March 2006 Archives

Friday, March 31, 2006

Tomorrow we will announce the winner of Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest, and award a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. Thanks to the generosity of Front Sight's Director, Naish Piazza, we will be running Round 4 of the contest, with the same valuable prize. (Worth as much as $2,000 if you were paying cash for a course.) The deadline for entries for Round 4 is May 31, 2006. Speaking of Front Sight, the 26 episode weekly reality TV series entitled, Front Sight Challenge will be aired soon on The Outdoor Channel. Check your satellite television guide for dates and times. I anticipate that the wide exposure generated by the TV series will likely result in full bookings for Front Sight classes al through the rest of the year, so book your classes early!

If you haven't done so already, please add a link to your web site to SurvivalBlog. Pretty please?  The more links we have, the greater our visibility to the search engines. By
showing up at the top of the list in Google  when somebody searches on "storage food", or "Bug out bag", or "AR-15" means that we'll gain another reader, and each  increase in readership makes us more attractive to sponsors. On and on it goes, in the chain of "Linky Love."  Needless to say, if you add a link to us, we will be happy to reciprocate with
link to your site, unless you are a smut peddler.  Links are more important to us than those 10 Cent Challenge contributions, and they cost you nothing. OBTW, if you want to be extra nice and put up a graphic (banner) link, we have lots of different sizes available: Thanks!

Hi Jim,
I haven't e-mailed you in a long while because I know you are really busy with your blog. I read your site every day and have implemented many of the ideas you and others have shared. Thanks. If any of your readers have specific questions about moving to Costa Rica I would be glad to answer them.  You can share my e-mail address: The info you shared in your March 30th blog post about Central America is accurate. I would stay away from the rest of Central America. Panama still has some nice areas up in the mountains. Belize is English speaking but it is also mostly black (I can't use the term African American in this instance.) There are two other web sites that SurvivalBlog readers might find interesting: is a daily newsletter, is a weekly newspaper here in Costa Rica and has news online. Congrats on giving up your "day job" and concentrating solely on your blog. - Mr. Coffee

This story is amazing:  Of course this was criminal enterprise, but some of the same techniques could be used to conceal entrances for secret rooms and/or an underground retreat.

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Eric Fry of The Rude Awakening e-newsletter notes: "22-year highs in silver; 24-year highs in sugar; 25-year  highs in gold; 26-year highs in platinum; all-time highs in copper, crude oil
and natural gas...Welcome to the commodity markets of 2005-06."

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Fred the Valmet-meister says: "If you liked Frontier House on PBS a few years ago, you'll like the new "Ranch House" miniseries (eight parts) about life in the Old West. They are going to do the same thing they did in Frontier House, but do cattle drives and live in the high desert and Texas. It will be aired in May."

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One last reminder that the big sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods at SafeCastle ends at noon TODAY (March 31, 2006). The sale pricing includes free shipping anywhere in the U.S.--even Alaska and Hawaii.

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A couple of stories on the recent run-up in precious metals prices, at Marketwatch and Reuters.

"To my eyes, FANNIE MAE is a train wreck moving in slow motion…” - Bill Fleckenstein – Contrarian Chronicles, 2005

Thursday, March 30, 2006

There are now SurvivalBlog readers in more than 60 countries. (See our hit map.)  BTW, you can now click on the map to zoom in for detailed maps showing hits in various regions.

I'm often asked by SurvivalBlog readers and consulting clients about where to look for an offshore retreat. Today, I'll discuss general selection criteria, and briefly discuss Central America.

With a few exceptions, most of my consulting clients seem to agree on the following criteria:

Political stability

Economic stability

Relatively self-sufficient agriculture

Livable climate

Allows expatriates to own land outright, or at least provided long term (60+ year) renewable leases

Free enterprise and private banking

Favorable tax situation

Minimal gun laws

Low crime rate

Free of Malaria and at minimal risk for other insect-borne diseases

Well established infrastructure (power, phone, water, sanitation, Internet,...)

High percentage of English speaking residents

Looking dispassionately at this list, we can eliminate most countries in Central America in short order: Mexico has both a high crime rate and horribly restrictive gun laws. Guatemala and El Salvador have too much poverty and insubstantial infrastructures. Nicaragua and Honduras have enough crime that I reduced them to "maybe" status, aside for a few hoi polloi gated communities. Panama, although recently quite stable, has its problems. Most notably it has recently caved in and forced its banks to open its books to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In my estimation, this leaves just Costa Rica and Belize as the most likely prospects in Central America. Belize is particularly captivating, since it is a former British colony and therefore has a largely English-speaking populace. Both of these countries are quite stable and quite receptive to expats. I will write some details on both countries in future SurvivalBlog posts. If any readers have first-hand knowledge about offshore retreat locales, I'd appreciate you input, via e-mail. In the interim, here are a couple of resources for you to investigate:

For some first-hand information on Costa Rica, see the Retreat Owner Profile on "Mr. Coffee" at the bottom of our Profiles page.

General information about Belize:

For information on how to buy land in Belize and some Belize facts, see:

General information on Ambergris Caye (Off the northern coast of Belize), see: (The cayes are the healthiest places to live in Belize.)

This real estate agency has a good reputation:
Belize Real Estate (The oldest real estate company in Belize)
U.S. Phone (via VOIP): (813) 322-3899 -- Ask for David Doering
Belize Office 011-501-226-2090 / Fax 011-501-226-2245
P.O. Box 15
San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize
e-mail: (Tell David that Jim Rawles of SurvivalBlog sent you.)

General information about Costa Rica:

Dear Jim:
Per your suggestions, I have been doing a lot of research into the American Church Trust Precious-Metals IRA [offered through Swiss America]. However, I have several questions that I would like to ask.
[JWR's replies are in-line, in bold.]

1.) I noticed in a recent post of yours on this subject that you have your IRA backed by Gold American Eagles. Could you explain why you chose gold instead of silver?

Because of the much higher "per ounce/per dollar" purchase premium on U.S. Mint Silver Eagles, I prefer U.S. Mint Gold Eagles, in this case.  (At the time those were my only two options. I'm not certain what they currently offer.)

2.) Are you concerned about the USG ability to confiscate gold as they did in 1933 since the law to do so is still on the books?

IMO, the chance of another gold confiscation is fairly slim. (And almost nil for silver.)  I can't predict how any confiscation executive order might be worded.  However, there is the chance that it would exempt both numismatics and U.S. Mint American Eagles.

3.) And if this did happen, what would be the effect, if any, on a gold-backed IRA?

Anything that is held in a well-documented IRA or kept in a bank safe deposit box could conceivably be subject to confiscation. It is a gamble, but in my estimation the odds are a lot better than leaving you IRA or 401(k) in dollar-denominated investments, which are almost certain losers in the event of mass inflation.

4.) What precious metals do you recommend for the Church Trust IRA today?

Since the spot price of silver has recently greatly out-paced gold--leaving gold temporarily relatively under-valued--I think that gold American Eagles would currently be your best bet.

5.) Are you continuing to make contributions to your IRA presently or are you moving in a different direction?

I am no longer adding to that account.  I only created it originally because at the time I had a 401(k) from a corporate job that I needed to roll over.  All of the gold and silver that I've bought in the past five years ave been physical metals (primarily silver), which are held in a private vault. BTW, I recommend Swiss America for those purchases, too. Be sure to shop around. You might get a slightly better rate at your local coin shop, coin show, or gun show.

I appreciate your informed opinions. B'shem Yahshua HaMoshiach, - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

For those folks out there who are incorporating a door/window alarm system for their home as part of layered protection, it pays to personally check each window, door every six months to see if the connections still work. After having our home windows/doors/motion sensor-monitored alarm system for about six years built in new into our country home, we found recently that some of the window sensors didn't work when the windows were opened. The monitoring company visited and said that as our home settled, some wires got pinched, some separated and it was not uncommon to have that happen. So it pays to check your battery-powered remote door sensors and window/door connections periodically to ensure that they are still functioning. Regards, - Redclay

The wizened Dow Theory sage Richard Russell comments on the U.S. Dollar and the Housing Bubble:

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U.S. Marines in Iraq say: "Too Much Body Armor":

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Here is an interesting blog that I just found today: Airborne Combat Engineer

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The Associated Press reports on Enormous Pro-Illegal Immigration Rallies in the U.S. Unfortunately, I think that congress is likely to cave in to the pressure and institute some form of amnesty. To the left wing of the Democrat party, the conservatively estimated 16 million illegal aliens in the country represent a potentially huge voting bloc. To corporate power brokers, they are a pool of cheap labor. This has created an informal alliance that favors continued illegal immigration. What a sad state of affairs. I am not a racist, but I certainly don't like seeing mass illegal immigration. If illegal farm and factory workers can sneak in with ease, then so can terrorists. We need less porous borders, and some collective backbone. Please pray that congress does the right thing, and then make a few phone calls to your congresscritters.

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Our friend Noah at the Defense Tech Blog discusses "Chameleon Weapons" that Defy Metal Detectors

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Spot silver passed the $11 per ounce mark yesterday. I won't say anything more than "I told you so!"

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are
numerous and indefinite." -James Madison, Federalist Papers, No. 45

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Today we welcome our newest advertiser: The Alert This is an automated system that sends out e-mails to subscriber mobile devices (such as cell phones and pagers) for less than a dime a day. It was started as a project to keep the inventor's like minded friends informed of the latest important news, and to coordinate any bug out/in. Since then, at considerable expense this project has been scaled up to handle thousands of subscribers. Check it out.

Starting in April, I will be quitting my day job, and blogging full time. To put bread on the table, I will need about twice as many advertisers.  I'd greatly appreciate your help:  If you know of a potential advertiser, please call or e-mail them, and ask them to get a banner ad at SurvivalBlog.  They cost as little as $55 per month. Many Thanks!

Regarding the very enjoyable letter about the Spanish Flu in1918, I can't resist one comment. It is with incredible relentlessness that Big Pharma in their zest to sell vaccines keeps stating that we have 30,000 or 36,000 deaths per year from the flu. If you take the time to examine the actual CDC published data it is a bit different. I did a while back, and I seem to recall the 2003 and 2004 numbers being closer to 600 to 900 deaths per year from the flu. The deaths from pneumonia are close to 35,000 per year, so it appears they are adding them together to get to commonly trumpeted 36,000 deaths. Unfortunately they are not actually the same thing and you cannot combine them and call it one or the other. So, the relative difference between the percentage of the population that died from the Spanish Flu and current flu death rates is actually even more impressive than Tim described. I also am hesitant to accept the current death rates of this newest avian flu simply because it is rare enough that I suspect many of the cases that folk have had and recovered from are not being correctly documented or reported. However, perhaps doctors are universally more observant than I presume. Who knows? - B.F.

I read the first-hand accounts of Argentina's decline from wealth and prosperity to near lawlessness that were linked to here a while back and they stuck with me. How could a prosperous nation with generally well-regarded policies sink so far so fast? Far more importantly, what caused it, could it happen in other places (i.e. here), and what indicators were missed? Luck would have it that I stumbled across the answers to two of those entirely serendipitously. The answer is actually rather simple: debt. The Argentinean economy was in good shape in the 1990s, it had good growth, good employment, and highly regarded economic policies. What it didn't have was a good understanding of how much debt it was
getting itself into. For various reasons, Argentina failed to turn the money it borrowed from foreigners into solid, growing tax revenues.
This failure caused it to seek out more and more credit and this worried lenders into raising interest rates. Just like the in-debt-up-to-his-eyeballs suburbanite, Argentina was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and financing its debt with more debt. The figures on this page ( ) illustrate the failure of the Argentine government to curtail its borrowing. What the world witnessed (none more so than its citizens) was bankruptcy on a global scale. Given (and to some extent assuming) the reasons outlined above, I started to think about what parallels this might have to the current US economy. There are several major differences between Argentina and
the US that make even simple comparisons difficult. The first is size. The US economy is quite simply the 800 pound gorilla in the world market, towering over Argentina's meerkat. The second major distinction is the difference in the balance of incomes in the two countries. The US derives a far greater percentage of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
from exports making foreign lending less one-sided. The similarities, however, are not to be ignored. The US has hugely expanded the amount of debt it has taken on ever since World War II (Please ignore the tone of this article, I do not necessarily endorse it, it merely has a good graph: ). Fortunately, these
massive increases in debt have happened alongside equally tremendous growths in GDP. The number to watch for, then, is the percentage of
Clearly, the US can withstand a higher debt-to-GDP ratio merely due to its huge size and world influence, but determining it for sure would likely lead to a rather severe recession. One of the difficulties here is that there are very few examples in history for what happens when national debts of large, industrialized nations gets out of control. Argentina was a learning experience for the world economy (and hugely more so for the Argentineans), and hopefully the Japanese economy will handle their 90% ratio with less drastic results. I suggest that among the other economic indicators that are bandied about on the talking-head cable news networks, you pay attention to the debt-to-GDP ratio as an indicator of the health and sanity of the U.S. Federal budget. One hopes that talk of an overvalued dollar and a hissing housing bubble will not devolve into a panic, but always remember that a panic is merely a mass of individuals making the obvious choice. - P.H.

I've been running night vision since I learned to fly with them back in 1978. Not to disparage the writer's comments about how good the "Mini-14" monocular is, because it is a good unit. However, it's been my experience that the PRC-14Delta (Government) model is even better. Yes, a papered version costs more than a civilian Mini-14 but it's worth the money. And, as an additional note, the manual gain adjustment of the PRC-14D is invaluable. It's there for a reason. You strap it on and adjust the gain until you have maximal effectiveness of both eyes (One aided eye and one un-aided eye). Auto gain doesn't allow for that and limits you to only using one eye to effectively see. It's normally too bright to utilize both eyes, especially in dark arenas.
I use automatic gain adjusting Night Vision weapon scopes, but for the head unit, automatic gain adjustment doesn't work well.
Further, don't confuse ABC (Automatic Brightness Control) with gain adjustment. ABC is a protective function to turn the scope off before it's tolerance to bright light is exceeded.
Also, even though NVDs are really neat, you don't actually need an NVD unless it's so dark you can't see you hand in front of your face. This was one of the original design parameters. BTW, they can be effectively and comfortably utilized with the PASGT original Kevlar helmet, as well as the new Army ACU or the Marine helmet. However, the Navy SEAL Boat Helmet (which was the original MICH (Modular Integrated Communication Helmet) is the best I've found. It's available, custom built, from Regards, - The Army Aviator

I just stumbled across Rogue Turtle, an interesting site with a wide range of survival and preparedness information.

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Wiggy's (one of our first advertisers) is offering a special 15% discount on all of their sleeping bags until the end of April. These are the best sleeping bags I've ever used. They are extremely durable. Their two-bag FTRSS is my personal favorite. Every well-prepared family should have a full set of Wiggy's bags. Even if you plan to "bug in" rather than "bug out", a warm sleeping bag could be an absolute life safer in the event of a long term power failure and/or fuel shortage.

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Plan on being better armed and providing a higher volume of fire than this gent in Denver who had his home invaded.

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A brief reminder that the big sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods at SafeCastle ends on March 31st. The sale pricing includes free shipping anywhere in the U.S.--even Alaska and Hawaii. The sale ends on Friday, so don't hesitate.

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Nifty laser sights and rail mount flashlights:

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SurvivalBlog reader Keith mentioned that The Discovery Channel has a new series of shows called "Perfect Disaster" on Sunday evenings at 9PM EST. The first two were entitled "Super Tornado" and "Solar Storm". Tonight "Typhoon".

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Our recent letter on Tannerite binary reactive rifle targets prompted Doc at to mention this interesting alternative for rock blasting:

"Freedom of speech and of the press guarantees one's right to speak or publish at one's own expense, but not to be heard nor read." - Rourke

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

My mentor in the law, when asked to prove the depravity of man, produces from his pocket a common set of keys. He then asks, if men are not morally depraved, why he must lock his home when he leaves it. His belief in the common depravity of man is such that he (quietly) celebrates the fact that many of the lawyers in the office carry concealed sidearms, believing that the fact that many of us are armed makes all of us safer. Everyone who locks his door has taken the first step toward securing his home, but there are many further steps that better ensure the safety of your family and possessions. While we can talk about these steps as a good idea in times of relative peace and order, they become critical lifesaving decisions whenever the thin veneer of civilization collapses.
The signs of a gathering storm, which we daily read from the pages of our papers, call us to the preparation for a lawless future, where we face the hand of evil men who hold themselves accountable to neither the law of God nor the law man. In the day of that storm, which may come slowly or arrive with great force, you will need a mentality of preparedness centered on deterrence, detection and deadly force. In preparing deterrence, you will hope that the evil man will see the height of the prepared ramparts and choose other targets. If he approaches, preparedness for detection will allow you to know he is there and preparedness for deadly force will allow you expel him with the minimum necessary proper force.
Much of what I write here is centered toward the needs of the urban survivalist. My family and I make our life in the heart of a great city, on 1/3 of an acre. Much of what I write here will also apply well to the rural retreat, but some of it will not. The principles of deterrence, detection, and deadly force are constant; how you apply them will vary with your own terrain.
Deterrence involves creating in the enemy two beliefs. First, you want him to believe that there is nothing in your home and lands worth stealing. Second, you want him to believe that, even if the target is tantalizing, the cost is simply too high. You seek a very specific deterrence. Seek to alter his incentives and to convince him that the rewards are greater and the risks are lower someplace else. That a man wishes to perpetrate a felony is none of your affair; seek merely to compel him to do so elsewhere. Deterrence, it must be said, is fairly passive in the hour of urgency. Deterrence is all about what you did before the balloon went up. Well-planned deterrents are designed to self-execute, even in the absence of a power grid.
For the first point, that there is nothing worth stealing, it should be your constant habit to hide from view things that are of great value. Expensive automobiles are a decadent form of foolishness; they scream that portable wealth is to be had for the easy taking. Similarly, small items of personal property in plain view are an evil. Good order and discipline forbids clutter left about, and good order and discipline will compel you to hide expensive items, like cash or a pistol or electronics, from plain view from your window. Discipline yourself to put up your tools and your toys. Almost anything can be stored in a proper cabinet or drawer. Dummy electrical outlets can serve as safes for small valuables. Gun safes can be tucked away in closets (and bolted to the deck—don’t make it easy). You can hide a rifle in the wall by cutting a hole in the wall and mounting your medicine cabinet over the hole. If the repairman or the deliveryman comes to your home, reduce his access to your house to the greatest extent possible, and hide from his view those things which are valuable. And don’t leave keys to the house laying about in plain view; make the attacker believe he must cut his way in through a window and kick his way out through a door. This first point is a thorough going discipline; you have to do these things all of the time.
For the second point, that the risks of breaking and entering are too great, let the whole world see your preparations, and layer them at differing perimeters. As a first perimeter, a fence too high to be easily jumped, surrounded by cactuses, and topped with spikes, will deter the lazy. At a second perimeter, rosebushes and cactuses surrounding windows will discourage the undetermined. Between the second and third perimeter, have a very barky dog, and maybe a clothesline to deter nocturnal attackers. At a third perimeter, visible window locks and alarm sensors tell the professional thief that penetration into the building will be a slow and uncertain process. Motion lights make the thief wonder if he has, in fact, been detected. A sign from an alarm company, whether you have an alarm or not, warns the felon of the difficulty of finding enough booty before he is detected and apprehended. If you are inclined toward burglar bars, they complicate entry and exit considerably. Within a fourth and final perimeter, heavy interior doors, heavily locked with deep throws, give a place for your family to hide (behind a door and a receiver) and prepare, and they encourage the evil man to stick to that which may be easily stolen and to forgo other, more heinous, acts.
The hone st truth is that some men will not be deterred, and they must be detected. From the moment that a felon decides to enter your home, he has seized the initiative in the critical encounter that results from his actions. The element of surprise is his advantage until the moment of detection, and you must make that moment happen before he has closed within the range to do you real harm. Detection is not passive. While you may deter men with preparations before the hour of danger, detection must occur through vigilance at the hour of need. Specifically, you must be alert to the telltales of impending jeopardy, but you should expect subtle cues. It is unlikely that you will see the enemy coming through NVGs while standing post; we will all be too busy for that luxury. The only one with the vigilance and adequate night-vision is your dog.
Detection must also be layered. The combination of an indoor dog and an outdoor dog is very wise. It is also wise to give your next door neighbor’s son a puppy (with parental consent). In the outermost layer, telltales may be very subtle. I am a fan of the little solar walkway lights. If something walks in front of one of them while I am looking out the window, even at a good distance, I notice; I also investigate. These solar-lights are particularly handy in that they are even more useful in a grid-down disaster.
Closer to my home, I am installing motion lights, such that you will not be able to get within five feet of a door or window without setting off a light that gives me an idea of trouble in a particular area. If you choose bright enough lights, you can also blind an assailant. You may want to choose a supplemental power system for the lights, to prevent problems when the grid is down. A denizen of the French Quarter also implemented an excellent grid-down alert mechanism, a perimeter of thin (displaced) roofing slates. They crackle when you step on them, alerting you to the presence of heavy footfalls. Install peepholes at every door. Some people like video cameras, but cameras need power.
I will talk for a minute about alarm systems. Most of them are applied so superficially as to be useless. In candor, sensors are more valuable than monitoring, and this may encourage a do-it-yourself approach. Brinks will attempt to sell you a sensor-light monitoring-cost-heavy package. They will try to alarm some doors and not others, missing your real need in the process. First, you need spare batteries to operate the system and sensors if the grid is down. Otherwise, the entire system is useless on the morning after the balloon goes up. Second, you need open/close sensors at every window and door, coupled to glassbreak sensors at every window. This provides you with the appropriate level of perimeter security. Assuming that the perimeter is thwarted, motion detectors in core rooms of the house are very handy. Spend money on sensors before you waste money on monitoring. If the Schumer and the fan are commingled, then knowing the enemy is present is more valuable than calling for help. On that note, though, thieves frequently cut phone lines. A cellular backup for your alarm is handy.
Ultimately, though, the key is vigilance. The telltales may be subtle, and everyone has to know how to read them. Train your wife to realize that a dead phone line and a motion light suddenly on are signs that trouble may be afoot and she should get to the safe room and draw a gun. Train your children to realize that, if the alarm system or the dog is acting strangely when they arrive home, they should clear the scene with all haste. Train your dog to bark at the things to which you need to be alerted, and not to bark otherwise. It is of note that my dog is sufficiently well trained that, if he barks during the night, the M1911 finds my hand immediately. Train yourself to look through a peephole every time you open a door, not merely when you have reason to think someone is outside. The sound of broken glass is a late warning. Listen for the clues that come before the enemy is that close, and you can retake the element of surprise.
I have spoken repeatedly of dogs in this discussion. Dogs are the 4th ‘D’ of home defense, and, while you could argue that some people do not need guns, everyone needs a well-trained dog. A dog provides deterrence, both in the threat of detection and in the threat of deadly force. Dogs also work when the grid is down. By the way, when someone kills your dog, you can count on something: they just told you who is next.
Finally, we come to deadly force. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, he worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. It should be likewise with you. If you have to step more than once to reach a lethal weapon in any room of your house, you need more lethal weapons. The same goes for your car. A good pistol under the seat is a minimum. A good rifle behind the seat is good preparation, and a second pistol in the glove box is a courtesy to your passenger. Even as I write this, on a quiet Friday evening in my own study, I am wearing a pistol in the waistband of my gym shorts. I wear that same pistol when I turn the compost pile.
If you’re not comfortable with guns, buy tactical batons and knives. I am plenty comfortable and a little proficient with a gun, and I keep ASP batons and knives discretely and in plain sight in places where gu ns are not appropriate. You also need to think through your tactical situation. Identify the choke points in your house, where you can place yourself and your firearm, like the Spartans of Thermopylae, between the people that you love and danger. In my house, there is a nice ‘dead-man’s corner’ in the hallway to the bedrooms. Woe be unto the man that enters that hallway as an uninvited guest. Use the minimum force necessary to stop your assailant, but be sure that he is stopped. Go for solid projectiles. We saw in the Denver papers today that scattershot is generally not enough force.
Once upon a time, I came home from work, and I found the door unlocked. I took that as a warning; I don’t leave doors unlocked. Not being one to let that warning go unheeded, my sidearm and my hand promptly found each other. As I entered the house, I discovered a (now very) scared repairman, who claimed that my air conditioner was fine, and that he couldn’t find the problem. I asked his name. I then politely explained that I hadn’t called for service, and that I would consider it a great courtesy if he stood very still while I phoned the apartment manager to verify his identity. My gun had never left my backpack, but he had ascertained that the hand that he could not see was important. The apartment office vouched for him, and we got along quite well after that. I am always grateful to God that he was what he claimed to be, and I pray that the Lord will keep me the type of person who locks doors (deterrence), who notices when they are not locked and should be (detection), and who reacts forcefully when a threat is identified (deadly force).
I hope that you are also such a person, and that the words that I have written will keep the ramparts of your own home secure and quiet.

I always see broken shell extractors for sale on web sites and at gun shows. I have yet to ever see a need for one. Do you have any experience in the need for one?
Also, exactly how do they work? Would one for a .30-06 work for a .308, or a 7.62x39, or vice-versa?
I have pondered this for a while, and am hoping you or a fellow reader might be able to answer this.
Also, what causes the need for one? Would a dirty chamber cause a cartridge case to stick in the chamber, thereby ripping the bolt extractor off the bolt, or just tearing the base off the case?
Talk of spare parts is good, but how to avoid needing them might save one's needing a part at a critical moment.
- Sid, near Niagara Falls

JWR Replies: Your surmise was correct. Broken shell extractors are are indeed used in instances when a case head (the rear half of a cartridge case) completely separates. Head separations are common when bass has been reloaded too many times, or with rifles that suffer from excess headspace. Unlike simple a extractor "rim tear through" where a cleaning rod can be used to remove a stuck piece of brass, when a head completely separates, there is nothing for a cleaning rod to "catch." In the event of a head separation, the tool is inserted into the chamber from the breech, and tightened with a screwdriver--or perhaps the rim of a cartridge case. It expands and grabs the front half of the case. A cleaning rod can then be inserted (at the muzzle) and the brass ejected.

A .30-06 broken shell extractors can be used in a .308, but not vice versa.  I recommend getting a proper-fitting broken shell extractor for each high powered rifle in your firearms battery.

Hi James,
Spring has sprung and it is getting close to time to plan and start gardening prep. I am far from a green thumb and wondered if anyone has a solution for keeping moles and gophers from ruining the garden? Last year, 95% of my sweet corn was destroyed by these pests. Come time to count on the garden after TEOTWAWKI, I don't want to watch my food supply vanish. I tried trapping these pests with no luck. Any info would be greatly appreciated!
-The Wanderer

JWR Replies:  Garden pests are typically just a "nuisance" in good times, but post-TEOTWAWKI they can mean the difference between eating well, and starvation. There is no single "magic bullet" that will eliminate all garden pests. Be prepared to take several approaches simultaneously:

A sturdy fence that is tall enough to protect against deer and with a fine mesh lower section that is tight enough to repel rabbits and ground squirrels.

A couple of cats that have been trained by their parents as effective mousers. Good mousers are usually also death on gophers. Or how about terrier dogs? Before the advent of modern poisons, small dogs were used to dispatch mice, moles, and gophers. BTW, the Memsahib is currently training our terrier to be a mouser.

Plenty of traps, including underground (buried) mole/gopher traps, as well as surface mouse and rat traps.

Lots of .22 rimfire ammo and patience. More than just protection from birds and squirrels, a scoped .22 can also be used to nail tunneling gophers when they come up to push out dirt. If you live inside city limits, you will also want a high-powered air rifle.

Depending on your personal beliefs, pesticides to control insects. Unfortunately, these will also kill beneficial insects. (See below.)

