July 2006 Archives

Monday, July 31, 2006

Today we present the final article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It discusses auxiliary pumps for home water wells, and well buckets.

The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, (normally $149) generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 6, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 6 will end on September 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

This article describes how to build an inexpensive, simple, easy to use pump that can pump water out of a residential water well from about 100 feet down. It’s called the “Simple Siphon” pump because its key component is a cleverly designed valve by that same name. (See below). Under ideal conditions it can bring up between 1/2 and 1 gallon per minute. I know this works, because I built and tested one on my own home well. If the power goes out, this pump can get you lifesaving water! Building the Simple Siphon™ Well Pump (SSWP) will require the following:
1. One Simple Siphon valve, $12 for a three-pack (not including shipping), available from http://www.siphonsonline.com or write to Simple Siphon Plus, 684 South Drive, Divide Colorado 80814, simplesiphonplus@earthlink.com (Congratulations guys for making a simple, durable, affordable valve that can be used for a wide range of fluid-handling projects!)
2. Amazing Goop® Plumbing adhesive and sealant by Eclectic Products, Inc.
3. One 200 foot roll of 1/2” black thin-wall drip hose (drive around with your valve to different hardware stores until you find one that carries hose small enough to form a tight fit with your valve). The brand I found was RainDrip, 1/2” (.620) Poly Hose, 200 foot coil, part #052020, from Lowe’s Hardware. (You probably won’t be able to get the SSWP to work much deeper than 100 feet, but the extra hose could come in handy for other things, and it certainly is cheap.)
4. One section of 1/2” rigid white PVC pipe, (make sure it will fit over your thin-wall drip hose) and cut off a 2 foot section. (OPTIONAL)
5. One pop riveter (I used one made by United Shoe Machinery Corp, but any manufacturer will do.) Compact, lightweight, simple to use. Read the directions.
6. One box of pop rivets (you only need 4 for this project, but you might wish you had more), 1/8” diameter pop rivets for 1/8” “work thickness”, United Shoe Machinery Corp, stock # S-42-100
7. One small triangular file (a little wooden handle for the file is nice, but not necessary)
8. One electric drill and 1/8” drill bit (some of you will be prepared enough to have an old hand-held crank or push drill, in case the power is already off).
9. One roll of commercial-grade, outdoor-rated duct tape. (You really don’t need it to be that high quality, but you’re only going to use a little of it with this project and if you’re in some kind of survival or emergency situation you won’t want to have cheap duct tape…)
Note: Read through all the instructions below before beginning this project!
Using a small triangular file, file the grooves on the Simple Siphon™ valve a little deeper. Angle the file so that it cuts a more barbed shape into the valve stem. Go easy on the filing – you want an edge, but don’t want to cut too deeply into the copper.
It will keep the hose easier to handle if you leave it coiled in its original size coil, but work loose the end you will be attaching the valve to about 2 feet. Do your best to not kink the hose at any time, if possible.
Before mounting the valve, you’ll want to slide your 2 foot section of PVC over the end of the thin-wall tubing. This will keep the working end of the SSWP straight, so it can’t curve and get caught on the gaps between well pipe sections.
First, bevel both ends of the rigid pipe section so there is no edge to catch on any mineral accretions or pipe gaps. This is especially important for the top edge of the pipe! Getting your SSWP caught going down into the well isn’t such a problem, but getting it caught or snagged coming back up could be a real problem!
Put a little water or dish soap on the end of the flexible hose, then slide the rigid pipe on. There should be enough friction that you won’t need to glue the stiffener in place, and it’s not going to fall off! Push it up far enough to leave you with about 3” of black thin-wall hose to mount the valve to. Once you’re through attaching the valve you can slide the stiffener pipe back down as close to the valve as you can get it.
Now, using a new pencil end (not the eraser end), squirt a small amount of Amazing Goop Plumbing onto the side of the tip. Roll the tip around inside the end of the hose to more or less evenly coat the inside. (Epoxy turned out to be too brittle in early testing. Goop appears to have just the right balance of adhesiveness and flexibility.)
Apply more Goop to the pencil and roll / spread it over the valve stem, especially in the barbed grooves. You have to move quickly, because Amazing Goop Plumbing dries fast!
Push the valve stem into the hose end as far as the valve will go. There will be a bead of Goop at the end of the hose, which will be no problem. Wipe it off with your finger if there’s TOO much and it threatens to drip.
While the Goop is still uncured, drill one hole in the side of the valve stem, close to the top. You should be able to clearly see where the top of the valve stem is through the bulging in the hose. Press the un-turning drill bit into the plastic to start an indentation, then back off of the pressure and start to drill. Use light pressure so that the drill bit does not slide out of position and across the tubing! Be sure you’re not drilling right at the end of the stem.
Immediately put the pop rivet head into the hole and apply the rivet with the tool. If you haven’t used a pop riveter before, practice on a sheet of metal or a few inches of hose.
Turn the hose over and drill a hole approximately opposite the first hole. Rivet it.
Turn the hose so that both rivets are parallel to the ground. Drill a third hole closer to the end of the tubing and rivet it.
Turn the hose over and drill the fourth hole approximately opposite the last hole. Rivet it.
Wipe off any excess Goop, or Goop that may have gotten onto the hose elsewhere. Any Goop you may have gotten on your fingers will just roll up, and you can then wash up with soap and water. (If you’re concerned about getting Goop on your hands, wear vinyl or rubber gloves.)
The Simple Siphon Well Pump assembly will dry more quickly if it’s kept warm indoors (the smell is not strong). 24 hours is the minimum. The Goop’s main job is to seal any leaks that might form between the hose and the valve stem, but it’s also going to help hold the valve to the entire end of the hose, while the rivets only hold the valve to the hose at four points. (This assembly – with no glue - has been actually tested to hold at least 53 pounds of weight, in a bucket hanging from the valve. In further testing the rivets tore through the tubing around a load of 100 pounds or so. This is plenty of strength for the water above the valve and any peak load caused by pumping the hose up and down.)
After a few hours of drying, when the Goop isn’t tacky anymore, re-coil the tubing into a larger circle. My tubing originally came in a coil that was 18 inches across. The hose will have less resistance to moving up and down in the well pipe if it’s not coiled so tightly. I re-coiled my tubing around the back of a recliner, for a diameter of about 25 – 26 inches. If you’re going to be handling your Simple Siphon Well Pump in cold weather, you might want to coil it even larger.
To make handling the hose inside the cramped quarters of a well-house / pump house easier, duct tape the end (not the valve end) to the hose when you make your FIRST loop of hose. This will keep the end from whipping around, and keep it clean if you cover the hose tip too. Every 5 or so loops, duct tape the coils together (one layer will do), then keep coiling. As you insert the tubing, tear off the duct tape as you come to it. Reverse this process when you take the tubing back out of the well when you’re done.
To protect the valve head from damage from getting flung around in tight quarters with metal pipes and fixtures (the pump house), I’m outfitting my pump valve end with a bit of foam rubber-type material to cushion it, and will remove the tip cover when I’m ready to insert the SSWP.
NOTE: If you’re building your Simple Siphon Well Pump in advance of a regional or national electrical emergency, you might consider preparing at least one of your spare Simple Siphon valves in advance. Since drilling through the copper valve stem is the one step that involves an electrical tool (drill), you could pre-drill (and pre-file, might as well) one of your spare valves in the appropriate places. Save the spare to replace your main valve if it gets damage, if you need to build a second pump, or if your original hose gets damaged and you need to shorten it (removing a valve once riveted on is hard work unless you have an electric drill handy).
Once your spare valve was slid into a tight-fitting hose end, you should be able to gently probe the plastic to locate where the holes are and manually drill through the hose with an awl, or small and sharp Phillip’s screwdriver head, or with a manual drill (crank, or Yankee screwdriver-style push drill), then rivet it in place.To use your SSWP you’ll need:
1. The SSWP
2. Two pipe wrenches (at least 14” long, probably no shorter than that, wrenches that are much longer than that may be hard to use in a cramped pump house)
3. 2 clean rags or washcloths – one dry, one soaking wet
4. Roll of duct tape (of course!)
5. One contractor-grade 30-gallon trash bag
6. One or two 5-gallon water bottles (When transporting water remember this: it weighs 8 pounds per gallon. Each of these bottles will weigh 40 pounds. It’s probably easier to move heavy weights like these two at a time.)
7. Two feet or so of the thin-wall tubing, cut off and carefully split lengthwise
8. Teflon thread tape for plumbing
9. A 3/4” x 1” female plumbing adapter (50 cents or so, threaded for 1" O.D. pipe on one end, with a 1" inner diameter un-threaded end on the other) will cover the threads on the well pipe so they don't cut into the SSWP piping.
Take two pipe wrenches out to your wellhead and remove the well pipe cap. One wrench holds the well pipe from turning, and the other, facing the opposite direction, turns the well cap. Get help if you don’t understand how pipe wrenches work. (If you’re testing this before the power actually goes out, you must first shut off the well pump switch and drain the water from the pressure tank. In fact, even after a power failure, to be on the safe side, check that there is no water pressure in the pressure tank.)
Use one clean rag to thoroughly dry around the top of the well pipe, inside and out.
Tear off a 4 inch piece of duct tape and wrap it around the well pipe, with half of the duct tape above the end of the pipe. Roll the half sticking out over the top edge and into the pipe end. If you can still feel sharp edges through the duct tape, add another layer. Run another section of duct tape around that tape to firmly attach it to the outside of the well pipe. You’re creating a slight cushion at the top of the pipe to protect the SSWP from being scratched or rubbed through when inserting the SSWP or when pushing it up and down. (A hardware store may have something more durable you could adapt to protect the SSWP, just be sure the SSWP will pass easily through its opening, and securely tape your guard to the well pipe to keep it from moving around.)
As you lower the SSWP into the top of the well, use the damp cloth to wipe down the hose as you insert it. Ideally, you could mix a little (a l-i-t-t-l-e !) bleach in the water that you soak the cloth in, to help clean and sterilize the hose as it goes in. Too much bleach will be hard on your hands.
Don’t insert the SSWP too rapidly unless you know the depth of the pump. You don’t want to ram the valve into the top of the pump at the bottom. Slow down as you approach the bottom.
You don’t absolutely need to reach the very bottom of the well pipe. All you need to do is to get the Simple Siphon™ valve several feet (say 6 feet) below the static water level inside the well. The one unknown is how fast water will seep into the well pipe through your model of electric well pump. The deeper you can empty the well pipe with your SSWP, the more water pressure will be exerted at the pump to refill the pipe, and it will refill quicker.
So if you’re pumping the well pipe dry, try pumping at a lower depth. If you’re still pumping it dry at the bottom of the well, you’re just going to have to pump more slowly. Leave the SSWP at least 6 feet above the well pump to give it room to refill (water will seep around the SSWP and up the well pipe, but it will not seep into the end of the SSWP because of the pressure of the water stacked above the Simple Siphon valve, that’s why you have to shove it up and down to create a sucking/pumping action).
Once inserted, if you’re really at the bottom of the well, and you’ve got a lot of extra hose left, cut the hose so there’s enough length to reach your water container and a generous loop as well. Take the remaining part of the hose and have your assistant hold it in your water jug. If you don’t have an assistant, duct tape the hose so it won’t pull out of the opening of the jug.
Do your best to not kink the hose at any time! Once you’ve determined the best working depth for the SSWP, take the split section of hose you prepared earlier and tape it to the SSWP hose so that one end is just inside the well pipe and the other end is where your upper hand will hold the hose. Don’t duct tape the part that is going to be going in and out of the well pipe unless you’re sure the extra thickness won’t be too much for the well pipe. You are reinforcing the “working” part of the SSWP so that it can take the motion of pumping without kinking. If the hose kinks it will continue to fold at that point each time you move the hose, and you’ll have to hold the hose there or otherwise support it.
If you need more hose, you could splice on a short section of hose from another roll, using a double-ended barbed plastic coupler (ideally glued or clamped into place). But don’t use spliced hose in the well pipe unless you’re absolutely desperate, because of the possibility that it could come apart at the splice (long hose stuck inside the well…). You can buy a $15 crimping tool by Murray Keystone ("045, OTC-1000 Tool Crimping", looks like a nipper, but with no sharp edge) and some 3/4" Ideal Crimp Clamps (high-nickel corrosion resistant, my package said 3/4” but it actually fit pretty well over the 1/2” hose. These crimp clamps – use two per side of the connection – work pretty well, but they stick out from the side of the hose too far to risk putting them inside the well pipe. They’ll be fine for an extension between the SSWP and your storage jugs. If you absolutely must use a spliced hose in the well pipe, pin the connector to the two pipe ends with long pop rivets or nails, passed through drilled holes, instead of using a crimper or clamp.)
Once everything is in place, lift the Simple Siphon valve well away from the well pump at the bottom so you don’t smash into it (this is important!). (Remember, the SSWP only needs to be below the static level of the water, not all the way at the bottom of the well…) Quickly build speed going up, then quickly shove the SSWP down into the well pipe about 9 to 12 inches. Draw it back up, then, quickly reversing direction, shove it down again. What causes the suction and pumping action is that the water in the hose gets moving in one direction (up) until it’s moving quickly, and when the hose reverses direction and starts suddenly downward, the water in the hose continues upward from inertia. This creates suction in the valve end of the hose! Water gets sucked in, and the valve keeps it from running back out. (This inertia-caused pumping is the principle behind the SSWP, in fact we first considered calling it the “L.I.F.E. Well Pump,” standing for Lightweight, Inertial-Flow-Effect Well Pump)
Each time the water level in the SSWP will rise about 6 - 9 inches, because of suction caused by the inertia of the water. If the water level is 50 feet underground, this means working the pump up and down 100 times before water reaches the surface – be patient! Eventually, the water will reach the top of the well and come spilling down the hose into the water jug. Repeat for as long as you need, trading off if the operator gets tired. Depending on the well refill rate, you may have to pump for a minute, then wait for 5 minutes or more while the well refills, then pump again. It will be different for every situation.
I strongly recommend that you not leave the SSWP in the well pipe when not in use. For one thing, someone could come along and steal it or damage it, and you are already in a desperate survival or emergency situation. For another, pulling it up gives you a chance to inspect how the valve end is doing and if any holes are being worn in the tubing somewhere along the length of the well pipe. (If you need to remove the Simple Siphon™ valve to move it higher on the tube, or to move it to a new tube, you can drill out the pop rivets if you’re careful, and reuse it!)
When you pull the SSWP out of the well, have your assistant duct tape the first coil of hose as you did when preparing the pump for use. Then as you feed hose to your assistant, have him / her duct tape the coils together every 5 or so loops to keep it under control, and prevent it from kinking. Once the SSWP is completely out of the well and taped off, store it in your construction-grade trash bag. The tube will still have some water in it that you can collect in the bag.
Lightly replace the well pipe cap so that no dirt or insects get into the well. Be sure to tighten the cap (using plumber’s Teflon thread tape, or “plumber’s goop” sealant) before you try to operate the well pump once electricity has been restored! It would be a good idea to leave the pump shut off, in case power comes on unexpectedly and the well cap isn’t on tightly yet…
Once you’re back at home, you can completely drain the tubing of water to get as much out of it as possible. (None of the components are prone to corrosion, so that’s not an issue.) Be sure to check it for damage and repair or replace what has been damaged. A tiny hole in the tube towards the top will only drain off a small amount of water, but a hole nearer the bottom will drain more water because of the greater water pressure there, and will eventually risk the structural integrity of the SSWP.
If you aren’t sure what the quality of the water in wells in your area is, if there is any possibility they are contaminated with bacteria, fungus, or parasites, then please treat the water you retrieve from the well with regular, un-perfumed laundry bleach in the recommended proportions (or use some similar purifying technology). In a crisis, the last thing you need is to come down with some condition or sickness because the water was contaminated.
If you test the SSWP in a functioning well, it would be a good idea to run a cup or two of the bleach described above through the well cap vent hole into the well shaft when you’re finished with your test to kill any bacteria you may have introduced to the system. And it should go without saying that you should NOT use the same SSWP to pump gasoline or contaminated water, as you would to pump from a well.

On a personal note:
The knowledge you now possess on how to get water out of a private well when there is no electrical power could be life-saving power. Before the next major crisis strikes, share this article and concept far and wide. Many people will just dismiss you as a “survivalist nut,” but others will understand and prepare.
Water is a unique resource. You can’t make it from something else. If you find water you can purify it, filter it, sterilize it, store it. But you need to have water, even lousy water, as a starting point. Many locales will have surface water that can be made drinkable. But some locations rely heavily on water wells and have little, if any, surface water. The knowledge in this article will make life-giving water easily available to people in any of those circumstances. (Getting water out of municipal or corporate wells is a slightly different challenge.)
Share the knowledge. Make a difference. The more people who are prepared, the better off we ALL will be.
Other valuable survival resources can be found at:
Rand Organization Quick Guide
Crofsblogs - Coming Pandemic
Campus Crusade (the ultimate “preparation” - spiritual!)
Note! If you have the money and would like to buy a commercially made inertial well pump, check out Waterra.com.
Also, well “bailers” have been around for a long time in the well drilling trade. They’re long, narrow tubes with a simple ball valve at the bottom. You lower them into your well (small ones – typically 3/4” diameter – can fit right into the well pipe by only removing the pipe cap with a pipe wrench and not the whole well cap!) with a cord or twine and pull them up to empty them. It’s slow going, but VERY simple and VERY reliable. Here are some suppliers: Vosstech, Environmental-expert.com, and Waterra.com Buy a pack of them and share with your neighbors!
This information is copyrighted for the purposes of making it freely available to the public. No one else can copyright or control this information, except perhaps to charge for the cost of simply photocopying this article. It can be reproduced or transmitted in any form, so long as the entire text is included. No promotional support has been received from any company for endorsing any product. This article exists because this approach works, and could make a very large difference in how well families across the United States cope with a long-term disaster. May God have mercy on us all. - TruthFirst

SurvivalBlog reader "d'Heat" reminded us about http://www.tpub.com, which provides a wide variety of military manuals online, free of charge, with manual CDs available for purchase.

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In his Global Economic Trend Analysis blog, Michael "Mish" Shedlock recently quoted real estate market expert Mike Morgan of Morgan Florida. (Scroll down the piece titled "Ghost Housing Market" on July 20, 2006.) SurvivalBlog reader Bill in North Idaho comments: "There is a mountain of data in the article but the most salient point to take home is this: Combine increasing interest rates, a declining dollar and explosive increases in housing inventory and you have the recipe for a recession that could slip in to a depression rather easily when combined with other external factors such as war overseas, enormous debt and defecits--both trade and fiscal, uncontrolled spending by our masters and critical national outsourcing of traditional industrial strengths. My advice to home owners is pay it off and my advice to prospective home buyers is wait for the crash and pay for it with cash."

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Pakistan is rapidly expanding its plutonium processing facilities. This move could be powerfully destabilizing, and could have ramifications as far away as Iran and the Korean Peninsula.



"This is the law:
There is no possible victory in defense,
The sword is more important than the shield,
And skill is more important than either,
The final weapon is the brain.
All else is supplemental." - John Steinbeck

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Please pray for peace in the Middle East.

Dear Jim:
The New York press recently reported on two pit bull attack on police officers. In the first incident, the companion officers, according to one article, fired 26 rounds in an effort to subdue the attacking animal which they finally did.

Your site ran an article on the danger of feral dogs in the case of TEOTWAWKI. What is the best method of dealing with an attacking dog without endangering the life of the person being attacked? - JH

JWR Replies: Dogs--domesticated, feral, or wild species--can take a lot of punishment before they are out of the fight. The best defense against a dog is not Pepper Spray or other ineffective repellant sprays. Nor is it a handgun, since most commonly handgun chamberings are under-powered for the task. At short range, a repeating shotgun loaded with #4 buckshot is the best choice for canine defense. Beyond 20 yards, a semi-automatic centerfire .30 caliber rifle is best. BTW, I do not consider .30 U.S. Carbine adequate (since it is essentially a pistol class cartridge), but 7.62 x39 Russian will do, since it has about the same energy as .30-30 Winchester. IMHO, the.308 Winchester / 7.62 mm NATO is the best and most sure stopper for both two legged and four legged predators in North America.

The greatest danger would be an attack by a pack of wolves or feral dogs on open ground. Climb a tree or climb on top of a large vehicle if need be, but don't try to fight off multiple dogs at ground level, or odds are that you will lose. Just like with bears, your safest way to deal with them is from inside a vehicle or a building. In any confined space you will of course need proper hearing protection, preferably electronic ear muffs. One inexpensive brand that works remarkably well is the DeTune Model EO9240R, available from Law Enforcement Targets. Regardless of the brand that you buy, be sure to get a pair that has a noise reduction rating (NRR) of NRR-24 or higher!

My 2006 Ten Cent Challenge contribution is on the way, via snail-mail. Congratulations on "cutting the cord".

I've decided against the Trijicon TA-11E ACOG purchase. I interviewed a local who owns one of the Trijicon fiber-optic scopes. It has cracks in the fiber optic element, but the scope still works. I spoke with a Trijicon customer service representative who said:
1. The fiber optic often breaks from stress or impact. The tritium will not power the scope during daylight so the scope is "down" until dim light or the fiber optic is replaced.
2. The company is aware of the problem and is addressing it. That may be why we're seeing the Docter red dot being mounted on some models. I did not verify that with the customer service rep.
One other drawback IMHO is an ACOG-series scope is protected by a cover that is relatively slow to remove.
I've settled on the Leupold Mark 4 CQ/T for my Main Battle Rifle (MBR), instead. It's more robust than the fiber-optic ACOG and uses flip-up lens covers for inclement weather.
It also has two integrated MIL-STD-1913 rail mount cross-slots for accessories like lights.
Its field of view at 3X is three times that of the 4X ACOG.
Like the ACOG it needs no battery. Unlike the true "red dot" sights, the night-vision compatible circle dot reticle is always present but requires a AA battery only for illumination. The CQ/T can be used as a 9 MOA dot sight with no magnification or [it can be] be turned up to 3X for a more precise 3 MOA dot.
And it costs several hundred dollars less! No bullet drop compensation (BDC), though. (You have to go to the company's MR/T line for that.)
I'm sure that the CQ/T has its limitations, too. Just thought I'd give you some food for thought.
I am eagerly awaiting delivery of my copy of your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.
Regards, - "Redmist"

SurvivalBlog reader JDM mentioned this piece at the Gold-Eagle.com site: The "Amero" to Replace the Dollar?

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Bad news for Oil Production: Ghawar Is Dying. This confirms what was posited by Matthew R. Simmons in his book Twilight in the Desert

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'MS-13' is one of the most dangerous gangs in the U.S.

"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling in terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? [...] The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!" - Alexander Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (Chapter 1, "Arrest")

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Mr. Rawles:
Having done this (being involved in running a professional [martial arts] school) for ten years, and having studied twice that long, here's my $1.83 (two cents, adjusted for inflation). First, what does your gut tell you about the place and the instructor? If you get an uneasy feeling, listen to it, and back off a bit. It may be that the guy exudes an Alpha-dominant energy, and that's what's making your hair stand on end. Then again, it might be your rip-off alert/ BS detector going off.

1) Take a couple of days to think it over, and:

2) Ask for references. Talk to students away from the school; talk to parents at the school. If this guy is any kind of sensei, sifu, professor, or whatever handle he hangs on himself, his students' parents will overwhelm you (to the point your BS detector may begin giving false readings!). Kids in today's world crave the structure that society used to provide as reinforcement for parental structure. Sadly, society today denigrates parents' best efforts. Your children will thrive in a good school;

3) Does the school have a children's program? Private instruction? Specialized classes? While the art of aido (drawing and striking with the Japanese sword) has a great esoteric appeal to me, it is not of any particular immediate value, as I rarely carry a katana with me. An HK USP, now that's a little different story. This brings us to;

4) Does the school teach a rigid style, a system, a hodgepodge of many styles, or do they teach movement and the underlying principles contained therein? In other words, are they going to waste your time with a lot of semi-mystical crap about chi-force coming from your tantien, or do they explain that the power you gain comes from leverage generated by your strike aligning with your center of gravity, and timed with backing mass, body alignment, and relaxation/tensing at the time of impact. Again, do they deal with the esoteric historical context of the Far East, or the reality of the world and Newtonian Physics? (hint, folks: it's all about leverage and timing).

5) Does the school teach self-defense? This may seem like a redundant question, but again, if you're studying Japanese swordplay, you'd better be carrying a Japanese sword! Obvious, yes? Did you know that International Tae Kwon Do emphasizes, in fact encourages use of the most difficult technique in any given situation? That many "sport" karate schools teach students to break contact immediately after "scoring"? I have had personal experience with both. This is not how you learn to defend yourself, if that is your goal;

6) Be an informed consumer. This means a couple of things here: What do you want from the experience? We had a special class for home-school kids, and it became the nucleus of their social life (a lot more useful than dodgeball in the future, as well). Are you interested in learning to fight, to improve your reaction response, to get your butt back in shape with something a little more useful than step-aerobics? Or does the Eastern influence of many styles provide you with a new perspective on your world? When Bruce Lee talked of "style with no style" he wasn't advocating an anything-goes attitude; rather that one should not be constrained by traditional techniques. "When one is bound by tradition, the one must serve it, when tradition is bound, then it is our servant".

7) Does the system fit you, as it should, like a suit of clothes. Not only will different fashions look and fit differently on each individual, but also, the last time I looked, clothing, like people, came in different sizes and widths. I'm 6'/250 lbs...for me to try shaolin wu shu is almost a guaranteed trip to the emergency room...grappling, however... and,

8) If self defense is your pursuit, does the school teach a brad range of technique(notice, technique, as in broadly applied, NOT technique(s), as in a new one for every situation). Bruce Lee's analogy to water was only partially complete: water, like motion, exists in a constant state of transition, from solid (ice, rigidly applying the same motion to whatever comes, whether appropriate or not, the beginner) to fluid (constantly seeking its own level,moving all things to that level, the intermediate student) to a gaseous state ( where it expands to its volume, true mastery of motion...the technique is formed by the attack). Don't think this is important? I can almost hear the grapplers grumbling... Okay, you've just slipped behind your attacker, and nabbed him in a perfect naked choke...now what do you do about him comapdre who's immediate plans are to stove in your head? You can only wrestle one guy at once, and all too often, bad people come in bunches...About martial arts, Zen, and bushido being antithetical to Christian views: Poppycock! Bushido, at its core, is founded in the ideal of devotion of one's life, in every moment and every way to a set of values and principles, defined in the heart of each man. Zen is the pursuit of oneness with the Universe (i.e. God, the Divine and Benevolent Creator, and all His Creation). At its core, you'll be learning to beat people up. In the process, hopefully, you'll be learning about yourself. If that is part of the journey that doesn't rest well with you, then maybe this path is not for you. I, however, rabidly endorse martial arts training for EVERYONE!!! By the way, I'm not in the business anymore, so I'm not trying to gin up customers.

One final thought on selecting a dojo, and probably the area of most dissatisfaction, ultimately: never forget when dealing with ANY school that you are in charge! You are the consumer,you are the customer! The school, and its instructors are making their living by providing a service to YOU!!! Be clear on this. You do not have the right to dictate what the school will teach (unless you're running it) but you do have a right to be told, in clear and certain terms, what is expected of you, and what the organization you're dealing with will deliver. Assert you rights as an informed buyer, and don't go in for that Shiloh/ servant manure manifestation. This is the 21st Century America, not feudal China or Japan.

Study that which is practical, but remember not all things fit. as Niestchze once observed "If the your only tool is a hammer, you must treat all problems as nails". Techniques are either useful (fit the situation at hand), not useful (fit, but not necessarily THIS situation), and useless(or, you've got to be kidding!?! I paid you to show me this?!?). More than whatever you study, you MUST practice until you reaction comes without conscious thought involved. Therefore, find something useful to practice, as practice DOES NOT make perfect; it only makes PERMANENT what is practiced. Study hard, learn well, live long, and keep The Faith.

