December 2006 Archives

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year! Many thanks to both the SurvivalBlog readers and advertisers for making the blog such a tremendous success. Since SurvivalBlog is updated daily, please consider making it your web browser's home page. Thanks!

Dear Mr. & Mrs Rawles,
I want to thank both of you for what you are doing and for I'm a 55 year old US-born male currently living in Mexico. I came back here a little over a year ago thinking that I would be here 'til further notice. The last 12 months have changed that and for a number of reasons, the majority of which are how things are changing here, have me seriously considering either moving back to the US or much further south.
Survival and self sufficiency are qualities I admire and know a little about. I've crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific on my own and others' boats, small to medium sized sailboats. At sea as in the wilderness, you d better prepare because help can be a long way off. For that matter you d better prepare anywhere you live, ocean, city or rural. Most people don't.
Among my other hobbies, I'm an amateur radio operator. I also am a Christian and a conservative.
Back just after 2000 when AT&T sold off most of its surface microwave sites, there was an article in the ARRL magazine about buying one of these places for a perfect ham home. I probably looked at 100 of these sites at that time and ended up not buying any of them. I even looked at one of the underground cable sites in South Georgia but that one had too many environmental problems for me.
In any case due to a lot of things, most notably the inability to own a firearm here without a lot of complication, plus the complications of property ownership, I am again considering some of the AT&T microwave stations for a retreat and for that matter a permanent residence. The underground sites for the most part are too large to be practical. The smaller above ground sites generally range from around 1,000 to 3,000 square feet (the range I'm looking in) with of course some of the sites getting a whole lot bigger. I like these types of buildings and sites for a number of reasons....the structures are poured concrete walls and roofs around 1 foot thick. They did have a number of concrete block sites which I am not considering. The sites I'm interested in are in higher elevations (all are on higher than surrounding terrain which means they are more defensible) and have short towers, anywhere from 60 feet to 180 feet tall. Some of these sites have really large towers but I stay away from those due to the necessity of lighting any that are over 200' AGL. The majority of the sites are designed to be blast resistant in varying degrees, operate under positive pressure which makes NBC filtering of air easier, have well constructed electrical systems that are semi hardened against NBC, diesel generators, and parcels of land of varying sizes attached. Another nice part of these locations is that they are structurally sound enough where with some tarpaper,tar, and a front end loader you could bury one of the sites without too much work. Additional radiation and blast protection. I also am aware that after the fuel runs out and it eventually will, if you have not made a serious move to change the internal systems to be more off the grid, that all you will have is an unusual cave with some interesting toys.
This letter is to ask what you think about this approach to a retreat, the idea of using one of these sites. Another thing that makes them attractive to me is they are for the most part cheap raging in price from $20,000 up, depending on location and size. I am by no means wealthy. I currently am learning to trade futures. Whether I do this before things fall apart remains to be seen. My education is in Electrical Engineering, electronics and computers.
Currently I'm considering sites in both North and South Texas, Northwestern Arkansas, Montana, Iowa, New Mexico, Oregon, Mississippi (north and central), Kansas and Nebraska.
Any comments would be deeply appreciated. Anything I can tell you about where I live in Mexico or what the general feelings are in my community at least, please feel free to ask.
Again many thanks for your blog and your work. God Bless and a Blessed New Year to you and your family. - CMC

JWR Replies: Good luck with your move. I'd recommend being very selective and deliberate in choosing a retreat. The former microwave long haul sites have their merits. With these, you are certainly buying some very stout pre-existing infrastructure for very little money! However, many of them in the western states are in locations where it would be difficult to drill a well. (Since they are mainly on hilltops or ridges.) If you could find one that already had a well drilled and it was not right next to a highway, then it would definitely get my vote. Of the states that you listed, my preference would be Montana or Oregon, but of course I'm admittedly biased toward retreats in the western states. (I equate low population density with higher odds of survival when the Schumer hits the fan.) My full rationale on retreat locale selection, as well as my top picks in 19 western states are detailed in my recently released non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

Dear James:
Here is a link to an outstanding essay that I'm sure you and your wife will enjoy. It is a perfect corollary to your wife's essay. Print it out and pass it around to your friends.
Here is the host site in case you are interested: Best Regards, - Donald


There is another kind of personality-at least in these parts: people who think it's a sin to prepare. They think God will provide for their needs (Matt.6). When the subject comes up-the only thing that I can counter with, is that I know deep down, that I'm supposed to be getting ready for something and point to the wise and foolish virgins parable (Matt 25). I don't argue when it comes to person's faith. - Lynne B.

"It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice; and even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war; the cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the wolf." - Thomas Paine

Shalom Jim:
Recently I've been doing some research on laser sighting systems (primarily for pistols). Two of the companies I have looked at are Crimson Trace and LaserMax.
1.) Do you like or recommend laser sights for pistols? If so, which is your favorite company or system?

2.) How do laser sights compare to tritium sights? Are there any significant advantages to either?

BTW I am planning on attending an Appleseed shoot sponsored by the RWVA in March of '07. Have you ever attended one of these shoots? What is your opinion?
Thanx for your most excellent input. - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I do not recommend laser pointer "sights"--aside for a few very specialized applications, such as nighttime pest shooting and nighttime building entry/clearing. (The latter is not usually a concern for preppers like us.) Most laser pointer sights are essentially useless in daylight, since they are often too dim to be seen in full daylight unless the target is in a shadow. Under typical circumstances, waiting to acquire the dot on a target in daylight at average combat distances is slower than lining up iron sights. I have observed from combat training that laser pointer sights subconsciously prevent the shooter from pulling the trigger until after the dot is acquired, even if the shooter has proper iron sight alignment. Frantically searching for the red dot, some shooters will ignore their iron sights under combat stress. Odds are that Mr. Badguy will pull his trigger first. Your mileage may vary, but IMHO, in most cases laser pointer sights are a bad idea. You should train the way you plan to fight, and that training should not involve a battery operated gadget. Under stress, you wil revert to your training. If that means looking for a red dot before you pull the trigger, that could be a very bad thing. Especially if the lighting is wrong (i.e. glaring daylight), or your laser is broken, or you don't have any charged batteries.
I much prefer tritium sights. No muss, no fuss, no batteries, and they are good for 25+ years. (The half life of tritium is about 11 years.) I have Trijicon brand tritium sight sets on four of my Model 1911 .45 ACPs that were installed in 1994. These sights have only just now mellowed to about the right level of brightness. (They were much too bright when they were first installed.)

I haven't personally attended an Appleseed shoot, but everyone that I've talked to that has positively raves about them. They are are a fantastic training opportunity at very low cost.

Today is the last day before the comment period form the Farm Bill closes. Please put your comments, particularly anti-NAIS ones, in right away! Something like this would probably be good:

I am in opposition to the National Animal Identification System. It should not be forced on small farms and individuals, just to create more profits for large companies. If there is to be any NAIS-like program, it should be a truly voluntary system. Currently it is worded to allow for changes if necessary, and its goals include 100% participation. It would be "necessary" to make the system mandatory to achieve these goals. I request that the NAIS be stopped and have its funding removed until it can be made clear that the National Animal Identification System is truly voluntary, and will remain so, in perpetuity.

This is a great oppurtunity to contact the people that are making important decisions. It would also good to submit letters to your congressmen as well. also has an article on the bill, along with some informations on other issues.

I’m enjoying the blog so much that I want to double my contribution. How would I do that? An additional PayPal subscription? I wish that more folks would join on.
Best Regards, - MP in Seattle

JWR Replies: I'm glad to hear that you find the blog useful and informative. A double subscription would be greatly appreciated, but that would be above and beyond the call of duty. The easiest method is simply to start a second subscription, via the link at our Ten Cent Challenge page. A second subscription won't cause any paperwork confusion, since I don't send out any renewal reminders. (The $3 monthly PayPal subscription system is set up on a "subscribed until cancelled" basis.)

Subscriptions are of course entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted. Your offer of two subscriptions is above and beyond my expectations. Many thanks for the extra support.
May God Bless You and Yours in the New Year!

"John Adams" mentioned this: For those of you with high speed Internet connections: Basic Urban Skills Training: Concealment Does Not Equal Cover. (A very interesting 20 minute USMC training film showing extensive live fire building penetration tests, produced by Dahlgren Laboratories.)

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Rob at MURS Radios reports: "Response to the $98 MURS Radio [pair of handheld transceivers] special has been terrific! I sold out 25 pairs in one day but I am happy to report that I was able to negotiate the same discount ($98 a pair and free shipping) on another batch of these radios. These radios will be available on or about January 5, 2007 and I am accepting pre-orders for these radios now (see the update on my special web page)."

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Yorie in Pennsylvania mentioned this piece from the Hebrew language web site: "The Shaar HaNegev Regional Council which is responsible for 16,000 residents and students is now formulating evacuation plans if damage from Kassam rockets becomes unbearable. 'The situation is getting worse and worse. We’re not strong. We don’t have an army behind us. We don’t have a government behind us,' said Mechi Fendel, resident of Sderot. Over sixty-five rockets have fallen on the besieged communities during a month-long “cease fire” between Israel and terrorist factions in Gaza. While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert clings to a policy of restraint against the terrorists, residents of the battered towns are growing scared."

"And the thing about my jokes is, they don't hurt anybody. You can take 'em or leave 'em - you can say they're funny or they're terrible or they're good, or whatever, but you can just pass 'em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it's a law! And every time they make a law, it's a joke!" - Will Rogers

Saturday, December 30, 2006

One of the biggest problems with the largest dog breeds is that they don’t live very long. We have three Irish Wolfhounds, all males, they are great dogs, very friendly and outgoing. Not good guard dogs, I think, but their size will scare most people. One of them would make a great hunter if we let him (we live in the city). However, the average life expectancy of an Irish Wolfhound is 6.5 years, and this is the same for Great Danes, Mastiffs etc. The belief is that their hearts just give out, since they have been bred to large for a dogs heart to support. So one of the problems would be that when you finally got them trained, and they are stubborn, you would only have a couple of years before you would have to start over.

They don’t eat as much as you would expect, no more than a large Shepard or Rottweiler would, because they are not that active. I agree with your comments that a medium size dog is likely a more effective compromise. Thanks, I enjoy reading SurvivalBlog.- I.S.

Hi Jim,
I had opportunity over year ago to visit a place in semi rural Los Altos Hills (next to Stanford University) Seems a mountain lion had been taking chickens from a relatively open pen. The homeowner had a big Rhodesian Ridgeback who she said feared very little and was quite protective of the place from even pedestrians walking by on the road. Anyway, the incident that the homeowner saw was mountain lion (no visual contact, only evidence of the intrusion) somewhere on the property caused the Ridgeback to run to the back patio and whimper to be let in. Maybe this Ridgeback had lost some of his cousins' bravery in lion fighting from the dark continent. Anyway, point is, no matter the [breed of] dog, anything can happen. - Tim

JWR Replies: As with most of the other mammalian predators, in canines, hunting skills are primarily learned rather than instinctual. Don't count on breeding alone to be assured that your dog will know how to hunt, or in the case of guard dogs, know how to physically defend against an intruder. Dogs need training, just like we do.

Mr. Rawles,
If one takes the Rawles Ranch criteria for minimum safe distance from large metropolitan areas - 400 miles from an area of 1 million or more, then one has eliminated all of the west except Montana north of Helena and North Dakota west of Bismarck (With a small piece of South Dakota northwest of Pierre too). Indeed, all of Idaho (the state mentioned in your novel "Patriots") is excluded by circles drawn on Seattle and Salt Lake. My area of interest (when I've paid off the land and can afford to move) in the Big Horn area of Wyoming is excluded by the circle on Denver. Most points south are excluded by circles centered on Phoenix and Fort Worth. (I haven't even considered the impact of Juarez.)
Even 300 mile circles on cities of 1 million or more only adds small parts of Idaho and Nevada.

While a safe distance criteria is an important consideration, living closer to cities (but off of major lines of drift) may be more important to most of your readers in the western USA. Long term, the agricultural climate and radiological hazards may be very important as well. However, the more I read from your blog, as well as "classical" sources like Mel Tappan, Robert Heinlein, and David Brin, leads me to conclude that living in or near a small community of like minded, prepared people may be the most important criteria of all. - Sun Dog

JWR Replies: The location of the Rawles Ranch--400+ miles from the nearest major metro area--was an admittedly ultraconservative selection. We like our elbow room and we prefer to have more deer and elk than people for neighbors. In conversations with my consulting clients, I often cite 200 miles as a typical "safe distance" figure, and 300+ miles as the ideal. I suppose that I would only feel nervous within a 150 mile radius. It is interesting that you mention Ciudad Juarez. That is one of the population centers that is shown as a "cross border" threat in one of the maps in my recently released non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.


The "Mr. and Mrs. Oscar" profile was most interesting. For a lot of us, probably the epitome of "If I had the money, my retreat would be..." On the downside, I would be concerned with:

1. The problem of defending/patrolling the property. A quarter section translates to a full mile of frontier. In a full SHTF situation, I'd want a trustworthy, commo equipped, well-armed loyal soul every 100 yards or so. If those folks put in 12 hour shifts, you'd need about 35 hands for perimeter security. That doesn't take into account the roving patrols on the interior of the compound, nor the rapid response fire team(s).

2. The "jealous neighbor" factor. Human nature being what it is, you can bet that there's a few locals who figure that when the balloon goes up, "Those rich people with that big house should have grub to spare."

3. Every fella who delivers gas, propane and diesel knows all the details of his route. People talk.

4. With all those Class 2 weapons, I'd be concerned about being a bit too high on the radar screen.

5. The problem with "Meeting others of our ilk." is widespread. I wish I had an answer.

All in all, a most interesting read. - Hawgtax

JWR Replies: The level of security that you describe (35 people!) would only be required if you had a retreat that was close to a city or right on a line of drift and it was an absolute worst case scenario. I think that even in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, having just one or two LP/OPs manned 24/7 and supplemented with intrusion detection sensors (such as a Dakota Alert passive IR system) and some trip flares would be provide sufficient warning to quickly man a defense. Once it is clear to the bad guys that you are on your guard and well armed.(just one burst of semi-auto high power rifle fire would probably be good clue) then looters will go find an softer and more inattentive target elsewhere.

The Werewolf, our correspondent in Brazil, noticed an Amazon Shorts downloadable e-book "Peak Oil and Personal Preparation for It" by Steven Woeste available for just 49 cents.

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The Rude Awakening notes that pre-1983 U.S. pennies "contain about 3 grams of copper and about .1 grams of zinc. Current metallic value: 2.4 cents per penny." Post-1982 pennies, which contain almost no copper whatsoever (they are just copper flashed zinc tokens), are "rapidly approaching metallic parity, thanks to the soaring price of zinc. These later pennies contain 97.6% zinc and 2.4% copper. Current metallic value: .89 cents per penny." OBTW, don't miss the interesting thread over at The Claire Files on this same topic.

