September 2006 Archives

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Round 6 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest ends today! 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, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 6, e-mail us your article, ASAP. 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. The following article is the final entry in Round 6.

Hazardous materials storage laws can affect your intended stockpile. The survival mantra is “Be Prepared!” to this end; it is often necessary to have stockpiles of materiel that may come in handy in case of an emergency. Most conversations about such stockpiles talk about food, water, clothing, and of course gasoline, ammunition, gunpowder, primers etc. While there are currently no limits as to what quantity of food, water, and shelter you can store, gasoline, ammunition and firearms are another story entirely.
What is considered hazardous material?
A hazardous material is anything that may adversely affect your safety or the safety of those around you. Normally this might be considered acids, flammables, strong bases, oxidizers, fine particulates (asbestos) or radioactive materials.
Hazardous materials fit into a number of classifications based on their affect on health, flammability, and chemical reactivity. This is defined by the NFPA 704 diamond (National Fire Protection Agency) that you will often see on buildings indicating the danger posed by chemicals contained inside.
Why should I be concerned?
A number of the materials you may be considering stockpiling, or have already stockpiled may fit into one of the above categories. Substances such as gasoline, gunpowder, primers and small arms ammunition are considered hazardous. Because of this, most local, state, and even federal governments have set limits as to how, and how much of each material may be stored.
Gasoline, smokeless powder, primers, and small arms ammunition are all flammable and can be dangerous in the presence of heat, sparks or rough treatment. Gasoline, gunpowder, and primers should not be stored together! Gunpowder over 20 lbs should be stored in a portable magazine; this makes it mobile, safe, and legal. Store primers in a similar manner and in small quantities to avoid chain detonation.
Don’t forget, there may be other things in your emergency stock that can cause fire. Potassium Iodate is an oxidizer and should be stored away from flammables.
Due to the regulations, you must carefully consider how you will store these valuable commodities in a way that will not put your property in danger of fire, or government seizure.
The regulations
Smokeless Powder:
At present, few local and state governments set limits on storage of small arms ammunition, or reloading components (Shell casings and projectiles are not counted, just powder and primers). However, the federal government through the NFPA has set limits.
Transportation in private vehicle: 20lbs – 50lbs in a magazine with walls of 1” thickness
Storage in private residence: 20lbs – 50lbs in a magazine with walls of 1” thickness
The NFPA does not seem to have any limits on the quantities of primers stored or transported; however, certain states do impose limits such as Massachusetts, where it is illegal to posses more than 1000 primers without a license. However, the license is reasonably priced.
Other states impose possession limits on small arms ammunition; the most draconian was again Massachusetts, with a limit of 10,000 rounds of rim fire ammunition, 10,000 rounds of center fire, and 5,000 rounds of shotgun ammunition. While neither a federal, nor a preponderance of state regulations could be found. It should be expected that quantities exceeding these will likely garner significant attention from authorities. You should check your local laws regarding this matter.
Gasoline is a fairly easy commodity to store, put it in an airtight container and put it away, rotate every few months. However, the Uniform Fire Code (UFC) sets limits on how much you can stockpile.
Gasoline is required to be stored in UL listed containers (Underwriters Labs). Most commercially sold containers meet this requirement and are available in 1,2 and 5 gallon sizes. The next size up container is a 60-gallon drum. However, UFC does not allow the storage of more than 25 gallons on your premises. [JWR Adds: The limit cited is for private residences. Many farms and ranches have commercially built exterior gasoline tanks--either above or below ground--in capacities that range up to several hundred gallons or even larger. Consult you state and local laws before buying a tank.]
Solutions for the savvy stocker
Based on these limits, there is a fair amount of flexibility as to what you stock. 50 lbs of gunpowder will make 7500 rounds of .308, 15000 rounds of .223 or 80000 rounds of .45 depending on how you load. So keeping your larger cartridges as your stockpile of loaded ammunition gives you a lot more mileage.
For example, keeping 10,000 rounds of .50 BMG loaded with a powder that could be used in .308 and .223 would be ideal, this way it can either be ammunition, or just a storage container. [JWR Adds: Pay close attention to powder burning rates and pressure curves. Powder that is suitable for large volume cases is not always appropriate for large cartridges. Follow published loading data scrupulously!] Only primers must be stockpiled, which are small, lightweight, and can be spread out and hidden in many areas easily. Limits are not imposed on reloading components such as cases or projectiles, so these can always be stored without a hassle.
Currently, the regulations are on a per-premises basis. The regulation isn’t clear whether this is one property, or a single dwelling. However, it opens up the possibility of storing multiple caches on any property you own. This could provide several lifetimes worth of ammunition if done right.
Gasoline presents similar issues, however, unlike gunpowder and primers, gasoline is bulky and doesn’t lend itself to being broken up. However, the UFC does not place any stipulation on carrying fuel in vehicles. The ideal solution here is to have several large vehicles with large tanks which in an emergency you could quickly move the gasoline into your bug-out-vehicle, storage tank for your generator, or just drive off with it in the vehicle.
Survival is a game that goes back to the origins of life itself. As organisms became more advanced they were able to ensure their survival through behavior. The strongest survival advantage in mammals is gained through cooperation and division of labor.
The ultimate stockpile you can create is to have your friends and neighbors stockpile in the same way you do, when the balloon goes up, and there’s no one around to tell you, you’re not allowed to have 26 gallons of gas, trading elements among your friends and neighbors can give you the things you need, and give them the things they need.
While cooperation is essential, operational security is also necessary. Pick and choose those you wish to be part of this carefully. Perhaps recommend quantities to associates, but do not comment on your own preparations. The first thing that happens when you are prepared and others are not never leads to a happy ending. - AVL

On a lark, I order two strings of these 12 VDC LED sort-of Christmas lights. I ordered one string of blue for the porch (really easy on Night Adapted Eyes and one string of white.
Wow! Really neat. Low current (i.e.: extremely low power consumption) and just plain handy. I'm just guessing but I figure two strings would run for 6 weeks on a fully charged car battery.
Nice for those "loss of electricity days/nights" and a lot cheaper than the camping/emergency lighting systems. I think it is a reasonable purchase.Best Regards, - The Army Aviator

Cathy Buckle's latest "African Tears" letter from Zimbabwe is a compelling read. (The letter dated Saturday 23rd September 2006). I am surprised that the the economy in Zimbabwe has not fallen into total collapse. For now, it is somehow managing to stagger along on inertia. Please pray for a change of government there.

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SurvivalBlog reader"Felix" mentioned this story: The Italian parliament has passed legislation allowing people to shoot robbers in self-defense.

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Reader S.H. mentioned another cool project at the MAKEzine blog: Geiger Counter Modification (a V-700 upgraded with digital readouts, etc.)

"Man is so made that whenever anything fires his soul, impossibilities vanish." - Jean de la Fontaine

Friday, September 29, 2006

Dear Jim and Survival Blog:
I'm sure the question of the best truck for a survival retreat will generate a large response. By trade, I am an engineer; however, I currently am working as a maintenance person for a large camping facility in upstate New York. In my experience with equipment and vehicles, I would have to say anything with a Cummins 6B or 4B diesel power plant will earn the owners respect for the amount of work it will do and the long life you can expect from the unit. I live next to a medium size farm operation and they have several tractors powered by a Cummins engine and they regularly get 15,000 hours before any major work needs to be done to the motor. In my estimates, this is the same as driving 1,500,000 miles (yes, that's 1.5 million) on the highways and by-ways. Anything built to last that long should be looked into. Most people know that Dodge is the main supplier of Cummins powered vehicles to the masses; however, the Cummins engine can also be found in Ford medium and heavy duty trucks and buses. If you are mechanically inclined, buy an early Cummins powered Dodge with less than 300,000 miles, replace the transmission with a later NV5500 or NV6500, or even an Eaton-Fuller 5-speed. Four-wheel drive is a personal choice. A lot of people get good performance from a differential locker on a two wheel drive truck, and there is less rolling weight to boot. Even a two-wheel drive truck can be set up to plow with the right equipment and weight over the rear axle. I do not have the experience with plow vehicles, so I will bow out for now. Thanks to you Jim for al the work you do. - AJR


I've also been researching diesel pickups, though my objective is to convert one of them to Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO). With that in mind, I contacted the good folks at for recommendations. They have a page with comments about the reliability and strengths/weaknesses of different engines and fuel systems. IMHO, the best bang for the buck is going to be the Ford diesel pickups made before 1994 (pre-Powerstroke). There is no computer (as best I can determine), they have dual fuel tanks (better for WVO conversions), and they have reliable fuel pumps that are not expensive to rebuild if the need arises. Dodge trucks equipped with Cummins engines appear to have a stellar reputation, but the used truck prices are commensurate with that reputation; and the fuel pumps are far more costly to rebuild. Both Ford and Dodge only put diesels in the 250 & 350 series trucks, not in the half-ton 150s. Judging by the trucks I see advertised for sale, longevity on these units runs well over 200K miles, with several of them over 300K and still commanding a healthy price. - Dave S. in Missouri


Hi James,
In response to David J.'s questions I offer the following:
1) I would suggest attempting to find a truck that is already equipped with a plow, perhaps a used municipal truck. This makes for a better “package deal”. Equipping an older truck sans plow equipment with plow equipment could prove to be a challenge, not to mention expensive. While some older aftermarket equipment exists, it is harder to get from a stocking dealer because the demand has waned - most of their stock is for the latest vehicles. If you buy the equipment used, how do you know you have every part you need and that some components aren’t missing? Mind you, the equipment for older trucks can be found, but it will take some effort. While a municipal vehicle likely has high mileage, having the engine/transmission components rebuilt will give the vehicle a known date/mileage of the start of a new service life and most likely some form of brief warranty. Since the engines are used in a number of different truck/van models and not just snow plows, rebuilding the original diesel engine and transmission will likely be more economical than finding new or used plow equipment for an older truck as the engine and transmission service parts will be commonly available than model specific snow plow components.

2) My own preference is Ford, but I prefer to avoid the 1995 model year and later Powerstroke diesel models for a endurance/survival application, leaning toward the 1994 and older normally aspirated 7.3L diesels. The Powerstroke engines are indeed more powerful but do have engine management systems - computers (EMP vulnerable) - one failed sensor can cause some problems. The older 7.3L Ford diesel is mechanical except for the starter, glow plug circuit and injection pump solenoid - as memory serves. The injection pump solenoid is used to turn the engine fuel supply off when you turn off the key - thus the engine stops. Another strike against Powerstrokes is while Powerstrokes are more powerful than standard 7.3L diesels since they are equipped with a turbocharger (and in theory more efficient), that same turbocharger can be a hindrance if its seals fail at an inopportune time. A friend who’s a mechanic that specializes in Ford Powerstrokes drove his 1996 F350 supercab from SE Texas to Colorado on an Elk hunting trip. The seals on the turbo failed along the way and the engine ended up pumping its lubricating oil (the turbo is lubricated by an engine oil line) into the engines intake tract because of the failed turbo seal. At least my friend knew what to do - purchase a sizable quantity of engine oil and continue adding it until he could get to area where he could order/replace the turbo! He was not happy with the experience. In a non-turbo diesel this won’t happen, thus it is one less concern. The older Ford diesels often have Ford C6 automatic transmissions, which are excellent and have no electronic controls on them other than perhaps a neutral safety switch. The drawback with the C6 is it doesn’t have overdrive. You can add a very tough Gear Vendors overdrive unit ($3,000 but you get what you pay for) to the C6 if you want overdrive on an older model. I would trust a C6/Gear Vendors overdrive equipped diesel over one of the later Powerstrokes that has a computer controlling the transmission shift points. With a manual transmission the only significant concern is clutch wear and lubricant level. I would go with either an F250 or F350 model. F350 will carry the most at the sacrifice of ride quality.

3) I won’t claim to know what the "best" diesel made is or was, rather, I think it is more of an issue what one’s preferences/intended uses are. I am admittedly Ford biased as that’s where my experience is. GM and Dodge have very fine engines as well. All of them have their benefits and their quirks like any man-made creation (kind of like discussing the best .308 battle rifle). This to me is what’s more important. If a diesel is properly maintained it should have a service life that can approach/surpass 300,000 miles. Change the fuel filter more frequently than the manufacturer recommends. Clean fuel is life to an injector pump and injectors. When changing fuel filters I fill the fuel filter with automatic transmission fluid (ATF). ATF can be safely burned as a fuel in diesel engines and has the added benefit of being a detergent that will clean the injection pump and injectors. I like to add STP Diesel fuel treatment and also one quart of ATF to the fuel tank every third fill up. Change the oil and filter regularly, preferably every 3,000 miles. I prefer Shell Rotella diesel oil as it has a very high zinc content. Zinc is an anti-wear additive that is being reduced/removed from engine oil specified for automobile engines (can you say EPA?). In fact, I recommend Shell Rotella diesel oil (note to self - stock up on Rotella) for older gasoline engines with flat tappet camshafts, as do many aftermarket camshaft manufacturers. The flat tappets benefit from the zinc additive. I prefer to change the coolant and thermostat annually, as I’m convinced this makes the water pump and other cooling system parts last longer.

4) When looking at a used diesel vehicle, if possible, start the engine from a cold start. When the rings and or valve seals begin to wear, visible exhaust smoke manifest when the engine is cold and lessens/subsides as the engine warms up. A seller who wishes to hide the fact that the vehicle smokes excessively may try to warm it up before you arrive. (He may also do this innocently). Also check for fuel leaks. Diesel fuel will turn coolant hoses into useless goo. The diesel fuel contaminated hoses will “swell up like a toady-frog”, then burst. Resist the urge to drive a diesel with a fuel leak - have the leak repaired. The first thing I do to a diesel with an unverifiable service history is replace the fuel filter, then coolant and coolant hoses. Once you acquire the vehicle of your choice, keep a spare starter, glow plug relay and alternator in “the recently mentioned on the blog” homemade Faraday cage - a used/discarded microwave oven(!) - and keep it in the back of the truck in a Rubbermaid Action Packer.

Hope this helps. When writing this I had a BFO about another diesel vehicle that might be ideal - an '89 Ford E350 diesel 17" box (moving) van I saw for sale recently. Perfect for that trip to the big box store (or that ultimate trip out of Dodge)! Kind Regards, - M. Artixerxes

From Lew Rockwell's site: Why Bush Will Nuke Iran, by Paul Craig Roberts

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Reader C.M. sent a link to a news story about a power failure in Bangladesh. C.M.'s comment: "Less than two days without electricity and a mob has formed to burn institutions. Fascinating how quickly
it can all come apart."

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As I predicted, silver and gold are starting to recover from their dips earlier in the month. Buy on the dips!

"If you are guided by opinion polls, you are not practicing leadership -- you are practicing followship." - Margaret Thatcher

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here is your daily dose of Doom und Gloom (DUG)TM: I was recently asked by a consulting client where and when the U.S. real estate market will likely bottom. Clearly, the market has until recently been frothy, with all the signs of a speculative bubble. Lots of people that had no business doing so bought "spec" houses. Many of these buyers were under-qualified, often stretching the truth on their mortgage applications when they described their assets and incomes. Many houses were bought with interest only loans. They purchased second, third, or even fourth homes with the goal of flipping them for a quick profits. Now the klaxons have sounded and the spec buyers are crowding the exit doors. Its a Hollywood epic in the making. Recent news reports have confirmed that we are well beyond the to. Bloomberg reports that U.S. home resales are falling. This is the first clear drop in a decade. Meanwhile, the inventory of unsold homes in the U.S.--both new and existing--is climbing. This unsold inventory has grown enormously. In fact the inventory has more than quadrupled in some markets. This has all the makings of a spectacularly declining market in near future. When hardly anyone is buying, the law of supply and demand dictates that prices must fall. I am still pointing to the Spring of Aught Seven for the outright panic and housing market collapse

Based upon the currently overvalued prices (since prices have galloped far ahead of the currency inflation rate), my educated guess is a bottom in 2008 or 2009, with overall declines of around 35% from the recent market highs.(To be more specific: Down 10% in the the least inflated rural inland regions, and down perhaps as much as 60% in the most over-valued metropolitan markets such as Phoenix, San Diego, and Miami. The biggest declines will surely be on the coasts. The old investing axiom "a rising tide raises all ships" also works in reverse. Let's face it. The tide has been rising for 10 years in most markets, and to mix a metaphor, the pendulum needs to swing the other way for a while.

My advice: If you own a "spec" house, then you should have been watching the market more closely and already sold it. If you can presently sell it for "break even" or even something close to that, then do so, as soon as possible. Ditto if you have a vacation property that you do not intend to keep for your lifetime or that you don't intend to employ as a survival retreat. If you own rental properties, you should sit down and dispassionately do the math. Consider the potential market decline, and what that will do to rent rates in your area. If house prices drop 30% then rents will drop 30%, or at least close to that. Count on it. If rents do indeed drop and you anticipate a negative cash flow, and you can't afford to ride out a negative cash flow for 18 to 36 months, then it it is better to cut your losses and sell your rental houses(s) now, while you still can.

If you have a variable rate mortgage on any property, convert it to a fixed rate loan, muy pronto, even if that means that your monthly payment is slightly higher. When the rates rise--and trust me, they will--folks with ARMs are going to get hurt badly when their rates are reset. I call this "ARM twisting" syndrome. I foresee that an interest rate jump of 2 or 3 percent will be a very painful ARM twisting exercise.

If you are comfortable where you are, then stay where you are. Hold on to your cash. Watch and wait for the bottom, and then perhaps do some bargain hunting. Who knows? You might be able to find a nice self-sufficient rural retreat property at the bottom of the market, for roughly 60 cents on the dollar. Don't buy real estate now unless it is in a relatively safe (read: non-coastal) market and you can buy it at a bargain price from a "motivated" seller. Build an anticipated 35% drop in the market into your purchase calculations. That should limit you to buying only genuinely under-valued bargains.

What if you aren't comfortable where you are?. What if you presently own a house that is in a vulnerable market and you know that for family, health, or employment reasons that you will be moving within the next three years? (I'm talking to you, Fred.) Then my advice is to take advantage of the market gains and sell you your house. Sell now, and move into a rental house. Yes, I know this is a hassle, but someday you'll thank yourself for doing so. As previously mentioned in this blog, you might even be able to sell your house to a property management company, and rent it back.

The old saying goes, "buy low and sell high." In the near future I believe that you will see a lot of your neighbors trapped by their debt burdens and forced into doing just the opposite. It won't be pretty.

My thanks to R.E.M. for his hard-earned experience on rotating food stocks. Perhaps I can ease his frustration a bit about not reading the packing date of USGI MREs - there is indeed a numbered code packing date on every MRE case, the outside of the newer USGI MRE retort packages and best of all, every individual item in each MRE package. You can go to the web site for the whole story, but to condense the code for you, say you have a four-digit or longer number on the outside of the package - take the first number to mean the last number of the year the item was packed and the next three numbers to mean the day of the 365 or 366 day calendar year. For instance a date code of 6097 means that the item was packed on the 97th day of the year 2006, or April 7th, 2006. Knowing this code can be very handy and expedient when you are browsing cases of MREs at a gun show or individual items at a surplus store. You can refer to the web site above for more detailed information and shortened or extended storage times of MREs dependent on the temperature. The web site also has a sub-page for foreign GI MREs, and info on them, for overseas readers. regards, - Redclay

Michael Z. Williamson is correct that folk don't think about all the uses of oil in the products we buy. The sustainability of our growing population is dependent upon massive amounts of oil used in pesticides and fertilizers in order to obtain spectacularly large crop yields per acre, not to mention the harvesting, transportation, and transportation of food. Shortages of oil could have a severe impact on food production, and last year even the "moderately high" price of fuel caused a few farmers to not be able to harvest their crops.
One problem with the oil picture is that not all sources disclose or accurately portray their reserves. The Saudis have said for a while that they will increase production but in fact their recent production has decreased as they pulverize their fields with water injection. Their new ratios of heavy crude to light crude are also not encouraging. Commodity prices, particularly steel, are rising enough (partially due to Asian demand) that constructing new rigs /platforms and refineries is prohibitively expensive. The Saudis recently contracted for three oil rigs to be transferred from our gulf to their area. The internationally tight supply of drilling equipment plus unpredictable hurricanes and now recent quake activity in our gulf will likely be negative factors
The statistics of where the oil is derived from are not by themselves terribly relevant to proving why we went to war. For the explanation of why we went to war I find Mike Ruppert's Crossing the Rubicon illuminating. The critical factor for us is that very small shortages are sufficient to cause economic upheaval in a culture that depends on Just in Time (JIT) service delivery and has most of it's citizens profoundly dependent upon their vocational specialization. To create a crisis, oil supplies don't need to have leveled out or decrease as in Peak oil theory, but rather if increases in demand eclipse the supply available (which may or not be increasing) that will do the trick. Demand is soaring in some parts of the world. Some of the more difficult to reach oil fields are reported to be viable when prices are high enough, but realistic production responses(drilling new fields) to shortages can be years away. Pricing dynamics are irrelevant if the BTUs required to extract the oil meet or exceed that drilled from the ground, which is an issue for some fields. Pricing does however play a role in conservation via demand destruction, which describes how higher oil prices reduce demand. Demand destruction also cools off the economy as folk spend less, which further reduces demand for oil. We may be seeing some of that now. The other factor to keep in mind is that most oil sources are politically unstable, and many don't especially respect the U.S. Best to keep a flexible mindset, enjoy the golden age of oil while you can, and be prepared for the unexpected. - B.F.

The Rabid One mentioned that there is an interesting thread of conversation over at The FALFiles Survival/Preparedness Forum about fallout meters and the small "personal" detectors such as Nuk-Alert.

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SurvivalBlog reader Stephen mentioned that there is some interesting commentary on derivatives down near the end of The Mogambo Guru's latest posting.

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Reader Ben L. mentioned this article about more Nanny State encroachment: Breed Specific Dog Bans

"Being a lover of freedom, when the [Nazi] revolution came, I looked to the universities to defend it [freedom], knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks...Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler's campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly." - Albert Einstein, translated from Kampi und Zeugnis der bekennenden Kirche

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

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There is a big problem with counting the Chevron Oil strike in the Gulf of Mexico because of its depth. This hit that is estimated to be large is also inaccessible using current equipment. Chevron and two other companies had to go 7,000 feet below the warm water layer of the Gulf of Mexico, and then drill miles below the sea floor for a total depth
of 28,175 feet. For comparison this is cruising altitude for an airliner, compare that depth to the 69 foot depth of the first commercial oil well in the USA. We need to first design and build tools that will let us design and build the drilling equipment needed. Let us say around ten years in the good side to get this alleged huge deposit running. The dry tundras in Canada are no picnic either since the oil production is dependant on ability to supply water and heat to the shales and tars. The easy oil is running out.

I sent a preparedness study [from Columbia University] to your attention a few weeks ago; I could not find the online source document. Since it showed up in my media scanning again today, I tried to track it down a little better. I have below some associated links, and the home page (which has a great deal of additional info on it:

Preparedness Study News Article
Columbia University Projects Web Page
Columbia University Research Page
Columbia University Index Page

As a side note, I purchased Arbogast's "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.; it has much well thought out content. FYI, Costco no longer sells the hand sanitizer in the large containers, it has been discontinued, according to the store employee, but no reason given. My personal cost analysis has in this AO (Ottawa, Canada--temporarily for me), a dollar store sanitizer product as my best buy. I just buy a few and refill the older large container.
Thanks for your good work, and broadcast loudly the release of your Rawles on Retreats and Relocation book; I am looking hard at touring Idaho and western Montana for a few acres near a small town. Thanks again, and here are the links. - William

DAK hams were mentioned in a recent article as a good canned meat to store. I agree with this 110%....I've actually called and talked to the supervisor of DAK hams in the USA. His name is Ole he is very nice and wonderful to talk too I recommend it... Ole has told me repeatedly that DAK hams will store for at least 5 years at normal room temperatures. Ole
also told me how to read the date code on the can. its format is XXXX H or generally that way the first 2 digits are the DAY of the year and the last 2 are the digits for the YEAR that the can was sealed. so if you have a code 6006 H it was sealed on the 60th day of 2006 and would be good at least until 2011. The 60th day would be about FEB 28th. Ole has also promised that they will not be putting that new virus experiment on their hams since they are cooked and sealed and have no need for germ protection....Thank goodness.
I believe that Ole is from Denmark where DAK hams come from, you can tell when you talk to him. So I trust him a lot with DAK products...DAK hams are also very
inexpensive at $3.99 and have 8 slices of ham in them, good for any backpack venture or survival storage. They also can make a nice little gift to friends or to the poor. - Cruzan

Dear Jim,
I concur on a gladius (which is the same size as a Celtic leaf blade, Greek hoplite, Swiss baselard or 18th century artillery short sword) as a good choice in swords. It's about the length of one joint of the arm, so it becomes an almost perfect extension and usable fairly instinctively. It works better with a shield--1/2 to 3/4 plywood. A basic one can be cut from thin leaf spring stock (1/4" or 3/16") or riding mower blades. It works best in formation, but that's unlikely to be a scenario in the future.
Swordsmithing more than bladesmithing is a very complex task, not for the beginner. Heat treatment is critical, and there's a lot of metal to move. Grinding one takes longer and will waste some metal (more than half), but shavings can be recycled or melted down. Grinding means less chance for impurities to seep into the metal, and takes only a file or a stone (such as the curb).
Smithing of locks for muzzleloaders isn't too complex, though it takes some skill tempering, but barrels are a task in themselves. What many re-enactors use for cheap functionality is high-pressure plumbing pipe. Instructions for building a rifling cutter are available in the out of print Foxfire books and others. It's time consuming but not too complex. Be warned that this pipe will handle blackpowder, but will burst with more modern propellants. With a lathe, transmission shafts or other chrome-moly steel (4140 or similar material) can be bored and turned into good barrels for modern cartridges.
The Chinese repeating crossbow, which I have handled and shot, was intended for use by massed peasants. It suffers from several problems. First, it cannot be aimed well, as the mechanism is above the stock and (second) must be worked while shooting. Third, it is not very powerful, so fourth, it lacks range. Against even thick leather, it is unlikely to penetrate. Fifth, the mechanism is complex. However, an earlier Greek mechanism was built as a ballista for rapid firing bolts. This is a great way to disperse a crowd in a hurry--dropping a dozen spears into the midst will certainly make any charge scatter. And obviously, even a hand-held one has psychological effect for the rate of fire, especially against unarmored people. I would prefer accurate shots at greater range, however, and when the magazine loading time is taken into account for the repeating crossbow, a good recurve in practiced hands is more effective and simpler. (For note, I have recurves, longbows and crossbows in the house and compete at re-enactments at an adequate if not impressive level. I am generally biased toward recurves for rate of fire, but I prefer the crossbow if I have time to make the shots count.)
I just saw this video on archery (it's in Korean). The interesting part for me is the great slow-motion shots of arrows in flight, showing the oscillations that they must go through in order to fly "Straight." The arrow is propelled straight by the string, but must bend around the limb of the bow. This is something that arrows must be designed for for best accuracy. - Michael Z. Williamson, (in sword maker rather than sci-fi writer mode)

In a recent newsletter article, economist Dr. Gary North commented: "We are at the cusp of Bernanke's experiment: to reverse Greenspan's era of monetary expansion without toppling the bubbles that this expansion led to. Can he do it? If he can, and if he does, then he is a wizard much more gifted than Greenspan. Anyone can inflate the money supply. The trick is to stabilize it without tanking the economy after the policy of inflation is a decade old. Paul Volcker could not do it, 1979-81. Greenspan never tried. For those of you who don't remember January, 1980, gold hit $850 and silver hit $50. The dollar was worth twice as much back then. Are you prepared for something similar?"

