion that the long term bear trend in the price of silver has finally come to an end. Silver touched $4.55 earlier today. (Feb. 8, 2001.) If it closes in N.Y. at over $4.75 anytime in the next few weeks, that would be a strong bullish indicator. Look at the six month and ten year silver charts at for the "big picture." Once there is a strong bullish indication, don't hesitate to buy a good chunk of silver, pronto. FWIW, I just made another silver purchase to take advantage of the recent dip. (I’d rather buy early than late.) For those of you living in these united States, I recommend buying silver in the form of pre-1965 mint date circulated U.S. silver coinage (dimes, quarters, and half dollars.) That is the best for barter purposes, and unlike bullion rounds/bars is less likely to be subject to government confiscation. See the free FAQs at my web site for details: For the market fundamentals on silver, see: (Some interesting observations on the lack of silver to meet demand.) And for general information and analysis on precious metals, see:
(Note: I am not affiliated in any way with either of these sites.)

[Some commentary on interest rates snipped, for brevity]

I may not have called the bottom perfectly, (silver may sag down to $4.25 before it rallies), but beyond that, IMHO the downside risk is minimal. And what about gold, you may ask? In my opinion, silver is much more likely to double than gold. This is much like buying penny stocks. (Which is more likely double--XYZ Corp. at 58 cents a share, or IBM at $108.00 a share?)" [End quote]

For the record (as of August 4, 2005): IBM now sells at $83.12 a share. (A 24% loss, after four+ years. Charming.) And I wasn’t far from the mark when I cited $4.25 as the potential bottom. Silver actually bottomed just a few months later, at $4.19 per ounce. (I was off by less than 2% of calling the absolute bottom in a 10+ year bear market.) Silver has risen in fits and starts ever since. I am still convinced that silver is in the early stages of a multi-decade bull market and is headed to $60 per ounce (and possibly higher). Spot silver was at $7.21 an ounce at yesterday's close, according to the folks at Kitco--a 58.1% gain, after four+ years.) But IMHO silver is still a bargain. In the long run the dollar is doomed. Are you worried that investing in silver won't earn interest or dividends? Silver isn't that sort of investment. Rather, think of it as fire insurance--for the dollar. Oh, and what about the fact that silver dropped from $7.21 to $7.11 on Friday (5 August)? The silver market is volatile. You should look beyond the daily fluctuations and instead concentrate on the long term trend. Gold is and silver are both in long term secular bull markets.

It was the late 1930s, the Nation was still in the throes of the Great Depression. Jim’s grandparents and their three young children were getting by on Grandfather’s teaching salary. Then he died suddenly of a heart attack leaving Grandma Julia a widow and the children fatherless. Julia had to go to work. But, not only were women’s wages lower, but she had the added expense of hiring child care. Jim’s mother tells us that they raised rabbits in pens in their backyard to supplement their mother’s meager grocery budget. She and her little sister gathered grass from vacant lots to feed the rabbits. As we can learn from our parents and Grandparents, rabbits can be a good source of protein for your family during tough times. They do not need much space. They can multiply quickly. They do not eat much food. They are easy to handle and to butcher.
Rabbits are one animal you can start raising right now. A generously sized rabbit pen is two feet square. You will need at least two pens. One for the male rabbit (buck) and one for the female (doe) and her babies. (Adult rabbits are extremely territorial and will kill each other in defense of their territory.) I have a number of friends who raise their rabbits inside their homes. But most people raise them in a shady spot in the back yard. Rabbits are the only small livestock you can raise in a suburban neighborhood. They make no sound, unlike hens that cackle and roosters that crow.
Rabbits can be very prolific. I will write more about selecting prolific rabbits in a subsequent blog post. A doe can produce five litters a year. An average litter is eight bunnies butchered at eight weeks old.
Most people feed rabbits commercial pellets. They are convenient and fairly inexpensive to feed. But, if you believe things are going to get really bad, you might consider raising your rabbits on forage like Jim’s grandmother did. Today's rabbits have been bred to thrive on a pellet diet. So you might want to select for rabbits that are productive on freshly cut grass or grass hay for a long term survival situation.
Because of their small size, rabbits are easy to handle and easy to butcher. The trick is to handle them very firmly. A rabbit held tightly by the scruff with one hand and the other hand supporting its feet will not kick and thrash. Don’t be timid, but hold your rabbit firmly so to avoid getting scratched by the toenails on their powerful hind legs.
I have found butchering rabbits to be much quicker than butchering chickens because a rabbits skin is extremely loose. I can skin a rabbit much faster than I can pluck a chicken. No, it is not pleasant to butcher any animal. But there is a certain sense of satisfaction knowing you can feed your family even if the grocery store shelves are bare.
Rabbits are an excellent small livestock to get started with. Even if you don’t have the ability to move to the country, you can still gain many valuable skills by raising a few rabbits in your backyard.
A great book to buy and read before buying any rabbits is "Raising Rabbits the Modern Way" by Bob Bennett.