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Christopher Laird of has a great piece titled: "USD - 2007 A Final Year?" posted over at the Gold-Eagle site.

"Western values are superior to all others. Why? The indispensable achievement of the West was the concept of individual rights. It's the idea that individuals have certain inalienable rights and individuals do not exist to serve government but governments exist to protect these inalienable rights. It took until the 17th century for that idea to arrive on the scene and mostly through the works of English philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume. While Western values are superior to all others, one need not be a Westerner to hold Western values. A person can be Chinese, Japanese, Jewish, African or Arab and hold Western values. It's no accident that Western values of reason and individual rights have produced unprecedented health, life expectancy, wealth and comfort for the ordinary person. There's an indisputable positive relationship between liberty and standards of living. Western values are by no means secure. They're under ruthless attack by the academic elite on college campuses across America. These people want to replace personal liberty with government control; they want to replace equality with entitlement; they want to halt progress in the name of protecting the environment. As such, they pose a much greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist or rogue nation. Multiculturalism and diversity are a cancer on our society, and, ironically, with our tax dollars and charitable donations, we're feeding it." - Dr. Walter Williams

Friday, December 29, 2006

If you find that what you learn reading SurvivalBlog has value to you, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

Our web statistics keep growing, week by week. There are now SurvivalBlog readers in more than 70 countries every month!

In the letter from "John in Central New York State', he says that most late model diesels with electronic ignitions won't work with off road diesel fuel. Do you know why? Thanks, J.P. in Montana

JWR Replies: I believe that John's statement was not entirely correct. Most Diesel engines can run just fine on the off road fuel or even home heating oil (called "red diesel", in England), but they cannot legally do so on public roads in the U.S. and the UK. The formulations of Home Heating Oil, "off road diesel", and road taxed No. 2 Diesel fuel are virtually identical. The only statutory differences are A.) The dye added to the off road fuel (to prevent cheating on the road tax) and, B.) The Federal standard for ash content, which is slightly higher for off road fuel. (At worst, this might mean that you injectors might become fouled more often.) The very recently mandated reformulation of "ultra low sulfur" diesel (ULSD) fuel in the U.S. actually makes the formulations of home heating fuel and diesel even more similar. (The older diesel formulation had sulfur added to aid in the lubrication of engine components.) In fact, a considerable quantity of home heating oil comes directly from the same production runs as diesel fuel. For all intents and purposes, the only difference is the dye and lack of tax. A reader of SurvivalBlog informed me that both Stanidyne and Delphi produce an electromechanical pump for some on road applications that use an electric eye to read timing. These types of fuel systems cannot be run on dyed fuel. So before you buy a diesel that was made in or after 1989, be sure that the vehicle's engine does not have a Stanidyne and Delphi electromechanical pump. If you must make a diesel vehicle purchase without knowing for certain what type of fuel pump that they have, to be safe buy only pre 1989-on road engines and pre-2004 off road/marine engines.

If need be, Diesel No. 1 fuel (kerosene) can also be substituted for Diesel No. 2, albeit with less power and at greater expense. According to an Exxon web page, blending a No. 2 diesel fuel with No. 1 diesel (kerosene) is probably the most common approach to dealing with winter operability for diesels. The Exxon site warns: "But, the use of Diesel Fuel No. 1 reduces power and fuel economy, and often is more expensive, so minimizing the amount of No. 1 Fuel in the blend is an important consideration. Another approach to reduce the filter plugging incidence is to use wax-modifying additives. These additives can give operability benefits equivalent to No. 1 Fuel blending without the power and fuel economy losses."

OBTW, I discuss alternative vehicle fuels (such as as home heating fuel, biodiesel, "greasel", aviation gasoline, and natural gas "drip" oil condensates) in my recently released non-fiction book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.

I love your survival site. I was wondering about finding low cost or fairly low cost equipment to harvest, thresh, winnow and hull grains such as wheat, barley, millet, oats, etc. Also low cost equipment to extract oil from seeds such as sunflower seeds. I've done an extensive search on the Internet and can find very little that is meant for a family or small group of people. Manual (hand power) or electric/gas/diesel are all of interest. Being able to process and use grains is extremely important but I don't know of any sites that sell survival equipment that sell such things. Many sell grain mills and some sell corn/pea shellers but not much more. - Nancy

JWR Replies: To begin, I should mention that the book Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon is an invaluable reference that every prepared family should have on their bookshelf. (ISBN 0-87857-134-5 for hardback or ISBN 0-87857-147-7 for paperback.) Used copies can often be found at bargain prices on eBay .(I even once bought a copy of it there for just the opening bid of one penny, plus postage!) or at

Your seed stocks should be all non-hybrid ("heirloom") varieties, so that the seed that you save from each harvest will breed true and continue to produce, year after year. (Hybrid varieties won't!) Heirloom seed is available from The Ark Institute, the Seed Savers Exchange, and Ready Made Resources. Bulk quantities of grain seed should be stored in the proverbial "cool, dark, dry place." They must be kept very, very dry to prevent mold or unintended sprouting. They must also be kept in sturdy, vermin proof containers. (Think steel, not plastic.)

One our preferred grains for growing on a small acreage is barley. As a general rule, you should plant winter barley in regions where winter wheat is grown and spring barley where spring wheat is grown.

If you live in deer country, you will probably find their depredations on your grain fields unacceptable unless you erect some substantial fences. If you can't afford to install tall fences around your grain fields, one alternative is to plant "bearded" varieties of barley. (Deer generally won't eat the awns of bearded barley.)

If you have any ground that is swampy from spring to fall on your property ("wetlands" in the modern politically correct parlance), consider planting domesticated wild rice in those areas. Technically "wild rice" isn't really rice at all, since it is in the grass genus (Zirzania) rather than the rice genus (Oryza.) Like other grain growing, planting wild rice will also attract waterfowl and other birds, which can be a mixed blessing. So consider a shotgun and beau coup shotgun shells to be part of your assortment grain growing essential tools.

Tools and Equipment: Raising grain takes not only seed stock but also the proper tools and equipment. Buy the best quality equipment that you can find. Concentrate on 19th Century technology. This is low tech and easy to maintain. It is amazing what you can find on eBay if you check there consistently. Unfortunately, however, some practical items such as scythes and hand mills are now sold as "decorator" antiques. Yuppies and retirees that merely want to decorate their homes have driven up prices. (Grumble, grumble.) In recent years, I've seen antique dealers that charge more for worn-out (filed down to nothing) scythes with rusty "patina" than you would pay for a brand new one bought from Lehman's.

Planting. A seed broadcaster is a must. Get an adjustable hand crank seed broadcaster that you strap around your waist. For really big fields, you might need a wheeled (push) row seeder. Even on a small scale, a one-wheel "dial a seed" planter is a huge labor saver. These are all available through One a large scale, horse drawn or tractor pulled equipment is called for. (That goes beyond the scope of what I'm writing here, but it is described fairly well in Logsdon's book.) When to plant varies depending on the last frost-free day in your region. Look at standard references for planting depths, frequency, and crop rotation.

Harvesting and Processing: For corn, you will need a couple of corn knives and some husking pegs (to strap to your palm.) For wheat and other small grains, at the very minimum you will need for reaping is a hand scythe, but for any decent scale of production, you will need a large cradle type scythe. There are plans for building a small grain threshing machine in Gene Logsdon's book. In a pinch, you can thresh grain by hand on a large clean concrete barn floor.

There are a variety of hand-cranked machines made specifically for hulling ('pearling") rice and barley, for pressing oil, for shelling corn, peas, and so forth. If you grow sorghum or cane sugar, you will need yet another type of hand crank press. Finding these machines may take some searching, because small hand cranked machines are now essentially obsolete outside of the Third World. (But they are eminently practical for folks like us, who are preparing for TEOTWAWKI.). Used machines that are still in good working order can sometimes be found on the Internet, but if you don't mind paying a premium price for brand new machines, I again recommend

The grain mill that I recommend is the Country Living mill (available from Ready Made Resources.) Yes, they are expensive, but they are built to last a lifetime. We've had one here at the Rawles Ranch for more than a decade. Unlike the inexpensive Mexican and Eastern European mills (such as the Corona brand), the Country Living mill has proper sealed bearings and replaceable burrs, for long service life.You also need to consider the service life of your teeth. If you eat a lot of bread made with flour from an inexpensive stone burr grinder, it will be at the expense of your tooth enamel. The Country Living mill is also designed to be used either with its included hand crank, or by fan belt drive. (Adaptable to either electric motor power, or powered by a bicycle frame for someone with basic welding skills.) Nearly all hand mills have adjustable burrs. They can be adjusted all the way from rough cracking, down to corn meal grinding, and finally down to bread flour milling. To mill fine flour you will have to run the flour through the mill at least twice.

Storage: Whether for human consumption or for livestock feed, you will need to properly store what you harvest to protect it from spoilage and vermin. If the moisture content is low enough to prevent mold, then plain galvanized trash barrels (bought brand new) will suffice for small scale grain storage. On a larger scale, a prefabricated storage shed, such as those made by Butler are ideal. Corn still on the ear should be stored in a traditional slatted wooden corn crib or in a well-ventilated Butler building.

Handling: Buy a large aluminum scoop grain shovel. (The lighter the better, so that it will be less tiring to use.) For moving corn that is still on ears, you will want to have a corn drag. (A drag is a rake with just three or four very long tines.)

"Berry" Soaking: Whole grain wheat can be soaked for 24 hours to make wheat berries. This makes a quite palatable and nutritious breakfast food, when warmed and served with milk or cream and a dash of honey or molasses.

Sprouting: To get the maximum nutrition from the grain that you raise, you should plan to sprout the majority of it. For some details on sprouting, see the article "Wheat Sprouts and Wheatgrass as Survival Foods", by SF in Hawaii. It is one the writing contest winners posted at the SurvivalBlog Writing Contest page. Lay in supplies for sprouting and practice the art of sprouting before the balloon goes up!

Practice, practice, practice!: As with any other newly acquired skill, grain raising, harvesting, storage, milling, and sprouting will take practice. Develop your expertise now, when any mistakes will be merely humorous blunders rather than potentially life-threatening disasters.

Mike M. gave a thumbs up for the Nader Khalili's sandbag building technique recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog. Mike says: "This is great stuff. Our church has been trying this building technique for use in Mexico. It would make a great shelter for short or long term use." See:

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The remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath party have threatened to retaliate if their leader is executed.

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Courtesy of Gold-Eagle, Joshua Fritsch offers some interesting charts showing the bull market in gold. The best is yet to come.

"Big government by its very nature is government that intrudes in people's lives, usurps their rights and responsibilities and confiscates their money. There is nothing conservative about any of this. Regardless of how benevolent and well-meaning its intentions are, government expands almost entirely for the purpose of controlling and regulating the lives of its citizens. Each act of government, each law passed, each regulation written is a step toward limiting the freedom of some one or some group or some organization or some business or industry. Granted, some of these steps may be necessary but most of them are not. So let's not kid ourselves. If conservatives are people who put freedom ahead of security and individual rights ahead of government control, then it must follow that they are opposed to big government. This being the case, a policy of 'big government conservatism' is merely an excuse for wayward conservatives to justify moving leftward and anyone who denies this is an ignoramus, a fool or a hypocrite." - Lyn Nofziger

Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'll be curious to see if the recently released TEOTWAWKI futurist movie Children of Men inspires any greater interest in preparedness. From what I've read about the gritty realism of the film, it might. But then, Jim thought the same thing back in August when he heard about the television series Jericho. Apparently it attracted considerable fan following and inspired some debate, but little action. From what I've heard from the food storage and other preparedness vendors, their market went into a slump last fall. With the current global threats--most notably Iranian and North Korean nuclear saber rattling, both Sunni and Shiite terrorist threats, and sharp decline of the dollar in international currency markets--you would think that the average American or resident of western Europe would be scared out of their socks, and stocking up, big time. But for some reason people are in denial. Instead of preparing, Mr. and Mrs. John Doe are cocooning at home, watching their newly-acquired plasma big screen HDTVs. As a realist, I'd much rather have $1,000 worth of storage food and practical tools than a $1,000 television. Which brings me to a strange irony. Survivalists are optimists! Who else but an optimist believes that we can survive a nuke attack or biological warfare! More precisely, we survivalists are optimistic pessimists, we do think the world is going to heck in a hand basket. But we also think that we can take steps to ensure the survival and even comfort of ourselves, our loved ones, and even our neighbors.

Some people have an essentially optimistic nature. They feel that they can survive TEOTWAWKI with enough preparation. Therefore,in the face of overwhelming threats preparing makes them feel better. But other people have a pessimistic nature and believe that there is no way that anyone could survive TEOTWAWKI, so they consciously avoid reading the newspaper, watching the international news, and so forth. The truth is much too difficult for them to face in their daily lives. This is why they choose to escape via their HDTVs.

In a simplified form, I see four personality types:

There is the optimistic pessimist, which I believe typifies survivalists. We see the collapsing state of the world. But we believe we can make a difference in our fate through concerted training, logistical preparation, self-sufficiency measures, favorable geography, and teamwork.

The optimistic optimist believes that the world is just getting better and a better every day. The world's governments and the world's scientists can solve all our problems. These people don't prepare for anything. They aren't saving for retirement. They may even be eating fatty sugary foods, getting no exercise, maybe even smoking and drinking to excess because they believe science will cure all diseases too! They are borrowing against the equity in the homes because they believe the housing market always go up.

Then there is the pessimistic optimist who believe we are living in the best possible time in history. Nothing can go wrong they tell themselves. But they secretly believe that if there was a TEOTWAWKI event, no one could survive it. So therefore they retreat further into their optimistic delusion for mental self-preservation. This makes up the vast majority of Americans. Having been brought up in public schools teaching evolution, they are taught that human beings are evolving to become more and more intelligent and more and more civilized. American children are are taught that world governments have, like mankind, evolved to be more civilized and intelligent. (And if we all cooperate with them, all the world's problems can be solved.) But I rather suspect Mr. and Mrs. John Doe are scared out of their socks because despite all that they have been taught about mankind's advancement, it is obvious that human nature hasn't changed since Cain slew Abel.

Then there is the pessimistic pessimist. They know the world is going to heck in a hand basket. They believe nothing can be done about it, and no one can survive TEOTWAWKI. A few may live like hedonists. Eat drink and charge the credit card to the max, for tomorrow we will die. Some may embrace "the culture of death." But most feel helpless. They don't prepare because they have no hope.

Of course this is an oversimplification. People really can't be pigeon holed into just four personality types. But I hope this might be food for thought. If we can understand our neighbors' point of view we can motivate them with arguments that address their particular concerns.