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Three great pieces of commentary were recently posted over at "The Economy In Denial: Fallout from the Bursting Housing Bubble",by Axel Merk, "Stay Focused on the Major Trend", by the Aden Sisters, and "What's Behind The Meltdown In The Commodity Markets?" by Gary Dorsch.

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Gun Parts Guy (GPG) is having a big seasonal sale on FAL and L1A1 parts. The sale ends on October 2nd. All of you that are FAL owners should check it out!

"The rifle is a weapon. Let there be no mistake about that. It is a tool of power, and thus dependent completely upon the moral stature of its user. It is equally useful in securing meat for the table, destroying group enemies on the battlefield, and resisting tyranny. In fact, it is the only means of resisting tyranny, since a citizenry armed with rifles simply cannot be tyrannized. The rifle itself has no moral stature, since it has no will of its own. Naturally, it may be used by evil men for evil purposes, but there are more good men than evil, and while the latter cannot be persuaded to the path of righteousness by propaganda, they can certainly be corrected by good men with rifles." - The Late Jeff Cooper, The Art of the Rifle

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We were saddened to hear of the passing of Col. Jeff Cooper yesterday. He was a fine American, a true Patriot, and a master at his craft. Our condolences to his wife Janelle.

Round 6 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest ends in three days! 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, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 6, e-mail us your article, ASAP. 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. The following article is another entry in Round 6.

Well, I guess it is safe to say that we have successfully dodged the Y2K bullet (still not completely sure though), which means that a lot of us that implemented food storage programs in its anticipation in 1998 and 1999 are now looking at rotating stock. This, coupled with current events, has me refocused on restocking. I have some tips to share that may be of value to readers that find themselves in a similar position.

First, when evaluating how to go about restocking food supplies, consult the Excel spreadsheet that you created when you first started to get serious about provisioning (you did create a spreadsheet, didn't you?). If not, be sure to start one with your next major food purchase. The spreadsheet should have the purchase date of the food listed, dates for inspection, and replacement, and other important information (weight, distributor name, how packaged, etc.). This inventory becomes essential in managing large stores of food, particularly when items are purchased over a period of time. By automating your inventory in a spreadsheet, you can, with a click, sort the spreadsheet on the inspection or replacement date columns - now you instantly know what needs to be inspected or replaced. The weight factor comes in handy if your survival plan necessitates moving your stores from one location to another - either as a core strategy or a contingency plan. It is amazing how the weight really adds up. Best to know what you have before you start trying to load 1,800 lbs. of food into your half ton pickup truck!

For those folks that do not live at their retreat, but have to drive there, long term remote food storage offers some special challenges. If you do not have to frequent your retreat, then inspection and maintenance can be a logistic nightmare. Here is a trick for those of you in this situation. I like the money I save by purchasing food in bulk - especially in super pails. However, in order to test the condition of product packed this way, one has to open the pail, which essentially ruins the packaging and the long term storage capability of the package. This can quickly negate the savings you got when you purchased in bulk. The next time you order bulk food in super pails, also order, from the same supplier at the same time, the identical item in two of the number 2.5 (about 1 quart) cans. Label the cans and the bulk food in the super pails with the purchase date, but also include the the first inspection date and the estimated replacement date on the cans. Store the cans in your home, in an environment the duplicates, to the best of your ability, the same storage conditions as the bulk food stored in your remote cache. Now instead of driving there to do the food inspection, you can, in the convenience of your home kitchen, simply sample what is in the cans at the appropriate time, and have a real good idea of the condition of the bulk food you have in remote storage. This is especially handy when your food cache is a few hundred miles away!

In order to rotate your food storage stock efficiently, it is essential to accurately predict shelf life. This information is often skirted by vendors, but I found a very handy chart supplied by Walton Feed that really lays this out - you might be surprised at some of the results.

There are a lot of environmental factors that effect storage life, but probably the most predominant is that of temperature. Lowering the average storage temperature by as little as 10 degrees Fahrenheit has a dramatic effect on storage life. That said, for those of you that like the convenience of MREs and plan on purchasing several cases, consider storing them under refrigerated conditions. A 20 degree drop from 80 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees Fahrenheit changes the storage life of MREs from 76 months to 130 months! For every 10 degree drop in temperature, the storage life of seeds is doubled. Not just garden seeds, but many folks store seeds to eat as sprouts. So, here is the deal - if you are going to buy several cases of MREs, you may as well shell out that extra $20-$40 dollars to pick up a used refrigerator at the local thrift store or yard sale. Drag it downstairs into your basement, into your barn, wherever, and load it up. Even five cases of MREs, at $70 a pop, plus shipping costs, represents a decent investment. Even after factoring the cost of electricity, you come out way ahead by doubling, or even tripling the length of time you can store this stuff before you need to replenish.

Yea, I know, "eat what you store, store what you eat"...."rotate your stock"...etc. All sage advice. So, you mean that none of us have a bunch of outdated MREs laying around, right? Right. Don't forget that through refrigeration you can now also greatly enhance the storage life of injectable antibiotics, some prescription medications, bakers yeast, etc.

And date label everything. It irritates me that MREs aren't date labeled. I like the way cases are packaged, with the heavy duty cardboard box and neat little plastic bands, but open each case, and date each individual MRE. Once they "get loose", all is lost - so don't just date the case on the outside of the box. I recommend repackaging them though, in their original heavy duty case boxes and storing them that way, just in case you need to "grab and go".

I have been looking for a way to augment my dehydrated food storage with some real yummy stuff, like real meat. Not that I don't love pigging out on TVP...Yum. The freeze dried option for meat is great, but it is very expensive. What I discovered is that you can actually store a lot of meat fairly cheaply. I am finding that with a little patience in my shopping, I can find canned salmon and tuna fish with late 2010 expiration dates. That's four years! DAK hams, canned in Sweden and sold through Wal-Mart are also an excellent low cost, long term option for meat storage. Four years is a considerable term for meat. And that is calculated at room temperature. If refrigerated, these canned goods will keep much, much longer. Meat that is home canned, such as elk, deer, and small game, can also be stored in the fridge for extended life. Just use some common sense. Never open a can that is bulging (just pitch it), and be sure that all meats stored this way are well heated (including precooked hams, etc.) prior to eating. The heat destroys the toxicity of salmonella toxin, which is odorless, tasteless, and very nasty stuff. I have enjoyed home-canned squirrel stew and other canned-then-refrigerated game meats for many, many years after they have been canned with no problems at all.

I'm sure many SurvivalBlog readers have additional tricks and tips when it comes to long term food storage. Now would be a good time to share them. Did I mention that I am restocking? - R.E.M.

Dear Jim and loyal SurvivalBlog readers:
I have been researching pickup trucks as my next logical purchase in preparation for the inevitable short or long-term SHTF/grid-down scenario.
I have decided that I will purchase an older (pre-1990/EMP-resistant), diesel, 4 x 4 pickup truck, probably a Ford, but maybe a Dodge or GMC/Chevy. The truck will need to be powerful enough to tow whatever (trailer, boat, camper) as well as be able to effectively plow snow (living here in snowy New England after all). My decision is based on reading the many postings on SurvivalBlog regarding the best G.O.O.D. vehicle to own (or at least, one of the best).
However, before investing several grand in 2006 dollars, I would greatly appreciate some guidance on the very best trucks to consider regarding the following questions (and my budget of around $3,000 to include plowing capability):
What years should I consider for each manufacturer to ensure that the truck is not vulnerable to an EMP?
1.) I want to be able to plow with this truck. Would I be better off to buy a truck that has never plowed and then outfit it with a plow? Or, should I buy a truck that is already equipped to plow?
2.) I seem to be leaning towards a Ford as there appears to be more Fords available than the others. Then there are the model variables to consider: 150, 250 and 350... Any personal opinions on makes and models are most welcomed.
3.) What is the best (most reliable) older diesel engine made? What kind of engine longevity could I expect (200K, 300K) considering the make and vehicle's overall condition?
4.) Please advise on any other purchase issues I should consider.

Thank you for your time and attention and may God bless you and your families and keep you safe, faithful, and hopeful. - David J. in New England

Our friend Simon mentioned this article at WorldNetDaily: The city of Cooper City, Florida, has given itself the power to seize residents' personal property in times of emergency.

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The bidding is still at $180 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). This auction ends on October 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

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The big sale at Mountain Brook Foods (a storage food vendor in Tracy, California) with discounts from 20% to 40% ends on September 30th. Our readers that live in the East S.F. Bay area or in the Central Valley might want to go visit them and pick up their first order in person.That will eliminate the cost of shipping, which is otherwise considerable.

"If you don't understand weapons you don't understand fighting. If you don't understand fighting you don't understand war. If you don't understand war you don't understand history. If you don't understand history, you might as well live with your head in a sack." - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Permission is granted to cross-post the following article to other blogs and web sites, but only if it is posted in its entirety, with its links intact.- JWR.


When I do radio interviews or lecture presentations, I'm often asked: "Mister Rawles, what do you see as a likely 'worst case scenario'?" People expect me to say "a full scale nuclear exchange in World War III" or, "a stock market crash", or "a flu pandemic", or "a sudden end to the current real estate bubble." But most of them are surprised when I respond: Economic collapse triggered by the popping of the derivatives bubble. Many people that are involved in the periphery of the investing--including most small investors--have never even heard of derivatives. They may have heard of 'hedge funds", but they don't understand what they are. Yet in terms of the sheer number of Dollars, Yen, and Euros traded, these investments represent the biggest financial market of all.

What are derivatives? The Derivatives Primer sums it up nicely in one sentence: "Derivatives are financial contracts designed to create pure price exposure to an underlying commodity, asset, rate, index or event." Another way of putting is it is that a derivative contract is a secondary or "derived" wager on the future price of an investment in an underlying market. It is much like the futures markets for stocks, bonds, and commodities. But a derivative can be something even more speculative. A derivative can be a bet on a incremental market change in yet another bet on an incremental change--in effect a hedge on a hedge, or bet on a bet. Derivatives are traded globally, and are less regulated than other financial markets. All traders like to hedge their bets. And these days they typically use exotic derivative contracts to do so.

Derivative contracts can be traded in just about anything: stock, bonds, commodities, credit, interest rates, or currencies. You can place a derivative bet on next year's price of QQQ (the aggregate price of all NASDAQ stocks), or you can place a bet on the price of tea in China. A corporation can make a forward rate agreement (FRA), predicting the interest rate that it will pay on money that it plans to borrow for a factory expansion in two years. (An agreement to borrow or lend a certain amount of principal at a specified interest rate and time. ) You can even bet on the future of the futures market in pork bellies. Economist Robert Chapman summed it up best when he wrote: "The point everyone misses is buying derivatives is not investing. It is gambling, insurance and high stakes bookmaking. Derivatives create nothing."

How big is the derivatives universe? As William Shatner would say: "Big, reaalllly big!" The scary thing is that the volume of derivatives trades is much larger than their underlying markets. To give you some perspective, here is a quote from economist Gary Novak, "The total annual product of the globe is around $30 trillion. I estimate that the total value of the global real estate is around $50 trillion. A few years ago, Alan Greenspan said the amount of derivatives on the books was $200 trillion. More recently, the figure was stated to be $300 trillion. Now, someone is saying $770 trillion." That's a lot of zeroes.

Economist Robert Chapman was one the first to warn the public about the full implications of the derivatives bubble. More recently, there have been many others, most notably Michael J. Panzner, (best known as the author of Stock Market Jungle), who last year penned The Coming Disaster in the Derivatives Market, and Gary Novak, who wrote Derivatives Creating Global Economic Collapse. In a July, 2003 commentary titled "He's Forever Blowing Bubbles" (about Alan Greenspan), Dr. Gary North encapsulated the greatest risk of the ever-expanding hedge trading universe: "The derivatives market is an interconnected system of debts and credits that are based mainly on expected earnings of assets of all kinds. Sellers of expected earnings discount them in a highly leveraged financial futures market. Winners and losers offset each other in any transaction. It's a zero-sum game: for every loser, there is a winner, assuming – the central assumption on which our civilization rests – the loser pays off. If he doesn't, "the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone; the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone." It's cascading cross defaults time!"

The first really big indication of the potential risk of derivatives came in 1999, when the heavy-into-hedges trading firm Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) collapsed. At the time, they were carrying $1.4 trillion (that's trillion with a "T", not "B" for billion) in derivatives on their books. But LTCM had only about $4 billion in net asset value, with assets totaling over $100 billion. Again they had about $1.4 TRILLION in derivatives bets on the table when the house of cards collapsed. They were quietly and quickly bailed out in joint effort between the U.S. Federal Reserve and some big banks, minimizing the public outcry. (Unlike the Enron collapse, with the LTCM collapse, few small investors were hurt.) In testimony before congress about the LTCM mess, former Fed chairman Al Greenspan noted ominously: "...on occasion there will be mistakes made, as there were in LTCM and I will forecast without knowing who, what or where, that there will be many more. I would suspect there are potential disasters running into a very large number, in the hundreds."

Robert Chapman pointed out that had not the Federal Reserve and the big lenders stepped in on the LTCM debacle, the markets would have had to absorb an $80 billion hit. At the time that LTCM went down in '99, only six banks had notional derivatives exposure above $1 trillion. But there are now dozens and perhaps a hundred or more private banks, investment firms, central banks, and national governments with that much derivatives exposure.

Before the 1999 LTCM debacle, there were some forewarnings of derivatives disasters:

The Future

The global derivatives universe hums along nicely in times like these--in times like we've had since 1988. There are no nasty LTCM-type headlines. In such times market changes are gradual and incremental. For example, a derivatives trader makes a tidy profit when he bets that the Dow Jones will be 2.2% higher next year instead of the generally expected 1.9% Or another bets that higher fuel costs will put the pinch on bird guano miners in the South Pacific, curtailing their annual profits. What the hedge book boys have never encountered is a market with huge swings--something like the equities markets of the 1929 to 1935 era. If that volatility were to occur today, many derivatives traders would surely be wiped out. Their losses would be monumental. Again, we are talking about somewhere between $300 trillion and $770 trillion presently on the casino table. These are boggling figures. The risks, in absolute terms, are incalculable. Don't forget that directly or indirectly, central ("state") banks and national governments themselves are now inextricably tied to the derivatives trading universe. They are not just "dabbling in derivatives". Rather, they are in derivatives up to their necks. If and when the global derivatives bubble ever pops, it may topple not just trading companies like Goldman Sachs, or corporations like GM, Daimler-Chrysler, or RCA, but entire nations. I'm not kidding.

The derivatives market was relatively small when the U.S. markets had their last big hiccup in 1987, and it was even smaller when the commodities markets went through their last big spikes in 1978 to 1981. The whole derivatives universe has grown up since then. So we are in essentially uncharted waters, with no way to predict the effects of huge markets swings on the derivatives markets. The hedge boys will be entering terra incognita. The big market swings will blind-side the hedge traders. Some will get hurt very badly. The implications could be huge.

As another precursor of trouble ahead, the latest hedge fund fiasco was reported in September of 2006 by Bill Bonner and Lila Rajiva: "Hedge fund Amaranth Advisors [an Energy derivatives firm] managed to lose $4.6 billion - about half its entire value - in a matter of just a few days through a sensational miscalculation of the price of natural gas futures in the spring of 2007. Today's news tells us the figure has now grown to $6 billion."

Protect Yourself with Tangible Investments

This decade of the "Aughts" may go down in history as the decade of the Derivatives Implosion. Because of their derivatives books, some major corporations may go down in flames, wiping out investors. Entire currencies might even cease to exist. Protect yourself. Diversify out of dollar denominated paper investments. Hedge into tangibles like silver and gold. Buy some productive farm or ranch land with plentiful water where you'll fare better if the power grid goes down. For some detailed guidance on both tangibles investing and physical survival, read my daily blog:

In closing, my advice is to do your own form of hedging: Hedge against the future follies of the big hedge funds by diversifying out of dollars and into tangibles. You can expect trouble to occur when you start to see radical swings in interest rates or in the stock and bond markets. I predict that someday there will be big, bad, financial news about derivatives in the headlines. How big? Reaalllly big.

Reader D.M. mentioned this site on anonymous web surfing. I personally recommend these tried and true tools: Anonymizer and StealthSurfer.

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I have a good friend that is an attorney who specializes in privacy, trusts, and incorporation. If you'd like to contact her, just send me an e-mail with "Trust Attorney" in the title, and I will be happy to forward it to her.

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Courtesy of "akfanatic" at the FALFiles, here is a U.S. Army web site comparing commercial portable water filters.

"The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors; they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men." - Samuel Adams

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ah, oil. It's close in everyone's minds because we rely on it absolutely. It fuels our vehicles, some houses, provides lubricants, is used for all our plastics and in many industrial applications.
The first major factor in the chain is surveying and drilling of crude. As recently made the news, a massive reserve in the Gulf of Mexico has increased our domestic supply by 50%. There are also newer technologies coming on board for extracting oil from tougher resources (Shales, sands, deep wells, from under permafrost) and also manufacturing oil from organic waste, in a process called Thermodepolymerization (TDP). The TDP process also adds support to newer theories that oil and other hydrocarbons are produced in an ongoing process, and are not just fossil. Certainly we're all aware of methane production in compost and the slimy, tarry "oil" that results from rotting animal carcasses. The fact is that most of the oil fields that had a "20 year supply" in 1970 still have a "20 year supply" today. Of course, that only addresses the current demand and does not account for future increases in demand.
I have extracted the following info and summarized, from the US Energy Information Administration. I should also credit an article by Dr. Robert Metzger, a fellow science fiction writer and PhD in Electrical Engineering from UCLA, who has worked for both Georgia Tech and Hughes Labs.

Of the 400 million barrels of crude used in March 2006, 240 million barrels, 40%, were domestic production. Other sources were:
Canada, 70 million barrels
Mexico 56 million barrels
Venezuela 47 million barrels
Saudi Arabia 42 million barrels
Nigeria 37 million barrels
Angola 16 million barrels
Iraq 15 million barrels
Algeria 13 million barrels
UK 9 million barrels
Kuwait, Qatar, UAE (combined) 3 million barrels

First, this gives lie to the claims that the Iraq War is about oil. Only 9% of our oil comes from the Middle East, and 2/3 of that is Saudi oil. If it was really about oil, we'd be better off invading Nigeria (or annexing Mexico as a state, but I digress.) Chavez in Venezuela, however, can have great impact over one of our closer and larger suppliers.
Europe and Asia depend much more on Middle Eastern oil than we do, and a shift of that small percentage can indeed affect prices at our end--again, reference the Gulf find, which will not be in production for months or years, created a public perception of relief that has brought pump prices down by 35% around here.
Once the oil is here, we run into the first critical issue--refinery capacity. Increasing government standards have made oil refining one of the most complex and least profitable businesses in the US. We are chronically and acutely short of refineries, and they are a prime target for terrorism or military attack. It didn't help that there are large terminals and refineries near the Louisiana and the Texas coast, subject to further hurricanes and civil unrest.
Then we come to one of the key factors in chaotic price changes--formulation standards set in place in the late 1990s. In an effort to reduce vapor and exhaust emissions, precise formulation standards were put in place that are based on climate and altitude. If San Francisco runs short of gas, they can't just transfer from suppliers in the Central Valley--it's illegal to use that fuel in that fashion. Obviously, this can result in massive regional jumps, which affect public perception elsewhere, and do allow local stations to feed on panic. Around here, I've seen a 25 cent difference per gallon in a ten mile radius. (One advantage of a 35 gallon tank is being able to wait for a price drop.)
Obviously, in the wake of a massive disaster, it is reasonable, practical and obvious that such standards should be tossed and gasoline taken where needed. This was done somewhat after Katrina. But will it be reasonable, practical and obvious to a future government, particularly one with "green" leanings? A healthy dose of cynicism is the survivalist's friend here.
Electricity by and large is produced by coal, and coal is something we possess in almost ludicrous quantities by comparison to most nations. But coal, tremendously more energy-efficient than oil, cannot fuel vehicles, and is much harder to convert to lubricants and plastics. That latter is one of our biggest uses of oil. Everything from vinyl siding to blister packs for medication is made from oil. Expect that to change (as fast food containers are now cardboard instead of styrofoam) because of both landfill considerations and materials cost. Most people don't even think of the fact that their new computer cable is plastic insulation and fittings in a plastic package with oil-derived inks on the slip of paper inside. Plastic, nylon and other polymers were a large part of the fuel bunker in the World Trade Center fires. Like any other petroleum product (or ANY organic product), heat it up and it burns. We depend on plastic as much as fuel oil, and anything that affects the oil supply also affects the cost of plastics, paints, packaging as well as transport. This has to be taken into consideration when planning for economic disasters.
Obviously, trite as it sounds, we can "all do our part" by recycling anything we can. It's cheaper to reuse materials than refine new ones, and a good survival minded person should not be throwing out steel, aluminum, brass that can be used for generating income or as raw materials, or plastic bags and such that can be used for storage, waterproofing or recycled to reduce the burden. Long term, however, alternatives will have to be found to keep our society working. How many of us would find it harder to survive without plastic trash bags, duct tape, spray lubricant in a can and solvents?
Most of Europe is already paying $6 a gallon for gas, and their governments have turned a deaf ear to complaints in wake of the profit made in taxes. While it won't destroy our society to pay that much, I'm sure we can all see what effect it would have on travel, disposable income and other aspects of the economy. Creeping socialism attacks both supply and demand with taxes and controls that hinder business and reduce efficiency. A heck of a lot to think about when filling the tank, isn't it?

Here's a link to an e-mail written by a Marine Corps Intelligence officer in Iraq. It's humbling to read first hand the sacrifices our troops endure for us. But in all dark clouds, there is a silver lining (in this case from a preparedness perspective). In the near future, there are going to be a lot of medical personnel returning to civilian life that know exactly how to treat gun shot wounds and conduct "walking bloodbanks". May the Lord bless you with one near your home.

Other stray thoughts: keep an eye out for the new [Interceptor] body armor if it ever hits the surplus market. Also, the next generation of expert firearms instructors is being molded right now in Iraq and Afghanistan. Once again, may you be blessed with one near your home in the future. - Rookie

JWR Adds: My favorite snippet from the Marine Corps officer was this: "Best Chuck Norris Moment - 13 May. Bad Guys arrived at the government center in the small town of Kubaysah to kidnap the town mayor, since they have a problem with any form of government that does not include regular beheadings and women wearing burqahs. There were seven of them. As they brought the mayor out to put him in a pick-up truck to take him off to be beheaded (on video, as usual), one of the bad Guys put down his machinegun so that he could tie the mayor’s hands. The mayor took the opportunity to pick up the machinegun and drill five of the Bad Guys. The other two ran away. One of the dead Bad Guys was on our top twenty wanted list. Like they say, you can’t fight City Hall."

You gotta love Idaho: It has been proposed that every household in Greenleaf, Idaho have a firearm as part of a larger emergency preparedness requirements. Sounds good to me.

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Moriaty told me about a great site with articles and essays on Renaissance weapons.

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John the Bowhunter mentioned this amazing series of posts over at Archery Talk: A youngster has taken 77 big game animals with a 42 pound bow. With that bow he got penetration "to the feathers." Notice the picture of the boy next to pro-gun and pro-archery rock-n-roll legend Ted Nugent, on a hunt in Africa. John notes: "Even a low poundage short draw bow can be amazing effective."