Natural pest killers, such as Ladybugs (for aphids), Lacewings, and Praying Mantids. These are available seasonally from Bugological Organic and Home Harvest.

To repel birds; get a couple of big plastic owls to perch on your fence posts, lots of reflective (mylar) reflector strips (cut up used mylar party balloons), and throwaway CD-ROMs (strung on monofilament fishing line, and positioned so that they will spin in the wind.) Ah-ha! You finally have a use for all of those AOL CD-ROMs that you get in the mail! Anti-bird netting is also available from the larger mail order gardening suppliers.

The Nuclear Option: As a last resort to large numbers of moles or pocket gophers, you can use probe bait strychnine dispenser (such as an RCO probe), along with a large supply of RCO Omega Bait or Gopher Getter Bait. (Typically, this is strychnine .5%) In some of the Nanny States such as California, these supplies are difficult to obtain locally unless you are commercial grower. (Consult you state, county, and local ordinances before mail ordering this bait.) Beware that this poison could lead to the untimely demise of your cats if they actually eat their prey. (Because they will also indirectly ingest the poison.) There is a trick to using these dispensers: As you insert the probe, when you feel a sudden lack of soil resistance, that means that you have penetrated a "runway" tunnel.  That is when you press the trigger to dispense the grain bait. OBTW, you will have a valuable post-TEOTWAWKI barterable skill if you have the ability (and supplies) to poison moles and gophers. You can be the local hero-the legendary slayer of the "Varmint Cong."

"Licensed to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit - ever. They're like the Viet Cong - Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that's all she wrote." - Bill Murray as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack.

Monday, March 27, 2006

There are just three full days left to submit your entries for Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006. The first piece posted today is another fine contest entry:

With so much in the news these days about SARS, the Asian Avian flu and others it is always of interest to look back and see what has happened before. The last really big worldwide flu epidemic was the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. It killed over 40 million people worldwide, with about 500,000 deaths in the US.
It was called the Spanish Flu because the first publicly recorded deaths from the disease were reported in newspapers in Spain. Their newspapers were not censored as many other countries were at the time due to World War I. When reporters wrote of a deadly new disease hitting that country during the late summer of 1918 most people assumed it had started there.
However, according to information I have read, the first actual cases were recorded at US Army bases. The first were reported at Camp Funston in Kansas on March 4, 1918 when scores of U.S. soldiers became ill. The U.S. troops spread the virus to Europe, but then the disease went into a slight dormancy for the summer. When it re-emerged in the fall, it became much more lethal.
Much of the problem, as with any other communicable disease, was the movement of people. In this instance it was soldiers being moved from place to place that fueled the spread. The disease spread easily in the crowded conditions of the barracks and troop ships and even more easily in the trenches where crowding was a factor and living conditions were horrible. From there it spread to civilians in Europe and came home with troops returning from the front. Travel of the disease was approximately the speed of travel of the time. It took months for it to move around the world because that was the fastest people could move back then via ship. If nothing else, any new disease will certainly spread much faster today. Due to travel via airlines, it could easily spread around the world in a few days if not a few hours.
In 1918 the disease began to take a serious toll in the US and Europe in August – when flu cases became abnormally high and continued until the following July when the number of cases dropped back to normal levels. During that time it is estimated that around 20 million Americans became sick and around 500,000 died. In October 1918, when the flu reached its peak in the US, it killed about 195,000 Americans in that month alone.
These numbers may not appear to be all that high until you remember that the population of the US was only about 100 million at the time. That means that 20% of the population became sick and 0.5% died of the disease. In a typical year – with a population of about 300 million today – the flu kills about 30,000 people or about 0.01% of the population. That means that the 1918 flu was about 50 times more deadly than a normal year! If a disease of the same virulence were to strike the US today the number of people who became sick would be around 60 million with about 1.5 million dead. Those are large numbers indeed.
Another unusual thing about the 1918 flu was the people it struck down. Normally the flu strikes the old and the young - those with weaker immune systems. However, this flu struck down those people and the young and strong. In fact, when graphed, disease tolls usually look like a U with the largest numbers of deaths at the high and low end of the age scale with only a few in the middle. The 1918-flu epidemic looked more like a W with a spike in the middle for young healthy people who normally do not die. In fact, of the 110,000 deaths our military suffered in Europe during that fall 57,000 of those died of the flu - “only” 53,000 died in battle!
Back in the US, after deaths from the disease began in earnest, people began to try to protect themselves. However, viruses were unknown at the time so the protections people attempted were ineffective. People began to wear masks in public, which do provide some level of protection against large airborne particles but airborne viruses are so small that to them the mask barely even exists. They pass with impunity. Also, many times the method of transmission can be through touch. A person touches an infected person or something that an infected person touched and then later touches themselves on a mucus membrane – the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. and the virus is transmitted.
The death rate became so scary that many local governing bodies closed down theaters, churches, and other public gatherings. For example during one day in October in New York City 851 people died of the flu! New York City hastily passed ordinances that made it illegal to spit, cough, or sneeze in public -- with the threat of $500 fines. Five hundred dollars is a big fine today. Back then it was the price of the Model T Ford! Today that fine would be ten or twenty thousand dollars!! They were deadly serious about trying to control the spread of the flu . . .
Closer to home, at Syracuse University during October 1918 the campus was quarantined for two and a half weeks because of the epidemic. Twelve students died and emergency hospitals were erected in dormitories. At the time there were about 2000 students so this was very serious when people of college age would normally hardly be affected by the flu.
Now let’s move forward to today. The current death rate for people infected with the avian flu varies from between 30% and 60% depending on the exact strain and that is with the best of medical care, anti-viral drugs, etc. That is an appalling number. So far we are very lucky that the disease cannot be transmitted from human to human. All known cases so far come from contact with birds but that could change. If it does, we should all pray that the death rate becomes more along the lines of the 1918 flu or we are in for a very rough ride indeed. Imagine how our society would be affected and react if a disease suddenly appeared that killed 25% of those it infected? Even if it only infects 20% of the population, as the 1918 strain did, that would still mean 5% of the population dead - 15 million in the US alone. Imagine the disruptions that would occur with a significant number of people in our society dead in such a short period of time. Hospitals would be overwhelmed and our highly specialized society would be at serious risk of short-term collapse. That is not a very pleasant thought. How many of us are prepared spiritually, mentally and /or physically for that sort of collapse? If a nationwide quarantine had to be instituted it would likely be on the order of two to four weeks. How many of us have enough food, fuel, etc. to get through a period of that length? It is certainly something to think – and pray - about.
Finally, on a more personal note, in the summer of 2003 - during the SARS scare - I traveled on business to Taiwan. Since there were outbreaks in Asia my colleagues could not visit the US without spending a week in a US quarantine facility – not such a pleasant prospect. I was able to travel to Taiwan with no such requirement, so off I went. When I arrived I found there was an additional step to go through before one could get to the passport check and immigration control. All passengers had to pass through a health station. It didn’t really take much time at all but I found it interesting and it got me to thinking (dangerous!!). There were a number of Taiwanese health officers there and everyone had to pass through a control point single file where it was obvious that we were being visually examined. I was told later that there were infrared temperature sensors set to monitor people as they passed through. If you happened to have a body temperature outside of a pre-programmed range or – Lord help you - a fever, you would be taken aside for “further examination” and possible quarantine. Thankfully I had no such trouble. If the next flu pandemic breaks out during my lifetime, I hope that I am not traveling. I prefer to be at home during such an event, not stuck in some strange place . . .


I found this tool for building igloos: Certainly a useful concept for people in the Midwest, Rockies or further north, for fun, practice and possible emergencies, both personal or regional. - Michael Z. Williamson

I agree that nothing beats physical bullion and ammunition for real wealth, but there may be something to be said for keeping a store of digital wealth in tact for as long as possible also.

My bank has an emergency plan. They mailed me a copy. So I figured I needed to incorporate a plan to keep them out of my life during an economic meltdown.

The plan is very simple. I fully intend to eliminate my mortgage with what is left of my IRA on the day before doomsday (or thereabouts). My money will ride out the storm on metal based investments, hopefully holding value while my fixed rate mortgage devalues. The new metal and oil ETFs are going to provide a place of relative refuge for institutional investors in the near term future. I think GLD, OILB and probably the new SIL will attract a lot of capital in an inflationary emergency.

I am prepared for a quick change. My checking, savings, IRA and brokerage accounts are all linked online and available 24/7. My IRA is currently about 1/5th of my Mortgage and neither is very big IMO. I'm set up to liquidate my positions and pay off my mortgage very quickly, and I will the moment I can.

On most days I am chasing returns with on the TSX, but I am really only 30 seconds away from being in metals, Euros... whatever. I foresee a period of hyperinflation coming that will render the tax consequences of exercising such a plan to be insignificant.

Because I believe preparedness is a civic virtue, I plan is to settle all my financial entanglements digitally, just in case my bank survives doomsday. I am not wealthy and I think many middle class people who could arrange their lives in the same way. We may someday find ourselves in a Patriots-like 'Shumeresque' situation, but we will almost certainly find ourselves in a hyperinflationary recession as globalism grinds to a halt and energy shortages choke our economy.

Also, IMO, this little closed end fund is a great investment for those who can trade stocks in their IRA. It trades as CEF on the American Stock exchange. See: The fund holds Gold and Silver Bullion and is subject to Canadian, not United States law! Check it out. Love your blog. Keep up the good work. - David A.

After reading Declan's question and then your answer, I felt compelled to write in. Many of the survival minded people that post on various boards swear by their main battle rifle (MBR), whether an AK, AR, M1A, FN-FAL, the list goes on. All which are tools that have certain uses just like a hammer. IMHO, I don't believe that we will go to a full scale war zone overnight. With the concealable of a pistol, it is not as threatening as a MBR in public, mostly because of "out of sight, out of mind." with a CCW, a person can began to carry and also have it accessible if the balloon goes up and their MBR is no where close. For someone with a limited budget, a quality handgun would be the best first gun in a survival battery. I also believe that if the person is not experienced with weapons, the simpler the better. I have shot 1911A1s for the last 30 years, also carried in the Army. I was fortunate enough that I had an office beside the armory, and the armorer let me put together a tighter weapon from parts. Officers never could figure out why my pistol held a tighter group. But, I digress. The 1911A1 is an easy weapon to work on, but I believe it is still too complicated for the novice. The locked and cocked issue to be ready is my concern.
Since 1989, I have fell in love with Glocks. Yes, I pack plastic. To me the grip is very similar to the 1911. The simplicity of the design also won over the engineer in me. Currently they can be found in the .40 and .45 caliber for around $350 dealer cost. These are trade-ins. I have purchased three this year that were trade-ins. The weapons were in great shape. Also, there are many used "law enforcement" only hi-cap mags  [made during the 1994-2004 U.S. Federal magazine ban] out there for $10. Sure beats the $100 each they were just a few short years ago. For around $500 a person should be able to arm themselves with a Glock, six magazines, and 500 rounds of ammunition. The next step is practice, practice, practice. Proficiency is not acquired on the Internet, it is available only at the range. That's enough for now. Love your site. I'm a proud "10 Cent Challenge" donor. - The Sarge

JWR Replies:  Yes, handguns have their role in survival planning.  They are handy for concealed carry, and as a means to have a weapon close at hand when you are doing heavy work and you can't carry a rifle. (It is hard to dig post holes when you have a rifle slung across your back.) But handguns are not a proper substitute for a rifle or riotgun when faced with deep drama. Another writer said it best when he opined [my paraphrasing]: "A handgun is just a tool that buys you time to fight your way back to your rifle."

I heard a radio host talk about the value of having certain parts for guns on hand. Can you recommend a dealer or source for good quality parts for firearms? I am not a gunsmith. Does anyone make parts kits for the most commonly broken parts like springs,etc. It would be nice if you could buy them for say a 1911, AR, etc. I guess the AR is full of small things that get lost and cannot be replaced or made. Maybe you could elaborate with a posting on a list of what to buy etc, thanks. - Boosters

JWR Replies: The selection of spare parts will vary widely, depending on maker and model. Some models have a propensity for excessive wear, loss, or breakage on certain parts. For example, AR-15, M16s, CAR-15s, and M4s are notorious for broken ejection port dust covers, and buffer retainers, as well as galled gas tubes, gas tube keys, and cam pins. Parts for most autopistols are "drop in" replacements about 80% of the time. In contrast, revolver parts, especially hammers and triggers, usually require fitting. So unless you have experience at stoning and honing, there is no point to buying most spare revolver action parts. (BTW, this is one reason that I tend toward autopistols.)

Here are my basic spare parts vendor recommendations:

M1 Garands, M1/M2 Carbines, M1As and M14s: and Fulton Armory

AR-10s: Since some parts and magazines differ dimensionally between makers, buy spares directly from your rifle's manufacturer (Such as American Spirit, Armalite, DPMS, Knight, Rock River, etc.)

AR-15s, CAR-15s, M16s, and M4s: Bushmaster, DPMS, DSArms, Vector, and Kaiserworks.
M17S Bullpups (The poor man's AUG):,

L1A1s and FALs: Gun Parts Guy,, Akron Armory, Kaiserworks, and DSArms

HK91s (and clones): HK4ever, Vector, HK-USA, and perhaps POF-USA.  (The latter's parts are made in Pakistan.)

AKs: Akron Armory,, DSArms, Vector, and KVAR

RPDs: Vector

Steyr AUGs and SSGs: Guns South.

Galils: Vector or CDNN Sports

Uzis: Vector

Mauser Bolt Action Rifles : Tennessee Gun Parts or Hoosier Gun Works


Berettas, Brownings, Remingtons, and Winchesters: Midwest Gun Works

Rugers: Omega Man Enterprises or direct from Ruger.

M1911s: Wilson Combat, Chip McCormick, Clark Custom, or Ed Brown

Glocks: Glockmeister or Top Glock

Makarovs: Akron Armory

For more obscure or hard-to-find parts, there is always Gun Parts Corp. (They are the world's biggest gun parts seller, although their prices tend to be high for some models.) For gunsmithing tools and supplies (such as bluing salts, fiberglass bedding kits, etc.) as well as a wide assortment of magazines and customizing parts, I also highly recommend Brownell's. BTW, the only parts dealer that I avoid like the plague is Sarco of Stirling, New Jersey.  ("Be afraid, be very afraid!")

If any SurvivalBlog readers with real world experience on spare parts histories would care to chime in, I will be happy to post their recommendations about which spares to keep on hand for individual makes and models.

OBTW, if you patronize any of these firms, please tells them that you saw them mentioned on SurvivalBlog. (Some of these firms are SurvivalBlog advertisers--and the rest should be!)

Survival Blog reader S.H. recommends a site with free PDF field manuals, including TC9-56 SKS Rifle, M16A2, et cetera: This Canadian company also has a interesting looking CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training series...something folks should consider if they are in an urban environment.

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Missouri Teenager Survives a 1,300 Foot Tornado Ride:

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The H5N1 virus responsible for the current virulent strain of bird flu has mutated into two genetically distinct strains, US scientists have confirmed. They fear this could increase the risk to humans - and complicate the search for  an effective vaccine. See:

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Greenhouse Theory Smashed by Biggest Stone:

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An interesting blog: "Urban Ecology, Renewing the World One Backyard at a Time":

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Rourke (moderator of  recommends this site on the Asian Avian flu: (Be sure to see the three week spread of the 1918 Pandemic.) See:

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SurvivalBlog's global readership is growing. See:  You can now click on the map to zoom in for detailed maps showing hits in various regions.

"As it now stands, they all seemed to agree, USDA’s proposed program could be compared to a finely crafted blueprint for a concrete blimp. It may look great on paper, but out in the real world, no amount of hot air will ever get it off the ground. - Livestock Weekly on NAIS

Sunday, March 26, 2006

In a time where large machinery is unavailable because of fuel shortages, blasting becomes even more important. It is a viable means of clearing stumps, excavating, and clearing rock slides. Tannerite is available in the mail from Skylight Explosives. Tannerite a binary blasting mix which if prepared on site immediately before blasting, and requires no permit. Speak to Danny Tanner, a G-d fearing man, and friend to the small Jewish community in Eugene, Oregon. A  few years ago I took some 19 and 20 year old guests to shoot with Danny. You should have seen the look in the eyes of the six New York yeshiva boys as we set out to fire battle rifles at 100 meter distant dynamite sticks. That was priceless! These guys had never even held a firearm before what a day. Unfortunately Danny didn't have time to grab his Class 3 guns before that shooting trip. Skylight gives blasting safety classes and this is a very worthy investment. See:


I love your site. As to moth balls, I'm pretty sure they are a moth repellant and have no effect on moth larva. So, once you pack your clothes in a moth-proof container, they will do absolutely no good against moths and they'll make your clothes stink. If a moth has already laid eggs, the little darlings will still hatch and chew up your clothes. After all, flying moths don't eat clothing, only the larvae do.
That said, I have heard that moth balls act as a rodent repellant also. So, if you're worried about mice, rats, squirrels, etc making a nest out of your plastic wrapped clothing, then moth balls might keep them away. Thanks for the information that you provide. - Marty



I've had good luck storing wool clothing items and blankets for years by using Space Bags and aromatic cedar wood - a piece of wood in each bag. So far, so good. Semper Fi - Sarge

Mr. Rawles,
You had an inquiry on your site about long term storable charged batteries. Such a topic came up recently on the amateur radio reflector called hfpack. There is one such battery that is well suited for storage. It is called a silver chloride battery, and they are activated by adding salt water. One use is in torpedos - see
Another source of information is at: These have a high energy density, but are primary cells and not rechargeable. Still, if you plan for an urgent one time need arbitrarily in the future, silver chloride batteries may be the best bet. - "Sun Dog"


One of your readers asked about the PTR-91 clone of the HK91. I think it is a very good battle rifle. For @ $700 you get an accurate, .308 cal, magazine fed rifle designed for combat. I prefer the 308 over the .223/5.56 round for the extra power and penetration. If you do the math with bullet weight and velocity, it calculates out to around 2.5 times more energy. If you disagree with this you can delete point as I don't wish to stir the pot. I am not an expert but I am experienced with weapons from my military and law enforcement careers and have reloaded since my teens. I am just getting back into reloading at close to 40 years of age. I have a PTR-91 and love it. Open sites at 100 yards with just a block for a rest, I was able to keep a 2" group. I am no sharpshooter either. I can do very well with a scope, but suffice it to say that this rifle will definitely out shoot most shooters. The rifle weighs a little over 9 lbs. Magazines are very affordable [still under $3 each] and have not had a jam or failure to feed (FTF) yet. I have found only two drawbacks to the rifle and one is because I am left handed. The charging handle is definitely designed for a right handed person but a lefty can get used to it. I also wish that the bolt locked back after the magazine is empty so you know instantly that the rifle is "dry". I had the chance to check out the rifle side by side with an HK91 and was still impressed. If you can find a better battle rifle in .308 for less, I want one. You have a great Blog.- "Nightshift" From the Gulf Coast.

A SurvivalBlog reader mentioned a source for MRE entrees, MRE crackers, full MRE meals, and T-Packs: See:

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Joining the U.S. Army and Marines, the U.S. Air Force jumps on the digital camouflage uniform bandwagon:,13319,91425,00.html?

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Survival Blog reader S.H.sent us this news story: "Oregon family found after 17 days in mountains." Always nice to see some happy news in the media these days. It seems that they were prepared. "The family lived through the ordeal on dehydrated food and other provisions."

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The folks at The Pre-1899 Specialist  report with chagrin that their incoming e-mail was not getting through for a couple of weeks due to a mail server glitch! If you've sent them any e-mails recently and got not reply, please re-transmit it!

"Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation!" - Psalm 95:1

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I read your novel Patriots for the first time a few months ago and wanted to tell you that it was one of the most educational and eye-opening books that I have read. Plus, the plot made it difficult to put the book down once I started reading! Patriots really opened my eyes to many survival and self-sustainability issues that I hadn't considered previously and for that I want to thank you. I think it is a true service what you have done to those just learning about these issues and so I have been recommending your book to everyone I know. I also recently came across your blog and have found this to again be a great source of information.
I sent an annual payment for the ten cent challenge a couple of days ago and wanted to help contribute with a bit of information for anyone looking for night vision devices (NVDs):
I was looking for a night vision monocular and after researching several of the sites, I came across an interesting offer on They carried all of the popular models plus a device called the "Mini-14". This is a Gen-3 device, which in comparison to the PVS-14, is 1) smaller and lighter, 2) waterproof to 66ft, 3) uses only one AA battery (or smaller lithium battery) instead of two, 4) comes with several additional accessories, and, 5) is comparable in price or even slightly cheaper.
The only feature that it lacks in comparison is that it doesn't allow manual adjustment of the gain, which I've read might be an issue in urban environments (the gain does adjust automatically though). Now, the interesting offer on this site was that they had obtained some 'Select' versions, which included the [amplification tube manufacturer's] data cards and were guaranteed to be above certain thresholds in features such as line pairs per millimeter (LP/mm), signal to noise (S/N) ratio and sensitivity. Moreover, they offered a hand-select service which assured receipt of the very best of these units. "Mike" is the one to talk to there. He was very helpful in educating me about the differences between the various models / brands as well as some of the more general NVD information. There is a also a nice forum on their site where users discuss the different units.
I decided to purchase the unit and have to say that it is by far the single most amazing acquisition that I have ever made (truly worth every penny). The clarity and brightness at night is jaw-dropping! And, I would have to believe that this is one of the finer examples of a Gen-3 device. So, I just wanted to pass along this information in case it would helpful to anyone interested in these devices.
Thank you very much again for what you have done in educating everyone and I look forward to many more daily blog updates! - Scot

Mr. Rawles,
I've been a fan of yours for a long time. I read your novel on line years ago and it had a real impact on my thinking and my preparation efforts. I've been coming to your site since the second day it was on the net. I'm a former pilot in the Air National Guard and I'm a degreed electronic engineer and I presently work for a large avionics manufacturer. I've been giving this transportation issue (transportation availability after the Schumer hits the...) some thought and I found this very interesting web site:
As you can see this guy has invented a side by side recumbent bicycle that can not only go on the road but it can also go on railroad tracks. Both riders can pedal. As I looked at this vehicle I realized that it could be modified in a number of ways. It could be modified to add cargo racks. It could be modified to add a golf cart electric motor with deep cycle batteries for power. A canopy could be added on top to keep the sun off of the riders. Also attached to the canopy could be solar cells that could be used to recharge the deep cycle batteries. Solar cells have become more efficient and cheaper in recent years.
Anyway such a vehicle would be potentially an excellent recreational vehicle now, and then later an excellent bug-out vehicle.
Anyway here is an idea. Perhaps you could contact this guy and make a deal to sell his plans for this vehicle on your web site. Possibly pay him a royalty. Maybe you have an associate that would be interested in building this vehicle. I would be willing to help with the design of the electrical and electronic parts. I thought this, if done right, could potentially increase your revenue. I know I would be willing to buy a set of plans, or subcomponents to build a vehicle like this one.
Anyway its just an idea. Thanks for your time. Best of Luck, - S.W.


Here is a source for MRE crackers which seem to last forever!
Cracker Seller
I ate a pack of crackers last summer during a camp out/ range building weekend, and they were from 1993. Still were crisp and tasty. - Tom

A little bird just told me that Oregon Freeze Dried's shelves are just about empty, with no re-supply expected until June or July. The demand for long term storage food, spurred by the global spread of Asian Avian Flu has been tremendous.  If you want any freeze dried foods then order them soon, while there are still supplies in the pipeline. If you wait another month, you will probably be out of luck. We have four different advertisers that sell freeze dried foods. Please consider giving them your business, and be sure to mention SurvivalBlog when you do.

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If you own a cell phone or pager, be sure to take a look at: This is a alert system that sends out e-mails to subscriber mobile devices for less than a dime a day. It was started as a project to keep the inventor's like minded friends informed of the latest important news, and to coordinate any bug out/in. Since then, at considerable expense this project has been scaled up to handle thousands of subscribers.

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New Home Sales Plummet in February:
I expect this trend to accelerate. Since so many houses have been bought "on spec" in the past two years (up to 35% of home sales in some markets), a down turn in the market will make speculative home investors nervous, prompting them to jettison them, creating a progressive down-ratcheting effect.

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I was recently asked by a SurvivalBlog reader about my favorite news sources. Of course judiciously applying the appropriate bias/Schumer filter (since there is no such thing as unbiased journalism), they are:

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Houston Residents are Fed Up with Hurricane Katrina Refugees:

"The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead  of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life." - Theodore Roosevelt

Friday, March 24, 2006

We are currently "back filling" all of the extant SurvivalBlog posts into Moveable Type format. This process should be completed in about two months.Once done, by clicking on any of the "Categories" in the right had bar or by using the "Search SurvivalBlog Posts" window, you will be able to bring up any of the posts, all the way back to our first posts in August of 2005.

Mr. Rawles,
I came across a website which I thought your readers may be interested in, especially if anyone is considering building a fallout shelter.
The Swiss, perhaps the torch bearers of civil defense and preparedness, have made available online a listing of what they call "Civil Protection Components." Essentially they offer a list of parts approved for use in shelter construction that have been tested to meet or exceed their requirements for use in a shelter. These parts lists comprehensively cover building construction parts, sanitation, ventilation, electronics, generators and transmission equipment. On top of it all the Swiss have tested all parts for both shock resistance and EMP resistance. Company names and addresses for all of these recommended parts are included as well (seems to be mostly Swiss companies).
I thought this info would be a boon for your readers:
\Swiss Site
Kind Regards, - Brian A.

New mutations in parts of the avian flu virus might provide a possible route for the virus to enter the human population. From the journal Science:

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Silver has been spiking upward for the past few days ($10.65 per troy ounce, the last time I checked), but beware of an impending short-term correction. Every bull market has its pull-backs and profit taking. Buy on the dips!

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The French anarchists riot again. This time, we are told, the riots are about job security.  Job security? (I guess these are different than those U.S. anarchists, who would never consider working for "The Man.")

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Dire warnings from The International Forecaster: "You can expect, under these circumstances, that oil will go to $120 a barrel or higher dependent on whether there is further disruption in the supply. The good news is globalization and free trade will be stone cold dead. After a year or two they’ll be a hyperinflationary blow off and a 1929-type collapse, only worse. You have to be only in gold and silver during the hyperinflation and in gold only when the depression hits. The dollar will no longer be a place of refuge. All this should start to unfold over the next two months."


"Laziness casts one into a deep sleep. And an idle person will suffer hunger." - Proverbs

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Hello James,
Given the abundant information about the state of the economy, what would you recommend we, (the consumer and fellow American) do when making a decision about Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) come April 15th? I am concerned about putting money away and into "paper currency" when maybe it would be better to just pay down debt. What would you advise to someone in my situation? I am not necessarily looking for information about the tax benefits, simply your view about what would be a wise move. -The Wanderer

JWR Replies: This is a bit repetitious to my previous recommendation, but I suppose it bears repeating: I recommend rolling over your existing IRA and/or 401(k) into a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.  I did so six years ago, and I'm glad that I did, since gold has nearly doubled since then.  The IRAs is in the form of U.S. Mint Gold Eagle bullion coins, held in vault storage by American Church Trust, in Texas. In a perfect world, we would be allowed to hold the coins in our personal possession and yet still have them qualify as an IRA--but sadly we live in world managed by bureaucrats and bean counters. The next best thing is a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.

Dear Jim:
I spotted this very usual property - click on feature of the month.

25 acres with ponds, but the real value is the five six inch artesian wells are licensed for 100,000 gallons a day. This could be a profitable survival business, that I am already somewhat familiar with from a prior job. The asking price is $2.2 million. Certainly with that water production potential (bottled water), not to mention fish farm and the acreage, that price seems within reason actually with that kind of capacity.