In your 11, August 2005 post (yes, I'm reading the archives) you asked for a review from people who have owned Airedale(s) for an extended period of time. My family has lived with airedale terriers for about 20 years so I might have a little insight. Overall, these animals tend to be highly intelligent, very friendly to family and friends and incredibly headstrong. Their hunting instincts and abilities are amazing. For example, one of our Airedales managed to catch a good sized rodent while on a short lead (approximately two feet of slack). The downside to these wonderful animals is a tendency to be headstrong and intelligent. However, they love to work for you. An alternative I would like to suggest is a Giant Schnauzer. Until recently they were considered to be terriers and are slightly larger than the Airedales. I don't have a lot of experience with the Giant Schnauzers yet, but so far they appear to be Airedales on steroids. They have a more solid body and a more massive frame. If anything they seem to be more intelligent than the Airedales and at least as headstrong. One thing I have noticed is that the Giant Schnauzers appear more menacing than Airedales. Overall, either of these breeds would be of great help in case of TEOTWAWKI. I hope this helps, I will do my best to answer any further questions you may have.- Gregg

I am looking for a dog and we need some help on a breed. I have a wife and a two-year-old daughter. We need a dog that will be protective of the family from both two-legged and four-legged predators. (We have a large number of black bears where we live)Some of the breeds that have been suggested are the Akita, American Bulldog, Chesapeake Bay retriever and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. As I highly value your opinion. Would you please let me know your thoughts on the subject? Thank you for your time and help. - Ron

JWR Replies: I generally prefer medium size, very loyal, territorial, and versatile breeds such as the Airedale Terrier, Standard Poodle, and the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Of those three, the best choice for a novice owner or someone with small children is the standard Poodle, since the other two breeds are just too stubborn for most novice dog owner to handle. Gregg's suggestion of the Giant Schnauzer (also called the Riesenschnauzer) is something to consider, but as Gregg pointed out, this is another very willful breed. The breed has been used as a police dog in Europe. "According to one Giant Schnauzer rescue, 'without the correct training, they may bite kids. They are not suitable for homes with children under the age of 14 years old.'"

I don't recommend getting any of the largest breeds or keeping more than two dogs unless you have a giant source of protein to feed your dogs. (For example, if you raise hogs, cattle, or large numbers of chickens or rabbits.) If you do have that sort of larder, then Rottweilers and German Shepherds might also be viable options for retreat security. Regardless of your choice of breed, buy only from a reputable breeder that offers a guarantee against genetic defects such as hip dysplasia and epilepsy. (In Ridgebacks, for example, both hip dysplasia and dermoid sinus.) Avoid line-bred puppy mill dogs. Look for bloodlines that emphasize field practicality rather than just show quality conformation. Ask the breeder if he has any "pet quality" dogs. (Remember, you are looking for disposition--not perfect markings.) Select a pup with a mild temperament that displays intelligence. Be willing and ready to invest plenty of time to training and acclimating your dog so that it bonds with your family and consider the family his "pack" to be defended.

Mike the Blacksmith recommended this article: How Our Civilization Can Fall.

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The first episode of the Front Sight Challenge reality television series will air for the first time on on January 5, 2007. Naish Piazza tells me that the series will be available to cable and satellite television viewers in 70 million homes around the globe. I predict that this exposure will cause a spike in Front Sight course enrollments, so make your reservations soon. Because of the hot climate in southern Nevada, in my experience the most pleasant months to attend are October through April. Those of you that are northerners will find that a trip to Front Sight in January or February makes a great respite from the snow.

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Rob at MURS Radios is extending an exclusive offer to SurvivalBlog readers. He has a limited number of $49 MURS radios to offer to SurvivalBlog readers that include free shipping. Rob was able to procure this batch at a discount and is passing along the savings to SurvivalBlog readers. He has created a special page for these radios with ordering details. Follow the directions on this page to reserve your radios. First come, first served!

"Arms are the only true badges of liberty. The possession of arms is the distinction of a free man from a slave." - Andrew Fletcher, A Discourse of Government (1698), p. 47

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The following is another article for Round 8 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 there are a lot of great entries this round of the contest, I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 8 will end on January 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The End of the World as We Know It (TEOTWAWKI): statistically speaking, the odds are that you and your family are going to die. However, because you are reading this, you have decided that you want to die of old age in the event that Schumer hits the fan.
1. Your Level of Preparedness is dependent on where you are living. If you are living in large metro city. Then have about 60 days of supplies. After that time in a true TEOTWAWKI situation living conditions will have deteriorated to the point that it is unlivable and you will die of disease, starvation, gunshot, etc. Any condition less than a true TEOTWAWKI will have had services restored to the level of existing with unpleasant difficulty at least within a few months.
2. Bug out just before TEOTWAWKI: If you haven’t prepared a suitable place with lots of supplies stored or fleeing with a convoy of semi’s filled with supplies. Then you will become either a refugee or looter. Neither status will be welcome in rural America.
3. Urban residents can prepare for limited disasters or a situation where bugging out will be for a limited time where the government will continue to function.

Semi-rural and rural families have the possibility of long term survival with adequate preparedness.
1. Everything starts with planning. The first of every year should be list of what is needed for survival. If you’re just starting. Then a list for three to six months is a good starting place. After that long term projects and items are included in subsequent lists. Every year I make a list of at least twenty-five goals in the area of survival to accomplish. Every hour of actual preparedness should be directly related to an equal time in study and planning. A good survival library is a must.
2. Study and research into the field of Survival will become your second job. This is serious study and not just reading internet blogs. Several months ago I was annoyed by a lady that was asking questions on an internet site that revealed that she had only an elementary school level of knowledge of first aid and was totally clueless about nuclear fallout. Yet she had found time to post over 850 entries over the last six months, but not had bothered to do even the most basic reading.
3. Your bug out bag should be in your car and contain what is needed to get home if the roads are gridlocked and you have to walk. Your home should be your survival outpost. The last thing you should become is a fleeing refugee being herded into a government refugee camp.
4. Develop an operation plan that details what each family member is expected for them to do during the first 72 hours of a situation. Different tasks for different situations. This will keep a focus on accomplishing necessary tasks that will make the difference between a family's survival or succumbing to the disaster.
5. Prepare for those that are welcome to hunker-down with you. This is the worse part; you must give a warning in uncompromising language that others must come prepared to your gate. Recently my best friend from childhood observe red one of my many storage shelves and exclaimed, “Why should I prepare, I’m coming to stay with you if anything happens”. Sadly I had to inform him if he showed at the gate with nothing but his appetite, he would be turned away. He asked if our lifelong friendship didn’t mean anything. I simply replied, “Which one of my children goes hungry, so that I can feed you?”
6. Do include those that you know well that are willing to make the commitment to actively contribute and not be a burden to your family’s survival. Two other families will join us in their campers and they have already stored their year’s supply of dehydrated food in our basement. Besides, you will always need the additional firepower in an unpleasant situation.

Summary: Preparedness is an ongoing lifestyle. Survivors usually survive by hunkering-down in place, well prepared and mentally conditioned. The secret is to maintain a well prepared and strongly defended low profile habitat and keep your wits while other are losing their’s.

The U.S. FCC's recent change in amateur ("Ham") radio licensing requirements (dropping the Morse code test for all license classes) inspired an interesting thread of conversation over at The Claire Files.

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Michael H. just had to send us this link to the Jet-man of Switzerland. This site has no survival or preparedness applicability that I can imagine, but wow! Check out the video clip. Tres cool!

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If it is an issue of concern for you, get your comments in ASAP about the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). The deadline for public comments is December 31st.

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." - Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The high bid is still at $260 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. (They are one of our first and most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their site and check out their huge inventory of preparedness-related products. BTW, they have additional copies of each of the titles listed below, as well as more than a hundred other titles.) The auction ends on January 15th, so get your bid in soon.

Dear Jim,
My thoughts on retreat location, or living location (Ideally the same place) are as follows:
From recent disasters (Hurricane Katrina, the Kim family, others), I see that most people are bound by societal rules of the road to stick to the Interstates or major highways, and to trust gadgets, without learning the mapping and math behind them.
The worst places I can think of to live are the nice country houses one sees from the freeway. These are certain to be looted in a major disaster. US highways aren't likely to be much of an improvement.
However, as one steps down in route priority, concealment becomes easier. There are state highways here that are first plowed, well-maintained and wind indirectly along the same routes as the main ones, but are virtually unknown. Certainly, these are programmed into navigation computers, and will be used if the main roads are clogged or down, but they are less visible, and locating off one of them on a county or local road adds more distance, while minimizing actual off-road disaster driving.
I have to disagree on one mile from a freeway being dangerous (except on very flat, bare terrain). I don't believe most city dwellers, even starving mobs, will divert that far into the "unknown." Even if they do, they will be dispersed, and the prepared individual will have the home terrain advantage, with fence, ditches, etc. As long as one doesn't present as a target, one won't be taken as one. Like any bully or petty thug, mobs will want easy pickings. There's a segment of our society that projects the belief that being strong causes one to become a target. This is the same mentality that won't touch firearms to avoid "escalating the violence." However, historically, a defended stronghold of unknown content and capabilities is the last place an unorganized mob will approach. Most criminals diverted by firearms are not actually shot; a simple discharge is sufficient. The attacker has to weigh risk of death vs chance of food/loot. Does the attacker know you have stockpiles of gear and food? Or are you likely just a guy in a cabin with a sleeping bag and a rifle? One might be worth dying for, the other is not, and the odds are a gamble at best.
There's also the consideration of whether or not one is a lone household, or has neighbors for mutual defense. It doesn't take much crossfire to make a very unpleasant situation for attackers. Small towns beyond suburbs I believe will be fairly safe. People have shown a reluctance to evacuate even in the face of credible advance notice of a disaster and orders to do so. Any surprise collapse will hinder them worse--no outside help will be forthcoming--and any slow decline will follow examples we've seen--most people will stick around and do little, and the observant ones will make what plans they can. Given that, any mob will be on foot, or using periodically looted vehicles with little attention to survival gear. There could even be a Mad Max-type scramble with every member of the mob taking their own Mercedes or BMW, just for "status." This will not be an efficient, trained, prepared or well-fed fighting machine.
There will be a potential threat posed by veterans or others with training who didn't plan ahead, but recall their old lessons. At the same time, these people will be more amenable to negotiation, and, if they have useful skills, could be assets to a survivor community. There will, of course, be a small subset of bad apples.
Still, at more than fifty miles from a city, I don't expect mobs in the hundreds. Dozens could be possible. Off the main routes, especially once maps are scarce and electronic routing down, that density will drop. As with any other threat, it can't be eliminated, but it can be minimized.
Something to consider is the visibility that preparedness features like greenhouses, gardens and water tanks offer. Situating them at a small distance could be inconvenient, but offer an additional layer of protection.
Once we reach 100 miles from major cities (Assuming we're not in the sprawl of the Northeast US, Southern California, Ontario Peninsula, Southwest England or other urban clusters), we're looking at 20-30 days hiking time for untrained people on foot, and vehicle-born elements will be seeking to stay near fuel sources or centers urban enough for familiarity and possible loot. Certainly, further is better, but as noted, it's helpful to live in one's retreat, or not too far from it. Looking locally to myself, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville and Cincinnati are poor choices for areas to live. However, while Fort Wayne, South Bend, Terre Haute, Evansville, Bloomington and Champaign-Urbana are not great either, one can be 30 miles from one of them, quite rural, and still within commuting distance of a good job, while being hundreds of miles from the major cities. This allows access to the benefits of society while it lasts, and distance from any collapse. Depending on the disaster, the smaller towns could remain safe (terrorists are unlikely to use a nuke on Bloomington, IN, for example) and become recovery centers themselves.
As to threats, I've downgraded nukes considerably in my plans. With an ongoing reduction in the size and range of national nuclear weapons, and increased trade and interdependence, the threat for attack and fallout comes down to what terrorists can deliver in a truck or chartered plane. I can't imagine that such a device will be terribly efficient or potent. This of course also means it will be dirty. There will be fallout.
Therefore, east (downwind) of major centers like Chicago, Cleveland, NYC or Philadelphia are to be avoided. The less "household name" the city is, the less likely it is to be a target--consider that recent events were in NYC, DC, London, Paris...very visible "flags" of their respective nations. I'd always try to avoid downwind, but cities in the Western States (except perhaps Denver and Las Vegas) are far less likely to be targets, and have more room around them.
An additional note is that it's a good idea to have some spare sick or vacation days (if your job provides them) that one can periodically use when things look bad, or for an occasional surprise practice session. - Michael Z. Williamson


This is the first time I’ve really disagreed with you in the short time I’ve been reading your blog. (I've been reading it for a few months). You stated 300 miles from any major metro center. Well I’m from St. Louis and while my bug-out-retreat is well outside of the city, 300 miles would bring me up to Chicago from St. Louis. That is a lot of space. People are not going to drive 100, 200, or 300 miles to rape and pillage in areas that they are not familiar with. Especially in this country when everybody has a gun. It will remain to be seen. - Regards, Zac

JWR Replies: That "safe distance" radius was based on my estimation of a worst case WTSHTF type situation, if and when law and order has completely broken down and there has been a massive involuntary exodus from the big cities. In my recently released book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation I refer to this departing mob as the Golden Horde. Under such circumstances, virtually everyone living on a line of drift that is within 300 miles of a megalopolis can expect to see refugees passing by their homes, and possibly some looters. Take a map of the United States and schoolboy's drawing compass and start drawing 300 mile radius circles around any city of 800,000 or more, you will soon see that anywhere east of the Missouri River there will little more than multiple overlapping circles. If my prediction is right, then this does not bode well for easterners. Everyone has their own "comfort zone," with a perceived safe distance from major population centers. I found that mine was way out in the hinterboonies. As they say in the car commercials: "Your mileage may vary."

Mat The Propmeister reminded me to mention that there have been some very handy do-it-yourself projects detailed at Make Magazine, ("The first magazine devoted entirely to DIY technology projects"), including great articles on heirloom technology, and "Makeshift" scenarios.

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In a recent e-mail, my buddy "Purk" in Nevada noted that this is the time of year that the phone companies in many regions distribute free new phone books. Paper from phone books can be used in place of toilet in case of emergency. (Preferably new phone books, to minimize the risk of lingering bacteria from handling.) Purk says: "Here in the 'Big City', they're passing out new ones and recycling the old so it's a pretty good time to grab a few." I should mention that here at the Rawles Ranch--out in the serious hinterboonies, the combined white and yellow pages phone book covers the four local communities that are within an hour's drive. But it measures only 6 x 9 inches and is less than 1/2-inch thick. It is a far cry from the major metro area monster phone books, where just the yellow page volumes can be three inches thick.

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Michael in Australia alerted us that Larry Wick (the creator of the Split Second Survival self defense DVD, which I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog) has just released a new DVD called Live Fire that dispels a few myths on gun disarming techniques, and so forth. It was filmed using live ammo. Michael says that the video is only 30 minutes long, but quite interesting.


"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more." - Dr. Seuss

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas! Today we reflect on the significance of the advent of Christ Jesus. He is my savior, and I pray that he is yours, too. May God bless you and yours in the coming New Year! We trust in God's guidance, providence, and protection.