"A government that is big enough to give you all you want, is big enough to take it all away." - Barry Goldwater

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I had major dental surgery yesterday. Sure, I could have ignored it, but most animals are dead when they can't eat. I consider dental health an excellent investment. In any case, I digress. I brought a flashlight in with me and the office staff and doctor looked at me like I was nuts. "What happens if your power goes out and there I am with a mouth full of blood, power tools and incisions and you can't see how to stitch me back up?" They told me they hadn't lost power in over 10 years but I put my flashlight in the corner.
Don't you know that halfway through the operation, off go the lights. The whole building goes dark. The lights came back on one minute later, and then the entire office staff came in to stare at me dumbfounded. I'll be an urban legend at that office for generations. A lesson in being prepared. By the way, I was thinking of going back to the dental office when I have the stitches removed with an umbrella in my hand. If they ask why, I'll say "What happens if the fire alarm goes off and the sprinklers turn on?", just to mess with them. - SF in Hawaii

This is the first time I've written. I have been following with interest the posts regarding the use of archery for multi- generational
thinking that surely someone else would bring this up, but that appears not to be the case. I'm fairly surprised that no one has yet mentioned the chu-ko-nu (see:
It is commonly know as the Chinese Repeating Crossbow and is essentially a semi-automatic crossbow. It was used extensively in warfare as late as the 1890's against the firearms of the Japanese to a fair amount of success. It is legendary for being rugged on the battlefield and so simple a design, that even someone with limited woodworking skills can put one together. To make it more deadly, the arrow-points were smeared with paralyzing poisons. The advantages of a semi-automatic design should be obvious. In
fifteen seconds, one hundred men with normal bows, or with ordinary crossbows, were only be able to shoot around two hundred arrows in fifteen seconds. In the same amount of time, one hundred men with repeating crossbows were able to get off about a thousand shots. If I were in a survival situation with all firearms and ammo gone and
expended, this is the weapon I would want by my side. - Gilgamesh

After reading a significant amount of material back and forth on weapons that have largely been rejected by western culture since the 1500s. I am curious as to why no one has yet brought up keeping muzzle loading black powder firearms for this purpose.
It could easily be argued that a set of bullet moulds a bag of extra flints, and some basic chemistry knowledge [for making black powder and percussion caps] would carry just as far, if perhaps not farther in a "multi-generational scenario". Theoretically, the ingredients in black powder, if stored properly have an indefinite shelf life, and are not dangerous until mixed together in the proper proportions and then processed to meet quality control.
Knowing how to construct and use a bow is a valid skill, and one that a great number of people could master with time, trial and error. However, sword construction is a dying art and largely, one that could not be mastered in short order by all but those with a great pedigree in metalsmithing. Anyone competent enough to make a decent sword, could
probably also produce flintlocks or matchlocks with equal ease.
However, one weapon that seems to be entirely overlooked in this thread is the Roman gladius. Long swords, katanas and other swords are meant to be wielded by large armored men on horseback. The gladius, when combined with a large shield allows an otherwise unarmored man to approach his opponent behind the shield and then strike out with quick thrusting blows. If this were Roman times, the enemy would likely have to overcome a barrage of pilum (Roman javelins) first. All things to consider if we suddenly find ourselves enraptured by another dark age.- AVL

JWR Replies:
You are correct in your assertion that muzzleloading black powder arms would be superior in a long term (multi-generational) collapse,but only assuming that you can still make gunpowder. (More skills to learn and some raw materials to acquire. But a valuable exercise, nonetheless. My personal choice under such circumstances would be a .54 caliber Kodiak double rifle and a brace of replica Colt Model 1860, Remington Model 1858, or Ruger Old Army stainless steel black powder .44 caliber cap and ball revolvers. (My innate contrariness would probably steer me toward a LeMat revolver/shotgun, but alas, they are not made in stainless steel.) Note that cartridge conversion cylinders are made for several of these models, to make them more versatile.

Regardless of what you select for your "just in case" battery of arms, be sure to teach your children how to make archery gear, chain mail, and swords.

Frequent content contributor Jim K. send a link to an article in New Scientist about "microdiesel"--a genetically modified bacteria that can churn out biodiesel. It looks very promising. Jim K. notes: "If this takes off, it will be a huge jump in the potential for energy independence. Note that it doesn't require plant oils, instead using the large amount of plant waste that is a byproduct of all farming. It also cuts out the need for toxic chemicals that are used in biodiesel production, which is great both environmentally and financially. This is the first bit of good news I've seen in this area for a long while."

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I heard from a reader that Mountain Brook Foods (a storage food vendor in Tracy, California) is a having a big sale, with discounts from 20% to 40% . (The latter percentage applies to orders over $500 but less than $2,500.) I haven't done biz with them, and they aren't one of our advertisers, so I can't vouch for the firm. Perhaps some our many readers that live in the East S.F. Bay area or in the Central Valley might want to go visit them ands pick up their first order in person. I'd appreciate getting a first hand report.

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You may recognize SurvivalBlog reader Rob a.k.a. ("Salsafix") as the editor of the excellent Surviving the Crash blog. He recently launched a new adjunct web page. This one is a news feed dedicated to stories about the housing bubble and the nascent U.S. housing market crash.

"Whoever said the pen is mightier than the sword obviously never encountered automatic weapons." - General Douglas Macarthur

Friday, September 22, 2006

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Tell your friends. Just adding a SurvivalBlog icon to your web site or mail .sig adds tremendously to our exposure. Thanks!

The bidding is now up to $180 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). This auction ends on October 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

I'm a bit surprised at how little discussion there is of ammunition reloading. While the .223 Remington (5.56x45 NATO) is an imperfect military round, its very easy to reload and the cases last pretty well if you are precise and careful about your loads. Midsized calibers like .308 loads even better, and is less fussy than small calibers are. I realize than an autoloader doesn't take well to reloads, nor is it reasonable collecting spent brass ejected from one on a battlefield. In addition, most milsurp brass is Berdan primed which is almost impossible (very difficult) to reload. Same with steel or aluminum cases. In a bolt action rifle that's another story. Reloading lets you do something that large quantities of money won't. It gains you accuracy at a modest price for a modest firearm. It is reasonably easy to learn how to tune a load to a specific rifle so that it shoots its best. Sometimes that means 3 rounds in the X ring at 100 yards. Sometimes that means 5 in an even smaller hole. I know from experience that even cheap bolt action milsurp rifles can be tuned to the level of small overlapping holes with even modest barrels. If that's all you can afford, you need it to hit what you aim at. There's little point investing your whole budget on arms when you also need food and water and hopefully a small solar panel for a radio so you can find out what is going on. Information is worth gold in a Post Peak scenario. You have to make do with what you can afford.

Yes, stocking up on reloading supplies is another expense, but its a satisfying one if you're already bunkered in place, and it gives your shooting training a purpose: testing loads and bullets on paper and steel at various ranges. Isn't it expensive to get into reloading ammunition? (you ask) Not really. About $150 for a single stage press and dies for one caliber, plus brass, primers, and powder as much as you care to fiddle with (another $20-$100). There's lots of information online, but is a useful resource, as well as a means to help you choose a caliber. Not everyone can take the recoil of the .308 Winchester (7.62x51 NATO), and most want more power downrange than the 7.62x39 can deliver. Finding the right cartridge for your area's terrain, game, and conditions can be an enjoyable bit of research. While the .308 is often the right caliber for most grown men, .243 Winchester is dandy for many applications (with a 24" barrel), and .270 Winchester has a nice bit of range capability. Target shooters love the .308, western hunters like the .270, and those who do both like the .260 Remington (duplicates the 6.5mm Swede but in a .308 case) and the 7mm Magnum (though it is tough on cases). When you reload, the caliber doesn't matter very much (same amount of work to load .308 as it is to load 6.5x284, 8x57JS Mauser, or 6mm PPC) so choose the one with recoil, range, and punch that suits you best. Its also useful to note that some calibers which can be abusive in a light carry rifle (like the Mosin Nagant M44 or M39) with 170 or 200 grain bullets can turn into pussycats with real range shooting 125 grain .311 bullets and the appropriate powder (3200 fps and 10 ft-lbs recoil instead of 2700 fps and 32 ft-lbs with a 200 grain). Cuts down on muzzle flash and recoil. Tune your load to your barrel and you can turn a wincing rifle into a marksman's rifle. I have done it, so I know.

If you'd like a link describing what it is like to load your own ammo, a gent of the shooting persuasion writes articles at Here's the link to his articles, which has three parts. Be sure to read these. He's a great old guy and moved to Maine from California to enjoy better gun laws and lower taxes. I encourage all survivalists to learn and practice reloading with their bolt or break action rifles. It is great practice and will give you good appreciation of what an accurate rifle can do. Sincerely, - Inyokern

JWR Replies: Sorry that I've been remiss in covering reloading topics. Some of our readers in Europe and Canada might disagree with your assertion that it is difficult to reload Berdan-primed brass. It can be done, but it takes a special two-pronged Berdan de-capping tool. The real bugaboo here in the States is finding a source for Berdan primers. My favorite source is The Old Western Scrounger. OBTW, for our readers down in Oz, I've heard that Berdan primers are also available from NIOA Trading in Australia.


Hi Jim,
I've been a sometime reader of your blog since last year, and wanted to invite you to submit an article for the first issue of the Carnival of Preparedness & Survival. If you are willing, you can also extend the invitation to your readers. I can't promise to use everything that's submitted, but some of your readers have had interesting things to say, and I'd like to have as much variety as possible in this Carnival. Best Regards, - D.S.


MurrDoc mentioned that some very durable and water tight 25mm cannon ammo cans are back in stock at Sportsman's Guide at what he called a "not-too-bad price." See: Item JX - 6M106293 described in their catalog as a "25 mm cannon Shell Case" $11.97 each plus shipping.

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From The Australian: Modern Cities are More Vulnerable Than Old. (Many thanks to Felix for sending the link to this thought-provoking article.)

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Front Sight has just posted their 2007 training class calendar. I highly recommend the training there. The Memsahib and I have both trained there and we can vouch for the professionalism of the instructors and the superb quality of the training. As I've said before: A $20,000 battery of guns, accessories, and ammo is nearly worthless without the proper training. At least get one family member trained, and then that individual can train others.

"You are
What you do
When it counts." - "The Masao," a character in Armor, by John Steakley

Thursday, September 21, 2006

To generate some cash for an upcoming major purchase, I have reduced the prices on many of the guns, gun accessories, and books in my mail order catalog. Please take a look.

The bidding is now up to $155 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). This auction ends on October 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

Dear James,
My wife and I work long hours and hardly ever cook. We would like to store food but don’t want to rely on anything that has to be cooked. Any suggestions? Thank you, - M.P., Fort Lauderdale, Florida

JWR Replies: Although their per ounce/per calorie cost is higher, there are a couple of approaches that I can suggest for your situation: retort packaged cooked entrees (including U.S. military"Meal Ready to Eat (MRE) entrees, and freeze dried Mountain House entrees. Neither require cooking. The retort packaged entrees are "heat and eat.", while the freeze dried entrees are "just add water, heat and eat." For general guidance on the various methods of long term food packaging and their respective storage lives, see the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Several of our advertisers sell retort packaged and freeze dried storage foods. To help support SurvivalBlog, please visit the web sites for the following food storage vendors, first. When you contact them, please mention the blog. Thanks!
Survival Enterprises
Freeze Dry Guy

JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Safe Castle
Civil Defense Supplies
Best Prices Inc. Storable Foods of Texas

Dear Jim,
I agree there are crossbow-type weapons that are very powerful. However, 1,200 lbs draw weight is not a typical crossbow. That is a later period steel-proded piece, and were typically used with a pavise (portable shield), two assistants and infantry in support. A good many were dolly mounted. Payne-Gallwey's book was written in 1886, when it was still believed that a longbow was at most 70 lbs of draw, and that the stories from the Hundred Years War were exaggerated. We have since found archaeological evidence that supports the longbow. (Not to mention all the dead crossbowmen at the Battle of Crecy.) Also keep in mind that these heavy crossbows weighed a lot more than the 2-3 lbs of a longbow, and required external mechanisms--cranequin or windlass--to be attached and detached between every shot. There were specific needs for those weapons, but it's not something the typical survivalist should worry about. The larger arbalests shot what amounted to short, heavy javelins that certainly had better range than any tactically employed bow, but the rate of fire was greatly reduced.
The main consideration for power is that there is a limit to the velocity one can accelerate an arrow to. All things being equal, the longbow's greater draw length allows more arrow mass that retains velocity better. A 700 lb crossbow accelerates its bolt to about the same 130 fps an 80 lb longbow does...and a recurve is much more efficient than most longbows. The heartwood/sapwood Welsh bow is the textbook "longbow" in this discussion. There are definitely crossbows that have better range than most normal longbows. But when the subject is hand-spanned bows without external cocking aids, the longbow or recurve is far superior in range. In both cases, modern materials provide superior results--fiberglass crossbows achieve better range and velocity with a lower draw weight because of reduced internal friction, lighter string mass and better acceleration of the prod under tension.
The crossbow has several advantages I mentioned but didn't detail at length. If the first shot counts (and a crossbow is easier to aim), all is well and good. But the longbow archer will get off multiple shots in return before the crossbow is ready again. Both have their place. For defense inside the house or other close quarters, I'd certainly go with a crossbow, as it is easier to wield within the confines, and one can have a shot ready for an intruder at one's moment of choice. Against multiple opponents at range, however, the longbow (or recurve) comes into its own. Also consider that a crossbow string gets more friction from the stock and release mechanism and will wear out faster.
The re-enactor groups also have plans for both tension and torsion driven engines, as well as for counterweight types (Trebuchets) which can hurl spear-sized projectiles several hundred yards. I haven't built one, but they are typically constructed of standard 2 x 4s and 2 x 6s, often with pick handles as the arms. These are certainly viable point defense weapons to conserve firearm ammunition, though they are bulky.- Michael Z. Williamson

This is just my opinion, based on years of observation (rather than facts and figures) but I think I know where most of this is coming from. Politics. The oil companies are thriving under Bush/GOP rule and so they're playing their part like they so often do, rolling back the source of so much anger and irritation (gas prices) and giving the false sense that things are "getting better". I fully expect them to rise again, quickly, right after the election. Bush and company will restart their massive theatrical performance of real and implied violence against oil producing nations (always a moneymaker) and his friends in the oil business will go back to shoveling lucre into their accounts. I would remind you of the overwhelming preponderance of oil company people who took up residence in the Bush administration and that some of them (like Dick Cheney) continue to collect a sizable paycheck from the companies that they either order non-bid contracts for or who have tremendous influence on pending business that comes up for consideration by the administration. As soon as the election is over (and whatever the outcome) oil prices will rise again. Bet on it. Regards, - Jim K.

In response to the recent posts about off-road capable campers, Doc at mentioned some very well made utility trailers, ATV trailers, and camper trailers--all in the same unit. He highly recommends them.

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Economist Dr. Gary North comments on the debt burden for the next generation. Sobering stuff.

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Once again, BATFE agents have re-interpreted both their agency's standing rules and Federal law, as it suits their fancy. This time a field agent decided that a rifle parts kit, less a receiver, constitutes a "firearm."

"It is in the nature of government to grow like fungus. The framers of the Constitution set out bottles of bleach and sponges, and left general indications of where the general populace could get more if they wanted. These days, most people are arguing whether they want black mildew or pretty shrooms." - Xander Opal

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The bidding is now up to $125 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). This auction ends on October 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.

Tonight will be the first airing of the new CBS television series "Jericho." I hope that this show is long on practical skills and short on sentimentality, but I suspect that the reverse will be true. Regardless, I 'm hopeful that the show will at least help wake up some of the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) and inspire them to get their beans, bullets, and band-aids squared away.

Dear Jim:
CBS will air its new drama Jericho tonight, where a small Kansas town is suddenly faced with a nuclear explosion in the distance. As Larry from Kansas in Yahoo groups points out, there is in fact nowhere in Kansas where one can stand on a roof top and see mountains in the distance. While it will no doubt be entertaining to see what other liberties Hollywood takes, I do hold out great hope of this new take on nuclear war as a continuing drama, and that for the first time, many folks will suddenly realize: “hey, I might not die, so then what do I do?”. The show holds promise, but cynicism as to how the major media treats survivalists is of course warranted if not wise, and historically supported. I have started a group on Yahoo ( for discussing this show specifically, and plan to welcome non-survivalists into our discussions. All are welcome to join as long as they abide by certain rules of etiquette and go easy on the newbies, the intent is to be inclusive - Rourke

If [liquid fuel] prices continue to plummet then a good thing to do is stock up on winter fuels when prices bottom out. Didn't you say winter/cold weather fuels have an advantage over warm weather production? - Jason in North Idaho

JWR Replies: Yes, gasoline formulations do vary seasonally here in the United States. Here is a good reference on the subject, although I think that it overstates the risk of vapor lock running winter blend gas in the summer. The most notable difference is that winter blends are oxygenated in some regions of the country (typically with a light admixture of ethanol) and extra butane is added nationwide, to make starting engines easier in cold weather. The ethanol does not significantly affect the storage life of the gasoline. However, because the butane gradually evaporates from stored fuel, it is best to store "winter" blended fuel. (This generally available at gas stations between October 15th and April 15th of each year. The extra butane will typically make the fuel viable for an extra year. Regardless of the blend that you buy, you should store it in sealed, full containers that will not allow moisture to be absorbed from the atmosphere. Also, be sure stabilize it with PRI-G, STA-BIL, or a similar product. Also, be sure to buy a couple spray cans of ether-based engine starting fluid. That way you can probably still start an engine even when using very old gasoline that no longer has any significant quantity of butane. (Inevitably though, even if you compensate for the loss of butane and avoid water contamination, even well-stored stabilized gasoline will build up tars, gums, and esters as the gasoline decomposes. To assure that you have at least one vehicle that is still operable three+ years into a long term scenario, be sure to buy a diesel or perhaps a liquid propane (LP) conversion vehicle. Both of those fuels store much longer than stabilized gasoline!

Dear Jim,
My recommendation for an investment metal is palladium. The first thing we need to look at in relation to this is rhodium.
As can be seen in the Kitco charts, rhodium's value has gone to insane levels, due to a combination of supply troubles--Russia and South Africa are the primary sources, and neither is tremendously stable--and demand issues. As China and India develop, all the commodities will be more in demand, and India has made great strides in the last few years as is noted from this Indian American blogger. So the industrial metals in limited supply will feel the bite even more than the base metals. Rhodium is used for mirror surfaces, catalytic converters, catalytic chemistry for hydrogen reactions, including all the state of the art research into fuel cells and for some jewelry concepts.
What does an industry do when one of its critical resources increases 15-20 times in cost? They find a substitute.
Is there a metal that can substitute for rhodium in most chemical processes? Yes. Palladium. See the Kitco chart on palladium.

While I don't see palladium making the jump rhodium has, I do expect that a lot of industries will switch over to it on some lines, just to reduce overhead. This will take a few years, as it will require modification or rebuilding of existing facilities, but once it does, I can easily see palladium at $1000 an ounce, up from the $300 or so it's at now. The Royal Canadian Mint produces .9999 Pd legal tender coins. They Canadian coin has become so popular that the other producers have stopped for the time being.
Also, since it's currently half the price of gold, it's not too tough to buy the five ounce minimum many sellers want to secure a good price.
This isn't a coin to buy for after-SHTF trading, though many will still recognize it, but it's a good metal to have against economic issues--in demand, with increasing demand and likely to become scarcer and more popular with political problems related to any worldwide disaster plaguing supplies of rhodium. - Michael Z. Williamson


Reader Jim K. sent this one: A bright kid put together his own flamethrower. Jim K. says "...and it seems to work like a charm." My comment: If this could be done safely, it would be just the ticket for weed control. But where are the safety precautions? Where is the obligatory head-to-toe silver fire suit with hood and face mask? Where are his buddies standing by with fire extinguishers? Do not attempt this at home!

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Steve Quayle on Ammo Shortages and Price Increases

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Reader "Desert T" mentioned that there was an interesting article in the Las Vegas Review Journal about home values in Las Vegas. The article covers the over valuation of other markets as well. Here is the link to the LVRJ story. "Desert T" adds: "It's going to be an interesting future."

"I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." - J.R.R. Tolkien

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sorry for the lag time, I have been very busy with Torah study and family time using up all the hours in a week. We are three days from Rosh Hashanna as I write this, the day the whole world is judged for the year (this Saturday). This past year has been tough on Israel but reinforces the reason I have chosen to live here. Our defeat on the military side is largely due to an incompetent army chief of staff and Kadima party cabinet appointments who were recognized even at the election to be incompetent in security issues but were massively supported by the media. Most of the ground combat was outside of useful information for SurvivalBlog so I will skip reporting on that. The way that almost one third of the nation rode out the war was to simply relocate. Israelis opened their homes to strangers in a way that we always have, I can still see the sparks of Abraham our father in even the most secular Israeli.
This rocket war was a big surprise to the inhabitants of our third largest city of Haifa. A major city was mostly empty for several weeks without a breakdown in civilization. The lesson to learn is that you need to find a place where the vast majority people have a true and deep feeling of family and a deep seated moral code who are willing to go to even painful ends to help out others, even if they are strangers. It would be an important goal of any survivor to place themselves in such a community since even TEOTWAWKI would not destroy the society. - David in Israel

The recent anti-survivalist post mentioned in SurvivalBlog dismissing survivalists is destructive. He's entitled to his opinion. Everybody's got one. I think that those who are brave enough and ethically strong enough to be survivalists have an obligation to their culture, people, and species to survive. It's a thankless job, and too many survivalists go crazy from the sacrifices they make. Being a survivalist and being sane is tough because it requires many personal sacrifices. You have to balance work and home life, learning skills for independence, and skip buying fancy toys in favor of equipping yourself for a worst case scenario. Missing out on some parts of popular culture can be depressing though I'll never miss regular broadcast television.

Some survivalists hope to make the rules if they get through a disaster, but that's more of a fantasy than realistic, in my opinion. The real world of survivalism is having to deal with keeping secrets, ridicule, poverty, and constant training. The upshot? You learn to enjoy Heinlein's checklist of Manhood. You learn to do things other men have forgotten, and you get the self respect that comes with it. It's this reason I persevere, that and I'm too damned mean to die, despite my diabetes. While you and most survivalists will be heading for the hills, I have to stay near the insulin supplies and be an urban or suburban survivor, walking the tightrope between what will eventually look a lot like Fascism/1984 and rebellion in the cooling class wars as the Middle class descends into eternal Poverty. I will be learning gardening, teaching cooking to the ignorant masses, and repairing bicycles so the public can keep working their day jobs as the economy tries to stay afloat on local currency and inflated food and energy prices. I really don't have any choice in the matter. Most of you aren't going to be tied to civilization and I envy you your freedom. I will have to deal with oppression and probably various kinds of corruption. Like Argentina, with various differences. You will have the freedom to be your own boss and tend your own place to your own rules. Peak Oil, my particular Bogie, scares me well and truly because I understand its implications and it's all happening in slow motion, just like glaciers, and just as unstoppable.

While that author thinks that survivalists are being selfish, he disregards the simple imperative of survival. Choosing to survive rather than go down with Titanic is hard to do. Choosing to live when others lose their humanity, to survive in order to remain both alive and human is very hard. The author of that opinion piece labors under the impression that survivalists are greedy and selfish but he's dead wrong. Survivalists are choosing human dignity over squalor, and opting out of the rat race for moral and ethical reasons, and that's one of the most important sacrifices a man can make. That demands respect. He doesn't get it yet. Maybe someday he will. It's not for us to be concerned about. We have to keep our little piece of Western Civilization together and pull through the mess that is bearing down on us like a semi on the expressway. - Inyokern


In 'The Wanderers' reference to keeping an example of an arrow, What he is talking about is when replacing a knock, it has to be properly indexed, so the fletching has the least possible effect on the arrow as it is launched. Obviously, you need spares, and some good glue, normally called cement in this context. The best is the kind that looks like a brown crayon, but it is hard, and you heat it with a small flame (match) and soften it . Have to be careful not to burn it, too. Then work quickly, as it sticks as it sets up. I have heard of carbon fiber arrows contaminating meat, too, but don't know if it has really happened.
The story I heard of where the arrow splinters being driven into a shooter's arm were from a wooden arrow that was already cracked/split, maybe from hitting another arrow in target practice. That is why when you start to get good, you get a target with several small targets on it, instead of one big one. That way, you won't damage your arrows by hitting others already in the target.

I had a neighbor who was a WWII veteran years ago. He spoke once of something that resembled a hatchet as being more effective than the trench knife/bayonet. [JWR Adds: He may have been referring to an SAS/OSS "Smatchet".] There can obviously be more force delivered to the object with a tomahawk than a knife, it would be better in several ways. I really like the look of one of those I saw in one of the links, but it was very pricey. I do not doubt the quality though.
The sharpest out of the box knife I have ever bought was from Cold Steel, a Voyager, that I have been carrying for about nine years now. I have a box full of knives, some nice autos, too, but I still like the Cold Steel best. It was literally shaving sharp. Not just almost. They definitely do know how to put on an edge.
I borrowed a copy of "Patriots" from a friend. I am closing in on the end. I hate it when I finish a good book. 'Unintended Consequences' was like that, too. Thanks, - Sid

My old friend Fred the Valmet-meister mentioned that the price of uranium ore has gone up from $7 a pound to $52 in just five years. Not a bad return.

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Reader Jim K. sent a fun link, showing a katana slicing a 9mm round in two!