OBTW, Teddy Roosevelt practiced jujitsu in the White House, moving furniture from the Main Floor Living Room, and installing mats! Bully! Regards, - Bonehead


Hi Jim!
My name is Frank, I'm an Aussie guy living up in Queensland, a survivalist and a Christian by belief in Jesus. As a regular reader of your blog I came across the recent post "Eight Letters Re: Selecting a Martial Art and a Dojo". I was surprised to see the lack of mention about karate and the fact that its only mention was in reference to it being a "hard" martial art, with the inference that a law abiding Christian should perhaps not pursue such a path. I have studied karate for some years now and it is definitely a decisive and effective form of self defense, but one that most all of its practitioners rarely if ever use outside of the dojo. The reason for this I learned is that training in traditional karate gives a person an 'air' of capability that is obvious to the average punter in the street and tells them in no uncertain terms to "look for a softer target... or else"

I know this sounds arrogant, but it's true, and I have met many practitioners of the 'soft' arts and they just don't seem to carry this tangible warning around with them. They will allow total strangers to stand close, "in the danger zone" and rarely seem to be aware of who and what is going on around them. These are the basics of karate training. Personal protection through awareness and keeping threats at a manageable distance. To me self-defense should not rely fancy wrist locks or nifty grappling techniques, although I have learned these. Because the reality is that once an attacker has you in their reach, or the ground, you are in real danger of getting your eye poked out or your spine kicked in. Karate works well because it works at a distance and relies on speed and precision of attack, and believe it or not, a great deal of training is devoted to "getting out of harms way", to avoiding an attack by retreating. But if attacking is unavoidable, a quick fist into someone's nose or a kick to their groin will knock them off balance for several seconds and allow you to get away from a dangerous situation. This is all that matters, avoiding a dangerous situation.

I believe Karate has been downplayed over the last decade due to the perceived fashionably of the myriad of other arts. This and the fact that we modern western people have grown lazy. Karate training is very demanding physically and injury, though usually minor, is unavoidable. But that is the world we now face, a world full or stress and danger. I see karate fighting as an invaluable tool to carry with me through life, to protect myself and my loved ones. Violent, aggressive, yes! But thoroughly decisive against one or several unskilled attackers. Best wishes and I'll see you when were together with the Lord. - Frank H.


Dear Jim:
I trained with a school that had a traditional martial arts progression, but more importantly, also did PRACTICAL self defense. It became very obvious after a couple of years of training that much of the martial "art" or "sport" was not directly relevant to surviving on the street. High kicks, spinning movements, complicated katas and the like, all look impressive, but have little practical value in street clothing, on uneven ground, against a surprise attack - you shouldn't be spending valuable time on these unless you are so wealthy you don't have a day job.
If it isn't something you can see yourself using right away after you learn it, it's probably too complicated to work on the street without years of training to ingrain your muscle memory. The real litmus test is whether you learn SIMPLE gross motor movements that you can duplicate without very much training, and under extreme stress.
If they teach elbows, knees, eye gouging (and biting when appropriate) in the introductory class, then you know you have a good school! Even better - do you get to practice all the skills, half speed, Force on Force with a well-padded instructor? (Yes, even the eye gouging on a fully visored instructor, but not the biting!) Ground fighting is critical too, if that is ignored, you do not have a complete training regimen.
The best proponent that I know of this practically-oriented philosophy is Tony Blauer who has refined it to a high level.
I have taken just a short seminar with him - very impressive. Jump on it if you get the chance.
Perhaps even more important for gun carriers, is integrating hand to hand techniques with drawing, moving and shooting skills, and/or knife or pepper spray,
You may not have much luck finding a practical school out in the boonies, but for those in larger metros you can find a few truly practical schools, in a sea of traditional martial artists. Regards, - OSOM


I was thinking further on martial arts and believe it is possible and indeed preferred to incorporate shooting survival skills into your martial arts regime. Progressively more difficult skills could be added, as you become more proficient in your studies:
Consider the use of martial stances in firearms training. The "Horse Stance" taught by many arts is very similar to the FBI "Combat Crouch" and the modified "T-stance" is a strong or weak side forward stance, which could be combined with a two hand Weaver grip to make a very stable shooting platform. Ritual katas, or a predefined set of martial arts movements -which helps improve technique and body awareness can be combined with pistol draw, tap and rack drills or rifle to pistol transition practice. Rondori or sparring "free practice" could be combined with weapons draw, disarm or weapons retention drills. Muzzle awareness should be stressed. [Solid plastic training] Red guns could be used due to safety concerns. Advanced students could "ratchet up" their stress training, by substituting soft pellet or paint ball guns (with face masks or goggles) into their firearms drawing or retention drills. - Terry in the Northwest.


Dear Jim,
Jiu Jitsu and other grappling arts are an excellent choice for defense and fitness. As noted author Steven Barnes (who is belted in multiple forms) told me, one can grapple in training repeatedly, but it takes only a few blows before practice must stop to prevent injury.
I have found the Kung Fus to offer an excellent balance of striking and grappling. While much of the mystique is no longer relevant, there are certain mindsets and processes that do go along with a school of training. A lot of the newer forms are simply refined and more limited derivations of earlier styles (Such as Kung Fu). Why limit oneself to part of an art?
Quite a few schools have oriented their philosophies more in line with the West, and incorporated Christianity into the structure. While not Christian myself, I approve of this because it makes the arts more accessible to Western mindsets, and still provides a necessary guiding philosophy (necessary when we're discussing the ethics of potentially maiming opponents).
I studied for several years Song's Kung Fu, and can recommend it to anyone in the Illinois area. Master Song is one of the most competent yet truly modest men I've ever met, and provides an excellent program with good explanations of the principles. His teaching is aimed at defense rather than sport, and in fact, advanced students wishing to compete have to take an extra course to learn competition rules to avoid disqualification or injuring opponents.
Generally, Tae Kwon Do in the US is taught as a sport. There's nothing inherently wrong with learning it, as it will improve fitness and teach good balance, etc, but it will be of much less effect in a no-rules brawl.
I agree with others who have said that a few good moves well rehearsed are adequate for most circumstances. To that end, the Marine Corps manual on combatives is excellent, covering a handful of grapples, strikes (including common military weapons such as knives, sticks, shovels and helmets) that can be learned quickly and studied in short time each day. It's practical and concise. Also, the Marines now have a dedicated martial art they are teaching. I haven't seen a lot of it, but I assume it will run on the same practical principles.
If one can find a school that doesn't over-stress the mysticism, Indonesian Pentjak Silat and similar forms are absolutely brutal and designed for multiple opponents. There isn't much in the way of restraint or low-end force; these are styles to kill with. The disadvantage is that they are predicated on having all four limbs functional. The Kung Fus are adaptable for temporary or permanent disability including wheel chairs.
It is a combination of these two forms (Silat and Shaolin Kung Fu) the Freehold forces use in my novels.
One of the best hand to hand weapons to learn is short staff/cane, as it's societally acceptable for almost anyone to carry a walking stick. A stout piece of rattan (light) or cocobolo or maple (heavy) is a devastating weapon in the hands of someone determined to use it and with some basic training in checks, blocks, hooks and strikes. Since I occasionally need a stick for support anyway, I practice regularly with one. Worst case, stick like things are very common either lying outside ("sticks") or in most buildings (brooms, handles, etc) and readily obtainable. Actual walking sticks run from $5 rattan at Farm and Fleet stores to pricier carbon fiber or fiberglass sticks with metal heads from Cold Steel. - Michael Z. Williamson


I heard from a reader about an interesting site on martial arts, with discussion forums. Their motto: no contact = no training!

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A great site devoted to dutch oven cooking.

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In case any of you folks missed the mention back in September, the EMP Survival e-novel "Lights Out" is available for free download.   

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California Heat Wave Death Toll: 25,000 Cattle and 700,000 Fowl


"Develop a a passion for hoeing. To cut down a weed is, therefore, to do a moral action. My hoe becomes an instrument of retributive justice. Hoeing becomes, not a pastime, but a duty. Nevertheless, what a man needs in gardening is a cast-iron back with a hinge in it." - Charles Dudley Warner, My Summer in a Garden. 1872

Friday, July 28, 2006

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction (for the RWVA Super Shooter's package is still at $150. The auction ends on Monday. Our special thanks to the RWVA and Fred's M14 Stocks for sponsoring this fund raiser! (The prize is worth $250+.) Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July. OBTW, speaking of the RWVA, they have a Rifle Instructor's Camp coming up at the end of August in Ramseur, North Carolina--a great opportunity for you to learn how to teach others how to shoot like a pro, including your own family members.


Thanks for such good reading. I had a copy of "Patriots"but lost it in a house fire last year. I was able to find TEOTWAWKI [the draft edition] through eBay and was happy (it was a signed copy-YEAH!) but am thrilled that you will be releasing the updated version along with the 'Retreats and Relocation' book.

What I am interested in is finding the best way to transport my wheelchair bound, handicapped son and my elderly (near wheelchair bound) mother in the event of TEOTWAWKI. I am in the process of getting completely out of debt, which will help tremendously in any plans (provided WTSHTF holds off a little while) and my son and his soon-to-be bride have purchased property that is deeper in the boonies that I am now. Can you recommend any specific books or sources of info for this situation? I was very well prepared before the fire but that just drilled home the wisdom of NOT putting all your eggs in one basket! Thanks again for a wealth of information and God Bless you and yours! - R.B.

JWR Replies: Your situation is unusual but hardly unique. I have an acquaintance in northern Idaho who is wheelchair bound. He is a fine shot with both rifle and pistol, and he can do some simply amazing shooting with a submachinegun. (He is a Class 3 licensed dealer.) When the Schumer hits the fan, I would much rather have someone like him at my retreat than most other "able bodied" men. BTW, he was the basis for one of the minor characters in my novel.

I strongly suggest that if it is at all practicable, that you make arrangements to have your family live at your retreat year-round. And needless to say, that habitation should be a one story structure, on level or nearly level ground, with an easy retrofit for a wheelchair ramp to the main door. Also, if either (or both) your son and mother currently use electric wheelchairs, get old-fashioned wheelchairs for backups in the event of a long term power failures.
As for transportation over longer distances, plan ahead for providing for your disabled family members. One great option, in my opinion, is a 4WD drive full size van conversion. See:

Note: Be sure to read this FAQ in detail. Beware of buying an older 4WD conversion. Some of the 4WD van conversions that were done back in the 1970s and 1980s were plagued by reliability problems--mainly involving front differential linkage and other power-train problems. But in more recent years the conversion companies seem to have "gotten it down to a science"--at least for some models. Just be sure to get a written warranty! OBTW, With the current high cost of gasoline, many of these companies have cut their prices to stay competitive. So this is a great time to have a conversion done.

These can be "dual converted" with a wheelchair lift apparatus. See:


Also see:
And in Canada: http://www.clydesdale.bc.ca/

OBTW, in the event of a worst case scenario, don't underrate the value of disabled people at a retreat. Most can "stand" watches of guard duty at an LP/OP, providing extra eyes and ears. So stock up on cold weather clothing for those folks, too!

In discussing all-terrain hauling and bug-out travel I've not seen comments regarding flattened tires. We may have a tire repair kit and air pump handy, but there is a better way to ensure that our ATV, cart or bicycle is not plagued with tire failure. Replace those air-filled tires with closed-cell polyurethane foam tires. Leave the spares, the tire repair kit and the tire pump at home. - Redmist


Hey Jim,
Thought I would send you a couple of links to carts that many country people find to be useful: Vermont Garden Carts I have used this cart (the large one) at a relative's house and find it useful. But I think that the cart I am going to get is the Smart Cart which I believe will be more useful to me. - S.C.


Hi Jim,
The letters on the Carts are good. Who in U.S. history had lots of use with hand carts? Might look at L.D.S. church history, This might be looked at because it could happen to ALL of us in one way or another soon. Well, give a think, I will be looking back with all that has been talked about carts. It just might pay off. Best wishes, - Paul in Seattle

I just finished reading Michael Z. Williamson's well-crafted trilogy of counter-terrorist sniping novels, set in the present day. (The Scope of Justice, Targets of Opportunity, and Confirmed Kill.) All three were very well written, believable and downright riveting. The first is set in Pakistan, the second in Romania, and the third in Indonesia, but all three feature the same duo of U.S. Army snipers. Unlike most of the schlock military fiction that pervades the mass market, Williamson's books are technically and tactically correct. By describing both urban and wilderness engagements, tailored equipment to suit specific missions, and using widely divergent locales, the author avoided the all too common traps of repetitiveness and cliches. I highly recommend these novels.

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SurvivalBlog reader "AK " in Costa Rica mentioned this site that shares intelligence on global terrorist groups. AK says: "Scroll about half way down the page and take a look at the amount of military instructional pieces these jihadists are putting up on their sites. Pretty scary stuff!"

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British PM Blair declares: Situation in Lebanon is a Catastrophe 

"When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny." - Thomas Jefferson

Thursday, July 27, 2006

As I was at the keyboard late this afternoon, listening to Edith Piaf via iTunes, our #3 Son strolled in and calmly announced that there was a rattlesnake in the yard, just 20 feet from the front porch. So I snatched the closest weapon at hand: The Memsahib's stainless steel .45 Colt Commander. Coincidentally, I been doing some work on that pistol earlier in the day, upgrading it with a bunch of Wilson Combat parts that arrived yesterday from Heartland Sportsman's Supply. These were: an adjustable target trigger, a checkered stainless steel mainspring housing (I hate the plastic factory original parts that Colt has used ever since they "went cheap" back in the early 1990s), and an extended slide release, which I consider a "standard" modification for all of our 1911s. But I digress... Back to the rattlesnake: It was nearly 3 feet long, obviously well-fed, it had 13 rattle sections, and it did not give a warning rattle when I approached it. (Surprising, since it was a hot afternoon and the snake was coiled. I took a moment to put on my ear muffs. I wanted to see how the Commander functioned in rapid fire after the recent 'smithing, and most importantly whether or not the slide would lock open properly upon fully expending a magazine, so is positively blazed away, rapid fire. The result, from just six feet, was a pitiful three hits out of nine shots, but Mr. Snake was very dead. For our overseas readers: A rattlesnake is a venomous pit viper with a potentially deadly bite.

OBTW, I generally apply a "half mile" rule for dispatching rattlers. If they are more than a half mile from the house (and not in one of our pastures), then we leave them be. They are great rodent controllers. But with children and small livestock here at the ranch, I can't be so kindly near the house. And to have one not rattle at me... well that is enough to make me re-evaluate the half mile rule!

On another note: My family recently traveled to visit the home of Jake Stafford, to autograph and help package the first big batch of copies of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. (A 210 page course ina binder with a supplemental 67 minute audio CD.) Shipments are starting today. All of the copies that are going to U.S. addresses are being mailed via Priority Mail, so you should have them within a week. If you order now, your copy of the course will be mailed almost immediately. For those of you that placed an order during the pre-publication special offer, thanks for your patience!

I noticed folks talking a bit about salt lately...what I didn't notice is whether or not anyone has talked about mineral needs? If folks are going to buy a bunch of salt, they might want to remember that iodized salt would be a good idea. Iodine is one of those necessary minerals, that has become deficient in our soils across the nation. Normally, we could get it through the plants we eat. However, if it's deficient in the soil were you live, you won't get enough. Yes, you can also get it from seafood. However, if your retreat is inland, you don't really have that option. A University of Michigan web page discusses some issues related to iodine deficiency. But there are other mineral needs, aside from iodine, that people should research as well. Folks need to be aware of what their bodies need, what is deficient in their area, and what they might need to supplement. On the flip side, folks should also be aware that some minerals can become toxic in ones body if you overdo it.

Here's a couple of links for anyone who might be interested in mineral deficiency. Of course, there's a ton of more information out there...but this might get anyone interested, off and running:
From Health Line
From "Wrong Diagnosis"

God bless! - T. in North Idaho


Reading up on the article/manual "Aids to Survival", (Western Australia Police Academy, 1998, 86 Page Word Doc once unzipped.) from the site referenced on your blog. Regarding tires .. or tyres..... they recommended 8 ply. Gosharooty, my HMMWV tires are only 6 ply. (No, they aren't on a HMMWV, military Hummers leak, are cold in the winter and hot in the summer and they make my butt hurt.)
Anyway, how about some info on the 8 ply tire?. That just doesn't ring a bell with me as being common in CONUS. What's the story here? My requirement are: 32x11.50-15, and the HMMWV tires are 36x12.50x16.5
Best Regards, - The Army Aviator

Ragnar, over at The Claire Files, mentioned a great site from the Boy Scouts with lots of useful resources on camping, woodcraft, and outdoor survival skills.

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Inside the Blackwater private army

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Farm Animal Biochipping: Wisconsin Grandma is an Outlaw

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Condi Rice: Cease Fire Between Israel and Hezbollah, yes, but no Status Quo Ante Bellum


"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Please pray for peace in the Middle East.

I would like to add a little something to Mr. Church's article. I have worked in the refining and petrochemical business for over 30 years. I am not a chemical engineer nor a mechanical engineer, however, I am a piping designer. I design the routing or path all the pipes in a refinery or petrochemical plant take to move product from one piece of equipment to another. Basically it's like a giant chemistry set.
Now, I know what a lot of sheeple don't understand about oil is that it is not only energy (gasoline) that we get from crude oil but also most of the other products we consume everyday. Less than half of a barrel of oil is used for gasoline. Mr. Church talks of this but it needs to be brought down another level.
People think solar, corn or whatever is going to save us. It's not. Mr. Church is right. Where do people think plastics come from? Oil! Where does hair curlers and lipstick come from? Oil! Where do motorcycle helmets , nylon rope, ballpoint pens and guitar strings come from? Oil! Where do heart valves, crayons, trash bags and vitamin capsules come from? Oil! Many or most of our clothing/ textile, office supplies, sports/hobbies/games, infant/children products, medical/ health/beauty products, house hold products, building and home maintenance products and auto products come from oil! You can have all the corn you want but if you don’t have the insecticides, herbicides and fertilizers to grow them your going to have a poor yield. All that won't mean a hill of beans without oil. Our high standard of living is directly related to oil. That's probably why most of the world hates the US because we have roughly 10% of the world's population and consume 80% of the energy. You can't get any of this from corn or solar. We have lost the old ways. The infrastructure that supported life 100 years ago is gone. So whenever the collapse happens, society will slip way past that time to reach a level where we are left to live in mud huts. Not just America but the rest of the world as well.
China is now expanding it's energy consumption tremendously. Price of metals is going up. Not precious metals, I'm talking about Iron, steel and alloys. The price of concrete is going up.
Folks, we are in a sinking row boat and no matter how fast we bail we're going swimming.
Here are some links to check out for uses of oil. It's analogous to the American Natives who relied so heavily on all the products/ uses they got from the Buffalo. The white man came and all but exterminated the buffalo and [by doing so] almost [exterminated] the natives.
I hope this is helpful in some way.- Larry in Kansas

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I just finished reading your seminal work, "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" for the third time in as many weeks. In addition, after some internet searching I've found your blog, and am in the process of reading everything that I can, when I can. After reading so much of what's on your mind, I thought I'd share a little of mine.

First, foremost, and most importantly, I want you to know that your book was instrumental in leading me back to God, the Father of our savior Jesus Christ. I won't delve into the diverse ways in which I let myself be led away from the Lord, as it is far too private of a matter, but I can say with excitement that I have made, and continue to make a mighty effort to bring myself back into alignment and harmony (fellowship) with the Father. So a big thank you is in order. Thank you!

Next, I want to share that I am freaking out! I am 34 years old and have finally come to the realization that that things just ain't all that great concerning the state of affairs of our country. In retrospect, I guess that I did in fact know all along, but did not want to admit it. It is a hard pill to swallow when you realize things like our paper money is, for all intents and purposes, worth nothing. My mind is racing after seeing the images from New Orleans after Katrina, the horrible crime rate in D.C., and now the escalated turmoil in the Middle East. Oh how frail the system is!

I liken our country to a big stinking compost pile. Yes, that sounds harsh, but it is what has become of this poor nation. Nevertheless, with a little time and some heat, even a pile of rotting garbage and poop can break down into healthy soil in which new seeds will sprout, grow and bear magnificent fruit.

Needless to say, I have this overwhelming sense of urgency! Where to begin? After overcoming my temporary paralysis of the mind (TPM) I took an inventory of where we stand and I feel just a wee bit better than before. I have also discussed, in earnest, with my wife the peril that awaits the unprepared, and let's just say that she was less than receptive. I now understand that it was too much for her to handle (milk first, then meat). Luckily she was raised in a farming family and is already keen on the idea of having canned foods from the garden and a few beef cows around. It's a good start.

After making a huge list of what we have and what we need (the later list is a little bit bigger) I have decided that I lack the resources with which to obtain all that we need. You see, I quit my $75,000 per year factory job and enrolled in school full time. My wife and I earned a grand total of $13,000 fed notes last year. That's pretty minimal for a family of four. By the grace of God, my father and two brothers were much more receptive to the need to be prepared, so I now have a mini-network in place with which to build upon. Pooling resources is the way to go.

We are all in the process of building up our food storage, and have decided on one of our homes as a safe-house. Now we can focus on the infrastructure of just one property instead of being spread thin on four different ones.

Everything else is a matter of just doing what needs done, so I'll cut it short here, as I could go on and on. Thank you for your time and keep up the great work! - Opus

An important piece to read by Sean Osborne, "World War IV --The War of Terror

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Bud Conrad, writing in The Daily Reckoning, illustrates that with the Baby Boomers beginning to retire and draw Social Security, time is not on our side in the U.S.: Projected U.S. Government Debt Will Grow More Than GDP

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Global warming = Happy Reindeer

"For the resolute and determined there is time and opportunity."- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oops! Jake Stafford reminds me that in yesterday’s announcement I forgot to say that you can still order the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, and your order will be filled promptly, shipping out by the end of this week. It’s not too late to order.

Dear Jim,
Over the years, I've spent I-don't-know-how-many hours in dojos of various lineage.
Now, older (but only questionably wiser) I'll toss out a few caveats for the consideration of anyone who wants to undergo marital arts training:
1. Decide from the outset why you want to learn a martial art and do not deviate from that goal. If it's for recreation, exercise, balance, spiritual enlightenment or whatever, that's fine. Practice kata to your heart's content, learn how to breathe into your danjun and meditate until ch'i runs from your pores. But – recognize from the start that the vast majority of Asian martial arts and their descendants have as much to do with self defense as an engraved Hammerli target pistol has to do with a Colt 1911.
2. Most modern martial arts have been packaged, sold, repackaged, revised, stylized, traditionalized, dogmatized, commercialized, civilized and generally diluted to the point that most of the techniques you're taught either won't work outside of a well-lighted and padded dojo (with a level floor) and/or without the assistance of a cooperative “training partner.” If your goal is self-defense, select a few simple techniques that rely on gross motor movements, and practice them to the point of them becoming conditioned reflexes. Consider: When a threat presents (and your heart rate hits 200 and you're shaking like a leaf and it's dark and you're hungry and scared and you're wiping muck from your eyes because you just slipped and face-planted into a mud puddle) you're not going to want to stop and remember whether the safety goes down on your 1911 or up on your Smith and Wesson. Stick with one gun! The safety should "disengage itself" as a matter of reflex because of your intimate familiarly and training with the particular firearm in your hand. In your martial arts training, go ye therefore and do likewise. Having a vast repertoire of techniques may impress your SaBumNim, but it won't do to be running through a decision tree at a critical moment.
3. Most Asian martial arts are inextricably tied to Asian philosophies/religions that are confusing, if not incomprehensible to the Western mind. This is often presented as as a “better way” of living and as a necessary part of training. Nonsense. No offense to the student of Zen Buddhism or Taoism, but there's a reason that China and Japan send their best and brightest to the West to study at our universities and have largely adopted our Western and pragmatic ways of doing things. In the martial arts, we have an equally rich and worthwhile heritage, that is only now being rediscovered. If you're a Westerner, stick to Western values and styles of instruction and don't waste valuable time in marital arts training trying to attain “enlightenment" or learning how to "focus your ki." It's irrelevant to your skills.
4. When considering a new technique, ask yourself: Will this work against an opponent of superior size and strength if - I'm wearing boots, mittens, a pack or a heavy jacket? I'm standing on uneven, wet or unstable ground? I'm tired, injured or wounded, in the dark, temporarily blinded or sick? (A close friend and student of savate told me he was once required to go to class drunk to assure his moves would work!) If the technique does not pass muster, set it aside.
5. Don't waste your time on esoteric "martial arts weapons" such as sai, sickles or nunchaku. We don't live in 16th century Okinawa and that's why John Browning invented the Model 1911. (However, if you're unarmed and a quarterstaff, stick, ashtray, chair or other practical weapon presents itself, more and better!)
6. Avoid styles, systems and instructors purporting to teach “secret” techniques or insisting that it will take years of intensive (and expensive) study to attain proficiency. Avoid any dojo where excessive emphasis is placed on belts and promotions, tournaments or especially where class favorites or bullies exist. Self defense is serious business, with no room for frills, "tournament moves" or bloated egos. If your training doesn't measure up, walk away and quit wasting money and time. Get a hard copy of Get Tough (or download a soft copy,) Kill or Get Killed (or download a soft copy,) The Close Combat Files of Rex Applegate and FM 3-25-150. Practice your brains out with a friend or two. You won't regret it and you'll be better prepared than most students spewing forth from today's “black belt mills.”
(As to "The Way of the 1911..." Here you go. ) Regards, - Moriarty


While I am not an expert in any martial art form, I have studied many of them at one time or another. Here is my 2 cents worth on fighting.
There are, in terms of distance to your opponent, 4 unarmed skills to learn. They are kicking, punching, throwing and grappling. Kicking will allow you to distance yourself from a talented boxer. Keep the kicks below their waist as you are not likely to be flexible enough or fast enough to deliver a kick above their waist without either falling yourself or having you leg caught. Hit the nerve on the middle (a bit above) of the outside of their leg (like punching someone in the arm to give them a dead-arm) a few times and they won't be able to move, then run away. Groin shots are tough if you telegraph your move at all as all males learn to guard this area and it is easy for them to catch a foot. Better to use this with a knee if the opportunity presents itself. If you are able to use mace to distract the opponent, then a groin shot is fine. Groin and leg shots will not incapacitate someone on drugs who feels no pain. Kicking an opponent on the ground is useful. Better is stomping. Face, neck (front and back) and the floating ribs are main targets, but be aware of the various takedowns a grounded opponent can use on a standing one.
I do not recommend boxing it out with an opponent unless you are either much larger or more skilled then they are. This brings you into knife range and you may not see it until too late. It also minimizes your field of vision (more on this later) if there are multiple attackers.
The easiest is the double leg take down, but this can set you up for a guillotine choke. Learning a few basic judo type throws is useful especially if you can land someone on their head and the surface is hard like the street. If you learn this in a class, it will be more of a sport throw designed to minimize damage to the opponent. To maximize the damage, change your posture and your attackers mid-aerial rotation to land them head down. If you can squat the weight of the opponent, drop down and hook your arm under their groin, your other arm is on their opposing shoulder. Lift them up and over and plant their head in the ground. This is a killing move.
Within this skill set, you must also know how to escape bearholds front and rear as well as various styles of headlocks. I'm not sure I can describe these moves on paper, but here goes. If you are grabbed from behind and your arms are held, step back and left with your left leg and place your right leg behind the left leg of your opponent. Lean back and as you do so, lower your weight and grab the legs of your opponent. Pull the legs out and lean back and the opponent falls.
If your arms are free, snap back with your head into opponents face, jump up and then when you come down grab between your legs one or both opponents legs. Straighten the leg(s) and sit down and a little backwards on the top of the kneecap breaking the leg.
Side head lock escapes are a bit tough to describe. You can bit the nipple, attack the groin and drop the opponent by placing your left leg (if held on his right side) behind his legs, pin his left elbow with your left hand to prevent being punched and fall leftwards tripping your opponent over your outstretched leg. Mount opponent and disable or kill.
A guillotine choke requires you to climb up your opponent. Put your left arm (if held or his right side) as high as possible over his right neck and shoulder and use it to pull/climb up while putting your feet on his knees. This will take the force off your neck on onto his body. When he tires, he will drop you.
Now you and gently try these with a friend.
As for grappling techniques, we have all seen the ultimate fighting championships, and fallen in love with ju-jitsu. You simply must spend 3 months at a grappling dojo. No excuses, just do it. No, video tapes and dvds won't do it, you simply need the mat time. Having said that, there are 3 serious flaws in this style.
1) Going to the ground in a dojo is fine, in a back alleyway with broken glass bottles and a hard ground is not. A move that is painless to you at the dojo can hurt like hell if you land on a hard littered street.
2) Going to the ground will kill you in a multiple opponent scenario. They will stomp your head in, especially in the 'superior' guard position.
3) What you will learn in ju-jitsu is sport fighting. It leave you open to eye-gauges, fish hooks, bites and all nasty manner of things. While studying, always ask yourself, if this was a real fight, would this attack/defense position still work. How can I alter it?
Having said that, learning the principles of ju-jitsu is both fun and easy and in a 1-to-1 encounter, can save your life.
So, to conclude, my advice is... always carry a knife. Ask any martial artist and if they are being honest, for all their years of training, they know their odds against a knife are at best 50-50. Yes, yes, learn to kick, how not to telegraph, how to block or take a punch (move into it to minimize the force and keep your chin down to avoid a knockout punch and take it on the forehead). Learn 2 or 3 throws, some basic grappling and how to use your and your opponents clothing to choke them but still, carry a weapon (or weapons). A weapon makes all, I repeat, all the difference. It gives you distance, confidence, magnifies your ability to inflict damage and puts fear in the opponent.
Regarding a knife, I believe that a knife attack to the torso, neck or head is attempted murder but to the extremities is assault with a deadly weapon (not sure--check your state laws). If you are using a knife to kill, puncture, don't slash unless you can get to the brachial artery on the inside of the arm. Do not go for a rib target unless you have a push knife or are very strong and have a thin blade. You may not make it through the ribs. Concentrate on belly, and throat, and if he is armed, first his hands.
You must fight dirty. If you want to learn a standing art that is brutally effective and very very fast to learn and great for kids and women too, visit Attack Proof. It focuses on directly attacking the eyes. Everyone has them, there are no muscles or bone protect them, and if you can overcome your squeamishness about jabbing your fingers into someone's eyeballs, you can end a fight with a larger opponent very fast.
Some final thoughts.
1) Carry a knife. Carry another knife.
2) When you think you might be being interviewed by an assailant(s) to determine your value and resistance level, put your non dominant arm's elbow (say left arm for illustration) at your same side ribs, arm across the belly and left hand over right ribs. Cup your right elbow in your left hand and stroke your chin thoughtfully. This will
a) protect your ribs,
b) decrease the response time for you to block a punch to the face or make a punch yourself
c) prevent a rear choke by protecting your neck
d) seem totally innocuous
2) Never go to crime scene 2. To explain: Crime scene 1 is where the weapon is shown and your money is taken. Crime scene 2 is where the assailant says, come over here behind this dumpster. This is where you are raped and or die. I repeat, Never go to crime scene 2. (Where the body is found with the chalk outline). Run, fight, scream but do not willing go to your death. Make sure your family understands this.3) In the majority of fights, statistically speaking, the first person to attack wins. So, if you are going get into a fight, hit first. The psychological momentum and the initial reaction to defend causes a person to minimize what they can see coming and gives the first person to strike a huge tactical advantage.
4) Focus on endurance rather than strength. If you have a knife, strength won't be of paramount concern anyway. I use the desperado from cold steel. If will fit down your front pocket and is fast to pull and is a variant of a push knife for maximum force.
5) Work on your peripheral vision. Since we spend so much time reading, we have largely lost the ability to use our peripheral vision. This type of vision is the most efficient at seeing motion and someone creeping up alongside you. Take a cheap pair of glasses and put white tape over the front of them. Then draw a dot in the center of one of them on the white tape with a dark pen. When looking at this dot and your eyes are completely relaxed (like looking off into infinity) find the place on the other lens so that when a dot placed on the that lens, the dots overlap and look like one dot. Make that mark.
Now, looking into the glasses, you should see 1 dot (not 2). Looking but not staring at the dot, keeping your eyes relaxed become aware of your peripheral vision. Since your glasses are covered in white tape, you will only be able to see at the outer edges of your vision. When you do this for a while you will train your brain to start using your peripheral vision again. Once you get the hang of it you can do it without the glasses. Just change your focus from in front of you to the peripheral vision. This will give you an advantage against being attacked from an angle.