The following is another article for Round 8 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 there are a lot of great entries this round of the contest, I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 8 will end on January 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The following are a few comments on what might be a good vehicle at times of crisis, infrastructure failure, etc. Call it what you want - I don’t know what will, or will not happen in the future. This lack of knowledge makes it equally difficult to know what attributes might be needed in a car or truck. I live in a rural area of New York State - maybe 200 miles from New York City, 50-60 from the state capitol - Albany. My experience is that of a diesel mechanic, electrician, farmer, and house builder - mostly "old school" trained in all. If some sort of disaster occurs - will I stay here or will I be "heading for different hills?" I don’t know. I’ve got land, a home, and a shop along with solar-electric here; I’ve got a crude cabin with solar power in the Adirondack Mountains, and also some wild forest land on the New York - Canadian border. If I had to travel - and I don’t know how far or for how long - issues include, at least, cargo and people carrying, possible trailer pulling, 4WD, and . . . probably most important - decent fuel mileage and the possibility of finding more fuel. I suspect, in just about any crisis, gasoline will disappear fast - real fast. And - you can’t plan ahead and store it since it goes bad quickly. This leads me to diesel. Diesel will store virtually forever - I’ve used ten-year old fuel with no problems. Availability? At least here in the Northeast, most houses, schools, businesses, etc. have heating-oil tanks and heating oil is simply diesel fuel with dye added - to stop people from using it on the road and avoiding paying tax. I suspect, during bad times, diesel will be easier to find than gasoline - especially considering how few people there will be than can use it. Home oil-heating systems won’t work without electricity. Most modern diesel cars and trucks with electronic fuel-injection systems will not run on off-road diesel or heating oil. So, for the most part - the only road vehicles that can use it are the older ones - mostly pre-1994 (there are a few exceptions). Same vehicles will also run on combinations of waste motor-oil, cooking grease, corn oil, etc. My choice - perhaps not perfect - is a Chevy 4WD truck with a 6.2 diesel. They can often be purchased in the $1,000 price range. They were made from '82 to '93. In '94 the engine was enlarged to 6.5, the block was cheapened, and an electronic fuel injection system was added - and I’d stay away from it [due to complexity and EMP vulnerability]. Ford also had a good system up to mid-'94 - but the Fords are not as fuel-efficient. Ford never made a light diesel full-size truck like GM but the International Harvester 6.9 or 7.3 engines used by Ford are very good. The Dodges with diesel engines were not offered in light trucks either - but their Cummins diesels are the most efficient engines on the market. I didn’t chose Cummins because of their high-price. It’s hard to find a Dodge Cummins with low miles at a reasonable cost. Some of the older Dodge 1 ton pickups, however, can get just as good fuel mileage as a 1/2 ton Chevy.
My reasoning is this. The Chevys are pretty cheap on a relative scale. They are fuel efficient, and parts are easy to find and cheap. Much cheaper than for a Dodge Cummins. The US military uses the GM diesel engines in the [obsolescent] CUCVs and [currently fielded] Humvees - adding the bonus of military surplus parts. My situation is thus. I have half a dozen diesel Chevy trucks - so I have lots of spare parts. My '82 Chevy K10 4WD pickup will get 23 MPG on the flat highway. If pulling a 3,000 lb. trailer - the mileage goes down to 14-15 MPG. I can pull the trailer with some gear and also a 300 gallon fuel tank. So, hooked to the trailer - I have a total of 340 gallons of fuel - and a potential travel range of 4,760 miles. That’s pretty good - but I’m also not figuring on the chance of someone shooting me along the way. I did say "potential" miles. I can also fit a 150 gallon tank inside the truck bed - thus making a total fuel reserve of 190 gallons with no trailer hooked behind. Not sure what the fuel mileage would be - but probably in the 17 MPG range. That gives a potential trip length of 3,230 miles - still pretty good. The Chevy or GMC diesels, unlike the Fords or Dodges, uses the same engine-bolt pattern and same drive-train parts as the gas trucks. So, many gas-powered truck-parts fit the diesels, and even a complete gas engine will easily bolt in place of a diesel engine. Since neither Ford or Dodge make their own diesel engines - parts don’t swap between gas and diesel units.
I’ve read a few comments about diesel powered trucks being overweight and clumsy. Not true with all. This comes back to GM being the only company to make a light diesel truck. The diesel truck weighs a few hundred pounds more than a gas - that’s all. They offered the diesel in 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton, and 1 ton pickups. Also in full-size Blazers, vans, and Suburbans. I’ve read a few claims/ issues about turbocharged engines not being reliable. The 6.2 does not have a factory turbo, but one can be added if desired. It does not present a huge problem. A turbo will provide more power and more potential of better fuel mileage. In real-world driving though - when we can go faster - we usually do go faster. So, usually adding a turbo does not raise MPGs. Turbos last a long time - I’ve got 300,000 miles on one of mine. But - if a turbo fails on the road - you can remove it, and drive without it. You don’t have to be stuck.
On a side-note- the issue of older gas engines with carburetors - in cars, trucks, tractors, even electric generators. Most can be made to run on smoke from a smoldering fire. This was often done in Europe during WWII. cars, trucks, farm tractors, etc. They were run on paper smoke, wood smoke, brush smoke, etc. You still need gasoline to start the engine though, it must be warmed up before it can run on smoke. Not very useful for a car that needs to be started and stopped often. Much more practical for electric-generator use - or perhaps long trips if you can find anything to burn along the way.
Ultimately the best plan - is a safe country with a sound future for us and our children. I can’t enforce that plan and I do not trust our government to ensure it. I have to keep reminding myself - that our government is not some magical clear-thinking entity. It is a large group of people - with little motive to strive for excellence. Some of them are smart, some are idiots.
Second best plan- is the ability to stay put and survive off of what I have here in storage for me, my family, and crippled dog. I have no way of knowing if that will be possible when things go bad. We have food for a year, solar power, gravity water available, firewood, a couple thousand gallons of diesel fuel, etc. If we did not have to move - I suspect we’d have trouble protecting what we have - both from people run amuck - and de facto governments. If we had to take off - quick? Obviously, we cannot take it all with us. If someone has a better idea, I’m listening. - John in Central New York State

The public comment period on The 2007 Farm Bill (including funding for NAIS) ends on December 31st. If you object to NAIS biochipping of farm livestock and pets please be sure to register your comments.

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Economic commentator Mish Shedlock (co-editor of the free Whiskey and Gunpowder e-newsletter) offered the following on the value of U.S. five cent "nickel" pieces: "The Mint had to be crazy to announce that a nickel is worth 7 cents. I got to thinking about this a bit more, and a nickel is really 0.05 dollars plus a call option on the price of copper and nickel (the metals) in the nickel. If that option is ITM (in the money) enough, the mint cannot prevent people from hoarding them, which will in turn drive up the cost of producing them. In fact, the actual price does not even have to get high enough; the mere expectation that metal prices will get high enough could cause hoarding. Of course, the Mint tried to negate that call option by making it illegal to melt the coins, but that will not stop hoarding if the expected or actual price of copper and nickel gets high enough. All the Mint really accomplished was telling everyone that a nickel is backed up by something useful, even if a dollar is not. Eventually, this is likely to force the mint to debase the nickel by replacing the copper and nickel in the nickel with steel or aluminum."

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Reader "Swampthing" notes that the The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has the goal of a total ban on all hunting and fishing. He suggests: "I think your readers should pay attention to every move they make, no matter how benign it seems."

"How many observe Christ's birthday! How few, his precepts! O! 'tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments." - Benjamin Franklin

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Jim,
For added COMSEC, I strongly advise those with transceivers to leave the microphones unplugged. This is a sure way to limit giveaway radio frequency (RF) emissions.
For those who have to make transmissions, for example contacting family members, the use of [highly directional] high gain multi-element "beam" (yagi) or log periodic yagi antennas at the base station would reduce the RF signature. The higher the gain a "beam" antenna has the more elements there are on the boom and therefore the narrower the signal spread will be, in degrees, off the front of the antenna. An antenna that has 11-15 elements versus one that is constructed with 4 [elements] has a tighter pattern both vertically and horizontally. This, therefore, reduces the probability of intercept of the signal. [With highly directional antennas,] interception is not eliminated but the more line of sight the signal is, the harder it is to locate. This works better at the higher frequencies i.e.. 130 vs. 17 MHz and 440 vs. 151 MHz etc.
All the base station operator has to do is point the antenna (the end that has the shortest elements) at the receiving radio, be it a fixed station or mobile. Knowing the exact compass point is even better. As you stated liberal use of pre-arranged codes and frequency changes accompanied with pauses (time outs in transmissions) after frequency changing is helpful especially if the radios are dual band models where cross band transmission is employed. [Where station A transmits on frequency x and receives on frequency y, and meanwhile station B transmits on frequency y and receives on frequency x. Thus anyone intercepting the transmission will only hear one half of the conversation.]
I would venture to guess that there will not be many spread spectrum analyzers floating around the countryside during a meltdown but there will be scanners aplenty so I strongly recommend folks possess dual band radios. Just remember: Keep the microphones unplugged until needed. - Joe from Tennessee

Hi Jim and Family,
I thought I would pass along a bit of news for Hams. The FCC has done away with the Morse code requirement for all U.S. Amateur Radio Licenses. The current No Code Tech license will change to include the Tech Plus license privileges. I can see advantages for knowing Morse code for communications. One thing it will punch through almost all interference and cover more distance on less power. However the FCC must have thought that the code requirement had become more of a hindrance to Hams as opposed to a benefit for each level of license. The changes should become effective sometime in February according to the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) site. Here is the ARRL web page with all the information on the ruling.
I know a lot of Hams who bemoan the fact that the code requirement has gone away. I do understand their point. And unfortunately a part of communications history has passed. However I can see a benefit in one way. More Hams will more than likely seek a higher license level. And those who learn the code will do so not just to fulfill a requirement but for the love of the code. Those who did manage to learn for advancement did not necessarily keep up their skills and the code was not a big part of their abilities. Hence those who have a love of this mode of communication should preserve the code. 73s and Merry Christmas, - The Rabid One

Hi Jim,
I saw this today and thought it was a very interesting construction technique: Grancrete.

I also saw a site on sandbag construction some time ago and I thought that it was also interesting

Either one could be used to construct a low cost shelter that could range from "bullet resistant" to "bullet proof", depending on thickness. The grancrete could even be sprayed in successive layers to develop the desired thickness as it will adhere to itself unlike concrete.

I hope that you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2007! Regards, - Tim P.

Jason M. pointed out this article: Arizona has ended Nevada's 19-year reign as the nation's fastest-growing state, fueled by immigrants and Americans moving from other states.

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From our friend Noah, over at the DefenseTech blog: Some of the Blackwater and Triple Canopy boys are running a bit amok.

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John the Bowhunter mentioned this one: California home sellers face several more months of pain, leading housing economists said Thursday. I think that they are overly optimistic, it will more likely be years rather than "months" before the market recovers.

"The idea that government doesn't grant rights is offensive to those who wish to control our lives. Therefore, to gain greater control, the idea of natural rights, God-given rights and Christian values must be suppressed. The idea that rights precede government was John Locke's natural law philosophy, which had a significant influence on our nation's founders, but they chose to refer to natural law as rights endowed by the Creator. The attack on Christian ideas and Christian public displays is part and parcel of the Leftist control agenda in another way. Certain components of the Leftist agenda require that our primary allegiance be with government. As such, there must be an attack on allegiances to the teachings of the church and family. After all, for example, if you want popular acceptance of homosexual marriages, there must be a campaign against church teachings that condemn such practices. Emboldened by their successes in the courts and intimidation of public officials, Leftists will no doubt make other demands; there's no logical end point except complete Christian capitulation. There are Christian symbols and exhibits in many Washington, DC, government buildings that will come down, such as: Moses with the Ten Commandments inside the U.S. Supreme Court, George Washington praying in the Capitol Building, Abraham Lincoln's speech mentioning God carved inside the Lincoln Memorial. Religious programming on the radio and television will come under attack. After all, there's Federal Communications Commission permission to use the 'public airwaves.' If Leftists say they have no such intention to go after television, radio and other public expressions of Christianity, what they really mean is that they haven't softened us up enough yet. I'm not quite sure of just how we should respond to the ongoing attack on Christianity and American values, but we'd better do something quickly." - Dr. Walter Williams

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Today we present another Retreat Owner Profile. I have slightly fictionalized some details to protect the anonymity of "Mr. and Mrs. Oscar." If you truly “live the life” of survivalism with a well-equipped retreat and you wouldn’t mind seeing your Profile up on this site, please e-mail me the details in the same format as the other Profiles, and I will consider posting it. (I have room for just a few more in the alphabetical archives.) Note: I'd particularly like to include Profiles from survivalists that live overseas.

Home/property: Located in eastern Wisconsin. 160 acres of mixed pine and oak forest. 32,000 trees planted in the last two years. Entered in tree management program. House 2,800 square feet. Principally heated by a soapstone stove with propane hot water backup. Built in 1981. Outbuilding shed/library/reloading room. A 40x30 pole barn. Shed has cast iron "cooking/heating" stove, wood fired…propane backup. 1,000 gallon propane tank. Inverter in place for addition of 6,500 watt diesel generator to be installed spring '07. 200 gallons gasoline stabilized and in place. 70 gallons kerosene. 500 gallon diesel tank to be in place at addition of generator. Several solar panels in inventory and more to follow. Plan to get off grid by '09 if there is time. Have 15 springs and an artesian flow into 18 acres of wetland with a five acre pond adjacent to home. Pond built as trout rearing facility by DNR in 1941. Trout/walleye/perch/crappies abound in crystal clear cool water. Site not nearly defensible as wished but 2-3 miles of barbed wire in inventory with staking to be erected when time comes. Dozens of caltrops on hand for roadway interdiction Security system in place with video system to follow. Another large pole building will be built in '07-'08 for further storage of vehicles/tools.

Age: He, 59 and She 55. Children grown and gone but back to farm regularly.