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The source on this story is dubious at best, but it is nonetheless worrisome. (Six different readers forwarded me the same link.) Of course most SurvivalBlog readers are well prepared. But if you don't yet have fallout detection and protection for your family squared away, it would be prudent to do so. At the very minimum get a dosimeter, a ratemeter (either a pen type or a survey meter), and some potassium iodate. See the links to "Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare Protection Information and Gear" at our Links Page.

"A retreat is a place you go to live, not to die. Setting up a a retreat is, for the most part, practicing the art of the possible. It's a matter of wisely and shrewdly identifying what you have and turning it into something usable... Fight if you must, but try your utmost to orchestrate events so that confrontation is absolutely the remedy of last resort." - Ragnar Benson

Monday, September 18, 2006

The bidding is now up to $100 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). This auction ends on October 15th. Please submit your bid via e-mail.


You've surely noticed he recent huge drop in the price of crude oil (currently at around $62.50 per barrel, down more than 21% from its July peak of $78.40 per barrel.) Simultaneously, we have seen smaller, yet significant drops in the prices of gold and silver. (See the 30 Day gold and silver charts at Kitco.) Gold has dropped about 11%. The declines in the prices of the precious metals can be attributed to gut level trades made by the big institutional investors. Decades of experience has taught them that when oil moves significantly, then gold and silver will move in harmony. But if they had "done the math" based on the old commodities market fundamentals, they would have pushed gold down even farther. Clearly, things have changed. It is important to note that if these pull-backs were in full harmony with the oil market, then gold would be another 10% lower--as low as $520 per ounce. Why hasn't this happened? I believe that a market fundamental has changed: the price of gold and the price of oil are no longer firmly linked. I expect this divergence to continue to expand in coming years, to the point that the price of the precious metals will begin to move on its own--almost entirely unlinked from oil. Call it what you like, but a divergence is developing.

I also predict that the markets will get even more exciting in coming months, with larger swings in prices. The oil glut is expected to continue for at least the next six months. However, at the same time, the price of gold and silver should get back on their bull market tracks, leaving the commodities market pundits scratching their heads. We live in a dangerous world, where any maniac can brew up a chemical or biological weapon, and there is a lot of fissile material floating around outside of accountable circles. Meanwhile, nearly all of the world's currencies are entirely de-linked from reality--or at least from convertibility to gold or silver upon demand. Governments are printing paper currency and fiddling with interest rates with reckless abandon. These and other macro factors almost assure a strong precious metals bull market for at least another three years, and perhaps a full decade.

I will repeat something I've stated several times in SurvivalBlog in the past year: If you feel the need to diversify out of dollar-denominated investments into precious metals, then buy on the dips. And in case you haven't noticed, this past week was a big dip. Take advantage of it. When silver is eventually at $50 or $60 an ounce (perhaps just two years from now), you will be glad that you did!

Lastly, don't fall in love with any particular investment. As the "dot.bomb" of the bubble and the more recent end of the housing bubble have illustrated, no investment goes up forever. Keep a small core "survival" holding of silver coins for barter, but make plans to divest the majority of your gold and silver holdings as the market cycle ramps up near its peak. Do not try to time the absolute peak. Some folks tried to do just that in the last big run-up of the precious metals (circa 1980), and most got badly burned. It is often better to sell six months to early than a week too late. I'm no wizard, but based on the intrinsic value of the U.S. dollar, the peak in the current bull market cycle will likely be at around $60 per ounce silver and $3,000 per ounce gold. Don't be greedy. Start to sell your metal holdings gradually when you think that the market has reached 70% of its potential top, and then immediately reinvest the proceeds in another tangible. In this case, I think the best choice would be productive farm land. I will go out on a limb and predict that real estate market will be nearing its bottom just as the metals market will be nearing its top. That might be as soon as 2008. Swapping gold into land at that point will be a monumental "win-win" trade.



Here is a reputable camper manufacturer that would be able to put together a less expensive camper than the $200,000(!) Earthroamer XV Diesel Off-Road RV. Though the Earthroamer is an outstanding vehicle, I believe these [Callen Campers] are more in the price range that we all expect. Notice they will custom make off road campers. witness the pics on home page. I used to see these around Southern California quite frequently. They make nice gear. Thanks, - Jason

"Do the math. The FAL is a battle rifle, not a target rifle. Don't try to make a dental pick out of a axe." - T. Mark Graham, The Gunplumber (proprietor of Arizona Response Systems), posted at The FALFiles Forums

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Mr Rawles,
First...this is an excellent site and, on equal footing, so is your book "Patriots". In my opinion so much so that in the course of habitually re-reading it I am wearing the book out.
In regards to EMP protection: an old refrigerator, chest freezer, unused oven, or for that matter, a metal utility cabinet etc. will work. These appliances will allow the storage of more than a few "delicate" and sensitive electronic devices. Having a redundant radio collection is advisable. These devices will function well as long as all six sides are metal, are electrically connected (a few nuts, bolts, washers and some 14-12 gauge wire will work as long as the paint/enamel has been scraped away to the bare metal where-ever the screws and wire contact the factory finished surfaces), has RF gaskets at all door and other openings and has grounding straps connected using the shortest wire run possible and the largest wire diameter available. Without a ground connection the shield may act more as an antenna than a shield and inadvertently destroy what is intended on being protected.
RF gaskets can be fashioned from fine phosphor bronze mesh polished and soldered into a narrow diameter tube or the ground braid component of any of the higher grade coax wire that has 95% braid coverage or better. After carefully removing the outer jacket of the coax the braid can be extracted. Solder a length of copper wire to one "wall" for the braid cylinder being careful not to occlude the braid opening. Depending on the diameter of the wire selected (RG 58, RG 8 etc.) literally any rigid foam, foam rubber or rubber material of near equal diameter can be inserted into the braid. A length of a child's "Wacky Noodle" toy (thin gauge) will work although a soft rubber material is preferable albeit a tad harder to locate. The ground braid will function in the same manner as a Chinese will close up when stretched. Solder the ends together after the rubber core is inserted and cut to the appropriate length. Connect the previously connected wire to the item being used as a Faraday cage. Be certain that all mating surfaces are void of any type of finish. Auto body sanding paper works well for the task. The gasket can be riveted in place or an electrically conductive adhesive can be used although far more expensive to purchase. Be certain to ground the cage.
Older receiver/transceivers with discrete rather than flat pack electronics (high I.C. chip populations) are good backups and, in the C.B. class, less costly. As a note the newer radios have very static sensitive and EMF sensitive components in them and as such require a higher level of protection. Lowe's, Home Depot and other building supply outlets sell self adhesive copper foil (a type of flashing material) that is wonderful for EMF shielding and it is solderable therefore affording complete protection if need be as long as a ground wire is connected and all seams are sealed (soldered works well). The foil is thick enough to withstand abuse and yet thin enough to be cut with scissors. you or any of your esteemed readers know of any studies examining the results of high power EMF and their effects on solar panels? Being that the inherent design of photovoltaic arrays are such
that the interconnection on and between the individual cells forms a grid whereby the potential exists for a large EMF field to create an extraneous voltage in the panel thereby causing all sorts of damage to anything connected to it/them. I have done some search engine queries and contacted a few manufactures but have not gotten any results to date. - Joe in Tennessee


Michael Z. Williamson's letter brings up some great details. I would add that those interested in bow making should consult "The Traditional Bowyer's Bible" volumes
I-III. However, there is one grievous error: "By the way, the English longbow had better range and penetration than any crossbow."This is utterly false. The military crossbows had
enormously more power *and* range. With draw weights in the 1200+ lbs range, even with a draw length 1/4 to 1/5 that of a long bow (and less efficiency) the crossbow can not only have significantly more power, but easily a 50 to 100 yard range advantage. Source: "The Crossbow" by Sir Payne-Gallwey, who derived his information through actual testing of surviving [pre-1700] crossbows.
Mind you, I consider the long bow to be a better choice, since it is easier to make and can be fired with greater rapidity (in general, 6 to 1 versus a windlass spanned crossbow). But a true military (let
alone rampart or siege) crossbow is significantly more powerful. - GFL

“Whenever good negotiates with evil, evil wins” - Rush Limbaugh (In an opinion piece aired on CBS evening news in its first week anchored by Katie Couric)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course was Jay S., with a bid of $160. Thanks, Jay! The course was kindly donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.

Today we've started a new blog benefit auction. This one is a for a fully tested and recently professionally calibrated U.S. government surplus Civil Defense CD V-717 fallout survey meter with remote sensing capability. The meter was donated by Ready Made Resources (one of our first and most loyal advertisers). These calibrated meters normally retail for $250 to $290 each. The opening bid is just $20. Consider that the factory calibration job alone is a $75 to $100 value. Please submit your bids via e-mail, The auction ends October 15th. BTW, be sure to visit the Ready Made Resources web site and check out their very wide range of products at great prices. They have it all: food storage, photovoltaics, NBC protection, wheat grinders, field telephones, water filters and much, much more.

Dear Jim,
Bows are a great asset to survival, but I'm going to differ from some of the other posters. First of all, compound bows require substantial technology to maintain. While fine, accurate hunting weapons, they are not your first choice for survival.
Laminated recurves are very efficient and very durable, but are fairly tough to make. They're reasonably priced, however, and a good investment for the kit. Bowstrings for this can be made from dacron dental floss or heavy nylon thread, the kind used for sewing leather, which should be in your kit anyway. Instructions are available in numerous books, and it's not that hard to do.
The longbows the English (and Welsh) used to slaughter the French en masse were very simple: a D-section of yew. There was no arrow rest, the nocks (correct spelling for this word, BTW) were just pieces of horn, and many bows did without nocks. Ash is also a good wood, and American hickory is about the best of all. Such bows are scraped, not whittled, and shaved to shape, slightly flat on the outside (belly) and half round on the inside (back). The wood should be well-seasoned and split so the shaping follows the natural grain. Native American and African bows follow this pattern, too, as did the bow the Otsi, the ice mummy dating from 4,500 BC in the Alps carried. You can gain additional advantage with either a heartwood/sapwood split (one being compressible, the other tensile), or by gluing rawhide to the belly.
Medieval arrows were ash, split and scraped round with a spokeshave. Metal points with conical mounts are fairly tough to forge without practice, but tanged arrows are easier. A broadhead is for hunting. For enemies, especially in armor, one uses a "bodkin," which is a 2" long quadrangular point that will (And did, at Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt and other places) punch through 16 gauge steel at 100 yards with a strong enough bow. Stone or bone tips are always an option for unarmored targets, and the tip can be socketed so as to salvage the harder to make nocked section. The nock need only be a saw cut slot reinforced with twine, although quadrangular insets of hardwood or bone for reinforcement are possible. By the way, the English longbow had better range and penetration than any crossbow--the energy is a function of limb length, draw length and draw weight, and the heavier longbow arrow retains velocity better in flight. The modern drive for lighter arrows is a function of technological development. When in doubt, bigger is better (the same reason I prefer .45 to 9mm). There is an invoice from the era showing one family in England produced in excess of 1 MILLION arrows in a year. These are production arrows for volley fire, not fine arrows for hunting.
Fletching is traditionally goose feather, which is plentiful, bound on with thread and hide glue. A jig for 3 or 4 fletches is cheap to buy or easy to make. With four fletches, the nock is angled so as to have the feathers at 45 degrees to the string on either side. This means there is no right or wrong side to the arrow, which slightly increases rate of fire. Three-fletched arrows require the nock be at 90 degrees to ONE feather, so the other two are at an angle to the string to avoid catching. This method means less feather cross-section to slow the arrow. (The AREA of the fletching stabilizes the arrow, but the CROSS SECTION of the leading edges causes drag.)
The forearm holding the bow should be protected by a 4-8 oz leather bracer, which eliminates most string rash and arrow injuries. Also, be sure the elbow is angled properly (joint vertical) to reduce this. This is easier for women, by the way, with their arm geometry.
The average draw weight on bows salvaged from the Mary Rose, a 16th Century English warship that sunk in 1545, averaged 120 lbs. This seems at first glance to be very high, but a healthy adult male can manage 60 lbs without much practice, and a combination of practice and curls or pullups can raise that higher. I regularly shoot 60 lbs, and can manage 100 lbs if I have to.
The key historical aspect of the bow as a weapon is that the rate of fire was superior to any gunpowder weapon until breechloaders came along, but a bowman MUST be healthy. If he's malnourished or doubled over with stomach problems, he can't shoot. A gunner still can. The levies of bowmen during the Hundred Years War numbered in mere dozens per county per year in some cases. Granted, these were exceptional men with heavy bows during an era with little knowledge of sanitation, medicine or nutrition, but gunpowder weapons are logistically superior for an extended engagement.
En masse, a good volley rate of fire for longbows is 12 to 15 rounds per minute. Aimed shots are around 6 to 8. I have seen 14 rounds in 30 seconds at silhouette targets ranging from 20 to 70 yards, with every shot counting. I'd call that the upper limit of reality.
For crossbows, I've seen cheap, functional re-enactor bows made from a commercial Chinese prod (The bow part), which I sell for about $30 in 150 lb draw weight (Shameless plug) slotted into a 2 X 4 cut to take a simple press-type trigger. It's worth having a few spare prods on hand for both commercial crossbows and home made versions.
Advantages of the crossbow are that it can be carried at the ready, can be shot very accurately like a rifle, and can be used prone, when sick or otherwise encumbered.
An excellent historical reference which will lead to other sources is Sir Robert Hardy's "Longbow, A Social And Military History," (ISBN 0-9645741-3-6)
- Michael Z. Williamson

In a previous career I used to do blood work with a microscope. The most common error even among lab tech's with experience is false rouleaux, that is, clumping caused by manhandling the blood, mistaken as true rouleaux. Even squeezing the finger to get a drop of blood can cause this. Putting the slide on the blood too hard can do this. Washing with saline if not perfect in osmolarity will cause other artifacts. While I am in full agreement with the McGyver school of expediency, the previously mentioned idea IMHO, is not something that can be done by the untrained and given the lethality of a mistake, not worth it. At $6 a card for [Eldon] blood type cards, just get the cards. If you have a patient who is low on blood and don't have anti-shock pants and need to buy some time, consider tightly wrapping the limbs with whatever is handy. Towels, blankets, Ace bandages. This will force the remaining blood to the vital organs and brain.- SF in Hawaii

U.S. home foreclosures are surging. The ARM twisting is just beginning.

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Bruce from Best Prices Storable Foods mentioned this chilling article on his web site (originally from WorldNetDaily): Al Qaeda may have preposition several nukes in the United States.

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Pope Benedict XVI came under a hail of criticism from the Islamic world Friday for comments he made earlier in the week regarding the Prophet Mohammed and the Muslim faith, provoking street protests in some cities.

"Expensive is when the product is not worth the money." - Karl Welcher, Leica of Germany

Friday, September 15, 2006

Hello James,
In Sid Near Niagara’s posting he makes many helpful tips about archery. He also touches on the potential to have an arrow embed itself in your supporting arm, but states he has not seen this.
A very avid hunter friend of mine had a carbon fiber arrow that disintegrated into his arm. He spent 6 hrs in the operating room removing all the fiber shards and lost some mobility in his wrist. Fortunately this was not permanent and he has regained most all movement. He strongly regrets not having on an arm guard, and mentioned that he now is more conscious of the safety of his eyes as well.
When checking the integrity of a carbon fiber arrow, do the following:
1). Visually inspect the shaft of each arrow for cracks, splits, nicks, or fibers protruding.
2). Flex arrow between both hands, (envision the St. Louis Arch), and have the center of the arrow at least 3” above the ends of the arrows. If it does not snap, or make noise, it is a good sign of a “safe” arrow.
3). Lightly grasp one end of the arrow and tap against your leg, or a picnic table, etc… to listen for “loose” or odd sounds.
Lastly, as for knocks, keep an identical arrow at home for reference. If you need to re-glue your knocks, it is imperative that you do so at the appropriate location in reference to your fletchings or your shot could go wild.
Please use common sense and do not attempt such safety checks with broad heads or similar sharp points attached to the arrow. Ask your salesman if he has any additional tips for spotting a damaged arrow.
-The Wanderer


Dr. Kurt Richebächer’s “A Tightening Farce” featured in Wednesday’s September 13th, 2006 edition of The Daily Reckoning makes three salient observations about the way asset inflation in the housing market leads to economic dislocation.

Item: “Housing price busts have larger wealth effects on consumption than the
equity price busts [do]…”

Item: “All major banking crises in industrial countries during the postwar period coincided with housing price busts.”

Item: “The disinflation increased the real burden of debt, which exposed inflation-related overinvestment and associated financial frailty."

A stock market crash primarily affects discretionary spending; a housing market crash will leave many homeowners insolvent and create repercussions in the economy as a whole. Homeowner insolvency will cause banks to accrue large foreclosure positions and force them to restate assets and earnings to a new, lower level. This will leave less money for new loans [i.e., “disinflation“ or credit contraction]. This will cause interest rates to spike upward as businesses rush to borrow funds for the completion of projects that looked profitable when the housing boom was in full flower. This frenzy will push out other borrowers, particularly small business owners who may have secured start-up capital by acquiring a second mortgage on their home. Whoops! One more homeowner is now in bankruptcy court…

Is that the sound of “cross-cascading defaults” I hear in the distance? Regards, - Christian W.

Mr. Rawles:

Good day to you and yours. I hope they are all in good health. In regards to your submissions in the 9-14 blog, "The Importance for Blood Typing." A friend wrote is submission in another forum, that I have kept for a while now. This would be a better then nothing option that might actually save a life. But like everything else in life you have to make minimal preparations now for it to work later. If you ever had to use this technique, right then is not the time to have to gather the materials to perform the test and of course, if it is your wife or child that this bleeding, you would not want to be trying this for the first time. If you have an established retreat and personnel, then you should already have basic information about each person, blood type allergies and so on. But as in your excellent book Patriots, there could very well be a need to take on new people into the group (even after "Badtimes" has started) that might not know their blood type so I can see this as a viable (emergency) option. With this system if you had a working knowledge of several people's blood type you could come up with a persons blood type through the process of elimination. I would recommend everyone have basic medical information about each of the family members on some type of laminated card so that they can have it a moments notice in an emergency.

This describes a primitive medical technique: the life saving procedure of cross matching blood. Done under primitive conditions of a long term TEOTWAWKI situation.
1. Take a hypodermic needle from a pressure cooker (expedient autoclave "Not very pretty but it works.")
2. Draw a blood sample and carefully squirted it into a test tube from a child's chemistry set.
3. Place the tube into a sock with a piece of parachute cord was attached and whirl the test tube around and around (expedient centrifuging) continued to swing the test tube until you separated the cells from the fluid.
4. Draw off the fluid and wash the cells with saline working rapidly.
5. Have cells and fluid from the patients who need blood to test against.
6. Put sample of cells into a sample of the patient's serum, and the patient's cells in yours and look in the microscope.
7. The microscope can also come from a child's collection but local high schools science equipment would be better.
8. It may be difficult to work with but you must be careful with the focus.
9. Worked the focus, when the instrument is properly focused, observe the blood cells.
10. Little stacks of adhering saucers are Rouleaux formations which indicate clumping, meaning the blood types are incompatible. No clumping indicates compatibility.
11. Now record the potential donors name and blood type (if known) and who they can or can donate to.
12. You must test and fill out these file cards for every person in your group.
13. Have this information determined well ahead of time.
14. Remember you will have no way to store whole blood, except in the donor.
Condensed from: Lucifer's Hammer
Poor hygiene and disrupted water supplies would lead to an increase in diseases such as typhoid and cholera.
Without vaccines there would be a progressive return in infectious diseases such as polio, tetanus, whooping cough, diphtheria, mumps etc, especially among children. People suffering from chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy would be severely affected with many dying (especially insulin dependent diabetics). With no antibiotics there would be no treatment for bacterial infections, pneumonia and a cut would kill again, contagious diseases (including those sexually transmitted) would make a come back and high mortality rates would be associated with any surgery. There would be no anesthetic agents resulting in a return to tortuous surgical procedures with the patient awake or if they were lucky drunk or stoned. The same would apply to painkillers, a broken leg would be agony and dying of cancer would be distressing for the patient and their family. The pregnancy rate would rise and with it the maternal and neonatal death rates, woman would die during pregnancy and delivery again and premature babies would die. In the absence of proper dental care teeth would rot and painful extractions would have to be performed. What limited medical supplies were available would have to be recycled, resulting in increases risks of hepatitis and HIV infection. Regards to you and yours, - Chuck K.

Rourke suggested that I volunteer to go on the Oprah Winfrey TV talk show, shortly after the new TV series Jericho airs (September 20th), and discuss the show and the preparedness of American families. (I intend to point our relative lack of preparedness, and recommend that folks get squared away.) I'd greatly appreciate it if SurvivalBlog readers would take a couple of minutes to visit the Oprah show producers' topic suggestion web page, and recommend this topic. Thanks!

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Jeremy mentioned this recent anti-survivalist post from one voice in the Peak Oil camp. I think that this gent is unrealistically optimistic. In my opinion it is downright naive to assume that if and when there is a long term grid-down TEOTWAWKI that entire nations will just quietly starve. I expect trouble. Lots of trouble. Be prepared.

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Michael Z. Williamson pointed us to this site that conducted unbiased testing of various pistols and 7.62 Russian and 5.56mm versus kevlar body armor and helmets. Mike says: "They will punch through kevlar and do spectacular damage. I was also very surprised to see the penetration of 7.62x25 pistol ammo."

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U.S. trade deficit hits a new record.

"A shotgun can double as a club,
but a club cannot double as a shotgun. - Mad Dog's first Axiom of Combat Utility

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course ends tomorrow! The current high bid is $155. Please submit your bids via e-mail.

Today we present an article for Round 6 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 $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, 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.

While many people are concerned with food storage options and rightfully so, it would appear that there needs to be more information presented on how to find water in an emergency or after a Schumer Hits The Fan (SHTF) situation. The human body can survive for days or weeks depending on the fat stores and other factors without food intake, but can only survive 3-4 days without water, so finding a source of water is of utmost importance. You should plan on drinking at least two quarts of water a day, more if you are in a hot environment or are sweating profusely. Also, children, nursing mothers or people who are ill will probably need more water. The goal should be to urinate at least one pint of fluid per day to help the body eliminate wastes.
This article is not really directed to the individual that may be at their home or retreat location and have a well, spring or other source of water that just needs to be filtered or disinfected. It is directed to the individual that needs to find water from unconventional sources.
Some of the following items may be used to collect water and should probably be added to your Bug Out Bag (BOB) if they are not already in place. First of all, you should have a container into which the water may be placed. This could be a cup, canteen or improvised container constructed from a piece of plastic or waterproof cloth. Next, a piece of plastic, approximately 12’ X 6’; this could be a piece of clear lightweight plastic, or even a ground cloth, like one would use under a tent. It would be assumed that you would have a piece of string or rope, but a shoelace could be used in a pinch. A piece of absorbent cloth or a towel will be useful. The last item could be considered optional, but given the light weight should really be added. A six-foot piece of tubing, similar to what might find in a fish tank will facilitate collection in many cases and can also be used as a drinking tube.
Let’s discuss various environments that you may find yourself in and the assorted methods that may be employed to help you locate a water source.
If you are in a northern climate at wintertime, snow or ice may be present. It should be considered mandatory to melt it before you try to eat or drink it. Eating snow or ice can lead to a reduced body temperature and possibly additional dehydration. Snow or ice is no purer than the environment that it comes from. If you wouldn’t drink the water, if it were not frozen, without boiling or filtering it, then the same precautions should be followed after melting it.
If you are near a beach, a hole can be dug that is deep enough for water to seep into. If there are sand dunes present, try to dig behind the first set of dunes to get a purer water source. To purify salt or questionable water that has filled your pit, build a fire and get some rocks very hot. Carefully place the hot rocks into the water pit and collect the resulting steam with clean, absorbent material, then wring the material out into your cup or container.
In desert environments the hole may best be located near any green vegetation, under any moist sand, at the foot of cliffs, rock outcroppings or at the concave bank of a dry riverbed.
If there are cacti around, slice off the top of a barrel cactus and squeeze the pulp to get water. Obviously, a machete will make this much easier. Alternatively, the moisture may be sucked out of the pulp in the mouth, but the pulp should not be eaten.
If there are large temperature swings between night and day, condensation may form on metal surfaces. This condensation could be collected with an absorbent material.
In the event of rainfall, obviously as much as possible should be collected. Note that any additional rain may collect in rocky areas, fissures or the crook of a tree. It may be possible to insert a drinking tube directly in a fissure or if the opening is wide enough to lower a cup into it.
In Air Force survival training we were taught to make a hole in the ground, of about three feet in diameter and two feet deep. This should be dug in a place that would receive sunshine for a large part of the day. In the middle of the hole you would dig a deeper depression for the container to collect the water. If the hole was in a naturally moist area no additional water input may be needed, but if it seemed dry, we were told to urinate into the hole (not the cup), or find any other source of liquid or plant material. The sole exception would be radiator coolant. The sun would cause the moisture to evaporate in the sunshine and condense on the plastic that is used to cover the hole. The size of the plastic to cover one hole should be about 6’X 6’ and this size hole should accumulate approximately one quart of water per day. Since we need two quarts as a minimum the 12’ X 6’ piece of plastic mentioned earlier should be enough o cover two holes and thus provide for our needs. A small rock is placed over the container, which also helps to form a cone of approximately 45 degrees. The evaporating water would collect on the plastic and run down to the low point of the cone and drop into the cup. I have since seen this called a belowground still or a solar still. A tube inserted into the cup and brought out under the secured edge of the plastic would allow collection without disturbing the set up and allowing warm moist air to escape.
An aboveground still may also be made out of the plastic by forming a closed container, filled with air and loading it half full of water bearing plant materials. If possible place the bag on a hill or arrange it so that any condensed water would flow down to a collection point. A rock at this collection point would also be a good idea. Water may be drawn from the collection point with a drinking tube or straw that is secured into the bag before it is tied closed so that the bag would not have to be untied. The tube would need to be plugged during operation of the still.
A transpiration still could also be made be tying the plastic to form a bag around the leafy limb of a tree, with a drinking tube inserted. Tie the limb down so that the mouth of the bag is higher than the end of the tree limb. The same limb may be used for 3-5 days. Water will condense in the bag at the low point and may be collected as needed.
It has been reported that of the three types of “stills” previously mentioned, the above ground with the green leafy material will yield the highest amount of water.
Birds tend to flock over sources of water, particularly at dawn and sunset. Bees or ants going into a tree can sometimes indicate a source of water.
Heavy dew can supply water. Tie towels or absorbent material around your ankles and walk though dew-covered areas before sunrise. When the dew saturates the cloth, wring it out. Continue until all the dew is gone or you have a supply of water.
Green bamboo is a great source of water. Water from the bamboo should be clear and odorless. To get the water out, bend the stalk, tie it down and cut off the top. Water will drip out of it at night.
Plant roots may contain water. Dig them up, cut into small pieces and mash the pulp until water runs out. Some fleshy plants or vines may contain moisture. Be sure the plant is not poisonous and cut a notch at the bottom and drain the fluid out. Do not keep plant material longer than 24 hours as it may ferment.
Water disinfection, filtering and purification are topics to be covered in another article and have also been discussed at length on Obviously, the best alternative is to have water previously stored or to have other emergency plans for obtaining water in place.