There are some fighting techniques that are unrealistic for the beginner. These include what you might label the esoteric arts like Tai Chi, Aikido and Dim Mak. The first two require years to master. Once you have 10+ years worth of them under your belt, you are in great shape, but for the first few years, they are actually counterproductive in a real fight. A beginner gets a false sense of security and will expect an opponent to graciously leave an outstretched arm for the twisting and throwing, or grab on to their collar rather than maul your throat. Dim Mak is another example. Yes, you can either knock an opponent out, or make them really, really nauseous and practically incapable of continuing to fight with Dim Mak, but this technique is not for beginners. This technique, (hitting on nerve plexi) is usually only taught as a 'secret' to advanced students. They are imbedded in blocks and katas, but not taught until later. When you have mastered the basic form, and if they like you, you are then shown that with a slight change of intent, the block hits the nerve point and the opponent magically goes down. You must keep in mind however that these points are the size of a dime. Imagine taping 8 dimes to your sparring partner, and trying to hit any of them with any force in a full speed sparring match. You see, what happens when a beginner learns a few Dim Mak points is that her or she becomes so fixated on the points that they try to force the issue and miss the larger picture. What ends up happening is that rather than clawing out an exposed eye or grabbing a leg for a take down, you end up with a series of ineffectual glancing blows near a Dim Mak point, but rarely on it. You also are now focusing on the points rather than your opponent so you may not see the kick, punch or knife coming your way. Focus on the basics, at least for the first few years. Oh yes, here's another trick. If you are dealing with an unarmed opponent, walking backwards is usually a really bad idea. It makes kicks impossible, saps the power from your punches and puts you off balance for a moment when your front leg crosses behind your rear leg. Try walking backwards with any speed and you'll see. Plus, if someone rushes you when you are walking backward, your going to go to the ground with your opponent on top. Move backwards, when you must, like a fencer. Move your back leg a little farther back and then quickly slide in your front foot. Some people even suggest moving forward like a fencer. Watch some of the more seasoned UFC fighters and you will see this technique in action.
Notes regarding improvised weapons: Even when unarmed, weapons can often be improvised. Anything that can be thrown at an assailant instantly becomes a weapon. In a convenience store, cans and bottles, at a beach, a handful of sand in the eyes, in a back alleyway, garbage cans and lids and broken bottles, in a bedroom, a lamp or alarm clock. Just look for anything and start hurling. This is surprisingly effective. A jacket thrown at them or even the change in your pocket can disorient and provide an opening for retreat or attack. Even the most hardened criminal still has a reflex to block things thrown at his face. This can expose the abdomen or groin to an attack. On a budget, I know a friend who made a habit of carrying a handful of salt in his pocket. If you have an umbrella, it may help distance you from a knife. A rolled magazine held tightly can also help.
As an exercise, when out and about, or even in your home, ask yourself, what could be a weapon right now if I needed one?
Now a word about disarming a person with a knife. This is an opportunity for you to practice "sneaker-fu." That is, run your a** off. Okay, okay, if you are cornered or protecting your family, your going to get cut. make your peace with it. The good news is that you almost never die from a slashing attack. According to inmates at Folsom prison, the graduate school as it were in knife and shiv fighting, you'll probably never see the knife that gets you, but if you can, try to determine where your opponents hands are. If one arm is tight to his body or behind him, assume a knife. If you have a jacket, whip it at his face or his knife hand. If you must block, use the back of your forearm. Lots of low kicking and a rapid slapping motion to keep the knife from your neck, face and torso. Keep your belly and chest slightly caved in. Don't let the fantasy school of martial arts make you think that you can rely on a overhead cross-arm block or some other hollywood trick. This will get you killed fast. No one attacks with a telegraphed straight thrust that you can deftly avoid by moving to the side while simultaneously grabbing the wrist, twisting the arm and disarming your foe. Want a reality check, think you've good the skills to avoid getting cut? Give a friend a rubber training blade with an inked blade and do some sparring at full speed.
Knife fights are fast and a skilled fighter will feint and counter feint. Reach for his wrist and you will have your hand a bloody mess.
So, be aware of people getting close to you in a public place. Carry a small flashlight (I use the Gerber Infinity LED flashlight) to illuminate parking lots at night, and with that, some better peripheral vision and a handful of table salt, you'll do just fine.
Stay safe and draw first blood. - SF in Hawaii

Walter at NoNAIS.org mentioned a device under development that would destroy RFID tags. Keep in mind that if the USDA thinks that you are purposely disabling your livestock's tags they will give you $1,000 fine if and when NAIS registration becomes mandatory.

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SurvivalBlog reader Sid recommends the Wunderground.com weather web site. He says that it is more comprehensive than its competitors. My first impression is that it does a great job of fusing weather data from multiple sources, including weather radars.

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Planning to stock up on lantern batteries? Get the Eveready Energizer brand rather than Duracell. Here is why.

"Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back in the same box." - Italian Proverb

Monday, July 24, 2006

I heard from Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing that the first big batch of copies of the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course have now been printed and the accompanying audio CDs have be "burned." The course binders will be assembled and mailed soon--starting later this week. All of the copies that are going to U.S. addresses are being mailed via Priority Mail, so you should have them within about a week. Thanks for your patience!

Mr. Rawles,
The subject of survival medicine is one which you touched upon in your novel "Patriots" (nicely done, I might add) as well as occasionally via letters to your blog. All well and good but far less than the subject merits insofar as it may weigh into our collective futures. If I may be so bold I'd like to suggest that it be given at least as much attention as the nifty gadgets readers are often eager to promote.
You may or not be aware of a relatively new book on the subject, perhaps the first if not the only peer-reviewed volume on the subject of survival medicine in general. I am speaking of the 2005 publication of Survival and Austere Medicine: An Introduction.
The book was written by a small group of writers that include two physicians trained and practiced in the art of medical care under unusually austere conditions, as well as the more common clinical practices known to all.
The book is available to everyone with a computer, an internet connection and an Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) reader application. It is free to download and print for your own use.
In addition the authors have chosen to publish a hard copy version for which they collect no royalties, the better to make it accessible to everyone at very reasonable cost (under $20 shipped). It can be ordered direct from the publisher.
Keep up the good work of spreading the word on surviving difficult times. The world is becoming a harsher place every day and only a blind man would fail to see them for what they are.
Sincerely, - RR

JWR Replies: You are actually the fifth SurvivalBlog reader to mention it, and I posted the link once before, but it bears repeating. Austere Medicine as an invaluable reference! Coincidentally, the hard copies of the book are available from Cafe Press--the same folks that make the SurvivalBlog T--shirts and other logo products.

Hi James,
Thanks for the very useful letter about the All Terrain Carts. There are lots of things to think about after reading your article; I had some thoughts to add. I like the input you had about storing liquids, etc... In the tubing of your frames for these carts. A very likely necessity IMHO. I would hate to cart 20 gallons of water 90% of the way home, and spill 1⁄2 of it before you get there!
In the article, the web links to the different types of carts all have inferior wheels as a week link unless you live on the salt flats. I like the castor, or solid wheel in town, or on hard surface. When I hear All Terrain, these simply don’t fit in this category.  
It is hard to beat ATV (all terrain vehicle) rims/tire combos.  Coming in at around 5 lbs each (assuming aluminum rim), I think the weight of the tire is overcome by the extreme dexterity that this kind of tire provides.  I would be very comfortable placing 1,500 lbs on two ATV rim/tire combos.  The weak link,... the axle.  
ATVs are a modern marvel no matter what one's opinion.  The terrain that they can defeat is seemingly almost mathematically impossible.  The equal and opposite reactions coupled with the "balloon effect" of their tires result in ease of straddling washouts, logs up to 1⁄2 the height of the tire, etc… And doing so all the while not tipping the apple basket.   Consider that this cart could also become a much needed stretcher during TEOTWAWKI after a terrible incident, the balloon shock absorbing effect of the pneumatic tires could in fact be lifesaving to the passenger.
In the following idea’s, I am envisioning a horizontal cart about 7’ long and 4’ wide, not nearly as high as the picture of the cart with the elk on it.
When I hear All Terrain,… I envision hills. Hills that make pushing a loaded cart troublesome indeed. I think a few moments of brain storming would render a very very handy feature to this cart.
Here’s my thought: After your horizontal All Terrain Cart is built, fabricate a makeshift mud flap that serves three purposes.
1. A simple mud flap
2. A mud scraper
3. A parking brake for climbing those steep hills when your body needs a break, and you can’t figure out a way to get the cart to stay still. I recommend mounting the mud flap/parking brake/ scraper assembly directly above the center of the rim, located above the rubber ATV tire, (approx. 1 1⁄2” above inflated rubber tire. Weld a piece of pipe on the “frame” sticking out over the tire (aprox. 5” long piece of pipe, drill a hole big enough for a cotter pin to fit in the end.
Then weld a piece of 1/8” steel plate aprox. 6” long and 4 1⁄2” wide to another piece of pipe that is at least 1⁄4” i.d. larger than the o.d. of the pipe welded to the frame. Bend the 1/8” plate at a slightly tighter radius than the pneumatic tire. (When mounted, the only edge touching the tire would be the end furthest away from the pipe it’s welded to). ( Envision the old playing cards mounted to the bicycle frame that flop against the spokes that kids used to do to create a “motor” sound). Same principle. This mud flap will in fact be mounted and facing towards the front of the cart, (not the back as you would typically think). This multi-purpose flap will actually ride/bounce on the tire.
Slide the flap assembly onto the pipe welded to the frame, (pipe welded to frame should be about 1⁄2” longer than the pipe welded to the flap assembly) slide a heavy duty washer on, then drop in your cotter pin; this will retain the flap assembly to the cart.
If installed properly, you should be able to pull/ push the cart forward with the curved flap bouncing off of the tread on the tire, but once you go to pull the cart backwards, the curved flap will “dig in” to the knobby tread of the tire, this is the brake. If you are fighting the flap, you un-pin it and store it away, or, flip it over backwards so the curved flap is now curved the complete opposite of the tire. It should easily be out of the way of the knobby tire this way, it will only rub on the tread, but it is a large curved surface that can’t grab the knobs on the tire. I like this idea because if this cart became a stretcher, then hopefully the person in tow could put downward pressure on the curved plates which would apply friction to the tires slowing down the descent rate if going down a hill.
There are so many different tread patterns to tires that you may have to attach lugs, or make notches on the plate so it actively engages the lugs when using it as the intended curved down parking brake. Some tires are staggered tread; some are more like a paddle tire where it would be easier to engage such large knobs.
The descriptions so far do not act as a mud scraper. I would weld a piece of flat stock to the back side of the mud flap assembly that faces rearward. This flat metal will not touch the tire, but will scrape off any thick sticky mud that may attach itself to your tire and keep you from rolling the cart very easily not to mention the extra pounds of mud that it should remove. Keep it off of the rubber enough that you can still flip the assembly over backwards, plus, you don’t want to jamb up your drive train with weed entrapment. Leave at least an inch of space.
When designing your cart, determine your potential use. A true All Terrain Cart would be better served with a 48” space between tires than a 24” space. High centers of gravity need to be offset by a wider “stance”. The wider the stance, the heavier the axle needs to be. Think it through, and make it multipurpose. Just don’t let the kids use it as a Soap Box Derby car! - The Wanderer


Check out the hiking attachment system for a bike trailer. Attach to your cart, copy the design, or use it with the bike trailer it was intended for...
Hope it helps, - OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Israeli Defense Force Issues an "Order 8" Call-Up of Citizen Soldiers.

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A new electric car is hitting the U.S. market with a splash."[W]ith the backing of PayPal co-founder Elon Musk, Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and ex-eBay chief Jeff Skoll, [Martin Eberhard] has created Silicon Valley's first real auto company."

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The naive residents of Memphis, Tennessee prove themselves to be sheeple.

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Jay in Florida mentioned this article: Feral dog packs attack Australian farmers.


"Freedom is not empowerment. Empowerment is what the Serbs have in Bosnia. Anybody can grab a gun and be empowered. It's not entitlement. An entitlement is what people on welfare get, and how free are they? It's not an endlessly expanding list of rights -- the 'right' to education, the 'right' to health care, the 'right' to food and housing. That's not freedom, that's dependency. Those aren't rights, those are the rations of slavery -- hay and a barn for human cattle. There's only one basic human right, the right to do as you da*n well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." - P.J. O'Rourke

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The following letters demonstrate once again the collective breadth and depth of knowledge of SurvivalBlog readers. Thank you everyone, for sharing your knowledge, experience, and wisdom!

Hi Jim and Family,
Many, many years ago I was an assistant martial arts instructor. I had studied several Chinese styles along with Japanese Kendo. I was making inquiries about instruction in my area for my daughter after being out of that area of study for over 30 years. The self defense instructor I was talking to said that for the best 'out of the gate' use of martial arts for practical street self defense was Ju-Jitsu, but to watch the style you want to learn. Basically the styles of Ju-Jitsu are quite similar but some are less suited for immediate self defense utilization. He stated his approach was toward the styles that deal with grappling techniques. His idea was that, for females particularly, the advantage the attacker wanted was one where the attacker gets the female on the ground and then he has control. A school that teaches good grappling techniques will train the student how to defend her/him self when on the ground, and make short work of the attacker or to grapple with the attacker while standing and place him on the ground. Unfortunately he was from a distant county or I would have had him teach my daughter. But the type of school I wanted to find was one where what is learned in the classroom can be immediately applied when the student walks out the door. And that was his method. Learning some systems or methods can take a year or more to be able to utilize in a practical sense. This is fine for athletic endeavors or building strength and endurance or studying it as an art form. But grappling techniques of Ju-Jitsu is best for getting direct tactically efficient self defense capabilities. It sounds trite or 'grasshopper-ish' but from my studies one thing Bruce Lee kept trying to get across to martial artists was that his form was no form. His approach to martial arts, and much of life, was well stated in an interview. He said to be like water. Water can rush forward with great force, destroying everything or it can flow around and erode away an obstacle. When water is poured into a tea pot, it becomes the tea pot. So be like water. Basically I think his concept of martial arts was to have a set of basic tools for self defense and by 'becoming water' you can mold those basic tools and techniques into an infinite combination to be applied to differing situations an threats. Don't become hung up on the 'style' of martial arts. Style is nice but can be difficult to learn and easy to be defeated. Whereas good grappling techniques for 'on the ground' fighting as well as direct straight line use of force to defeat an attacker is more tactically and energy efficient. The instructor I talked with advised to visit as many of the schools in my area and watch what was being taught. It will take a bit of time but is well worth the time spent. I, like you, prefer the Way of the 1911. But a good set of self defense skills is something you don't have to have a permit for, at least not yet; and you can carry them everywhere. Later,- The Rabid One


Dear Jim,
I read your blog a couple times a week. You recently asked about martial arts training for the family. Jujitsu is good. From what friends tell me, who practice martial arts on a frequent basis, the art you practice is not as important as having a skilled sensei who can teach it properly. Sort of like with firearms: the gun is not as important as shooting it well. See if you can find out some comments on the skill of the teacher. Even Tai Chi is a good martial art, but finding an actual self defense teacher of Tai Chi is very difficult. Best, - Heretic Monk


I am only a beginning martial artist, and have dozens of military and martial arts books, but one that read and re-read all the time is Living the Martial Way . (Similar to what I do with "Patriots" , and Boston's Gun Bible, pick it up in the middle and learn something new.) I can’t recommend this book enough. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, - M.W.


Well I personally think a good year of solid training (2-3 days per week) of any martial arts will put you a few levels above the average Joe in this day and age. Ju Jitsu is a good suggestion or Aikido which is similar or even Tai Chi mixed with Dim-Mak for the light weight person. I myself have recently started Escrima as since I am of somewhat poor health I wanted a lower impact exercise, I also seen a fellow who needed a cane for walking use Escrima 100% effectively and kept three opponents from ever getting hold of him. It also made me think that learning stick fight would give you machete skills and some knife skills, and also number one is with stick training everyday items are weapons...canes, sticks, boards, shower rods, curtain rods brooms, baseball bats, toilet plungers--so handy items are everywhere...
Another thing to note is that women are women and men are men and there is no way to get around it. Yes, there are a number of exceptions where some women are as good as a medium sized man but in most cases a toe to toe fight is not what a gal wants to get into. A woman's strongest body part is her legs and then her flexibility, Tae Kwon Do is one I would recommend for women I do believe Ju-Jitsu has many leg holds so that is a good choice too. if she can get a good leg hold she can easily break an arm leg or neck....but be careful men are really just more savage, instinctive and brutal beasts...
One other thing to note is sometimes no matter the training some people just can't fight. I know, because I happen to be one, in my training I became a dojo fighter. This means I was very good at
sparring I was even able to keep up with a few orange belts while a white belt and orange in my class was five belts above a white. But the few real fights I was in, I went blank. Kinda like writers block if my first punch or two didn't work or take a good hit... I was lost and defeated in detail, every time. :( I don't know the cure for that but be aware of it. Your S&W is a good back up - Wally


I am excited for your family; it sound's like fun. I would say that the 'style' does matter but not as much as the 'instructor' and the 'school'. In probably a year, I will be doing the same with our son(s). I will be looking for some one who teaches respect, discipline, control, and other values that good instructors pass along. I appreciate the spiritual aspects too, but I'm not looking for some one that will be passing on ancestor worship or praying to the Grand Master.

Regarding 'styles' some are more practical then others but the 'instructor' is the key. There's a lot more to learn then just learning how to fight (however, if the school is not teaching them how to 'aggressively' defend themselves then it will let them down when they need it the most.) It's is as essential as learning discipline, respect, and the other values.

What I'm going to tell you is considered "Old School." The most important things is learning how to 'block', how to take a 'punch' and how to keep yourself covered when the chips are down; fighting is a contact thing (forget the art part). The first style I took was Kenpo (the instructor taught us how to cover ourselves and take a hit); it was very practical, straight forward, and easy to learn. I have never taken Ju-Jitsu and admire it as well as Aikido, but IMO I think if the person has already touched you, you have already failed (to protect your perimeter). If the Ju-Jitsu instructor is practical (and provides striking techniques) than I would give it a try.

One of my good friends recommends the Haganah F.I.G.H.T. (Fierce Israeli Guerilla Hand-to-Hand Tactics) System. He describes it as: "a unique combination of Israeli military tactics and Israeli and other martial arts—to defeat stronger, more skilled, and even armed opponents. Learn how to restrain, incapacitate or terminate your opponent fast with intuitive strategies and tactics. Haganah doesn't employ countless, complicated techniques, but rather easy-to-learn systems enabling you to get confident and capable in just a few months. Men and women from across the country use the system to feel safe, secure, confident and stay in shape."

Perhaps to save money, you could have the one son teach the rest of the family the lessons that they learned in the previous session (it will reinforce what they've learned and the rest of the family will benefit from it also). God Bless, - The Bowmn


Mr. Rawles:
I have practiced many martial arts in the last 10 years. Jiu Jitsu would be my first recommendation to anyone. A huge percentage of hand-to-hand combat scenarios are going to the ground at some point anyway, so you may as well know what to do once you get there. Someone ignorant to Jiu Jitsu stands virtually zero chance against someone even moderately trained. You will gain more in the first month of Jiu Jitsu training than you would in any other martial art.
That being said, Jiu Jitsu is virtually worthless in a two (or more) versus one scenario. Your best defense there is obviously the 1911. ;-) If I had to pick a martial art for multiple bad-guy encounters, I would choose Muy Thai kickboxing. Many of the martial arts that focus on striking are very good if taught properly, but for my money Muy Thai is the most versatile striking art around. Someone skilled could easily take down a large person with one well placed shot. (Best case scenario, obviously.)
The plus to both of these arts is that they are both immensely fun to practice and are an amazing workout. If you have an opportunity to take both I would highly recommend it. If you have any additional questions please let me know and I will be happy to help. Regards, - Big Wooly Mammoth


You were looking for advice on self-defense courses? I would strongly suggest that you look into either Jerry Peterson's "SCARS" training or the new school of his protege and former partner, Tim Larkin. Both of these are very expensive but the systems are virtually unbeatable. I'm on the small side of average sized and after taking the SCARS course, no fighting scenario intimidates me (and that's some serious rewiring there. The concepts these guys teach are geared to real world problems, while the other disciplines are built around exhibition fighting (where it is literally ingrained in you to stop fighting when the other guy says "enough." That is very dangerous when you're in the middle of a street fight.)
I know that you feel that it pays to buy "quality" when it comes to weapons that your life depends on. The curious thing about that is that the most lethal weapon you have at your disposal is your mind, and these courses show you how to take possession of that weapon so that, whatever the situation, you are never unarmed! Best Regards, - Jim K.


The study of a martial art should be a goal for any serious survivalist. We must remember to counter force, in kind; not all situations call for use of deadly force. The skills obtained allow the individual a force progression, from mild persuasion to deadly force, if needed. The martial arts foster respect for others, respect for self, team work, physical coordination and mental focus.
First, any Japanese art that has a "do" attached to it means "way" and in most cases can be viewed as a sport. "Jitsu" or "Jutsu" attached means "art" and in most cases can be viewed as a combat art. Jiu-Jitsu is the original samurai combat art, which uses your opponent's force against him. This art uses joint locks, arm bars, throwing and grappling techniques to subdue your opponent. Judo was derived from Jiu-Jutsu, with most of the maiming techniques removed, except for arm bars which are allowed for senior rank competition.
I spent six years studying Jiu-Jutsu and competing in Judo, as well as a couple of years in Karate.
In my opinion, Jiu-Jitsu as a "soft" art is more beneficial than say Karate, a "hard" art. Hard arts focus on strength against strength moves, like punching, kicking and blocking. These arts may be viewed by bystanders as aggressive. Soft arts focus on off-balancing techniques which may be viewed as passive. This can be of benefit in a situation where the police are summoned.
One very positive benefit of Jiu-Jutsu is learning how to fall. In a throwing art this skill is a must. I've used it outside of training and saved myself unwanted injuries.
Christians who wish to become students, should ask the instructor if any meta-physical techniques or teachings are included in the training. Zen and Bushido (The Way of the Warrior) teachings are, in my opinion, not compatible with a Christian lifestyle. - Terry in the Northwest.

Dear Jim,
WD-40 is a poor lubricant and a lousy gun cleaning solvent. ("WD," incidentally, means "water displacing.") While it may have some utility in removing moisture, that's about where it's value ends. Aside from being a poor lubricant, it also tends to oxidize and gum in short order, making it a poor choice.
Anyone interested in bore solvents should consider making a gallon of "Ed's Red." (C.E. "Ed" Harris was a chemist and technical editor for the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. He devised a modern equivalent to the old Frankfort Arsenal Nitro-solvent Gun Cleaner No. 18. as detailed on page 352 in Hatcher's Notebook.) It works exceedingly well for modern, corrosive and black powder cleaning. To wit:
Combine 1 quart of deodorized kerosene, 1 quart Dextron automatic transmission fluid, 1 quart mineral spirits and 1 quart acetone into a suitable container. (A metal can works best. If you choose to use a 1 gallon fuel can, replace the neoprene gasket with one made from cardboard gasket material, purchased at your local auto parts store. Acetone will cause the neoprene gasket to soften and swell.)
That's it! If you choose to go the extra mile you can add 1 pound of anhydrous lanolin (available by special order at some pharmacies) to the mix and stir well. Ed's Red is an outstanding cleaning agent, combining polar and nonpolar solvents (mineral spirits, kerosene and acetone) with a lubricant with exceptional stability and antioxidant properties (Dextron ATF) and a polar "grease" (lanolin) for long-term protection. Best of all, it's cheap and easy to make.
A fine resource on "homebrew" firearms cleaning can be found here.
For those without the patience to wait for their order of lanolin to arrive, an even simpler and highly effective solvent can be found here. Regards, - Moriarty

JWR Replies: Thanks for your comments. I must add one other warning about the solvent WD-40. It is notorious for deadening primers in ammunition. Keep stored ammunition in sealed cans, separate from solvents and paint cans.

I just noticed that WhataCountry.com (not one of our advertisers, but a very reputable firm that I've done biz with for 15 + years) currently has reconditioned AN/PVS-2 Starlight night vision scopes on sale for just $476 each. The PVS-2 is an older bulky design, but genuinely "bomb proof." When you call, tell Yasha that Jim Rawles sent you.

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The inventory of unsold houses in Phoenix, Arizona is now at 50,000 and climbing. For comparison, in January of Aught Five, the inventory was only around 5,000. I predict that house prices in the English speaking world will fall dramatically in the next year, particularly in the super-heated metro markets. Phoenix is one of them.

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SurvivalBlog reader T.R.O. notes that is no great surprise to hear that California has started warrant searches for unregistered "assault weapons" and .50 BMG rifles. It was just a matter of time before they started doing this. My advice to our readers that live in California: Vote with your feet, folks!

"Turn to me and be saved…for I am God, and there is no other.” - Isaiah 45:22

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Whenever you contact any of our advertisers, please mention that you saw their ad on SurvivalBlog. Thanks!


This site has a lot of how too books on many subjects and I have found their books too be first rate.
In particular for vegetable gardening these two.
Seed Sowing and Saving.
The Vegetable Gardener's Bible
Even after 30+ years of gardening and 10 years with a greenhouse this is the book I still read in the winter getting ready and refer too all summer long.
With the new bigger greenhouse and a small coal stove this coming winter will be the first time I will try to grow food all winter long. It will be fun and probably a little painful. - D.M.