Income. In excess of $400,000 annually.
Professions: She is an M.D. with 22 years on the job. He is an Instructor in Administration of Justice at a local community college. He is a Viet Nam vet and witnessed the Tet offensive firsthand. Saw Saigon a city in chaos, a society in collapse. He graduate with B.S./M.S. in education. Graduate of Oregon Institute of Technology (Gunsmithing) 1976. Practiced full time/part time 25 years in the trade.
Investments. The land and the trees, stocks and bonds, and "investment grade" weapons.
Property will be paid off in March of '07. Plan is to invest in off grid power upgrades
Vehicles. She, a Mercedes. He a Ford 4WD pickup. There are two BMW motorcycles, one a 2002 1100RT, The other is a perfect condition 1985 80ST. The ST should need no protection from any EMP threat. Many small engine gas powered garden implements of the DR type. She has an Vespa scooter. Bicycles were bought last month. 11-06.
Weaponry. He is a state certified instructor with pistols, rifles, shotguns and submachine guns. He also teaches vehicles contacts and emergency vehicle operation and chemical munitions. They have incorporated a small business corporation to obtain registered Class 2 and Class 3 weapons. There are currently: 1 Ingram M10 in .45ACP with [suppressor] can. 1 Swedish "K" 9mm SMG, 1 Sterling Mk4 9mm SMG, 1 Thompson .45ACP SMG, 1 FN-FL heavy barrel select fire .308, 1 SAW M16 with can, 1 M-1A with glass, 1 FN Belgian .308 with glass, 1 Bushmaster .308 with Nightforce glass. 3 SKS, 1 AK-47 semi, 2 M-1 Carbines (U.S.G.I.) 1 Marlin Camp Carbine 9mm and 1 in .45 suppressed. 3 Remington Senderos one .223/1-.308/1-.300 W.M. All with Nightforce glass. One Barrett .50 BMG single shot with Nightforce glass. The Bushmaster will be suppressed in 01-07. There are many, many more "sporting arms." 11 other suppressed items. Many handguns. Currently there is a FN 5.7x28 with can and four 30 round mags and four 20 round. There is a FN M90 5.7x28 rifle. A FN .223/M2000 is in the pipeline. The 5.7x28 weapons are astonishing in their performance and penetration. There are 6 fighting shotguns of various manufacture, all 12 gauge. We all shoot a lot.
Ammunition. Thousands and thousands. A full compliment of reloading capability.
Fuel: Gasoline. Kerosene, previously mentioned. We have six cases Coleman fuel. Many cylinders of bottled gas for stoves and 200 pounds of charcoal. (diversify, diversify)
Future improvements were previously mentioned. They all depend on what is affordable and when and how the poop hits the prop.
Crops/garden: 2,700 square foot garden. To be planted this next season (Spring of '07) with non-hybrids only. We can 300-400 jars annually the rest gets the deep freeze. We murder big and small game regularly and plan to try drying/jerky experiments with game in '07. There are 20 fruit trees planted with 20-30 more to follow in '07. We put up 20-30 pints/quarts of berries from the woods this year.
Property tax was typical of Wisconsin. Two years ago it was in excess of $6,800. Cut to about half by entering the tree management program.
Animals. One old Bouvier a new one to follow in '07. A Labrodoodle for hunting. Two cats. No animal husbandry however we are looking at rabbits and chickens. Perhaps a Rhodesian Ridgeback in '08 for a set of teeth for the farm.
Communications. Two receivers capable of AM/FM Ham. Four handhelds and one base Marine Band. We are well inland from the Mississippi and expect no interference. CB base and portables. 6 FRS walkie-talkies. Will obtain 2-to-4 field telephones when found for sale. Already have two miles of commo wire for same on hand.
Food. 1 year freeze-dried for 2 adults. At least 1 year of same in wet pack. 12 cases MREs, with more to follow. Much bulk stored wheat/rice/beans. 300 gallons of water in plastic. Capability to filter and clean 50,000 gallons from pond.
Hobbies. We read quite a bit with over 1,500 books in the library. He has been into preparedness for 30 years. She for 5. We can/garden/shoot/bird watch/tend the forest/study foraging ( a noted forager with a new book out lives within 6 miles…we will take his courses next spring). Reloading/hunting/woodcutting (Four cords on hand and ongoing).
Background. She a native South Dakotan. Now an M.D. A Christian. Enjoys hunting. A voracious reader of all things. He a former police officer (14) years who found teaching Law Enforcement was infinitely better than the frustration of being a practitioner. He, an atheist with respect for all peaceful faiths/beliefs. He teaches a course on terrorism for a local community college.
Concerns: There is a growing population of predators (animal) in the area. There have been five credible sightings of cougar in the district. We have a compliment of bears. Our county has been a dumping ground for "problem" bears from other parts of the state. Thanks a lot! Six wolves have been sighted this deer season on the property. Coyotes abound. I have no problem with a "healthy" predator population. It is a sign of a healthy environment. I worry for livestock/chickens/rabbits and the dogs. Feral pigs are a growing problem south of us. No doubt to be here any time. They are destructive.
Further preparations must be started for the improvement of the defenses.
There will be an influx of at least eight adults and one child if the poop hits the prop. More prep for those. Several "by in" to preparedness. Most (the spouses) do not.
There is a lot on our plate as with anyone in the process of preparing. We would like to meet with others of our ilk. How to do this is a conundrum. We have obtained a large amount of trapping supplies. Two close friends are trappers with years of experience. We will learn.

President Bush says that the U.S. needs to expand the Army and Marine Corps to fight extended campaigns overseas.

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Our correspondent in Brazil ("The Werewolf") spotted an article from the Yukon Territory with advice on bears in your backyard. as well as this one: What to Do When You Encounter a Bear The Werewolf said that he found the bits at the end, about "Predatory Attacks" downright funny.

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In a recent conversation with my friend Dr. S. Hans Paine, he mentioned both the web site as a general medical reference, and for prescription drug information. Lots of information is a available free at both sites. He recommended that medical professionals get the paid subscription upgrade to Epocrates which includes greater detail, including information on herbal equivalents to modern pharmaceuticals.

"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

Friday, December 22, 2006

The high bid is still at $260 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. (They are one of our first and most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their site and check out their huge inventory of preparedness-related products. BTW, they have additional copies of each of the titles listed below, as well as more than a hundred other titles.)

Dear Jim:
Re your recommendation that a retreat for TEOTWAWKI needs to be "at least one tank of gas away from the big cities--preferably at least 300 miles, if possible" to escape at least the worst of roving looter gangs. I agree 100% -- I see getting out of the [path of the] flow of looters as the # 1 problem. Just like real estate - LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. You can store food, and learn how to grow food in time (or barter stored wealth) but no matter how good you are, sooner or later you'll take casualties if you are in the [path of the] "looter flow."
The question I am wrestling with, is -- if you can't move full time to your retreat, what is the minimum distance you can afford to be from a major metro area, say 1 million people?
Obviously the further away the better for safety -- but you also want to be as close as possible as well:
You want to be close enough that you could get to it bugging out on foot, in a worst case scenario.
You want to be close enough to be able to commute there regularly to upgrade, do maintenance, check on your property, etc., etc. ... (It would be heartbreaking to find your remote retreat burglarized after bugging out, because you hadn't been there in months.)
You want to be close enough to be able to talk your spouse into bugging out of the city when the situation looks like it could go bad, but there is no clear go decision.
The closer it is, the easier it is to talk your spouse into the value as a weekend home as well as for survival.
It's a very tough tradeoff decision.
Obviously you can come in closer, less un-safely, if your retreat is in a very inaccessible and/or hidden spot, e.g., dead end road, hilly, wooded terrain, not visible from the road, and not within hiking distance of nearby roads. Inaccessibility is probably more important than straight mileage. For example, 300 miles out of Dodge, but just one mile off the Interstate Highway is still useless.
You could even get creative with building below grade, camouflage, etc., etc. to be even lower profile. Also if you have a well trained team with sufficient numbers, and your perimeter security is very tight, you might want to chance being closer.
What else could you do to lower the distance needed? Bottom line - how close is no good, vs. how close is a reasonable tradeoff? Yours truly, - OSOM

JWR Replies: As I've written many times before, it is best to live at your intended retreat, year round. I realize that this isn't feasible for everyone. If you can't live there, at least pre-position the vast majority of your beans, bullets and Band-aids. Have a trusted friend be your full time caretaker. Be prepared to "Get Out Of Dodge" on very short notice. And if things start to look dicey, do not hesitate to bug out and beat "The Golden Horde" out of town.

One thing that you could do to to reduce the distance required is to studiously avoid natural lines of drift. (Such as major highways, river valleys, railroad tracks, and coastal liitorals.) There are potential retreat locales perhaps just 75 miles from major cities that might be bypassed because they are on disadvantageous terrain. (Think in terms of hilly country with just a few small access roads, islands, properties that are on the far side of natural obstacles such as rivers, or that are in large river delta regions.) Take a few weekend drives in the rural areas near where you live. Do some careful map study and then do some driving to meticulously search for the hard-to-access areas. By concentrating on such bypassed areas, you will be off the path of more than 90% of potential looters. But even still, anywhere less than 200 miles from major metropolitan areas will be a gamble, in my estimation. I don't want to take that sort of risk, so the Rawles Ranch is more than 400 miles from the nearest metropolitan an area with more than 1,000,000 people, and 130 miles from the nearest city of 200,000. It is also in a carefully selected area that is both away from refugee lines of drift and that is not downwind of any expected nuclear targets. Yes, it is a long drive for us to go and visit relatives or even just to shop for a truck or for a major appliance. But the good news is that it is so beautiful here that nearly all of our relatives all want to do the driving to come and visit us. See my newly-released book Rawles on Retreat and Relocation for details on retreat locale selection and envisioned nuclear target structures. In the book, I provide detailed recommendations on specific locales within those 19 states. The book includes my top picks in Idaho (my mostly highly rated state for retreat potential) that have never been posted or published elsewhere.

Mr. Rawles:
Hey, I was just wondering what everyone with radios is planning in order to conceal the location of their transmissions from people who could potentially use the signal as a beacon to guide them right to your antenna. It might be fairly difficult to build a tracker, but I suspect there are pre-made devices to direction-find a fairly strong signal (e.g. ham radio). Thanks, - James D.

JWR Replies: The only people that have effective radio direction finding ("DF") equipment and the requisite expertise to operate it are A.) The NSA and a few other government agencies such as the FCC--mainly for tracking down unlicensed pirate stations, and B.) ham radio operators themselves, who practice playing "fox and hound". (Here is a sample of a site dedicated to the latter --quite a sport.) Hams tend to be very law-abiding folks. I can't imagine many of them going renegade and turning into looters. However, I can foresee many looter gangs showing rudimentary SIGINT skills and using portable public service band ("police") scanners. So it is wise to use low power and directional antennas. Never mention surnames, locations, lat/long, map coordinates, or street addresses "in the clear." In my estimation, it is not likely that looter gangs would be sufficiently sophisticated to use DF gear. But never take anything for granted. It is conceivable that someone that worked in the SIGINT community could sell their services to a large looter gang, in a "slow slide" situation. Be prudent and take the proper COMSEC measures. If and when the Schumer hits the fan, you should construct your own brevity codes and change your call signs and frequencies frequently. Oh, by the way, I describe radio intercept, radio direction finding, and COMSEC in considerable detail in some of the closing chapters of my novel "Patriots" , which recently went back into print. Among others, one of the methods that I describe in the novel is bouncing signals from a directional antenna off of large metal structures such as large barns or grain silos, to confuse DF operators. I also discuss HF transmissions, which have near vertical incidence when propagating in long distance skywave mode. It takes very sophisticated equipment to DF those signals. (As opposed to short distance groundwave HF signals, that can easily be DFed.)

One further note: We now live in the age of Bluetooth. If and when TSHTF, if you have a wireless network for your home computers, you should plan to turn the transmitter off and use it as a strictly "hard wire" Ethernet device. A clever looter might leave a laptop turned on in his vehicle, sensing when the vehicle passes an active wireless network. (Even if you keep blackout shutters up--making your house look like all of your neighbors that are without power--an active wireless network could mark your house as a lucrative target.) Ditto for cell phones and cordless telephones. Assuming that the phone circuits are still working during a period of lawlessness (not likely, but possible), be sure to switch to "land line only" for the duration.

Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute mentioned that she still has a good inventory of her book "Surviving A Bioterrorist Attack: Prevention, Treatment and Management." I highly recommend that you get a copy. It could be a life-saving resource!

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Denver digs out from an early winter storm. Governor Bill Owens is advising motorists to stay off of the state highways. Meanwhile, Christmas travelers are stranded at the Denver airport.

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Reader B.H. sent this one: Report Reveals 2.2 Million Borrowers Face Foreclosure on Subprime Home Loans. It looks like and ugly end to the U.S. bi-coastal housing bubble.

"So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country." - Charlton Heston

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To borrow the modern parlance: "Woo Hoo!" We just topped 900,000 unique visits and 42.1 million page hits! Many thanks, folks. Our readership is still growing steadily. Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. I would greatly appreciate it if you'd consider adding a SurvivalBlog link to your web page and/or to the bottom of your mail "sig" block. Thanks!