With regards to the mentioned topic, I am surprised no one has mentioned axes, or better yet, tomahawks. I recently purchased one from American Tomahawk Company. The model I purchased was designed by Ernest Emerson (CQC-T) and is a wonderful tool. I have used it to clear brush, pry boards, dig holes, and have thrown it without damage. Our forces in Iraq and the 'stan are using it today with great success, and even some of our law enforcement officers carry them.
Thousands of Native American Indians couldn't be wrong for using the tomahawk. Early Americans fighting during the Revolution found it to be an effective fighting tool, too. Remember "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson? Looney Mel used one to fight the British during a small skirmish. Several thousand of our troops in Vietnam also found use for the tomahawk, too.
Prices for the American Tomahawk models range from $175 to $350, but there are other models from Cold Steel and elsewhere for a lot less. Just thought I would pass this tidbit on to you and the readers of this blog. Maybe someone with a little more experience using one can share with the rest of us some tips and techniques. Peace to you and your family. - Shooter

Do you know your blood type and rh value? Without it, even 30 ml of the wrong blood and your dead. Even if you know (and especially if you don't) you may want to get a bunch of Eldon cards (the liquid reagent is much cheaper but should be refrigerated). If you're type AB+ (3 out of 100) you've won the lottery, you can get blood from everybody but you can only give to another person with the same blood. If you're type O- (7 out of 100), then you can give to anybody, but you must receive from another O-. This way if you see some healthy looking refugees, and they want to join your group, you can add the value of their blood type to your assessment. The 7% that has type O- blood has added value for your group. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I also stressed the importance of blood typing in my novel "Patriots". Even if you have a blood donor card, military identification card, or dog tags that indicate your blood type, it is a good practice to confirm it for yourself with an Eldon card. It is noteworthy that the blood typing error rate and the clerical transcription error rate are both alarmingly high in these records.

Now this looks at least quasi-practical: The Earthroamer XV Diesel Off-Road RV. (A tip of the hat to David H. for sending us the link.) Readers will note that I do not like the idea of "mobile retreating" as a post-TEOTWAWKI long term survival strategy., but is could practical a s a short term tactic. (See my August 10, 2005 post on "Vehicular Retreating", for details.) With that said, I think that The Earthroamer might make a great Get Out of Dodge vehicle, as well as a great camping vehicle for more peaceful times.

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Vic at Safecastle recently posted a great piece in his own "Refuge" blog. It is titled "Credibility Crucial for Preppers."

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Reader S.F. mentioned this article from Time magazine: Making Ice Without Electricity.


"Very few in history, the ranks of which include George Washington and Ronald Reagan, have held a disdain and suspicion of government, and not changed that viewpoint once they themselves were a part of it." - Rourke

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The first post today is from novelist Michael Z. Williamson. You probably recognize him as a frequent contributor to SurvivalBlog. We greatly value his input to the threads of discussion on the blog. BTW, I recommend both his science fiction novels and his recent trilogy of military sniper novels.

The subject of retreats is a recurring one. I thought I'd mention a friend's that I have access to. It is within six hours of my location by both freeways and major secondary highways under normal conditions. I keep sufficient fuel on hand to reach it if need be. Our evac plan calls for taking both our vehicles (car and a large van) plus trailer, with any guests also convoying. This gives plenty of protection, and the ability to transfer vehicles if necessary due to road conditions or deadlined [non-running] vehicles.
The location is off a well-maintained major road between two modest towns. Entrance is just a gate, like millions of others in the rural midwest, making it accessible and discreet. Beyond the gate, a gravel road goes about a half mile to the location itself, which is typical farmland of more than 100 acres, that also has a large stand of pine populated by deer, and an artificial lake (small stream, dam, concrete basin). Being an artificial lake, the risk of being declared a "Wetland" or similar bureaucratic problem is reduced. Normally, much of the land is leased to a local farmer to offset costs.
The point here is that this location is modestly priced (most middle class families could buy something similar on a second mortgage, or pool with a relative or friend, depending on local real estate costs). It generates enough income that it's not much of a strain to afford to maintain it, and it serves as a vacation home and sabbatical retreat, also. It is not visible from the road except in the dead of winter, when one can just see the top of the decrepit barn.
As you can guess from the location and land, it's well-stocked with bass, deer, rabbits, squirrel, groundhog, ducks, geese, doves and other edibles. It has corn and beans on a regular basis and wild onions, et cetera, all over. There is obviously timber, from scrub to pine and oak.
Facilities include an old barn in poor repair but rebuildable, which is always an emergency firewood source (or source of construction materials), a shed with a variety of hand and smaller towed agricultural tools and a couple of acres of truck garden. The main feature is two corn cribs converted to living space. They are very discreet.
Inside, each one has a wood stove, two sleeping lofts, a kitchen and a composting toilet, with ample storage for food or gear. There is power from the grid to both, and to a sodium [vapor] light outside when desired. Water must be drawn from the lake and filtered, but there is the possibility of proper plumbing (my friend has deliberately avoided plumbing to prevent "friends" thinking of it as a guest house for extensive laziness). One of the cribs has a deck out onto the lake, so fishing, bird hunting and water are easily accessible. The wood stoves are sufficient to keep the buildings well above freezing even in the worst blizzards.
As a security measure, the doors and windows (Two each, covering all four sides of each building) are protected by lockable sliding steel shutters. Both buildings are faced in aluminum siding that looks like typical wood clapboard from a distance. It would be possible to reinforce further with steel sheeting and layers of ballistic material inside. Most of the construction was done by my friend's father on weekends, with contractors for the heavy work.
The combination has low visibility, good resources, comfort and a soothing charm. Nor is it diluted if other people were to make similar arrangements. There are just so many acres and corn cribs across the midwest that it's unlikely that anyone would notice it without a concerted reconnaissance. - Michael Z. Williamson

Just a few notes about my experiences with Hurricane Katrina a year later. On the evening that Katrina passed our retreat, my partner and I began to make our way back to our homes (less than 30 miles) and businesses to secure them – (both firearms related). We chose to take different routes, him on foot, and me in my truck with my dogs & supplies. The routes required pushing and/or cutting trees, poles, fences and all manner of lines and debris from the road ways. The few roads that could be made passable with chain saws and simple tools tended to concentrate people and vehicles. While resting between swinging a chain saw (several folks were taking turns) one of my dogs (the cur) became highly agitated. Knowing her reputation for correctly gauging people I got a good grip on my [Model] 1911. As my truck window was already down (heat and humidity were horrible) I watched a character approach – he was intently looking into each vehicle he passed. Once he reached my truck he approached the driver’s side and wanted to buy gas that I was carrying (having it in the open was a mistake). I explained that it was not for sale – I would need it when I got home. Then he became very belligerent and indicated that he was going to take it to get to New Orleans. It became clear that the situation was critical, some with well practiced motion I introduced him to the 1911, at which point he wisely elected to be somewhere else. I realized that safety was off and I had taken up slack on on the trigger – I had committed to use deadly force in a split second, right or wrong. The event did diffuse the situation immediately and efficiently. It took 12 + hours to traverse less than 30 miles in the truck. My partner made the trip by hiking and catching a ride in less than 4 hours.
Over the period of the next few days the world took on a totally different aspect. We were under martial law – no firearms, ammunition,or alcohol and a sunset to sunrise curfew. As both our businesses were firearms related there was the need for a degree of security around the clock. The local law enforcement was stretched so thin as to be of no response value. As we are just north of the Mississippi/Louisiana border, the community grew from 12,000 to around 51,000 in a few days. Having prepared (largely in part to your novel "Patriots") we were able to meet those whom chose not to observe the curfew, and probe the “edges”, in a decisive manner. Generators helped light one of the businesses, but they are very noisy, so we had to depend on the dogs. In the other we chose to be completely dark, and depend on the dogs for early warning.
We learned that a schedule for sleep, chores, eating, and duty helped offset the elevated “wired” condition. In the planning I chose a home with a “artesian” free flowing well (~ 3-5 psi) , however without power for wells many folks uncapped free flowing wells in the area stopping the flow due to the relieved pressure points. Some municipal water was available on a limited basis. Water quality was a concern. With temperatures in the mid to high nineties and humidity there as well water for animals and electrolytes for people were hugely importantly (those containing sugar were not as effective, and seemed to be harmful).
We came through fine, and the lessons learned have been incorporated. Electricity took 17 days to [be restored to] my home and phone service [restoration] 10 weeks. No local government help was in evidence for five days. Almost all of the supplies and relief in the first few days came through the local churches (they were and still are the most effective distribution system). During events like these dealing with otherwise good people has severely changed our approach to people and denial. Some where near 80% of the people in the area are still not making any preparations against significant events. The mental toll it has taken on the community is still visible today.
Lessons Learned:
1. Carry what you need but keep as much out of sight as possible
2. Expect to have to dissuade those whom feel entitled to your supplies
3. The aspect of deadly force is an effective deterrent – be prepared to use it or abandon your provisions
4. Know and pay attention to your early warning systems – animal or electronic
5. Big dogs, and alert dogs are a great help
6. Practice, shoot, practice, plan, practice
The bottom line is, that in any event, there are unforeseen consequences. The time that you set down with your group and define what, when, and where will be of paramount value. Understand that some of the group may not make it (some of ours was trapped far away) the rest can and will have the resources available, and take up the slack, until such a time that all can join up. I do laugh easier, shoot more and plan more effectively now. Remember: technology may help but your brain will save your life! - DGS

The Memsahib mentioned something interesting that she stumbled across when reading some ancient history: The ancient Schythians, when traveling, would kill wild cattle for food, or slaughter one of their own cattle herd. They would strip the carcass, use the rib cage as impromptu firepit grill and the stomach stuffed full of beef as a cooking container.

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SurvivalBlog reader Rob a.k.a. ("Salsafix") is the editor of the excellent Surviving the Crash blog. He recently penned a list pairing great depression era quotes with modern day bubble quotes. (See his September 12 posts.) He quipped "I'm not sure whether the coincidences are funny or scary. But, I thought you would enjoy the link..."

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Today (September 13th) is the last day for Safecastle's big sale on Mountain House freeze dried foods. Take advantage of the special group purchase prices on the three-case package (the larger packages are still priced as indicated.)

"There exists a law, not written down anywhere, but inborn in our hearts; a law which comes to us not by training or custom or reading; a law which has come to us not from theory but from practice, not by instruction but by natural intuition. I refer to the law which lays it down that, if our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right." - Marcus Tulius Cicero (106-53 BC)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Some corrections and additional points regarding swords, crossbows, leaf springs, etc.
1) The Japanese do not have a monopoly on “cutting” swords; most European swords before c. 1500 (and even after this point) were quite capable of serous shearing blows. See Ewert Oakeshott's "Sword in the Age of Chivalry" and "Records of the Medieval Sword" for more details.
2) An “epee” or “foil” is utterly useless as a weapon, being for sporting use only. The rapier (which is what the epee/foil is based loosely on) is somewhat useful,
but is a somewhat degenerate sword style, introduced after swords were becoming secondary weapons on the
3) “Great Swords” are not all that heavy – 3 to 5 lbs is typical.
4) For quality modern reproduction swords, go to Arms and Armor or Albion Armorers. These tend to be high-end, but are made not only of top notch material, but are exact reproductions that have all of the fighting capability of the original Mediaeval arms that saw real combat, including proper balance, weight
distribution, etc. Other quality manufacturers include Cold Steel (as mentioned), Del Tin, and Lutel in the Czech Republic. Moral: you get what you pay for.
5) The above being said, some lower end reproductions from China and India are of adequate quality, especially Hanwei Forge and Windlass Steelcrafts. I avoid the Hanwei simply because it is out of China.
Neither is perfect, but they will be adequate.
6) This poster, alas, knows little about European swordsmanship. Go to Chivalry Bookshelf for solid information on this subject. Also, check their links section for sites that perform training, etc. in true European martial arts.
7) I suspect a European sword can be drawn as quickly as a katana…
8) Bows are simpler to make than crossbows. Unless your foes are running around in chainmail or heavier armor, there is little need for the penetration power
of the crossbow. Don't forget you need to make arrows/bolts for these weapons! This is a separate skill.
9) Blackpowder is a sustainable resource, so there is considerable payoff in researching pre-smokeless powder weapons… I was working on an article for
SurvivalBlog, and still am, but have found that it is going to take awhile to write it to do it justice.
10) While one technically can use a leaf spring for a crossbow prod, it is a much more difficult proposition than most realize. Simply attaching a spring to the end of a block of wood will not do it. It requires
fairly precise design and especially heat treating to pull off. For additional problems vis-a-vis leaf springs see below. For those still interested in crossbows, consult New World Arbalest and UC Crossbows
11) Swords are not all that easy to make, either. Well, at least to make correctly… Spend some time exploring the FAQs and articles on Arms & Armor or Albion, along with SwordForum or to learn some of the pitfalls. I have forged a couple of Celtic sword blades (one from a leaf spring and the other from a bar of 5160 spring steel) and it is tough
work. But it can be done.
12) While mail is easy enough to make by using simple butted rings, it is difficult to make correctly (i.e. with overlapped and riveted rings alternating with solid rings that are either punched from sheet, or
overlapped and forge welded) so that it really works.
13) Swordsmithing and armoring are quite fun, I highly recommend getting into it, if you have interest. But don’t neglect gunsmithing…
14) Finally, while leafsprings are good steel, there are a couple of pitfalls. First, they often have some degree of fatigue induced microfracturing, which can naturally cause problems, and second tend to "remember" their curvature, making simply flattening them out and reshaping them problematic at best. For this reason I usually relegate scrap leaf springs to shorter swords or knives, since these problems are less apparent on shorter lengths. Note that the above problems can be mitigated or eliminated, but you really have to know what you are doing. Too long to
explain here, I’m afraid.
P.S. Do not neglect simpler melee weapons, such as spears, axes, maces, etc. Spears, in particular, were really the dominant battlefield weapon, and maintained more importance than the sword, even into modern times (think:: bayonet on end of rifle) - GFL

Here is my analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of Bonner and Boundary counties in north Idaho:
1. Very large tracts of undeveloped land under the stewardship of the Idaho Department of Lands and the US Forest Circus with considerable amounts of game and fish.
2. A variety of microclimates can be found here. Parts of Bonners Ferry can get half the snowfall of the Sandpoint area. Normally, the weather is more moderate proximate to Lake Pend Oreille but heavier snowfall occurs next to Lake Cocolalla and Priest Lake.
3. Our growing season is approximately 110 days.
4. Mountainous terrain with heavy forestation is historically optimal guerilla country.
5. Contiguous to a porous international border.
6. No building departments in either Bonner or Boundary County (for now).
7. There is a curious self-selection of emigrants to North Idaho who have a self-reliant attitude and a vigorous skepticism toward any level of government. The Palouse attitude is diluted due to the transient population of students and the tendency of universities to produce enclaves of state-worship.
8. Huge amounts of water both above ground and resident in giant aquifers.
9. Temperature in the teens and below are virtually unheard of yet even summer nights tend to be in the 40s and 50s.
10. Crime is extremely low.
11. One single major arterial (Highway 95) and minor arterial (Highway 41) run north-south.
12. Very small comprehensive law enforcement presence.
13. It is possible to travel just north of Priest River and have access to over 40 miles of travel north to the Canadian border over state and federal land without touching or traveling on any private land (trespass).
14. Heating fuels are practically unlimited.
15. Access to Montana for tax free goods.
16. Vibrant horse culture for emerging transportation needs.
17. Major source of hay for the region, critical for horses and cattle.

1. Huge influx of People's Republic of Kalifornia (PRK) refugees (55% of all new Bonner County vehicle registrations) is causing a shift in the local polity to dampen skepticism of government.
2. Winters are presently following no pattern but snowfall is inevitable. Snowpack concentration tends to be Schweitzer mountain and points west
3. High housing and land prices (Bonner County has the second highest values in Idaho out of 44 counties). The immediate Sandpoint/Schweitzer axis is especially spendy. Although since the housing and lender bubble has burst, prices are careening downward at a wicked pace.
4. Tendency for overcast days November through February for solar energy usage.
5. US Border Patrol jurisdiction is 60 miles south of any border.
6. Transcontinental railroad systems throughout Bonner and Boundary with approximately 60 trains per day.
7. The Rocky Mountain states tend to have the highest fuel prices.
8. Proximity to Fairchild Air Force Base.
9. Economy dependent on tourism and approximately one of every three jobs is government employment.
10. Proximity to large populations centers in Coeur d' Alene and Spokane.


The following quote is in honor of the anniversary of the battle at Fort McHenry, on September 12, 1814. Please direct your attention, in particular, to the third and fourth stanzas, which are usually omitted in modern performances. (My apologies to our British cousins who might take offense at the third stanza.) :

Oh! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
Oh! say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep.
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner. Oh! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footstep's pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven - rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,
And this be our motto --"In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

- The National Anthem of the United States, lyrics by Francis Scott Key, 1814

Monday, September 11, 2006

Today we remember the fifth anniversary of the 9/11/01 radical Islamic terrorist attacks in the eastern United States. We still live in a very dangerous world. It is rational to still be fearful. Be prepared.

As I remember my personal 9-11-01 experience, I am reminded that it is smart to always be prepared for the unexpected. Many of us have some kind of story regarding that day in September of 2001. I was out bow hunting about 200 miles from home. One of the hunting party had a radio and heard the news. When we got back to camp from the morning hunt, that person excitedly proclaimed, “There have been several plane attacks on the world trade centers and the Pentagon!” We determined that a new type of war had begun.
We did not know what the extent of the attacks would be that day and it was still early on the western side of the county. We had planned to head for home that day after the morning hunt since at least one of us had to work the next day. We did not know what we would possibly encounter on the way home. I took a quick inventory of the equipment and supplies we had with us: food enough for 3 days at normal meal levels, water for 2-3 days if conserved, cook stove fuel for a week or more. We all had backpacks, and binoculars, and between us we had two rifles, three handguns, and several hundred rounds of ammunition four FRS radios, and one CB radio, pocket and field knives, mechanics tools, flashlights and spare batteries, fire starting supplies, and normal outdoor-survival equipment. We had camping gear for all, a good first aid kit and each of us had a bow and a dozen or more arrows. We also had camouflage clothing, rain gear, and extra under-clothes for several days.
We hurriedly packed up camp and made ready to travel. By noon or so we left camp. The roads were busy, and the talk radio stations were filled with chatter about the events. When we got to the first town we stopped to top off our fuel tanks and they had a TV going which we just happened to catch scenes of one of the tower imploding down. The scene was quite chilling. We drove the 200 plus miles and we encountered no problems on the road. It was interesting when we pulled into town - the local National Guard station had all its Humvees and trucks surrounding the Guard property.
In this case we had a significant amount of gear and equipment with us. There did exist some overlap between our hunting gear and the survival gear we normally carry with us in our vehicles. We were much better prepared than the average traveler for the day. As it turned out the attacks were limited to the East Coast so we did not need our gear that day but we sure felt good about having it with us.
Things we did not have with us that would have been desirable if terrorists had hit the west coast would have been a scanner, some extra cash for travel expenses if delayed getting home, body armor, web gear, night vision, more food and water, and spare fuel for the vehicles. If there was an attack on the west coast and we had become involved in a long and serious firefight by crazed terrorists then we may have needed more ammunition to make it back home as well.
As news and events remind you of 9-11, check and inventory your emergency gear and make it ready to go. Keep your G.O.O.D. bags and survival equipment with you at all times – especially when you are traveling far from home. Expect the un-expected in this day and time.
“A prudent man forseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Proverbs 22:3, and 27:12.


Mr. Rawles:
I've been following the articles you post about the impending housing bubble burst, and I happened to see this article about Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS) that backs up some info you had posted not too long ago. One interesting statistic I saw on page 4: "More than a fifth of option ARM loans in 2004 and 2005 are upside down -- meaning borrowers' homes are worth less than their debt. If home prices fall 10%, that number would double." So 40+% of mortgages would be upside down, in an only 10% depressed market? Not looking good.

I rent an apartment in Reno, Nevada, and would love nothing more then to buy a house, but only read with the disgust the "houses for sale" classified ads. People think they are sitting on gold mines, but I think reality is about to come crashing down.- Jason in Reno


Arrows are basically fragile. The aluminum XX75s are pretty durable, for what they are, but they still bend. The 'game-getters are even softer, and bend easier. There are ways of straightening them, but is is pretty hard to get perfect. I like to say, "something can be bent 1000 ways, but there is only one straight"
Graphite arrows are more durable, and skinnier, thereby giving better penetration.
The big arrow companies are working hard at making better arrows, but of course, the latest is always the most expensive.
Wood is out, for shooting from a compound bow. If they get cracked, and this does happen sometimes, and you shoot it out of a compound bow, the fierce thrust on it can cause it to break, and drive the rear half of the shaft into the arm holding the bow.
(Honestly, I have always heard this, but never seen it)
The American Indians used some kind of grass stalks for arrows. I considered trying cattail stalks, after I found that out. They might be okay, till they dried out so much that they got brittle. The only reason the Indians got away with this, was because they were shooting relatively low poundage bows.
Broadheads are another whole study. There are mechanical broadheads that the blades are supposed to pivot upon hitting something, and then cutting whatever. For the most part, they can be pretty un-reliable, and fragile. There are at least dozens of different broadheads out there. For hunting, it must be shaving sharp, or you are doing a great disservice to the game animal. There are broadheads that have replaceable razor inserts, but the edge is pretty fragile. The ones that have permanent blades take some skill to sharpen, as anything. Some folks just don't seem to be able to learn how to sharpen things. All these broadheads are sold by weight, in grains, like bullets. You can't very well shoot a mixed bunch and plan on hitting anything consistently. Then, with the more hi-tech arrows, you can unscrew the broadheads and replace them with the same weight field points, or practice points. This saves the broadheads for serious stuff, but you should make sure the selected broadhead will fly for you. Sometimes, you will find they might 'plane' on you, and not go where you want them to. I like the two-blade type for ease of sharpening, but those are the ones that might tend to plane, too. I still think they are the most efficient, like the old Bear broadhead. Fred Bear killed an awful lot of critters with a recurve and that style broadhead, but then again, what else did he do? He spent decades doing little else.
You would not believe the accessories available to the archery industry! It used to be pretty basic, a big stick with a string, a little stick with a point and a couple feathers, and you could hurt something. Now, with all the tech. stuff, you can easily spend more on a bow than a good rifle. Then, the more complicated things get, the easier it is to mess it up. Sure, with sights, a peep sight, a mechanical release, properly tuned bow/arrow combination, and a fixed distance, it don't take a tremendous amount of experience to be able to shoot pretty well, given enough money.
The re-curve and longbows are much more reliable. You must still match the arrows to the draw weight of the bow, (spine of the arrow) but it takes a considerable amount of practice to get competent.
Archery is a discipline. A new shooter should go to someone who knows how, before they teach themselves bad habits, and then have to 'unlearn' them later, if ever. If you can practice enough, you 'become the arrow' as one of the greats once said. I am embarrassed to admit I can't remember which of them said that. It might have been Howard Hill. He was a phenomenal shot. He wouldn't shoot a recurve, he said he wasn't "good enough". He shot the longbow. I believe, if one is serious on learning archery, stay away from all the paraphernalia!! You get to depending on it.
Then, when the need to shoot something, you just do it, without worrying about the mechanical release, sight, peep sight, which pin should I use,,, makes me want to just get the shotgun!
Then, when it is all said and done, you have to think as the arrows as expendable.
Sure, while you are practicing, you will re-use them many times, but there is always an attrition rate. You break knocks, (easily replaced with glue, if you have spares),
you mess up fletching, be they real turkey feathers, (which are most forgiving) as they clear the rest, the part of the bow that the arrow 'rests' on, or plastic vanes, which are great in the rain, but can kick the arrow out away from the bow, if the rest is not designed for them. The rest can be a very fragile part of the whole thing too. There are dozens of rests to choose from. That is another reason to keep it simple. Hi tech is okay, but it only takes one piece to malfunction, and you are out of business. A friend of mine missed a deer on opening day because he left his mechanical release on the seat od his truck, while getting all the other 'stuff' together.
With a compound bow, you just about have to use a mechanical release, if you are only holding back 15 or 20 lbs. draw weight. It is awful hard to (near impossible) get the arrow into flight the same way every time without 'plucking the string' and sending it off on a tangent. I have heard of using a 'bowlock', I believe it is called, as a release, but that is just another piece of equipment you have to depend on.
I just take an old leather boot and cut out a finger tab to draw the bow. Then, when you are ready, let you fingers on the drawing hand relax just a little, and the arrow is on it's way. You can't hold it back as long with a recurve of longbow, for sure, but you seldom have to. Just a steady fluid motion. Once you get the drawing hand back to your 'anchor point', let er go! I use my index fingertip to the corner of my mouth as an anchor point. I have seen those who try to use the thumb of the drawing hand, but you can rotate the thumb around too much, and there you have a bad habit in the making.
Most 'traditional' shooters use the index finger to the corner of the mouth, it is easiest, and most natural and consistent. It does tend to pluck a few whiskers out of the mustache sometimes though.
Well, I didn't intend on writing a whole textbook on archery, but I have been shooting bows for at least as many years as anything. I hope you can glean some good out of it. There is still more, bow fishing, for one, and wing shooting, which I have never done, but have seen it done. I almost got a pheasant with a bow once!
Thanks for the blog. It is almost as much required reading for me as The Word. - Sid, near Niagara Falls

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here." - Patrick Henry 1765

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In a multigenerational TEOTWAWKI, consider having a good set of swords (and crossbows). Unlike ammo which may only last 50 years, a good sword will last hundreds. You can choose a Japanese style cutting sword, an epee or foil style piercing sword or a hacking style great sword. All other swords are some variation and combination of these types. A great sword for hacking will take the most abuse but be the heaviest. You should have great arm strength for this. A European style fencing stabbing sword requires speed over strength. If you are a wiry and fast but not overly strong person, this is for you. It is also easy to carry but will not end a fight immediately. The recipient will die from a puncture but it may take at least 60 seconds before he runs out of steam even with a heart shot. A Japanese sword has the advantage of being the fastest to draw and you can take off a mans head before he can get his gun pointed at you or cut off the hand holding a weapon.(Think of the Japanese sword as the quick draw style of gun fighting.) The edge however will not take a lot of abuse. Short swords as in the Barong in the Filipino tradition are another option. It has the hacking/cutting style but in a lighter smaller sword, better for carry and smaller framed people.