Mr. Rawles,
Recently the I had the occasion to put in a new chain link fence on my property and while I would have preferred something in the 8-to-10 foot range negotiations with my wife led me to use a more standard fence size of waist high. After calling to get quotes for an install to compare what it would cost me doing it vs. professionals I made my trip to the local Non super store hardware store. While purchasing the components the fine elderly gentleman gave me some pointers and repeatedly pressed upon me the importance of installing the fence with the right side up. He pointed out that "correct" side was the side of chain link which is bent and not the one that is cut. Repeatedly he noted not to put the cut side up as it will "tear ya up". After paying and loading up I was tooling home when it hit me that if I installed the cut side up it would be a security measure in plain sight that most folks would never notice or give a second look. After installing the fence I must say that the cut side of the fence is super sharp (the wounds are healing nicely!) and while it's easy to overcome with just a coat or door mat as a small layer in my security level I am happy with it. I would prefer tangle wire or razor wire but that would require more negotiations. When I work around the fence I have a piece of grey PVC pipe with a slit cut in it that fits over the sharp wire. It doesn't look out of place, and blends in with the grey of the fence and so my band aid supply has not been further depleted. Hopefully someone else might make use of this. I am sure I am not the first to think of it but for a moment of enlightenment I am happy with what I came up with.

On a personal note I want to thank you for your daily commitment to your blog as I have found it more than pays for my 10 cents a day. Keep safe and our prayers are with you. - Mr C.

JWR Replies:
Shortly after TSHTF, a chain link fence can be quickly upgraded with a course of coiled razor wire fastened to the top, but only if you've bought the wire and mounting hardware in advance. It is also important to buy a couple of pair of protective "concertina gloves" (also called "staple gloves"), a face visor, and something heavy duty to protect your forearms to wear during the installation process. The hardest to find of these are special wire handling staple gloves that are reinforced. (Typically these have the palms and fingers reinforced with metal zipper material, staples, or riveted leather strips.) These are a must to protect your hands while working with military concertina wire or civilian razor wire.

Of course only in a worst case out-and-out TEOTWAWKI would you want to erect military concertina wire arrays. But just in case, it would be prudent to have the materials on hand to do so.

Unless you have a big budget to buy commercially made razor wire (also called barbed tape), or a huge budget to buy a nifty three strand deploying trailer, then think surplus. Used concertina wire can sometimes be found at U.S. Army DRMO surplus disposal auctions--often for as low as scrap metal prices. Keep an eye on the calendar of auctions to attend one in your region. (Army camp/fort auctions are your best bet for finding concertina wire, such as this upcoming palletized lot of concertina and barbed wire at Fort Lewis, Washington.) In my opinion, used, slightly rusty wire has two advantages: First, it does not have the reflective sheen of new wire, so it not as obvious to casual observers at long distances. Second, from "up close and personal", the sight of rusty barbs might get the bad guys thinking about tetanus. (Yes, I know that the tetanus risk from punctures by new wire is nearly as great as that of dirty or rusty wire, but at least here in North America the bad guys all grew up hearing about the perils of "rusty nails.")

Lastly, keep in mind that that no obstacle is effective for long unless it is under observation from the Mark I Human Eyeball. The U.S. Army's decades-old mantra is still in effect: "Cover all obstacles with fire."

Hi Jim,
Reading the recent posts on escape routes and thought I'd send along this link about the Trans-America Trail. I haven't ridden dirt bikes since I was a teenager, and I've never been on this trail, but supposedly you can go da*n near all the way across the country on this thing. - G.

SurvivalBlog reader SF in Hawaii mentioned that when buying watches from international stores, the international versions are not always honored in the states for warranty work.

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#2 Son is instigating getting the whole Rawles family enrolled in martial arts training. Parenthetically, I took Kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, and foil fencing in college (20+ years ago, so I'm more than a little rusty.) In the interim, I've mainly studied "The Way of the 1911." Looking at all of the many martial arts now taught in North America, I'm leaning toward Ju-Jitsu, for its versatility. The Memsahib is petite, and all of our children are all still under 150 pounds. One of the key tenets of Ju-Jitsu is: "A smaller person uses his opponents strength and momentum to add to his/her own technique to gain victory in combat...") This makes Ju-Jitsu sound like a good match. Your advice, folks?

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SurvivalBlog reader Chesapeake Chuck recommend the maps of natural salt deposits available at the Salt Institute web site.

"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these." - Paul Harvey

Friday, July 21, 2006

Today we present an article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It highlights the views of the multi-millenial collapse scenario crowd. (The latest iteration of the Roberto Vacca/Club of Rome/Coming Dark Age view espoused back in the 1970s. I'm not quite so pessimistic, but it is certainly food for thought.

The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, (worth $149) generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

Editor's Note: The following lengthy speech was given at the "Peak Speak 2" Peak Oil conference, held on July 15, 2006 at Bedzed, Wallington, UK.

Oil depletion is just the first of a series of resource crisis humanity is about to face because there are just too many of us! This century we will face peak resources, period.
There are many fascinating and exciting renewable energy developments. Wind turbines, solar energy, geothermal, biomass, wave and tidal power schemes which are all important energy sources for the future - and could at least help keep the electricity grid going to some degree!
The popular assumption is that these renewable energy sources, perhaps also including uranium, plutonium and just possibly nuclear, which seems to be coming back on the agenda, will smoothly replace fossil fuels as these become scarce, thanks to our inherited technological expertise. However, although these all produce electricity they are not liquid fuels.
Unfortunately, these popular assumptions could hardly be more wrong. The energy budget must be positive. Output must exceed input. Too much tends to be expected of renewable energy generators today, because the contribution of fossil fuels to the input side is poorly understood.
For example, a wind turbine is not successful as a renewable generator unless another similar one can be constructed from its raw materials using only the energy that the first one generates in its lifetime, and still shows a worthwhile budget surplus.
Or, if corn is grown to produce bioethanol, the energy input to ploughing, sowing, fertilizing, weeding, harvesting and processing the crop must come from the previous year's bioethanol production. Input must also include, proportionately, mining and processing the raw materials and building the machines that do the work, as well as supporting their human operators.
There is nothing that can replace cheap oil for price, ease of storage, ease of transportation and sheer volumes in the timeframe we need. There is continuing debate over whether a suitable energy alternative might be found to replace the energy from oil as it runs out, but there is certainly no compelling evidence that a comparable substitute will be found.
It is difficult to think about 'how things will play out' when an oil-based global economy loses its cheap energy source. It has never happened before.
It will never happen again. Many of the solutions to Peak Oil that are discussed revolve broadly round 'sustainability' and 'sustainable development', including replacement technologies and finding an alternate source of 'sustainable energy'.
What is Sustainable Development?
A Definition of Sustainable Development: Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. There are tremendous shortcomings in this definition as there is no requirement to conserve specific resources. It does not matter what mineral resources (e.g. fossil fuels, minerals) are depleted so long as something is
found to replace them. From an economic perspective, all that matters is market value, cost per unit, and economic output.

Any attempt by one generation to leave the world as it found it is unlikely and infeasible. Instead, all that is required to comply with this definition is that non-renewable resources that are used up must be replaced with something else. When one resource is depleted or destroyed, just find a different way of doing things, or do something else. Everything is expendable, everything is replaceable. All that matters is economic output and economic efficiency. Another way to put all of this is that any group of beings (human or nonhuman, plant or animal) who take more from their surroundings than they give back will, obviously, deplete their surroundings, after which they will either have to move, or their population will crash.
The Future Mirrored in the Past
"The farther backward you can look the farther forward you are likely to see." - Winston Churchill
'Collapse' is the language of the apocalypse and we find such issues difficult if not impossible to deal with. The long-term consequence of Peak Oil will take decades to unfold as a series of rolling and interconnected crises, each one more difficult to cope with than the previous as resources become scarcer and as more and more systems break and infrastructure decays.
However, let us be clear: overshoot created by a lack of energy means the human population of the earth will have to shrink to a sustainable number. Ecologists use a technical term, "die-off", to describe what happens when a population grows too big for the resources that sustain it.
People are always saying the world will end and it never does. Maybe it won't this time, either. But, frankly, it's not looking good. Almost daily, new evidence is emerging that progress can no longer be taken for granted, that a new Dark Age is lying in wait for us and our children. By some estimates, 5 billion of the world's 6-1⁄2 billion population would never have been able to live without the blessed effects of fossil fuels, and oil in particular. We also need to remember that when a civilization goes splat, the technologies that supported it tend to go with it. This is particularly true of systems that are based on highly interdependent technologies such as ours today.
Greer states in his paper Facing the New Dark Age: A Grassroots Approach: "Finally population die-off begins as the wrecked industrial system no longer produces enough to meet even the most basic human needs. The process ends with impoverished survivors a century or so from now scratching out a meager living amid the crumbling ruins of a once-great civilisation"'
This "Die Off" scenario makes a shocking contrast to the cozy fantasies of perpetual progress most people cherish. Those who study history, on the other hand, will find it much more familiar.
The same process has happened dozens of times before, and our present predicament can best be understood by paying attention to the past.'
Another crucial lesson is that the common notion of holing up in a cabin in the hills with stockpiled food and enough firearms to outfit a Panzer division. This is not a realistic response.
It takes time for a civilization to come apart, and the process is like rolling down a slope, not like falling off a cliff. We face a future of shortages, economic crises, disintegrating infrastructure, and collapsing public health, probably stretched out over a period of decades. A few years of stored food and an assortment of high-tech paramilitary gear are hopelessly inadequate preparations in the face of this reality.
Stockpiles of precious metals, another common hedge against collapse, are even more useless. All the gold in the world means nothing unless people value it enough to trade scarce resources for it.
Problems with Progress
How many people nowadays can't light a fire without matches or butane lighter from some distant factory?
The skills necessary to get by in a non-industrial society, skills that were still common knowledge a century ago, have been all but lost. Knowledge is critical and currently, there is little knowledge of basic survival skills, and even less knowledge of the scope of the problems that are looming.
It's clear that whatever the future holds, it will hold many fewer people than today's world, and the road there won't be easy or pleasant. If there are problems with holing up in a cabin in the hills, what about self sufficiency?
Community Survival During the Coming Energy Decline
"Those who already enjoy a measure of self-sufficiency, such as ecovillages and other kinds of sustainable intentional communities will already have some of the skills and experience needed for re-localization." In Powerdown, Richard Heinberg notes that small, self-sustaining communities may become cultural lifeboats in times to come.
He says, "Our society is going to change profoundly-those of us who understand this are in a position to steward that change. We are going to become popular, needed people in our communities."
But no matter how prepared an intentional community or organized neighborhood may be, it will be adversely impacted in some way.
But is Community Enough?
Experts suggest several possible scenarios for the coming energy decline and any of these scenarios will present significant challenges for intentional
Even in the "soft landing" scenario, there will still be massive structural changes in society and being in debt may be the undoing of many.
Common advice among many Peak Oil experts is to get out of debt! Let's say for example, that a community is deeply in debt, and is still paying off its property purchase loans.
Let's say the community loses its financial resource base-if members lose their jobs or if a weak economy reduces the market for the goods and services the community produces-the group could default on its loan payments, and may have its property seized by the bank or other creditors.
A property-value crash may worsen the debt situation for intentional communities. If a community's property value falls below their equity in the property, they won't be able to save themselves from defaulting on loans by selling off their land, which is typically the last resort of farmers in debt.
All the shortages and systems failures that can affect mainstream culture can affect intentional communities as well. A community may not have enough foresight, labour, tools, or funds to create alternatives to whatever their members use now for heating, lighting, cooking, refrigeration, water collection, water pumping, and disposal utilization of gray water and human waste.
Then there's the matter of community security-a subject many find "politically incorrect" to even consider. If the government fails; if the law and order system falls apart, there can be various kinds of dangerous consequences. Desperate, hungry people can loot and steal and take what they want from others.
Vigilante groups can form to either deal with the lawlessness, and/or take what they want themselves. Government may declare martial law, rescind constitutional liberties, and send in troops to restore order and/or take what they want from others. Having supportive neighbors and good networking in the greater community may help. The social fabric has been unraveling for several decades, and the lack of solidarity or social cohesion is another one of the reasons there must be a collapse -- after all, do you see community-spirit on the rise and an actual transition underway to a sustainable and ecological society?
So would it be possible to rebuild Civilisation after a collapse? Jason Godesky wrote in It Will Be Impossible to Rebuild Civilisation: "The current state of civilization is dependent on resources that are now so depleted, that they require an industrial infrastructure already in place to gather those resources. We can fetch this fossil fuel only because we have fossil fuels to put to the task."
He goes on to comment on metals.
* That to maintain civilization, only some metals are useful.
* They must be strong enough for agriculture or war.
* They must keep an edge.
* They must occur in economically feasible quantities.
* They must have a melting point low enough to be worked.
Gold, silver, etc. immediately fail as the quantities are insufficient, and they are far too soft.
There are many other metals which are basically all alloys and would be all but unworkable in a post collapse society. The metal that probably deserves the most attention is iron. He says that iron although problematic is not impossible and may well be the only metal that survivors will have access to.
(1) Ore,
Most near-surface iron deposits were exploited long ago. What remains is deep in the ground and is unlikely to be accessible without fossil fuels, except in rare exceptions.
(2) Scavenged iron.
Scavenged iron is, especially in the immediate aftermath of collapse likely to be the most abundant source although [working] most of the sophisticated alloys we use now rely on the kind of high temperatures attainable only with fossil fuels. This shouldn't matter too much as there's still enough that can be done with heated and reworked scavenged metals. After a few decades the scavenged metals will become more and more rusted and even worn out and the metalworking will begin to diminish as it becomes harder and harder to make poorer and poorer metal weapons and tools.
(3) Bog Iron.
The final source is bog iron which is actually a renewable resource. About once each generation the same bog can be re-harvested but it may be up to a century before today's bog iron deposits are refilled; after that, it may enter the cycle of once-a-generation per bog.
We should be aware of this factor because of one other necessary resource that we have so far only touched on briefly: knowledge.
The knowledge of how to work iron and many other processes was accrued over centuries.
Those who know, no longer do; those who do, no longer know. This may well end applying to a lot of knowledge.
How much knowledge will manage to survive the post collapse period, for the time that comes after when it may become useful again?
If it is insufficient, we will be starting from scratch again. This will apply to all knowledge and knowledge is a powerful thing, difficult to relearn from seed, and easily lost.
How plausible would agriculture be after the collapse?
Civilization is only possible through agriculture, because only agriculture allows a society to increase its food supply--and thus its population--and thus its energy throughput--and thus its complexity--so arbitrarily."
Plants, like any other organism, take in nutrients, and excrete wastes. In nature, what one plant excretes as waste, another takes in as nutrients. They balance each other, and all of them thrive.
But monoculture--planting whole fields of just one crop--sets fields of the same plant, all bleeding out the same nutrients, all dumping back in the
same wastes.
The ecological effects of fossil-based food production have been catastrophic, particularly with respect to agriculture. As a result, the complex ecology of the living soil is being destroyed, leading to increased wind and water erosion. In the near-term, most arable land has long been depleted, and is now utterly dependent on fertilizers made from fossil fuels. In the course of our civilization we have used up all of the surface and near-surface deposits of all the economically viable fossil fuels and minerals. The lack of metals will continue to limit technological development after the collapse--and by limiting technological development, it will also limit all other forms of complexity. We are therefore talking about a complete break with the end of our current civilization. Whole generations will pass before civilisation becomes feasible again. What, then, of the distant future?
The Distant Future
After the passage of millennia, the soil may well heal itself, and the necessary climate may return. In that scenario, agriculture may be possible in those same areas, and under the same conditions, that it first occurred. With the passage of geological ages, though, this will pass. Fossil fuels will be replenished, and metal ores will rise to the surface.
Then, if there are still humans so far into the future--this is a matter of at least tens of millions of years, far longer than humans have so far survived--then there might be another opportunity to rebuild civilization.
So after the collapse, we may see a brief Iron Age, but it seems more likely to fade away within the next two centuries.
Living without oil, if we don't start to prepare for it, will not be like returning to the pre industrial world, because we will have lost the infrastructure that made that life possible. We have also lost our basic
survival skills.
Today, the UK population is about 62 million. In 1750, when the Industrial Revolution was beginning, it was about 6 million. It had never exceeded this figure, although during the Dark Ages
and after the Black Death it fell to one or two million.
Most people lived and died in poverty. Pre-industrial farmers were pushed to the limit to feed so many. The population increased slightly in years with good harvests, but starvation and malnutrition cut it back to the 6 million norm when harvests were bad. Food is energy. And it takes energy to get food. These two facts, taken together, have always established the biological limits to the human population and always will.
The topic of Peak Oil is at present enveloped by a great silence and the
public seems unprepared for rational discussion
This reminds me of a comment made by Sherlock Holmes in A. Conan Doyle's story "Silver Blaze."
Inspector Gregory had asked, "Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
To this Holmes responded:
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night time."
"The dog did nothing in the night time," said the Inspector.
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
By asking himself what would repress the normal barking instinct of a watchdog, Holmes realized that it must be the dog's recognition of his master as the criminal trespasser.
In a similar way we should ask ourselves what repression keeps us from discussing something as important as survival long term after Peak Oil.
Curious, but understandable - for the foreseeable future I think that our survival demands that we govern our actions by the ethics of a lifeboat. Posterity will be ill served if we do not.
Those who attended "Peak Speak 1" in London last year may remember the lifeboat analogy I mentioned.
Greer uses a similar point in The Coming of Deindustrial Society: Imagine that you're on an ocean liner that's headed straight for a well marked shoal of rocks. Half the crew is dead drunk, and the other half has already responded to your attempts to alert them by telling you that you obviously don't know the first thing about navigation, and everything will be all right. At a certain point, you know, the ship will be so close to the rocks that its momentum will carry it onto them no matter what evasive actions the helmsman tries to make. You're not sure, but it looks as though
that point is already well past. What do you do? You can keep on pounding on the door to the bridge, trying to convince the crew of the approaching danger. You can join the prayer group down in the galley; they're convinced that if they pray fervently enough, God will save them from shipwreck. You can decide that everyone's doomed and go get roaring drunk. Or you can go around quietly to the other passengers, and encourage those people who have noticed the situation (or are willing to notice it) to break out the life jackets, assemble near the lifeboats, take care of people who need help, and otherwise deal with the approaching wreck in a way that will salvage as much as possible.
Although there is growing awareness of the problem, there is also widespread ignorance and denial, even by people who should know better. Mankind has, it seems, an infinite capacity for denial. The evidence is overwhelming that we are in the "overshoot" phase of the industrial life cycle, yet most people and most organizations refuse even to discuss this matter, let alone acknowledge it.
The world after the industrial age will be very different from the world of today. For most people on Earth (if mankind escapes extinction), it will be similar to the world of the past millions of years - a primitive, natural environment (although perhaps less bountiful and beautiful than before).
Although most people will not survive the collapse of the industrial age, it will belong, in concept and structure, to those who prepare for the great change that is about to happen.
The arrays of skills necessary for people to 'thrive' and not just 'survive' in a non-oil economy are many. Most people do not have the essential skills to reproduce (or even repair) the technology on which we depend today.
We seem to be in a state of delusional thinking and the only thing we're debating is how we're going to keep the cars running without oil.
What I have said above is not, as some one said after my talk last year, to get you all to wear brown underwear. It is to try to show you that, even at this late stage, if we all do not think seriously, realistically and logically about the consequences of our inaction then what I have suggested may well become fact. We will be faced with the necessity to downscale, rescale and reorganize all the fundamental activities of our daily lives; the way we grow food, the way we conduct commerce, the way we manufacture things and school our children. We must learn to do this tomorrow....at the crack of dawn. We should seriously think of breaking out the "Life Jackets" and "manning the lifeboats" which is as I said last year at least one step before "deploying" the lifeboats.

References and sources quoted:
1. Greer. J.M., How Civilisations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse.
2. Godesky, Jason., It Will Be Impossible to Rebuild Civilisation.
3. Godesky, Jason., Collapse is Inevitable.
4. Greer, J.M., Facing the New Dark Age: A Grassroots Approach.
5. Godesky, Jason,. Post Collapse Metals.
6. Jan Steinman and Diana Leafe Christian, Community Survival During the Coming Energy Decline.

If you have any comments on this, my e-mail address is: Norman@noidea.me.uk

JWR Adds: If you think that the preceding article is alarmist, consider this: Even if the timeframe for Peak Oil has been badly miscalculated, clearly at some point in the next 150 years, oil production will steeply decline. Both shale oil and ethanol are widely touted as easy solutions, offsetting the oil production decline. But with current extraction technologies, both fail the test of Energy Return on Energy Invested. (EROEI). This is the ratio of the amount of energy needed to generate a unit of energy from a fuel source. When oil was first produced over 150 years ago the EROEI was 40 (or more) to 1. The oil gushed out of the ground. Just 30 years ago it was as high as 20-to-1. Today, the oil EROEI is variously reported as 2.5 to 1.2-to-1 for light sweet crude. As Peak Oil occurs, oil shale production is expected to see an EROEI of less than 1. That means it presently takes more than one energy unit to produce a single unit of energy from the oil shale. Thus, it doesn’t matter how much it costs, because the extraction operation will have become a net energy sink. That is some serious FFTAGFFR, folks.

"Down one road lies disaster, down the other utter catastrophe. Let us hope we have the wisdom to choose wisely." - Woody Allen

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mr. Rawles,
I'm interested in building a supplies carrier for moving larger loads over distances. Sort of a trailer for humans. I have nothing specific in mind other than using discarded solid wheels from wheelchairs. They are quite sturdy. I have access to discarded wheels at no cost. My questions involve use of materials - welded steel (heavy), aluminum (expensive and hard to scrounge), PVC (durability) and, of course, the size. Two wheels or four? Ideal dimensions? Do you have any suggestions or a reference that might be helpful? I realize there are many variables and the largest would be the terrain to be covered and the load carried. I'm just looking for ideas at this time. Thank you for your consideration of my question, and the wealth of information on your blog. - C.G.

JWR Replies: I generally prefer aluminum frames for utility carts. PVC is light, but prone to breakage. Aluminum tubing bends if overloaded, but PVC shatters. If you do some searching, you can often find random length aluminum tubing for near scrap metal prices. (Although, admittedly, even scrap metal prices are currently quite high.) One possibility is a "want to buy/want to trade" ad on your local Craig's List web site. Another possibility is to contact custom bicycle frame makers in your area. They nearly all have an "oops pile" of pieces that were cut to the wrong length or that had a hole drilled in the wrong place. (You can cobble together various short sections with sleeves. Aluminum tubing can be glued with a product called JB Weld, available at auto parts stores.) Bike frame makers might also have an under-utilized pile of stock that has a diameter or wall thickness that they no longer use with their current designs. Who knows? When you call and ask about their extra tubing and mention what you have in mind, they might be captivated and offer to sell you some stock tubing at, or near, their replacement cost.

If using PVC water pipe, use at least Schedule 40 thickness. Unfortunately, to achieve the necessary strength, you will probably need 1-1/4 inch diameter Schedule 40 PVC, which is fairly expensive, as are 1-1/4" sleeve and elbow fittings. In my experience, the highest stress point on the frame will be where the axle meets the frame. Do not drill the PVC tubing at that point. Instead, fabricate an angled axle mounting brace that will distribute the stress from the axle over a wider area on the PVC frame. Doing so will double the weight capacity of your cart. If using PVC, keep in mind that unless you drill holes in the framework, the hollow space inside the frame can do double duty for storing fluids, or as watertight storage for metal parts or rolled documents. So be clever, plan ahead, and use a threaded end cap at at least one point--preferably on the front of the frame, so you can tip the frame forward to pour out the contents. Conceivably, with the right fittings the framework could also be used to hold slightly compressed gasses, but perhaps it might be too tempting to transport something flammable or explosive.

For rough terrain and narrow trails, nothing beats a narrow two man cart design, (one two or three wheel) such as those used for deer hauling. For one man hauling, two wheeled carts configured like a garden cart (including foldable variants) are usually best, but these of course require trails at least the width of the wheel base. (Similar carts are used for deer hauling.) Another approach has been suggested for infantry troops (the Darby Cart). There are cargo and casualty stretcher variants. For the heaviest loads, a two man, four wheel cart is apropos.

As with my previously posted advice on wheelbarrows, I recommend foam filled tires for both garden and utility carts.

No matter how deep our deep-freeze is or how well stocked our pantry, our food stockpiles are good for one thing: to keep us alive until gardening/bartering/hunter-gathering kicks in.

Living as we do on the high, arid plains of Wyoming, my wife and I have been working to establish a system of gardening that requires little water and can produce crops in the sandy, alkaline soil. After several years and a myriad of techniques, we stumbled onto a system that works. For lack of a better term, it's the Goodyear Garden.

Here's our tater recipe: Gather unto yourselves a few square yards of old carpet, a couple dozen [auto or truck] tire carcasses and a few bags of decent garden soil. Place a square of carpet on the ground and stack two tires on the carpet. Fill the tires with garden soil up to about halfway up the second tire. Plant your seed potatoes, water and wait. When the plants are about 8 inches high, toss on another tire and add soil to completely cover the stems. Repeat this process until you have a stack of five or six tires.

End result at harvest time: You'll get about 25 pounds of spuds from each tire stack. Water usage is minimal. (We water the setups three times a week in the hot, dry, windy climate that is taking over the West.) - Hawgtax

Per your ladies supplies post, one thing not mentioned were menstrual cups. I used to use these and they were a great alternative to tampons and pads (although the dual uses for those as bandages and recoil pads can't be overlooked). There's a lot of information in the wiki page here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cup
I personally vouch for the Keeper:
But there's another brand called Mooncup:
At a cost of about $20-30, they're far more cost effective than regular products, and theoretically usable for years. I bought new ones annually but even then they're still inexpensive. And they even work for those with a latex allergy. - Kit

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Cast iron cookware is heavy, but it cleans with ONLY water, which makes it ideal for an emergency. Soap last a long time, so stock up. It will be good for barter and personal hygiene.

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"The most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'" - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm in need of a few more Retreat Owner Profiles, to round out the collection. (My goal is to post 25 of them, including at least five from overseas readers.) So if you "live the life", then please write up your profile in the same format as those already posted, and e-mail it to me. Be sure to change enough details to maintain your anonymity. Thanks!

You absolutely must alert your readers to Hillbilly Housewife. Be sure the Memsahib reads "Apron Evangelism." Hey, I read it, so you can read it too--it's a wonderful observation on housewifery. I guarantee you and your readers will be hooked on this clever woman's ideas. 'Nuff said; I'm going back to her web site for more reading! - B.B.

JWR Replies: Great stuff! Thanks for the recommendation. I've just added her site and her blog to our Links page. OBTW, the site also has instructions on making do-it-yourself ladies supplies.

I thought that I would put in my 2 cents on accessing property with a bolt cutter. If you need to go through a gate don’t cut the lock unless there is no other alternative! Snipping a link out of the chain next to the lock and allowing the lock owner to relock the gate next time they come by is much more forgivable than making them run in and get a new lock cut keys and distribute keys to whoever needs them. Many times we will snip out a link and put our own lock on the chain so we use our lock and others use theirs. I appreciate the resource your blog is to us! - SC

I asked about this a long time ago and no one knew what I was talking about they thought I was talking about those salt blocks you buy for cattle and stuff: so I tried to find myself where the old "salt licks" were in those old westerns we always read. Here was what I found after three hours of research. There is an Internet resource that says there are over 1,400 ["Lick" or "Saline" locales] all over the USA. But they don't list individual ones just how many per state. For those places I can't find [listed licks], I guess you'll have to trek to the ocean or the Great Salt Lake area...get some good shoes!

Austell (formerly called Salt Springs)

Osawatomie Salt Works, Miami County (five shallow wells produce salt water,.then processed.)
Tuthill Marsh, Republic County
Hutchinson, Lyons, Kingman, Kanoplois
Salt mines (underground)

Blue Licks Battlefield State Park, Nicholas County
Big Bone Lick (used by Daniel Boone), Boone County
Big Sandy River

St. Genevieve and Jefferson Counties (Namely the Saline and Little Saline creeks)
Montesano Springs (Kimmswick)
Arrow Rock
Boonslick and Saline counties also have salt.

New Mexico:
Guadalupe Peak

Little Salt Creek or the Scioto Salt Licks in Jackson County.