If you know someone interested have then email me. - Rourke (e-mail:

As I know it's important for you to have and increase your advertisers ads in order to support survivalblog and as a Survivalblog reader it's also important to be able to trust your advertisers. I just wanted to drop you a message about Vic and SafeCastle LLC.
I placed a large order with Vic a couple of weeks back for some Mountain House cases and I should add that I'm always leery about spending what I consider a substantial investment with someone I've never done business with before. Vic responded to my original questions about the order nearly real time via email and was the type of person you enjoy dealing with for transactions. Today the freight truck dropped off my order on schedule and on time just as Vic had informed me they would. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND doing business with SafeCastle!

JWR Replies:  Thanks for yet another confirmation that SafeCastle is legitimate and trustworthy. (I've received similar e-mail from several other readers. Yours is one is just the latest.) OBTW, I just heard that SafeCastle's current very low price special on Mountain House freeze dried foods in one gallon cans includes free shipping anywhere in the U.S.--even Alaska and Hawaii. (Wow!) The sale end in eight days, so don't hesitate.

What the anti-gun mass media has wrought:   As recently as the early 1950s, it was not unusual for residents of the large cities in the eastern U.S. to carry uncased rifles to or from shooting matches on public transportation. But now, the sight of a man with an air rifle causes a panicked evacuation? Ay, ay, ay...

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Walter J. Williams (of warns of the possibility of a "hyperinflationary depression." Gee, this sounds like the storyline from a novel I read once.For an interview with Williams, see:

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Schools Told To Prep For Bird Flu Outbreaks:

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Cold War cache found inside the Brooklyn Bridge:

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U.S. chemical plants are still vulnerable to terrorists. See:
According to a recent report (, security has not improved substantially since the Salon story was written, three years ago.

"The degree of one's emotion varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts -- the less you know the hotter you get." - Bertrand Russell

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

You've all probably heard about the Category 5 cyclone that recently struck Australia:
Perhaps one of our readers in Australia could let us know where to send donations. The folks in the affected region are in our prayers.

We are still in need of more advertisers so that we will be able to make ends meet when SurvivalBlog becomes my primary source of income, starting in April. If you know of any potential advertisers, please call or send them an e-mail, and encourage them to get a banner ad. These ads start at just $55 per month. That is dirt cheap advertising.

Jim, I've been lucky on bullion recently and found some good info and a source.
I found local coin dealers at a gun show, who were selling "junk silver" coins at barely over spot price. The price was about the same as from the best mass dealer I could find-- in per coin price, not in $1,000 face bags with 715 troy ounces. I'll be hitting them as funds and silver price permit. NWTBullion does offer the best price I've seen, and will deal in bags as small as $100 face value--72 troy ounces, and in small coin quantities. Each purchase is in a large cointube (sold for this purpose and similar to a medicine bottle) with date, silver weight (not counting the base metal alloy), and price paid per ounce. I can build up a good stock cheaply without trying to draw capital on a loan or credit card (Which would cost more than I'd earn in any reasonable scenario) and without the hassle.

Currently, the best bet for gold bullion on a budget seems to be British Sovereigns--10 coins at just under .25 oz comes to less than $1,400. This is far cheaper than the 5 coin or more minimum of 1 oz coins (Eagles, Maple Leaves, Krugerrands), which weighs in at over $2,900. Also, the markup on them is quite moderate. By judicious selling of silver and buying of gold, one can build a gold portfolio piecemeal for about what it would cost to buy a minimum chunk from a refining company up front. I plan to keep silver on hand because it's easier to move and has greater volatility, but above the minimum level, it can be used as a resource for gold, antique firearms or other long-term investments.

While it's not a huge market yet, old copper pennies (1981 or earlier) are still worth more than face value and will continue to climb. Copper isn't getting any more common, and it's in high demand. Canadian pennies were copper until 1996. JWR Adds: The spot price of copper just hit an all-time high.

Canadian "silver" coins were 80/20 silver/copper, unlike US 90/10, but still had mostly silver content until 1967. They became 50/50 for 1967 and 1968 (quarters and dimes only), and were then .99 nickel until 1999. Nickel is also an in-demand industrial metal, and these coins are readily available. It's well worth pulling them from change, and they'll always have face price, though the reason they're now plated steel is because the nickel is going to be more valuable than face. - Mike

Mr. Rawles,
Please let me commend to your attention the website of the Suburban Emergency Management Project:
This is an excellent website with material written by professionals but useful to laymen. There's more info on this site than I can assimilate in a week. Their "Biots" are short papers on a whole panoply of emergency preparedness topics. There are 340 of them, as of today. Some of my favorites are:

#334: "Please Remain in Your Seat": The Federal Government's Role in Quarantine (26 February, 2006)

#332: What Is "Earthquake Baroque" Architecture? (21 February 2006)

#259: Revisiting Looting Behavior during Disasters (6 September 2005)

#216: Lessons Learned from a Hospital Evacuation During Tropical Storm Allison (21 May 2005)

#179: A Palimpsest of Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Plans (25 February 2005)

#23 Who Was in Charge of the Massive Evacuation of Lower Manhattan? (26 September 2002)

Keep up the great work! - TFA303

Hello, Jim!

I was reviewing my storage of food supplies when a thought came to me: I don't have anything to put all that peanut butter on! I looked through all of the food suppliers you advertise looking for crackers, no results. Have any ideas of something that would store well?  - Gerry C.

JWR Replies: The individually-wrapped "shelf stable" bread mini-loafs intended to supplement MRE and Tray-Pack ("T-Pack") squad rations have been available off and on for about ten years. This bread is quite bulky to store. I personally don't like the taste of it (too salty for me), but some people love it. As for crackers, long ago, C-Rations came with round crackers packed in the same can with the round "John Wayne" chocolate bars. (Remember those? Hmmmm... I can still taste them.) The only other storage "crackers" that I've tried were the circa 1980 Neo-Life canned "Sheepherder's Bread."  They were bland biscuit-cum-crackers. Not very appealing. Perhaps some other SurvivalBlog readers have suggestions on more palatable varieties and sources that are now on the market.

Navy SEALs to Get Modified M14 Rifles:

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Asian Avian Flu Raises Hackles in Israel:  LINK

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The folks at The Claire Files are organizing a postal rifle match. See:

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A bill before the Tennessee legislature would reject NAIS:  Let's hope this is the beginning of a groundswell.


"It is a mistake to expect good work from expatriates for it is not what they do that matters but what they are not doing.” - Cyril Connolly, English critic and editor, 1903-1974

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

There are just 10 days left to submit your entries for Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006. The first piece posted today is another fine contest entry:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” When people read this, or read about seasons in general, I would imagine that most immediately think of the changes of seasons associated with our climate. Most do not think of the sun, except in that it seems to be much more visible here during the warm months! However, the sun has seasons, or cycles, just like we do here on earth and these can have a large effect on us. One cycle that is most readily observed is that of sunspots. These spots are regions of lower temperature and highly intense magnetic activity that move around on the surface of the sun - sometimes there are more, sometimes less of them. They can be much larger than the diameter of the earth. The spots sometimes erupt into solar flares, or coronal mass ejections, both of which can have effects on our highly delicate modern technology - particularly satellites of all kinds and our power grid – because they cause intense magnetic fields to form around the earth. These fields also cause the aurora borealis or northern lights. Periods of high sunspot activity coincide with periods of the northern lights being much more active and visible in a much greater region than their normal haunts in the Polar Regions. During high solar spot activity the northern lights have been seen as far south as Mexico!

Galileo was the first European to observe sunspots in 1610. After observing the spots for a number of years it was determined that they have a cycle of approximately 11 years where the spot activity increases and then decreases so that about every 11 years there is a peak in this activity. The year 2001 was a particularly high peak. However, the next peak – which should occur around 2012 - is showing signs of being even more severe. We have just reached the solar minimum with a serious reduction in the number of sunspots - from here on out their numbers should increase. In fact, some scientists are predicting that the next peak could be 30% - 50% stronger than the previous cycle! During that peak – in 1958 – the Northern lights were frequently visible in Mexico.

Why should anyone care? During the last peak of 2001 the Northern Lights were substantially more active and there were actually power interruptions in some places in Canada due to the magnetic fields that cause the northern lights. The fields induced eddy currents on the power lines which overloaded some of the lines and caused them to shut down. These same magnetic fields also induced currents into other long metallic objects causing damage. One example is the Alaska oil pipeline. The currents set up a galvanic reaction which caused corrosion to take place at much higher than normal rates. During solar-induced magnetic storms, the energy associated with the display of the northern lights is on the order of 100 million megawatts. That’s quite a light bulb!
Also, we are in only in the middle of the extended solar cycle and in 2012 we may reach or exceed the same level of peak sunspot activity that existed in 1958 and occurred at the end of that extended cycle. Think of all the things developed since then - satellites, cell phones, beepers, computer networks and a computer controlled power grid – electronics in general. What effects will such strong planet-wide magnetic and electrical fields have on these things? We could be in for a wild ride over the next few years.
There are other effects as well. The level of sunspot activity has an effect on the weather here on earth. During the period from about 1650 through about 1710 – and for decades following that period - the weather around the world was exceptionally cold. During that 60 year period there were only about 50 sunspots observed. With today’s conditions one would expect to observe about forty five thousand in the same period. That is certainly a significant difference!
The essentially sunspot free period from 1650 through 1710 is now known of as The Little Ice Age. This was a time where rivers that now remain ice-free froze over regularly – rivers such as the Thames in England and the Delaware in the US. Additionally, the canals in Holland froze solid regularly, the glaciers in the European Alps advanced considerably and by 1695 there was no open water anywhere around Iceland – the Atlantic Ocean around the island was frozen! Since that time the earth has warmed considerably.
Let’s look back a bit further too - at Greenland. Today it is a fairly inhospitable place. However during the period from around 982 through to about 1430 Greenland was inhabited and farmed. This is also when it acquired its name – Greenland. Some early maps call it Gruntland or Ground Land. Not nearly as appealing! It is said that when Eric the Red was exiled to the place for murder, he named it Greenland in what surely was an early marketing ploy by Mr. The Red (ha!) bent on selling people on living there. However, the fact remains that people lived there and raised sheep and some crops for close to 450 years. Yet, the weather changed and the European inhabitants left or died out. Modern archeology says those who stayed died from malnutrition - probably brought on by the weather turning colder and crops and animals dying off. If we look back even further it is now known that there was a Paleo-Eskimo culture that lived on Greenland which disappeared around 200 AD. I have no true idea of what the area was like in between. However, could it be that Greenland becomes more or less inhabitable based upon the cycles of the sun? It is an interesting thought.
In any case, you can see by looking at the following figure that sunspot activity has been increasing steadily since the time of The Little Ice Age. In fact, it appears to follow a “long” – or extended - cycle of about 80 or 85 years where there is a low and then a climb to a maximum in sunspot activity and then a drop off again. However, if you look at the graph closely it appears that the steepness of the line from minimum to maximum of each cycle is becoming slightly more steep with each passing “long” cycle. Also, note that the minimum of each of these long cycles is becoming more active. In fact, the minimum in 1970 is much higher than any of the previous minimums and also higher than all but 2 or 3 of the peaks in the previous “long” cycles! As I said above, we could be in for interesting times indeed during the next peaks which should occur around 2012, 2023, 2034 and 2045 before dropping back down to the solar minimum again.

Where will this next peak take us? I do not know. However, as we are all aware, there is certainly much talk about global warming and it being caused by man. While I do believe that the earth is warming I am not so certain of our complicity in this event. Somehow I do not think pollution here on earth is having any effect on the cycles of the sun! While we certainly do our share of polluting, etc. there are forces at work that we do not – as yet – fully understand which are MUCH larger than any that our civilization could create. Maybe the end of the current “long cycle” will bring a drop off similar to the one between 1650 and 1710 and we will all be happy to eat sauerkraut, turnips and potatoes instead of wheat and corn. Maybe someday we’ll understand it all, but only God knows what is in store for us tomorrow.

Mr. Rawles,
My compliments on your informative blog site, and best wishes for continued success. I read your thought-provoking and informative novel, Patriots, and enjoyed it very much. A few days ago you wrote, “IMHO, ‘tacticalizing’ your bolt action rifles (by threading their muzzles) is a must.” You mentioned sending a Browning A-bolt [to Holland's of Oregon] to have the muzzle threaded. In the Survival Guns section of your website, you write, “
It is important to note that scopes are more prone to failure than any other part of a rifle. Therefore, it is wise to select a rifle with good quality iron sights, whether or not you intend to mount a scope.” You also mention that your Winchester Model 70s (which sound like they are set up very nicely) have threaded muzzles. I’ve got a great rifle with iron sights and a scope. How is there room in front of the iron sights to cut threads for a flash hider? [JWR Replies: Many brands of rifles have sufficient "beef"" forward of the front sight to allow threading. For those that don't, either remounting a front sight or shortening a front sight base are simple tasks for any qualified gunsmith.] Also, if you have to drill out the back of a Vortex flash hider made for 5.56mm bullet clearance, could you instead use the Vortex that is made for a .30 cal instead, and not have to drill it? [JWR Replies: I recommend using the compact .223 Vortex and drilling it out, because it has standard 1/2"x28 threads, which are the same used on AR-15s and many other rifles. The threads for the .308 Vortexes are not nearly as common.]

A side note for your readers who may want a centerfire revolver that doesn’t require a FFL to purchase: R & D Drop-In Conversion Cylinders allow a shooter to convert several makes and models of black powder revolvers to a similar caliber metallic centerfire cartridge. They probably shouldn’t shoot full power loads, but they are readily available from Midway USA. Though expensive, they may fill the requirement for a new centerfire revolver you can order directly from a catalog. I’ve never used one, but a review I read on one was very positive. Thanks for your reply, and may God bless the Rawles household as you encourage your readers to live by the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared.” Thank you also for your bold witness for God both in your novel and on your website. A fellow patriot, - GlobalScout

U.S. Interior Secretary Gale Norton said on Monday said that it was "increasingly likely" that bird flu would be detected in the United States as early as this year.See: this page

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Category 5 Cyclone Slams Australia: CBS World News

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Hurricane Katrina: What Went Right?:

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Kevin Sites, a journalist in Afghanistan:

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Big caliber safari rifles:

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Some interesting economic and investing commentary:

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Silver is bouncing along at around $10.30 per ounce. That is a 16.85% gain for the year!

"As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And, it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness." - Justice William O. Douglas, U.S. Supreme Court (1939-1975)

Monday, March 20, 2006

The U.S. housing bubble but has not yet popped, but it is starting to make funny noises. (See: You have probably read that the Federal debt ceiling has been raised to nine trillion dollars. (See:,2933,138881,00.html) What is the point of calling it a "ceiling" if Congress keeps raising it every year? The U.S. Treasury is now technically bankrupt, but from a practical standpoint, how can you call the man with the printing press bankrupt? He just prints more, as needed. There are just more and more "fun tickets" in circulation, and their value gradually melts away. Ask anyone that has lived in South America. The same drama gets played out over and over again, in country after country. The biggest losers in an inflationary spiral will be bank depositors and pensioners. Is it any wonder that the savings rate in the U.S. is at an all-time low? Starting this week, the Federal Reserve will stop reporting the M3 aggregate money supply. This gives "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke carte blanche to monetize the Federal debt without public scrutiny. Meanwhile, both Iran and Norway are opening oil bourses that will transact their business in Euros rather than dollars. (See: The U.S. trade deficit has blossomed to huge numbers--far beyond the level at which Warren Buffet issued his stern warning a year ago. (See: Taken together, this does not bode well for the U.S. Dollar. Methinks we are headed for some deep Schumer. My advice can be summed up in one word: tangibles. I recommend that you put your money in productive farm land in lightly populated dry land farming regions, precious metals, and guns. Unlike dollar-denominated investments, at least those can't be inflated away to nothing.

As with many survival related expedient repairs some of these fixes could present a fire or mechanical danger. As always work/learn with a responsible experienced mechanic, one who specializes in off road racing will often have good experience in how to squeeze a few more miles out of a damaged vehicle.
Diesel Engine Glow Plugs: if the glow plug control system goes down try running a parallel power wire from the plugs straight into the cab off of the fuse panel or cigarette lighter, try to determine amperage draw ahead of time for proper switches and wiring. Power the plugs for 5-10 seconds before starting, shut off power to the plugs once the engine is running. Fuel pump: if you have an older manual carbureted model you can drip feed a carburetor, better still a gravity feed into the fuel intake will let the carb work normally.
Fuel Injection: A real problem; in case of failure a replacement intake manifold or adapter and aftermarket carburetor is the best bet, keep a set in the shop for emergency. Write in with suggestions for a diesel with electronic fuel injection (EFI). Vacuum line hose and plugs: even the spark advance
and brakes can be plugged but engine performance and braking power will suffer, most lines run to clean air gadgets.
Air Cleaner: try using pantyhose or open cell foam, be creative but be sure that it is not going to get sucked into the intake potentially ruining the engine, window screen over the throat of the carb is advisable if attempting a homemade cleaner.
Smaller engines can often be modified for crank starting, but beware kickback, look at designs for crank-started cold cars and farm equipment.
As for motorcycles an off road bike with magnetos is a good choice, how I miss my '93 Honda X-200R bugout special. Seek one with electronic ignition over points (the EMP required to destroy this high energy rated circuit would require a detonation so close by that the bike would be destroyed by heat and blast.) An electronic ignition lasts much longer than points with no maintenance required until failure.
Here is a site with some useful information on magnetos:
Someone who has access to a shop could modify a diesel generator motor mount to fit a motorcycle frame, a 12 VDC motor (scavenge from a car junk yard) could be built into a hand crank generator to light the glow plug if a bike without battery is desired. A cable clutch or centrifugal clutch is needed, possibly some motorcycle transmissions will mate with a diesel motor, e-mail in if you know of such a motor/tranny combo.
If your vehicle is designed for survival applications don't let EMP fears be foremost, instead pick an easily repairable long lasting design that conserves fuel and other expendables. For the most part even EMP aside maintainability still leads to an electronics sparse vehicle. In truth as long as there is power for the ignition everything else is optional.

If EMP is truly a fear you can't put out of your head, [removing and] wrapping in aluminum foil of the more sensitive electronics containing ICs (integrated circuits a.k.a. computer chips) will put you at ease. As I have written before, EMP is not a realistic concern for most vehicles, look at older EMP posts. Don't swallow the Hollywood/TV science that EMP attacks will completely destroy vehicle electronics. EMP is most likely to damage electrical and communications infrastructure, while leaving most vehicles functional.

Mr. Rawles,
Could you mention some 'investment grade' firearms for your Survival Blog readers? In other words, besides investing in silver, what firearms (handguns, carbines, etc) would be potential investments for long range 10-20 years? Thanks! - Chad

JWR Replies: The biggest price gains will probably be in pre-1899 cartridge guns, as mentioned in my Pre-1899 FAQ. In my opinion, the real "comers" in today's market are (in no particular order):

Smith and Wesson top break revolvers. I anticipate that S&Ws will nearly "catch up" to Colt prices in the next 20 years. The .38 caliber S&W top breaks are often available for less than $300 each, and .44s for less than $800. These are available from a number of antique gun dealers including The Pre-1899 Specialist, and Jim Supica (at The Armchair Gun Show).

Whitney lever action rifles. Long ignored by collectors, the Whitney rifles should appreciate tremendously in the next decade.

FN-49 rifles, especially the Argentine .308 model with detachable 20 round magazine

Colt factory 1980s and 1990s vintage black powder revolvers, but only if they are in minty condition and in original factory black or gray boxes.

Mauser military bolt action rifles that were imported in only small numbers. These include M1894 Swedish Mauser carbines, Persian M1898 Mausers, and Brazilian Model 1894 short rifles.

Burgess pump action shotguns. These are operated by a unique sliding iron pistol grip pump lever. The first model Burgess pump action shotguns are all pre-1899 production, since the second model was introduced in 1897, and production of the first model ended later that same year. Burgess was purchased by Winchester in 1899. Serial numbers for all Burgess shotguns begin at #1000. Any Burgess that has no patent date marks later than 1896 can safely be presumed to be pre-1899 manufacture.

Unaltered U.S. Springfield .30-40 Krag rifles and carbines, especially if pre-1899. (Serial number below 152,670)

FAL and L1A1 rifles. Since the parts kits for these rifles can no longer be imported into the U.S., the price of even post-ban clones is likely to double in the next ten years.

M1895, M1896, M1897 Orange Free State contract Mauser bolt action rifles. (Marked "O.V.S.") Some also have Chilean crests. These are original Boer war contract guns and quite sought after by collectors! All are pre-1899. You can sometimes find these on gun show table in the hands of ignorant owners who don't know the significance of the OVS markings.

Mauser and Mosin Nagant rifles that are stamped "SA" (Suomi Army) inside an oval. Many of these were used in Finland's "Winter War." You can sometimes find these on gun show table in the hands of ignorant owners who don't know the significance of the SA markings.

Early (pre-1899) Marlin lever action rifles. The only models that are certain to be legally antique are the models for which ended production before 1899: the Model 1881, 1888, Model 1889, and 1891.

Pre-1899 Winchester rifles and shotguns of all descriptions if 80%+ original finish--especially if the seller doesn't realize that what he is selling you is pre-1899, or the significance thereof.

Pre-1964 Winchester Model 70s and lever actions if 95%+ original finish.

Galil .223 and .308 semi-auto rifles in military configuration.(Not Hadars.)

Early Detonics Pistols.

If your goal is appreciation, avoid the following varieties, whose values have recently peaked: Johnson semi-auto rifles, Merwin-Hulbert revolvers, Colt single action revolvers (some double action models are still affordable), high grade European double rifles and shotguns, SIG rifles, Uzi semi-autos, HK-91s/93s/94s, and Steyr AUG rifles. Rumor has it that the latter may be produced soon in the U.S. which would cause a crash in the price of pre-ban AUGs.Wait for the depth of the next recession to buy any of the aforementioned guns--when unemployed owners are dumping them in desperation.


A vault door may not be necessary unless you really need a blast door or you are very worried about theft. If you are far enough from a likely ground zero and able to at least somewhat hide your door, a steel fire door will probably suffice nicely. For bargains, look for commercial demolitions, or contact people or companies who do this. Tell them you are looking for a swinging conventional doorway sized steel fire door, preferably with the steel frame, dent and scratch is fine. If you must buy new, find a 90 minute rated steel fire door. They have cheaper ones for residential use--commercial is always at a premium. Consistent with the recommendations for safe room doors, you want minimum six points of attachment from door to frame. The best way to do this is three strong hinges with really heavy and deep screws on one side, and three deadbolts on the other side. You should space your deadbolts top, center, and bottom of the door handle side. To really be secure, add two more, top center and bottom center of the door. Go to a lock store or home hardware suppliers and get all deadbolts keyed the same. That can provide good security and protection at a more reasonable price. For combination entry, there are combination deadbolt locks also. For EMP concerns I would stay away from electronic ones. Those little key boxes that real estate agents use are nice, and can be hidden easily so you are never without a key. Rourke -

"A man oughta do what he thinks is right." - John Wayne as Hondo Lane, in Hondo

Sunday, March 19, 2006

300,000+ unique visits and more than 8.9 million hits in just seven months. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a success. Please spread the word by adding a small SurvivalBlog logo to your web site and to your e-mail footer. Thanks!

I am sure the readers are interested in the way that industrial produced freeze dried foods are made. I was a kashrut masgiach (kosher supervisor) at a major freeze dry producer in the United States before I emigrated to Israel. Mashgichim are flown all over the world to places where there is no Jewish community to certify the kosherness of foods for consumption by Jews. (The laws of kashrut are much too complex to describe here). The plant I certified had two major types of chamber one that was bus-sized and another that was the size of a minivan. Trays were fed in by an electrical railroad placed on the floor, hundreds if not thousands of pounds were freeze dried at a time. The chambers start out at below freezing when the vacuum is applied and as the time passes (the program depends on the food) the temperature is raised to (again depending on the food and its temperature tolerance) up to around 150° Fahrenheit. Freeze drying is simply quickly subliming away all of the water, the same thing that happens in freezer burn. Vacuum goes a long way to assist the subliming
process, at a vacuum of 20 mmHg, water will boil at 15°C stay below the boiling temp until almost all of the moisture is gone. Freeze drying keeps the food both feeling and tasting much fresher by maintaining the basic cellular structure of the food just desiccating. A standard food dehydrator which I have used at home radically changes both the mouth feel and flavor not to mention making for high re hydration times, there is also the question of how much nutrient is lost long term due to oxygen exposure. Vacuum pumps are available used for reasonable prices a coop might be able to purchase or build and run a small chamber. If anyone is feeling creative and builds their own freeze dry chamber, please write in with your results.

Hi Jim,
I just recently found your blog and love it! I was hoping you might be able to help me out. I've been trying to find Canadian sources for bulk food/storage supplies and had no luck. Do you happen to know of any? Thanks! - Kim

JWR Replies: I don't know of any major storage food packagers in Canada. Most are just distributors for U.S. packaged storage foods, and they tack on a substantial mark-up. They offer no real value added except for being on the far side of those pesky Customs Canada minions. To minimize shipping costs, you are probably best off ordering directly from a border state, like Idaho. Two firms that I recommend there are Walton Seed and Survival Enterprises. (The latter is one of our advertisers.)


I've considered as an emergency water supply the steady runoff from the cornfield behind us. It's always at least a steady trickle even in the driest part of summer. Will a Katadyn filter or similar remove pesticides or other chemicals from it? Or should I plan on a small water still? - Mike

JWR Replies: If working with field runoff, first use a pre-filter to remove sediment. Just a couple of thicknesses of T-shirts over a five gallon bucket works fine as a pre-filter. Using pre-filtered water will greatly extend the life of your primary filter. Next, to filter out the majority of herbicides and pesticides, you should use a two-stage filter such as a Katadyn Combi Plus filter. These are available from a variety of Internet mail order vendors, such as Dom's Outfitters. However, keep in mind that if runoff water ever become the your main supply of water in an extended disaster situation, no filter system is 100% effective at removing herbicides and pesticides. For that, you would need either a distillation or reverse osmosis system, which are far more complex and have large power requirements.


If left idle, a NiMH battery loses up to 1% of its original capacity per day. (This doesn't mean that it loses 100% in 100 days; rather, it means that after day one, it is at 99%, after day 2, it may be at 98.01%, etc. -- it will theoretically never reach 0%)

I bought a Grundig/Eton FRS250 hand crank radio a year ago. I used it every day for about two months and it would run for two or three hours on a two-minute crank. I then left it idle for about 8 months, after which time it would only play for about 10 minutes on a two minute crank. Needless to say, this is highly disappointing and constitutes a major flaw for preparation. (What good is an emergency hand crank radio if it doesn't work in an emergency?)

To (hopefully) remedy this problem, I recently ordered an adaptor/charger from the manufacturer (Eton). If you hook up the radio to the adaptor/charger and leave it plugged in, it will send a low-voltage trickle charge to the batteries to keep them "topped off." In theory, this should drastically extend the life of the batteries. Time will tell. If, six months from now, I can get still a few hours of play time on a full crank, then I will conclude that the trickle charger is the best solution to the NiMH problem. (Note that it is possible to "fry" NiMH batteries if the trickle charger is too powerful, so do your homework if you are shopping for one.)

Frankly, as popular as hand crank emergency radios have become, I am surprised that I have never read about this flaw in reviews and discussions. A lot of people who bought these radios and keep 'em in the box are going to be sorely disappointed when the lights go out and discover that their radio doesn't work because the batteries are nearly dead. (Of course, even if the batteries are dead, the radio will still play if yo u constantly turn the crank, but that doesn't sound too fun.)