In the event of a MGTEOTWAWKI (multi generational), we must concede the possibility of running out of functional ammo, either because it's all used up or it just gets too old to work. While some of us with access to caves full of guano and a volcanic source of sulfur can recreate black powder, for the rest of us it's the time warp.
The most feared weapon pre-1247, (the first recorded use of gunpowder at the the siege of Seville) was a crossbow. Capable of going through plate armor at considerable distances, accurate and easy to learn, this was the 'equalizer' from 400 BCE (first representation of a crossbow in China) until the common use of gunpowder
The crossbow was outlawed by both Pope Innocent II in 1139 and the Magna Carta. Consider them the assault weapons of their age. It seems the authorities are always looking for ways to prevent the common man from defending him (or her) self.
A strong piece of wood, a truck leaf spring, an anvil, hammer, tongs, forge, some wood working and metal working tools and you should be able to make one yourself.
For hand to hand combat, it's the sword. Swords too were outlawed for farmers (Japan) and peasants (Europe). In Medieval England a peasant caught with a sword would be stung up on a gibbet and left for the crows. Only members of the ruling class could have weapons...
Easier to make than crossbow, requiring only a forge, leaf spring anvil and hammer. I'll be trying my hand at both within the year.
If you're looking for a MGTEOTWAWKI career, perhaps you could be the local armorer/weaponsmith. Armorer...hmm. Some wire bent into circles could make some nice chain mail, but that's for another posting... - SF in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I agree that the Japanese katana is a great design. Either buy a quality antique sword or buy a replica from Cold Steel. Don't bother with a Chinese replica. Most of those are garbage, strictly made for looks--not strength or for holding and edge. I have a friend in Finland that owns a wakazashi length Japanese sword (circa 1650, but in modern mountings) that is wickedly sharp. I found it for him at a gun show here in the States. He keeps that sword at home for counter-burglar duty. He also has the kendo training to go with it, so burglars beware!

For hunting, crossbows have some utility, but for combat, recurves or compounds rule. It is true that someone can be taught to accurately shoot a crossbow in less time than they can be taught to shoot a long bow, recurve, or compound (which can take years of practice). However, crossbows have a grossly inferior rate of fire. (It was the fast training time that made crossbows popular for arming peasant levies in Europe in the late Middle Ages. They made up for the slower rate of fire by simply massing crossbowmen.) Granted, a compound, recurve or long bow is not as powerful as a crossbow, but they can be fired four to six times for each shot that is loosed by a crossbow. Also, not nearly as well known is the fact that modern crossbows eat their strings, through friction. The widely touted Barnett brand, for example, is known to require string replacement as frequently as every 200 shots. (Some other brands of crossbows, such as the Benedict, are easier on their strings, but are still relatively high maintenance.)

Perhaps some of our readers that are ardent archers would like to add their two cents worth. Specifically, I'd appreciate your recommendations on specific brands of recurve or compound bows, as well as durable arrows and "pointers" (pardon the pun) on arrowhead selection. Keep in mind that the most efficient points for killing deer are not necessarily the best for penetrating armor.

OBTW, my friend in Idaho, Joey Vaughan, commercially manufactures bow strings. If you want to stock up on a quantity of top quality spare strings for your bow, he would appreciate your business. Contact: Clearwater Archery Supplies, P.O. Box 1074, Orofino, Idaho 83544 phone: (208) 476-4342. Be sure to have the exact model specifications of your bow handy before you call.

One side note: An interesting piece of FFTAGFFR on "post" firearms era weaponry is the science fiction novel Dies The Fire, by S.M. Stirling.The author did some great research for the book. It gives a glimpse into what life might be like in an age after firearms are viable. If you can get past the implausible premise of the book (an overnight change in the laws of chemistry which renders gunpowder non-explosive) and get past the pagan/wiccan philosophy that the book espouses, then I consider it a good read. Coincidentally, Dies The Fire is one of the favorite novels of The Werewolf--our SurvivalBlog correspondent in Brazil. Coincidentally, one thing that Stirling mentions in Dies The Fire is that motor vehicle leaf springs can also be re-arched to make crossbow limbs. If flattened they can be made into swords. There will be countless springs left around un-used in TEOTWAWKI. Perhaps we ought to discuss what else can be re-used from cars under such "worst case" circumstances. Batteries, alternators, and 12 VDC light bulbs also come immediately to mind. Speaking of car batteries, given proper safety precautions, they are also a ready source for lead for casting bullets. For proper bullet hardening, wheel weights can be mixed. in.


You might perhaps solicit some information from other readers relating to inexpensive CB rigs that could be carried in a car emergency kit? Kind Regards, - James C.

JWR Replies: My general advice is that I'd rather spend $100 on a used (but guaranteed) SSB rig than I would a brand new-in-the-box rig that doesn't have SSB capability. Your thoughts, folks?

"Nature appears fragile but as a whole it is robust and has historically survived the eons; whereas civilization may appear strong but is actually fragile and has historically not survived any great length of time." - Rourke

Saturday, September 9, 2006


Peter Hardt tis correct about hand sanitation. To which I would add that auto-inoculation (putting your fingers in your nose, eyes or ears) is now scientifically proven to be the #1 way you get a cold. See the work of Kenneth Seaton. It is basically impossible to clean the underside of our fingernails and this is the most infectious part of our body. Learn not to pick your nose or use your fingernails to rub out sleepyheads. Use a napkin or your shirt. If not, at least use your knuckles...
When in public and concerned about infection, carry your own pen for writing checks and use a credit card over cash.
For public restrooms, don't be there long when you flush (with your foot, not your hand) as it will make the germs go airborne.
When using toilet paper, discard the first few rotations so airborne bugs that get on the outer part of the roll won't get on your rectum (a mucus membrane). Before using, put some TP down to reduce splash back. Don't sit on the toilet if possible but squat over it so only your feet touch the seat. When opening and closing stalls, doors, and using faucets, use a napkin.
Try sanitizing your toothbrush now and again with H2O2 and replace every few months.
Also, if someone doesn't look well, don't shake they're hands. If they are offended, tough. If your hygiene program is working well, you will see your albumin (a blood test value) go up to 4.6 or better. If your albumin is 4.0 or lower and you practice good hygiene, you are likely to either have a chronic infection of the beginnings of cancer. - SF in Hawaii


The hygiene article Peter Hardt was excellent. Are you sure he's not one of the writers for he TV show " Monk"? I, personally could relate to about 80% of what he suggests, the other 20% was a great learning experience. The only thing I might add. is to avoid touching things like shopping cart handles, store door handles, places where many have been there before you. And, never accept that pen your smiling waitress or store clerk is offering you to sign your name, use your own.- C.B.

Mr. Rawles,
I know this is not really any kind of revelation, but it seems worth saying again. If you can't live at your retreat, have a loaded bug out trailer or pre-position a substantial amount of provisions at your retreat. Thus, you put yourself in a far superior position. My family decided to take a spur-of-the-moment camping trip last weekend. The whole time I was getting ready, I was thinking "What if this were a bug out situation?". Although I have most of the equipment conveniently situated in my basement, it took me almost 3 hours to load the gear we eventually decided to take. We took too much for the length of the trip and forgot a few things. Admittedly I was waiting for my wife to make some decisions about what she wanted to take, but it's easy to think there would be confusion that would use up that much time in a real emergency. My plan for most emergencies is to hunker down at home, and if I had to evacuate quickly, I would grab a few essentials and go. My big concern is being able to get everyone home after an emergency. But having a bug out trailer pre-packed or living at your retreat is optimum. - C.G. in NC

Dear Jim:
I moved recently, and the parallels to bugging out were pretty obvious - a lot of stuff to move in a fairly high stress situation. Fortunately the deadline was not nearly as severe as bugging out, but even so, I got a good reminder on several lessons that are so easy to let slide.
1) If your stuff is organized it's a lot faster and easier. If it's a jumble, it's time consuming nightmare. It took very little time when my stuff was well-packed and labeled, but it seemed to take forever when I had to organize and move at the same time. Keep it all organized in plastic tubs (not cardboard boxes that fold in the rain) and clearly labeled to avoid confusion. Don't raid your BOB for one item, and leave it unpacked, etc., etc.
2) Don't move too much stuff! The preparedness mindset can also be a pack rat mentality, and we definitely had too much stuff to move. Twice as much stuff takes twice as long to load and tires you out twice as much. It reminded me of the folks in your novel "Patriots" who tried to pack too much, too late, and only Got Out Of Dodge on foot, and under fire. Pre-positioning is a lot easier than moving under stress.
3) If your equipment is well-maintained you might be okay. If not, Murphy's Law will bite with a vengeance. I took my truck to the shop in the last week before, and, of course it took longer than expected, wasn't done right the first time, and then they couldn't get the right part, etc., etc. Keep all your vehicles and tools ahead of the curve on maintenance. If we do have a TEOTWAWKI situation, you will have a cushion while your vehicles and equipment still works while you adapt to the new situation.
4) If your fitness is not up, you will suffer. I'm in pretty good shape, running 20+ miles per week, but moving several tons of stuff, and all the stress of moving, still wiped me out by the end of the day. If you aren't on a physical fitness program, it will be a short, sharp shock to find out how badly our sedentary lives prepare us for hard physical work. Even just walking briskly for a half hour a day is a good start.
5) Keep ALL of your body maintained - moving, or bugging out, is not the time for an illness, a toothache, or a backache. Don't let yourself get in a sleep deficit, eat your veggies, see the dentist every six months, and get proactive on any physical weaknesses. Keep your body ahead of the curve on maintenance.
I have had some minor back problems in the past, so I got on my back maintenance exercises and pulled through with only minor soreness.
These two books are absolutely excellent to get fast results correcting the root causes - and avoid wasting time and money with doctors that only treat symptoms:
Treat Your Own Back
The Back Power Program

My bet is a lot of older folks who try to bug out will also put their back out, and really be in serious trouble.
6) Get strong mentally. Expect screw-ups and prepare mentally to deal with them. About half of the various services and contractors we arranged with, showed up late and/or didn't do everything they were supposed to do.
So don't plan or relying on anyone but yourself to get it done right, and make a conscious choice that you will face the inevitable stresses with a can-do attitude - even better, with good humor. Monitor your own behavior and discipline yourself to make the right choices. This is something we can all practice every day.
7) Build slack time into the plan. Between too much stuff, and truck repair problems, and contractor screw ups, my original idea of how long it "should" take was a fantasy. Think how long it "should" take, double it for a more realistic estimate, and then plan around a worst case of doubling the time again.8) Practice by taking a camping or backpacking trip. You'll find out your strength and weaknesses, and get a chance to correct before you have to do it for real.Hope it helps, - OSOM

The online magazine Slate recently featured a piece on surviving a terrorist nuclear attack.

   o o o

The price of oil has sagged, (down to $66 per barrel!), dragging gold and silver down a bit. So this dip might be a great time to buy metals if you have been dragging your feet. I'm still predicting substantially higher silver and gold prices before December.

   o o o

We've been driving a lot of back roads in recent days, looking for property on behalf of a consulting client. Yesterday, we drove past a ranch that had set up a huge (life size) bull elk statue on a ridge line, about 250 yards from the nearby county road. They must get some good laughs hearing the out of state hunters banging away at it on opening morning of deer and elk season.

"There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke - 1790 - from Reflections on the Revolution in France

Friday, September 8, 2006

The high bid for The SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is now at $150. Please submit your bids via e-mail,

A reminder that we are seeking entries for Round 6 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 $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, 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 on practical "how to" skills for survival (rather than motivational pieces) will have an advantage in the judging.

I've been trying to figure out whether we're going to go hyper-inflationary or depressionary when the ESHTF (Economic Schumer Hits the Fan). We've all been watching the .5 to 1 trillion in ARMs that are going to reset in 2007. Will this be what topples our economy? My money says yes.
Here's the housing bubble as I currently understand it.
1) 20% (more in California) of mortgages are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs)
2) 50% of people lie on the mortgages applications overstating their income
3) Many brokers lie to the borrowers about how fast the payment will go up and to what extent
4) Interest rate only ARM mortgages were originally reserved for highly paid individuals who could afford the payment penalties
5) Banks can show future profits as current profits, but if the loans aren't repaid, these paper profits will disappear and they will go negative in a hurry (read the Enron school of accounting)
6) These iffy debts have been bought up by hedge funds
7) $500 Billion to $ 1 trillion in ARMs come up for reset to higher (2x?) mortgage rates next year. If it collapses the market, and given the slump now, imagine what the reset will do, then it will spill over into the banks and the hedge funds.
8) New mortgages make borrowers responsible to make up the difference between mortgage and foreclosure cost
9) New bankruptcy laws make it harder to walk from the debt
10) The IRS considers the difference between foreclosure and mortgage as profit to be taxed
11) Many people bought houses with the only intention of flipping them, the sign of a bubble
12) Personal savings as a percentage of disposable income went from went from -0.7% in June to -0.9% in July, so when these mortgage rates on the ARMs reset, there is very little wiggle room...If we go inflationary, we want to be in silver and gold and as deep in debt for tangibles as possible so the inflation makes the debt meaningless. If we go deflationary, we want cash on hand to buy at the bottom. Real estate is my choice.

So, which way? Inflationary or deflationary? If we go into a deflation/depression what stops the government from just printing up huge amounts of money? Isn't that what got us out of the the depression last time? In this way we would go from a depression to hyper-inflation. Since hyper-inflation only lasts 3 or 4 years as opposed to depressions which last ~10, wouldn't this be a better option? The only reason the government would not want to do this is because it would essentially transfer the debt bubble loss from the debtors (the have not's) to the lenders (the haves). A person with money in the bank and who was holding the debts of others would suffer under inflation as the money in the bank and the debts were inflated to worthlessness. Those with tangible assets (a house) and huge debt but no cash would have nothing in the bank to be devalued, and their debts would disappear and their houses and farms would be theirs again as inflation made their debt meaningless. Perhaps what was engineered in the great depression was keeping the money at low levels ([deflationary]depression) just long enough for everyone to be forced into foreclosure, then print up more money and bring us out again. I think that the 'haves' won't let hyper-inflation happen as it will wipe out their assets. They will demand a depression for the correction (transfer of wealth). So, my bet is for depression over inflation. Another dark side of this is that much of the 'haves' are now foreign interests. Thus, we could end up with China, a country holding enormous amounts of our debt and cash, owning most of our country in terms of real estate and stocks. - SF in Hawaii

Dear James,
I concur with The Wanderer’s assessment of the MS-13 gang. That gang is very active in the Houston area where I currently reside. A young teenage girl recently stabbed and killed an MS-13 member in a city park (perhaps in self defense). Her lawyer had her kept in jail because they thought jail was safer for her than being free and in the public, especially since the media had to plaster images of her face everywhere. I’ve bypassed some otherwise nice real estate in the past because of MS-13 activity in near areas. I view those in gangs as members of an evil covenant.

I initially planned a retreat land purchase in a Texas county where the first Texas based ancestor of mine had settled. He was given the land for his participation in the Battle of San Jacinto. Being a bit sentimental (or semi-mental?), I’d hoped to buy some of his land “back” as the nearby communities are very small.

I read "Patriots" for the first time in March 2006 and truly appreciate the insight on the different scenarios. The biker gang scenario reminded me of the proximity (50 miles or so) of my ancestor’s land to one of Texas most known prisons in Huntsville and thus have dropped my “repossess the land” aspirations. Here’s a link to a map I found of Texas Department of Corrections facilities. I suppose other state governments may have similar maps.

I’m one who had been better prepared in the past (kept all the firearms and ammo), but let the cares of this life distract me. Now I am getting my preparations back up to the level they need to be at. Escaping Houston is a priority. I remained in Houston during the “less touted than Katrina” Hurricane Rita bug-out that clogged Texas highways and depleted local fuel stations of fuel. I had fuel, food and weapons. I kind of felt like “The Omega Man” in a surreal, empty city (as empty as I’d ever seen it), but after reading "Patriots" I saw several holes in my “lifeboat”. I’m working on patching them.

I’m currently looking for a new place to live anyway, so the novel, the recently discovered blog and the excellent, recently received Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course all seem, to a degree, to be divinely timed in my life. A distant, but like-minded, relative has even invited me to visit her in Idaho. Who knows what will come of it if I visit?

I plan to be a participant in the Ten Cent Challenge soon.

I’m eagerly looking forward to getting a copy of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. Any updates on the publication date? [JWR Adds: I'm still planning on sometime in October.]

Nice to see a Texas based food storage (Best Prices Storable Foods) company advertising. Their FAQ page is excellent. I hope to make the RWVA shoot in Mingus, Texas in October. - M. Artixerxes


I am a security guard by profession and I would like to add something about MS-13. I live in Virginia were this gang is prevalent, I see them every day.
A little research and you will find The Wanderer very wrong. While they do use the machete for "hits", to say that they do not use guns just shows he has very limited knowledge about the gang.

MS-13 emerged in the 1980s during El Salvador's violent civil war and is estimated as of 2005 to have 50,000 members in Central America and 30,000 members in the United States.
The founding members were all soldiers that made it a rule that all members receive military training. There have been MS-13 members caught at our borders trying to sneak in grenades and other weapons. The gangs have moved from beyond their Salvadoran, Mexican and Los Angeles origins and can be found in Belize, West Honduras , Guatemala , Canada , Mexico , and over 30 U.S. states , largely in Washington, DC in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, Carrollton, Texas and Long Island, New York . Some have even been founded in Spain, Italy, and Belgium .

One of the ways in which the MS-13 has grown and spread has been through United States deportation policy. The United States has a law allowing for the deportation of non-citizens convicted of felonies to their country of origin. Salvadoran members of MS-13 were and are deported to El Salvador, where they recruit more members. Because of the meager wages provided by prisons, many jail guards in El Salvador are easily corrupted through bribes, or are forcefully coerced to release the recently deported MS-13 members. - Dan N.

I was told that Ready Made Resources (one of our most loyal advertisers) has just received a large shipment of U.S. Army surplus battle dressings. These are typical Carlisle type dressings, but in the latest mil spec packaging. (Very tough and waterproof.) The size is 8" x 7-1/2" They are marked "Dressing, First Aid, Field, Camouflage" and were manufactured by Ellwyn, Inc. ("Red color indicates back of dressing, put other side next to wound....") NSN 6510-00-201-7430. They will have about 500 available and will be selling them for just $2.50 each. Buy a bunch!

   o o o

Rourke flagged this piece from MSN Money: U.S. Housing Boom is Now a Bust. Rourke notes: "Well, if you use 'gangbuster' 2004 and 2005 as base years, it’s going to look bad, yes. In 61 of 275 cities prices go down – gee that’s not as bad as I thought, honestly. I think we’ve forgotten what a real bust actually is. In an election year though, you can count on the media to trump this up."

   o o o

Experts say that New Yorkers need to be ready to evacuate.


"It's going to get worse before it gets lots worse." - Lily Tomlin

Thursday, September 7, 2006

The bidding is now up to $135 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The course was kindly donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on September 15th.

The following article was written by the winner of Round 5 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. It is a fine article that deserves special recognition. But unfortunately since Peter just recently won the writing contest, he isn't eligible to win again for 10 more months. :-( So to reward him, I just sent him a complimentary box of assorted books from my mail order catalog.

It’s a new world: West Nile virus, Cryptosporidium, Anthrax, Norwalk virus, Cholera (in the Gulf States, from shellfish!), Avian Flu, Ebola, Malaria (yes, in the US!), Hepatitis C, HIV / AIDS, genetically-engineered bacteria, and the ominous and very real threat of biological warfare. Thanks to the speed of international travel, persons who would have never made it very far from the point they were infected can now circle the globe in the time it takes to develop symptoms.
Someone you bump into at the mall could have contracted an exotic disease in Africa last week. The person who used the restroom before you could have just come from South America and is only now coming down with cholera. The person you shake hands with could have just shook hands with someone carrying Hepatitis A.
The odds of your becoming infected with a truly dangerous disease are small, but real. (No one even wants to catch a Type A flu!) You could go around in a biohazard suit all day, but of course you’d be treated like some kind of freak. There is good news, though: effective personal hygiene practices don’t have to be "weird" or attention-getting!
There are simple steps that with practice can become second-nature habits, and simple things you can buy, which will significantly reduce your potential for catching any contagious disease. These steps will help with everything from colds and flu to bio-weapon attacks or genetic-engineering accidents.

Do the basics:
Eat right, exercise, get a good night’s sleep. A healthy body is far more resistant to bacteria and viruses.
If there’s an outbreak of the flu, cold, or worse going on in your community, minimize going out in public as much as possible until things get better. If it’s something truly nasty, stay home and eat from your pantry a week until things improve. (Stored food and water are recommended by the Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security.)
Keep in mind that staying well isn’t so much a matter of avoiding germs entirely, as it is minimizing your exposure. It generally takes a certain number of bacteria or viruses to overcome your body’s natural defenses and make you ill. So you get exposed to some germs – it’s not a big deal as long as the number is relatively small because your body will be able to protect you.

Buy the basics:
1. Waterless hand sanitizer lotions are available in the grocery store (Purell is probably best). Buy a little bottle for your pocket or purse. You an refill it from a larger size bottle. Lotions can get into the tiny cracks and crevices in your hand better than towelettes. (Use a generous amount and wash your hands with hot water and antimicrobial soap at your first opportunity.)
2. Buy a couple boxes of pop-up antiseptic / antimicrobial towelettes that contain bleach to keep at home and at work. They make cleanup quicker and less smelly than sprays (and you won’t accidentally get the chemicals on things you don’t want sprayed, like your clothes).
3. Get a box of nonsterile vinyl gloves from your pharmacy or store. They’re inexpensive and also good for painting, cleaning up dog or cat accidents, scrubbing the kitchen or bathroom with harsh chemicals, etc. For your purposes they don’t have to fit snugly like surgical gloves, and vinyl doesn’t have the allergen complications of latex (rubber) gloves. Nitrile gloves are more expensive, but are harder to puncture. Carry a pair of gloves with you, if possible, for those times when you’re giving first aid or you have to handle something that may have been contaminated with germs, chemicals, or even just dirt and grease. They do get old and crack eventually, so you might want to change them every 6 months or so.
4. Buy a box of folding protective masks, 3M model #9211 (about $10). They’re not as efficient as “N100” dust/filter masks, but because they’re foldable you can keep one with you most times. Keep one for each member of your family in your purse, glove box, or briefcase. (NOTE: If you’re wondering, dry masks filter particles better than wet masks.) Your mask should be rated "N95" or better - most “surgical masks” are actually very poor filters and don’t form a good seal to your face. Know how and when to use your mask.
5. A little bottle of nasal saline spray, or Xlear spray (even better), can be used any time you’ve been in close quarters with someone who’s sick. The xylitol in Xlear greatly reduces the number of bacteria or viruses that attach to the inside of your nose and sinus cavities.
6. Get facial tissue pocket-packs to carry in your pocket, purse, or briefcase. They’re better than handkerchiefs, which can continue to re-expose you to the very same bacteria or viruses you just got rid of.