Gardeau in the southeastern corner of McKean County

Great Salt Lake


West Virginia
Big Sandy River

West Virginia:
Kanawha Valley area (buffalo licks) near Malden

Cheshire area

The Dead Sea

Gunung Tahan Park - 14 different salt licks


POSSIBLE SITES: (unproven or unsure)
Beersheba, Tennessee
Bledsoes Lick, Tennessee
Eureka and Hot Springs, Arkansas
French Lick, Tennessee (Nashville?)
Bullit Licks, Kentucky
French Lick, Indiana
Teltin Park, Togiak Park, Alaska
Bradford, Tioga, Potter, and Cameron Counties, Pennsylvania
Salt Creek Falls ,Oregon
Salmon River, Idaho
Colgate Licks Hot Springs, Idaho [JWR Adds: Been there, seen that. It is an amazing place for wildlife viewing. BTW, the nearby Jerry Johnson Hot Springs are worth the hike for a dip.]
Death Valley, California
Searles Lake, California
Kaibab, Arizona
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

JWR Adds: It recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers who live in inland regions do some research on natural salt deposits near your intended retreats. That could be quite valuable knowledge in the event of TEOTWAWKI,

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction (for the RWVA Super Shooter's package is still at $150. Our special thanks to the RWVA and Fred's M14 Stocks for sponsoring this fund raiser! (The prize is worth $250+.). Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July. OBTW, speaking of the RWVA, they have a Rifle Instructor's Camp coming up at the end of August in Ramseur, North Carolina--a great opportunity for you to learn how to teach others how to shoot like a pro, including your own family members.

Mrs. Rawles:
In the event of long-term TEOTWAWKI, a few questions come to mind - how did women deal with menstruation? I know this subject may be distasteful; but, reality check! Can a survival group stock up on enough toilet paper and "sanitary napkins"? Maybe telephone books will suffice for toilet paper, but what about "tampons" etc? In my experience, most "primitive" societies just let Nature take its course. Are our women (and men) prepared to do the same? What are your ideas? It's coming!

The Memsahib Replies: We stock up on them just like we stock up on the other necessities of life. We had the opportunity to stock up on tampons almost ten years ago at near wholesale prices. Since they have an indefinite shelf life we have saved an incredible amount of money as I have been rotating our supply . See John Pugsley's book The Alpha Strategy for more on this stockpiling approach. I think that tampons will be a highly desirable item for barter in the event of TEOTWAWKI .
To answer your other question, what did our ancestors do? They used rags which they washed and reused. Here are links to Norwegian knitted pads and Italian washable pads, probably from the 19th century which will give you some ideas on pads that women can make for themselves. Some modern women are using rewashable pads. Here is a source for one company that sells them.

Please stop the perpetuation of dangerous [(to equipment)] mythology regarding cleaning firearms after shooting corrosive ammo. It's not magic. Not understanding how to clean your guns or why can seriously and dangerously corrode guns in a matter of hours.

The text from Mike's letter to SurvivalBlog is italicized:
Cleaning after corrosive ammo. It depends on how much moisture the gun is exposed to how quickly it needs cleaned. In my safes with “Golden Rod” heaters I have no trouble for one to two weeks. Sitting in the garage in Ohio’s notorious humidity, a few days seems the maximum. Of course, chrome lined barrels are far less of a problem.

No serious problems so far. Gun corrosion rates are directly related to ambient humidity.

If it may be a while before I can get my guns cleaned, I douse them in WD-40 (I buy it by the gallon can - cheaper).

Cleaning corrosive residues from guns necessitates that the gun owner realizes that the corrosive residues are salts, most notably potassium chloride. Salts are ionic solids, and only dissolve in water. Just try dissolving a teaspoon of table salt (sodium chloride) in a glass of 100% alcohol or gasoline to see what I mean. (Granted, there are specialized organic solvents that will dissolve salts, but we're talking about gun owners, not laboratory chemists.) "Dousing" guns in WD-40 doesn't seem like it would do a whole lot. Rinsing them out with hot water definitely will.

To clean, I use one of several different methods. Hot soapy water is probably best. Immerse the muzzle in a bucket of it and brush in such a way as to really wash it out. If the water is hot enough, the gun will flash dry on it’s own.

I simply pour hot, nearly boiling water from my coffee maker carafe into the chamber and let it run out the muzzle. A quick brushing with a little soap removes the bulk of the powder fouling which may prevent occluded salt from being rinsed away the first time.

Apply oil to all parts exposed to the water as it removes all of the oil residue and rust is a certainty! I prefer LSA (available from Sarco, $6.95 per quart) or CLP (which I pick up at Knob Creek for about $10 per quart). If the hot soapy water is a problem I use Hoppe's Copper Solvent which contains ammonia, followed by Hoppe's #9 [bore cleaning solution], then oil. The ammonia helps rinse away the corrosive salts, not to mention removes some copper fouling.

I would recommend using a volatile, water-displacing solvent such as alcohol or acetone to remove traces of water, followed by a non-volatile gun cleaner - and then storing the gun horizontally, or at least muzzle-down until proper gun cleaning can be performed. In any event, store the gun in as dry an environment as possible.[JWR Adds: If using acetone, be very careful not to let it contact your skin. Wear disposable exam gloves, and work only in a well-ventilated area!]

There is a myth that ammonia somehow "breaks up" or "breaks down" the salts that are responsible for corrosion. This is a complete falsehood. It's the water that the ammonia is dissolved in that dissolves and rinses away the salt.

There is an excellent discussion of the probable origin of these myths in Hatcher's Notebook, by Julian S. Hatcher, on pages 334-360. It is a very scientific study and explanation of why guns corrode, and how to clean guns so they don't.

Most important, IMHO, is to inspect the gun every couple of days after cleaning and again a week or two later to make sure that you did not miss some odd spot and rust is developing. While I admit cleaning a PKM, Goryunov or AK gas system after corrosive ammo is a bit of a pain, the [low] price of the ammo certainly justifies it. Remember, when these guns were new and being used by the military, corrosive was the only kind of ammo available! A note on Hoppe's #9 – the older formula contained Benzene which worked very well at removing corrosive residue. Trouble is, the stuff is hazardous so it is not in the current formula. Hoppes still will clean a gun of corrosive residue but more effort is required! Same for some WWII / Korea era GI bore cleaner.
The Hoppe's original formula contained nitrobenzene, not benzene. This may or may not have helped to dissolve salts, but it still isn't anywhere nearly effective as water.

As a final note, make sure to clean the bolt face, action, and firing pin channel, since corrosive primer residues can build up on these areas and cause serious problems resulting in failures to feed or fire. - Virginia Gun Nut and "Patty"

Gold Price Rally is No Flash in the Pan: "Gold fever rages on despite the metal's 24 percent jump in a month to 26-year highs followed by an even faster retreat. "This is a serious bull run. Those people who think it's a bubble ready to burst might be disappointed," Tony Dobra, director of global commodity derivatives at Standard Chartered Bank, told Reuters.

   o o o

A home security tip, from one of those infinitely-forwarded e-mails: "Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your home or someone trying to get in your house, just press the alarm button for your car.The alarm will be set off, and the horn will continue to sound until either you turn it off or the car battery dies" My comment: Car alarms are largely ignored in all but the most quiet neighborhoods. My advice is to pursue this course of action in the event of an attempted home invasion, in this order: riot shotgun and flashlight at hand, press your car alarm and/or home alarm panic button, then dial 911.

   o o o

From Newsmax: Newt Gingrich Says That World War III Has Begun.

   o o o

JRH Enterprises has extended the sale price on their popular "Patriot Pocketscope" 2nd Generation U.S. night vision scope. Newly revamped with c-mount lens, better optics and hand strap. These retail for $649.95. JRH has held over the price of $549.95 just for SurvivalBlog readers. Mention SurvivalBlog when you order and received FREE shipping in the lower 48 states!

"Survival of the fittest is a constant. It is what constitutes being “fittest” that varies over time." - Rourke

Monday, July 17, 2006

Starting the month, I will be mailing free autographed copies of my novel "Patriots" as "Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) Awards:" These are for anyone that e-mails a letter or article for posting on SurvivalBlog that includes what I deem to be a particularly brilliant, novel, or useful concept. There is no set schedule--I will make BFO Awards on just as the mood strikes me.

Here is an absolutely fascinating article about gorillas and salt that I came upon whilst browsing the Foxnews.com site. I seem to remember an article on your blog, not too long ago, discussing pretty-much the same thing. This is something which might prod your readers all-the-more to stock-up on [blocks, bags, and boxes of] salt. - Ben L.

JWR Replies: Unless you literally live next to a salt marsh, I cannot overemphasize the importance of storing salt. The Memsahib and I formerly lived in the Upper Clearwater River Valley of Idaho. In that region, deer and elk would walk many, many miles to get to natural salk licks (such as The Colgate Licks), where they would congregate in large numbers. Salt is important to store, both for preserving food and as a practical means to attract wild game. (It is noteworthy that in many locales, natural salt licks are off-limits to hunters, since hunting there is too easy and hence not considered sporting. That ought to tell you something.) I recommend that you store several times more salt than you think that you'll ever need. Salt is cheap and plentiful now, but in the event of TEOTWAWKI it will be a scarce and valuable commodity. Salt also has a virtually unlimited shelf life.

Just the other day, on the thread concerning watches, another SurvivalBlog reader posted a link to a Japanese firm [Higuchi.com] that sold watches. I took a look around their site, and found, to my surprise, that the watch I had been pining for was 1/3 the cost of the same watch purchased from a USA dealer, shipping included. Needless to say I whipped out my debit card and did the deed. But it occurred to me, over the short existence of SurvivalBlog I have run into bargains for items that I would normally purchase - unrelated to survival or preparedness, and I have discovered some products that I now regularly use. It has enhanced my family's lifestyle and saved us money - Jim's policy of posting little blurbs from folks who are trying to provide advice or the like has worked pretty well for me - LDM

JWR Replies: I hope that folks appreciate the value of what they read at SurvivalBlog--both the tangibles and the intangibles. If you find that what you read here is worth ten cents a day or more to you, then please become a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber to SurvivalBlog. Also, when you patronize any of our paid advertisers of affiliate advertisers, please mention that you heard their name on SurvivalBlog. Thanks!


I was surprised to see that CBS will be airing a drama this fall called Jericho. Here is what the show is about: "Things are quiet and peaceful in small-town Jericho, Kansas, but when a baffling explosion occurs in the distance, Jericho's residents are plunged into social, psychological and physical chaos. No one knows what to think, and fear of the unknown takes over the town, especially because its isolation cuts it off from outside help. When nearly everything they know seems gone, will the residents of Jericho band together to face their unfamiliar and mysterious new world?"
Here is the link to the site at CBS and there is a preview of the show there as well. It will be interesting to see how a mainstream media outlet is going to portray a SHTF situation. - Desert T

The Zimbabwean government debt and currency hyperinflation have progressed to super nova stage: "Zimbabwe's domestic debt has trebled, from Z$15-trillion to nearly Z$43-trillion, casting a pall over any prospect of economic recovery. Latest central bank statistics show the public debt was Z$42.9-trillion on June16, up from Z$21-trillion on June 2 and Z$27-trillion on June 9. The country's debt has continued to skyrocket against a background of deteriorating macroeconomic fundamentals and the socioeconomic situation. The central bank's overnight accommodation recently stood at 850%, the inter-bank rate at 693.3%, and treasury bill yields at 510%." Wow! This sounds like something out of a novel I once read. I surmise that statistics like those quoted cannot continue for long. Look for some major political changes in Zimbabwe in the near future. A note to Comrade Mugabe: Air fares are lower if you book your flight two weeks in advance.

   o o o

14 murders in 13 days in "gun free" Washington, D.C.. The Nation's Capitol is hardly a shining example for gun control advocates. It is abundantly clear that criminals don't obey gun bans--only the law-abiding, thus leaving disarmed D.C. residents like lambs for the slaughter.

  o o o

A reminder that Ready Made Resources is brokering the sale of a very hard to find upgraded P-10 self-contained NBC shelter.They are selling it on behalf of an acquaintance. When sold new, these shelters sell for $100,000 with all of the options included in this one, such as the 1,000 gallon water tank and Level 4 protective entry door. (Cutting torch and .308 bullet proof!) These very rarely come up for sale in used condition, so don't miss this chance to buy one for only one-fourth of what it would cost to buy one new. It is being sold "on site", so you would have to pay for hauling. (About $4,000 to the Midwest, or $6,000 to the West Coast.) Please mention that you saw it on SurvivalBlog for a nifty bonus.

"Most civilization is based on cowardice. Its so easy to civilize by teaching cowardice. You water down the standards which lead to bravery. You restrain the will. You regulate the appetites. You fence in the horizons. You make a law for every movement. You deny the existence of chaos. You teach even the children to breathe slowly. You tame." - Frank Herbert, Dune

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Our friends who live in Tzfat (also spelled Safed, Sfat, Sfas, etc.) recently came to stay with us to get away from the rockets which lit Mount Meron on fire and landed all around them shaking their house and breaking the window over my friend as he shopped. They are returning home still a bit shaken but feeling better after a two day break. They have been under 122mm Katyusha rocket fire. They have some Russian, Iranian, and Chinese stuff in Lebanon like the Fajjar-5 which has a range of 45 kilometers. The Israeli Saar-5 corvette Ahi-Hanita was struck by a Chinese made anti-ship C-802 Silkworm missile weighing 715 kilos, with a range of 120 kilometers.

I appreciate your web site, lots of good thoughtful info and no armchair commando nonsense. I rarely post on this or related blogs, but I've just installed two complete solar water systems and can perhaps add a bit to the backup-powered water discussion. A solar system is tailor-made for supplying water, IMHO, because instead of storing electricity in batteries for nighttime use, it stores water in a tank for use on demand, no inverters, no batteries, no fuel. Simple and effective. Both systems use Grundfos submersible pumps and two solar panels of about 170 watts each. One system pumps from a lake to a 1-1/2 acre orchard/garden about 500 feet away with no head (lift), and supplies about 4000 gallons per day. The other is for use here at the house and pumps from a well about 100' vertically to a 3000 gallon storage tank, then gravity flows to the house, and supplies from 800-1500 gallons per day depending on time of year (sun angle) cloudiness, et cetera.
The pump and solar panels must be sized according to lift, distance pumped, desired output, and geographic location. I'm located in Central Texas with plenty of sunshine year-round, so solar is a natural. Depending upon pump size and number and power output of the panels, the basic components including a stand for the panels costs around $3000-4000. Add to that about $500 or so for standard pressure tanks, pressure switches, wiring and plumbing and the cost is still less than a windmill and pumps a lot more water. Another beauty of these pumps is that they run on both 12 volt (PV solar) and 220 VAC, which means they can also be powered by a generator or from the electric grid. Just make absolutely certain, I repeat certain, that the 220 breaker is off before engaging the solar panels, as 220 VAC does some fairly spectacular things to a 12 volt DC solar panel.
I don't claim to be an electrician, or plumber either, yet I installed both of these systems practically by myself, so that means it can't be all that difficult. - J.H.

Just a note regarding Bill K.'s fired cartridge brass recycling idea to raise extra cash - it is a good money making idea with the continuing rise in the price of copper and other metals - our gun club here in North Carolina paid all its property taxes last year on the recycling of fired brass left after shooting events. The club insists that if the shooters don't wish to take their fired brass home, they spend a few minutes between relays when the line is clear to police up brass and put them into specially marked/painted 'brass buckets'.
My voluntary role for my club is to take the full five gallon buckets home periodically to check for dud or damaged live rounds and separate them out along with any fired brass that interests me so I can assure the scrap dealer there are no live rounds, rocks, steel cases, etc. in the buckets. This eliminates hazards to the scrap dealer as well as the liability issue for the club.
My concern is that I imagine most ranges are privately owned and unless it is a remote county, state or federal public range such as Bill K. describes where cleaning up the brass off the ground (why not also pick up the rusty steel cases as well, and trash them, too - good PR and environmental stewardship) is not frowned upon, one should check with the range operators to see if they have a policy of any brass left on the ground after the original shooter leaves the range becomes club property. Some clubs may consider this theft otherwise.
Be forewarned - when you go to a recycling center/scrap metal company to turn in the brass, several five gallon buckets of gleaming brass will get you noticed - you will get some interested looks and comments/questions from the curious about where the brass came from while standing in line with all the other folks who are bringing in scrap from who knows where just to make ends meet or are down on their luck. Also, for what it is worth, due to the increasing theft of metals such as copper from job sites, most scrap dealers also insist on recording your drivers license information so the materials can be traced back to you in case of a police investigation.
One other small side note for reloaders: The scrap dealer also mentioned to me that even fired centerfire rifle and pistol primers in quantity separated from the brass are of value in scrap recycling, as there is some kind of demand in the watch making and/or related industry for the minute metal parts for some reason. However, fired shotgun primers are not as much in demand, from what I recall. Lead from reloading also is desirable for recycling, but you might consider keeping theirs for cast bullet work. Regards, - Redclay

"The first indication of an oppressive law is when the law makers exempt themselves from it." - Rourke

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Excellent information on storing dry goods for long-term. I have just a bit of advice to all out there: use foods from you stores in your every-day life. I'm not advocating depleting your stores; rather consuming and replacing them as part of your daily life, thus rotating your stock as well. (This is recommended, however, ONLY after you have acquired your long-term goal (i.e.one year supply, two, etc.). You will benefit in at least four distinct ways from this:1.) your stores will always have a maximum useful shelf-life, as they will constantly be rotated; 2.) you will probably experience better health as you will be eating better quality, more healthful food (look at labels: there's no food in most food!); 3.) you will almost certainly save money on your weekly food budget (fresh-baked baguettes from home ground flour costs me about $.35 /loaf, and it's as good or better than anything available at ten times the cost!); 4.) lastly, but certainly not least, preparing and eating food from you stores will become part of your lifestyle. It will not require a transition to eating "that stuff" and you will have dealt with the learning curve now, while you can afford to, instead of wasting you (future) limited food supplies. Also, not to be overlooked, this food will be your "comfort-food", that which will be familiar and welcome to you and your family, something not to be taken lightly in a high-stress situation. When I was eighteen, the fall after high school, I worked nights at a lumber mill and ran a trap-line during the day. Well, I got laid-off, so I asked a family friend if I could stay in an old cabin on their ranch, which was about two miles from the nearest road, and right off the Clearwater River [in Northwestern Montana]

Please pass on to Larry in Kansas and anyone else interested that they need to look well ahead of time at any railroad beds as a bug out route. Here in Michigan the railroads have closed off all the service roads beside the tracks. Some are simply chained and easily defeated with bolt cutters, but other are blocked with ties and high mounds of gravel.
My primary escape route has an emergency “go around” for a choke point that is active railroad bed. It will be hairy, but my Ford Ranger pickup will be able to make the trip. The wife’s current auto will not.
One other thing to check. In our area there are a lot of small streams and drainage ditches that the tracks cross. The service road usually does not bridge the gap and you would have to drive over the rails to cross. Not all vehicles can handle that type of use.
The old American Survival Guide magazine had a how to article on making a G.O.O.D. vehicle out of a bicycle that would ride the rails and haul a fair amount of gear. If your area has lots of active rail lines it might be a good idea to check out something similar for your use. - Wolverine


Dear Jim:
Also to be considered for bug out routes are utility/power line right of ways/easements, fire lanes, biking trails, running trails, ATV trails, and snow mobile trails. Local groups for such recreational trails often give away free maps paid for by advertising. As for high voltage power lines, look up and around as you drive around. Note that most of these trails have lock-offs for regular vehicles, usually using standard padlocks. Note for most, there must be access for emergency vehicles so there is a way in. One might remember the scene in the movie Terminator 2 as Arnold was driving along the access trail along the top of the drainage system. You might consider waterways as well, but remember they tend to flow toward the Ocean and toward population, eventually. There is no substitute for a good map. - Rourke

JWR Replies: Use extreme caution if you ever have to use a railroad right-of-way in the event of an emergency. Many lives have been lost because someone thought that they were on "inactive" tracks. Readers might consider joining a legitimate "speeder" (powered railcar) club affiliated with the North American Railcar Operators Association (NARCOA), to gain both practical skills and as an entree for learning railroad company schedules and information on seasonal closures. (In many Plains states and in the Intermountain West, it is not unusual for smaller railroads that mainly carry grain to only operate part of each year.) OBTW, I featured a sequence with a Fairmont speeder in my screenplay, "Pulling Through."

My father always referred to his bolt cutters as "The universal key." While I do not condone trespassing, vandalism, or theft, I think that it is important that every family own a pair of good quality bolt cutters, preferably 36" length, such as those made by Woodings-Verona Tool Works. They are an essential tool for mobility--and inevitably for survival in the event of a worst case disaster--even if the lock you need to cut is your own when you've lost the key. If you are on a tight budget, Northern Tool & Equipment sells imported bolt cutters. The imports are of lower quality, so don't expect the same service life. Also keep in mind that many tools from China (such as the "Westward" brand marketed by W.W. Grainger) are usually the product of the laogai ("reform through labor") prison factory system. (Which confines political prisoners.) So if at all possible, buy American, or at least from another free country. (Such as the Japanese HIT brand.)

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I've updated my "Writings" Page to include descriptions and sample covers for my three upcoming book releases. Please be patient about the release dates. At this juncture I am at the mercy of my publisher's production schedule. I will let you know as soon as the books are orderable.

Today we present another article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000) Second prize is a copy of my "big box" preparedness course, (worth $149) generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

We all know that to be fully prepared we need a great survival retreat we can bug-out to. We all dream of the perfect retreat, were we will go post-SHTF. If you are like me however, this is simply not reality. I have no remote, armored, fully stocked retreat to go to in a disaster. Like millions of Americans I live not in the country, nor the city, but the area in between, commonly called the suburbs. Though all suburbs are different most of them share similar qualities, small, less than acre lots, single family houses with well maintained front lawns, a community club house and pool, cul-de-sacs, and middle to upper income residents. The purpose of this article is to provide guidance to the person who will be remaining in his/her suburban home during and after a SHTF scenario. I know that this is not ideal, but it is reality. Effective suburban survival depends on many factors including, individual preparations, community advocacy, and post-event leadership/disaster psychology. If one can make all of these three things work than they can effectively raise their own, their family’s, and neighbor's chance of “making it through the storm”.
The number one most important thing is getting your family squared away. Now I’m not going to go into much detail in this part because the information is out there, but at minimum this should include adequate food, water [filtration], water storage, defense, medical supplies, tools, et cetera. One other import factor is getting your family educated. By that I mean getting first aid/CPR certified, taking firearms instruction, and numerous other relevant courses some which will be mentioned later.
The second most important thing in suburban survival is community advocacy. The fact is that if you are like me you have no “retreat” to fall back to. Your own neighborhood is going to have to be your retreat. All your neighbors are going to become part of your survival community. Think about that for a second, step outside your front door, look down the street, and realize that those other families are all going to be a part of your extended neighborhood survival community. Community advocacy has two parts; your relationship with your neighbors and educating your neighbors. This first party is easy, get to know your neighbors/community members. Steps to do this include
1. Meet and greet those neighbors you haven’t met. Just stop by and introduce yourself
2. Have neighborhood block parties - Christmas/Halloween/Fourth of July, or whatever
3. Go to community events-homeowners meetings, pool parties, etc.
4. Take an active role in community
If you develop good relationships with your neighbors now it will make things post-SHTF a little easier.
The second part is community education. According to a study by the DHS only 30 % of suburban households were adequately prepared for a major event/disaster. If the rest of the members of your survival community (the neighbors) aren’t prepared your community is doomed to fail. How can you improve this number? While I am sure there are numerous ways, the way that has worked for our neighborhood and thousands of others around the country is the CERT Program. If you haven’t heard of the CERT program is the Community Emergency Response Team. CERT training is designed to get communities to be self reliant during a catastrophic event /disaster when government services are not available (which we all know they won't be). CERT is government funded and every participant gets free training, training materials and a small disaster kit. But the best thing about CERT is it gets people thinking and excited about survival. In my neighborhood 60 families went through the CERT training, and for most of these people it was the first time they had seriously thought of self sufficiency. From there the program spread, more neighbors became interested. If you can get people thinking, then you have most likely succeeded. People are more likely to do something if others are doing it. In fact on the same DHS study 75% of all respondents said they would be more likely to prepare if there was organization at the neighborhood level. Here are some steps that are proven effective at educating your neighbors:
1. Start some sort of community advocacy program be it CERT or others like it
2. Post disaster prep information in neighborhood newsletters/bulletins
3. Have neighborhood round table meetings on disasters
4. Go door to door handing out disaster prep cards and info
5. Work disaster prep into other organizations- PTAs, churches, women's clubs, et cetera.
6. Get kids involved - they have great enthusiasm.
But for the preceding it is vitally important to do all of this in a positive way, no doom and gloom, but just the be prepared attitude. If others are well prepared you will be too. Remember the old adage: "a chain is only as strong as the weakest link." Getting the members of your community squared away drastically improves your chances.

What to Do When the SHTF in a Suburban Setting

This first key is understanding disaster psychology and how people react to disasters. There are four phases the people will most likely go through:
Impact Phase - During the event and right after - people do not panic, the may act numb, unemotional, and dazed
Inventory Phase - After the event - people begin to asses the situation, the realize that life is no longer normal, many panic, go into shock, act unrationally, be uncooperative, unable to focus, and feel hopeless.
Rescue Phase - After they have calmed down - The natural survival instincts kick in, they begin to act rationally, become cooperative, responsive, willing to take direction, eager to lean how to improve their situation.
Recovery Phase - The person thinks they have a plan for their survival, feels in charge of himself. Depending on the person and how prepared they are, they may not experience all of these phases but they generally do. Now the first thing to do after the SHTF is to take care of emergencies be they medical, fire, or structural. Afterwards, start organizing on the community level. This is where leadership plays an important part. When people realize that there will not be any assistance from the government or a deus ex machina, they will look for guidance. It is critical to develop a leadership structure early on. Having a structure helps people feel normal; it helps to eliminate the feeling of chaos. Place the most qualified/best leaders into leadership positions. You will be surprised who lives in your community. There will be doctors, EMTs, police officers, military veterans, ham radio operators, people who grew up on farms, artists, and countless others whose pre-SHTF job will help your community. Remember you need your community, just as your community needs you. If you need more information on leadership, just search the Web. While the needs of your community will be different from the next, basic things that need to be taken care of include
1. Communication (internal and external)
2. Security
3. Logistics
4. Medical
5. Administration
6. Community (entertainment, community bonding, day care)
7. Operations
While I will not go into detailed descriptions of each of these tasks (I have another article on that) the goal is to set up effective leadership. There are however numerous problem which must be solved by the leadership if this community is to be effective and [answer] hundreds of other questions.
1. What to do about people with no supplies
2. What to do about Bad Apples - selfish, bitter, dangerous people
3. The flow of refugees from the city
4. How to get new supplies
5. When to abandon ship
While this is not the ideal “retreat” post-SHTF it is the reality that many of us will be in. By taking steps before hand you can increase your odds of your family making it through. Now some may say this community thing will not work, but it has in post-Katrina New Orleans and in Bosnia during the 1992 civil war, and I am sure in many other places. I hope this at least gets you thinking, which is the first step.

In answer to your queries about gun laws in Israel: The gun control laws in Israel are draconian. You must have a "valid reason" to keep a gun at home. Sadly in the West Bank our cousins (the Arabs) give that reason. All of Israel law is a combination of Ottoman Empire, British occupation, and Israeli passed laws, also the radical leftist Supreme Court which has empowered itself to strike down laws it does not agree with and to generate law by judicial declaration. We do not have a constitution for the state of Israel.
These rules may change as the firearms regulation is moving to the police ministry from the ministry of interior. By law they are already empowered but interior still has the funding so police will not take over.
Competitive shooters must now lock up weapons at the club vault.
You used to be able to own two long guns for hunting but insurance is unavailable so no new long gun permits. However, current holders can still keep these guns.
Here are basics on handguns: Three years of citizenship, doctor's letter, one day of class, and shooting exam required, you must have what is deemed a "valid reason" to get this permit. Valid reasons for handgun permit include: three years with police reserve unit, military officer over captain, or residence in "higher risk" area like the West Bank.
The police will ask publicly that licensed owners carry when there is increased levels of terrorism. I am guessing 40%-to-60% of men in the West Bank carry a handgun as do many women. In settlements you may be able to join the anti-terrorist squad and be issued an army M16. Combat soldiers must carry a firearm and magazine while on leave.

Looks like tings are getting hot again the last two days, missile strikes all along the north and near Gaza hits in the major city of Haifa, Two dead in Tsfat from missile strikes. Our friends from Tsfat are coming to visit with us for Shabbat. We are stocking up a little as if this goes hot it will disrupt regular commerce.
Iran is clearly being both the Gaza and the Lebanon/Syria troublemaker--likely a ploy to take the heat off of their nuke program. Iranian representatives were in Damascus to confirm the treaty which considers a strike on Syria an act of war against Iran. Syria has occupied Lebanon for over 20 years and while they pulled out military units last winter, they still manipulate the government of Lebanon.