Moral of the story: stock up on alkaline batteries just in case. - J.S. in Virginia

Hi Jim,
Regarding the question on the blog about storing NiMH batteries. Basically they do not store very well. Nor do they seem to last as long as they are advertised to. My company makes industrial equipment that uses small (2 AA cell equivalent capacity) NiMH battery packs. When we first started using them, we believed that they would last for five+ years and hundreds, if not thousands, of charge/discharge cycles. That was an expensive assumption for us. We have found them to last only for several hundred cycles and they tend to fail even before that number of charges if they are kept on a trickle charger. It also takes several charge/discharge cycles before they work at full capacity. We have also had a lot of failures with new batteries that have been sitting on the shelf for a year or so. In a survival situation, NiMH batteries self discharge from fully charged to empty in two-to-three months, so in a survival situation you will be starting with batteries of unknown charge. I generally would recommend against them. I have a bunch of NiMH AA cells for my camera, but the only practical way to charge them is using a charger plugged into my car. If you want to go solar, it will take will take a five watt solar panel of power and about a half a day to charge four typical AA NiMH cells of 2000 maH hours plus. My plans are built around my supply of alkaline AA/AAA cells that I rotate through every couple of years. I'm confident that even if they sit for 5 years in my refrigerator, my batteries will still have a good amount of available power. Regards, - P. Smith

More silver ETF news: The

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Update on Peak Oil:

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I've heard that there is now just one slot left for the next specialized Tactical Lifesaver Course. This class will be held on April 15-16, 2006, in Douglas, Georgia. A Iraq war vet Physician's Assistant (PA) will teach you a lot of skills that the American Red Cross doesn't. (Such as: how to prep an intravenous infusion, how to insert and orthopharyngeal airway, wound debridement, suturing, how to treat a sucking chest wound, and much more.) Don't neglect taking this course. See: Because this is a true "hands-on" course, space is limited. (Unlike pure lecture classes, which can be over-booked.)

"Hope you got your things together.
Hope you are quite prepared to die.
Looks like were in for nasty weather.
One eye is taken for an eye..." - Credence Clearwater Revival, Bad Moon Rising

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A vault door may not be necessary unless you really need a blast door or you are very worried about theft. If you are far enough from a likely ground zero and able to at least somewhat hide your door, a steel fire door will probably suffice nicely. For bargains, look for commercial demolitions, or contact people or companies who do this. Tell them you are looking for a swinging conventional doorway sized steel fire door, preferably with the steel frame, dent and scratch is fine. If you must buy new, find a 90 minute rated steel fire door. They have cheaper ones for residential use, commercial is always at a premium. Consistent with the recommendations for safe room doors, you want minimum of six points of attachment from door to frame. Best way to do this is three strong hinges with really heavy and deep screws on one side, and three deadbolts on the other side. You should space your deadbolts top, center, and bottom of the door handle side. To really be secure, add two more, top center and bottom center of the door. Go to a lock store or home hardware suppliers and get all deadbolts keyed the same. That can provide good security and protection at a more reasonable price. For combination entry, there are combination deadbolt locks also. For EMP concerns I would stay away from electronic ones. Those little key boxes that real estate agents use are nice, and can be hidden easily so you are never without a key. - Rourke (


I think that you could use the five gallon bucket to put your clothing in and treat it like we store the wheat--with a dry ice or nitrogen purge.

Lanyards are a great idea for a lot of gear. For example, I use foam ear plugs with string between them for less chance of losing them. At the retreat I use them in conjunction use the ear muffs over the ears. The uses of the nylon cord are limitless when you are out in the boonies: "Where are my glasses? For gloves, run string between them just like our moms did, down the sleeves in our coats. A lot of our equipment already has holes in the handles. as appropriate, make use of them for lanyards. You can pre-set the available radius with pinch [plastic sliding cord] locks. My dad once dropped an aluminum pipe wrench down a well. I told him: "Now you know what the hole in handle is for!" On my $ 3,000 Gen 3 night vision goggles, I never neglect to tie and tape a cord! Thanks for you time and effort, - Gordon P.S.: The $20 that I promised you for the "Ten Cent Challenge" is headed your way.

I was wondering if the following items that I already have are a good start on a survival kit and what else would be good to add on. Ruger .22/45 pistol, two 10 round magazines, stainless steel blade fishing knife with regular blade, gutting blade, small scissors, probe, and flashlight, cell phone with flashlight, Savage Arms .22 bolt action rifle with scope, salt packets, duct tape, cold cereal in a good sealed case, and a standard military issue canteen. Also, I was looking at a 12 gauge pump action over a .30-06 bolt action. Which would be better? Thank you for your time, I know I have a lot of work to do, but better safe than sorry. - Declan

JWR Replies: It sounds like you have made a good start at getting squared away. Keep up the good work. Build up your food storage systematically.

The choice of a rifle versus a shotgun involves your expected range of engagements. If you live in densely wooded country or an urban environment, the versatility of a shotgun makes sense. Otherwise, a .308 or .30-06 is more appropriate. As your budget allows, you will probably want to own both a large caliber rifle and a riot shotgun. Most likely in the interim between those two purchases you will want to get a major caliber handgun--at least a .40 S&W, but preferably a .45 ACP. Since you have been training with a Ruger .22/45, a M1911 probably makes sense. (The Ruger has its safety, slide release, and magazine release in the same locations as found on the venerable M1911.)

Logically think through the rest of what you might need in the event of a full scale collapse. Water storage and purification should be at the top of your list. For fixed site retreats, a British Berkefeld water filter is appropriate. In a tactical "on the move" situation, the smaller Katadyn filters work wonderfully. Both are available from Ready Made Resources and a number of other vendors.

A gent on the FALFiles Forums recommended some potential sources for Surefire 123A lithium batteries:
Amondo Tech: http://www.amondotech.comt
Battery Station:
Battery Junction:

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How the Asian Avian Flu May Affect Your Life: ABC News

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I mentioned last weekend that I had dropped by the gun show table run by Darryl Holland (of Holland's of Oregon), and sent him home a Browning A-Bolt bolt action rifle for muzzle threading with 1/2" x 28 threadsand installation of a Holland's muzzle brake. I was delighted to see that the barreled action arrived at our mail forwarding station today. Talk about a fast turnaround! He must have had it in his hands less than three days. The work was done flawlessly, as usual. I highly recommend Darryl's work. IMHO, "tacticalizing" your bolt action rifles (by threading their muzzles) is a must.The same threads can be used for Smith Enterprise Vortex flash hiders. (If it is for a .30 caliber rifle you will of course have to drill out the rear section of the flash hider for bullet clearance.) The folks at Holland's of Oregon really know their stuff, and they've proven once again that they can complete a muzzle threading order very quickly.

"The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas - a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Friday, March 17, 2006

We are gradually moving all of the existing SurvivalBlog posts into Moveable Type format, so that they will be full searchable archives. Until then, all of the posts up to March 15th will remain available as static archives at our old Archives page. Thanks for your patience!

Today we feature another entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006.

We have upgraded our ClustrMaps account, so that you can now zoom into see more precise locations for SurvivalBlog hits. For example, see our Ireland and UK map.

Since moving to Chenango County, New York in 2001, I have tried to do a bit of studying on the history of the area. My father lived in Fulton – North of Syracuse – as a boy and I spent the first 12 years of my life in Rhode Island with trips to the Upstate region for camping, family visits, etc. so I was not completely unfamiliar with the area. However, I had never really studied the history of the region and some of the things that I have found surprised me. I have always been fascinated by the catastrophes of the past – wars, epidemics, natural disasters, etc. and tend to study them. They can teach us about ourselves and of things to come. As they say, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it. What I have found is one of those things.

Many people may not be aware of it, but there was a summer here - shortly after settlers first moved to this area - that was no summer at all. That summer had a killing frost every month of the year. The cause of this calamity was located practically on the other side of the earth from New York - Mount Tambora, on the Island of Sumbawa in what is modern Indonesia. This volcano erupted from April 5th through April 18th of 1815. During that time it ejected anywhere from 25 to 43 cubic miles of debris into the atmosphere. Only 25 of the island's 12,000 inhabitants survived. As you will soon see the eruption of Tambora had worldwide effects.
For comparison, the Mount St. Helens eruption in 1980 ejected 0.67 cubic miles of debris – a piker! I was living 1,200 miles away from Mt. St. Helens - near Denver, Colorado - at the time and we had a fine layer of ash on everything and were informed that we should rinse things off before scrubbing them as the finish on a car – for example – could be ruined if one tried to scrub the ash off because it would act like sandpaper as it is essentially small particles of glass and stone. People with allergies and lung conditions were advised to avoid breathing the dust as it could aggravate their condition.

In any case, back to our story. The year 1816 started out to be a pretty easy one. The winter was slightly warmer than normal and fairly dry by most accounts I can find from New England and New York. When spring arrived, the temperature dropped somewhat, but nothing too severe and it remained dry. It was so dry, in fact, that local papers began to report on it. The Albany Advertiser stated they had " recollection of so backward a season...the length and severity of drought checked progress of vegetation, grass withered."
The dry, cold weather pattern continued until early May which delayed the start of planting in some places and the growth of crops that had been planted in others. However, the people suspected nothing because - as we all know - strange things can happen in springtime.

On May 12th a wave of cold air rolled down over the region – the northeast from coastal Connecticut down into Pennsylvania and Virginia was gripped by a frost. This weather lasted until around May 18. Then it moderated and with the increase in temperature came rain - soon farmers began their yearly ritual of planting. However, the warmth was only passing and on May 29th came a blast of cold arctic air - so cold that there was an inch of ice on many bodies of water. This too passed and those that hadn’t already started began their planting in early June.
On the 5th of June New England was basking in temperatures in the high 70’s and low 80’s. However, the weather was changing again. At the same time - from Quebec to Pittsburgh - another cold front began to move in. This one brought frosts with it as well. June 6th brought snow and cold to most areas. It snowed for hours in Elizabethtown, NY and many places had killing frosts. Wild birds roosted inside barns to try to stay warm and many died where they sat. Newly shorn sheep died in the fields from the cold. Crops were killed by the frost, most fruit trees lost their blossoms and many trees lost their newly formed leaves. It was beginning to look very bad for the farmers of the region. In fact, the Quebec Gazette warned: " . . . nothing which may provide sustenance for man or beast ought to be neglected..."
After this cold front passed farmers rapidly began planting crops such as Barley, potatoes and beets that could make it to maturity by the usual fall freezes.

Remember that this was before hybridized and genetically engineered crops that mature more rapidly.
The rest of June brought warm temperatures. July started off well but on the 6th of July another cold front came that brought frost to many areas. Lake and river ice was observed as far south as Pennsylvania and huge temperature fluctuations accompanied the front. Some places experienced temperatures of 95 degrees during the day and dropped to below freezing within hours. Overall it was a disaster for local farmers.
August had more of the same. On the 13th, frost returned again to central New York and most of the crops that were growing were killed off. Even pastures and hay were doing poorly. August 28th brought more frost and the drought continued.

By September farmers had all but given up, although some planted winter crops to have them ready as soon as possible the next spring. Corn and other grain prices soared. Oats, for example, rose from a high of 12 cents a bushel during 1815 to 92 cents a bushel in 1816! In the spring of 1817, the worst of the shortage appeared. For example in DeRuyter, a farmer was forced to dig up some of his newly planted potatoes to get food on the table. The town sent an agent to Onondaga County to look for wheat and corn. When he returned and it was learned that he had been successful, it brought a "great rejoicing to the citizenry and tears to strong men's eyes."

The spring of 1817 brought some very high prices indeed. Corn was four to five dollars per bushel (prices not seen again until the 1970’s - over 150 years later!), and in some places wheat sold for any price that was asked. Many people barely survived and this brought about the great western migration toward Ohio and Indiana as farmers sought places with better weather conditions.

The strange weather brought about all around the world that year also brought us two classics of fiction. A woman named Mary Shelly and a man named John Polidori were both vacationing at a literary gathering that summer on Lake Geneva in Switzerland and were forced inside by the cold and dreary weather. The group huddled around the fire and told each other stories to pass the time. Both ended up publishing their stories. Mary Shelly’s was entitled “The Modern Prometheus” which is better known as “Frankenstein” and John Polidori’s was entitled “The Vampyre” better known to many as the modern Count Dracula. Both have been immortalized in film a number of times.

These days we do sometimes see some strange weather, but nothing like this. In my experience, people tend to believe that weather and famines of this type are things of the past and cannot happen any more, but we are not immune. In fact, modern farmers support many more people per acre of land than those farmers did in 1816 so we would, in fact, be in worse condition. How well will we fare when God sends the next year without a summer our way?

I'm just curious to your thoughts on this. Like you, I believe silver is going to gain a lot of momentum in the near future. The wife and I are out of debt and sitting on some paper investments that I'm unable to move out of for various reasons.
I'm thinking of taking a home equity loan (our house is paid off) out and purchasing approximately $30,000 in silver and turning around and selling throughout what I feel will be the climb in silver prices. Of course we would pay off the loan but hope to reap the profits and possibly purchasing retreat acreage. I understand land prices are bloated but see this an opportunity towards usable hard assets. I don't have much in the way of free cash due to our lowly salaries but am thinking this might provide us some leverage. Of course I understand that your not liable for any advice I'd just like to bounce this off of someone else in the same mindset of what's going on in the world. Thanks in advance, - JS

JWR Replies: I think that what you suggest would be unwise. In a deep recession or a depression you will want to be debt free. That is the conservative course of action. But of course, I'm very conservative in my investing...

Letter from The Army Aviator Re: Advice on Long Term Moth-Proof Clothing Storage?


This might not be the most sterling principal advised on this forum but so far it's worked for me: I pack my clean folded clothes in garbage bags for orderliness. I put a handful of mothballs in the bottom of a big plastic garbage can. (The typical green ones with a black lid.) Then goes a sheet of cardboard on top of the mothballs. Then I put the bags of clothes into it and for short term just slap on the lid and seal with good military fiber tape. For long term, I apply a thin seal of silicon on the lip between lid and can prior to taping. I may just be lucky but I haven't lost anything in the last 20 years or so. No bugs, no mouse or rat damage., No holes eaten away. See what good clean living and luck will do for you? :-) Of course, I might mention, these cans are stored away from daylight, which helps.

As to Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt's recommendation on "canned tuna and powdered milk under your bed" ...I guess there will always be water available to reconstitute the milk with ______? Just like New Orleans, won't there? Best regards to all, - The Army Aviator

SurvivalBlog reader J.K. mentioned that FEMA has a very informative booklet available, "Taking Shelter From The Storm" See: This booklet includes case studies and engineering drawing for several different safe room locations.

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SurvivalBlog reader Overhill spotted this Asian Avian Flu planning guide from Uncle Sugar:

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And you thought that the U.S. 1994 "Assault Weapons" ban was dead and buried--or at least "sunsetted"? Guess again. The ultra-liberal wing of the U.S. Senate has re-introduced it, as new legislation. (S. 645) The sponsors are mostly "the usual suspects": Lautenberg, Corzine, Schumer, Boxer, Kennedy, Durbin, Mikiluski, Sarbanes, Reed, Akaka, Dodd, and of course Hitlery Clinton. Time to call your senator's office and get this piece of Schumer stopped, pronto.

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As cited in Wednesday's issue of The Daily Reckoning, The Mortgage Bankers Association expects U.S. mortgage originations to drop off
by 20% this year; it says refinancing should fall by 40%.

“I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.” - John Wayne as J.B. Books in The Shootist

Thursday, March 16, 2006

No one seems to know about storing new NiMH batteries pre-charging for a long term, I wouldn't try it with testing it for several years first as any chemicals of this type age with time. Here is some specific info on the storage and longevity of NiMH batteries, from Wikipedia and other battery FAQs. They are your best bet for power density and economy for rechargeables, but for really long term storage 5-10 years the single use Lithium type batteries are the best (and are available in AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt sizes).

Disposable alkaline batteries are designed to be used only once. Even if never taken out of the original package, disposable (or "primary") batteries can lose two to twenty-five percent of their original charge every year.

Many people believe that storing batteries at cool temperatures, such as in the refrigerator, reduces the rate of these side reactions and extends the storage life of the battery -- this may have been true in the past with older technology batteries. Modern batteries should be stored in a dry place and at normal room temperatures.

All rechargeable batteries self-discharge more rapidly than disposable alkaline batteries. In fact, they can self-discharge up to three percent a day (again, depending on temperature).

With the exception of lead-acid batteries, most NiMH batteries can be recharged 500-1000 times while NiCd batteries can only be recharged about approximately 400 times. Nickel metal hydride batteries have a high self-discharge rate of approximately 30% per month and more. This is higher than that of NiCd batteries, which is around 20% per month.

Like any rechargeable battery, even the one in your car, some capacity will be lost after a certain amount of time when rechargeable batteries are stored and not used for extended periods of time.. Normally all that is required with most NiMH batteries is to run them through 3 charge / discharge cycles and normally this will revive them to full capacity. Also keep in mind that even when used on a regular basis, some capacity is lost with each cycle, although very small.

Dear James:
Since I am tied to the outer edge of a major metro area for business and family reasons I have been wrestling with an alternative to a car or truck as a bug out vehicle (BOV).I am very worried about an EMP strike sooner or later - it just makes too much sense from an enemy's point of view, so EMP-proofing is critical in my book. By the way, the Lights Out online novel about an EMP strike is a very good read, and it gets you thinking of many factors that are not obvious at first glance. After thinking it through, motorcycles look to be the best "Get Out of Dodge" vehicle if the roads are all clogged with debris, crowds or stationery vehicles, etc., etc., as you can weave around obstacles, and go off-road if need be. You give up the carrying capacity and protection of a few thousand pounds of steel, but you get more mobility, the ability to squeeze through tight spots, and to go off-road on trails, sidewalks, utility rights of way, etc., etc.So I was looking for a motorcycle, specifically a diesel, because of the reduced fire hazard from diesel versus gas, so you can store it more safely (especially important when carrying fuel cans). And, if memory serves, diesel stores significantly longer to boot. The ideal situation: you fuel your EMP-proof diesel truck, and your motorcycle BOV out of the same fuel canister (and keep your bike BOV in the back of the truck, or on a trailer.) Once upon a time, there was a fair selection of diesel bikes, see: Now you have the new military diesel motorbike:
but $19,000 :-O for one of 200 "collector bikes" made this year seems a little steep for a motorbike - diesel mil-spec or not.The only well-supported DIESEL bike I have found is a newer entry into the off-road bike market called the Ecorider (The Hippo model.) Advantages: DIESEL, very robust, very reliable, quiet, light at 330 lbs., can tow 500+ lbs. (comes with tow bar), idiot-proof to ride (no shifting other than reverse, very low and High, all done when you are stationary) and the diesel engine gets 120 mpg!!! Made in Scotland, of all places, with high quality, mostly European parts. German Hatz engine which, I'm told is well supported in the US. Disadvantages: Only goes 32 mph (maybe 35+ pushing it), but you probably don't want to be speeding your way into TSHTF trouble anyway. Proceeding extremely cautiously is the best way, as is so well illustrated in the "road trip" in Patriots. Does have some EMP-vulnerable electronics in the Glow Plug controller. But, worst case, if these are fried and no battery, I'm told that some vigorous pull-starting should heat things up enough for a cold-weather start (electric AND pull start standard). Any engineers with expert opinion on this? There is also a fuel line solenoid, but this can be manually bypassed as well. Does not have power to BOTH wheels like the gas-powered Rokon (, but unlike the Rokon, has no critical electronics in a gas engine ignition, and looks to be a higher quality design (and the Ecorider is $1,000 less expensive)
Just in case I sound like a salesman for Ecorider - I'm not! Just looking forward to adding one to my preparations. I'll keep you posted on my experience riding and trailer hauling capabilities. Regards, OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Safes and safe doors are a statement of the times. I have to laugh and gasp when I see those old glass fronted, wood gun cabinets of our grandfathers generation. Today they make good bookshelves or curio cabinets... with that in mind, I would really appreciate it if you could sometime look into finding someone or some firm that makes an affordable "do it yourself" gun safe or a walk in safe door. Lets face it, many of us are on a shoestring budget, long on talent and time but short on money. Short of stumbling upon an absolute "steal" at an estate sale etc, (and I have been too late in all cases to buy them) there has to be an alternative to just "buying" a safe solution from a high dollar dealer. Even with several makers close by, I find their prices still too high for our budget. There are those of us not really interested in buying a safe designed to survive an encounter with the devils own firestorm, or one that is affordable but to small to provide any storage. Some simply want to prevent or slow down an intruder, and provide a greater peace of mind- there has to be an alternative. Perhaps if you or someone out there is knowledgeable and very creative, a reader perhaps could share their experiences with low, or no budget walk in safe door designs. Perhaps someone has converted a former Navy ship door or blast door for that purpose. And perhaps they would be willing to share how they constructed a good camouflage for that walk-in door... Going one step closer, I would encourage anyone out there with the skills and talents who has done such a project to consider marketing their idea and making it available to a niche of buyers who might be interested in such affordable products. Thanks. - Boosters

A BBC crew is filming a documentary on life at a Fairhaven Hutterite settlement near Ulm, Montana. See:

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Col. Jeff Cooper's Commentaries are now available at:

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Fox News warns of housing bubble pinprick:,2933,187831,00.html

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I just heard from Vic at Safecastle (one of our advertisers) that there has been a rush of large orders for Mountain House freeze dried foods because of Asian Avian Flu preparations. Order fulfillment timetables are now two months out, as many of the Mountain House foods are now out of stock. However, Vic can still take orders for SurvivalBlog readers at the deep discounts previously mentioned here, and he will still offer free shipping on any order booked before March 31. But be aware that delivery will now take a couple of months. Get your order in soon, to take advantage of the sale price and to get delivery before the backlog stretches out any farther!

"...and after a century of war I remember that which matters most: we are still here!" - Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Matrix Reloaded

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Special Thanks to SurvivalBlog reader Doug H. who out of the kindness of his heart utilized some arcane scripting voodoo to add an anchor to each entry in The SurvivalBlog Glossary. Henceforth, clicking on each link to the Glossary will result in a specific entry being displayed. For example, try clicking on: "TEOTWAWKI." Note that it will take us a while to go back through and retrofit all of the existing Glossary links, to make them properly "targeted." Thanks for your patience.

The recent string of tornados in the Midwest clearly illustrate that point that every family should have a very sturdy vault/safe room. Just a standard basement will not suffice as a shelter.The following newspaper quote came in the aftermath of a tornado in 2005: "...According to Rizzo, Harold O. Orlofske, 54, who died in the Stoughton tornado, had properly sought safety in the basement of his home but was killed when the chimney collapsed onto him..." (See: USA Today Article)

If properly constructed, one room can simultaneously fill several vital roles: Walk-in gun vault, storm shelter, fallout shelter, and panic room. By planning ahead and with only a bit more expense, you can also devise a hidden entrance to your shelter. An example of a well executed under-garage shelter was built by SurvivalBlog reader Rourke. (The gent that moderates the Yahoo Survival Retreat and Secure Home Forum) Don't miss Rourke's shelter/vault construction photos at:

There are lots of vendors that construct either basement or above ground safe/shelters. But beware: There are a lot of designs that cut corners. Some reputable vendors include: Gaffco (in New York, New York), Ready Made Resources(one of our loyal advertisers, in Tellico Plains, Tennessee), Remagen Safe Rooms (in Monteagle, Tennessee), SafeCastle (another one of our loyal advertisers, in Minnesota), (in Tulsa, Oklahoma), and (in Decatur, Texas).

If you want to have the work done by a local contractor, vault doors are also available separately from a variety of firms. For example: Chief's Security and Safes (in Dallas, Texas), Fort Knox (sold through distributors throughout the U.S.), Oregon Trail Safe Company (in Hermiston, Oregon), and Rhino Safe (in Caldwell, Idaho).

As ABC news reported: "In a remarkable speech over the weekend, Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt recommended that Americans start storing canned tuna and powdered milk under their beds as the prospect of a deadly bird flu outbreak approaches the United States..." See:

A great deal of discussion regarding emergency kits, bug out bags, and general storage of necessities always dominates survival and preparedness related literature, web sites and blogs. I was wondering if anyone had any knowledge of the best way to pack clothing for long-term storage. Ideally, vacuum sealing of individual items as well as a complete days worth of clothing would be best, however in the absence of a close to anaerobic environment that would keep out moisture as well as most fiber eating insects such as moths from staying alive to eat holes in your clothes, what can be done to kill or neutralize insects from destroying clothing? Not everyone can afford a vacuum sealer and the costly bags that are necessary. Maybe there is a method to use common good quality garbage bags and "zip lock" bags for success. Are common mothballs sufficient to render insects dead? if so how many etc, Do any readers have any suggestions or old fashioned methods that would be helpful? Are there any Homemakers who might be able to render advice, Are there any web sites dedicated to this topic, Maybe a military Tech Manual dealing with warehousing of items might be available? I think this topic is worth exploring. Thanks, - Boosters

The Memsahib Replies: We have tried several brands of commercially-made vacuum storage bags over the years, and have been disappointed by all of them. Nothing bigger that the small Food Saver bags (which we use for socks and other small articles of clothing) seems to hold its seal for a long period of time. Either the plastic breaks down and the bags develop splits, or they get punctured with handling, or the various sealing mechanisms don't retain their airtight integrity. :-( Do any SurvivalBlog readers know of a brand that really works for long term storage?

Mr. Rawles,
Katie bar the door, get your beans and bullets, now. Driving into work I heard the supreme potentate Sean Hannity himself say that he had a stockpile of food as well as a separate broadcast facility closer to his house with generator back-up and its own satellite feed for when “times got bad.” His caller was giving Sean the Mormon guide to foodstuff stocking per adult per year. I don’t know what the lead in for this discussion was about, it might have been Asian Avian flu or the Iran situation, but I thought it was interesting that a national audience heard a national commentator state he had a stockpile in place and thought it was a good idea. I bet Sam’s Club will be overrun tomorrow morning.

Speaking of Bird Flu, I am a nurse in an ER in Texas and we (Doctors/Nurses) just had to complete an internal continuing education course on how to contend with a flu pandemic. After finishing the course we (nurses) came to the conclusion that when this transpires there will not be enough supplies/medication/respirators/positive pressure rooms to go around. It will be beyond most humans’ comprehension how fast the medical infrastructure as we know it will crumble.

A side note on the ammunition threads that have popped up lately. I have the great fortune of living near Cabela’s, Cheaper Than Dirt and numerous Academy Sporting Good stores. Academy has virtually NO handgun ammunition on the shelf in any store. The clerk told me there would be none in the foreseeable future because their warehouses have none. Cheaper Than Dirt has NO 7.62 [NATO] on the shelf and has had none for the last two months. I was at Cabela’s last week and they had the handgun ammo and .223 but I could not find 7.62. The local gun show in Dallas this past weekend did have all types of ammo and that situation was taken advantage of, believe me. I would advise stocking up ASAP, guns/ammo sales are skyrocketing. R.S., RN

A 50/50 chance of mutation and then up to 50% of the world's population dead?Yikes! This one is a must read:

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Arab Central Banks Switch Some Assets from Dollars to Euros. See:

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I just heard thatReady Made Resources has received some scarce late issue digital TA -1042A/U U.S. military field telephones, brand new in the box. This is the current issue type requires a four conductor wire (or two runs of standard WD-1 commo wire.) The good news is that you can talk in full duplex! Any 12 volt power source works fine: a car battery, motorcycle battery, or a pair of lantern batteries. You can talk point-to-point with these without having go through a switchboard. They have just a few pairs available, so don't hesitate.