Hand hygiene:
1. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth unless (1) you’ve just washed or sanitized them, or (2) you’re using a facial tissue. Since people often rub their eyes or touch their face unconsciously. Not doing so is probably the hardest new habit to learn. Fewer organisms are floating in the air than have settled out on surfaces (or other person’s hands) that you’ve touched. Not touching your face is the #1 best way of reducing the number of bacteria and viruses that get access to your body. Work on it!
2. Make a habit of washing your hands frequently (for those times when you do accidentally touch your face). Wash every time you use the restroom, before every time you snack, before every meal, and at bedtime.
3. When you wash your hands, remember this: it’s at least as important to dry your hands thoroughly as to wash them thoroughly. Washing rarely kills every germ on your hands, but if your hands are damp, it’s far easier for the few germs on your hands to be transferred to another surface or person than if your hands were completely dry.
4. Glove up any time you’re around bodily fluids, such as at an accident scene, or helping someone who’s become sick. If there’s not time, wash up and sanitize your hands immediately afterwards. The likelihood of infection in this manner is small, but it has happened. Any object or clothing that comes into contact with bodily fluids is contaminated too and needs to be disposed of or disinfected (clothing or bedding can be washed - use a little bleach).
5. On a somewhat related note, encourage children to blow their noses, rather than sniffing when they have a runny nose. Better to expel the stuff rather than inhaling bacteria and viruses still deeper into the nasal passages.
At school, work, or shopping:
1. It may not be practical at work, but try to wash your face at least a couple of times during the day. A washcloth makes this much easier to do – you can wash, and rinse with the same cloth. Put it in a Ziploc for the trip home each day.
2. Don’t hold pencils, pens, or tools in your mouth. Buy a belt holder / holster for frequently-used items if your shirt or uniform doesn’t have a pocket.
3. If you share a keyboard or area at work with someone who’s been sick, wipe your computer keyboard, phone, and entire area down with an antiseptic towelette each day.
4. If a house- or office-guest or customer was coughing or sick, after they leave, wipe down all of the hard surfaces they may have come in contact with: doorknobs (inside & outside), tables & counters, etc. Using one of the commercially available pop-up towelettes that contain bleach will make this more convenient!
5. Spray your nose a couple of times during the day during cold and flu season to wash away germs that may have floated in.

We don’t like to talk about them, but potty functions are one of the greatest opportunities to accidentally transfer germs to surfaces and from there to your eyes, nose, and mouth. Ignorance is not bliss! These steps below will take you only another 30 seconds. A little attention and some simple new habits will go a long way toward protecting you from getting sick:
1. Before doing anything in a public restroom examine the toilet seat that you are contemplating having intimate contact with. If its wet or flecked with stuff, switch stalls.
2. Then, look at the floor around the toilet and run your foot over the tiling. Also look at the back of the toilet seat where it attaches to the wall or tank. If the floor or toilet seat are wet they may have just been cleaned, or the toilet’s recently overflowed, or someone’s got bad aim. In any case, you don’t want cleaning chemicals or toilet overflow on your clothes (and from there to your body and eventually your hands!) – just switch stalls!
3. Flush once before sitting down (if you flush after sitting down you just misted your south end with microscopic bits of stuff left in the water). If there are skid marks or other remnants from previous users, flush and keep flushing until the bowl appears clean, or switch stalls. Even if there is any invisible residue from the previous user still in the water, “pre-flushing” will help remove or dilute it further. (This will also show you if the toilet has been plugged up by the last user and is going to overflow after you use it, in which case, switch stalls!)
4. Take a wad of toilet paper off the roll (check to be sure its not wet – some places leave spare toilet paper (TP) rolls on the floor…), and wipe the toilet seat off. This is also a good check that there is TP in the stall and that you won’t end up being stranded. Buttock skin in its intact state is generally impervious to germs (but not cleaning chemicals). But even if your skin is pristine, the previous user’s may not have been, hence the need for cleaning and a barrier (below).
5. Then put the TP wipe into the water and even add a little more so that you create a “splash-down damper” to minimize splash-back during your use, which at least in theory could infect you through your rectal mucosa. Just think about it for a moment.
6. Toilet seat covers are your extra bit of insurance from coming into contact with something unpleasant on the seat. You can buy seat covers at the grocery store in little plastic carriers for your purse or briefcase (“Charmin To Go” is one example), or take one or two the next time you’re in a public restroom, fold them up, and put them in a little Ziploc Snack-size bag. If the stall doesn’t have seat covers, you can drape TP around on the seat (seat covers are probably faster, but TP is softer…) Some people even carry their own toilet paper (again, you can buy it in little plastic carriers) in case every stall in the restroom they pick is out. (And in case you didn’t know, the toilet seat cover should be flushed.)
7. You’ve checked the seat and floor, wiped the seat, improvised your splash-down damper, and deployed your seat cover in 30 seconds or less. Now, as you sit down, keep one final thing in mind: do not allow any portion of your tender regions to touch the toilet seat, or toilet rim, or its all for naught. This can be an extra challenge for men for reasons that should be apparent. Neither the seat nor rim is sterile, and it may be very unpleasant or impossible to adequately clean yourself once you make accidental contact. ‘Nuff said…
8. Step away from the toilet and dress yourself again when you’re through, check to make sure none of your pocket stuff – guys in particular – has fallen into the toilet (I say this from experience…), and only then flush the toilet. The splashing action and force of many modern toilets creates a fine mist that can contain bits of toilet content and drift around in the air. Exit the stall as the toilet is flushing. No loitering…
9. After you’ve washed your hands with hot water and soap, you should also try to turn the faucet off without touching it with your hands, since the knob(s) could be contaminated. Some faucet designs make this easy with paddle-shaped handles. Newer public faucets are electronic and have no knobs at all. (Imagine your hands with paint on them. If you touched the faucet handles to wash the paint off, how will you turn the faucet off without getting the “paint” back on you again?)
10. After using a public restroom be aware that others have probably left the room without washing their hands, and the doorknob to exit is probably contaminated with their germs. After you’ve washed your hands and thoroughly dried them, keep the paper towels you used and use them to open the door (if it pulls toward you). If there are no towels use a facial tissue, piece of toilet paper, or the sleeve of your coat to grasp the handle, or use the knob but give yourself a generous dab of hand sanitizer (Purell is great) after you exit to sanitize your hands. Throw the paper towel away after you exit the restroom.
11. And while we’re on the subject: clean your home bathroom before guests arrive (so it looks nice!), but also remember to clean your bathroom after they leave (so your guests haven’t inadvertently left you a bio-present).

Minimize eating out. Teenagers and convicts are frequently the food preparers, and neither have very much concern for the basics of food safety. We have often been shocked to see just who was cooking our meals. Not to mention your food and its packaging goes through many more hands than meals prepared at home. Sit-down restaurants are probably better than fast food places, and they may actually serve food fit to eat (less fat, in particular). Observe the employees in restaurants you routinely visit. If they appear unhealthy, find a different place to eat.
Public salad bars, cold food counters, buffets, cold salads, peeled fruit and cream dishes are easily contaminated (by accident or on purpose). Try to avoid these wherever possible. Your food should be steaming hot when it is served to you, to guarantee its at least been heated recently. Undercooked seafood in particular can harbor an amazing variety of diseases (ironically, frying adequately sterilizes most everything). Avoid condiments that are served from dishes that could be coughed on or otherwise contaminated. Avoid dishes which are dipped into with crackers or chips or bread by several different people.
Drink pure water. If possible, don’t drink water from the city water supply (chlorinated water still has dead bacteria in it, may still have active viruses and parasites, and the chlorine really isn’t good for you). If you’re not on your own well, use distilled or reverse osmosis water to drink and cook with. Home water purifiers vary greatly in cost and effectiveness - get the best filter or system you can afford. City water supplies are vulnerable to terrorist attack as well as accidental contamination. Try to avoid drinking out of drinking fountains, if possible (my own son caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in this way, so I know it can happen). Keeping yourself hydrated helps your body be healthy and fight infections.
Flying (also applies to riding the bus or riding the train or subway):
NOTE: People who have flown within the past week get colds at four times the average rate, so a little extra attention to hygiene is worth avoiding a week or more of misery!
1. Leave rested and well fed.
2. Bring your own (little) pillow if it’s going to be a long flight or trip.
3. Spray your nose frequently during and after your trip.
4. Keep your hands away from your face.
5. Keep your hands washed or sanitized.
6. Drink plenty of (bottled) water.
7. Avoid alcohol on your trip - it dries out your body quicker.
8. If you’re seated near someone who’s obviously ill, ask a flight attendant for a different seat if possible. If you’re on a bus or train, move somewhere else. If you can’t move, and the person sounds sick enough, break out your folding dust mask.

Using a Dust Mask:
You usually only want to wear a mask under three conditions. One, if there is a particularly bad flu or cold going around, and your immune system is already run down from another illness, medication, or surgery. Or if you’re “trapped” sitting near someone who’s obviously very sick, but you can’t get away because you’re in an airplane, bus, train, or subway. Or finally, if you suspect there has been some kind of biowarfare release in your area, or refugees are arriving in town from a city that’s been attacked.
Things to remember when using a protective mask:
1. Getting a good seal around the mask against your face is critical. If air is able to leak around the mask and into your mouth and nose it is not being filtered. Follow the directions that come with the mask closely.
2. Once you arrive at a safe destination – an evacuation point or your own home – keep your mask on while you change clothes outside. Bag up your contaminated clothes until you can find out if it was a real biological or chemical attack. If no one else is at home to help, just do your best to contaminate as few areas as possible while doing this.
3. Treat the outside of your mask as contaminated. If there really were harmful biological organisms in the air that it filtered out, they’re now stuck to the outside of the mask. Take it off carefully, outdoors, so as not to disturb the germs on its surface, then dispose of it in a sealed bag.
4. Then thoroughly wash and disinfect your hands and face (use Purell, but don’t get it in your eyes; even just soap and water is good), then take a shower. If you have some zinc-base eye drops use them to try to flush and disinfect your eyes (bacteria and viruses getting into your lungs are a much greater threat than eyes).

When using a locker room, pool, or public shower try to keep your wet feet from touching clothing that will eventually touch your body. This can be pretty tricky (bathing suits, underwear, pants, etc.), but you really don’t want to apply what’s on the floor to your body. And don’t put your clothes on the floor for the same reason. Every time I’ve gotten “athlete’s foot” its been from showering at the gym or pool, so you know there are germs there!
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t share makeup, chap-stick, lipstick, powder brushes, etc. that have been used by others because of the possibility that they may contaminate you. The risk is low, but there is some risk. Use a little common sense.

In an actual biological warfare attack:
If there is a known biowarfare release in your area and you use your car to drive home, your car may become contaminated inside (from you) and outside, and you may be taking deadly biological agents with you to contaminate your home. Also, studies have shown that nearby buildings are a much better shelter from biological or chemical weapons than cars are.
If the government is pretty sure there has been a biological attack, go to the decontamination areas specified by the government over the radio or television. If you’ve gotten a good dose of germs you’re going to need professional medical help to decontaminate yourself and to survive the exposure. Quick use of your protective mask will reduce your exposure. The key phrase is “minimize your exposure.”
If you’re concerned about biological warfare, get more information from the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control, the RAND Corporation, or the American Red Cross. Paranoia doesn’t help, but reasonable preparation makes a lot of sense.

Print out, laminate, and refer to the following summary. Some habits are hard to break and will need constant work:


Hand hygiene:
Keep your hands away from your face
Wash and thoroughly dry your hands frequently
Wear gloves if you know something is contaminated

At school, work, or shopping:
Wash your face a couple of times during the day [washcloth]
Don’t put stuff in your mouth.
After a potentially sick persons leaves, wipe down all of the hard surfaces
Spray your nose often

Check the toilet seat
Check around and behind the toilet
Wipe the seat
Make your splash-down damper
Use a toilet seat cover
Don’t touch the toilet seat or toilet rim
Step away from the toilet and dress. Exit the stall as the toilet is flushing.
Wash with soap and hot water – don’t touch the faucet handles afterwards
Don’t touch the restroom door handle – use a paper towel or something

Minimize eating out.
Avoid salad bars, cold food counters, and buffets
Drink lots of pure water.

Public Transit: (in addition to the above)
Leave rested and well fed.
Bring your own pillow
Avoid alcohol on your trip - it dries out your body quicker.
If you’re seated near someone who’s obviously ill, just move

While on the road yesterday we were traveling though horse country. Every little herd seemed to have at lest one Paint or Appaloosa. I think that what we were witnessing was the collective maneuvering of umpteen rancher's daughters. Obviously they all convinced daddy of their fond desires.

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Today we are looking ar some real estate on behalf of a consulting client. The criteria list is extensive. In this case we are looking for a remote property that is well off any expected refugee lines of drift. The property must be at least five acres and it have a large creek or river running through it, and have adjoining Forest Service or BLM land on at least three sides. The budget for an unimproved parcel (no house yet built) is $100,000, or with an existing house, $275,000. That may sound impossible, but at least the client is willing to look at off-grid parcels. With that option, we might be able to find him something in his price range.

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Reader J K mentioned: I don't recall seeing mention of Gorilla Tape on this site and if that's so, you need to check it out. It looks just like black duct tape but it is *much* better, so much so that I would be tempted to put it on the very top of my "must have for survival" list! You might check with your big box stores to see if they'd sell you a case of it at a discount. I would suggest you take each roll that you're going to store and seal it in a vacuum sealer bag (I'm fairly sure that a low oxygen environment will increase the lifetime of the adhesive, as it will with duct tape.). In my many years of looking into such things, I've never run across another product with the "fix-it" potential of this stuff and I say that as someone who has no financial interest in the company.


“I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." -Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Do you have a favorite quote? Please e-mail it to us and we will likely include it as a SurvivalBlog Quote of the Day. Thanks!

Of all of the aspects of preparing a survival retreat, perhaps the most overlooked in survivalist literature are privacy and operational security (OPSEC). Your preparations must be kept secret from all but your most trusted friends. All of your expensive logistics could disappear in a few hours soon after TEOTWAWKI. Your "hidey hole" could be stripped clean by looters or overzealous government agents wielding "emergency powers." You must absolutely resist the urge to mention your preparations to anyone who does not have a need to know about them. I am not suggesting that you lie to anyone. That would be a sin. But learn to keep your mouth shut, and learn how to redirect conversations. Doing so is simply wise and prudent.

What is legal today may be deemed illegal tomorrow under martial law or at the whim of some bureaucrat that is handed "emergency powers." Witness the mass confiscations of privately owned firearms following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With the help of the liberal media the concepts of saving and storing may be demonized and redefined as "hoarding" immediately after disaster strikes.

Let's also get our terminology straight: If you have been saving during times of plenty you are not a hoarder. A hoarder is someone that removes an disproportionately large chunk of logistics after shortages have occurred. By saving and storing now, well in advance of a crisis, you represent one less person that will rush to the grocery store after disaster strikes. So you won't be part of the problem. Rather, you'll be part of the solution, especially if you dispense your excess supplies as charity.

For a good example of common sense privacy in action, take the time to read the Profile of Mr. and Mrs. Bravo.

If you have a been vocal about the erosion of our Constitutional liberties, then you may be on some list. Ditto for letters to the editor, letters to you congresscritters, or just a subscription to a gun or hunting magazine. There has been a lot of talk the patriot community about the alleged Red and Blue round-up lists. These may or may not exist. (I tend to think that they are mythical.) Should they actually exist, you may or may not be on them. But as Mark Koernke put it so succinctly: "There is only one list. We're all on the list. Some of us are just higher up the list than others!"

If you have reason to believe that your anonymity has already been compromised, then consider that a.) You cant get anonymity back unless you change your name and completely drop out of sight (impractical for most), and B.) You will have to take some countermeasures.

Perhaps the best countermeasure is to make a clean start the next time that you move. (Presumably to your retreat location.) Do not send forward ing cards for any magazine subscription that are that are even marginally controversial. Consider buying your next home in the name of a land trust or in someone else's name. (Perhaps a sister or some aunt or uncle with a different surname and with a low profile.) See Boston T. Party's book Bulletproof Privacy for further details on making a clean break.

Make all cash (no paper trail) acquisitions of guns, bulk ammo, and bulk logistics. Never use a credit card for such purposes. Unless you already have a very high profile, resist the urge to buy your ammo, reference books and assorted gear via mail order. The only exception would be if you use an assumed name and a drop box.

It is essential to impress upon your family the importance of keeping quiet about your preparations. In one of his his books, Dr. Bruce Clayton tells the tragicomic story of when he moved to a small town in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, where he planned to construct a fallout shelter in his basement. His recently retired mother moved there with him. While Clayton was occupied ferrying supplies to his new haven, his mother was busy chatting with all of their new neighbors about Clayton's survival plans and logistics--in detail!

If you have a high political profile, it might be wise to purchase your retreat and/or rent storage space in someone else's name. For example a sister or brother-in law with a different surname could be the owner of record. Another option is establishing a land trust, and having the trust make the purchase. Your attorney could be the trustee of a trust that owns the land. Yet another option is to set up a Nevada or Delaware corporation and having the corporation make the land purchase.

In essence, keeping a low profile involves common sense and knowing when to keep your mouth shut.

Mr. Rawles:
I found reading your Retreat Owner Profiles fascinating. One item I noticed was that even those with incomes significantly less than mine, sometimes by a factor of 30 to 1, had much more ballistic wampum. How many rounds do you recommend for survival but not trade?[

[JWR Adds: I slightly fictionalized the following, for purposes of illustration]: My circumstances are as follows: I live on the Big Island of Hawaii, in the Mountain View farming district of North Puna, plenty of rainfall (with catchment), lots of fruit trees, fairly high elevation (only minor need of house heating). I have a house on a pair of two acre lots that are held fee simple, no debt, and some neighbors that I can trust. Most of my neighbors are on larger acreages. I have the following guns, all registered: AR-15, SIG P226 (9mm), Winchester Marine 12 gauge riotgun, Ruger Stainless 10/.22, Winchester Model 1892 .44-40 carbine (pre-1899 antique), S&W .44-40 DA top break (pre-1899 antique), S&W Model 66 .357 revolver, Ruger Old Army Stainless steel .44 (black powder revolver). Thanks! - Dr. MacNut

JWR Replies: Hawaii has a fairly high population density by mainland standards, but at least you live on the island with the lowest pop density. You are also at moderate risk of government confiscation of your guns, ammo, and magazines.) In your situation I would recommend stocking the following as minimum quantities for self defense and hunting:
4,000 rounds for your primary rifle (Recommend that you upgrade to .308)
3,000 for .22s
1,000 for shotgun (20% Buckshot, 5% slugs, and 75% in bird shot)
3,000 for your SIG P226 (or more, as you add guns to your battery)
500 rounds per secondary or non-standard caliber gun (such as your .357. .44-40s, and .25-20)
Lead, powder, and percussion caps for 500 rounds for the .44 Old Army. You should also buy a couple of spare cylinders that you can keep loaded, or better yet get a Kirst .45 Long Colt conversion kit.

I recommend that you add a .308 battle rifle to your battery, preferably a FN-FAL, L1A1, or AR-10. If you eventually decide to purchase some ammo for barter, the sky is the limit for quantity, particularly on Hawaii. Why? Because of the damp climate and high shipping costs, the majority of Hawaiian gun owners keep only a small stock of ammunition. WTSHTF if you have extra ammo available for barter, you will sitting pretty. Buy plenty of the most popular deer hunting caliber on the Big Island (I presume .30-30?), plus lots of. 22 LR, 12 gauge, 9mm, .40 S&W. .38, .357, and .45 ACP.Keep it all in sealed containers (such as military surplus ammo cans) with silica gel desiccant in each container

Get plenty of spare magazines for your guns. Calculate: 12 magazines per pistol and 10 magazines per rifle. Then, since you are at high risk of eventual magazine confiscation (they have already banned 11+ round pistol and SMG magazines in Hawaii), double that figure. Then grease up half of them with R.I.G. or cosmolene and cache them.

Aside for a small reserve left out for target practice or impromptu self defense, I recommend that you keep your ammo equally divided between three separate locations: A.) underground caches in plastic tubes, B.) in house (wall, lanai, and/or crawlspace) caches, and C.) in garage (wall) caches. This will minimize risk of burglary or confiscation. If any of your structure presently has any bare studs, you can seal (without a vacuum) the ammo (with a Tilia Food Saver or similar machine), with an enclosed small packet of silica gel. Then stack the ammo packages between studs, and put up 3/4" plywood with power screws. Only a very determined burglar would be able to find that.

Reader M.M. mentioned this scary news article from England: Six Years of Below Average Harvests, Globally. He commented: "Harvests are less than the population eats for the sixth straight year and the warehoused surplus is almost gone. Famine or serious and aggressive agriculture are the two potential outcomes. If it goes like it has for the oil, the free food is over and the price of food will be bid up until demand is destroyed, such as a poor country doesn't get its shipments. And that is that for them..." Meanwhile, reader Ben L. sent this corroborating piece from Ben says: "Let me say that info on that sites scares the h**l out of me! "... 15.7 pounds of reserved foodstuffs in the food-chain for every man, woman, and child in the United States"? Not per day, but total weight?
Forget the MBR, folks; time to start stocking-up on foodstuffs." To this, I add my advice: stock up on storage food for your family, plus plenty of extra for barter and charity, muy pronto. Please patronize our advertisers first.

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I just heard that there is a RWVA rifle shoot scheduled for September 910, in Stuart, Virginia. If you live anywhere near Virginia, be there! The RWVA offers great practical marksmanship training for a nominal fee.

“Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean That They're Not Out To Get You " - Sign posted in the orderly room of the 519th ASA Company

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Today we are pleased to welcome our latest advertiser, Best Prices Storable Foods. They are located in Texas, but ship throughout the United States. They sell long term storage dehydrated foods, canned soft butter, canned soft cheese, canned meats, grain mills, water filters, diatomaceous earth, and much more. Please check out their products at their web site. As with all of our other advertisers, when contacting them please mention that you saw their ad at SurvivalBlog

Mr. Rawles:
You were quoted as stating: "I'm often asked why I make such a 'big deal' about choosing conservative Christians, Messianic Jews, or Orthodox Jews for neighbors. The plain truth is that in a societal collapse there will be a veritable vacuum of law enforcement. In such times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God fearing that will continue to be law abiding. Choose your neighborhood wisely." Perhaps you might clarify for your non-believing readers what side you would place them on come TEOTWAWKI. For the sake of full disclosure? It seems to me that in an overwhelmingly religious nation such as this, it's statistically the believers one should perhaps be concerned about. Let's not confuse those suffering from "bad theology" with those lacking a theology. Otherwise an excellent site. Kind Regards, - James C.

JWR Replies: First, I don't consider the U.S. an "overwhelmingly religious nation." Perhaps it was in the 1950s. But not today. Less than 20% of Americans now attend church regularly. In the main, people that believe that they will be judged for their actions in the hereafter will be the people that you can trust more to remain law abiding, post-TEOTWAWKI. I don't doubt that there are some non-religious people that have strong morals and reliable compunctions against engaging in theft and violence. In fact, I know lots of them. (Including my father in law, BTW.) All that I assert is that folks like you (presumably very moral, upstanding, and law abiding, but not religious--or perhaps subscribing to a non Judeo-Christian religion) are in the minority in our secular society as a whole. I assert that there is just a thin veneer of civilization, even in First World countries. Most people have weak morals and no compunctions about taking what they want if they think that nobody is looking. You ask "on what side" will I place them? As for folks that aren't faithfully and outwardly religious (meaning: in a faith that includes a fear of God and the judgment to come) then I would have to know them for a substantially longer period of time to discern their moral values and trustworthiness.

As for theology, yes, I am a purist. I feel strongly convicted to speak up about bad doctrine (2 John 10). Why must I be so forthright and absolutist? Because I believe that bad doctrine is leading millions of people down the wrong path. Nothing can shake me from the conviction that men are saved only by faith in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9) and that faith in Christ is a pre-ordained gift. (Ephesians 1:4-5, 1 Peter 1:2, and John 1:12-13) Further, I believe that God's elect come from all nations and races. (Matthew 28:19.) And, to reiterate a theme that I've stressed in previous posts, I fully intend to dispense charity post-TEOTWAWKI to everyone in need, regardless of their religion. I consider that my Christian duty.

Jim -
I have a a few questions for your readers regarding satellite radio (subscription-based services such as Sirius) if you would be kind enough to consider a posting.

But first, many thanks to E.H. and Sun Dog for their replies in regard to Faraday cages, their use, and construction. I think it particularly handy knowing that a microwave oven could make a pretty good Faraday cage, and now that I think about it, this makes perfect sense. For those of you that have built, or are in the process of building (or are considering building) hardened shelters, if you intend to include a microwave oven for cooking, so much the better. They way I look at it, anything that can serve two (or more) functions is great - especially where space is at a premium. I like microwave ovens for cooking as they are efficient enough to run off even a small solar system. For those of you just looking for a way to protect your valuable equipment from EMP, you might want to pick up an old non-functional unit from friend or as a "trash treasure" - after all, they need not be operable to work as a Faraday cage.