Multiple mutations reported in Indonesia's Asian Avian Flu Strain.

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The Citizens' Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA) alerted us to the following: During U.S. Senate consideration of the Homeland Security appropriations bill (H.R. 5441), Senator David Vitter will offer an amendment (# 4551) to "prohibit the use of funds appropriated under this bill for the confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms during an emergency or major disaster." Hopefully this will prevent a repeat of the gun seizures that followed Hurricane Katrina. Our U.S. readers are urged to support this amendment. Please call your your Senators if you feel convicted to do so.  

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Hugo Chavez to Halt Citgo Gas Sales in U.S.

"It is easy to be generous with other people’s time and money." - Rourke

Thursday, July 13, 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!

Today we present another article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000) Second prize is a copy of my "big box" preparedness course, (worth $149) generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

I have a book called Material World by Peter Menzel in which average families from around the world put everything they own on their lawn and you get to see what they own and how they live. While I purchased the book as a way to demonstrate to my kids 'just how good they have it' there are also some lessons for us survivalists.
I went through the poorest nations where per capita income was usually far less than $1,000 USD per year (and in the case of Mali, Africa, $251 per year). What I noticed was a pattern in both the kinds of belongings these families had as well as what was considered their 'most valuable possession.' I will now share with you these observations.
The possessions even the poorest could not do without were containers and blankets.
Moving up the income level came rugs, farm tools, spare shoes, mosquito nets and livestock.
When asked what their most valuable possessions were, answers were:
radios, bicycle/moped, treadle sewing machine, jewelry, holy book(s) relevant to their religion, an anatomy book, family heirlooms/photographs, and insecticide sprayers.
When can be gleaned from this information? These are real live survivalists trying to live in some of the most difficult situations imaginable. Most of their basic possessions revolve around food and warmth. Luxuries were a method of transportation, spiritual inspiration, information and entertainment (radio), portable wealth and a way of dealing with insects.
I already own a small insecticide sprayer (never used) which I was going to use as a backup shower (a luxury I find difficult to be without), but now am considering a second one for actual insecticides. I will also need to find out which flowers can be brewed for use as home grown pest killers (I'm not into toxic chemicals). How frustrating (dangerous?) to get your heirloom seeds into the ground and have them eaten by bugs before harvest. I'm also reconsidering a mountain bike. I have plenty of spare shoes in multiple sizes for my kids but I need to look at containers and farm tools again.
One last observation was that I don't recall seeing one weapon in the poorer countries. Not even an old WWI rifle. Even a Kalashnikov can be had for the price of a quart of milk in many parts of the world. While some might argue that that means that they didn't find it necessary, I would counter that their lack of weaponry was perhaps the cause of their poverty. Case in point, Switzerland with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world mandates an automatic rifle and ammo in every home in their country to protect against invasion.
Keep your powder dry - SF in Hawaii

Hi Jim,
I like your site! (And enjoyed "Patriots" quite a bit, too!) It was referred to your site by a customer in Louisiana. My customer mentioned that I could probably mention my remaining TRS-2 PEWS seismic intrusion detectors on your site.
We have about 30 detector/transmitters (DT-577 V(6) /TRS-2) left. @ $60/ea. (these run on a 9VDC 'transistor radio' battery for about two weeks, and are on 150.6 MHz)
Also have about a dozen of the R-1808 V(6) /TRS-2 Receivers (same frequency) @ $500 each. (These run on two each 9VDC batteries for a couple of days.) All of the PEWS gear is unused, and in original boxes. The Receiver includes an operator's manual, programming instructions for the sensors, antenna, and headset.
This system detects vehicle or personnel intrusions within a 10 meter radius of the sensor, and transmits the sensor ID#, and whether it was a personnel or vehicle intrusion to the Receiver up to a mile away. I also have a couple of used PSR-1 'wired' sets, with four geophones, at $350 per set. This gear, as well as other neat stuff is on my web site, www.meco.org Keep your powder dry. - Ira J. Moser, Owner, MECO, Tel.: (425) 788-0208, E-mail: ira@meco.org

JWR Replies: I consider intrusion detection systems a must for any serious retreat. Even just getting a photocell "driveway alarm" is better than nothing. BTW, please check with our paid advertisers for comparison pricing first, before buying big-ticket items like seismic intrusion detection systems or night vision gear. OBTW, one useful hint: You can use most 2 Meter Band amateur receivers as the receiving unit for many wireless intrusion detection sets that operate on frequencies between 142 MHz and 152 MHz.

I grew up plinking with a .22 rifle but was totally inexperienced with MBR rifles when I bought my FAL last summer. When I saw the RWVA Appleseed training schedule in SurvivalBlog, I decided to risk a possible cold weekend and attended Fred's February 2006 training in North Carolina. I had the company of one other FAL shooter, an SKS shooter, a .22 shooter and a lot of M1A and M1 Garand shooters on the lower range line. Three or four families with children ranging in ages from about 10 up came to the training also and sported various calibers according to size. One family had thee kids, including two younger teen girls and a pre-teen boy - all participants. One Dad and son about 10 (who shot a .223) I remember because on the second day I was paired with them in a team exercise. But I had to get through the first day's training. My point here is that there was a big turnout so for logistic reasons, Fred and company opened up the upper (parallel) range line for the family groups so all had appropriate instruction and coaching.

I was so discouraged after the first day. As Fred's pre-shoot instructions said, I had sighted in my FAL ahead of time (using the built-in bipod). Using a sling is a fundamental rifleman's skill and so, though tempted, I kept my bi-pod folded up the whole Appleseed experience. The sling makes sense because it can be used to stabilize a rifle when standing, kneeling or prone, whereas the bi-pod is fairly useless unless prone. But all the business with using the sling for stability was just not coming together for me. Question: Is it normal that changing from bipod where the rifle's weight on the bipod pushes up on the barrel to using a sling where there is a downward pull on the barrel would change the point of impact by 12 MOA? Or is there something wrong with my FAL? (I'd readily agree to the "operator factor" explanation except, either way, I could hold a pretty good 2-4 MOA group.) If using a sling vs. bipod makes that much difference, is there another hardware arrangement where the bi-pod and sling attach to, say, the front handguard and not the barrel, so point of impact can stay the same shooting from either configuration? Anyhow, I was still getting my FAL, the sling and me sighted in FAR into day 1. Pshew. I had hoped to be way further along the learning curve. It had been a good full day of shooting but I was tired, befuddled, and frustrated. Certainly not satisfied.

But I went back for the second day. It came together. Just as Fred and company promised it would if you keep at it. Wow! Was I pumped by the end of Day Two! By the end of Day Two, I knocked down targets at 100, 200 and 300 yards. Iron sights. Yep, doing the sling thing. And I'm 53 years old and wear trifocals.

As I mentioned, in the later part of the 2nd day, we had some team events. I was paired with a Dad and his young son. As a team, we shot against the pop up targets at 100, 200 and 300 yards and against the clock, from the line, prone. For a time advantage, so we would not all three be shooting at the same target, Dad, the best long-range shot, started with the 300 yard pop ups, me the 200 yard ones and the young'un the 100 yard line. I got three of my four down before Dad got 4 at 300 yards down and helped me out. The next phase in the team experience was to walk toward the 100 yard berm and whenever the 100 yard pop ups appeared, stay standing and shoot till they were down. Then we kept advancing toward the 100 yard berm till the pop ups at the 200 yard berm appeared, at which time we knelt and shot till they were down. Sitting or kneeling is steadier than standing, so even though the targets were farther away, they went down in fewer shots. Then we ran (shoulder-even with each other so no one got ahead of anyone else's muzzle) the rest of the way to the 100 yard berm where we climbed / crawled up, went prone and took out the pop ups at the 300 yard berm (now at a 200 yard distance).

Walking back up the hill I remember how I felt. It was a mixture of satisfaction that I persisted past my inexperienced frustration and had learned something new. No I had not just learned something, I had trained to a new level of competence. But that was only part of what I felt. I felt so proud of that Dad and his young son. The kid was ahead of us going back up the hill - full of energy - walking tall. I remembered back to when I was a boy and my dad took me and my brothers out plinking with the .22 rifle. I had felt tall on those days. I said quietly to this February '06 Dad, "You have given him a great gift. He will remember this day out here with you the rest of his life. I know because I can remember like it was yesterday when my dad took me out and taught me how to shoot." Then I spoke some even quieter words of thanks to the spirit and memory of that 1966 dad who had shown me how to handle arms safely and watched as I stood a bit taller.

What more worthy lesson can a boy learn from his dad than the skills of a rifleman who can, if necessary, defend his own life and that of his family? If your life has worth, and it does, it is worth defending.

Appleseeds. This February '06 dad was a qualified rifleman. And his young boy will soon also be a qualified rifleman. Appleseeds. It is about learning the skills to defend a family or community. Or rebuff tyranny and start a nation as the dads of April 1776 did. It is a story Fred and company know and tell. It is not a history lesson they tell for you to only learn the story. It is a story they tell so you will train the story, that is, train to have the skills of the story. It is an inspiring story. It is a satisfying experience. - Kentucky's Virginian

Okay, so it is a little techno-geeky and complex, but moonbounce EME (Earth-Moon-Earth) transmission does work.

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SurvivalBlog reader M.P. mentioned that the Sony ICT-B01 emergency radio is now available at JR.com for $40. While it doesn't have some of the bells and whistles of the Eton and Grundig models, the Sony portables generally have the best proprietary radio integrated circuits, and they never sell them to other radio manufacturers.

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that they plan to distribute terror and disaster alerts via cell phone. But this is hardly a "promised" technology for SurvivalBlog readers, many of whom already have active Alert System, Inc. subscriptions for terror and disaster alerts via cell phones and pagers.

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The skip is in! As of 1730 EST on Wednesday, the 6 Meter Band was showing a definite "opening" in propagation to Europe from the Eastern U.S. This is very unusual long range propagation for this band. Enjoy it while it lasts.

"How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual... as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded, controlled, supervised, and taken care of." - Rep. Suzanna Gratia Hupp (Texas)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hi Jim
Thanks for sending your novel ("Patriots") so promptly. I've hardly put it down since it got here. It does make me wonder how things would pan out in Europe under similar circumstances. There are definitely less weapons in private ownership here in the UK, however criminals have no problem getting their hands on ex-Soviet weapons of all types. Not a good balance of power in the absence of law and order. Regards, - P.

I'm new here and am starting to prepare for long-term survival. I have tons of questions but will ask only one. Do you know, or have any recommendations, how one might use battery power to, say, power as DVD player. If so, what are the best batteries to buy for long-term storage and use? I realize a small power generator could be used, but that also makes noise and uses gas. Thanks for any help. - Andy

JWR Replies: There are two distinct approaches to alternative power systems. The first is the simplest, most efficient, and most cost effective: ALL 12 volt DC. But for this sort of system you need to get all 12 VDC lighting and appliances. Here is how it works: You charge your DC batteries from photovoltaic (PV) panels using a charge controller and draw current directly from them. DC appliances can be found at companies like Camping World.

The second approach is less efficient: Use an inverter to turn the DC voltage from your battery bank (typically 24 VDC) into AC power for standard 120 volt AC appliances.

A small DC-only system (two PV Panels, battery bank and charge controller) can be assembled for around $800 to $1,100.
In contrast, expandable AC inverter type systems start at around $1,500.

I recommend that you talk to Bob Griswald at Ready Made Resources. (One of our advertisers.) He makes both packaged and custom power systems for all budgets. Bob does free consulting on PV system design and sizing. He can be reached at: (800) 627-3809.

With all the discussion of wristwatch options, your readers who know that it is relatively easy to learn watch making skills. Your manual or automatic watch will need cleaning and lubrication after a few years, after all.
There is an online watch school www.timezonewatchschool.com that does not appear to be a big-profit operation, but devoted to sharing the craft. They make purchasing the necessary tools and parts easy, and for about $250, you get tuition, quality tools (screwdrivers, magnifiers, etc.) a Swiss manual movement to work on, and a case to put it in on
your wrist. The second course covers lubrication, and gets you another Swiss watch for about $250 total. (The movements arrive in perfect working order, so you have a watch to start with.) And the movements aren't junk. One is the exact movement used in $4,000 Panerai watches (it only costs $80 without the fancy logos and finishing they add to
Maybe the best preparedness approach is to buy or make a quality watch you like, and then buy several extra movements, knowing how to clean and lubricate them over the years. That is lifetime time-keeping. - Mr. Bravo


Mr. Bravo has a very good point in his letter about expensive watches. When I started in golf course maintenance in 1992, one of the first things I bought was a Timex "Ironman" digital watch. I wore that watch every working day (12 days out of every 14) and most of my off days for 13 years. YEARS. I replaced the band several times (stock up on extra bands or you'll end up with a pocket watch) but never, not even once that I can remember bought a new battery. When it finally died last year, I just retired the watch with it's missing buttons and all.It certainly cost me a whole lot less than a "good" watch would.
Just something to think about. - DD


My Friend,
With regard to the discussion of Solar Powered watches, I have a bit more to add. I purchased a Citizen Eco-Drive solar powered watch in 1999, just in case. Seven years later I'm still wearing that watch on a daily basis. It has never been in for repairs and has not required a new battery. It is accurate. I've never had a watch hold up this well.

If there is a more reliable watch of this type out there, show me. I would not hesitate to acquire another Eco-Drive watch, given my experience. - J.H.



Dear Jim:
What time is it anyway? Since we're on the topic of time, visit this web site and look at the sections on the history and science of sundials both permanent and portable. BTW they also sell them. See: http://www.shepherdswatch.com/
Keep in mind that the portable units only work in relatively strong sunlight. Since you must have clear visual access to the sun, they are not useful in a wooded areas and early and late times of the day when the horizon is occluded by the local geography. For nighttime use, there is a unit that uses the date and the position of the big dipper relative to the north star to give you the time, but you can do a quick mental calculation and get the same results without the tool. Again, clouds can be a problem as well as light pollution in cities.
Yes, mechanical watches need to be cleaned and can be problematic (I also had one, a Tag [Heuer], that could never be fixed), solar watches and most modern watches require batteries that will wear our or are EMP susceptible. The original spring action watches (such as Timex) many of us grew up with, (if you can find them any more) will also have a lifetime (does anybody know the lifetime of these watches?) but may be the best option. If they last a year, then get 20 of them, Unlike battery watches, they won't go bad if unused. When their time (no pun intended) is up, toss them and get the next one. Portable timepieces were invented to allow sailors to know their position on the sea (in conjunction with the stars). They are also required for the coordination of military strikes. If you're not out on the open sea without a functional GPS, and not concerned about (para?) military coordination, ask yourself, do you really need to know what time it is? You should be able to get within an hour on dead reckoning the sun's location in the sky. It's not like in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, we'll have to get to work on time. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I foresee the greatest utility for wristwatches in a post-TEOTWAWKI environment will be tasks such as :

1.) Coordinating tactical movement and rendezvous

2.) Coordinating guard duty shifts.

3.) Monitoring the pulse and respiration rates of medical patients (Via a sweep second hand or digital readout of seconds.)

4.) Various elapsed time/distance measurements. (Such as "metering" the gallons per minute output of a spring, again via a sweep second hand or digital readout of seconds.)

5.) 330 meters per second speed of sound "Flash to bang" range estimation. (Again via a sweep second hand or digital readout of seconds.)

6.) The old standby Bradford Angier "analog watch as compass" trick. (Don't forget to compensate seasonally for Daylight Savings Time.)

“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.” - Bertrand de Jouvenel

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Please consider becoming a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber to SurvivalBlog. Your subscriptions are 100% voluntary and also 100% deeply appreciated!

I would like you to consider adding additional ways to earn extra "Survival Income" to Wolverine post on Survival Dollars. One, is an addition to his collecting and selling scrap metal. I take a five gallon bucket with me to the outdoor range in the Sumter National Forest and collect all the brass I can between shooting sessions. The best time is Sunday afternoon, to get all the weekend shooters left. In 4-5 weekends I filled a five gallon bucket and maybe 1/3 of another and made $87.

The other weekend income job I have is putting out and taking up the Realtor directional signs. It takes me less than 1-1/2 hours to put then out Friday evening and the same or less to pick them up on Sunday evenings. I bought a used 5' X 8' trailer for $150 and put about $100 in the jack system and paint/lights. I put out 145 [signs] and pick them up in less than three hours. This makes me around $232 every two weeks, and I am able to "write off" my mileage. Check your local sign maker in the yellow pages for routes. - Bill K.


I see that Northern Tool is a SurvivalBlog sponsor. A particular item you might want to recommend is this: It is a 5-watt folding solar panel for only $39. I have several, I think they're incredibly good for a BOB or other uses. They're about the size of a paperback book, even lighter, and produce enough power to charge batteries fairly quickly. It's an incredible deal for anyone who is concerned about losing power. My family keeps one or two in each of our BOBs. Highly recommended! - Bill

JWR Replies: That is a great item. But so that SurvivalBlog will earn a commission, please always use this link to Northern Tool & Equipment, and then place your order. Thanks!

Just came across a site showing 1948 Rand McNally Railroad Maps of different states in the U.S. I'm always looking for alternate routes of travel around choke points and finally found something of possible use. Granted it's 1948, however, I think there are still a lot of tracks out there. Some I know have been removed but have been turned into hiking trails and such. http://trains.rockycrater.org/pfmsig/atlas.php Hope this is useful. - Larry in Kansas

Hi Jim,
In SurvivalBlog 07/07/06, SF in Hawaii said:"(choose) hats and lightweight but sun blocking clothes over sunscreen." I am a "Prototype Caucasian” who sun burns in 15 minutes (EEK!). In fact, without gloves, my hands burn while just driving my car here in Connecticut.
I am a BIG proponent of sun blocking clothing, and have been very pleased with my purchases from Sun Precautions.
Their clothing beats sunscreen, hands down! - Douglas in CT

I have a friend that is getting ready to build an outbuilding in his backyard. It is basically going to be a finished "shed." We were talking about how to harden it, and I made the suggestion to drill half inch holes through the [vertical] 2x4s and run rebar through them [horizontally]. This would at least make it a little harder for someone to use a chainsaw on the walls. Is this an old idea, or did I come up with something new? - Gung Ho

JWR Replies: That is a great idea! The expense of buying enough rebar to equip a shed as you describe is quite modest. I assume the North American wood frame construction standard of placing 2x4 vertical studs on 18 centers, and supplementing with horizontal pieces of rebar at 18" intervals inside the exterior walls. Result: You will ruin the day of anyone that tries to chain saw their way in. However, keep in mind that it will still leave the doors and windows as "weakest links." Thanks again for sending your creative ideas!

David in Israel Recommends: When purchasing a proper long life bicycle don't even consider Wal-Mart or other big box stores. Your local bike shop has proper mechanics tools and trained staff who can help you find a bike to meet your needs. tell them that you have always considered a long bike trek in Mexico or some third world nation and will need durable components. A cheap Chinese import bike will usually turn you off from cycling before you even get started and the component life span is not very good. Your cycle is much like your rifle a proper investment and skilled maintenance is required to keep it in top shape.

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Michael Z. Williamson spotted this novel product at a gun show: A camouflage pattern that incorporates Christian symbols.

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The Pre-1899 Specialist is continuing their sale on hand-picked Model 1893 Oberndorf Mauser rifles, at just $179.95 each, (with bayonet and scabbard) or $159.95 each if you buy two.) As previously mentioned, this certainly beats paying Sportsman's Guide $299 for one in rougher condition. I recommend that every SurvivalBlog reader buy one or two of these from The Pre-1899 Specialist, while they still have some left. (They are going fast and they don't have many left.) No FFL is required since they are Federally exempt. No paperwork is required for most locales. (Even California!)

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be to-morrow.” - Alexander Hamilton

Monday, July 10, 2006

My thanks to the many SurvivalBlog readers that ordered my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course during the recent pre-publication sales promotion. I have noted it as an indication that I may eventually be able to make a living at freelance writing and blogging. My next task is to get the expanded edition of my novel "Patriots" into print. I recently signed a contract with a new publisher. I am hopeful to begin shipping orders for the book in September or October. (It all depends on the publisher's book production schedule.)

I'm posting the following article that I penned as a sample of what is included in my preparedness course

From what I've heard letters and e-mails, most SurvivalBlog readers already have a food storage program, but most of them would like to move on to the next step: buying and storing foods in bulk. To save money you will probably want to buy rice, wheat, and beans in 50 pound sacks. Sacks are problematic, since what you really want is a vermin-proof, moisture proof container that is air tight and preferably evacuated of oxygen. Those are the keys to true long term shelf life, and none of them are provided by a cloth, paper, or woven plastic sack. The solution is to re-pack bulk foods in food grade plastic buckets. Here is how to do it:

Food grade five or six gallon bucket with rubber "o-ring" seals are available through a variety of Internet vendors. Be sure to specify "food grade" when you buy. Other buckets intended for products like paint are not safe for use in food storage, even if bought brand new. Although these usually have the same white plastic formulation, they are typically manufactured using a different mold release agent, which is toxic. So don't buy paint buckets!
Used food grade buckets are often available for free or perhaps a dollar apiece if you ask around at local delicatessens and bakeries. Flour buckets are usually best, since buckets that were used for pickles or peppers might leave you with food that has undesired flavors!

The method that I use is as follows: Line a bucket with a large plastic bag and pour in the wheat, rice, or beans, shaking the bucket and tapping it on the floor several times to get the bag completely full. You don't want any air gaps. Fill the bag so that the bucket is filled to within one inch of the top. Then toss two Oxygen absorbing packets (available from NitroPak) into the bag. Next, place a small chunk of dry ice on top of the grain, inside the liner bag. I usually use a piece that is about as big as my thumb. As the dry ice "melts" (sublimates) it will fill the bucket with CO2, displacing the oxygen. (Insects can't breathe CO2!) Keep a watchful eye on the dry ice. Once it has sublimated to the diameter of a nickel and not any thicker than 1/8th inch, seal the bag with a wire twist tie. On top of the sealed bag, place a 2 ounce bag of silica gel desiccant. (Also available from from NitroPak.) Then immediately seal the bucket, securing the lid with firm strikes from a rubber mallet. This will seat the lid and compress the o-ring. WARNING: If you don't wait until the dry ice has nearly completely sublimated before you seal the bucket, then dangerous pressure could develop. (A "dry ice bomb.") Again, you must wait until the dry ice chunk has sublimated to the diameter of a nickel, and not any thicker than 1/8th inch. The end result: Very dry food in a sealed, oxygen-free environment, safe from mice. This method will triple or quadruple the shelf like of rice and beans, and make whole grain wheat last literally for decades.
Another method that can be used in place of dry ice is a CO2 probe or "wand", attached with a hose to a compressed cylinder of CO2 . A complete description of dry ice and CO2 probe methods can be found in Alan T. Hagan's excellent Food Storage FAQ at Captain Dave's site.
Once you open each bucket of storage food, you will probably want to replace the standard "pound on" lid with a screw closure "Gamma Seal" lid. These lids have an inset screw top, so that they are more convenient to access for daily use. Gamma Seal lids are available through a number of Internet vendors such as Walton Feed and NitroPak, for around six dollars each. If you want to buy 20 or more lids, you can get them directly from the manufacturer, at www.gammaseals.com.

Dear Jim:
I am in the process of converting my U.S. Dollar-based Individual Retirement Account (IRA) into a precious metals IRA.

1.) Do you recommend it to be based in silver? Silver bars or Eagles?

2.) Or do you recommend (based on current prices,etc.) it to be in gold? Gold bullion or Eagles?

3.) Or do suggest a combination of both metals? If so what percentages and what types?
Thanks again for you considered opinions. B'Shem Yahshua HaMoshiach Sar Shalom (In the Name of Yahshua the Messiah Prince of Peace) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: If the storage fee is not significantly higher, then I strongly recommend getting all silver (or nearly all silver) for your IRA, rather than gold. Silver's long term investment potential is so much greater. (If nothing else because silver gets used up industrially, whereas gold is 99% recycled. See the recent article: "Is silver becoming more rare than gold?") In my estimation, the price of gold may double in the next couple of years, buy silver has the potential to quadruple or more.

The dealer premium on one ounce U.S. Mint Silver Eagles is very steep, so I generally recommend getting silver in 100 ounce increments, such as serialized Engelhard bars. The folks at Swiss America can help you get your precious metals IRA established. OBTW, since they are one of our advertisers, please mention SurvivalBlog when you contact them.

SurvivalBlog reader "Keiser" mentioned that SustainableLiving.org has some interesting commentary on the economic implications of a long term oil shortage.

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David in Israel Recommends: In the event of a power grid outage a hand crank cellular phone charger (available on eBay) can keep you talking. At least as long as the fuel lasts for the generators at the cell towers. (And not all of them have backup power.)

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It is good to see that the spot price of silver has bounced back to the vicinity of $11.35 per ounce. I expect that the annual precious metals market "summer doldrums" will continue through August, with only modest gains, and perhaps even some more profit taking. But come September, watch out! It is then likely that the silver bull will resume his charge, propelling the price of silver past $15 per ounce. OBTW, I hope that you took my advice when silver had its correction in May and June. You briefly had the chance to buy silver at under $10 per ounce. That probably won't happen again for quite some time. As always, buy low, sell high.

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Newsmax reports that the UN Small Arms and Light Weapons Conference ended in a stalemate, with no agreement upon an "outcome document."

“Weapons compound man’s power to achieve; they amplify the capabilities of both the good man and the bad, and to exactly the same degree, having no will of their own. Thus we must regard them as servants, not masters – and good servants to good men. Without them, man is diminished, and his opportunities to fulfill his destiny are lessened. An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.” - Col. Jeff Cooper

Sunday, July 9, 2006

As promised, the following is a report from SurvivalBlog reader who "Imbedded" for the duration of the United Nations Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW). This gentlemen, who prefers to remain nameless, is working inside the UN headquarters building for an NGO with full access to the conference--not just a protestor out of the front steps. We appreciate his perspective.

My experience at the UN’s Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) was very informative. To begin, it is important to note that the idea behind this conference is a follow-up on the 2001 conference’s Program of Action (POA). This being the case, the 2001 conference, like this one, is about Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons – not about Legal Small Arms (not about civilian possession or ownership). Basically put, the 2006 Conference was to Implement the 2001 POA – not add to it or subtract from it – as agreed in 2001 by all signatories (the U.S. position on this is to implement 2001 not change it)
Regarding the conference’s emphasis on “illicit” Small Arms, Kofi Annan himself made this emphatically clear in his introductory speech on Monday morning, stating for all countries present, and repeating this at least twice, that the conference has nothing to do with legal civilian possession and ownership of firearms.
Despite Annan’s comments several countries chose to state in their position statements (made mostly Monday and Tuesday) that the civilian ownership of firearms (and Toy Guns too!) should be included in the UN’s 2006 SALW agenda (POA) equating civilian ownership essentially to the world-wide problem of SALW in the hands of despots, thugs and criminals!
However, most other countries gave rather non-descript position statements, being basically politically centrist boilerplate – but importantly not mentioning civilian ownership.
Canada’s statement was essentially quite intelligent and reasonable mentioning specifically as it did see civilian ownership/use of firearms as a reasonable activity. Australia’s position was wholly meek, pandering to the non-civilian possession component – lauding their strides in civilian buy-back programs (the same “programs” which Canada slammed as expensive and useless).
The highlight of the meetings came on Tuesday when the U.S. [delegate] spoke. Simply put it was the best speech – a classic plain-speaking American no nonsense speech, pro-civilian ownership, no one will tell the U.S. what to do with its Constitution etc etc. The tone left little to misunderstand the U.S. position or that the U.S. is in charge – you’d have loved it.
Pro-gun groups spoke on Friday and were well represented: SAAMI [Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, Inc.] and MLRA [Muzzle Loading Rifle Assn.] to name two of many others from U.S., New Zealand, South Africa, and Switzerland, etc. - The NGO Insider

Concerning the Polish 7.62x54r ammo question: I have shot several thousand rounds of it through my PKM machine gun without a single misfire. The accuracy has pleasantly surprised me as well. As yet, I have shot little of it through my MN [Mosin Nagant] bolt rifles but have not had any problems there so far. Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese have all been fine. The only 54r ammo that has been a consistent problem is the Albanian. Crimp is not done properly making it nearly impossible to load into Russian belts and feed into my PKM and SG-43 Goryunov. It will work in the bolt guns but not as well as the others do. Anybody wants some, I certainly have plenty to get rid of!!