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Bill Bonner, editor of The Daily Reckoning cites an ominous piece that ran in The Wall Street Journal: “More than $2 trillion of U.S. mortgage debt, or about a quarter of all mortgage loans outstanding, comes up for interest-rate resets in 2006 and 2007,” reports the WSJ this morning. “...some borrowers will have trouble meeting the higher payments and may be forced to sell their homes or could lose their homes to foreclosures.”

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Bernanke: Budget Deficits Endanger Economy:

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Climate change 'irreversible' as Arctic sea ice fails to re-form:

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More on the Silver Exchange Traded Fund: here

"Thou [art] my hiding place and my shield: I hope in thy word. Depart from me, ye evildoers: for I will keep the commandments of my God. Uphold me according unto thy word, that I may live: and let me not be ashamed of my hope. Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe: and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.
Thou hast trodden down all them that err from thy statutes: for their deceit [is] falsehood. Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth [like] dross: therefore I love thy testimonies." - Psalm 119:114-119 (KJV)

Special Thanks to SurvivalBlog reader Doug H. who out of the kindness of his heart utilized some arcane scripting voodoo to add an anchor to each entry in The SurvivalBlog Glossary. Henceforth, clicking on each link to the Glossary will result in a specific entry being displayed. For example, try clicking on: "TEOTWAWKI." Note that it will take us a while to go back through and retrofit all of the existing Glossary links, to make them properly "targeted." Thanks for your patience.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

As a "very long time" survivalist, I read everything I can get. I also enjoy your website as it is the most informative one out there! Now for my problem: I was diagnosed with what is called Celiac Sprue. This is a horrible allergy to anything that contains Gluten, such as wheat, barley, and rye. What this means is that if I were to eat anything that contained Gluten I will come down with extremely bad cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and fever. Basically, It feels like I have the flu but ten times worse. As you can see this makes buying large bulk items for long term storage difficult and costly. My question to all is this: Can I get a dehydrator and an automatic sealer and vacuum to make my own MREs? I am talking about things like Thai noodles (various flavors, all Gluten free), hydrate and cook them and then turn around and use a dehydrator to make them dehydrated, or, just seal them in a pouch minus the air and use them as long term pre-packaged/MRE type food? Does anybody have any experience in doing just this? Thanks, - Thunderchief

JWR Replies: Home dehydrators are very useful! Over the years, we have used ours for everything from drying venison jerky and apples, to "reanimating" silica gel rust preventative packets. Dehydrators easy to find used for reasonable prices, via a newspaper "want" ad, or a localized web service like Craig's List. Dehydrators are a bit bulky to buy via mail order, so try to find a local source first.) If purchased new, they can be quite expensive. The one that we use at the Rawles Ranch is an Excalibur brand, with a variable temperature control. They are very sturdy and typically have lots of trays, so they can hold a lot. Ours is circa 1980, and still going strong, with no maintenance. They require AC power, so in anticipation of he grid going down, you should already have a backup solar dehydrator, or at least all of the materials that you will need to fabricate one, after TSHTF.(See: and, and OBTW, rolls of window screen are great to keep on hand at a retreat, just on general principle. For build ing a dehydrator, a spring house, or a meat house, they will prove invaluable!) You can use the trays from your Excalibur in a properly dimensioned DIY solar dehydrator if you don't get it too hot.

As for a vacuum sealer, the brand that we like and have used for more than 10 years--is the Tilia Foodsaver Compact. Yep, it the one that you've seen on those late night "infomercials." They really do work, both for evacuating and sealing plastic bags, and for evacuating Mason-type jars. To save money, it is probably best to buy one of these used, through eBay. Just be sure that the seller guarantees it against being DOA. Test it thoroughly, immediately after you buy it. Be advised that they are only designed to seal one particular thickness of plastic bags, and they have a limited maximum width.You should shop around for bags and bag material on the Internet as prices vary dramatically!

Check out the outdoor survival and land navigation resources at Survival Monkey. This is are also a site where you can read the full text of the EMP web novel "Lights Out." See: (OBTW, Survival Monkey is not to be confused with Trunk Monkey. I love those commercials!)

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Mr. Bravo mentioned that prices are falling on lithium batteries for Surefire (and similar) high-performance flashlights and lasers. The batteries do not have to be expensive (up to $10 each at the camera department!) There are many discount online sources that sell them in bulk for not much more than a dollar a piece. Even Surefire sells them for under $2 per battery. See:

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I've received several positive e-mails from readers who have bought traps, snares, and gill nets from Buckshot's Camp. Now that Mr and Mrs. Buckshot have completed their move, they have cleared up their backlog of orders.So if you were waiting because of their move, there is no more need to hesitate. Get your orders in. Start studying their instructional DVDs, and try out their gear this Spring. Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, I can't think of any other survival preparation that can do more to ensure that you can feed your family in a long term emergency. Don't overlook this aspect of your training and preparedness!

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I found a great vendor that sells the latest generation FN-FAL para kits and parts. See:

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Why would anyone want to live in New Jersey?What a nightmare for gun owners. See:

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?"
- William Butler Yeats

As a public service in support of military, police, and citizen marksmanship, is pleased to provide web site space for The Target Tracker System© (TTS) and The Target Tracker System - Law Enforcement© (TTSLE). Just click on the Free Targets / Logs button in our top bar and then click on the links for the .zip files. Our sincere thanks to DBG, who donated these products as a fundraising vehicle for SurvivalBlog!

While living on the dry side of the state of Oregon [eastern Oregon] while in college, my bugout plan always included heading to one of two prepped positions one a cramped remote cabin and some buckets of food and gear the other a friend who had well prepared but was too close to a highway. Circumstances would have dictated which to go to. In winter, my plan was to ski and sled in my gear. Without the assistance of a massive snow plowing network, much of the northern United States would be locked-in, once winter arrived. Almost all logging roads and highways would be closed until the snow melts. This seasonal closure can actually work for your retreat, by providing cheap security--filtering to just a tiny number of Sno-cats and snowmobiles with any possible access. I will leave discussion of snowmobiles, sleighs, and dog teams to an expert.

What you need:
Skis & Ski climbing (skins and/or wax and klister)
Collapsible shovel
Sleeping gear
High calorie foods
Powerful stove

You must become comfortable with your gear experience is the best way. I started with surplus Ramer bindings and upgraded to Silveretta 300s using military double chamber touring skis. Some prefer Telemark bindings over the randonee bindings. I stayed with the double chamber to take advantage of using climbing wax,
turning was not a major concern since I was not planning to be a sport user. I bought about 10 sets of military synthetic Ramer brand strap on skins at $5 a pair and
converted several to sticky on. There may be much better gear on the market now see if you can rent from a shop before you buy. Plastic mountaineering boots are warm comfortable and you can carry several liners if they get wet, assuming that you are sleeping warm you can take the liners into your sleeping bag. A mountaineering boot is designed for crampon use or direct walking on rock and ice for extended periods of time almost all have a hiking boot type vibram sole. While they are not the ideal for sport skiing control, a randonee binding is designed to fit this type of boot.

Your sled can be anything from a long kids sled and rope (better if you put PVC pipe extenders to a belt for downhill control) to expensive rescue or military models the better the sled the longer the life and usually easier to control in a downhill mode. [JWR Adds: For a team of four or more people, the large U.S. Army "Ahkio" sled is excellent. They can occasionally be found at DRMO auctions at military posts like Sierra Army Depot; California; Fort Carson, Colorado; Fort Drum, New York; and Fort Greeley, Alaska.]

The packable snow shovel a back country skiers friend dig you a nice burrow into the snow so you stay cozy no matter how cold it gets, digs out avalanche victims, and helps make igloo blocks. Be careful and build a safe snow cave. If you like snow caves a Goretex bivvy bag is a good way to keep your sleeping bag dry, don't forget an insulating layer (foam, thermarest, pine boughs, cardboard, etc). If you prefer a tent be sure it is a true four season tent, designed to withstand heavy snow and wind.
High calorie foods with lots of fats and protein are important in winter ops both for warmth and endurance. High protein and fat diets will require much higher water intake to metabolize. A Camelbak worn over your belly and sipped regularly is ideal. BTW, a gulp of olive oil before bed raises your body temp a little to
digest keeping you warm at night. Water generation in a snow-covered environment is harder than it sounds. Forget eating snow it is water negative once you calculate the calories required for your body to melt and heat it. Consider it a worthless junk food. To melt snow you must carry a pot and a proper stove. The MSR series especially the XGK are made for blasting snow into water in a few minutes and they burn like an F-14's engine ready for a carrier catapult launch! Use large stainless steel camp set pot if possible because there is a potential for dry spots at first and aluminum may burn, adding melted water helps spread the heat much faster.

An Aside: Bunny Socks
As almost nobody packs enough wool socks to last forever remember that rabbit skin after it is washed and tanned can be worn with the fur side to the feet, to winterize a pair of boots--especially in the absence of proper socks. These also make inner moccasins for your outer leathers if you have to make your own boots.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Where to begin? I have to preface this letter by thanking you for making me aware of Front Sight Resorts. I had heard of it before, but had not understood the value that waits, nor the reality of the training. This is the best investment I have made.
I decided to take a Four Day Defensive Handgun class at Front Sight. I found myself second-guessing my investment of both money and time away from work/family. The concern of the investment ended as soon as I met the staff. Talk about Qualified! Let's say Over Qualified. I don't want to get into details as it would not be coming from a professional that is trained to teach like only the professionals at Front Sight can do.
I would say that I started the course with "an appreciation" and "hobbyist" type handgun shooter mentality. I can guarantee that I had fired less than 1,500 rounds through a handgun before heading to the course.
In the course, constructed of lecture, tactical, hands on, and firing type curriculum, we went through approximately 850 rounds of ammo bringing my totals to a modest 2,350 rounds ever fired through a handgun of which I had only fired 150 rounds through the weapon/tool that I took to the course before enrolling! (As a side note, I very much give you the advice of taking a Glock brand handgun for this course simply for maximum benefit). Other type handguns were very specific on how you perform tactics and safety. It freed up time to focus on the training and not be distracted by the numerous operations of other type handguns such as Berettas. (You can rent a gun while there as well.)
The days are very intense, not information overload, but information sponge! This is priceless instruction. I can guarantee that my instructors were the perfect marriage for any type learning, thus giving you maximum retention. I felt that I had received my "money's worth" in the first two days. In enrolling in the four day course, I soon realized that if you make the commitment to go to Front Sight, make it a full commitment and go for four days. I went from basics to Professional by staying the additional two days.
Here are some tips for when you go, (not if you go).
1. Flush your pride down the toilet before you attend
2. Focus on the reason you are there
3. Realize that everything you learn WILL benefit you and your loved ones
4. Use your ears, not your mouth while there
5. Realize that there are only a handful of professionals at the course. (The instructors, not you)
6. YOU WILL MAKE HUGE GAINS in knowledge, tactics, and marksmanship.
7. Just because Las Vegas is close does not mean you go there while in training!
8. Every night's sleep is too short. You wake up practicing, you think about what you've learned, you anticipate the next day. There is no time for partying!
9. Plan scientific meals. (I took current Issue MREs) for lunch. The energy this provided me gave me an advantage in retention and ability.
10. Dry Practice EVERY night.
11. Set a goal, achieve it or surpass it as I did.
12. You may feel intimidated by your peers, (So What). Will you not feel intimidated by a potential assailant? Our group ranged from the basic service type jobs to Doctors, Attorneys, SWAT Team Members, Policemen, EMTs, and Housewives.
13. Every student is one more person that may save your life some day, give them respect, give them advice, take their advice. We all have the same goals!
14. Many students were returning students, (some on their fourth visit to this particular course. Some came from as far away as New York). Thus giving relevance to obtaining a membership in which you can attend specific classes as many times as you like for the rest of your life.
15. Practice Perfect Practice. I did this at a speed in which I was slower than everyone else, but on testing day, the speed came naturally as the technique was perfected. I was awarded "Distinguished Graduate" on my first course to Front Sight, performing at 90% or more in the tactics and shooting tests. I believe there were four others awarded likewise. Some of the Distinguished Graduates were returning students during our week.
16. Block out distractions. (Make a plan, and have someone cover your job, family life, etc. for you). I did not take my cell phone to Front Sight ever. I saw many getting distracted and missing valuable information for whatever reason.
17. Make a commitment towards ongoing practice/ training. You could be a Rambo one day, and a bumbling idiot the next. Learn, practice = retention.

I would love to give specifics, as these are countless. But in doing so, I could be poisoning the well. Go there with an open mind; be ready to change your techniques. You will come away with more benefit in just a few days than you could possibly ever imagine. I now have a confidence that I have never felt before, and best of all; I feel that I owe it to my family. I know that I will be there for them. - The Wanderer

For a non tactical flashlight (momentary/click button on bottom) I prefer the Underwater Kinetics flashlight. These use four size AA batteries.They are widely used as firefighter helmet lights and survive well, even in fire/ground abuse environments. I try to keep everything standardized to AA and have a large stock of NiMH and lithium-ion rechargeables around. For long term kit storage the comments about 9 VDC lithium is right on, AA lithium batteries are also available in the camera section and can be expected to last much longer in storage than alkalines. I try to avoid CR-123 tactical and laser gear as both the rechargeable and disposable cells are quite expensive.

JWR Adds: Underwater Kinetics also makes some very rugged Pelican-style hard cases.

There have been a few posts about batteries lately and a question I have been unable to find an answer to is:

Do Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries have a limited storage life before they are put into service (receive their first electric charge)? It would be nice to know if I can buy a quantity and store them away until needed. I've not seen this addressed anywhere and maybe you know or one of your readers knows the answer. Regards, - Keith

JWR Replies: That goes beyond my base of knowledge.  Would any readers care to chime in on this one?

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent." - President Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Note from JWR:  Please help boost the worldwide readership of SurvivalBlog. We now have readers in 40+ countries!  (See: ) Please tell all of your friends and relatives that live overseas about the blog, especially ex-pats, and deployed military service members. And for those of you in the corporate world, please tell your co-workers that are at off-shore centers. Thanks!

In response to The Army Aviator: Sodium silicate a.k.a. waterglass might be able to make wood water resistant. I would treat a shingle and then test it with a blow torch.

I am a big proponent of Barricade gel which is the same dry gel which is in baby diapers. (See: ) It was available in a home protection kit and is probably the next best thing to a house-sized fire shelter but for a much lower price. The only problem is that Barricade needs to be sprayed on around 24 hours before the flames come. Otherwise it will dry out and become less effective. - David

I apologize if you've already covered this in previous archives - I searched several, but not all, of your blog archives. I did see your comment, "Wheat stores for 20+ years..." I have a LOT of wheat purchased in 1979 after reading Howard Ruff's "How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years." I have other items - Navy and other types of beans. It is by Neo-Life, "NEST" storage, "Nitro-Guard" protection - it was stored in #10 cans purged with with nitrogen. So it is all 25+ years old. I have been storing this stuff in my basement, which is cool and mostly dry, on 2x4's up off the floor. I keep the humidity below 40% with a de-humidifier. My question is, have these items lost enough of their nutrition value to where it would be a waste of time trying to use them? My wife wants to throw it all out, and I probably will, unless you someone can point me to a source that would say this stuff is probably still good to use. Surprisingly, "Google" has failed me this time - I spent several hours looking for an answer, to no avail (I have used Google for literally hundreds of searches and it almost always gets the information I need.) What do you think? - Mike from Chicago

JWR Replies: Some items like salt will store for centuries as long as they are not contaminated by the rust or decay of their containers. If stored dry, hard red winter wheat still retains 98% of it nutritive value after 20 years. Ditto for sugar or honey. Most dehydrated foods, (such as rice, beans, TVP, and the ubiquitous Neo-Life Stroganoff) will have lost too much nutritive value to be useful after 27 years, even if they were nitrogen packed.  They might still be palatable, but unless you are dieting, what is the use of eating them if they have lost 90% of their nutritive value? My advice:  If in doubt, throw it out. Ideally, you should continuously rotate your storage food to avoid such waste. If nothing else, mark the cans/cases of your subsequent batches of storage food, so that you can religiously use the oldest lots first.

One tidbit of trivia for you:  Some wheat that was found in an Egyptian pharaoh's tomb. A small fraction of it still sprouted after 2,600 years. If you have any canned gardening seeds, try them out.  The sprouting yields will be low, but there could be some marginal utility there. Just don't expend too much effort tilling and tending those those rows in your garden!  BTW, the same logic applies to canned sprouting seeds.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I read on The Claire Files that you think silver will be going to $40 an ounce. My spouse and I can't agree when we should sell our 8,000 ounces of silver. I think we should hang on to it all until it gets to $20 and ounce then sell. But my spouse thinks we should start selling now. What do you think? By the way, we purchased most of it at $5 an ounce in the form of 100 ounce bars. We also have about a bag and a half of "junk" silver dimes.- F.L.

JWR Replies:  First, you need to distinguish between a core holding (for barter), and what you bought for investment purposes. My advice is to sell your family core holding--perhaps 800 to 1,500 ounces--only as a last resort. As for the rest, be dispassionate about selling it. Don't try to time the top of the market. Since spot silver is currently at around $9.80/oz., (and it was recently $10.18) so it is has essentially doubled since you bought it. At present, you could sell half of it and recoup your original investment, and still be sitting on 4,000 ounces at essentially no cost. (BTW, don't forget to consider both taxes and the "opportunity cost" of missing out on the interest that you would have otherwise earned in a dollar-denominated investment during he same years that you held the silver.)

There is an old saying on Wall Street: "Bulls make money, and bears make money, but pigs get slaughtered." If you wait until silver hits some magic/arbitrary number, you might miss the peak, and hence get slaughtered when the metals go back into a bear market cycle. That is what happened to a lot of folks, back around 1981. When silver ran up past $35 an ounce, they decided to hold on "a little while longer." Oink oink. Big mistake. They should have gradually averaged their way out, during the second half of the the run-up.

Based on my assumption that you have 80 bars (100 ounce bars) that had a purchase cost of $500 each, here is my specific advice on when to sell:

Core holding: (All of your circulated "junk" coin bags.) Hold and don't sell unless you are in desperate need.

Silver exceeds $10 per ounce:  Sell 8 bars.($8,000)

Silver exceeds $12 per ounce:  Sell another 8 bars. ($9,600)

Silver exceeds $15 per ounce:  Sell another 8 bars. ($12,000)

Silver exceeds $20 per ounce (4x cost):  Sell another 8 bars. ($16,000.) This gets you past your "break even" point on your original investment. Everything past this will be gravy.

Silver exceeds $25 per ounce:  Sell another 16 bars. ($40,000)

Silver exceeds $30 per ounce:  Sell another 16 bars. ($48,000)

Silver exceeds $40 per ounce (8x cost):  Sell your last 16 bars.($64,000)

Even if silver crashes after passing $20 per ounce, you will still have recouped your original investment and have 48 bars (4,800 ounces) of silver remaining. But if silver runs up past $40 per ounce, you will have $197,600 in cash. Not bad for a $40,000 investment!.

I'm down in Reno this weekend for the The Big Reno Show. Quite a gun show! All quality gear--no flea market Schumer. I dropped by the table run by Darryl Holland (of Holland's of Oregon), and sent him home a Browning A-Bolt bolt action rifle for "the usual" treatment:  I have him thread the muzzles of all of our hunting rifles with 1/2" x 28 threads for a Holland's muzzle brake. The same threads can also be used for Smith Enterprise Vortex flash hiders. This way the rifles can serve double duty as tactical guns. I highly recommend that you do likewise. OBTW, I also highly recommend all of Darryl Holland's gunsmithing services and videos. And I also have his cheek rest stock pouches on five of the rifles up at the ranch.

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The U.S. HHS's reserved view on the flu:

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A warning from The American Spectator about war with Iran:

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SurvivalBlog reader Steve H. recommends this source for inexpensive 9 VDC Lithium batteries ($2.50 each), and numerous others in all sizes and types.

"We’re advising our clients to put everything they’ve got into canned foods and shotguns.”- The Brain Gremlin, Gremlins 2

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Is there any difference between dried food and dehydrated food, and if there is, what is the difference? - G.P.

JWR Replies: I'm glad that you asked that, because it is often a point of confusion. Although semantically they mean the same thing, the difference is that "dehydrated" storage foods typically are dried to a greater extent than typical dried foods--such as the raisins and other dried fruits that are sold at your local grocery store. However, due to their lower moisture content and because they are usually sold in sealed, nitrogen-packed, cans makes them store for several years instead of just a few months. Also, don't forget that "dehydrated" is far different than freeze drying, which can result in even longer storage life, particularly if canned.

I have taken a leave and am now caught back up on the blog. I was away and talked to my wife every night and she always stated that I must be going crazy not reading SurvivalBlog every night! She was right! Upon returning home, did I return my calls, e-mails, or mail first,.hardly, it was a crash course of GBID (get back into Dodge) mentally by reading what I had missed on Survivalblog. A few topics have arisen that I wanted to comment on (FWIW).

I have had the benefit of picking the pocket of an old timer that owns and operates a saw mill. He states that the unique properties of White Oak offer a huge resistance to insects and rot. He gives a 15 year "warranty" on 4" diameter and larger posts. He claims to get 25 years out of a 6" post. Both buried in the ground with no topical treatment process. He recommended adding gravel at the base and around the post for added longevity.
He also mentioned that longer lengths are getting harder to get, (i.e.- 16 feet). The disadvantage is the hardness of the item. In a cattle/livestock operation he almost instantly recommended the soft wood poplar or cottonwood as good (give/take) type fences. Not hard and brittle, but fairly resilient.
I know that utility companies are pulling out the "evil" creosote poles and replacing with green treated or chromated copper arsenate (CCA) impregnated posts. These are very inadequate comparably. Talk to your local utilities. Ask if you can get on the list to receive these used poles for next to nothing or free. You may have to sign a waiver that you will not hold the company responsible if you use these for structural purposes, (i.e.- Morton building), etc.
I personally can attest that the worst part of these poles is the part that is highest in the air. You can typically get four very heavy duty corner posts out of each pole. Not to mention the copper staples and wire that is still attached to them for reclaiming at the steel yard.
Another thought just came to mind. In the event of TEOTWAWKI, communication lines would likely be down. If running long strands of hardwire, (such as field phones, intercoms, etc.) Why not use ultimate caution and attach your wire to the "worthless" utility company poles until a later time when you can "trench" in your wire? You may be able to connect to a neighbor or a far end of your property without the labor of digging a lengthy trench to bury the wire in. This could get you up and running very quickly rather than weeks of excavation. Safety would have to be a must, instead of using a ladder that you can reach up to the danger height of electrical wire contact, dedicate a short ladder that gets your communication wire just above reaching height without the inherent dangers of contacting the power lines. This suggestion of course is a last recourse and is intended to be of benefit to you in the event of a GRID DOWN situation where the power lines would likely have been rendered inert. Please use your head.

A fellow blog reader mentioned something about a survival game. I have purchased one and am not giving it my recommendation yet, but would be interested in knowing if the information is in fact accurate and applicable. The name of the game is: "The Worst-Case Scenario Game" by University Games. It has approximately 600 questions that are noteworthy if accurate. My family very much enjoys playing the game, however we find more enjoyment in just reading the cards as almost no one scores well. (This is a good thing as we are learning from it). Even the repeat questions are a good thing. I would recommend separating the cards into four equal groups. Wrap a rubber band around each of the four. Put three bundles of cards into a Ziploc baggie, and concentrate on the first group. It may prove more retention if the same card is asked twice at some point. This keeps things interesting for all age groups.

I have read varying opinions on the reality of the warnings about landscaping mulch coming from the disease and termite infested regions of New Orleans, or other such disaster affected areas. A person would be ignorant to think that micro-organisms could not exist in a plastic bag that is placed in the sun for weeks and delivered across the U.S.A. Last time I opened a bag of mulch, it was soaked with condensation, (prime breeding grounds for disease in my opinion). What the extent of these organisms are, would be, or could be, are open for discussion. I don't know if termites could survive the packaging/processing, but it IS possible in my opinion (i.e.- tears in bags). This cause for concern should follow right into purchasing vehicles, appliances, furniture, or any used home furnishings that may emerge from disaster areas. Do the research, eBay can be great, ask for a copy of the title or registration, and verify that this vehicle was not registered in those regions.

Again, wishes of success during your transition into full time blogging. It is a selfish wish along with a supportive wish. The practical information I receive does not have a dollar amount on it. Thank You! - The Wanderer

Mr. Rawles:
In answer to the question from Steve (posted on March 9, 2006, the PTR-91 clone is considered one of the best on the market, I have original 1980s versions of the factory HK91s and I think that they compare well.
Williams Trigger Specialties provides a modification I would highly recommend. I have the set "paddle" trigger on all of my HKs and the work is excellent and the results are amazing - a crisp set trigger breaking at 4 pounds. Lower than the 5 to 6 pounds advertised. Worth every penny. Their site: They state: "WTS PSG1 style trigger modification is also available for your factory HK or factory JLD PTR, for $200.00 + $14.00 return Shipping/Handling/Insurance. Your lower receiver is required for this work. Because of questionable trigger parts quality, no other clones trigger assemblies are acceptable." - Wotan

Rourke mentioned this cool site about hidden storage and passageways. (Best viewed with a broadband connection.) See:

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A firm in Utah that offers the ultimate in off-site records storage--inside a solid granite mountain:

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Bulk ammo shortage?  See;

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Doc at Big Secrets  ( recommends this site on how to build your own small battery charging generator:

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Talk radio host Steve Quayle cites this piece from the Washington Post::

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SurvivalBlog reader "gman" recommends this source for inexpensive 9VDC lithium batteries ($2.50 each), and numerous others in all sizes and types.

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A Russian virologist's view on the Asian Avian Flu. This one is quite grim:

"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."- Justice Louis D. Brandeis, U.S. Supreme Court Judge. Source: Justice Louis D. Brandeis, dissenting, Olmstead v. United States,
277 US 479 (1928)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Don't forget to send you entries for the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a "Gray" (first-timers) four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!) The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006.