I have another question that I would like that I would like to throw out, this time regarding satellite radio. Is there an advantage to having satellite radio reception in a shelter environment? My thoughts are that even in a worst case scenario of protracted nuclear exchange, there will be radio and television stations that survive. But this does one little good if you are not in range, which in the case of AM, FM, or TV, is for all practical purposes, line of sight. On the other hand, a station broadcasting to a satellite. even from a remote (and therefore safe) location, could have the ability to reach out to vast areas. Does anyone know 1) the postulated result of nuclear war on the ability of satellites to function? 2) Is there a plan for the government to take over these airways (Satellite FM) in the case of an international incident to broadcast official reports? 3) Is there any obvious advantage of satellite radio over short wave, which will also be functional after such an exchange, albeit perhaps broadcasting from other areas of the world. Thanks, - REM

JWR Replies: Your suggestion about finding non-functional microwave ovens is a great idea. You just earned yourself a BFO ("Blinding flash of the obvious") award. (A free autographed copy of my novel "Patriots".) If you buy an oven that is a confirmed "DOA" be sure to snip off the power cord. That way there is no confusing it with a working oven, and you will also remove a potential "unintentional antenna" for EMP. If you live in a damp climate, seal up the interior (cooking compartment) vent holes with duct tape and throw in a large bag of silica gel desiccant with the radios. Rotate that once every couple of months, replacing it with a bag that has recently been dried out.

As for satellite radio: You've brought up a subject that is foreign to me, since I don;'t own one. However, I do know that XM is already set up for emergency broadcasting. It will soon be part of the U.S. Emergency Alert System (EAS)--the technological grandchild of the old U.S. CONELRAD system (circa 1953 to 1963). According to the latest Wikipedia entry: "Digital television, digital cable, XM Satellite Radio, Sirius Satellite Radio, Grendade, Worldspace, IBOC, DAB and digital radio broadcasters will be required to participate in EAS beginning December 31, 2006. DIRECTV, Dish Network, and Digital Broadcast Satellite will be required to participate beginning May 31, 2007. Video Dial Tone (OVS) will be required to participate beginning July 1, 2007."

Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers would like to chime in on the implications of these new broadcast technologies becoming part of the EAS.

The bidding is now up to $125 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The course was kindly donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on September 15th.

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An international climate panel revises global warming forecast: climate change now thought to be less severe.

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Reader S.F. in Hawaii e-mailed us: "The other day I received some bank notes (Marks) that I had ordered from a collector. These were from the Weimar Republic dating 1917 to 1923. I got them in the following denominations: 5 Marks, 10,000 Marks, 500,000 Marks, 1,000,000 Marks, 1,000,000,000 Marks, and 5,000,000,000 Marks. What I found interesting was that the 5 Mark note was a high quality paper, beautifully engraved with printing on both sides. Once they went to the million note and above, the note felt more like office paper, the engraving disappeared and it was only printed on one side. It looked and felt more like a grocery story coupon than a bank note. Just a thought: When your country's currency starts to look like a raffle ticket at a local fundraiser, it's time to divest."

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We were saddened to hear that Steve Irwin a.k.a."The Crocodile Hunter" was killed in a freak scuba diving diving accident. He was stung in the chest by a stingray. Steve will be missed. He really knew his way around the bush. Some of the risks that he took--especially with snakes and crocs---were downright foolhardy. But he did a lot to educate folks about wildlife (herpetology, in particular), conservation, and well-prepared outback trekking. It is ironic that he bought the farm doing something so mundane as just swimming near a stingray. Please keep his wife Terri and their children Bindi and Bob in your prayers.

"Crikey, mate. You're far safer dealing with crocodiles and western diamondback rattlesnakes than the executives and the producers and all those sharks in the big MGM building." - The Late Steve Irwin

Monday, September 4, 2006

Hello Mr. Rawles :
I must say I love your blog and writings as they provide an invaluable service for like minded folks on preparedness!This email is in regards to the absence of dry corn or any corn other than popping corn in your excellent "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, I am wondering if corn is a viable storage food and if not, why? would it be because of short storage life or unsuitable packing methods to retain nutritive value? Or any other reason that I can't imagine? While looking at the Provident Living site of the LDS they mention dry corn as a storage item but it is not mentioned even in passing in your "Rawles Gets You Ready" course is there some pertinent reason for this omission? Also when I received your course I "thought" I was disappointed with it after my initial viewing until I kept reading and rereading it and realized how great and enlightening it actually is, you certainly covered the most important issues and opened my eye's to storage preparations with real food and a real life working man's wages!! Trying to save for the year long pre-packaged storage item's being sold by vendor's can be disheartening, you made it viable, reachable and virtually painless. Thank you! - CL.

JWR Replies: Thanks for the positive feedback on the course. The omission of corn wasn't an oversight. I didn't mention corn because the "Rawles Gets You Ready" course was geared toward stocking up on items that you could find at your local Costco and/or grocery store. We wanted just about every food item mentioned in the course to be things that could be bought at a "Big Box" store, even at the 11th hour.

Corn is a valuable food to store, although it is not as versatile as wheat, nor does it store for nearly as long. Corn does store fairly well if its moisture content is low. Like wheat, once it is cracked or ground, its nutritive value starts to drop rapidly. Therefore you should buy your storage corn whole, and then grind it into corn meal in small batches, as needed.

I've found that the least expensive place to buy whole kernel corn is Walton Feed, in Montpelier, Idaho. Even lower prices are often available at your local feed store, but they don't always have whole corn. (They generally order cracked corn, and cracked Corn Oat Barley ("COB") blends--such as "sweet feed", which has molasses added.) But if you ask, they can likely special order it for you, typically in 50 pound sacks. You would then have to re-pack it in food grade buckets, using the dry ice method described in the course. Note, however, that if you buy corn from any source except Walton's or another major storage food vendor, be careful about the moisture content, which varies widely. Also, speaking of moisture, beware that mold is the greatest bugaboo with bulk corn. Never, ever, eat moldy corn! It can induce micotoxin poisoning that is potentially deadly!

Dear Jim,
I have been reading your blog for a bit and I appreciate your flow of information. One thing I (finally) saw that should be added [to the commentary on Prussian Blue and Potassium Iodate] is the popular poison oak [and poison ivy and poison sumac] treatment called TECNU. It was originally created as a waterless decontamination for nuclear fallout. Just a minor but currently easy to obtain treatment. - Ferk


Dear Jim:
What B.F. is looking for is US Pharmacopoeia (USP) listed Prussian Blue. It is sold by prescription. Get a friendly doc to write a script for it and present the script to your local pharmacy. While your at it, make sure you have antibiotics for your stock. Otherwise, even a minor knife or gunshot wound can kill you. - S.F. in Hawaii

Back to school week: Refuting the argument that home schooling leaves children insufficiently "socialized."

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The Intelligence Summit web site has some interesting analysis and commentary on emerging threats. Some of it qualifies as serious "Food for thought and grounds for further research" (FFTAGFFR).

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Richard from KT Ordnance sent a pointer to this interesting site on Kia (South Korean) military vehicles. He also bemoaned Jeep dropping the planned Gladiator 4WD Pickup from their product line queue, stating: "I'm sorry to see Daimler-Chrysler take such a short sighted view of Jeep's future by killing off the only rig I have considered buying new in quite some time. They don't seem to understand Jeep equals truck, not sissified SUVs.

"If ever time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin." - Samuel Adams

Sunday, September 3, 2006

Please look up the Gang MS-13 who I understand are a Venezuelan controlled "Mafia" for drug running. These members don't use guns, (for who knows what reason), they have chosen the Machete' as their weapon of choice. In a post TEOTWAWKI situation, sizing up a danger by looking for a gun alone will not suffice. Keep your distance. All the more reason to have good firearm training. If it's hand to hand, it's probably too late. - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: I concur that gang members will be a significant threat in a post-TEOTWAWKI "law and order vacuum" (Just as a portrayed in my novel "Patriots.") However, lest there be any misunderstanding I must emphasize that the race of the gang members is not an issue. I distrust all prison gang members, regardless of their race. Classify me as an "equal opportunity" gang-o-phobe. I consider The Aryan Brotherhood (a white prison gang) to be on an equal footing (just as much to be feared) as the Bloods, The Crips, MS-13, La Nuestra Familia, and the Mexican Mafia.

Be aware that in recent years many rural communities have intentionally sought local prison construction, with the goal of increasing employment in the community. (Jobs for prison guards, counselors, service industries, housing construction, and so forth.) When searching for retreat properties, I recommend that you avoid towns with nearby prisons! The last place that I want to be WTSHTF is in along the line of drift of an escaped prison gang.

Just a heads-up, lots of folks in place like California where non-recourse loans are mandated by law (at least for homes) feel pretty smug, thinking that even if they get upside down on a mortgage they can walk away without repercussions. Bad news: the IRS considers the amount of the loan "forgiven" by the bank to be income. That means, to use California numbers, if you owe $500,000 on a house which sells at foreclosure for $200,000, you now owe income taxes on your $300,000 in income you just "received".

Just a quick "report from the ground", I live in western Oregon and I work closely with the real estate market. Homes are still selling here and there, but the inventory is building quickly and homes that last year would have sold in a week are sitting on the market for months, plus we're starting to see some serious price reductions (this is in a very rural community, not one of the big cities). The biggest local builder just sold off his entire inventory of buildable lots and quit building "spec" homes, folks in the business can definitely tell how the wind is blowing. - Bill in Oregon

Mr. Rawles:
I have always felt that Prussian Blue [as mentioned in SurvivalBlog on August 27th] should be part of one's system of NBC protection but never had the info needed to make it happen until P.H. kindly provided important details. I checked the link that was provided to obtain the powdered Ferric Ferrocyanide and noted that their web site indicates it is "made from Ferric Ferrocyanide". That doesn't necessarily mean it is chemically pure. I inquired, and they indicated they cannot confirm the chemical analysis as the product was obtained over ten years ago and don't even know the manufacturer. Further searches were futile as chemical suppliers seem to be only selling wholesale to other industries. Does anyone know of a chemical supplier to the public of small amounts (a few ounces) of demonstrably clean Ferric Ferrocyanide? - B.F.

Rourke e-mailed us a link to a table of U.S. Metro home price changes: The level terrain before the precipice.

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to this handy reference page that gives the bullion content of older European coins. You never know what you might be offered in a Post-TEOTWAWKI, barter transaction--French "Roosters", , British Sovereigns or perhaps even native gold nuggets... In the absence of the Internet and your local coin shop or jeweler, you must be the expert. Without this expertise, you may end up the victim of a swindle. So it is important to print out some hard copies of some key references like the page linked above. (And, for example, see Item #6 in my original TEOTWAWKI FAQ.). It might also be wise to buy and practice using an acid test kit for gold, and a touchstone. And needless to say, if you buy gold coins via mail order, be sure that they are from a reputable dealer like Swiss America.

   o o o

If you think that your state's gun laws are sub-optimal then reading through California's myriad laws should cheer you up. Reading through the California DOJ's web pages is like Alice stepping through the looking glass--with no hint of logic evident. My favorite is their recent ruling that Yugoslavian ("Zastava") SKS carbines are classified as "destructive device" grenade launchers (a potential felony possession offense), simply because they have 22mm diameter flash hiders! Please don't tell those idiotic legislators in GranolaLand (the Land of Fruits, Nuts, and Flakes) how many other rifle models there are that have combo flash hiders that can accept rifle grenades!

Jim's Quote of the Day:

"`Get to your places!' shouted the Queen in a voice of thunder, and people began running about in all directions, tumbling up against each other; however, they got settled down in a minute or two, and the game began. Alice thought she had never seen such a curious croquet-ground in her life; it was all ridges and furrows; the balls were live hedgehogs, the mallets live flamingoes, and the soldiers had to double themselves up and to stand on their hands and feet, to make the arches.
The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo: she succeeded in getting its body tucked away, comfortably enough, under her arm, with its legs hanging down, but generally, just as she had got its neck nicely straightened out, and was going to give the hedgehog a blow with its head, it would twist itself round and look up in her face, with such a puzzled expression that she could not help bursting out laughing: and when she had got its head down, and was going to begin again, it was very provoking to find that the hedgehog had unrolled itself, and was in the act of crawling away: besides all this, there was generally a ridge or furrow in the way wherever she wanted to send the hedgehog to, and, as the doubled-up soldiers were always getting up and walking off to other parts of the ground, Alice soon came to the conclusion that it was a very difficult game indeed.
The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarrelling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting `Off with his head!' or `Off with her head!' about once in a minute." - Lewis Carroll , Alice in Wonderland

Saturday, September 2, 2006

The bidding is now at $115 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a copy "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. The course was kindly donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. Please submit your bids via e-mail. This auction ends on September 15th.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
The anniversaries of Katrina and Rita offer us an useful opportunity to reflect upon the lessons of profound adversity. As a Texan and a native of Houston, the disaster and its aftermath have reminded me of three important truths. First, we were all cautioned that the time to leave is well before the mass of people thinks that leaving is reasonable. Second, if you do plan to stick around, plan to be on your own for longer than you expected in conditions more harsh than you anticipated. Third, any mass-casualty disaster is going to let loose a plague-like horde of the worthless, the dangerous, and the desperate.
The first two lessons are obvious to most people who frequent this blog, but the third point merits some serious discussion. In each and all of our major cities, there lurks a small (but lethally dangerous) element of congenitally predatory scum that the combination of the criminal justice system and differential property value usually manages to mostly confine to a small geographic area. In each and all of our major cities, there also lurks a class attuned to permanent dependence on government subsidy, which normally lacks the initiative to pose any serious threat to anyone. Katrina displaced both of these classes from the rotten slums of New Orleans and placed both of them as a threat to the good people of other cities, especially Houston.
When the dangerous class of New Orleans arrived on busses in Houston, it immediately sought new victims and new territory. Crime increased dramatically in Houston, and I understand anecdotally that the standing inventory of most FFL dealers shrank radically as law abiding citizens suddenly began to feel threatened. The filth of New Orleans awoke in Houston, shorn from the institutions (e.g. regular parole officer visits) that had constrained their previous felonious conduct. You may think that New Orleans is the Mos Eisley of America, but every major city has such a class of dangerous people, the control of whom is the primary job of every major city's police force. Just as every river flowing through a large city has a layer of settled toxin in the deep sediments, which only endangers the world at large if the bottom is churned catastrophically, the depopulation of any major city due to a disaster must necessarily loose upon the world a class of people that we would all do well to fear.
The lesson of Katrina is simple: If you realize that refugees are headed to your neighborhood from some disaster, then take care to your own security; the people churned up by any evacuative catastrophe will likely include men of perennially dangerous intent.
While the dangerous are an obvious and instant threat in a time of upheaval, the worthless and the desperate of New Orleans may be about to illustrate that tragedy can convert normally harmless people into predators. Among the refugees received in Texas, there was a large population of people conditioned to perform no function in life other than the receipt of charity. New Orleans had accommodated them poorly, but she had accommodated them in a manner adequate to squelch any motivation to initiative (whether noble or nefarious). When these people arrived in Texas, many were shocked by the generosity of our people.
The people of Houston, both through charity and federal assistance, placed in decent housing huge numbers of the poor of New Orleans. It was widely rumored that the surplus apartments rented for these people by Mayor White were frequently a step up from their previous quarters.
Now, however, charity has worn thin. It is widely quoted that over half of the refugees are without work, in spite of the fact that the economy of Houston provides jobs in such great numbers that the city draws thousands of immigrants from all the world. The common sense of the people of Houston seems to have turned to the admonition that a man shall have bread by the sweat of his brow. This thinning of charity is happening at the same time that FEMA has decided to get out of the business of housing permanent welfare cases. To put it bluntly, we are about to witness a new wave of homeless New Orleanians that had been previously contained in the excess apartment capacity of Houston. I fear that we are about to see a second wave of Katrina-violence, as the worthless and the desperate begin to see their situation as dire. Unaccustomed to working, a substantial number of the permanently dependent may join the class of the dangerous from a sense of desperation.
The lesson in this is also simple: disasters that uproot the normal order that has supported people for all of their lives will turn the some otherwise harmless persons into predators of necessity; watch your back.
I am sorry to have sent something so grim, but there is a cautionary tale in the experience of the Texan people, which much of America may have missed because it is so far geographically removed: Just as flood drives snakes into trees and houses, disaster lets loose both the worst sort of people and the worst capacities in people. Best Regards, - K.A.D.



Reader T.P. mention this editorial: some common sense on preparedness, coming from the journalistic mainstream.

   o o o

I just saw that Rich Saunders at Century Gun Works (CGW in Gardnerville, Nevada--not to be confused with Century Arms) has revamped his web site. This gent is a fantastic gunsmith that specializes in FAL, L1A1, AR-15, and Glock work. He also does custom gun refinishing with very durable weatherproof coatings such as CenTac 9H. I can personally vouch for the superb quality of his gunsmithing and finishing work. Rich built three of the L1A1s that we use here at the ranch. When he says that he will make a rifle look nice, he isn't kidding. Just substitute the word "perfect" for "nice." OBTW, tell him that Jim Rawles sent you.

   o o o

Three different readers (Cruzan, M.M., and Rourke) e-mailed me the link for a web site with video available for the upcoming television series Jericho. It is a post nuke scenario, set in the near future. Cruzan noted: "I am looking forward to seeing the pilot of this show but I am afraid it will probably devolve into a Politically Correct solution or a "rely on the government/village" theme. (You know... all the survivalists that did prepare are rifle toting nutz and all die off.....and those that "don't" own rifles live.). The pilot probably won't address a lot so that people get hooked into it, but then slowly "teach" something else... Here is a separate link for "sneak peek."

“Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.” - Winston Churchill

Friday, September 1, 2006

Mr. Rawles,
I am an RF and EMC engineer. I've worked nuclear EMP issues for a couple of decades.
You were fairly right on - a Faraday cage (or "shield room") is hard to build. It can be done with fine mesh - similar to window screen but made from copper wire - but the penetrations and doors are always the problem. Mesh will not protect you from large magnetic fields, but for much of the affected area, they are not the problem.
Your plan to use a steel ammo can has merit - as long as you close the seam created by the lid and rubber gasket! Otherwise you don't get much shielding. You could sand off the paint and use copper or aluminum tape to cover the gap from lid to case. It's sold for use in EMC testing and features a conductive adhesive.

Transistor gear is susceptible - vacuum tube gear is much more hardened. But the prospect of having to replace tubes in a major SHTF scenario drives many people to buy solid state gear. So there are trade offs to consider. - Sun Dog


First, the misconception on the effectiveness of chicken wire. It is correct to state that any wavelength that is shorter than the holes in the chicken wire will pass through it as if it isn't there. However, EMP is a broadband RF signal and most of the energy is in the lower frequencies. Almost no energy will remain at frequencies high enough to penetrate the wire, making damage highly improbable.
The basic design of a Faraday cage is to have a space that is entirely enclosed by a conductive surface with the lowest possible resistance. The best Faraday cage would be a hollow cube of gold. Of course, with no door, this is not a terribly practical design. More typically, top end Faraday cages were made of two layer of copper screening attached to a wooden frame with no electrical connection between the layers. The door would have the same two layers and some sort of copper fingers would be on the doors to make the electrical connection to the rest of the cage. Any power going into the cage would have some big filters on it to prevent any RF from going into or out of the cage.
The most common Faraday cages that are in people's homes are microwave ovens and computer cases. Microwave ovens were originally called radar ranges because they heat your food with the radio waves from a radar transmitter. Needless to say, it designed to heat only food and not the user so these are designed to prevent the RF from escaping. Just make sure that no one can plug them in if you have your electronics stored in them. Similarly, computers are notorious emitters of RF interference due to their use of square wave clock signals. All the cases that I have seen are pretty much solid and the newer ones have the fingers to insure that any removable panels maintain electrical connection.
Ammo cans can be used but are not perfect because the gasket and paint prevent good electrical connection between the lid and the box. Aluminum foil is an amazingly convenient material to make a cage out of. Chicken wire can be used, but you will have to solder it together to get the good electrical connection. Virtually any metal box will provide some protection, including ovens and refrigerators. As stated in the original comments, the cage will not be effective if penetrated by antenna or power lines. Cars, being made of metal, will also provide some protection. Multiple layers of metal will provide additional protection, but must not contact each other. Put your electronics in a plastic bag with desiccant, wrap it foil, another plastic bag, and put it in the modified ammo can.
The basic rule of thumb is that susceptibility to EMP damage is proportional to size of the collection area (usually the antenna or power line) and inversely proportional to the size of the electrical component [gate]s. The first thing that anyone can do is put all their sensitive electronics on power strips or better yet surge protectors with EMI filtering. Doing this will allow a quick disconnect from the power lines should a threat arise. The filters will also provide a small amount of protection should an unanticipated event occur. Back in the 1980s, QST magazine did a three part article on EMP. As part of this series, they exposed a handheld radio to an EMP simulator, with no damage to the radio. Based on this, it reasonable to expect that a fair amount of electronics will survive, so long as they are not plugged in.
For the record, I am an RF Engineer. While I do not work in the EMP field, I have read up on EMP from what sources I could.
Note that Wikipedia has entries for both Faraday Cage and Electromagnetic Pulse. - R.H.

First off I don't want to come across as a dooms day advocate or an alarmist, but....last night while channel flipping I came across a program on Court TV. It was about the gangs that are in prisons. Mostly in the south west and western regions of the United States. I should have remembered the title but I don't. Anyway, it was an eye opening session for me. I recalled the different books I have read about post TEOTWAWKI and Mutant Zombie Bikers (MZBs) scenarios. The descriptions in the books are vivid as to their ruthlessness, however, I think they pale in comparison to the real gangs in prisons.
These prison gangs are racially centered re: Hispanics and blacks. There apparently weren't enough of the other races to even consider for the show. The Hispanic gangs are controlled by the Mexican Mafia. [JWR Adds: Actually, there are at least two major gangs that are rivals: the Mexican Mafia (a.k.a.Los Sureños) and La Nuestra Familia ("Our Family", a.k.a. Los Norteños). Each gang has dominance in particular regions.] I don't believe the black gangs were that organized. Both races considered each other heavy rivals for control and dominance of the prisons.
The Hispanics that came into the prison were from "rival" Hispanic gangs, however, once they entered the prison they were part of the new prison gang. If they refused they were beaten, sliced and diced and often times killed. Big motivating factor to tow the line. The Hispanics and blacks are well disciplined as to their own gangs goals. Mostly to stay in shape to be a warrior for the gang and their race. That was the word that one Hispanic gang member said in an interview. He was very proud of it and of his being a member. He would do what ever was asked of him. These men are in the kind of shape most of us can only dream of. They do nothing all day but prepare to fight, to be warriors for what ever cause their handlers deem important. No questions asked.
Of course this concerns me. I think of post TEOTWAWKI times and know that one of the areas of concern when the infrastructure is gone is the release of these individuals into the mix. I suddenly envision the movie The Postman with walled communities. If a post TEOTWAWKI gets to the point of gangs of this caliber roving around the country side we will have a big problem on our collective hands. Imagine them with weapons and leadership. A lot of us are probably over 40 years. Many probably a lot older. We are in a really bad way physically to deal with this. I see a time that will make the dark ages look like a Sunday school picnic. Suddenly I felt I and my loved ones were on the bottom of the food chain.
Again, I know I sound alarmist but it's a fact we can't overlook in our preparedness efforts. Retreat security, training, whether it's shooting, squad tactics, medical, has to be in the forefront for us. Establishing clear fields of fire, kill zones, etc need to be planned out and carried out to the best of our abilities. Training that is fun for the whole family. That's what this is all about in a nut shell is Plain Jane survival.
Maybe this was a little wake up call. Every now and then needed to keep us on track. We all work jobs during the day and on the weekends trying to make ends meet. Not a whole lot of time to do other things. I was wondering if some time can be spent in this area for your readers. . Maybe some readers with prior military experience could chime in? Concerned, - Larry in Kansas

It is interesting to see that the price of crude oil has drifted down to around $70 per barrel and because of growing supplies (there is actually a shortage of storage space!) it is expected to drift lower still in coming months. Meanwhile, the price of gold is holding solidly over $620 per ounce and the price of silver is advancing past $12.70. But wait a minute... The "experts" tell us that oil and precious metals have their prices "tied." Obviously the silver and gold prices are telling us a different story. I think that the coming year will see some heart stopping action on the metals bourses. My recommendation remains unchanged: Sell most of your dollar denominated assets and buy tangibles. Silver is my favorite tangible. (Guns, ammo, and productive farm land are close behind.)

  o o o

NAIS Premises ID is being expanded to include gardens and orchards in Pennsylvania! Of course then it will not be just National Animal Identification System. It will probably be called the NRIS (National Resource Identification System) When a government starts identifying "resources", watch out! Please spread the word about the insidious NAIS scheme. Write to your congressmen. (I know that it's hard with the full implications of this program, but try not to sound like a lunatic when you are writing or talking.)

   o o o

Last week I received a sample of a plastic repair patch product called Rec Repair. It comes in a rigid plastic patch with an adhesive backing. The nifty thing about these is that the patches can be heated (for example with a MRE heater or a heat gun) and then formed to match various contours. The manufacturer says that it can be used to repair holes, cracks or tears in plastic, fiberglass, metal, resin, or composite surfaces. Rec Repair looks like a handy item for repairs on RVs or for other uses around a retreat. We plan to keep a few of these in our camping trailer.

"I'm often asked why I make such a 'big deal' about choosing conservative Christians, Messianic Jews, or Orthodox Jews for neighbors. The plain truth is that in a societal collapse there will be a veritable vacuum of law enforcement. In such times, with a few exceptions, it will only be the God fearing that will continue to be law abiding. Choose your neighborhood wisely." - James Wesley, Rawles

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