I treat ALL surplus 54r as corrosive. For some reason, it does NOT all seem to be corrosive in the same way – I have no idea why. Like you, I consider ammo that is mildly corrosive like being a little pregnant. Corrosive primer chemistry allegedly is less sensitive to very low temperatures which is one reason the Russians continue to use it. Same for long term stability. I have some 54r that has primer problems and also some newer (mid fifties) 8mm FN with the same issue – however both appear to have been very poorly stored and corroded, many rounds having bullets so rusted that I will not shoot them in a good barrel. Upon disassembling them, many even have rust mixed in with the powder. I make display dummies out of a number of the bad rounds and find that some of the primers are okay, some completely dead and some that are very weak or merely make a little smoke and don’t even “pop”. I have NEVER had an issue of duds from a well-sealed can, some dating to the early 1930s! I shoot a lot of old, corrosive, cheap ammo and have amazingly little trouble. Your experience may vary.

Storage of ammo is important. Dry, moderate temperatures are best. I leave mine in the spam cans until the shooting season begins then open and immediately put in military ammo cans with good gaskets. If it is to be belted, I load the belts then put them in ammo cans. Store in my garage out of direct sunlight. Have had zero problems to date.

Cleaning after corrosive ammo. It depends on how much moisture the gun is exposed to how quickly it needs cleaned. In my safes with “Golden Rod” heaters I have no trouble for one to two weeks. Sitting in the garage in Ohio’s notorious humidity, a few days seems the maximum. Of course, chrome lined barrels are far less of a problem. If it may be a while before I can get my guns cleaned, I douse them in WD-40 (I buy it by the gallon can - cheaper). To clean, I use one of several different methods. Hot soapy water is probably best. Immerse the muzzle in a bucket of it and brush in such a way as to really wash it out. If the water is hot enough, the gun will flash dry on it’s own. Apply oil to all parts exposed to the water as it removes all of the oil residue and rust is a certainty! I prefer LSA (available from Sarco, $6.95 per quart) or CLP (which I pick up at Knob Creek for about $10 per quart). If the hot soapy water is a problem I use Hoppe's Copper Solvent which contains ammonia, followed by Hoppe's #9 [bore cleaning solution], then oil. The ammonia helps rinse away the corrosive salts, not to mention removes some copper fouling. Most important, IMHO, is to inspect the gun every couple of days after cleaning and again a week or two later to make sure that you did not miss some odd spot and rust is developing. While I admit cleaning a PKM, Goryunov or AK gas system after corrosive ammo is a bit of a pain, the [low] price of the ammo certainly justifies it. Remember, when these guns were new and being used by the military, corrosive was the only kind of ammo available! A note on Hoppe's #9 – the older formula contained Benzene which worked very well at removing corrosive residue. Trouble is, the stuff is hazardous so it is not in the current formula. Hoppes still will clean a gun of corrosive residue but more effort is required! Same for some WWII / Korea era GI bore cleaner.

Cheap but reliable ammo in sealed military cans is great to have for a SHTF stash. A couple cans of it opened and stored in .30 or .50 caliber gasketed ammo cans allows you to shoot some for practice and to prove that it works. Remember that occasionally a spam can leaks and the ammo inside will be junk. By opening one or two, you know that at least some is good. It is also possible to leak check a can by submerging in water and squeezing it hard enough to force out some air – making bubbles. I have found so few bad ones I don’t bother.

A bit off subject – Guatemalan .5.56mm in battle packs sometimes has a problem. They have some nasty bug down there that bores through the plastic [allowing moisture to enter and] and causes corrosion. Good ammo but I suggest you put it in GI ammo cans to be safe. No, I haven’t found any live bugs yet! - Mike

"No man in the wrong can stand up against a man in the right who keeps on a-comin." - William "Wild Bill" MacDonald, Captain, Texas Rangers

Saturday, July 8, 2006

We just received two cases of the book The Encyclopedia of Country Living, by Carla Emery. This is the Memsahib's #1 recommended book! This book is our best selling non-fiction title. It is a "must" for every well-prepared family! (I recommend that you buy at least two copies, because odds are that you will lend yours out, never to return!) We have sold so many of these that we now buy them by the case, directly from the publisher. Brand new condition. Latest (9th) edition, from 2003--still current.) Soft cover. 881 pages. We currently have 18 copies available. $26 each, or $24 each for two or more, or $22 each for three or more. (Full retail in stores is $29.95!) As usual, I pay the Book Rate postage on any order over $50, if mailed to U.S. addresses. See my mail order catalog for ordering and payment details.

While I worked in the fire service we had entry techniques which make even cinder block easy to penetrate using just hardware store tools. I suggest that the gentleman with a remote shop not even try to secure the front door but rather build within he garage a poured cement or at least cement filled and re-bar reinforced closet/room with a steel or barred door with a high security store lock for all of his tools. A garage door is so easily defeated that only a roll-up security steel door presents any challenge at all. Reinforcing and armoring the paneling does not do anything to reinforce the tracks. BTW, beware an overly secured door which becomes a tomb for your tools if the lock is jammed by vandals and you don't have power tools/torch to defeat the security.

JWR Adds: Thwarted burglars have been known to vindictively squirt lock cylinders with cyanoacrylate glue (a.k.a. "Krazy Glue.") Once this has been done, the only way for the owner to get past the jammed lock is to use bolt cutters or a cutting torch.

Dear Jim:
I was also at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s (MREA) Energy Fair, just about in the exact center of Wisconsin near Steven’s Point, a week ago. For me, the home tour was the most interesting part. For about $20 they load you on a school bus and take you to 4 local homes that had alternative energy incorporated into them. This included things like solar panels for electricity with a battery bank, heat pumps with in floor hydronic heating systems, soap stone fireplaces (like the Russian design) that burn 2 hours and radiate heat all day (some with a built in usable oven too, pretty cool http://www.vermontwoodstove.com, they said 3 cords a year heated their 1,700 sq. foot home), passive solar design, rain water collection drums, and very high insulation values, as high as R30 walls and R72 ceilings. I also noticed that every home we went to had a metal roof. The real benefit of doing this tour was to speak with the owners as to what worked for them, what did not, and what they would do differently to do it over. The main thing said was to work with an experienced contractor. There were also useful product tips, for instance the owner of a solar system had had bad luck with his initial batteries which only lasted a few years. He now recommends the Deka brand. In another home, the owner discussed how heat pump could be used with a forced air or hydronic for heating (in floor system circulating water/gel) – BUT for cooling, it could only be forced air since it would lead to condensation all over the place otherwise. They had chosen hydronic, thus foregoing air conditioning. The initial cost layout and excavation for a heat pump, which had several 500 foot runs, was substantial. In fact one of the homes built a few years ago came in at $180 per square foot construction cost, pretty high. Another thing I noticed was that each of these folks had very impressive backyard fenced-in gardens, and all but one was a on a 10 acre plus lot backup up to forest.
The energy fair is well done, informative, and friendly. The volunteers are fantastic, and they and the vendors are there to promote alternate energy, and are a wealth of information. You can get a lot of questions answered. One thing that I wasn't aware of for instance was the methane generating power plants running off cow manure. There are 3 in Wisconsin in the megawatt plus range. The joke is you need about 5 cows per person for power. It takes about 800-1000 cows per megawatt if I heard the stats correctly. Note these are million dollar plus operations, but if TSHTF, it would be valuable to know where such mini-power plants operating on self-sustaining energy are near you. This goes for windmills and solar arrays too. Your local power utility, for Public Relations reasons, will probably be all but too happy to tell you and take credit for their efforts. Note there are programs designed to help you go off grid, but they literally very by each utility company. Most are up to 25% payback on your initial costs, and many set limits on that also, usually around $2,000. Still, if you are going to go off-grid, or at least putting in enough power generating capacity to "run your meter backwards", it is worth your while to check into these programs. As many utilities charge power line fees beyond 150 feet, if you are on a very rural lot, you may have to pay several thousand to go on grid. A friend of mine was quoted $19,000 for his rather remote lot. This is where the economics of going off grid instantly make sense, as $19,000 would buy a nice system. For those who think they can “profit” from running their meter backwards, you will probably be disappointed to learn that while you save yourself money at retail cost, if you go beyond that, they will only pay you wholesale, which is far less, and not profitable, thus your on-grid strategy should be to zero your bill.

Some of the speeches about energy use got a little political and preachy for me and weren’t worth sitting in a crowded hot tent. Big oil and GW Bush were certainly topics and targets of chastisement. However, there was some equal opportunity political bashing going on as some ardent liberals had to acknowledge their disdain for Ted Kennedy who has right now put a Federal stop on the building of windmills for, as many surmise, the purpose of merely stopping windmills going into ruining (for those rich folks there) the lovely Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. I would assure them that the Ocean probably makes far more noise, since there are 200+ foot wind miles 30 miles from me now, and they aren't loud when I pass them. However to some, windmills are apparently an eye sore and ruin the lovely view of other people's undeveloped land that they the viewer are apparently entitled to. I'm also not into the self loathing types who decry American's unfair use of World resources (that the U.S. pays for in money and blood), and lament on how this isn't fair or right. If Mr. Kunstler were a purist he would go to China, India, and parts of Central and South America and stop them from falling into the trap of becoming an “easy motoring utopia” like the USA, rather than flying around burning up fossil fuels on book tours like this, or promoting his PG-13 web site. Problem is, every other country pretty much aspires to do as the U.S. does. The automobile, or actually more so the SUV, is the ultimate instrument of freedom and luxury. The alternatives may be quaint to someone who thinks they want to live "on Walden's pond" but don’t every actually take the bus themselves. The dangerous thing is the persuasive affect a guy like this can have, and not the part where some people are coaxed into alternative energy use, that's good, it’s the part America self-imposes restrictions leading to loss of competitive advantage and thus eventual economic downfall. God willing we make it that far anyway. The best answer is to strive for economical self-sufficiency to the point possible, for each of us, and for each nation. As a survivalist, depending upon where you are, solar, wind, and wood are probably your first and best choices as they are easily scalable, but many other possibilities exist and should be considered, such as small scale hydro-electric, geothermal, wood burning, coal burning, mature, or whatever natural resources you have around you. Thus find out and know what is near you as for as to alternate energy power generation and resources, there is probably more than you think, as I just learned.- Rourke

I worked a few stations this evening; one into Montana with my 10 watt transceiver. The 6 meter band has been red hot the last few days. I've even heard brief openings allowing hams on the West Coast of the U.S. to chat with folks in Europe. Sometimes the openings start very early in the morning. These are very unusual propagation conditions.

OBTW, You have to read this: http://k7xc.tripod.com/ This guy is very funny. His writing style is great. He should start his own blog! Talk about working on a shoe string. Best Regards, - Fred the Valmet-meister

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction (for the RWVA Super Shooter's package is now at $150. Our special thanks to the RWVA and Fred's M14 Stocks for sponsoring this fund raiser! (The prize is worth $250+.). Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July. OBTW, speaking of the RWVA, they have a Rifle Instructor's Camp coming up at the end of August in Ramseur, North Carolina. It is a great opportunity for you to learn how to teach others how to shoot like a pro--including your own family members.

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A gent from Australia recently launched a new site, www.beatbirdflu.info, aimed at providing the 'unenlightened' with basic information about surviving an Asian Avian Flu pandemic. In an e-mail to me he mentioned that his thinking is that "many people are scared off by the term 'survivalist' so if we can encourage as many people as possible, via a nice 'passive' web site, to prepare for such an event then we may open a few eyes, save a few lives, and it may lessen the chances of us catching Avian flu!" OBTW, one of my other favorite sites with info on the Asian Avian Flu is The Ark Institute. And I also have my own piece on the subject that is available for unlimited free reprinting or re-posting.

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Ready Made Resources, (our biggest advertiser) is brokering the sale of a very hard to find upgraded P-10 self-contained NBC shelter.They are selling it on behalf of an acquaintance. When sold new, these shelters sell for $100,000 with all of the options included in this one, such as the 1,000 gallon water tank and Level 4 protective entry door. (Cutting torch and .308 bullet proof!) These very rarely come up for sale in used condition, so don't miss this chance to buy one for only one-fourth of what it would cost to buy one new. It is being sold "on site", so you would have to pay for hauling. (About $4,000 to the Midwest, or $6,000 to the West Coast.) Please mention that you saw it on SurvivalBlog for a nifty bonus.

"Amateurs talk about tactics. Professionals talk about logistics." - Christopher Bellamy

Concerning the Polish 7.62x54r ammo question: I have shot several thousand rounds of it through my PKM machine gun without a single misfire. The accuracy has pleasantly surprised me as well. As yet, I have shot little of it through my MN [Mosin Nagant] bolt rifles but have not had any problems there so far. Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese have all been fine. The only 54r ammo that has been a consistent problem is the Albanian. Crimp is not done properly making it nearly impossible to load into Russian belts and feed into my PKM and SG-43 Goryunov. It will work in the bolt guns but not as well as the others do. Anybody wants some, I certainly have plenty to get rid of!!

I treat ALL surplus 54r as corrosive. For some reason, it does NOT all seem to be corrosive in the same way – I have no idea why. Like you, I consider ammo that is mildly corrosive like being a little pregnant. Corrosive primer chemistry allegedly is less sensitive to very low temperatures which is one reason the Russians continue to use it. Same for long term stability. I have some 54r that has primer problems and also some newer (mid fifties) 8mm FN with the same issue – however both appear to have been very poorly stored and corroded, many rounds having bullets so rusted that I will not shoot them in a good barrel. Upon disassembling them, many even have rust mixed in with the powder. I make display dummies out of a number of the bad rounds and find that some of the primers are okay, some completely dead and some that are very weak or merely make a little smoke and don’t even “pop”. I have NEVER had an issue of duds from a well-sealed can, some dating to the early 1930s! I shoot a lot of old, corrosive, cheap ammo and have amazingly little trouble. Your experience may vary.

Storage of ammo is important. Dry, moderate temperatures are best. I leave mine in the spam cans until the shooting season begins then open and immediately put in military ammo cans with good gaskets. If it is to be belted, I load the belts then put them in ammo cans. Store in my garage out of direct sunlight. Have had zero problems to date.

Cleaning after corrosive ammo. It depends on how much moisture the gun is exposed to how quickly it needs cleaned. In my safes with “Golden Rod” heaters I have no trouble for one to two weeks. Sitting in the garage in Ohio’s notorious humidity, a few days seems the maximum. Of course, chrome lined barrels are far less of a problem. If it may be a while before I can get my guns cleaned, I douse them in WD-40 (I buy it by the gallon can - cheaper). To clean, I use one of several different methods. Hot soapy water is probably best. Immerse the muzzle in a bucket of it and brush in such a way as to really wash it out. If the water is hot enough, the gun will flash dry on it’s own. Apply oil to all parts exposed to the water as it removes all of the oil residue and rust is a certainty! I prefer LSA (available from Sarco, $6.95 per quart) or CLP (which I pick up at Knob Creek for about $10 per quart). If the hot soapy water is a problem I use Hoppe's Copper Solvent which contains ammonia, followed by Hoppe's #9 [bore cleaning solution], then oil. The ammonia helps rinse away the corrosive salts, not to mention removes some copper fouling. Most important, IMHO, is to inspect the gun every couple of days after cleaning and again a week or two later to make sure that you did not miss some odd spot and rust is developing. While I admit cleaning a PKM, Goryunov or AK gas system after corrosive ammo is a bit of a pain, the [low] price of the ammo certainly justifies it. Remember, when these guns were new and being used by the military, corrosive was the only kind of ammo available! A note on Hoppe's #9 – the older formula contained Benzene which worked very well at removing corrosive residue. Trouble is, the stuff is hazardous so it is not in the current formula. Hoppes still will clean a gun of corrosive residue but more effort is required! Same for some WWII / Korea era GI bore cleaner.

Cheap but reliable ammo in sealed military cans is great to have for a SHTF stash. A couple cans of it opened and stored in .30 or .50 caliber gasketed ammo cans allows you to shoot some for practice and to prove that it works. Remember that occasionally a spam can leaks and the ammo inside will be junk. By opening one or two, you know that at least some is good. It is also possible to leak check a can by submerging in water and squeezing it hard enough to force out some air – making bubbles. I have found so few bad ones I don’t bother.

A bit off subject – Guatemalan .5.56mm in battle packs sometimes has a problem. They have some nasty bug down there that bores through the plastic [allowing moisture to enter and] and causes corrosion. Good ammo but I suggest you put it in GI ammo cans to be safe. No, I haven’t found any live bugs yet! - Mike

Friday, July 7, 2006

The high bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction (for the RWVA Super Shooter's package is at $20. Our special thanks to the RWVA and Fred's M14 Stocks for sponsoring this fund raiser! (The prize is worth $250+.). Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July.

Dear Jim:
For those who still think an asteroid impact is nothing to worry about, this was just posted on the Australian survival site forum, http://www.aussurvivalist.com: a 10 inch asteroid just hit the moon with the power of four tons of TNT, making a crater just over 42 feet wide. The event was captured on video. Although it is acknowledged that this would have been unlikely to make it through Earth’s atmosphere, the point is this goes on all the time, and Earth being hit by one that makes it through is just a matter of time. It is also believed that a 26 pound meteor landed recently in Northern Finland. Early speculation was that it was much larger. - Rourke

JWR Replies: Rourke's letter (received July 2nd) deserves even more attention after a news story on July 3rd about a large asteroid a near miss ( Apollo Asteroid 2004 XP14). This one was estimated at 370 meter width, and passed by Earth at only one lunar distance (LD), which by astronomical standards is a very close call. OBTW, for comparison, the asteroid that is thought to have formed Barringer Meteor Crater in Arizona was estimated to have been just 25 meters in diameter.

If in the market for a solar powered watch, I think that the Casio G-shock "tough solar" is much more durable than the Citizen Eco-drive watch. While G-shocks are readily available in the US, it is important to note that the Japanese domestic market G-shocks are generally superior to the ones they export. Yes, the Japanese save the best stuff for themselves. Higuchi.com is a reliable source for Japanese watches. Regards, - MP


After all the discussion about the benefits of automatic watches, I have to say several things. I have a lovely Swiss top-brand automatic watch that my wife gave me for a special gift some years ago. It has spent most of the last year in factory service, after being manhandled by the best local metro service, then by the factory service in the US. Now, it is in Switzerland, hoping to be cured.

Let’s get real. Even the best of the Swiss movements go bad (your 300 meter watch may leak when surface snorkeling, like mine did), and if you are paying more than a hundred bucks for a watch, you are buying jewelry. There is no miracle to mechanical watches. You will save a bundle if you buy a dozen $10 quartz watches, take out their batteries, get a desiccant, maybe a dozen extra batteries in the internet, and stick them in an ammo can to protect against EMP. If you are worried about a crisis that those won’t sustain, then get a good sundial. Or build a pyramid or Stonehenge.

If a Swiss watch that costs thousands can’t be relied on to run more than five years without expensive specialized service, why assume that a $100 Chinese automatic will run longer than a $10 quartz watch on its original battery? - Mr. Bravo


I think this bears further conversation. We must remember that in a SHTF long term scenario, much we take for granted in both goods and services will become nonexistent. What else besides watch repair people won't we have access to? Choose the simplest functioning tools you can. A good compass (the best are by Brunton), a mechanical pedometer (same source) a mechanical altimeter and a basic understanding of trigonometry over a GPS. A fixed blade over a folding one. Extra socks over a treadle powered sewing machine (I have both), Catchment water over electrical pumps and resublimated USP iodine crystals (www.spectrumchemicals, see item I1015) over water filters (for biological hazards only). Paper reference books over reference materials on CD. 1/2" ferrocerium rods (flints from epcamps.com firecraft section) over lighters. Hats and lightweight but sun blocking clothes over sunscreen.
A working understanding of physics and chemistry are invaluable as they allow us to recreate advancements in science. Know how to make cement or stucco? Burn limestone or seashells and mix with water and sand. Even better, learn the chemistry behind it (The cartoon guide to Chemistry - an excellent chemistry book.) Know how to make black powder? See same book. Better yet, also get the Wagner's Chemical Technology (1872) from Lindsay Publishing.
What's the use of having a shortwave or ham radio without the understanding of how to solder a broken component. Get a basic book on electronics (Basic Electronics by Radio Shack available at same) so you know the difference between putting batteries in parallel and in series.
If we are to shorten our stay in the dark ages, then it is good to have simple tools, but if we are to rekindle civilization, then we must also understand the principles at work behind the tools. if you want a fun place to start, rent the old McGyver TV series. - SF in Hawaii


You made some fantastic points about automatic watches, I just have a few points to add. First: Be very careful about non-mechanical, non-battery watches. (i.e. solar, kinetic, etc). The capacitors in these watches that serves as a very short-term battery are notorious for dying rapidly and randomly. They also cannot be replaced by your local jeweler and need to be sent to the factory. They certainly cannot be counted on to last indefinitely and I would not wear one on a daily basis.
Be aware that automatics are less accurate than their quartz cousins. Expect yours to be off a few seconds every month and you should check it against a more accurate quartz source regularly. You could reset it against a sundial if you had to (and knew how), its just something to take into account.
For very long term thinking, mechanical and automatic watches are unbeatable in my opinion. An unwound automatic that isn't exposed to extremes should substantially outlast its owner. Also, if your automatic uses a common movement (many Seikos use identical movements), you can often purchase replacement movements through eBay.
I have heard that with a steady hand and the proper tools no special training is required to replace a complete movement. I am not a watchmaker, have never done this and this advice is worth what you paid for it.
Other features in a watch that I'm sure are old hat to your readers are shock resistance, tritium markings (glow-in-the-dark without needing to be 'recharged' in sunlight), 'hack' button for synchronizing times, timer and stopwatch. Automatic watches with these features cost more than most cars.
I would advise a daily watch that is suitable for your work. This might mean a nearly-disposable quartz watch, a low-end automatic or anything in between. Automatics make good candidates for dress watches and they can hold value well. I would also advise having a few military-style shockproof tritium 'hack'-able watches hanging around and set properly, Just In Case.
Also, a quick word of praise for the level-headed tone this blog takes with regards to a balanced preparedness plan. Too often 'preparedness' means "I have big guns, I have little guns, I have bombs of all sizes!" and these Mall Ninjas neglect other crucial items. Like food. Please keep up the good work. - P.H.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Edison

Thursday, July 6, 2006

About half of the cache of 50 books that I recently found at an estate sale have now sold or are pending sale. (The same ones that I first mentioned on June 28th.) There are still some great titles on: preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, gardening, canning, shooting, livestock, recipes, carpentry, outdoor survival, NBC protection, fire protection, offshore relocation, and a few "hard money" investing books. I have reduced the prices on many of the remaining books. See my mail order catalog for details. Please let me know via e-mail which ones that you want me to set aside for you. OBTW, I pay for the postage and tracking on any mail order over $50 that I send to a U.S. address.

I read your novel, "Patriots" in 2003. It reinforced my survivor beliefs and encouraged me to take additional steps to become more prepared. I also enjoy reading SurvivalBlog.com and visit your site many times each day. Over the last six months I have followed your advice in purchasing three pre-1899 rifles. All three are Finnish M-39 Mosin Nagants chambered for 7.62x54R ammo.

I picked up one from AIM Surplus when [it was] first listed in December 2005. It appears to be in very good condition with a 1895 Tula receiver and 1944 SAKO barrel. The other two I purchased from gunsnammo.com which appear to be in mint condition - unissued, 100% blue, new bores, new post war stocks, matching bolts, unnumbered floor plates with a 1897 Ishevsk receiver and a 1944 VKT barrel. The other rifle has 1898 Tula receiver and a 1970 barrel.

I have spare parts, an Insta Mount from scopemounts.com, 100 stripper clips, and Forrester head space gauge and tools. The ammo I purchased from AIM Surplus: About 300 rounds of new Igman 150 grain jacketed soft point, brass case, boxer primed non-corrosive and 880 rounds of Polish 147 grain FMJ sealed in "spam" cans, made in the 1970s.

So far my knowledge of the M39 is based upon my Internet searches, an interesting ammo test posted at http://7.62x54r.net/MosinID/MosinAmmo.htm. and my current efforts to convert one to a sporter. Does anyone have any range experience with a pre-1899 Finnish M39 from AIM Surplus, gunsnammo.com or another dealer? Does anyone have experience with the specific ammo mentioned above? Jim, what are your thoughts, guidance, counsel on the M39s and ammo? - F.N.

JWR Replies: IMHO Mosin-Nagants are great guns that are both under-rated and under appreciated in North America. They have a tremendously strong action. Although I generally prefer the ergonomics, bolt style, and aesthetics of pre-1899 Mausers (such as those sold by The Pre-1899 Specialist), I still think that Mosin-Nagants are a good inexpensive choice for adding a pre-1899 to your survival battery. I don't have any experience with the particular ammo that you mentioned, nor have I heard anything either good or bad about it. I'm sure that someone that reads the blog will offer an informed opinion about that ammo.

My main concern is that you get non-corrosively primed ammunition. For the sake of the newbies out there: There are essentially two types of rifle cartridge primers: corrosive (typically mercuric) that leave potassium chloride salts in the bore (with a strong affinity for moisture), and non-corrosive (typically lead styphnate) which leave no hydrophilic residue. Corrosive primers are a no-no unless you are absolutely scrupulous about gun cleaning. See this scholarly piece for a full description of the perils of corrosive ammo, and even the chemistry of the priming and residue. My general advice on military surplus ammunition, particularly from the former Eastern Bloc nations, is as follows: Unless you are assured in no uncertain terms that any particular batch of ammunition is not corrosively primed, then assume that it is corrosive. Don't be fooled by advertisements that claim that their ammo is "mildly corrosive." That is like a lass claiming to have been made "a little bit pregnant."

The only way to be fully certain that ammo is non-corrosive is to use this priming test: First carefully pull a bullet and dump out all of powder from a cartridge. Then "blank fire" the cartridge's primer at a piece of "in the white" unlubricated scrap steel from a distance of just one inch from the gun's muzzle. (If need be, clean the scrap first with a degreaser such as Chem Tool..) Then leave that piece of steel exposed to the air for 72 hours. For those of you that live in a very dry climate, pick a fairly damp place such as your home bathroom for the test. Of course immediately clean the barrel of the rifle that you used for the primer test. If after 72 hours the steel test plate still has as uniform color and the center of the late has no more corrosion than the balance of the plate surface, then the primer was indeed a non-corrosive type. But if instead their is a rusty smudge in the center on the plate where the bore gasses impinged upon it, then the primer was corrosive. (Corrosive primers leave a hydrophilic residue, that induces rust.)

Unless or until you are certain that any particular batch of ammo is non-corrosive, then follow the standard U.S. Army pre-1900 cleaning drill, which is to thoroughly clean the rifle's bore and bolt face for three days in a row, using bore brushes and bore cleaner. Otherwise, your rifle may end up with a badly corroded bore. To illustrate, here is a sad tale: I have a friend who will remain nameless that destroyed the bore on a mint condition Model 1909 Argentine Mauser. All that it took was one shooting session with corrosively primed ammo and then neglecting to clean the bore. Six months later, the bore looked like a sewer pipe.

Dear Jim,
I'm a family physician and my wife has had Type 1 (insulin-dependant) diabetes mellitus since age 9.
There's an inhaled insulin ("Exubera," manufactured by Pfizer) that offers some promise for long-term storage, as it's a powder. It was released last winter, so there isn't much clinical experience with it yet. Problems such as irregular absorption and possible lung injury are still under investigation.
Oral insulin therapy may also suffer from irregular absorption and will likely have the same shelf-life issues as injectable insulins.
The only practical long-term solution for the insulin-dependant diabetic is to extract injectable insulin from livestock. The process is no longer used and recreating it would require a reasonably well-stocked and functioning lab. (Here's a thumbnail sketch covering the discovery of insulin and some of the issues involved.)
I'm researching ways by which the process might be made more practical under adverse circumstances.
After insulin, the most important thing that a Type 1 diabetic would require is the ability to monitor blood sugars. Glucometer strips are readily available, but fairly expensive. Under deep-freeze storage conditions, they should last well beyond their expected life, but will inevitably expire. Urine test strips are likewise available and more convenient, but much less accurate than blood glucose measurement. Strips will also retain their viability when kept very cold.
A last resort that might prove useful is a very old standby, though not for the squeamish. Before laboratory blood and urine testing became available, a simple means of detecting abnormal blood sugar in urine was to taste it. (If it tasted sweet, the patient was deemed to be diabetic.) Obviously, I don't recommend this as a matter of routine, but in a dire situation, the information may prove useful. Kind Regards, - Moriarty


Saw today's board regarding insulin alternatives. As a Internal Medicine Specialist, Intensivist, and Disaster Medicine Specialist, I treat many diabetics. Currently, Type 2, or Adult onset diabetes is the most common in the U.S. and rising steadily. It is usually treated with oral medications, and then insulin once [the patient has] maxed on oral medications. Weight loss, exercise, and diet modification can decrease and possibly eliminate dependency on meds early in the course of the disease. However, Type 1, or juvenile diabetics are dependent on insulin from a young age and cannot survive without insulin, regardless of diet etc, without developing Diabetic Ketoacidosis Acidosis, a potentially fatal condition.