Windows give you natural light and solar heat gain, but they are also the most strategically vulnerable part of your home or retreat and largest source of heat loss in conventional construction. The R value (measuring insulation or resistance to heat flow, the higher the more insulting something is ) may be an incomplete, and “apples to oranges” number as pointed out by David South of Monolithic Domes but, for my purposes here it does give us a reasonably quantitative basis for comparison. Remember, the higher the R number, the higher the degree of insulation. Here in Wisconsin, builders now try and reach R [insulation] values of 29 for exterior walls, and R40 for attics. People tend to take notice if those numbers are much lower, such as a wall in an old house which is ONLY R12. Yet, people don’t seem to even notice or care that their windows, even the “high efficiency” double casement windows, are but a mere R2 or maybe R3. That, and the transparency of glass for both light and infrared heat, serves to work against you especially if faced with dangerous temperature extremes (survival situations). In the summer, when you want to cool your home, light comes pouring in, quickly heating your home since the thermal mass it shines on is usually inadequate to absorb the energy without heating up substantially. At night, the reverse happens, and the heat goes pouring out of your home through your windows. The other big downside to windows is their vulnerability. Obviously they are easy to break through, unless you use very expensive Lexan or Plexiglas products. Worse, particularly during high winds, tornados, and hurricanes, projectiles coming through non-tempered glass can create a highly dangerous sharp shower of glass for anyone in the line of fire far worse than the original projectile. The rest of this article is to suggest some simple solutions to mitigate the problems of having windows, and to provide numerous links to expose you to some of the products and ideas out there on the topic.
We can start by talking about high efficiency windows, but R numbers are so low, even for the good ones, that it becomes a minor factor against other things you can do. First, at least make sure you windows have tight air seals, no drafts. That exceeds even the low R value of windows problem, especially in high winds. We just want to have to worry about solar and infra red heat gain and losses so grab some plastic, tape, weather stripping, caulk, and maybe that 3M product you apply and seal with a hair dryer and get those windows sealed up tight before you consider anything else.
To keep the warmth out, there are exterior screens A great inexpensive source for items including sunlight controls is Order the catalog, it is so full of great stuff and also goes over using water as thermal mass. This link has been on SurvivalBlog before, and for good reason, get it. There is also such thing as a blast curtain safety drape:
To improve cold weather energy efficiency, keep the heat in, consider adding triple honeycomb cell pull shades one the inside, giving you a R value gain of R3.3 to 3.8 (the numbers are cumulative, you can add them, i.e. window R2 + honeycomb R3.5= R5.5) A good source is and more specifically the honeycombs here: Two more European solutions are between the window models: and exterior roll downs , or see a US model on the subject for hurricane protection:
For exterior storm protection, there are new windows made to take greater punishment, and after Katrina this has become a growing market. One example is Silverline’s Weather Stopper series: Another shatter guarding product, perhaps even more extreme is or from 3M Although the idea of fabric is usually to block the sun, a new breed of hurricane fabric shutters for external window protection now exists
Then there are good old fashion window shutters. This is a decorative step up from your 5/8” Oriented Strand Board (OSB) plywood. If you plan to go the way of plywood though, at least build your frame in such a way that attachment will be solid and quick to do. The extra consideration here is to insulate your shutter (or plywood) if possible, in addition to making them strong enough to do the job. This is another area where there are many new choices with recent high hurricane years,, and don’t forget a good set of hinges . Also there are accordion shutters for the inside
Alternatives to windows all together include products such as solatube or the more extreme idea of “piping” in light, without the heat, concentrated by a collector dish through fiber optics .
So don’t let your window to the world be a gateway for heat loss, unwanted solar gain, or the very unwanted point of uninvited entry. As a closing thought, consider also a quality periscope before you go peeking your face out in the window: This is no toy, it works great. - Rourke   website:

I've been really busy lately, which is good. A fair bit of information from your great blog parallels my experiences and here's some hopefully helpful information which I have gleaned:
1) PAL lights: Have several and always been pleased with them. [See:]
I found a great rechargeable 9 volt NiMH high capacity battery. Wow, they really do have JUICE! Once fully charged several times, they outlive any non-rechargeable battery I've found and they work well with solar charging.
One 9V NiMH 250mAh Rectangular NiMH Rechargeable Battery ---Ultrahigh capacity
(BTW, I have purchased a lot of NiMH batteries from these people and always been pleased.)
Also, with NiMH rechargeable batteries, you have to cycle them several times before they achieve full capacity. My first experience with them was disappointing. I thought "Darn, I had hoped these would be better than this." But after several charges, they really came to life.
2) Regarding "Buckshot on: What do Canadian Bush Pilots Carry?": When I was flying oil exploration in northern Maine and southern Quebec during the the winter, I had a pair of snowshoes and a reliable 30-30 lever action carbine strapped to the engine mounts. Fortunately, the engine never quit. Had it quit, I would have been wishing for Buckshot's list. However, the 30-30 met the need more than once.

Here's a request for advice: My house is old, old cedar logs and with another round of drought apparently coming around, I'm looking at fire protection. When we were kids, we used waterglass to fireproof stuff and I wonder if I could soak my log house with waterglass? Any comments will be appreciated. What the heck is waterglass anyway? - The Army Aviator

Late last year, a buck goat reportedly attacked Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe. This was during a gas station stop while the presidential motorcade was en route to the mountain resort of  Nyanga. The attack injured Mugabe's scrotum and lower bowel. Apparently, the local livestock has more gumption than the local populace.  The citizens of Zimbabwe should learn from this goat.

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I just heard that George at The Pre-1899 Specialist just got in another small batch of pre-1899 Turkish contract 8 x57 Oberndorf Model 1893 Mausers. He says that these are in the nicest condition 1893s that he's ever seen. (Far better than the "beater" Turks that Sportsman's Guide is currently selling for $299 each.) George's prices will range from $199 to $425 each, depending on wood, bore, and bluing condition. Each comes with a bayonet and scabbard. Many of these are collector grade. Here is your chance to buy a Federally-exempt (no-FFL) Mauser with no stinkin' paperwork! (Consult you State and local laws before ordering.)

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Federal Reserve Chief Bernanke Warns Community Banks on Loans

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Bird Flu Could Reach The Americas in Six Months:


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Record Trade Deficit:

Star Wars Episode III, Revenge of the Sith

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Hi Jim!
Long time no answer. Sorry about that! I've been reading you blog for a while now, and find features like the Claire Files Forum very readable and useful. The Retreat Areas, Profiles and Survival Guns sections are my favourites! You guys have been doing a great work putting you blog together.

Right now here in Scandinavia there is a lots of focus in the media on AAV H5N1 Birds are flying north and bringing the virus with them! And many are really afraid of mutation of that virus! And local authorities have not readiness enough if something happens. Here a couple a weeks ago some people called the cops (I was monitoring my scanner) of some dead birds in a pond, police arrived, they called fire department, they called county health and it ended with the military came and take care of the dead animals. Guess how many curious people wanted to see what is going on??? Just in case its good to be prepared, at least know what to do if something breaks out! Take care and keep on blogging! Cheers - Jan

Please let us know more about the 9 volt PAL light, where can we purchase these? Thanks. Also, if a reader is concerned about shelf life of the battery, a very long lasting 9 Volt battery is made that was designed to be used in smoke detectors, it also works in AC-powered alarm clocks that have a battery back up when the power goes out... Sorry, I don't remember off hand the exact name or what they are called but they are common enough to be purchased at the local Radio Shack.......they cost about $8 a few years ago when I was working for a TV station, we used them a great deal in wireless microphones etc.  - R.B.S.

JWR Replies: The PAL lights are sturdy little flashlights that are rectangular--just a bit bigger than a 9 volt battery. They have a VERY long life. They are available from Buckshot's Camp and several other vendors, for less than $20. See: The ultra long life lithium 9 VDC batteries that you mentioned are available from many electronics and hardware stores.  For our readers that live out in the boonies, they are also available via mail order from Newark Electronics. Newark's order # for the lithium battery is: 291-735. They are $8.19 each. (Yikes!  Hopefully they are a bit less expensive at your local Radio Shack.)   See:

Mr. and Mrs. Rawles,
I just read this article today and thought it would be of interest to the Survival Blog readers:

The gist of it is that a silver backed exchange traded fund (ETF) is quietly being opened in London within the next month. Note, this is NOT the silver ETF that Barclays' is trying to get past the SEC right now. Upon reading closer one can note that the claim of being "backed" by silver is erroneous - “We buy a security from a third party…and supply the matching contract, and investors won’t have to worry” about the physical quantity, said Tuckwell. Therefore, the silver ETF in London will not be physically backed by the underlying commodity, while taking silver out of the market, but the performance of the fund would remain linked to the silver price.

Either way, for good or ill, it seemed that this was relevant information to the blog readers. Sincerely, -LBTP

I was wanting some info on the PTR-91 Rifle made by JLD Enterprises, I saw this rifle on Atlantic firearms website, but I know nothing about it. Do you or any of the SurvivalBlog readers have any knowledge or opinion as to the worthiness of this rifle. It looks great and I would like to own one but hesitate to fork out that kind of money on an unknown. Thanks, - Steve

JWR  Replies:  I can't comment because I've never owned or even shot an PTR-91 clone. Perhaps a SurvivalBlog readers has some first hand experience with them.

"With one foot on the land and one foot in industry, America is safe." - Henry Ford, circa WWII.

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Thanks for your patience while we get set up with the Moveable Type blog tool, templates, and archiving.

Hi Jim,.
Hurricane season is just around the corner here in Florida and I am getting ready to buy a backup generator for my home. To be better informed, I have gone back and re-read all the past survivalblog entries on generators, so I am pretty much up to speed on it. My last step is to decide what size generator to buy. One additional piece of information that would be helpful to me, and probably others, is to have an idea of how much wattage it takes to run each of the various typical appliances in a home ranging from light bulbs up to air conditioners. That way I can then decide on what size generator to get based on which appliances my family members think they can/cannot do without verses how much we can afford to pay for a generator. Thanks so much, and God bless. - Joe.

JWR Replies:  I consider a backup generator a "must " for any family that is dependent upon grid power. I won't be repetitious. (See my Wednesday, January 4, 2006 post in the SurvivalBlog Archives, as well as the follow-up posts during the next few days.)  Instead, I will post three useful links on gensets that I've bookmarked in the past few months:

The Army Aviator spotted this one for us: The Sun's next 11-year cycle could be 50 percent stronger. See:

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This page is very nicely done:  An on-line survival quiz:

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Walter Jefferies at found an article in which the FDA admitted that the measures already in place are enough to protect against BSE. See:

"Uh... Strangers... I hate this. Do they want to share what they got or take what you got? Do you say 'hi' or do you blow them away?" - Kevin Costner, The Postman

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

In your Saturday Blog of March 4th. you responded to a reader asking where to obtain David Crawford's two fine stories. Your answer for "The Bug-Out" was okay, but your response for "Lights Out" of Frugal Squirrel's site was not really a good one. Frugal has only about a quarter of David's story available. The place to go is: This will get a full 600 odd page page PDF. document with the full story plus a title page, table of contents, prolog and epilogue.
Hope that everyone who reads this enjoys it as much as I did. Best Regards, - Wise Tioga

Hi Jim, Wasn't sure if you were aware that MEG has come back online with an updated website to the Rocky Mountain Survival Group (RMSG). His new site is... Survival and Self Reliance Studies Institute: Glad to see him back. Just found him again week before last. Keep up the good work on SurvivalBlog. It's one of my favorites. - Richard Fleetwood

I think everyone would agree when it comes to wilderness survival, the Canadian Bush pilots have a history of incredible survival stories.We should apply some "lessons learned" are then apply them to required gear to carry.

I did some research into Canada's required bush pilot survival gear. Because I was told the gill net requirements said the net had to be 1.5 inch mesh. Thinking, here we go again-- how do they measure the net? There are two different ways they measure gill nets. The way we measure our gill nets is from the top knot to the bottom knot this is 2.5 inch mesh but if the Canadian rules says 1.5 inch they might be talking about the other way you measure gill nets: That is from the top knot to the side knot then our net is a 1.5 inch mesh. You would think that there would be one standard way to measure nets but that would be too easy.

Here is the basic list for Canadian Bush Pilots:
Food with at least 10,000 calories per person
Cooking utensils
Stove and fuel
Axe of at least 2 1/2 pounds
Snare wire
Fishing equipment (tackle and nets)
Mosquito nets and repellent
Tents, wing covers or orange signal panels
Sleeping bags
Signal mirror
Distress signals
First aid kit
Survival manual

Believe me, we have sold lots of gear to bush pilots in Canada, Alaska, and the Lower 48. If I was a bush pilot, this is what I would carry:

A Wiggy's sleeping bag [JWR Adds: I highly recommend the Wiggy's FTRSS and the Ultima Thule.]
Small Katadyn water filter--JRH sells these:
A small dome tent
10-to-12 [ounce] tarp
First Aid kit
Signal mirror
Distress signal--normal signal flares typically sold at Marine stores
Small backpack stove
Small bush saw
A Estwing steel handled axe
Mosquito nets and repellents
Small emergency gill net,
Emergency fishing kit,
3 Yo-Yo automatic fishing reels
Frog/fish spear
Emergency snare kit,
The book Six Ways in, Twelve Ways Out
German mess kit
Small Backpack
Sewing awl
PAL light

Regarding firearms, read this article: If I was in big bear (grizzly and brown bear) country I would switch up to a 45-70. :-)

Why the PAL light? Every survivalist should own at least one PAL for every person. The PAL light takes a 9 volt battery. Now why is that important? Talking to my good friend Craig H. from Hawaii, he told me the reason I should have already known. You see, Craig has lived through 3 hurricanes. After the mad rush to the store with everyone buying every battery in sight what is the only battery still on the shelf? The 9 volt. Think about it: Most people have flashlights that use size AAA, AA, C, or D batteries. But I am pretty sure PAL is one of the few flashlights that uses 9 volt batteries. Also, nearly every house in America has smoke detectors using 9 volt batteries. But the feature I love is the always on a real dim light that last 2 years on 1 battery great for children's night lights, great for finding in the junk drawer when the power goes out, and great for camping to quickly find it in the dark when the bear peeks in your tent. :-) They are LED lights and you can tape them on your gun and shoot. LED means no filament to break from the shock of shooting.

We are currently running a special for SurvivalBlog readers only. It is our way of saying thanks for your support and another way for us to support Survival Blog. See: Regards,- Buckshot

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." - Mark Twain

Monday, March 6, 2006

James Wesley Rawles;
I wanted to respond to the letter about how to get your spouse involved in preparedness. For several years I have been working as a preparedness consultant for individuals, families and groups who have an interest in preparing for disasters. I guide each group through a series of exercises to help them decide how prepared they want, choose and can afford to be.
I like to start with a discussion to see if everyone is on the same page. Sometimes there are reluctant participants.
I note that one usually learns to craw before they walk and walk before they run, so there is a learning curve one follows in life and in preparedness there is also a learning curve. The reluctant participants are in their crawling or earlier stage and time needs to be given for them to learn to crawl, Possibly to walk, and possibly to run. They may never get past the crawling stage, but the opportunity to learn is being given and it is their choice on how far they want to take it.
So lets start with crawling.
Those of you that have people you care for and are not all that interested in preparing for disasters need to encourage them to learn about possible disasters that can affect them. The basics of preparing is fairly common for all types of disasters with specialization for specific disaster events to be done after you learn to walk. You need to be patient with them. It has been said that one of the hardest things to do in life is to watch someone else learn what you already know/do. You can turn them off if you are too enthusiastic, talk over their head, overwhelm them with information. You have to let them learn at their pace and make their own decisions. You can provide them with information and encouragement to get them started.
So, what information would you provide them?
How about what types of disaster can occur that would affect them?
Set this up as a discussion, have a pad of paper handy to jot down all the possibilities. Brain storm (anything that comes to mind no questions asked you will sort through it later) all the possibilities all of you can think of. Here are some examples, earthquake, tornados, hurricanes, brush fires, floods, train derailment, power outage, loss of job, loss of insurance, pandemic, chemical spill at local factory, propane facility next door catches fire, Nuclear power plant you are down wind from, Truck drivers strike, Terrorist attack, Nuclear, Biological,Chemical and Explosive (NBCE), economic meltdown, going through the tribulation, martial law, dictatorship, gun confiscation/ownership ban.
OK, now you got a list of possible disasters, be they man made or natural. Now determine how much of a risk you are in for each of the mentioned disasters. This may take several days to several weeks to determine. You may have to assign people to research each disaster
and have several meetings to determine the risk you are in for each.
So lets take earthquake for the example. You live in Ohio and there have been several small earth quakes in your life time. That does not sound like much of a risk and then you do some research and find that two of the strongest earth quakes in US history took place due to the new Madrid fault and you are in the affected area. Stories of the time talk of the ground rolling like waves on the sea, whole forest laid over, rivers that ran backward for days . You also learn of the damage projected for the next new New Madrid Fault quake through your local Emergency Management Agency (or Office of Emergency Preparedness) also known as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and see you are at significant risk for damage ( your home is brick and they project high probability of brick homes suffering major damage including collapse in your area) and a prediction that the next big one could occur by 2040.
When you get all your information together you meet as a group and discuss all the findings. You then come to a consensus of how much of a risk you are in for each disaster.
The group decides there is significant risk for several of the disasters.
They then discuss the possible affects each disaster will have on them.
Again lets take the earthquake. The New Madrid lets go and it disrupts (destroys) all infrastructure within a 10 state area. Whole cities are believed destroyed cities like Memphis, Tennessee and St. Louis, Missouri. are mentioned.
Your home is brick and suffers major damage (i.e. Cracked walls, house leaning, no sewer, water, and electricity.)
What are you going to do?
Again brainstorm out what you are going to do.
Doing this for every listed disaster will again take time.
I have tinkered with the idea of developing a board or role playing as a learning tool. Play out what your group would do in each of these disasters. It would be educational and practical. Maybe Rawles can develop it as part of his blog.
After you discuss all this ask the question.
Do you think you should be prepared for disasters?
I have yet to get NO for the answer.
You are now in agreement you need to prepare, but now the question is how prepared should you be?
The two extremes of preparedness is 1) Do nothing to prepare and 2) The End of World As We Know It.
It is up to the group to decide how prepared they would like to be. I like to use Red Cross Preparedness hand outs for the basic (low end) preparedness i.e. Three day kit , short term preparedness (two weeks or less) and the novel Patriots for the TEOTWAWKI end of preparedness.
I believe in Patriots as a educational/resource tool so much I bought several cases of them from the publisher before they went out of business. I still have several cases left and can offer them to Blog readers if Jim Rawles doesn’t mind.
This may take the group several days or weeks again to read through the material and do their own research.
The group gets together and we discuss what they have researched.
They then decide how prepared they want to be.
Their decision then determines their plan of action.
This can be easier said than done when strong minded people are involved or there is major differenced in opinion. I do not have a good solution to this as it is up to the group, not me, to make the decisions.
At this stage of preparedness everyone should be “walking”.
I hope you note this takes time.
I have seen groups go through this process in one evening or weekend, but they already knew they were going to prepare.
Pending on the groups decision I would guide them in developing a plan of action. The groups found out once they had gotten through the planning stage and were pointed to suppliers of preparedness items they could go on their own. It was just to this point they needed help.
As to when one would be running. If they keep to the plan after two or more years. I have seen groups lose interest or just fall apart in the two to three year range, so if they stay together for more then three years are on target with their plans (which are amendable) and continue to prepare and learn they are up and running.
I mentioned earlier that the basics of disaster preparedness are fairly common, food clothing, shelter, Medical issues, Three Day Kit (Get Out Of Dodge), Disaster plan. This works good for the reluctant/unbelieving people as they can see the need to prepare and if they are not into the TEOTWAWKI scenarios their preparedness is still leaned in that direction and hopefully in time they will get the picture, if this is the picture you are striving for. Something I like about taking this approach is you should not get caught up in the Y2K type scenarios where you prepare for one scenario (specific date) and if it does not occur you think preparedness is for the birds and dump all you preparedness stuff. You will be preparing for disasters no matter what the cause and when they occur. Preparedness should be a life time commitment.
The specializing for specific disaster events may include protection from radiation, biological,chemical events. I am sure there are other events you will have to specialize for, but this gives you the awareness you need to seek them out and prepare as you see fit.
I have had groups learn their ability to prepare as they want to be limited by their means , so you will need to be aware of this in your planning. Some folks could only get enough together for Get Out of Dodge Kits and firearms for the family, but it is better than nothing.
I like to use Red Cross hand outs on preparing for disasters. They are available for download on the Internet and they cover your basic disaster plan. They are also a neutral organization. The preparedness information is a simple way to get others to think about preparedness. Hopefully they will prepare even if it is just the two week supply of materials and a three day kit, this might save you from having to defend yourself from them and create some allies in defending the neighborhood and bartering with. I have recommended people get their hand outs and put them in their three day kits, so they can either pull them out as a reference or if stopped by authorities just mention you are following your disaster plan you put together with the handouts to hopefully blend in with the other refugees.
Something I have done for family members is give them preparedness items as gifts, birthdays, Christmas, etc. These include first aid and three day kits for all the cars, Baygen radios and flash lights, power inverters, books on disaster preparedness, self defense items. Hopefully this shows you care about them, gives them something to think about and you can get into discussion on more involved preparedness issues. Remember, It is better to go slowly and let them determine what they are comfortable with than turn them off by overwhelming them with information and your beliefs in preparedness. - R.A.

Mr Rawles:
Thanks for your review of The Weapon. I get a lot of feedback on it, regarding the risks of attack and terrorism. I'm glad to see people thinking about the subject more.
Currently, I'm gearing up to do a nonfiction work about medics in combat in the current conflict. If any of the SurvivalBlog readers are or know anyone who is, do please have them contact me. I've got approval from the various branches public affairs, and I'm Guard myself. I'll be treating the subject and troops as they deserve to be, and not looking to misquote for headlines. This is an anecdotal history.
It's true that soft body armor will stop 12 gauge slug and .44 magnum rounds. However, there's an asterisk here. The armor can deform up to THREE INCHES from a 12 gauge slug. The blunt trauma itself can be lethal under those circumstances.
One of the common complaints of the Interceptor Body Armor is shoulder chafing and pinching of the abdomen when lying prone. My wife just returned from a year on active duty, and didn't have this problem. She ordered her armor a size large and it had enough extra space to disperse the load. This also offers a gap against the above mentioned blunt trauma. Of course, it also increases carried weight. There is no free lunch. covers a lot of comparison shoots of different weapons in different media. One important note is the myth that a .308 "turns cover into concealment." If the material is timber, sandbags or brick, this is pretty much not true. There are ballistic reasons for this, but they're lengthy. The test shots are shown. On sandbags, both 7.62 NATO and 5.56 penetrate 5 inches or so and STOP. 5.56mm will penetrate 12" of pine and still have energy to spare. Upshot: bullets kill, and you want hard cover and lots of it for yourself, and a target that isn't in hard cover.
I cleaned out an old BOB last month that had been in three vehicles over 20 years. I ate some MREs packaged in 1980-1983. The applesauce had turned brown and wasn't interesting, so I tossed it, but I believe it was still safe. All other components were edible and tasty. I can't speak as to the remaining nutritional value, but I suffered no ill effects. These MREs had cycled seasonally from well over 100 degrees down to sub zero. It seems as long as the packages aren't swelling, the contents are safe.
Another option for firearms with no paperwork are black powder reproductions with aftermarket cylinders. The 1858 and 1860 models, among others by Uberti, Pietta and Ruger, can be equipped with a .45 Long Colt cylinder (or .38 Special). is one source of these. It has to be removed, opened and manually extracted/loaded, but you get 6 completely legal shots with no paperwork. Price for a revolver and extra cylinder runs around $400. I also think it wouldn't be too hard to load black powder into a small plastic pouch made from sandwich bag polyethylene, sealed with epoxy. A single dessicant pellet might be a good idea. Such a load would last several weeks at least in the weapon, possibly years. The percussion cap should have enough power to puncture the plastic and ignite the propellant. Again, completely legal and paperwork free, if labor intensive. I will attempt to conduct a range test shortly. I expect cleaning the cylinder will be a bit of a chore, but it's a good idea to have spares anyway. Best wishes, and keep your powder dry. - Mike

"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Note from JWR: We were hoping to provide searchable archives and RSS feeds. However, because of difficulties in getting our revised blog template (created in Blogger) to display properly in some versions of Internet Explorer, we have temporarily switched back to the old blog format (using Dreamweaver.)   Firefox and Netscape worked fine, but the glitches in I.E. thusfar elude us.  Once we get the bugs worked out, we will switch back to Blogger or perhaps another piece of blogging software.

Today we feature another entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006.

  If there were one factor that prevents people from living at their retreat more than any other, I would guess it to be employment. This isn't surprising, as the very qualities that make a particular locale ideal for a retreat -- rural, small population, away from major cities -- also make it far less likely to find employment there. What little employment is available is often snapped up by locals who have been around far longer than any Johnny-come-lately carpetbaggers (and rightly so!)
When my family moved to our tiny town from our fairly large city, I knew from Day 1 not to expect to find a job locally. Not only would it be difficult for the reasons listed above, but frankly, I would be more of an asset to the community if I brought in employment of my own. Working for yourself can be very scary, but there are ways to mitigate the risks involved. First, of course, is figuring out what you can do. Not infrequently, you can continue to do exactly what you're doing right now.
Much office work for example -- from data entry to technical support to accounting -- can be done from nearly any location. Your employer may be
willing to let you telecommute; this is particularly true if your current employer considers you a valuable asset (in other words, if you *haven't*
been just doing the bare minimum for them over the last 10 years!)
An additional temptation to throw to your current employer: offer to become a contractor. This will save your employer a great deal in benefits and paperwork, and may make it worth the risk for him/her to try you as a telecommuter. There can also be tax benefits for you (talk to your CPA.)
It needn't be an ultimatum or otherwise confrontational. Simply say, "I have the opportunity to move somewhere I've always wanted to live. But I value my relationship with (your company) and want to know if perhaps there's something we can work out." Again, if you've been a valuable employee in the past, your employer may prefer to work things out with you rather than take the risk (and expense) of hiring a new employee. On the other hand, what if you don't have an office job, or your employer won't compromise? Well, rural environments are always in need of basic services. If you've got experience as a backhoe operator, construction
worker, plumber, vet, lawyer, electrician or similar, you won't have any difficulties developing a client base. Low-investment service companies are
best, simply because you won't have to tie too much of your assets up in equipment or inventory.
If you're still stuck, you might need to change careers to something that can translate to your retreat locale. Consider taking a night class or two (real estate, perhaps?) each semester at your local community college. It might take you years to earn a degree, but so what? After all, if you don't do it, in five years you'll simply be exactly where you are now, saying, "Gosh, I wish I had a skill that would let me earn money while living at my retreat." (For those who want to earn a living farming: it can be done, but not easily. Farmers make very little income for the amount of work they do. If you do want to live off your homestead, I'd recommend finding a niche
market, like selling organic herbs, produce, eggs or honey. Health-conscious consumers generally have very little problem paying a premium for quality
A word of warning, however: regardless of your business, it can take up to a year to develop a local following. The first year my computer repair business was open, I had perhaps a total of three local clients. But after that year, it was as though I had passed some secret probation, and locals began regularly using my services. So either have enough money to get through a year without any business, or make sure you bring some clients with you (as in contracting with your former employer).
Incidentally, rural life tends to move more slowly than urban life. In many ways this is a good thing, but it has its drawbacks. For example, we often
find it difficult to get quotes for jobs we need done. Companies can take days or weeks to call us back when we leave messages. Take advantage of
this. If you act professionally, courteously, and are prompt and fair with your prices, you'll soon have more business than you can handle.
Network, network, network. Local advertising of your business or service is fine, but people prefer word-of-mouth referral. This is best achieved by
finding the most upstanding local citizens you can, and offering them your services at a discount, or as a free trial. If you can get a few community
leaders to refer others to you, you're golden. Speaking of networking, you may want to look into partnering with larger companies. Computer service technicians, for example, can get certified with certain computer companies, resulting in warranty-work referrals. If you do small engine repair, get certified with chainsaw or lawnmower companies, and so on. Once you're an authorized repair technician (and there's a good chance you'll be the only one within a hundred miles), these companies will
refer their warranty work to you. Result: good income and a good opportunity to build your name within the community.
Finally, before you start (and I can't stress this enough), set up an appointment with a CPA or tax lawyer and discuss the prospective business. It probably won't be cheap, but it is definitely worth it. You'll be able to discuss the pros and cons of incorporating (inc. or LLC) versus a sole proprietorship, look at the tax advantages and disadvantages, and so on. Ask your CPA/Lawyer to help you set up your accounting books (I recommend Quickbooks or Peachtree) to make tax time as painless as possible. (Don't forget, contractors need to submit estimated taxes on a quarterly basis - failure to do so can result in penalties). I hope this helps you realize that achieving your dream of living at your retreat year-round isn't as impossible as you might have thought. Good luck! - JD

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Had a question that you might be able to answer. Looking to do some preserving of wood that will be stuck in the ground. I used to work for a telephone pole repair company. We used a very plastic Creosote and Tar paper ( keeps dirt from soaking up the creosote ). I have been trying to figure out a way to create an alternative to creosote. The best I can think of is used motor oil and soap ( gas and soap being napalm ) this seemed logical to me. Wondered if you had any thought. Also other uses for used oil might be a good topic. Thanks much, - E.B. in N. Idaho

JWR Replies: The best alternative to creosote that I have found is a product called asphalt emulsion. It goes on like thick paint. It is a bit messy, but works great.
If your local hardware store doesn't have any in stock, they can order it for you. It usually comes in five gallon pails.