Today we present another article for Round 8 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 there are a lot of great entries this round of the contest, I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 8 will end on January 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Pre-crisis survival skills: The only tool more valuable than knowledge is an attitude of self sufficiency. The mere willingness to provide for your own needs can pay off everyday, even absent any “end of the world as we know it” event. In fact, simply being willing to provide for your own needs can pave the way for not only learning valuable skills, but saving money to boot!
By way of example let me tell you about a recent experience with the steam heating system at my lady friend’s house. It is a Victorian house and the main boiler furnace was replaced five years ago as it was in poor condition and needed a new boiler. This is a single pipe steam system not a closed hot water system so it needs regular water replenishing. The other thing of note is her water is very hard locally with lots of dissolved minerals.
So the story begins with the first cold afternoon of the season. The thermostat had been turned on and the pilot light was working that morning so she figured when she got home everything would be toasty warm. Well she got home and had no heat, and so called the heating man to come and see what was wrong. He came and checked over the system and got it going. He said it was a plugged flue so he cleaned that and put in a new low water sensor lead which appeared corroded and leaves her with a $100 bill, an hour later. To me this says the burner is carbonizing and not burning cleanly for a gas fired boiler. No other future recommendations besides call them if there are any other further issues. Okay, I didn’t have to do anything so no real complaints.
A week later no heat and again she calls, a second service tech is there and 60 minutes later she has heat and another $100 bill. This time it is a low water condition and he fills the boiler manually but couldn’t read the level in the site glass so just filled it till it started running again, but he says everything is okay for now and maybe you will have to replace the lower water controller at a future time.
I finally say enough I am going to take look at it. So a quick search on the web on boilers and a basic plumbing book I had on the shelf that I got at a garage sale the year before for a dollar and I now have some basic information for trouble shooting, then I go down to start with a survey.
The first thing I see is the main drain valve installed by this same company five years ago on the new boiler, has the valve handle removed so it can sit right up tight next to the water heater that stands beside the boiler. Funny after 100 years the boiler no longer needs periodic draining to remove scale even though the owner has been systematically doing it for 15 years per the previous recommended service people. So the tech has had to use a pair of vise grips to open the value to drain the boiler to test the low water sensor. Not that this 2nd tech would consider replacing the valve and putting in an elbow to turn the valve away from the hot water heater so a proper draining could be done in the future, and maybe he should consider cleaning the sight glass which was so coated with crud inside you couldn’t see the water level properly anyway.
I having been a maintenance engineer for two years so I said "Okay lets fix this baby."
So I spent $9 for a new elbow and valve, and had at hand some Teflon pipe dope and assortment of wrenches, a proper work light and bucket to sit on to take the weight off my knees as this might take a while and I can only squat for so long and I was ready to start.
Now I see why the tech took so long to trouble shoot the boiler issues. They had to drain the boiler into a bucket, one bucket at a time to get out the 40 odd gallons in the systems at $85 dollars an hour, nice work if you can get it, emptying boilers manually, gee isn’t this the 21st century, wow maybe I am in the wrong business, anyway so I get a bucket and put in an electric sump pump I have to hand and hook up the garden hose and then by draining the cooled boiler water directly into the bucket continuously and running the sump pump I put the water out through the hose and I drained the system in fewer than 5 minutes. Wow maybe I should be giving the certified plumbers a lesson in efficiency.
First improvement: Bucket, pump, hose for draining and testing.
Then when the water was emptied, I had my lady friend move the water heater a 1⁄4 inch with a 8 foot long 2 x 4 so I could remove the old drain valve and put in the new elbow and a new drain valve, I guided her effort as we just had to move it a little and even though it was also full of water, it was a 40 gallon tank, she was able to move it just enough to not disturb the connecting piping or vent. Now I had enough room to hacksaw off the stem of the bad drain valve, so I could unscrew it to install the new 90 degree elbow and put in the brand new drain valve after doping all the threads with Teflon pipe dope.
Second improvement: better clearance, new elbow, new valve for speedier draining.
Now that we could drain the boiler properly and efficiently, you should have seen all the crud that still came out after the second filling and draining to test out the new drain valve. Now that I could drain and fill the system, the question of course was how high was the water level to be, too low and the low water sensor tries to turn on the auto fill valve, too high and you get water hammer in the pipes as the steam tries to force it’s way up an overly full pipe and surges. So the next thing was, let’s see if we can clean the sight glass and get a handle on water level since there doesn’t seem to have been any issues with either electricity or gas to the furnace at this point.
So with the sight glass cleaned up we can now visually monitor the water level in the boiler… a little gentle wrenching and some silicone spray on the seals after working them loose to make it easy to reassemble. Then using a small rod with some fiberglass insulation wrapped around it and I was able to clean the tube almost as clean as new, a kind of home made test tube cleaner, the fiber glass wouldn’t scratch the sight tube as it was also made of glass, but it was abrasive enough without leaving any residue, to scrape the brown built up baked on sludge off the inside of the tube.
The two shut off sight valves stems were badly corroded and leaking past their packing, so it was time to gently take them both apart and lightly emery cloth around the stem to create a new sealing surface, and then I dug out the baked packing inside the cap nuts with a nice dull straight bit screw driver. The material which looked like window glazing compound was all dried out and so it was useless to try and tighten the nuts to try to get them to clamp down on the packing to create some sealing. After removing all the old packing I did a little wipe down with some silicon spay of the cap nuts with a clean rag and then I gently reassembled them with some new Teflon packing wrapped around the stems and I put a little Teflon bicycle bearing grease on the stem threads and the cap threads. They went back together as smooth as if they were new.
After refilling the systems there were no leaks anywhere and the new drain valve works smoothly and allowed for proper service draining and I can now see the water level is correct and we have heat.
Third improvement, emery clothe, grease, silicon spray, and Teflon packing.
I had my son working with me, watching what was going on so he was involved. I was asking him as I worked what is wrong with this before starting the emery on the valve stems, then showed him the final product after five minutes work and mentioned you could use old sand paper that had lost most of it’s grit or even a pocket knife in a pinch, that there are lots of different ways to fix things, we could have even used the bench lathe at home and burnished the valve stems if we wanted a superior sealing surface, and I talked to my son of the process of discovery, and of what to look for, as all things have a story to tell of misuse or poor maintenance if one only looks close enough. I did this as I was cleaning things so he could learn as I was learning how things come apart and go back together. Then we filled the boiler and could actually see the water in the sight glass and now have a more manual control of things. Besides saving money I used the opportunity to teach a valuable life skill to the next generation.
So on to the final step was the auto water level control. Now this unit sit on the water inlet to the furnace and gets a signal from the low water level sensor to put more water in the boiler, called make up water, after taking off the cover of the control and reading the settings for the small dip switches I see they have it set to come on after 2 minutes and to run for 2 minutes giving only 2 gallons of make up water. The problem was it seems one to be turning off and was over filling. So after turning off the power even though this is 24 volt control circuit and not a 120 circuit, I took apart the controller and carefully put aside the screws and cover and with small paper labels marked the two power leads to the solenoid. Then I took the solenoid off knowing there would be a magnetic plunger and return spring inside. Setting those aside and checking for wear and corrosion I found the rubber diaphragm sealing seat covered in scale from the hard water, which was preventing the seal from shutting off the water at the right time and allowing the boiler to over fill, which is why I found the manual water feed valves in the off position after the last service tech left. He obviously knew he would be back for another service all after turning the valves to the to off, it would only take a few days for the system to run low on water and for the furnace to stop running, nice to be able to plan future service calls. I took everything apart slowly and carefully and didn’t use any sharp edged tools so as not to scratch or tear anything. I eased the diaphragm off and cleaned it with Armor All [rubber/plastic treatment spray] so as to preserve the synthetic rubber seal. Then using CLR [Clear Lube wire pulling lubricant] and a soft wood piece I trimmed off some scrap wood, I worked it around the brass sealing seat scrubbing the scale off. No holes, no gouges. Everything looked good to me. I also made note of the part number of the gasket and the serial number of the controller so later I might e-mail the company and get some back up parts. So after reassembling every thing I refilled the boiler part way then lowered the level till the controller demanded water. The value worked and filled the boiler perfectly to right below the high water line with setting the timer to four minutes. I re-did the whole cycle again just to test it. So instead of a $650 replacement controller and $100 service call, I did all the work for the price of a cup of tea provided by my sweetheart, some Armor All and 2 cents worth of CLR. I think this would come out to almost $300 dollars and hour. Wow, I really am in the wrong business.
Fourth improvement, CLR, Armor All, wood chip.
So nothing high tech or even hard, a few hours worth of work and it is in better shape then when the service people left it after $200 of professional work. Besides the end result of improved and better running equipment, the first return on my investment of time and labor was an immediate saving of $750. I can use that to buy things that I can not make myself. For instance $200 would more than pay for a used 22 rifle and a thousand cartridges, or as much as a months worth of food for the whole household if spent very carefully.
Now both I and my son and my lady friend understand better how the system works and can in an emergency override the auto controls with the manual valves and I can teach the 2 kids what to do when there is no heat on in the house. And we are learning to work as a team and to figure things out and to communicate and to think on our own. The best survival skills I feel I could give my kids is teach them to think outside the box and work things through using that uncommon thing often called common sense.
Another important point is a little maintenance goes a long way, the two sight glass valves are so corroded into their respective feed pipes I am not sure I could have gotten them out with out lots more piping complications, if I was to try to replace them which is why I am sure the service people didn’t.
I grew up learning to fix things from my grandfather and my father, so by gently refurbishing the sight glass valves in place I saved a service call and further repair work.
Now that I am done I will digital photo the whole set up and print it off to go in the furnace file with dates and notes when this work was last performed so I also know how long my repairs are holding up.
Thinking back and as to how I learned to be self sufficient, when I was growing up I watched my grandfather service a bicycle wheel bearing while he sat in a folding lounge chair cleaning parts in kerosene, out doors on the cement patio of a used bike my parents had obtained for us. He was teaching me to wipe off the old hard grease and explaining that 5 cents of grease will make the bike run like a million dollars. I must have been all of 10 and am now 52 this year, and recently I helped my 13 year rebuild his first bicycle wheel hub and I said to him 5 cents worth grease will make it run like a million dollars. I can see my grandfather still and remember his patience as he showed me how to clean and assemble that hub so many years ago and that simple lesson still brings value today 40 plus years later. Thanks grandfather and you are remembered in a story to your great grand son you never met but knows where and what I learned, to do things carefully and the right way, and I hope he teaches his grand son or daughter and tells them about me and how I learned from you.
I take this same approach to being prepared with extra food stores and clothes and knowing how to use tools be they an ax or a buck saw, how to build a camp fire or always carrying a first aid kit in the car, and a spare flashlight and owning a box of candles and hard rations and good boots and the value of good socks, and knowing who to call and where to go in an emergency. It is all in the knowledge one carries in one’s head be prepared and be knowledgeable.
So the lesson is to know your equipment. If we ever are without heat and snowed in and the service people can’t come for days, like just what happened in Buffalo [New York] last week in my home town, we could now that we are familiar with the system possibly get it running again
One other important note all the work was done with the power shut off and the water turned off at the main. None of this type of work should be undertaken without some real knowledge of the basic safety required around any power equipment. - D.A.L.

S.H. Suggested this site: Mattracks--Rubber Track Conversion Systems For 4X4 Vehicles

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I recently had a great phone conversation with Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute. She mentioned that there are lots of people that prepared for Y2K who are now in possession of 8 , 9, or even 10-year-old stocks of gardening seed that by now have pitiful germination potential. These folks might mistakenly believe that they are still prepared to plant a sustenance garden. It is high time to replace that seed, preferably with heirloom (non-hybrid) varieties, such as those sold by The Ark Institute, the Seed Savers Exchange, or Ready Made Resources.

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There is an interesting thread of conversation underway over at The Claire Files, under the heading: Anyone planning on sticking around in a large city?

"If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking." - George S. Patton

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Today we present another article for Round 8 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 there are a lot of great entries this round of the contest, I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 8 will end on January 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As we all know, City people and Country people have a very different outlook on life. Some of that is opportunity, some is envy, some is ignorance. For the last 120+ years, the US economy (and much of the world economy) has been one of capitalism and materialism. Making stuff and selling it, making the economy grow until the physical limits are reached. Well, they've been reached. Peak Oil has led to the beginning of what is probably a pretty long collapse, but I can only judge based on the Roman Empire and the 1929 crash, history, rather than compare the USA to places like Zimbabwe where collapse has advanced at a rapid rate due to deliberately destructive policies by a madman. We're not really like that, and we have the advantage of a serious food surplus, even post oil America will be able to feed itself, provided that it doesn't starve its own population to meet foreign debt payments like Argentina did. America isn't like Europe and I'm very grateful for that.
City people have a fundamentally different approach to life. They have high expectations for their lifestyle: the power doesn't go out, the water is hot in moments, the mail comes every day, and the supermarket is full of food which is fresh and exotic. City people work, usually very hard in often humiliating jobs to pay for a tiny apartment, a high car payment, and those luxuries they've grown used to. Their view of the country is from a 75 mph window on the way to somewhere more scenic. City people want it all now, and they don't want excuses about why they should have to wait. Don't blame them for this. The city is a very competitive place and it is our nature as a species to compete for resources.

The Country outlook is one of perseverance and hardship. Its about flexibility and disappointment, debt, and a slow pace of life. Watching the seasons turn. Flowing life closer to nature and its hardships. The closer to nature they live, the more they perceive the cyclic nature of things. Compared to City people, Country people seem out of touch with modern culture. However, in general, country people have far more important context and contact with their neighbors. Elbow room changes how you think. There is a great deal of independence in Country living, but the kind that supports ones neighbors rather than necessarily blames them. Its not perfect either. Kids raised improperly on MTV and WB want what they see on TV, and that envy, that materialism leads to all kinds of misery, and either has those kids grow up to be city people or turn into junkies hooked on Meth or Dope trying to flush away their disappointment. When it comes down to it, TV commercials, the seed of materialism, are the real enemy for country folk. They're designed to make people buy things and they're very good at it. Much of TV is really commercial advertising. Some programs which repute to "review" products are little more than thinly veiled informercials selling this product, [and by extension] selling debt.

City people see the countryside as a source of food, of momentary scenery, and as real estate, future subdivisions and Wal-Marts, Taco Bell and McDonalds. They can't help that. They hate the emptiness. It makes them afraid, or bored. They're used to the frantic pace and tight quarters that the city offers. The countryside is slow cycles and peace and quiet, for the most part. I was raised at the edge of a subdivision in the middle of the countryside, surrounded by cows and rangeland. We often had deer, and sometimes had coyotes, wild pigs, and I once witnessed a mountain lion scurry by in the early evening. Now I live in the suburbs, which is basically the city just with smaller apartments.

The basic conflict between the City and Country folk is one of money. The City sees the countryside as a life support system for them, and considers the people who live in the countryside to be socially incapable, thus they are "forced" to live out there. They don't feel bad or think much about their city-based issues destroying the harmony of country towns, or what that means to the bigger picture.

Thanks to Peak Oil, the conflict will get more aggressive. Extreme Exurbs, subdivisions 100 miles from a city where the population commutes for work are going to die due to the rising cost of fuel, a problem that will never go away. Eventually it will cost too much to drive to work to make the pay worth the price of the fuel. Yes, carpooling and hybrids and mass transit will delay this, but there's a limit to everything. Without income, they won't be able to pay a mortgage on an unwieldy and badly located home. These people will either accept debt slavery (now that Bankruptcy isn't protection anymore) or try to find work in the countryside. Perhaps they'll prove to be flexible. Maybe they'll surprise us. Maybe they'll wade around in cow-muck, dig post holes by hand, haul compost/manure, or do any number of semi-skilled labor the countryside always needs done. And do it for minimum wage. Somehow, I think the City People are going to have to come to terms with much lower expectations than they're accustomed to.

Country People won't have it too great either, in case you're thinking they would. As heavy users of fuel to get to jobs which pay for their own high costs of living, often on very tight budgets, Country people are going to hurt, probably even sooner than the Supercommuters in the Exurbs do. Home Loans are defaulting at a surprisingly high rate in Exurbs and countryside here in California. Those envious kids will hear about how bad things are in the City, but see how much worse they are next door and have even fewer options than before. Reasonably, one can expect the drug problem to dramatically worsen, as well as spree killing incidents. If they've got nothing to lose, why not? This destructive trend is magnified by causing distrust in the countryside, and murder of neighbors' junkie kids burglarizing and killing for sport will become an ugly fact of the countryside. Many of the people defending themselves will be tried and convicted of murder because the DAs and Judges are often prisoners of City Morality, which has little to do with justice. Shoot first, bury deep and keep quiet will end up the rule of thumb for two-legged pests in the countryside. If it isn't already. I've met enough ranchers who had the look of men who'd killed that I think its been fact for some time now. Always be on your best possible behavior with ranchers. They're not as patient as their reputation implies.

City people who love the countryside and want to move there but lack the training in Country Social behavior are going to have a hard time of it. (Believe me when I say that. I'm very fond of privacy which is easily achieved in the city but hard to get in the countryside.) Lumped in with other city people, they're going to have a steep learning curve and will need to make a lot of very positive First Impressions (how many times can you make one?) and take on permanent local volunteerism to build good will and avoid becoming [seen as] "Them." Even that may not be enough. Part of the beauty of the countryside is everybody has a very long context, often decades worth, so communication (and bitterness) has a serious intensity that Shallow City People will never have.