Exubera is the latest formulation of insulin that is a dry powder, that is then inhaled. (Exubera.com) It is set for release this month, in fact the [Pfizer company] rep just stopped by last week. Other oral insulins are in phase 3 trials but are not yet on the U.S. market. The price on these is still unknown, but will be significantly higher than standard subcutaneous injections. It cannot be used by asthmatics or those with severe lung disease. As a dry powder it should have a significant shelf life. I'll keep you posted on its progress and price as it comes available. I'd be happy to go into more detail on diabetes, treatment, and options if needed. And as always, would happy to help with any medical questions or issues. - MD in MO.

"Rags make paper, and paper makes money,
Money makes banks, and banks make loans,
Loans makes debts, and debts make beggars,
and beggars wear rags..." - Paraphrase of an old Dutch proverb, as quoted by a paper-making company in Holland

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Ordering deadline extension! Thanks to all of you who ordered my preparedness course. Publisher Jake Stafford just wrote me with good news for those who missed the July 4th deadline: "Jim, Our weekend staffer promised a few of your readers that if they mailed payment postmarked by July 5th due to the July 4th postal holiday, they would qualify for the special pre-publication pricing. Now, to be fair to all, we must hold the window open for everyone for the extra day, including web orders at www.readyfortheworst.com. But that window closes at midnight, Pacific time, July 5th."

For those of you that are "on the fence" about whether or not to order, I can tell you that the course is in hard copy format, more than 200 pages long. It has plenty of reference tables and appendices, and will be fully indexed. Also included with each course is a 1 hour interview (with JWR) about family preparedness, on a standard audio CD.

We got great Fourth of July present: Yesterday we surpassed the 500,000 unique visits mark! (Not bad, considering that I only expected at most 100,000 unique visits per year, and yet the blog has only been up since August of Aught Five.) Many thanks for making SurvivalBlog such as great success! Please keep spreading the word. In particular, we are in need of more advertisers so that I can make a living at this. If you know of any companies that are a "match" for the SurvivalBlog readership, please ask them to get an ad here. Our ads are dirt cheap. See our Advertising page for details.

I was wondering what your thoughts on perishable things like insulin might be in a worse case scenario.... as it needs to be refrigerated at all times, and even if you were to get a large supply. How long could it last as it deteriorates quicker than pills...and pills might be easier to manufacture after a bad scenario whereas insulin would be very difficult to make. Diabetics would probably have a limited life in a TEOTWAWKI., right? - CWW

JWR Replies: Insulin is indeed a problem for those that envision a long term socioeconomic disruption. However, I challenge the view that in a long term scenario, diabetics will face certain peril. First, many diabetics can minimize or even totally eliminate dependence on daily insulin by altering their diets. I strongly suggest that any SurvivalBlog readers that are diabetic or that have diabetic relatives look into the Weimar Institute's NEWSTART Program. There are also some herbal alternatives for diabetics that are not fully insulin dependant. And here are a few others, from another source.

For those that are indeed insulin dependant regardless of dietary changes, I recommend that you stock up on enough injectable insulin for its full potential shelf life. TEOTWAWKI would of course mean a grid-down situation. So I also strongly recommend that you get a long term photovoltaic (PV) backup power system to run a compact refrigerator, similar to that described by SurvivalBlog reader Hannibal. If building your own PV system blows your complexity quotient, you can buy a prepackaged system from Ready Made Resources. Or how about getting a propane powered refrigerator and a large propane tank?

One recent development is a new variety of Oral Insulin (Oralin/Oral-lyn)

As an aside, the American Diabetes Association put together this web page on disaster planning for diabetics. (The link at the bottom of the page on diabetes emergency packs is the most useful tidbit.) Here is one alternative view.

G'day Jim,
Just a quick note to make you and SurvivalBlog readers aware that the newly-established Survival Gear Test web site is currently looking for volunteer gear testers from all over the world. The URL is http://survivalgeartest.phpnet.us/.
We aim to become the first port of call for survivalists before making equipment purchases. We are non-profit, no BS and receive no money from manufacturers or retailers. We will provide an unbiased, accurate evaluation of equipment that survivalists from all over the world may wish to acquire, without having to wade through advertising spin.
Survival Blog readers interested in submitting reviews of their own equipment are most welcome to e-mail us at survivalgeartest@hiddenmickeys.every1.net for evaluation guidelines and further information. Thanks for your time. Regards, - Omega Man

Dear Jim,
I found an article about this custom 3-3/4-inch 12 gauge, with energy exceeding that of a .50 BMG. It has extreme power, for very large game or certain anti-armor applications. It's legally a shotgun, and easier to reload than rifle cartridges. Also, custom projectiles are easier to make. Some of the conversions are on readily available single shot receivers.One advantage is that the converted shotgun will still shoot all standard 12 gauge shells [of shorter lengths.] - Michael Z. Williamson

The World Bank estimates that an Asian Avian Flu pandemic could cost up to $2 Trillion Dollars. That is assuming 70 million deaths worldwide. My personal estimation is that their figure is low, since the pandemic itself won't be the biggest killer--rather, that will be the economic displacement (if not a full scale economic collapse) that will be induced by the pandemic.

   o o o

The U.S. personal savings rate goes negative.

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Asian Avian Flu most deadly in teens and young adults -- an eerie echo of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic  

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The biggest North Face outdoor gear sale of the year just started at Moosejaw.com. (Moosejaw is one of our affiliate advertisers.) The sale runs through the end of July. Take a look.

“The difference between dreams and reality, is inactivity.” - J. Leonard

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

I want to wish all of my U.S. readers a happy Fourth of July! Today is the last day to order my preparedness course at the special introductory price. If you wait until tomorrow, the price will jump to nearly $150!

Mr. Rawles:

Hello again from England. The blog is going from strength to strength, keep it up!

With regard to the door hardening, I'd suggest a thick layer of ballistic nylon contained in a quilt as defence against chainsaw or reciprocating saw attack. Ballistic nylon is a lot cheaper than Kevlar and works in a similar manner to the laths mentioned in the article, i.e it clogs up chain and reciprocating blades. It would quite possibly foul up a drill attack also, but I have yet to verify this... It would not, of course, stop a projectile attack.

Ballistic nylon is also very light in weight, but is extremely flammable and gives off toxic gas when burned. For this reason I would suggest making the cover out of a fire resistant material.

The material should be sewn into sections, preferably so they hang horizontally, to prevent settlement, and the finished article would need to be sandwiched to the door between the panel and a light (ply?) sheet, again to prevent fouling and to protect the quilt from fire and other damage.

The weight of up and over doors is critical to the mechanism, the springs etc can get overloaded very easily; I had one shear off the mount and go through a sunroof recently. An expensive experiment!

I cannot suggest any suppliers, being on the wrong side of the pond! but am sure other readers will be able to help out there if need be. Very best wishes to all. - Michael in Worcestershire.

I thought I would give you an up-date on my raid. First, I’m not in jail, nor have I been charged with any crime. Everything that can be written has been written at this time.[JWR Adds: For example, see the discussions at the AR15.com Forums, at LibertyPost.org, 1911Forum.com, et cetera. ]

In retrospect, there are some things I should have done, but that I didn’t. (I pooh-poohed some of your preparedness ideas, shame on me. Learn from my mistakes.)

1) Did not stash my extra arms and ammo, and now I don’t have them.
2) Should not have been as cooperative as I was, and it was little.
3) Did not have code words ready with wife when I called her.
4) Did not have my files in order, PGP or other software.
5) Thought it would never happen to me.
6) Did not have a bug out bag. My wife thought I was crazy, but now she wants them.
7) Did not heed the five warning signs that I got. All [my friends] thought that I was paranoid. Had I took action on those warnings, they [the BATFE] would have got nothing.

- Richard Celata, Owner of KT Ordnance

JWR Replies: Despite a half dozen letters from readers, I refrained to posing or commenting about this case until now. I waited until I had the time to do some background research and until I got an e-mail directly from the owner of the company. KT Ordnance was formerly an advertiser on SurvivalBlog, and a member of his family is still a SurvivalBlog advertiser. I have not read anything thusfar that would indicate that Richard Celata violated any law, or any BATFE ruling, or any "ATF Letter" guidance. Nor do I have any evidence that Richard is lunatic, a radical, a racist, or an anti-Semite. (Far be it, he is in fact a member of Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.) Nor have I heard that he has any criminal record. In short, the general consensus is that he was a law-abiding guy that played by the rules, but was nonetheless the recipient of the wrath of the ATF.

For the BATFE to set the "80% Complete" standard for receivers to remain outside of Federal jurisdiction and then to later seize the inventory of a businessman that abided by the letter of their own reiterated standard in my estimation smacks of arbitrary and capricious enforcement, with possibly political motivation. I try to keep the content of SurvivalBlog apolitical and nonpartisan, in part because we have an international readership. (Our readers in France have no more interest in political affairs in the U.S. any more than our U.S. readers have an interest in politics in France.) However, in this instance where Mr. Celata's letter specifically addresses the preparedness aspects of his situation, I think that it is appropriate for posting. OBTW, I don't plan to post any follow-ups to this letter, since the facts and conjecture regarding the case itself are already well trodden ground. Mr. Celata will get his day in court. If justice is still available to him there, then I trust that he will prevail.

BTW I don't intend this post to foster any paranoia. However, I do think that it is prudent for anyone that stocks up logistically to leave a minimal paper/electronic trail. If you are not yet accessing the Internet with Anonymizer or StealthSurfer, you should be!

Dear Jim,
I found a link from a fellow writer, who's a former Naval officer, Ph.D. and EMT as well. It has good advice on bail out bags and some one-liners on survival. While not specifically survival oriented, I also enjoyed some of his astute observations of reality versus entertainment. - Michael Z. Williamson

SurvivalBlog reader Dr. Sidney Zweibel flagged this article:This war on germs has a silver lining

   o o o

Jim Jubak of MSN Money Central: The Worst Case Scenario is Not About Us: Think About Inflation, India and China

   o o o

I have once again expanded the SurvivalBlog Glossary. Let me know via e-mail if you notice anything else that I should have add.

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined." - Patrick Henry, 1778, speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention Reference: The Debates of the Several States, Elliot, vol. 3 (45)

Monday, July 3, 2006

Today we present another article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. Second prize is a copy of my "big box" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

Tomorrow will be the last day to order my preparedness course at the special introductory price. If you wait until the 5th, the price will jump to nearly $150. Order soon!

Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out various ways to earn extra money to purchase the needed survival items I wanted without causing a fight with my spouse. I feel fortunate to have found several that work well for me, and may work for you as well.
Ground rules for myself were that working a part time job was out. I hated working my normal 40 hour week and being committed to having to be at a certain spot at a certain time five or six days a week. Over the years I have worked part time jobs to pay off bills that got away and it always take longer to save that money than planned and family life suffers. Any extra income I earn is done on my own terms with me setting the limits. I like to control my own life.
Before I begin I must add one thought: If you need to own a vehicle, then that vehicle needs to be a pickup truck. It will allow you to earn extra dollars several ways and make life easier. It should be the number one choice vehicle of survivalist.
As I write this I have just completed two days of doing one of the easiest ways to make extra money I know. A friend and I cleaned out a closing business of scrap metal and in four trips so far we have grossed just under $300. By the time we finish the place my guess is that we will net over $400.
Most medium and large towns have a scrap dealer that will pay for old metal items. I will not take a lot of time to explain to you the need to sort metal from ferrous and non-ferrous and all the fine points that being a scraper entails. If you are not familiar with scraping metal talk to someone that is and they can help you. The thing that I want you to know is this; metal sold equals cash. In all the years I have sold scrap I have never been handed a check, only [greenback] dollars. That extra few hundred dollars that you can get for scrap can mean the difference between buying an old Turkish Mauser or a nicer semi-auto.
I am not a hard-core survivalist waiting for TEOTWAWKI. In my life I have needed to survive snowstorms and power outages a lot of times. I find those little two to five day ordeals a good test of my preparedness. I am willing to think a little more optimistic about the future than more survivalist. I am willing to invest money to make money.
One investment I made was to buy some vending machines. I sell gum and candy out of several locations and can net an extra $30-50 every few months. My investment in machines was around $300 and costs run around a hundred a year. The machines have already paid for themselves and I do end up with net profit every year. Again, the machines pay me in cash not checks. Purchasing silver and gold coins is nice when some of the money to buy them comes from a coin shop.
At one time my partner and I sold trading cards out of vending machines and made a couple hundred dollars a month. It tied up two Saturday mornings a month and was not like work. We made good friends while we ran that business and were able to make some contacts that helped us buy other preparedness items at cost. Vending machines might not work for you, but start to think of other things that might work for you. We tried setting up at flea markets, but didn’t feel it was worth it for the time involved. I do however know other survivalist that set up and make a good extra income.
One fellow I know shared several ideas with me. One that I found interesting and might try is the following. During the winter trapping season he and his wife pick up every road kill raccoon and fox they find. (They buy a trappers license to make sure they don’t get in trouble with the DNR.) Last year their fur check was over $700. There is a company that will pay you for squirrel tails too. It is possible to make money off of road kill animals. Again, it is not for everyone, but it does help some folks get extra income.
Survival is many things to many people. I am lucky that I have my place in the woods and a few other things that will make my life easier if trouble happens. I can go for a week without power or I can convert some quick cash by selling some copper scrap I have saved for the right time. None of these things came easily, they came because I took chances and I worked at securing a few extra survival dollars.
Maybe you have other ideas for extra income that you didn’t read here or something here is a modified version of what you do. Let Jim know and maybe he will share those ideas with the rest of us and we can all increase our survival dollars. - RSG

Some worrisome commentary about Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and the debt bubble at one of the Yahoo message boards.

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New York Mayor Bloomberg unveils a city hurricane preparedness plan.

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SurvivalBlog reader SF in Hawaii mentioned that a self-winding watch is a nice idea, but "they are not viable long term due to the complexity of the internal workings (read: easy to break) and daily winding requirements. A solar powered watch (see Eco-drive) solves both of these problems." My only point of disagreement is fragility. My 1978 Caravelle (Bulova) hairspring watch is still going strong after just two cleanings. But perhaps SF has a point: If I can buy a nice analog Eco-drive or perhaps even four or five semi-waterproof solar digital watches for the price of my self-winding watch, then perhaps it would be a better use of my money. BTW, both hairspring watches and solar-powered watches can be found at the most competitive prices on eBay

“Congress has no power to appropriate money as an act of charity. As individuals, Americans have the right to give away as much money as they please, but Congress has no right to take our money from us and give it away, however worthy the recipient.” - Tennessee Congressman David "Davy" Crockett, from The Life of Colonel David Crockett, by Edward Sylvester Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)

Sunday, July 2, 2006

Congratulations to T.H. of Louisiana, the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully stocked M-17 Advanced Medical Bag/Rucksack. Many thanks for your generous $275 bid. And our special thanks to the fine folks at Ready Made Resources who kindly donated the kit.

Meanwhile, we have launched another benefit auction, courtesy of the fine folks at the RWVA and Fred's M14 Stocks.This one is for a "Super Shooter's Package" including two shooting jackets and two admissions to a RWVA match. Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on the last day of July.

I've stated much of the following before, but it bears repeating: Don't make the mistake of slipping into the "Armchair Commando" mindset. It is what my friend Keith in North Idaho calls the"Tommy Tactical" mindset. You know the type: your overweight friend with the big gun collection, but hardly any stored food. He is the same guy that will spend hours debating the finer points of exterior ballistics or starlight scopes, but that hasn't even taken the time to zero all of his guns. He is too busy collecting guns, talking Schumer, and reading Soldier of Fantasy magazine. Armchair Commandos become obsessed with guns, ammo, and accoutrements at the expense of other equally important preparations. Granted, the gun battery is the preparation that insures the security of all of your other preps. But unless you have a well-balanced and properly executed logistics plan then you could end up over-armed and under-fed. In my estimation that is prescription for post-TEOTWAWKI predatory behavior.

You owe it to yourself and your family to be be properly prepared. Think: balance. When the Schumer hits the fan, you'll need to be well prepared across the board so that you can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem. That means having lots of storage food on hand, so that you can both feed your own family and dispense copious Christian charity. It also means doing the boring or mundane things: Taking the Red Cross First Aid and CPR classes. Visiting your grandma to learn how to do water bath canning. Putting in a big garden every summer. Joining the local ham radio club and learning Morse code. Learning how to shear a sheep. Learning how to butcher a deer. Getting in good physical condition. Learning how to cook with you storage food. And on and on...

Become a real prepper isn't about talking. It is about learning, sharing and doing.

I have been stocking up on surplus 308 as it seems it is drying up. After all with nearly every nation switching to 5.56mm, it makes sense that it would dry up sooner or later. AIM Surplus has South African 308 in battle packs, but the price continues to climb every time I check their web site. I too, have looked and continue to debate over choice of MBR. Boston's Gun Bible has been insightful but as FALs evolve it makes this choice harder. We had initially settled on M1As, but I too have been looking at the FAL and HK91s. KaiserWorks is now making a alum FAL lower that uses AR rear sight set-up with really looks good, and there are coming out with a AR trigger compatible lower. I have mixed thoughts on this, as the FAL trigger spring is nice and heavy, esp for hard primers, but the AR set up has much nicer ergonomics.
The HK91 is rugged, and has the benefit of being very easy to convert to full auto by merely altering the trigger box, once you obtain ATF approval of course. Now full auto is most cases is a waste of ammo, but there are certain times that it may useful. Covering fire, mass targets in the open, and the illusion of superior firepower in breaking contact (SEALs use this to great effect,) Its always nice to have it (if properly trained) and not use it that need it and not have it.
Beta Company is working on [.308 variants of their] 100 round C-MAG for the M14, FAL, and HK. This would be ideal for a fixed position, without having a belt fed, for mass attack or armored vehicles.
Our main objective is trying to get the weight down on these MBRs. Going to 18" barrels and light-weight options seems to be the trick here in Missouri as we rarely have open 1000 meter areas. My M1A is a "Bush" style with 18" barrel, Vortex flash hider, and a new Vltor Modstock. I personally like the shorter stock length, and this package is barely longer than a Mini-14.
I also saw a nice AWC bullpup M14, nice but on the heavy side.
Having several short stature persons and younger ones, we also have AR-15s. Have you given any thought to upgrading to the piston driven uppers that are now out there for these?
I have been debating here on these type of upgrades, versus going to bullpups, with Steyr hinting at building US-made AUGs. The Steyr qualities seems to beat out the FN P2000 bullpup. The bullpups ability to use a 20" barrel but still have a small profile that is easily shouldered without messing with a folding stock etc is very appealing. I even experimented with the KVAR bullpup conversion on a 223 AK. It makes a handy truck, tractor, and four wheeler gun slung across your back, when out on the back 40. Your words of wisdom would be appreciated. I know that guns are just a small part of the over all survival picture, but compared to rotating foods, its a lot more fun to "rotate" ammo in training. Thank you, - MD in MO

JWR Replies: My advice to all Survival Blog readers is to always have an effective means of self- defense close at hand. For someone on a tight budget, at least buy yourself a reliable military surplus bolt action and plenty of ammunition. Mausers, Enfields, and Mosin Nagants are all good "budget" rifle choices. Then, with time, as your budget increases, upgrade your battery to include a reliable semi-auto 7.62 mm NATO rifle for each adult in your family. The low end choice in this category would be a CETME clone. The medium price choices would be FN/FAL or L1A1 "parts kit" clones built on Imbel receivers, HK91 clones (such as a PTR-91), or low-end M1As from makers like Norinco. Eventually, with disciplined savings you should be able to afford more expensive MBRs from "name" makers such as original Belgian FALs, original H&K-made HK91s, or M1As from Springfield Armory or Fulton Armory. If at all possible, retain your earlier rifle purchases. These are great guns to keep on hand as guns for barter and charity. Also, depending on your state and local concealed carry restrictions, an inexpensive bolt action rifle is perfect for use as a "trunk gun"--a gun that you keep handy in the trunk of your car at all times. If your car gets broken into, or the car itself gets stolen, you will surely regret losing your old beater $150 Mauser, but it would be a severe financial blow and the cause of more substantial mental anguish to lose a $2,500 top-of-the-line ACOG-scoped MBR.

Most importantly: upgrading to creme-de-la-creme rifles is something that should only be done after you have your key logistics squared away. (By this I mean after your family has a water filtration system, an honest one year food supply, communications gear, non-hybrid seeds and gardening supplies, traps and snares, and plenty of first aid gear.) Far too many survivalists slip into the "Armchair Commando" mindset. (Not that I'm implying anything like that about MD in MO, but please see my recent article on this topic.)

Marty Weiss comments on the "upright spike" of global population, presaging its implications on the markets and currencies. Based on what Mr. Weiss has to say, it appears that economic trouble is on the way, sooner or later. Best to stock up. If you aren't certain exactly what you'll need to get your family prepared, then get a copy of my "big box" preparedness course.

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Freeze Dry Guy reports brisk sales of their scarce U.S. Army Long Range Patrol (LRP) rations. They are now sold out of LRP Beef Stew, but we still have LRP Beef Teriyaki, Western Omlet, and Chicken & Rice available. Everyone should get their orders in ASAP, as these are going fast. I've heard that they now All are fresh 2004 production. They have a very long shelf life. For more info, see www.freezedryguy.com (They are indeed available to order, even though the web site still says "Out of Stock".) You can also call: (530) 265-8333. Don't miss out! Their last batch or LRPs sold out almost immediately.

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The "Oracle of Omaha" will probably never be nominated for sainthood.

“I sincerely believe . . . that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” - Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, July 1, 2006

Today we present another article for Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. Second prize is a copy of my "big box" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win, start writing and e-mail us your article soon. Round 5 ends on July 31st.

The recent SurvivalBlog letters regarding wolves illustrate something that has interested me for a while. This is a phenomenon that might be called “The Great Disconnect”.
“The Great Disconnect” is defined as the increasing number of people who lack the ability to distinguish between reality and their own beliefs. These are people who reject out of hand anything that conflicts with their internal world-view, no matter how out of touch with reality that view may actually be.
I have no idea what percentage of the population falls into the 'disconnected' category, but judging from what I see on the Internet, perhaps 25% to 50% of the people posting there suffer from it to one degree or another. I hope the percentage in the real world is less, but there are plenty of examples that prove otherwise. Watch the TV news sometime.
This condition is characterized by blindness and deafness to anything that may contradict the person's belief. In other words, they react the same way as the six-year-old who covers his ears and shouts "I can't HEAR you!" Facts don't matter. No amount of evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, registers. No logical counter-arguments are ever offered. The best they can do is to threaten an appeal to Authority ("I'll tell Mommy!") when unable to present a rational response.
This, however, isn't just immaturity. A child may be unaware of the consequences of her actions (touch that hot stove, and you'll get burned!), but once made aware, she'll usually admit that there are consequences. (She'll probably go around warning others.)
Our disconnected folk, however, are different. They will never admit to anything that goes counter to their beliefs, no matter how compelling the evidence. Their beliefs are more real than facts to them. They'll keep on touching the hot stove and keep complaining about being burned. Then they will try to blame someone else for their injuries. (e.g. fast food and fat a**es)
I don't know what causes this condition. I do know it is far too common. Perhaps it is related to education. After all, many of the best examples of that kind of irrationality are found in Congress, and those people are generally thoroughly-educated. (I originally wrote 'well-educated', but now I think 'well' implies quality which may not be in evidence.)
Another possibility is that people no longer experience much interaction with the physical world (where, for example, if you hit your foot with an axe, it hurts.) Years ago, people knew this. Many found out the hard way. The beneficial side of this was that very few people went around claiming that axes couldn't hurt. Even fewer went around trying to ban axes because they *might* hurt you. And, anyone suing the axe manufacturer would have been laughed out of court. If a person insisted in believing that axes were going to jump up and whack you, all by themselves, well - there were safe, well-padded accommodations for those sorts of folks.
One outcome of this ‘Great Disconnect’ is that, to these people, thoughts become more important than actions. Hence the entire 'Political Correctness' madness.
- Where, when an entire family is murdered, these people just shrug their shoulders. But, they're 'deeply disturbed' if the confessed murderer doesn't express 'regret'. And, they are outraged when other, more rational people aren't willing to give the murderer another chance once he assures us he's 'very sorry'.
- Where buying a homeless person a meal is dismissed as 'insignificant' in comparison to spending the weekend at a luxury resort conference entitled 'Envisioning an End to World Hunger'. It's the thought that counts, after all.
- Where calling someone an "Indian" (a white-man's word) is somehow worse than calling him a "Native American" (two white-man's words.)
- Where well-known and provable facts become too 'politically incorrect' to cite.
How does all this apply to a survival forum? People who are unable to deal with reality on reality's terms are going to have a very hard time surviving whatever comes along. And, something is sure to come along, sooner or later.
While every civilization in the history of the world has experienced hard times, many have not survived them. If you think nothing is ever going to happen, the odds are against you. Just ask the dinosaurs. Whether you believe it will happen or not won't change the odds in any way. If it could, you'd be in Las Vegas getting rich.
A lot of effort is spent discussing guns, knives, and BOBs. This is good, as long as you don't believe that what you own is likely to matter much when the fecal matter flies. Survival isn't going to hinge on who owns the 'best' gun or knife or MRE. What will be important is knowing how to use whatever you've got, and being able to improvise what you don't. That's reality.
You may believe you can live off the land when TSHTF. The reality (at least in the US) is that you'd be lucky to stay unperforated long enough to starve to death. Hungry city people, with guns, will shoot at anything that moves - you included. Actual hunters and trappers will be smart enough to stay out of the woods. At least until the city people kill each other off.
You may imagine yourself prepared to "Bug In" in the city. The reality is there will be several orders of magnitude more people trying to take your stuff than there would be in the country. Again, the odds are heavily against you. Believing otherwise won't change anything.
Believing the police will help - well, surely you don't believe that, do you?
In other words, being disconnected from reality is not a survival trait. It’s too bad that so many people are.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I would like to point out an error in Bonehead's letter posted on SurvivalBlog on 6/30/06. He states that one ton of red meat is equivalent to two elk, which is false. Let us assume that the average bull elk weighs 1000 pounds (an optimistic assumption, but let's run with Bonehead's numbers), the average cow weighs 600 pounds, and the average calf weighs 300 pounds. Roughly 40.1 percent of an elk consists of edible muscle so that the average bull would provide 401 pounds of meat, the average cow 241, and the average calf 120. Thus one ton of red meat would be the equivalent of 5 bulls, 8 cows, or 17 calves per year. Using more realistic figures for average bulls and cows (700 and 500 pounds respectively), one ton of red meat is equivalent to 7 bulls or 10 cows. Thus, a population of 200 wolves could eat the equivalent of 1000-1400 bulls, or 1600-2000 cows, or 3400 calves. In terms of mule deer this would be equivalent to 5600 average mule deer bucks, or 6600 average mule deer does, or 12000 average mule deer fawns. Not being a Montanan I do not know what Montana's wildlife populations are like, and whether or not this amount of killing would significantly dent the elk
or mule deer populations, but it certainly strikes me as being quite high. In those states with smaller elk and deer populations I am sure the effects would be far more noticeable.
Sources: Average game weights (North Dakota, first Google link that popped up) and Average lean tissue (North Dakota, bottom of page) Regards, - P-M

The EIA projects energy consumption will increase by 71% by 2030. SurvivalBlog reader John Adams asks: "Think there will be enough to go around?"

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Wiggy's (one of our first and most loyal advertisers) has put their famous Pack Boots on sale at 25% off, for as long as they last. They currently have sizes 7 to 15 in stock. They also have their new summer weight sleeping bags on sale for just $100, with a compression stuff sack. These bags weigh just two pounds and stuff to just a 6" by 7" space. They are the perfect weight bag for folks in southern or tropical climates or for live-aboard yachties. Since they are rectangular, they also make great overbag to "up" the insulation factor of your existing primary sleeping bag. Our kids love this type of bag for "indoor camping" --such as for trips to visit their grandparents. I recommend that you take advantage of this sale price and get one for each member of your family. OBTW, please mention SurvivalBlog when you order.

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David in Israel Recommends: "Begin cycling now. Regular use of your bicycle will lead to both equipment customization and good fitness, not to mention money saved on fuel for new gear."

"He who would do some great things in this short life must apply himself to work with such a concentration of force as, to idle spectators who live only to amuse themselves, looks like insanity." - Francis Parkman, author of "The Oregon Trail"

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