The first two weeks of February were spectacular for us hams working the 6 meter band. From my home in Northern California, I worked all western states using only 10 watts on an Icom IC-560.  No power amplifier was needed. One QSO [two way conversation] that I did lasted for 30 minutes to a gentleman right outside of  Tombstone Arizona on 52.525 Mhz FM [mode]. What was so unusual about this, is that is was not in SSB mode. The QSO was nearly as good as a local 2 meter simplex contact. The gentleman was using an Alinco FM-only mobile radio with 20 watts into a ground plane antenna.  Signals from as far away as Chicago were coming in on some of the days on 50.125 Mhz SSB. There is a reason 6 meters is know as the "magic band."  I filled up three pages of contacts from Canada to New Mexico and all states in between. Some contact were to mobile stations. One in Twin Falls, Idaho to a gentleman driving his truck. The most popular [6 meter] rig seems to be the Icom 706. Openings like this make me glad to be a ham and enjoy the unique 6 meter band then any other band. It was an extremely thrilling few weeks.
Best Regards, - Fred The Valmet-meister

"I used to visit and revisit it a dozen times a day, and stand in deep contemplation over my vegetable progeny with a love that nobody could share or conceive of who had never taken part in the process of creation. It was one of the most bewitching sights in the world to observe a hill of beans thrusting aside the soil, or a rose of early peas just peeping forth sufficiently to trace a line of delicate green." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mosses from and Old Manse

Saturday, March 4, 2006

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Please mention the blog whenever you call in to talk radio shows or when you are on podcasts.  Thanks!

I live in the Pacific Northwest, in an urban area and in the event of TEOTWAWKI, my wife and I will most likely bug out and retreat to a friend's ranch just outside our urban growth boundary. The location is not ideal, but better than us attempting to retreat in place. The ranch is somewhat hidden and has a few acres of cleared fields around the house. My friend is retired and his immediate family will probably reside there too. He's got a large house and there will be eight adults and two children living together. I'm a firearms collector and shooter and have a decent collection of defensive and hunting tools, a la Dan Fong [a well-armed character in the novel Patriots], but I don't have enough duplicates to outfit the group with a "standard". I was thinking of outfitting the group with one defensive pistol and battle rifle or carbine per person and a shotgun per couple, regardless of their current personal firearms battery. I figure my outlay could range from ~$13K to ~$40K, or the price of a compact to mid-size car depending on make and "best" or "no-frills" features selection. As this is a major expense that will compete with my food and medical supply acquisition, I'd like to know your thoughts on firearms acquisition in relation to other necessities.
1. What is your thoughts on the ratio of battle rifles to carbines? In your book, you left the selection to the individual retreat member.
2. Should I acquire the "best" weapons I can afford and make due with "adequate" food and medical provisions? Or do I acquire "no-frills", reliable firearms and splurge on food and medical supplies?
3. What are your thoughts on some of the "no-frills" firearms suppliers and makes out there like the Rock Island, Springfield or Charles Daly M1911 .45 pistols, Bushmaster, Stag AR-15 5.56mm or CETME .308 cal rifles and Mossberg 590 or Maverick 12 gauge pump shotguns?
Thanks, - Collector

JWR Replies: Standardization of defensive weapons is a worthy goal. As previousl\y stated in this blog and in my other writings, standardization results in commonality of training, commonality of magazines, commonality of stored ammunition, and commonality of spare parts.  It is a "win-win" in many ways!

1. For defending a fixed location, your should standardize with .308 Winchester for your rifles. The only advantage of .223 is that the rifles weigh less and you can carry more ammunition. These are only meaningful factors for long distance patrols. If weight is not an issue, why not standardize with a full-power cartridge?  Since a CETME can be purchased for less than the cost of an AR-15 clone or about the same as a Ruger Mini-14, and magazines for CETMEs are far less expensive (under $3 each), I would forego buying any .223s and buy all .308 CETMEs. Here at the Rawles Ranch we have nine .308s (mostly L1A1s) and just one .223. (It is an "M4gery" that I built on a pre-ban receiver.)  The latter is strictly a transitional training gun for our children. I don't consider it a serious man-stopping rifle. I think that you should only get .223s for any of your group members that are under 16 or that are too frail to handle the weight and recoil of a .308.

2.) I recommend buying "no frills" guns to start. Balanced purchasing is important. What good is a full-up defensive battery if you only have a few weeks of food storage and scant first aid supplies? You can always upgrade later.

3.) I think that the following "group standard" should make sense: CETME .308 rifles (one per adult), Mossberg 590s (one for each two or three adults), and Springfield Armory .45 ACP M1911 clones (one per adult), will make a fully adequate no frills battery. A few years down the road, as your budget permits, you can transition to more top of the line guns such as HK-91s and perhaps Springfield Armory XD .45 ACPs or stainless steel original Colt or Kimber M1911s.

Two interesting articles on Ethanol:  and

   o o o

I heard that there are now just two slots left open for the Tactical Lifesaver course. It will be held on April 15-16, 2006, in Douglas, Georgia. A Iraq war vet Physician's Assistant (PA) will teach you a lot of skills that the American Red Cross doesn't. (Such as: how to prep an intravenous infusion, how to insert and orthopharyngeal airway, wound debridement, suturing, how to treat a sucking chest wound, and much more.)  Don't hesitate. This course will be sold out, soon! See:

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A gent e-mailed to ask where he could find the freeware e-novels Lights Out and The Bug-Out, by David Crawford (a.k.a. "Halffast"). Lights Out is hosted at:  The Bug Out was serialized at The Claire Files:

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Robert McHugh on "The Ides of March" See:

"Since printing paper money is nothing short of counterfeiting, the issuer of the international currency must always be the country with the military might to guarantee control over the system. This magnificent scheme seems the perfect system for obtaining perpetual wealth for the country that issues the de facto world currency. The one problem, however, is that such a system destroys the character of the counterfeiting nation's people--just as was the case when gold was the currency and it was obtained by conquering other nations. And this destroys the incentive to save and produce, while encouraging debt and runaway welfare.

The artificial demand for our dollar, along with our military might, places us in the unique position to 'rule' the world without productive work or savings, and without limits on consumer spending or deficits. The problem is, it can't last.

Price inflation is raising its ugly head, and the NASDAQ bubble-- generated by easy money-- has burst. The housing bubble likewise created is deflating. Gold prices have doubled, and federal spending is out of sight with zero political will to rein it in. The trade deficit last year was over $728 billion. A $2 trillion war is raging, and plans are being laid to expand the war into Iran and possibly Syria. The only restraining force will be the world's rejection of the dollar. It's bound to come and create conditions worse than 1979-1980, which required 21% interest rates to correct." - Texas Congressman Ron Paul, February, 2006

Friday, March 3, 2006

If you know of any potential advertisers for SurvivalBlog, please give them a call or drop them a line to encourage them. I need to find about 20 more advertisers if  I'm going to be able to put bread on the table when I quit my day job and take up writing SurvivalBlog full time. (Starting next month.) And needless to say, a few more "10 Cent Challenge" contributions would also be greatly appreciated.

Today we feature another entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This article is a first hand report about a Revolutionary War Veterans Association (RWVA) shoot in Ramseur, North Carolina.  The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. The deadline for entries for Round 3 in the writing contest is March 31, 2006.

An organized rifle-shooting event can be intimidating to anyone who has never participated before. I’ll cover my experience as a newbie at this first Appleseed Shoot in several categories: First Timers Pre-shoot Preparation, What to Expect Upon Arrival, Lessons Learned, and What is the Next Step? My experience and what I took away from the shoot, and lastly, Regrets.
First Timer Pre-Shoot Preparation: Remember what the title of the shoot implies, Appleseed. The purpose of the shoot is to plant the seeds of knowledge into those that have never before been formally trained in rifle marksmanship skills. This is not a competition, but a formal instructional course and the only person one is competing with is oneself, not the person beside you on the firing line.
Equipment: Regardless of the type rifle you choose to take, check the function of the weapon. Make sure your rifle, especially if it has been sitting in the closet for a long time, is cleaned and in good working order. If possible, go to a range and casually put ammo down range to make sure that it is functionally reliable. This will not guarantee you won’t have problems, but it makes sure you start off with no unknown problems. If your rifle has a mechanical problem or potential problem with a magazine you can fix it before you are at the shoot. Naturally, use known good magazines if you use detachable magazines. As for your equipment, from safety equipment to weapon and accouterments, double-check their condition. If you aren’t a regular match shooter you will need a mat to lay on. One fellow had a really good idea of using an exercise mat. You don’t need to run out and get a fancy shooting mat. My wife used two military surplus ground pads.
Ammo: I took at least 200 rounds of ammo for each rifle for the single day I attended. I didn’t use all of my ammo for reasons I’ll get into later. But one can figure 200 rounds should get you through the entire basic course on the first day. There was daylight enough left so that those who chose to could go to the second range in Ramseur and engage the pop up targets. This naturally will require more ammo. But I was advised that 200 should do the first timer for the instructional phase of the first day. If you plan to attend both days, and I strongly urge you to do so, then figure your total at about 300 rounds as a good ‘guestimate’. It is better to leave the range with ammo to spare than to run out and become a spectator. Rifle marksmanship is not a spectator sport. One very important point about ammo; be sure it is all the same type and manufacturer. One fellow shooter was having problems with groupings and he discovered that he was using mixed types of ammo on the same stripper clips. So make sure your ammo is consistent in quality, type and manufacturer. But you don’t buy match grade ammo. For this class good surplus, but reliable, "ball" ammo will do you quite well.
You: If you are like most of us you aren’t going to run any Olympic marathons. If I tried, I would just fall apart. But you should do some simple things before going to the shoot. To maximize your efforts, as well as preventing undue stress on your body do some simple things to prepare you for a day of physical activity. You will be prone a lot. And you will be getting up and down from prone as well as from the sitting position…a lot. If you can not get into a prone position, or sitting position easily then start limbering up now by practicing some each day. You don’t have to train like a football player, but simply preparing your body for repeatedly getting up and down off the ground will make you more comfortable and not as tired by the end of the day. Fess up gang, we are all couch potatoes to a greater or lesser extent, and we shouldn’t be. But comforts being as they are, it is difficult to get motivated to exercise. I am guilty as charged.
How long before the shoot to prepare: This depends on the individual person. If you have a ‘Minute Man’ setup, which most of us don’t then make your equipment checks at least a weekend before you attend the Appleseed Shoot. This will give you time to gather the equipment, if you are like me, that you have stuffed in various places or moved around. I suggest to function check weapons in plenty of time ahead to make sure if you find out something needs repair you can get it fixed well beforehand. Gather your ‘to go’ equipment in one place and make sure your ammo is included along with any cleaning materials. Be set so that when it is time to go all you have to do is get the weapons out of their storage place and the rest of your gear and walk out the door.
BTW if you don’t have a little plastic empty chamber flag, it would be a good idea to stop by a gun store and pick up one for each weapon you take. These flags help the range officers to immediately recognize that a weapon is made safe. At Ramseur they did not require them, but my wife and I used one just for safety's sake. Now the other locations for the Appleseed shoots may or may not require them. But I like them when in the company of strangers. It’s good etiquette.
What to expect upon arrival: Each shoot location may vary a bit in procedure, but you can expect the following: Expect to be met by a bunch of very helpful range officers. My wife and I were greeted in the parking lot when we pulled up by a fellow with earphone on in ‘Mickey Mouse’ position and a big grin. He directed us to the location to check in and we were shown to our positions on the line. Because our arrival was a bit later than we wanted a position with my wife and I side by side was not available. This actually works out a lot better and if you and your spouse are attending then try to separate. If you and your spouse are together then one has the tendency to ask questions of the other. So by separating, each spouse is independent to ask questions to the range officers, and figure things out for themselves. My wife commented on the way back home that she figured out what to do without asking me. She said this with a lot of pride, not that I am a whiz kid, but she gained a greater confidence in her abilities than if I had been beside her. And the same will apply if you have kids going with you. It is a liberating experience when you learn on your own, or follow the instructions given and get the results the instructor says you will get.
You will be given instructional handouts that will help you when you leave to review the main points that are covered during the class.
Lessons Learned:What you learn is how to shoot ‘by the numbers’. This is taught as a way of organizing your mind as to what you have to do to make a good shot. And although I have been shooting for years there was a lot of ‘numbers’ I skipped. After all I was shooting for fun. But this is a different type of shooting. It is fun, but it is structured. And that structure, if you continue to practice, becomes second nature. And when it becomes second nature you become more accurate and you don’t have to ‘think’ about how to make a good shot, you do it naturally and consistently. You will learn all the shooting positions of standing, prone, sitting, etc. And there is more to it than just plopping down on the ground. You will learn techniques that will help your body absorb recoil in a manner that your follow up shots are faster and more accurate. That is what you need to learn to do, make each shot count. ‘Spray and pray’ will not cut it when your life depends on it, whether you are putting meat on the table or eradicating two legged vermin trying to harm you or your loved ones. You will learn how to properly use the AQT (Army Qualification Target) to measure your skill level and where you need to make changes to your shooting technique so you can improve. You will learn what muscles and bones are strongest to absorb recoil and how to best utilize your anatomy. You will learn enough, if you take everything to heart, to teach others to be better at shooting. You will learn how to coach someone else through using certain drills to spot when a person is doing something to cause them to flinch, buck, or jerk the trigger (and you will learn what these terms mean). You will find out how accurate you are from 100 yards to 400 yards, and you will be surprised. There is a lot more that you will learn at the Appleseed shoot that is too long to go into here. But the instruction is concise and to the point and taught by example. And you will probably easily learn more than I did. Each person absorbs information in different ways and different amounts. I still find myself remembering something by it just ‘popping’ into my head as I write this.
What is the Next Step?: So you have finished the Appleseed shoot. Now what? OK the next step is simply this. Practice what you have learned. Set a schedule, once a month, twice a month; whatever your schedule and just do it! When you get home, reread your handouts. The ‘dry fire’ drills the instructors took you through should be practiced three times a week. What? You mean I have to practice this ‘by the numbers’ shooting? You bet your sweet butt-stock. That is the only way you will become a Rifleman. That is the only way to hone your skills so that when the time comes, and it is no longer an ‘if’, you can defend yourself, your family and loved ones, and possibly our Republic. The harder you train to shoot today, the easier it will be to fend for yourself tomorrow.
The next step is to take what you have learned and teach it to your family and friends. You will have the handouts, and you can use them to help others. After that get together and if at all possible contact RWVA and make arrangements for formal Appleseed shoots in your area. Believe me, it will be a lot of work but this is a must to do. I have already taken two others through the numbers. Now there are two other potential riflemen coming online.
My Experience and What I Took Away From the Appleseed Shoot: I took away what I expected; better techniques to focus the mental aspects of shooting as well as the physical. There are mental aspects that are too often overlooked or ignored. A rifleman must be able to maintain a level of concentration to make each shot count, as well as faster follow up shots. I mentioned earlier that I did not consume my full 200 rounds of ammo. One of the best lessons I learned was how to quickly clear a jammed weapon and proceed with the next shot. I had made my pre-shoot check of my rifle the day before. Everything worked just fine. However, during the shoot I began to experience FTF (Failure to Feed) incidents. I changed magazines, all to no avail. I had taken five magazines in case a magazine was damaged or failed. I was getting the same failures, or a FTE (Failure To Eject). As the shoot progressed at each set of AQT setups the problem became more pronounced. By the end of the day my semi auto rifle had become a large capacity bolt action. It fired and ejected but didn’t strip a round from the magazine. With each shot, under time restrictions, I became more fatigued with each operation of the charging handle. Do I count my experience as negative because everyone else was blasting away and I was dropping the magazine, clearing the weapon, reinserting the magazine, pull the charging handle, refocus on my sight picture and firing? Nope. I got so that I could clear and fire pretty quickly. I did not stop. And I would have rather had that happen during training than a situation where my life depended on it. Make no mistake. This does happen during combat. Knowing how to quickly clear a weapon and fire is an important skill. And that is why I left the range with more ammo than my wife. At a lot of shoots you are allowed alibis for weapons malfunctions, etc. But I did not claim any alibis because in combat you won’t get any, so why should I claim that which would not apply in a real life situation? Just as important as the technical aspects of placing accurate rounds on paper, is what I learned that is intangible. There is a stirring in this land that is just starting. While there I got the distinct feeling of what it was probably like in the very early years of the founding of this Republic. Virtually every person there, men and women (daughters and wives), seemed to understand that they were there for a very vital purpose. It seemed to me that everyone knew, at some level, that this country is headed for some very serious problems in the not too distant future and they must be as ready as possible to rise to the patriot’s call. At a lot of matches or organized shoots there is usually a casual air, a competitive yet casual approach to the task at hand. But from the instructors to the newbies it appeared that everyone was focused to teach or learn as much as possible and that the sands were slipping quickly through the hourglass.
While we took a short lunch break I got into several conversations, and listened a lot. How shall I put this? Let’s just say that there is more problems at our southern border than we are being told. One interesting statement was that Mexico’s President visited Austin, Tx. During his visit he congratulated the Austin P.D. on not prosecuting illegals! Now many Texans may have known this, but how many outside of Austin Texas, or Texas Itself, had heard such statements? That was not the only revealing conversation. All there were aware that in all likelihood when the next president takes offices our current Civil Rights situation will change, and not for the better.
There were participants from many states. We had future riflemen from as far away as California in addition to the state of Texas! Yes a participant had driven from California to N.C. to attend. And I call that a true desire to learn! This fellow was totally awed by the fact that we could own and shoot weapons such as FN-FAL, AR-15, AK-47 and other rifles now banned in his state. He walked down the line asking what, to him, was unfamiliar rifles were when he didn’t recognize a particular rifle. Think of it. An American, born and bred, didn’t recognize what most of us consider as a common rifle! That does not bode well for all of us. And this is yet another lesson I, and more importantly my wife, took away. Real, tangible evidence, that those of us who have known for years that our Bill of Rights are being systematically dismantled; piece by piece. That is why it is so important to take someone with you, especially if he has any doubts about what is going on in this country. So make it a trip for rifle training, and you will expose him to what is happening in the political landscape.
One last thing I carried away from my time there. I tucked into my shirt pocket one ticket for a CMP M1 Garand! This shoot will qualify as a marksmanship event, along with a membership to a CMP club, to order one of the best implements of battle ever devised by Man. And an associate membership to RWVA will fill the club membership if you aren’t already a member of one. Also as a side note, there are some very good things coming from the CMP program in the near future. And to answer the unasked question, yes my wife out scored me. (I hear you chuckling in the background, Memsahib). Well, my rifle was failing.
Regrets: My regret is that I wasn’t there for the full two-day course. I had prior commitments for the following day and couldn’t attend. But the second day further reinforces the first day’s instruction and builds better skills. The second regret was that because I miscalculated how long it would take to drive, we arrived later and missed the very beginning. At the start you are taken through the methods of sighting in a rifle. This is a seemingly simple task, but as part of the continuity of the course it is an important component. You also get some pre-shoot time to meet others you will be shooting with. So when you go to the shoot, make sure you don’t miss anything they have to offer.
Conclusion: The Appleseed shoot is the biggest bang for the money (pun intended) I have seen in a long time. The cost for two days of very attentive instruction is very good. Unless you live close to one of the shoots, you will probably spend more on gas to get there or trivial things during a month’s time. One thing I want to really stress: Even if you have a disability, no matter what, you can do this. The gang at Ramseur helped one fellow who obviously had some mobility problems. He couldn’t get into the prone position and could only shoot standing. One of the range officers provided him a bench to shoot from. So there he was, with the rest of the cadre of shooters, sending rounds down range. If this guy can do it, anyone can do it. So if you have bad feet, think you are too old, or don’t think you can get up and down to the positions then you had better think again. Tell them when you pre-register of any problems and you will be accommodated, and you can help to make America one rifleman richer. And we are going to need all the true American riflemen that we can muster. - The Rabid One

Mr. Rawles,
I have been a reader of your blog for about a month now and as some one who believes in being prepared for any situation. I have found a lot of your comments very useful.
I am confused though about your suggestions to invest in gold and silver. I am just learning about these things so hopefully you can help clear up my confusion.
If you look at the track record for gold and silver over the long run these assets have just kept up with inflation. Over the same historical time period the stock market has been a much better investment. Most certified financial planners I have read and talked to recommend no more than 5% of this asset class in any investment portfolio and never hard assets such as coins, bars, etc. With the buy premium on hard assets the return is even less.
If these assets are going to go up in the future any where near as much as you have stated then why would the anyone or any company holding these assets sell them now? Why would they not hold on until a higher peak? So why would I want to buy these assets now when they are so high? I just wonder if gold is such a great future investment why are so many will to sell it to us now?
As far as having these hard assets in case of TEOTWAWKI what purpose would they serve? As an exchange token to make barter easier? How and who would set their value? Would there even be any intrinsic value to gold and silver after such an event? If you come to me to buy my surplus of bread why would I exchange them for your gold or silver instead of the shoes I really need? And if bread (or any item) is in short supply and I have excess and you have none and want some then a bar of your gold or a bag of your silver coins may not last you very long. What am I missing? Regards, - W.F.

JWR Replies:

>....Over the same historical time period the stock market has been a much better investment.

Looking at the past 50 to 100 years, the current bull market in precious metals is a bit of an anomaly.  The precious metals, in general, are not an "investment" per se. Rather, they are more like insurance. They are insurance against the destruction of the U.S. dollar. With the exception of the present day--which again is anomalous--people can expect to buy precious metals with no firm hope of a "return." Rather, they can be expected to just keep up with the rate of inflation.  I recommend that every family have a core (non-speculative) holding of 5 to 10% of their net worth in precious metals. Yes, that is ultra-conservative. Yes, your investment will likely be "non-productive."  But at least you'll have the ultimate in safety--even when greenbacks are used for kindling. In the long term, that is the fate of every paper currency that is not fully redeemable in specie. Again, think of it an insurance--not an investment vehicle.

And Re: 

If these assets are going to go up in the future any where near as much as you have stated then why would the anyone or any company holding these assets sell them now? Why would they not hold on until a higher peak? So why would I want to buy these assets now when they are so high? I just wonder if gold is such a great future investment why are so many will[ing] to sell it to us now?

There are buyers and sellers in every market--bull, bear, or bust. People choose to liquidate investments for many different reasons: for example, to pay medical bills, to finance a college education, to buy a house, or to re-invest in another asset. How long someone holds on to a particular asset cannot be predicted. Simply stated: If there are more sellers than buyers at any given time, then prices go down, and vice versa.

We are just in the opening stage of a bull market, so don't feel that you've missed the boat.  I strongly recommend that if you own any metals that you hold on until the market goes into the final phases of the bull cycle. In the nascent run-up, that probably means tops of around $90 silver and $2,500 gold. That equates to a 9X gain for silver and a 4.4X rise for gold over current spot prices. I'm not kidding. In this bull, I think that silver will outperform gold considerably. For one well-informed concurring opinion on this subject, see Edgar Steele's commentary titled "Peak Silver", at:

And Re: 

>As far as having these hard assets in case of TEOTWAWKI what purpose would they serve? As an exchange token to make barter easier? How and who would set their value?

Precious metals will have their greatest utility as a recognized store of value to facilitate barter, in the latter stages of a post-collapse economy, as regular commerce starts to resume.  Before that, you can only expect canned foods and common caliber ammunition to be accepted in barter. The free market will determine their value, as it always has. If there is a full scale dollar crisis, you can expect gold to zoom up past $4,000 per ounce. If the dollar is completely wiped out, the old dollars will probably be declared worthless, and a new currency unit will be established, most likely pegged to gold. OBTW, silver took a nice jump yesterday, to around $10.20 per ounce.  See:
Buy on the dips!

America's Sorriest Generation:

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The latest in Lithium-Ion batteries:

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Doc at spotted this web page for a "House in a Box":

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SurvivalBlog reader Michael Z. Williamson (the sci-fi author) recommends the Goliath Expedition: -- Karl Bushby's amazing web journal. As Mike put it, this sporadically posted blog is written by "a nutcase British former Paratrooper who is walking 36,000 miles around the Americans and Eurasia. His journal and photos offer some interesting insights on travel in emergencies, and kit. The experienced reader will also spot several critical mistakes he's making along the way--cheap nylon tent instead of canvas, incautious with blades, lack of experience with draft animals and bikes, etc. There's a wealth of information here."

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There is something fishy about the Hassan family:


Jim -
Your post for today brings up the topic of the spouse that goes fetal versus choosing to cope with the world's ugliness. Please open up the forum to hear how other people go their wife to the game! Maybe someone has a great technique that I haven't thought of! - D.A.B.

Mr. Rawles:
I can certainly relate. My spouse doesn't show much interest in preparedness either-but in our case-my spouse is my husband. He acts like my preparedness ideas and actions are just a goofy hobby. Any ideas on why a man would be in "denial"? -L.B.

“... of the liberty of conscience in matters of religious faith, of speech and of the press; of the trail by jury of the vicinage in civil and criminal cases; of the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; of the right to keep and bear arms... If these rights are well defined, and secured against encroachment, it is impossible that government should ever degenerate into tyranny." - James Monroe

Thursday, March 2, 2006

The latest update to our ClusrtrMap shows that there are now SurvivalBlog readers in at least 35 countries. Please keep spreading the word, especially to your friends or relatives that live in inimical and/or economically unstable countries such as Afghanistan, Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Columbia, Cote D'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, The Philippines, The Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, or any of the "Stans." Also, consider mentioning this blog to anyone that lives in a severe climate, such as Greenland, Iceland, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, or Tibet. We are actively seeking foreign correspondents in any of the aforementioned countries.

Have not seen the following subject touched upon in this or any other survival/preparedness forum/blog. What are your thoughts?

I recently finished reading David Crawford’s short story "The Bug-Out" and like his novel "Light's Out" it was a well crafted, entertaining and enjoyable read for a piece of fiction. More importantly it like the novel is also a fine educational tool on how to and how not to prepare for WTSHTF. Both of these stories should be required reading for anyone interested in survival and preparedness issues.

The two points that really got my attention in “The Bug-Out” were: 1.) That although Joe had the best of intentions and had done some basic prepping in the past, he had allowed things to slide and WTSHTF, he was well behind the curve and 2.) It did not seem to me that neither his kids or more importantly his wife were really on-board with the whole survival/preparedness thing.

Had everything been up to snuff it seems to me that they could have “Gotten out of Dodge” a full two hours sooner and quite possibly lived to make it to the farm. Now, I’m sure that was the whole point of David’s fine story but have all of you fully digested that point and taken it to heart in your own situations?

The story also put me in mind of a situation that I experienced a couple of years ago. I journeyed back to southeastern New Hampshire where I grew up, to visit my sister. While there, a couple that was part of our old high school gang set up a get-together for myself and twelve or thirteen other couples who were all part of our group. While sitting around and chatting about life then and now we got onto the subject of Survival, Preparedness, WTSHTF and TEOTWAWKI. This subject consumed the better part of the next three or four hours and I came away with some interesting and somewhat disturbing points (that I hadn’t thought of before).

Two couples declined to participate in this discussion and left saying that the rest of us were all crazy and that the whole Survival/Preparedness was just so much BS and that there was never going to be any WTSHTF or TEOTWAWKI. For their sake ,hope they are right, but if not, they are going to die. Too bad!