This insight into the difference between City and Country mindsets is really important. As the suburbs continue to citify and the exurbs die, the difference between the two becomes more and more pronounced. Material differences will matter too. Peak Oil means power outages, not just fuel. True, power will probably just get more expensive where coal burning power plants exist, so the Midwest and East will see few changes. The West, however, is going to take it in the shorts. The power will be off more than it will be on, and it will be on the cities, not in the countryside. I fully expect laws to be passed, under Federal or State emergency approval, to deny basic utility services to the countryside. That means phones, electrical power, ambulance, police presence, paving of secondary and tertiary roads will fall on the county or private associations to provide. You see, the cost of maintaining these systems exceeds the income gained from their fees. Either the country person pays something like $500/month for phone service, or they give it up after the next winter storm drops the lines. The focus for luxuries like phone service and electrical power will go to the towns and cities, and maybe the towns will be up the creek too. This is a fairly logical and practical progression, even in a first world country like the USA.

Copper is a precious metal again. Its being stolen all the time. If, for instance, you've lost your job thanks to economic collapse and you can't feed your five kids at your ranch which never made money anyway, you're going to need to pay for it somehow. You lost phone service and power last winter and the local power utility company won't fix it. Steal the cable, sell it for scrap, pay your mortgage, put food on the plate and when harvest comes, charge a fortune for the now more expensive food thanks to the end of cheap fertilizers and insecticides. Peak Oil is forcing a morality decision and the city people have already chosen materialism rather than connection to their rural roots.

The City Person with their inbred city morality created by the good intentions of liberal intellectuals in New York and Boston can't conceive of a life where stealing is not only justified but is moral. When you're abandoned by your country, you survive or perish based on actions not good intentions. I foresee that the Cities will continue to grow until they can't, and the population will continue to Hive and Specialize like insects because that's what cities thrive on: specialists. They offer specialized goods. Keeping City People out of the countryside is a minor advantage, but Post Peak, that turns into an ugliness that we can barely imagine now.

I keep talking about this subject because the public still doesn't get it. I hope to eventually refine this description in a shorter but still effective essay. Someday I'll get it right and people will stop being dumb, and stop disconnecting their behavior from the consequences. - Inyokern

Hardly an unexpected news flash: Iran has announced it would replace the dollar with the euro in foreign transactions and state-held foreign assets, in an apparent response to mounting US pressure on its banking system.

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Aaron Krowne of notes: “If base metal values continue to increase by 5% per year on average, and the dollar continues to depreciate by about the same, then in about 26-1⁄2 years, a nickel will be worth a dollar in inherent value. If the rates are 10% per year, then in a bit over 13 years, this milestone will be reached.”

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Readers Sean M. and Scott D. both suggested this thought-provoking piece: "The US is Insolvent" by Dr. Chris Martenson (author/editor of The End of Money), posted at Jim Puplava's Finanacial Sense web site.

"If history teaches us anything, it teaches that simple-minded appeasement or wishful thinking about our adversaries is folly. It means the betrayal of our past, the squandering of our freedom." - Ronald Reagan (1983)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Carbon Monoxide (CO) poisoning fatality count is now at 14 in the Seattle, Washington region, in the power outages following the recent wind storm. These were mostly people running backup generators inside their houses.

Background: I am an 11 year veteran peace officer and survivalist, or in more politically correct terminology, a POP – Preparedness Oriented Person. I work in a moderate sized city in the Seattle area. On 14-15 December, the Tacoma-Seattle-Everett metropolitan area suffered one of the most deadly and damaging windstorms in recorded history. The storm easily eclipsed the last major deadly blow on Inaugural Day, 1993. That storm had been identified as a “once in a century” type storm. At the peak, over 1 million people did not have power.
This storm was modeled and forecasted with accuracy five days before it occurred. Yes indeed, people had five days to prepare. Weather forecasters warned viewers and listeners to be prepared. They were right. Gusts ranging from 55 to 70 mph were recorded in the area. Sustained winds exceeded 40 to 50 mph in many areas. A top gust of 135 mph was recorded at a ski area near the North Central Washington city of Wenatchee. A month of record rain coupled with several preceding days of heavy rains led to many more trees than normal being toppled. An unusually violent (for the area) thunderstorm produced heavy rain and ground strike lightening. At this writing, 4 deaths have been directly attributed to the windstorm. Three were from collisions with trees in the roadway and one from a tree crushing a mobile home. Additionally, the storm left clear skies and cold weather. The three following days after the windstorm had nighttime temperatures that were at or below freezing. One death was attributed to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and over 100 people have been treated for CO poisoning. The one who died from CO poisoning, he was running a gas generator inside his home. Several homes and business have been burned, either from direct electrical line contact to roofs and buildings or from candles igniting surfaces or being knocked over.
Observations: Gosh, where do I begin? In watching the news, it was easily apparent that so many were ill or unprepared. This continues to befuddle me, as the citizens of this area are involved in frequent windstorms, power outages, and other natural disasters or events. Watching the news showed how stupid people were. In one instance, a major eastside of Seattle city was 80% without power. This meant no power to stores, homes and other businesses.
Grocery stores: Stores could not sell as the computer driver point of sale terminals were down. People could not readily buy supplies. My local Albertson’s lost over $60,000 worth of cold and frozen goods as the power was off for 18 hours and by law, they could not sell the slightly warmed foodstuffs. People were traveling as far away as 30 miles to find an open store. Many stores that were opened quickly ran out of staples. Again, my local grocery was at minimal bread, paper goods, fuels (including the supermarket wood bundles) and batteries. While I spoke with the manager, I overheard one woman on her cell phone loudly complain that it was her third store that did not have wood.
Gas stations: stations without power could not pump. Those stations that could pump saw long lines and quickly ran out of fuel. One fellow was ingenious enough to stand beside a road in an affluent city east of Seattle and advertise that he was selling 25 gallons of gas for $15 dollars a gallon! And he sold it all! Expecting the worst, I refilled some gas cans and my vehicle on Thursday morning after I got off work. At the local gas station, a citizen who knows me made a snide comment about if the world was coming to an end. That citizen now sits in his home, four days without power. It was reported that those stations that were the only ones available quickly raised their prices to 20 to 30 cents above market prices, in reflection of demand. The state will apparently investigate whether these stations were gouging.
Alternative power: boy howdy! You can certainly tell who has alternative power. I could easily see their houses all lit up long before I heard the generators. A local firefighter I know half-humorously stated that he could make his retirement if he had some generators for sale on right now. He is right. On a news report today, a local Home Depot had people waiting in line, just to buy a Coleman portable generator. Home Depot sold out of two pallets worth of generators in a very short time. Around here, folks would rather have that High Definition 42-inch plasma screen rather than a solid generator. POPs like me should look for a whole slew of lightly used generators for sale come springtime.
Alternative heat: a majority of homes in this region do have working fireplaces. However, you would think they are decorative as I heard of so many people looking for firewood. Local firewood dealers were busy selling and stocking. Additionally, many new homes being built do not have real working fireplaces but instead have what amount to nothing more than decorative gas fireplaces (which look nice but produce little usable heat). During the daytime, you could tell who did not have power and heat due to so many fireplaces burning. The chimney sweeps in this area should have a good spring.
Security: while patrolling, I was amazed at how many people in power out areas left their garage doors open. I was told by a few that they left them open because the power was out. When asked about the manual disconnect, they seemed generally amazed that there was such a thing on mechanical garage door openers . . . In addition to security, I was also amazed at how many people ran their generators in their front yards! Easily accessible and in less than 20 seconds, gone.
Where are the cops, firefighters, public works, etc? Folks, I can tell you everybody was out there (who were scheduled). My small fire station, which usually handles about 20 calls for service in a 96 hour block, saw over 150 calls during the same period, most storm related. A tree branch damaged one of the firefighting rigs. Cops were out there and stretched thin. Between doing road closures and stopping yet another knucklehead who could not read the "ROAD CLOSED" sign, they were busy. A couple of my fellow officers had to do traffic stops on people simply driving reckless around down trees, power lines, etc. People in this area simply got "a case of the stupids" when the weather went sideways. Public works crews from all the cities had their hands full. I know of one case where a woman nearly went to blows with a crew simply because they were cutting “her tree.” Of course, her tree was fallen across a street and blocking it. Again, the stupids. One public works worker I know told me of a story of a downed power line, hanging chest high in a roadway. They were blocking one side and flashing their headlights and amber rotators at people. One fellow stopped his car on the other side of the live lines, walked underneath them and ambled up to their truck to tell them that the lines were down. (The same ones he had just walked under--which were also the ones they were parked next to and trying to keep people from driving into .)
Power distribution: one of the things preventing having everyone up and running is short order has been the interactions of trees, lines, poles and crews to get things cut up. Per policy, public works crews are not to cut a tree until the downed power lines are declared safe. However, some lines cannot be declared safe until the trees are partially cut. Add to the mix that many power poles were snapped. No utility in the area had enough poles stockpiled so they have to be shipped it from the east. With the mountain passes suffering blizzards and some occasionally extreme weather, trucking becomes a challenge. Why power lines are not brought underground in this region is a mystery to me. Perhaps can enlighten me as to why.
As for my family, and me we took the warnings seriously. I made sure I had plenty of fuel in the cans, generator and cars. My battery/inverter setup was fully charged and ready. I had plenty of firewood stacked and ready. I purposely bought a house that has gas appliances and a fully normal fireplace with a heat exchanger system (with low wattage power blower – works great on just the inverter setup). I had my supplies established and weather the storm with ease. I did not have a tree fall on my house and the tree limbs I collected (that many people were disposing of with either services or green waste) made for a huge stack of logs to be seasoned for next winter. Best Regards – MP

I just purchased a Maglite Brand LED conversion for a two D-cell Maglite.[These replace the original filament light bulb holding "head" of the flashlight.] It was $20 at a Lowe's [hardware store] in Oregon, with no sales tax. These take only three minutes to install. The focus feature still works great, but the best feature is that it is very bright, almost blue/white. Much better battery life and outstanding bulb life, not affected by dropping. All in all, a very good conversion for one of the best lights made. They also have them for 3 D-cell , and 4 D-cell lights. Mag also sells their lights as LED lights too. These are worth looking at. - Tom in Oregon

From Tom at Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez is directing a growing share of the country's oil profits into euros as the dollar and crude prices fall.

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I noticed that recent short-term strengthening of the U.S. Dollar has pounded down the spot price of silver from around $14 per ounce to about $12.50. Buy on these dips!

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Hawaiian K. forwarded a link to some gloomy predictions from The Market Oracle: Three-Pronged Collapse ... Stocks, Bonds and Real Estate

"Unlike other nations, American identity is not based on ethnicity or geography. It's based on a moral proposition. This proposition comes straight from the faded and yellowed document: The Declaration Of Independence." - Chuck Colson

Monday, December 18, 2006

My sincere thanks to the just 1/2 of 1% of SurvivalBlog readers that have signed up for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions. You 74 people know who you are. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.


Who makes the best Gen 1 and Gen 2 night vision optics? I am not sure I can afford to purchase Gen 3 for five people at this time. I can afford Gen 1, maybe Gen 2.
Thanks, - Martin

JWR Replies: I'd recommend that you purchase a professionally re-manufactured U.S. military contract Gen 2 scope such as the AN/PVS-2B. Beware the many "kitchen table" re-manufacturers out there! Buy a full mil spec scope from a reputable vendor such as Ready Made Resources or STANO Components, that will have a genuine, new, Gen 2 image intensifier tube with a bona fide data sheet.

The following is some guidance and contact information that I included in my newly-released Rawles on Retreat and Relocation book:

Late issue Third Generation (also called or Third Gen or Gen 3) starlight scopes can cost up to $3,000 each. Rebuilt first gen (early 1970s technology) scopes can often be had for as little as $500. Russian-made monoculars (with lousy optics) can be had for under $100. One Russian model that uses a piezoelectric generator instead of batteries is the best of this low-cost breed. These are best used as backups--in case your expensive American made scopes fail. They should not be purchased for use as your primary night vision devices unless you are on a very restrictive budget. (They are better than nothing.) Buy the best starlight scopes, goggles, and monoculars that you can afford. They may be life savers! If you can afford to buy only one, make it a weapon sight such as an AN/PVS-4, with a Gen 2 (or better) tube.(Or the bulkier AN/PVS-2 if you are on tight budget.) Make sure to specify that that the tube is either new or has very "low hours", that it has a high line pair count, and it that displays minimal scintillation. (My troops used the highly technical term "The Sparklies"to describe the scintillation phenomenon.)

Again, it is important to buy your Starlight gear from a reputable dealer. The market is crowded with rip-off artists and scammers. (A Russian importer who shall remain nameless once offered to supply a U.S. dealer with forged data sheets "at no extra charge" with each starlight scope purchased wholesale. Caveat emptor! As previously mentioned, in addition to Ready Made Resources, another dealer that I trust is Al Glanze (spoken "Glan-zee") who runs STANO Components in Silver City, Nevada. Contact: STANO Components, P.O. Box STANO, Silver City, Nevada 89428 FAX: 775-246-5211. Phone 775-246-5281/5283 or 1-888-STANO-FX (1-888-782-6639) Or e-mail:

Hello James,
Another indicator of America's decline: our interstate highway system. [The following was in part excerpted from a Department of Transportation history web page. and from an article at The Tax Foundation web site.] The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1952 authorized the first funding specifically for construction of the interstate highway system, but it was only a token amount of $25 million a year for fiscal years (FY) 1954 and 1955. Legislation in 1954 authorized an additional $175 million annually for FY 1956 and 1957.
Under the leadership of President Eisenhower, the question of how to fund the Interstate System was resolved with enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. It served as a catalyst for the System's development and, ultimately, its completion. Title I of the 1956 Act increased the System's proposed length to 41,000 miles. It also called for nationwide standards for design of the System, authorized an accelerated program, established a new method for apportioning funds among the States, changed the name to the National System of Interstate and Defense Highways, and set the Federal Government's share of project cost at 90 percent.
Title II of the Act - entitled the Highway Revenue Act of 1956 - created the Highway Trust Fund as a dedicated source for the Interstate System.
Revenue from the Federal gas and other motor-vehicle user taxes was credited to the Highway Trust Fund to pay the Federal share of Interstate and all other Federal-aid highway projects. In this way, the Act guaranteed construction of all segments on a "pay-as-you-go" basis, thus satisfying one of President Eisenhower's primary requirements, namely that the program be self-financing without contributing to the Federal budget deficit.
However, it was inevitable that politicians (Republican and Democrat) would cast a greedy eye on the highway trust fund.
The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1968 included the first recorded specifically earmarked highway project, funded through the highway trust fund. The popularity of earmarking projects grew so much that President Ronald Reagan vetoed the 1987 transportation bill because of the largesse of its 152 demonstration projects.
The most recent highway bill, SAFETEA-LU, was passed by large majorities in Congress and signed by President Bush on August 10, 2005. SAFETEA-LU authorized $286.5 billion for transportation programs from fiscal years 2004-2009. The Bush administration insisted that the highway bill should be entirely funded with resources from the Highway Trust Fund. The 2005 transportation bill shattered all earmark records by containing 6,373 separate earmarks worth $24.2 billion.
What sort of spending programs are contained in those earmarks? In the 2005 highway bill, one earmark worth $6 million dollars went toward graffiti elimination in New York, another sent $2.95 million to Alaska for a film about state roads, and nearly $4 million was earmarked for the National Packard Museum in Warren, Ohio, and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

And where are we today? If you travel the interstates, you know the state of disrepair they are in. What do the politicians propose? Why of course!!! Let's continue to collect the highway use taxes, but in addition, let's charge a toll for using these roads that the taxpayers paid to build!