#1 Son Adds:

I recently read in Bradford Angier's book How to Stay Alive in the Woods that a diet of rabbit meat alone will cause diarrhea, due to its leanness. Be sure to have some sort of fat in your diet to avoid "rabbit starvation", which can cause death in less than a week. How to Stay Alive in the Woods is published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
It has also been published under the title Living off the Country

> Hi Jim, I realize that you are a busy man but was wondering if you have been
> following the Peak Oil story. Seems like everyone is talking about
> our world oil supply. I remember following Gary North and taking
> heed to his advice, as much as I could. Still seems like a
> sustainable, remote lifestyle makes sense in light of what is looming
> on the horizon.
> Best regards to you and your family
> - J.M.

JWR's Reply:
I think that the Hubbert's Peak talk is a definitely premature (and perhaps a bit over-blown), but regardless, your children and grandchildren will thank you
for planning ahead. It is prudent to have large liquid fuel storage tanks (diesel and propane), and lot of stored firewood (or coal), regardless. (Both in anticipation of a potential Grid Down situation and as an inflation hedge, if nothing else.) Presently, I'm more concerned with China and/or North Korea and their published nuclear threats, and the even greater implicit "we'll use them on you as soon as we lay hands on them" nuke threat from Iran and Al Qaeda. (See the recent article at World Net Daily.) Hence, a "sustainable, remote lifestyle" makes sense for MANY reasons. Head for the hills, my friends! Here is some Food for Thought and Grounds for Further Research (FFTAGFFR): Hubbert's Peak oriented web sites include and Again, I think these folks are overly alarmist in the short term. (But not in the long term!)

"It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was just a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning, they shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid general applause from all the wits, who believe that it is a joke." - Soren Kierkegaard

Friday, August 5, 2005

This is the first daily issue of SurvivalBlog. To understand why this blog exists, read the About page.

Take a look at The Lights of the U.S. photo map at: This montage of satellite photos makes it clear most of America's population is east of the Mississippi River and is highly urbanized.The population density of the U.S. is dramatically lower west of the Mississippi River. In troubled times fewer people means fewer problems. In the event of a social upheaval, rioting, urban looting, et cetera, being west of the Mississippi will mean a statistically much lower chance of coming face to face with lawless rioters or looters When The Stuff Hits The Fan (WTSHTF). The northeastern states depend on nuclear power plants for 47% of their electricity. (South Carolina is similarly dependent.) This is an unacceptable level of high technology systems dependence, particularly in light of the emerging terrorist threat. You must also consider that virtually all of the eastern states are downwind of major nuclear targets--most notably the USAF missile fields in the Dakotas. If for one reason or another you are stuck in the northeast, consider New Hampshire or Vermont. They are both gun friendly and have more self-sufficient lifestyle. But unless you have some compelling reason to stay in the East, I most strongly encourage you to Go West!

The other startling thing you will notice when looking at the Lights photo montage is that even in the western states, Americans live in a highly urbanized society. Roughly 90% of the population is crammed into 5% of the land area, mostly within 50 miles of the coast. But there are large patches of the west where there are virtually no lights at all--particularly in the Great Basin region that extends from the back side of the Sierra Nevada mountains to Utah and Eastern Oregon. The average population density in this region is less than two people per square mile.
As an example of the low population density in the west, I often like to cite Idaho County, Idaho: This one county measures 8,485 square miles--bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. But it has a population of just 15,400. And of those residents, roughly 3,300 people live in Grangeville, the county seat. Who lives in the rest of the County? Nary a soul. There are far more deer and elk than there are people. The population density of the county is 1.8 people per square mile. The county has more than 3 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land, BLM land, and designated Federal wilderness areas. Now that is elbow room!