The remaining eleven couples were all in one stage or another of Preparedness Preparation. It was quite interesting to note that three of the eleven families were ram-rodded by the wife as opposed to the husband and that those groups were three of the top five in how well prepared they were.

What was also interesting to me was the fact that of the other seven couples who were less well prepared or not prepared at all, the major stumbling block was the lack of interest on the part of the wife and to a lesser extent lack of interest on the part of their kids.

Another point of contention was the fact that three of the remaining six groups had serious problems with a similar subject. What to do about/with physically/mentally impaired children/adults in the family.

There were either aged parents in a nursing home or autistic children in a special needs school/home. In all three cases the wife would absolutely not hear of abandoning the children/parents while the husband held that during a TEOTWAWKI situation they could not deal with the associated problems/dangers that taking these family members along would generate.

Thankfully I have never had to face these issues and I’m not sure what I’d do or how I would respond if faced with the same situation.

My purpose here is to ask if any of the Blog readers have experience with either of these two problem and if so, how did you handle them or how would you handle them??

Do you believe that including physically/mentally impaired children/adults on a Bug-Out would be smart or even safe? - Wise Tioga

JWR Replies: I believe that including physically/mentally impaired children/adults in retreat planning is a moral obligation. As a Christian, I would never consider doing otherwise. Adding a year's worth of food storage is a relatively inexpensive proposition, if it is done as part of a bulk (group) purchase. So there is no need to be Machiavellian  Just make your "life boat" a bit bigger.

As the old saying goes, "You can pick your friends, but you can't pick your relatives." Certainly it would be unwise to build a survival group chosen from among new acquaintances that includes anyone that has a major health issue. Can you imagine, for example, the trauma of watching a diabetic go into a coma and die, for want of insulin? But as for family, it is your duty to provide for and to protect your own, come what may. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, although seemingly a burden, elderly people may turn out to be a great asset, given their long lifetimes of experience. What is between their ears may be much more important than extra muscle. Likewise, your brother or cousin who is the parent of an autistic or retarded child might turn out to be a crucial member of your group.

The challenges of caring for an elderly or disabled family member create an even greater imperative to live at your retreat year-round. Otherwise "getting settled"  at a retreat will be enormously more stressful. If you have the job flexibility to do so, make the move to your intended retreat ASAP. Most of all, pray for God's guidance, providence, and protection. I do, daily.

Dear James:
J.H. is absolutely correct in that you should avoid body armor with Zylon, and that most of the "big name" brands in Body Armor have put out Zylon models. Some Point Blank production was only 20% Zylon, but it's just not worth taking the chance. For any vest you should check out the manufacturer's website, and then if there is any question of Zylon, get a confirmation in writing of the ballistic fibers used.
The recommendation to buy only NEW armor is not always the best advice, though. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has tested 10 year old USED Body Armor and found it tested as good as new, see
This applies to Aramid, i.e., Kevlar or Twaron vests, and NOT Zylon, of course. We have tested 10 to 25 year old aramid ballistic panels (some in bad condition) and they have always stopped the common pistol threats, including the standard test rounds of 9mm FMJ, and .357 Magnum at +P velocities
Ballistic protection levels explained at:
So, buy the best protection you can afford. But get a used vest, rather than no vest at all. It's like poker...
One vest and one gun, beats NO vest and two guns!
The point about the practicality of concealable vests over Tactical Body Armor is very well taken. Better 50% protection that you are wearing 100% of the time, than 100% protection left at home in the closet! The best vest for you is the one you are actually wearing when shot!
For guard duty in a crisis, nothing beats the turtle-shell feeling of a Tactical Vest and Rifle Plates - though it is a good idea to cover it up with a jacket. But make the concealable vest the first priority.
One of the questions we are most often asked is which ballistic protection level to get: Level II-A, Level II or Level III-A, from thinnest to thickest. Again, often less is more. Better the Level II-A or Level II that you can easily conceal and are wearing, rather than the Level III-A at home in the closet. Level III-As stop more of the uncommon threats like 9mm sub-machine-gun and .44 Magnum, but this is a very small percentage of the threats on the street. The real advantage of the thicker Level III-A vest is more blunt trauma protection - possibly letting you return fire more effectively.
We have an in-depth, generic Guide to Selecting Body Armor for those who want to learn more: Yours truly - Nick - Manager, Body Armor

Larry is to be congratulated for taking the initiative. In years past I have bugged out on numerous occasions just to "be sure." I have never felt jilted for doing that. It is ALWAYS good practice and you always learn something.

Larry may want to investigate buying a 20 foot or 40 foot (depending on his size needs) Sealand (CONEX) container and having it placed on his retreat property.

This will allow him to ditch the rental storage shed (saving probably $30-50. per month. In two years or so you will "break even" on the cost of the container) and give him a possible shelter to use if he needs to live at the retreat prior to having a normal dwelling built. He can pre-position his supplies in the back of the container and build living quarters in the front of it. The walls can be insulated, windows and doors even put in if he is so inclined. This would give him a relatively low cost ($1,000 to 1,500.) way to pre-position his supplies and have emergency living quarters if needed.

If he's worried about his supplies being looted I'd suggest putting them all in the back of the container, then buying a few dozen straw bales and building a wall of straw bales right at the front of the container. Someone opens the door and sees hay bales from the floor to ceiling 2 layers deep. I would assume someone is about to move horses or cows on the property and is stockpiling hay. He will have to weigh the risk of breaking over the risk of having to run all over the countryside retrieving supplies from storage lockers. This would also allow truly one trip- right to the retreat. Allowing him to get his family immediately out of harm's way. In my opinion their is just as much chance of having the sealand container broken into on the property as their is the storage shed broken into, probably more risk of the latter being broken into, especially after civil unrest.

Larry is to be commended for being a doer and taking the initiative. He has learned many lessons that others will not learn until the day comes. - Mr. Lima

Hi Jim,
Do you know a good place to buy sand bags? Here in Florida there is plenty of sand, but I need to buy some sand bags to put it in. Thanks. Joe

JWR Replies: In the U.S. there are several good sources, but prices vary widely, so shop around.  (From as much as $3.75 each in small quantities to as little as 38 cents each if you buy in lots of 1000.) For example, see: (The lowest price I've found on small quantities--around $1.80 each.)

If you want to buy in quantity (perhaps a group purchase that you can split several ways), it is best to order direct from a manufacturer, such as , or , or  (The latter currently charges $380 per thousand)

And for our readers across the pond, here is a source in England:

OBTW, be sure to buy the later variety synthetic (such as polypropylene) sand bags. The early burlap (or "Hessian") ones tend to rot and rip out too quickly. The latest and greatest mil-spec bags use Linear Low-Density PolyEthylene (LLDPE) or Polyethylene film laminated with a third layer of molten polyethylene. These have the best UV protection (and hence the longest useful life out in the elements), but are the most expensive. Even the standard military polypropylene bags will last two to three years in full sun, and much longer if painted or kept in the shade.

Mr. Rawles,
I just wanted to let you know about the smokin' deal I got on Mountain House foods from Vic at SafeCastle. I bought a 150-can kit for HALF of what I would have paid buying directly from Mountain House. I just had to tell him I was a SurvivalBlog reader. If anyone is looking for Mountain House food, March is the month to buy. I don't have any connection with Vic or his business. I just wanted to pass on the info. Thanks, - Rich in Louisiana

JWR Replies: Thanks for your letter.  I'm always glad to hear affirmation that I've chosen the right advertisers.

It is worth mentioning that Vic, owner of Safecastle (one of our loyal advertisers) is giving a substantial discount to SurvivalBlog readers off of his already well-discounted prices on Mountain House bulk buys, just for the month of March. After that, prices go back to normal, so if you are looking to build your stocks of long-term storage food, contact Vic. Here is a link to his 150-can deal--which he'll discount even further for you:

Thought your readers might benefit from this deal: I just noticed that REI has a special member's only '20% off 1 item' sale right shipping charges too if you pick it up at your local store.  Excludes their pricey mountain bikes, boats, GPS or ELBs. But that still means a big discount on many top quality high buck survival items like Katadyn water filters, MSR MIOX purifiers, lightweight tarp shelters, Bug-Out packs, ETON hand crank radios, Thule and Yakima roof racks. Their sale ends 4/02/06.*lq*member_rewards_coupon&vcat=REI_HP_LD - Gman

Some interesting country rankings:

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Rumors have started full scale salt and sugar hoarding in Russia:

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SurvivalBlog reader Lyn recommends: http://www.boatuscom/goodoldboat/pressure.htm ("A link about pressure cooking, good for newbies, that has a section at the end on how to make a water distiller using a pressure cooker. Also, 15 pounds of pressure is the minimum needed to sterilize hospital equipment. Plus of course food cooks quicker, saving fuel.")

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I'm pleased to see that the Firefox browser has become so popular. The Secret Squirrels tell me that it is much more secure than either Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Here at the Rawles Ranch we are glad that we made the switch to Firefox. We hope that you will consider doing likewise. Hey, it's free, so you have no excuse. See:

“A rifle without ammunition is a club, unless an attached bayonet upgrades it to a spear.” - Rourke

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

The following non-fiction article describes an abortive grid-up bug out made by a SurvivalBlog reader, in response to several articles (thankfully erroneous) that were posted on between January 22 and January 26, 2006.  The author's experience is not unique. Several of my friends bugged out to their retreats in late 1999, only to return to the Big City early in 2000, when Y2K turned out to be a non-event.  I also have an aquaintance--incidentally upon whom the John Thomas Rourke character in Jerry Ahern's The Survivor paperback book series was based--who bugged out to a retreat in a remote region of Northern California immediately after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980. He was convinced that it was the first stage of WWIII. Hindsight is indeed 20/20, and it is easy to say "He was a Chicken Little." But the essential truth is that it is better to bug out early than it is to hesitate and be trapped in the metropolis like the sheeple. The following piece teaches some valuable lessons.

Although this was a case of  "false alarm", it is still quite instructive.You will note that Larry mentions that he did not have room in his vehicles to bring all of his supplies with him. I cannot emphasize this enough: It is crucial to both do a "practice load" and to pre-position the majority of your supplies at your intended retreat. You may have only one trip Outta Dodge, when the balloon really does go up.

On January 22nd my wife had been on the web site and ran across the following article The article covers a nuclear attack and a financial collapse in America within 90 days. (sometime in March of 2006). This got our attention, BIG TIME. On January 25 the following article was posted on Arcticbeacon An attack was imminent in 9 days for Texas City-Houston area. On January 26 the following article was posted Houston police running nuclear disaster drills. I did my best to checkout the articles and the sources, however, I felt really pressed for time so the decision to bug out was made on January 26. I realize that this might not seem like a lot of good intel, however, since Kansas City was mentioned as a possible target and since we live close to Kansas City, so it really wasn’t that hard of a decision. Also, we have been watching the U.S. economy (see the novel by Jim Rawles Patriots), gold and silver, the stock markets, dollars and Euros ( especially dollar reserves vs. euro in other countries), oil and gas, open borders, U.S. and world politics, Iran and Syria, North Korea, etc. We went into “Condition Red”. Because the “advanced warning“ calculated the possible deed to be accomplished on February 1st or 3rd we decided to bug out to our Rally Point (RP) on the next Monday, January 30. I didn’t want us to be trapped in a major city if the balloon went up. I envisioned martial law would be used and traveling would be suspended. I also envisioned road blocks everywhere to stop any more “terrorists” still out there roaming around looking for more targets. Lots of “shoot first and don’t ask any questions.“ This also gave us time to “calmly” pack the vehicles. Even while being highly motivated, at times, we suffered from severe brain deadness. I found you really need a clear cut list of the items to take. You need to have them bagged, boxed and tagged so there is no searching and second guessing yourself. You need to know what goes where in which vehicle. I don’t like to say this but I believe thinking about this while doing it causes haste. Your lists and bug out plan(s) have to be already worked out. I can only imagine what it would have been like if the balloon had already gone up. Remember that the time you take loading your vehicle(s) only takes away your bug out time or put another way, your window of opportunity is closing.

FAMILY/FRIENDS/WORK/SCHOOL--We informed a limited number of family members and friends of the situation. We had to treat this like a medical triage situation. Certain people would be told and the decision to leave was up to them. Others would not be told since we know them and it would have opened a whole new can of worms we didn’t want or need to deal with at that time. My older son and family who lives in the fallout path east of Texas City-Houston area agreed to come to the RP. My two middle kids, 18 year old daughter and 23 year old son, live close to us and after some discussion they also agreed to go. I left the decision up to them since they are of age. Our 16 year old son didn’t have a choice. The good thing about all these family members is that they are mostly on board with the survival mindset and are aware of what is happening in the world around them. I couldn’t imagine the stress if they weren’t. Two survival friends were also informed, however, they decided they would shelter in place if the balloon went up. We wished each other the best of luck.
The previous Christmas I had given my middle kids Bug Out Bags or B.O.B.s as they are always referred to. I got lots of strange looks from them but they smiled and made me feel good. Two weeks before the Bug Out and before the articles at I was getting this uneasy feeling that they needed to have their B.O.B.s accessible and ready to go. Of course the B.O.B.s weren’t ready so I badgered them until they put them back together. It took them a week. They were ready when I called them about the Bug Out. They did really well.
We decided that a little “white lie” would be used on our employers and schools. A family illness/emergency had happened to my parents and we have to go to see them . It could possibly be a week but we’re not sure. Not very original but effective. I know it was wrong to do this, however, for the OPSEC of the bug out it was needed. This did come back to haunt my middle son. When he had gotten back from the bug out he was fired from his job. Two edged sword. He has since landed another job. This is something that everyone will have to consider for their bug out plan and whether it is a GRID-UP or GRID-DOWN bug out. Both of which are going to be totally different.

PRE-POSITIONING of SUPPLIES--We decided it was time to preposition as many supplies as possible during this time. We took most of our storage food, 1⁄2 of our MRE’s, 3⁄4 of our ammo (in military ammo cans), two rifles in cosmolene, medical supplies, 3⁄4 of our vitamins, miscellaneous fuels (butane, kerosene and lamp oil), shelves, all the camping equipment, reference books, extra clothes and shoes, miscellaneous house supplies, extra garden tools, TA-1 field phones and wire, kerosene heater, 3⁄4 of our candles and lamps and about 1⁄2 of our seeds. Other items we brought but didn’t put into storage was 40 gallons of treated gasoline (get the military gas cans not the plastic ones they aren‘t as tough), 30 gallons of drinking water, generator, 2 cycle weed eater, 2 cycle chain saw with extras, 2 cycle oil, two tubs of power tools and hand tools (with nails and screws), all my rifles and pistols with mags and ammo. cleaning kits and tools, weapons spare parts, 4 cases of bottled water and several food tubs. We really like those plastic tubs. To help in this effort we rented a 6’ x 12’ covered trailer. It took us a while to get it because they only had one attendant . If your going this route to transport stuff make sure you have a proper hitch (class 1, 2or3) and electrical hook ups. It makes it that much easier and saves time. Time you might not have. One other suggestion, buy a covered trailer (all metal/aluminum). Remember, it has to be sized for your vehicles towing capacity. Also paint it a subdued color. The orange and white of the trailer we had really sticks out. You don’t want people to see what you have and covering with a tarp doesn’t hide everything and you can’t lock it up. Anyway, when we got there we were the only customer, however, by the time we left there were 10 customers waiting (it took them 30 min). I tried to imagine how it would be if the balloon had already gone up and everyone was freaking out.
Since our RP is 30 minutes from the retreat and that we still don’t have a storage barn built on the retreat we rented a storage shed closer to our RP. All of our supplies were put into the storage shed. More items will be put there in the very near future

CONVOY-- For the purpose of this report I will call my convoy Group 1 (Chevy 4WD with camper top and trailer, Ford Windstar and Ford Explorer (4WD) and my oldest son from down south Group 2 (Dodge mini van). Group 1 was on the road by 11 a.m. Monday, January 30 like we had planned. The trip to the RP should take 4 hours. My middle son and daughter in his van, my wife in her SUV and my step-son and I in my truck/trailer. We used FRS radios to communicate with each other. It was good practice for everyone. We had cell phones but they aren’t as handy for close communication. We had plenty of batteries for all the radios with lots of spares. Rechargeable batteries with a solar charger will be used next time. The cell phone came in handy when calling Group 2 for progress updates. I had split some of the rifles and pistols between the 3 vehicles. At the current time we traveled on “Condition yellow”. This meant all weapons were in their gun case or gun rug, locked and unloaded. If the balloon had gone up while we were on the road we would have gone to “Condition Red” and we would have locked and loaded. I don’t think the MZBs (mad zombie bikers) would have been out yet, however, you never know. As an acquaintance once told me “better safe than sorry”. Group 2 had no firearms and this greatly concerned me and there was nothing I could do about it. We prayed nothing would happen and that they would arrive at the RP safe. They arrived safe, in fact beating us to the RP.
Now, driving with the trailer was ok but it liked to skittle around a bit. Anyone who has pulled a trailer knows this. I could only travel between 55 and 65 mph. So Group 1 had to basically go as fast as me. Or, you’re only as fast as your slowest member. The trip took us 6 hours -vs.-the regular 4 hours. I believe that is because when you add more vehicles and people you will stop more often for eating, bathroom breaks, etc. Group 1 followed the primary route. This was all done on major highways through cities and towns. These are also choke points if something were to happen. I had two other routes picked out. These would have taken a lot longer but would be safer than the major refugee routes. My mistake was I only had one set of maps. I will make map sets for everyone here real soon. We also had $1,000 in cash and our barter silver. We also brought our house, property, vehicle and personal papers along in a fire proof safe. Very good things to have to prove ownership etc.
later on.

BUG OUT GEAR-- Everyone in Group 1 one had their own B.O.B.s. Ours are equipped for less than a week. Along with the B.O.Bs three of us had our combat loads. These were kept close to us in the vehicles. Group 2 had no B.O.B.s or combat loads. My older son is working to put his families together.

WEAPONS and TARGET SHOOTING-- We went to the retreat to get some target shooting in. I also wanted to see how the rifles (FAL, AKs, SKS, AR-180B, M1 Carbine), ammo and mags worked with sustained fire. I have to take 2 rifles to the gunsmith for adjustment. Also found out that the 20 round detachable SKS mags I had don’t work well. The only ones that did work were the original 10 round mag and 5 round detachable mags. I also spent quality time with my sons about rifle and pistol function and safety. I covered proper sight picture while acquiring targets. Everyone did well. Shot a lot of ammo.

TIME TO GO HOME-- If nothing had happened by Saturday, February 4th we had decided that day would be the day we would all head back to our homes and lives. So Saturday morning we all loaded up the vehicles and said our good-byes (hugs and kisses). The trip back for Group 1 seemed to go faster. Group 2 made it back in the same amount of time it took to get there. Everyone got home safe and sound.

IN CONCLUSION--We stayed a week at the RP (hotel).The plan was, if the balloon went up, to stay there as long as the credit card would last. We would than go and gather up the supplies from the storage shed and move out to the property and set up camp. In hindsight I don’t think that was the best of plans, however, at the time it was the only plan. Now that we have pre-positioned supplies, we will go straight to the retreat. Hopefully the Powers That Be will hold off long enough so we can get the storage building built on the retreat and then the house.

I found that our Bug Out was good for the following reasons:
Got to spend a lot of quality time with the grandkids.
We all got to spend quality time with each other (kind of a mini family reunion).
Pre-positioning of supplies at the now RP #2.
The retreat is now RP #1.
Reduced our bug out time.
Everyone knows how to get to RP #1 & 2. Still need to make maps for all.
Answered some of my own question and concerns about my firearms.
Need to get more military metal gas cans.
Had good weapons familiarization “training” with most of the shooters in the family. The women didn’t shoot. They spent time visiting neighbors. (We’ll work on the shooting later).
Dealt with some retreat issues that really needed dealing with.
“Better safe than sorry” is great, however, it seemed like a toss up at times. Second guessing myself caused some hesitation about bugging out. Just have to deal with that.
Since everyone, except the children, knew this was a possible SHTF scenario everyone kept their cool and didn‘t scare the kiddies.
Reinforced the thinking that children (babies and pre-teens) have to be really kept occupied during a bug out. Everyone has to chip in and help and they did. Even the teenagers (surprising). An adult(s) needs to be a cruise director for the bug out. The little toys, games etc we bought before the bug out paid off. It would have been a long week if we hadn’t have made some plans. Not everything worked out, so, have plan B, C, D…!
This event has pushed us to get the storage shed built at the retreat ASAP.
The emotional side of the bug out is very stressful for people. As I said before, have as much of your supplies tagged and know where it all will go in your bug out vehicles. Have a plan for the GRID -UP and GRID-DOWN bugout. Remember to eat well and drink lots of fluids. Don’t forget to take your prescription meds if you have them.
Try and get at least 30 days supply of prescription meds above your usual monthly supply. More if possible. I’m researching the homeopathic way for my prescription drugs.

is very important. Everyone that is part of the bug out needs to understand this perfectly. If you have time before the bug out load your vehicles at night. If you have a garage, pull the back of the vehicle into the garage door and load from the privacy of the garage. Shop for the extra things you need anytime but load at night. Neighbors do watch what is going on and they will come ask questions. If they do just tell them your little “white lie“. Just remember that the more “white lies “ you use the harder it will be to keep up with them all. Making trips during the year will help as they will see this trip as nothing out of the norm. Wear civilian clothes. Don’t wear camos. This will scare the neighbors seeing several people next door running around in camos. Plenty of time to change later if you really need to. Once we got to the RP we had informed other family that we were on a one week vacation with the grand kids and all. That really wasn’t telling a “white lie.” I'm writing this on February 14th which is way after the fact and nothing has blown up and no one is glowing…yet. Thank God it was a false alarm this time. Everyone made it home safe and sound. The financial cost of this bug out was substantial. I won't discuss it here because it can really vary per individual or group. All in all it was money well spent and the lessons learned are priceless.

Dear Jim:
I recently purchased a 1991 Ford F350 diesel truck. I had read previously on the Blog site of your recommendations on how best to outfit G.O.O.D. vehicles. Unfortunately I have been unable to find that post. I would appreciate it if you would re-post that information. Also I have a few other questions concerning this topic if you don't mind.

1.) What type of winch do you suggest? Manufacturer, size & power, etc.

2.) Is it necessary to EMP-proof the glow plug switch? And, if so, how is that to be done?

3.) Do you suggest light assemblies on the roof of the cab or elsewhere on the truck?

I appreciate all of your excellent knowledge. Hodu L'Yahweh ke tov, (Give thanks to Yahweh for He is good.) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies:

I'm glad to hear that you bought a diesel truck. Hopefully it is a four wheel drive. Since it is a 1991 model, odds are that it does not have electronic fuel handling. (Which is a good thing, in the event of EMP.) But it is best to double check that. In answer to your questions:

1.) I generally don't recommend electric winches. They look useful and very manly, but from a practical standpoint they usually turn into big, heavy, expensive truck ornaments that rarely get used. A power takeoff (PTO) winch is much more practical. But even those rarely get used. I have found that if and when you do need a winch, the winch will often be on the wrong end of your vehicle. (I'm reminded of the old line about the statistical chances of the peanut butter side of the bread landing face down on the carpet...) With about the same total weight and about the same expense of buying one electric winch with 75 feet of cable, you can buy the following:  4-Tow hooks (one for each bumper corner--install these only if you already have heavy duty bumpers, such as those made my Reunel), 2-Dayton come-alongs (a.k.a. ratchet cable hoists) , 2-25 foot tow chains, 1-50 foot tow strap, 1-snatch block, 2-padded tree "chokers", 1-48 inch Sheepherder (Hi-Lift) jack, 1-Shovel, and 1-Axe).  Granted, using come-alongs is not as fast as some operations with an electric winch, but the preceding list provides much more versatility at getting your vehicle out of a ditch, as well as handling umpteen other tasks.

2.) EMP-proofing any particular model goes beyond my expertise.  It is probably best to have an experienced diesel mechanic show you how to bypass the glow plug switch with a clip lead from your battery's positive terminal. Keep that clip lead in your glove box at all times.

3.) For day-to-day (pre-Schumer) off-road use, a couple of forward-facing roof-mounted KC lights might prove useful. One or two more, facing aft, would also be useful. Just don't overboard. I must emphasize, however, that the only lights that I recommend adding for post-TEOTWAWKI use are infrared floodlights (such as these ones, made in Australia), for driving with your headlights off while wearing night vision goggles. (One proviso: Keep your speed down to single digits when doing so, since NVGs do not provide good depth perception! Driving in these conditions takes a lot of practice.)

Keep up the good work as always. I thought I'd share a couple of ideas that I've had.

A "money" emergency, ranging from losing your job temporarily to a full-scale depression is one of the most likely things to happen to all of us. I know you've talked about this before, but I'd like to share a few things. I would advise anyone to get at least one marketable backup skill or trade. The local community college is vast resource for learning practical skills. Here are some possibilities:
-Auto Mechanics. Think of this for self-sufficiency and employment. People gotta get to work! A couple of semesters will prepare you for an entry level job, 1-2 years to be a full-fledged mechanic. I have saved probably $10,000 over the years by working on my own vehicles.
-Welding. You can get the basics for repairs and maintenance work in one semester. Plan on 2 or 3 semesters if you want to get certified for structural or pipeline work. With our current energy situation, pipeline welders are in high demand, and can make $100K/year in some situations.
-CAD/CAM. This is operating and programming the automated equipment that manufactures virtually all machined goods and items. The class I'm in has a board full of job listings, starting at $13/hr and going up to more than $30 for experienced people. In 1-2 semesters, you could easily qualify for one of those jobs. Amazingly, my college offered this as an accelerated, full time program that only takes one semester, and available free by applying at the unemployment office. Can you believe that there were no takers?
-Music. I think this one is often overlooked. If you're inclined in this area, think about learning an easily-transported instrument like guitar, harmonica, keyboard, etc. In hard times, people want to be cheered up. If you ever end up in a refugee camp or jail, you have immediate value to offer.
-Truck driving/equipment operating. I recently read a white paper from the grocery industry about dealing with bird flu. They cited truck drivers as one of the most critical and hard to replace resources. Getting training and upgrading your licenses seems like a good idea. From the article on Katrina evacuations, it sounds like DOT regulations would typically get relaxed in any emergency, so a basic commercial license might get you quick work, or permission to drive a bus or truck with needed relief supplies.
Your training and education are something that no economic collapse can rob you of. Even if you only take 1 class in another trade, it could mean the difference between getting hired to sweep up the floors and getting an "assistant mechanic" or other, better-paying job.
Also, working on your job and social skills is important. You should spend an hour making a new resume every few months, even if you are happy with your job. It's a good way to see where you're weak and think about what new skills, certifications, etc you might want for your current line of work.
Getting work in hard times means you have to hustle. I have a friend who lives in Las Vegas and has been a salesman for every imaginable product. He says that he has gotten more jobs by waiting until the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions. He asks [presumptive] things like "Are the cokes in the hallway free, where are the time cards, what time do people start on Mondays?" He then just shows up the next day ready to start. He says that this works 9 out of 10 times for any job they need filled right now. - JN.

A "must read" article: Global Credit Ocean Dries Up by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. In this piece, Evans-Pritchard asserts that the global economy is reaching a dangerous tipping point. See:

    o o o

Some quiet Asian Avian Flu planning is going on in England. See:,,2095-2058244,00.html

   o o o

FEMA is making plans for a major earthquake on the New Madrid fault.  See:  

   o o o

A paper on the Asian Avian Flu and the Grocery Industry:

"If their economy is destroyed, they will be busy with their own affairs rather than enslaving the weak peoples. It is very important to concentrate on hitting the U.S. economy through all possible means." - Osama bin Laden, Dec. 21, 2001

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