Not only are we home schooling our kids, but we are also raising them without television. I can think of no better gift for a child than an upbringing WITHOUT broadcast or cable television. Current-day television is geared toward the beer, wrestling, and MTV crowd. As The Memsahib says: "Televisions have brightness controls, but they don't work." We do let our kids watch some carefully selected movies and TV shows on DVD, but NO broadcast television. We don't even own a television set. But we can watch DVDs on our Mac computers. Most recently I bought our kids the entire first season of the original 1960s TV series "Jonny Quest" DVD. Now *that* is my idea of a manly-man cartoon for kids. Jonny Quest kicks tail! It is outrageously politically incorrect by current standards. Could you imagine a cartoon anything like it being produced these days? It shows children praying before going to bed. (Gasp!) It shows private citizens defending themselves with rifles and machineguns. It even shows children shooting semi-automatic rifles to fend off attacking alligators. (The horror!) If you have kids between the ages of 9 and 16, I recommend that you pick up a set of the first season on DVD. Because it is fairly expensive new, it is probably best to find a used set on eBay or Amazon.

Here is a letter that I just received from one of the troops to whom I sent an Any Soldier care package:
"Greetings from Afghanistan. I have been quite busy and failed to write you as soon as I wanted to. I am finally making time. First, I wanted to thank
you for the package you sent. I already own the movie Red Dawn so I gave it to another Soldier here. I am in the process of reading the book [Patriots] now. I don't know if it was providential or what, but I was the perfect person to send your book to. I have really enjoyed reading it because my Dad is definitely a survivalist and I consider myself one as well though I am not necessarily a
doomsdayer. I believe that with the American economy in the shape that it currently is and the way that America has become a debtor society that your story is very plausible. Not sure if you wrote the book based on something you believe could happen or because you just thought it would make a good story but I suspect the former of these two reasons. I am an unabashed Patriot and love my country but am also very realistic. I have been preparing myself for the future by investing in some bullion and plenty of weapons and ammunition (I'm a gun lover anyway and believe that all law abiding Americans should exercise their 2nd Amendment rights). Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your support and your kindness in sending the package.

A little about things here. I am stationed with an [deleted for OPSEC] on Bagram Airfield and am a volunteer individual augmentee from Fort Bragg where I am the [deleted for OPSEC] NCOIC for an [deleted for OPSEC] Brigade. I have been here in Afghanistan six months now and the time is going quickly. It is pretty safe here on Bagram other than the occasional mortar or rocket attack. That's about all I have to write for now. Thanks again for your support. I believe that we are making a difference for the better here in Afghanistan and Iraq.

God Bless and take care, SGT [Name Withheld]"

I am frequently asked by other wives about their husbands' seemingly endless shopping lists for survival goodies. Wives who do NOT believe things are getting worse don't see the need for ALL those guns, ALL that ammo, ALL that storage food.
It might help if you look at preparedness as your husband's hobby. It seems like all the men of my acquaintance have hobbies of one sort or another on which they spend a considerable amount of money and time. Some collect motorcycles, others fishing or water-ski boats, still others have all the latest and greatest computer equipment. And others smoke, drink, or gamble. All humans pursue leisure activities. Be thankful that your husband is spending money on practical things that likely will go up in value, because of inflation.
My husband's hobby is stocking up for the bad times. Personally I'm glad that he isn't blowing the money on booze or cigarettes. When I see all the money people spend on vices and toys, I thank the Lord that Jim is buying us useful things. Jim's stocking up has really saved us a lot of money over time. Even if there is never a major crisis, bulk purchasing makes sense. By buying in bulk, you can buy at much better prices than buying small quantities. As long as you keep in mind the storage life of various items, and how much room they will take up, there is no downside. We have actually saved a lot of money over the years, because we've sheltered ourselves from the effects of inflation in many instances.

Jim's preparedness/self-sufficiency has also caused me to develop some hobbies of my own that I really enjoy. It has given me the excuse to learn how to spin, knit,and weave. When I want to buy sheep, Angora goats or Angora rabbits Jim goes along with my wishes. He sees the value in knowing how to make our own clothes. When I need an accessory for my spinning wheel, he always agrees. Is there a hobby you would enjoy that dovetails? Gardening? Cooking? Sewing? Soap making? Raising chickens? Or? Your husband will be happy knowing that you are helping your family to be well prepared.

My husband is a lot easier to live with when he feels well prepared and supplied. Stock market crash? Dollar devaluation? He doesn't care! Our money is all in tangibles. If things ever do get REALLY bad, you can thank God for your husband's providence.

"[A] wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government." - Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801

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