Here is a wire service news story that ran on Sunday, December 17, 2006:
Indiana leased its 157 miles of interstate toll road for the next 75 years to a foreign consortium. In return, the state received $3.8 billion up front. That’s right, $3.8 billion.
Commuters in Minneapolis and San Diego are paying to drive in a fast lane, while others creep along nearby. The trip in the so-called Lexus can cost from $2 to $8, depending on traffic, and the charges can be paid with a credit card.
Wyoming has had some tentative public discussion about the benefits of making Interstate 80 an old-fashioned toll road. Travelers might pay $12 to $15 to drive the entire 400-mile section across southern Wyoming, or about 3 cents a mile, according to Wyoming state Sen. Michael Von Flatern.
Nebraska leaders haven’t started that kind of discussion, yet, but retiring state Sen. Tom Baker of Trenton thinks they ought to.
It would be interesting to put together a committee with people from Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, and Wyoming, said Baker, chairman of the Nebraska Legislature’s Transportation and Telecommunications Committee.
I-80 tolls would generate some revenue, primarily from folks who are passing through, said Baker, who leaves office in January. - Dutch in Wyoming

The late James Kim should have had one of these. (Thanks to Ben L for sending this link.)

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From Novosti: Record high winter temperature set in Moscow

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For those of you with a fast Internet connection: An interesting video interview with Aton Edwards, the author of Preparedness Now. (Preparedness from a New York City perspective.)

"Remember that if the opportunities for great deeds should never come, the opportunities for good deeds are renewed day by day. The thing for us to long for is the goodness, not the glory." - F.W. Faber

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I received my MURS Alert intrusion detection system last week, and have given it a good preliminary test. So far, so good. I am very impressed with this unit. All I had to do was turn a couple of dials to tune it to the channel and sub-code that I wanted it on, and it was good to go. Although I did disable the red “walk test” light, because with it turned on, it looked like a one eyed beast at nighttime when it tripped. The only other thing I did and that I highly recommend is that you put a small desiccant [packet] inside the unit before you deploy it. What is really nice about this system is that [because it is wireless] you can easily move it around to suit your needs. During the day, I have it stations in the front of my house to warn me if someone approaches. And during the night, I have been pointing it at the door to my “safe room” (a reinforced outbuilding beside my home) and keeping the radio beside my bed. The range on the unit also seems to be very good. I live on the edge of a small town, and I drove into town a little over a mile. I then called my wife and had her walk in front of the unit. My radio responded clear as a bell…”ALERT ZONE ONE, ALERT ZONE ONE, ALERT ZONE ONE’ in a clear “five by five” signal level. The unit has not false alarmed one time, and has alarmed every time it should have. You can’t ask for more. As I noted in a previous post, it is very important to “terminate” the “beam” on an object within its range. This is needed to give the infrared detector a good reference. Problems start to occur with this type of detector when the beam is hitting nothing but air.
Then they may false alarm, or not go into alarm at all. I now intend to purchase three more of these detectors (as they can be set to report four different zones) and use them to secure a perimeter around my campsite the next time I go looking for Bigfoot up in the Pacific Northwest. - Actually, it is always nice to know if a bear is snooping around close by in the middle of the night.
Last night we had a big storm roll in off the Pacific coast. The rain came down sideways as the wind gusted to over 50 MPH. This is very hard for any passive infrared (PIR)-based detector (like the MURS Alert) to deal with. However, the system came through with flying colors. It did not false alarm one time. And to make sure it would still alert under these extreme conditions, I put on my rain coat and walked into the sensing area. When I came back inside, the wife told me that it had indeed tripped as it should have. Man, am I ever sold on these things! - Gung Ho

JWR Replies: Thanks for that review. As previously mentioned, the MURS Alert intrusion detection system uses frequencies that can be programmed into MURS band walkie talkies, (such as the slightly used surplus Kenwoods sold by MURS Radios--one of our advertisers.) A transceiver than you can carry on your belt tis a very handy way to keep informed of perimeter intrusions. Best of all, it can be used a long range walkie talkie and it can also be programmed to receive 2 Meter and Weather Radio ("WX") frequencies. I'd classify that approach as a huge "win-win."

Dear Jim:
A very attractive option to make your Glock pistol point like a M1911 (and reduce the grip size) on your Glock is the CCF Race Frame.
This is an aluminum, titanium and stainless steel replacement for your Glock polymer frame that can keep the traditional Glock grip angle, or change it to 1911 angles and reduce the grip size. Plus they have tweaked the frame for many other ergonomic upgrades, plus an alloy frame gives a crisper trigger pull. (See the website.)
Alas, they aren't out for the .45 caliber Glock, but they are "studying the G21 market." We can only hope. :-)
A major caveat is consistency. Don't switch one Glock to 1911 angles, and leave your "other" carry gun unchanged, i.e., keep all the grip angles on all of your carry pistols the same A consistent grip angle for consistent muscle memory to point the pistol the same every time, is crucial.
E.g., If you carry a 9mm Glock 19, I would not convert your full-size 9mm until they have the compact Glock 19 compact frame out. They don't plan to handle the tiny sub-compact models, such as the G26, G27, G30 or G36, so if that's your main carry gun, you're out of luck.
The big question for multiple Glock owners is - do you want to drop ~ $300 per Glock to convert?
The final caveat is that you have to buy these replacement frames from or through an FFL dealer, as the frame is treated just like a complete pistol. If you bought privately, you may not want to now endear yourself to the gun owner databases being (illegally) collected!
If you only own one or two Glocks, bought from an FFL - I'd go for it just as soon as it has been around long enough to demonstrate that it doesn't reduce any of the legendary Glock reliability.
Would anyone be so kind as to get one, test it for 1,000 rounds, and be a guinea pig for the rest of us? :-) Regards, OSOM - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind"

Ron Holland recently penned some prescient commentary on the fate of the U.S. Dollar, as quoted in the Sovereign Society Offshore A-Letter, under the heading Sacrificing Your Dollars for the Housing Market:."Most Americans could care less about the value of the dollar. But with the 2008 Presidential Election coming up, the public will be closely following their real estate values, so you can expect the Fed to hold or lower rates. This almost guarantees a far weaker dollar. But when the other central bankers really switch more of their dollar holdings to the other major currencies, expect a major collapse in the dollar." Unless the european central bankers raise their rates sharply in the next couple of years, I think that history will prove Mr. Holland's prediction to be correct.

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Ben L. recommended some handy little items from the A.G. Russell catalog: Boker® SnacPac - Black and Buck Metro LED

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Pacific Northwest Storm Leaves 1.5 Million in the Dark  (Except for SurvivalBlog readers, whom I am confident were well prepared with alternative energy backup systems.)

"Terrorists aren't interested in guilt or innocence, or whether it's Iraqi or American blood they spill. They're just out to kill, maim and destroy. Anybody. The purpose is to instill fear and create the kind of chaos in which their kind prospers -- a power vacuum they can fill." - Paul Greenberg

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We were recently invited to a friend's Christmas party. The hosts have a nice sturdy log house, heated entirely by a wood stove and lit entirely by propane mantle lamps. When some of the refreshments were accidentally spilled on the carpet, one of the host's kids went outside to power up the generator so that they could run the vacuum cleaner. I gather that their generator is reserved only for such "emergencies." Something tells me that if and when TEOTWAWKI occurs, it won't be much of a life-changing event for that family.

Dear Jim,
I'm not sure if you have covered Robert A. Heinlein's shelter that featured in his novel, "Farnham's Freehold." This site describes the house that Heinlein built in Colorado Springs before NORAD moved into the area

And here's an archived link of the shelter underneath, which included both air bottles and ventilation, escape routes, and antenna mounts.- Michael Z. Williamson

I noted the snippet [from the recently released book Rawles on Retreat and Relocation] about tax burden by state recently on SurvivalBlog. This is a topic that has always confused me. You can find this kind of information in several places online, but it is often contradictory and it is very difficult to figure out how they come up with the numbers. I have lived most of my life in New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. In Wyoming, we had no state income tax, limited sales tax (5% state and a max of 1% local, if I recall correctly), and property taxes were 1/3 to 1/2 of what we paid in
Colorado, based on property value. Wyoming seemed much cheaper to live in, as far as cost of government, than Colorado, yet Colorado is often listed as being a very advantageous state to live in as far as total tax burden. Both Wyoming and Colorado generate a lot of severance tax income on natural resources; probably far more per capita in Wyoming. Are these or other corporate taxes figured in somewhere? Where does this disparity come from? Dang it, Jim, I'm a doctor, not an economist! - Simple Country Doctor

JWR Replies: The source on those lists at was The Tax Foundation, based on 1997 data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. (Sorry that I couldn't find anything more recent. It is one of the oldest pieces of data in Rawles on Retreat and Relocation.) I agree that some of these list can be highly subjective. For this type of calculation someone must make an assumption about a "typical" state resident's income, their house and car values, how much gasoline they buy annually, and how much they would spend each year on taxable purchases. Generally taxes on mining and oil wells are not included. (Although there must be indirect "pass though" of taxes, in the form of higher purchase prices.) Nor are corporate taxes factored into these calculations. There are of course individuals that are "corporations." For example I wouldn't be surprised to hear that more than half of the doctors and lawyers in the country have incorporated for various reasons

For a few months now, I've been thinking about sending you a note along the lines of Redmist's recent post. His post inspired me to get off my hands and start typing.
I discovered SurvivalBlog in September of 2005--just a week or two after Katrina knocked the stew out of the Gulf coast. Around the same time I was blessed to work at a relief distribution center in Gulf Port, Mississippi for five days. In March of this year, my wife and I accompanied my son on another five-day trip with the church youth group to do reconstructive work on a storm-surge damaged house in Pass Christian, Mississippi. What I saw on those two trips encouraged me to do something, i.e., to get prepared. SurvivalBlog has provided the needed direction.
Here's what I've accomplished in the last 14 months:
* I've invested about a third of my portfolio in silver bullion and an ETF.
* Not wanting my wife to extract my wisdom teeth with a razor blade and flashlight one dark, post-TEOTWAWKI night, I had them removed by a qualified individual in a well lit room
* I acquired a Yugoslavian SKS rifle for myself and just purchased one for my son as a Christmas gift. (I hope he's not reading this)
* I attended an Appleseed Shoot with my son in June (and we have plans to attend another in January)
* I acquired a pellet rifle and trap so we could practice what we learned at the Appleseed Shoot in our back yard (and we have)
* I had my 12 gauge shotgun barrel reduced to 19" and acquired some 00 [buckshot] and bird shot
* I acquired a .308 [Winchester] sporting rifle, a second .22 [rimfire] rifle and some ammo for both
* I learned a bunch from reading Patriots, Alas, Babylon, and Lights Out
* I began CERT training (but have not yet completed it)
* I expanded and grew my second vegetable garden, learned a lot and will be expanding it again next year
* I lost more than 20 pounds through responsible eating and regular exercise; the weight loss allowed me to discontinue use of medication to control hypertension and to avoid beginning additional medication to reduce my triglyceride level; I am currently not taking any prescription medication
* I began laying up beans, band aids, and other supplies
* I am actively seeking property with two other families from our church; in fact, we currently have a contract on 16 acres
I fully realize these are baby steps--I have a long way to go. But I'm way ahead of where I was 14 months ago.
Thank you Jim for all you provide directly in the way of valuable information through SurvivalBlog and indirectly through allowing others to contribute and do the same. Since that information is indeed valuable I've put my money where my mouth is and have taken the 10 Cent Challenge. I hope more will do the same. Warm Regards, - d'Heat


Mr. Rawles:
I stumbled upon your site right at the beginning and have never missed a day since. I just wanted to thank you for what you do. I am not a book reader at all, but read Patriots in five days the first time, and have also read through your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. During this time I have been very pleased to do business with The Pre-1899 Specialist; MURS Radios; Best Price Storable Foods; Walton Feed; The Freeze Dry Guy; Inirgee; and Ready Made Resources. They are all top notch vendors, and I will be doing more business with most, if not all of them. I am also renewing my 10 Cent Challenge pledge. Thank you, - RT in Texas

The true deficit in the Bush administration's 2006 federal budget is now thought to be an astounding $3.5 trillion in the red, not $248.2 billion as previously reported. Hmmm. That doesn't sound very "credit worthy" to me. Nay. In fact, it sounds like Uncle Sam needs some credit counseling.

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Mike the Blacksmith pointed us to this interesting article: Scientists from Los Alamos national laboratory are out on the road, giving lectures on H5N1 Asian Avian Influenza

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Reader S.H. flagged this one: Recent action by the U.S. Mint to outlaw the melting down or bulk export of coins. This has come about because the value of the precious metals contained in coins now exceeds their face value. The Mint would rather not have to replace pennies (at a cost of 1.73 cents per) or nickels (at 8.74 cents). The expectation is that Congress will mandate new compositions for some U.S. coins in 2007.

"There are only two things more beautiful than a good gun -- a Swiss watch and a woman from anywhere." - John Ireland as Cherry Valance in Red River, 1948

Friday, December 15, 2006

I stumbled across your Survival Blog today. Wonderful service you provide! Read some of archives...excellent! Question: It looks like the SurvivalBlog archives start in August of 2005 but cut off in April of 2006. Are there any more recent posts that I can access? Thank you. - J.U., COL, US Army (Ret.)

JWR Replies: Welcome! Yes, all of the posts that are more recent are now fully searchable by key word, or can be browsed by categories, or can be browsed in monthly Archives. (See the categories, monthly archive links, and Search window, down under the ads, in the right hand scrolling bar.) Our long term goal its to eventually duplicate all of the earlier posts into Movable Type, so that the entire site contents will be searchable.

Dear Jim:
What do you think of the [Springfield Armory] TRP Pro [clone of the Colt M1911 .45 ACP pistol]? I want a .45 pistol as reliable as a Glock but with a more comfortable grip. Thanks, - Frank in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I have only test fired a Springfield Armory TRP Operator 1911, and Springfield's XD 9mm. (But not yet the .45 version) Both had their merits. I'm biased in favor of 1911s, but I must admit that the XD pointed and functioned very well. I like the feel of the grip better then a Glock 20 or 21. From memory, it felt more like a grip-reduced Glock to me. (But I didn't have all three side-by side to compare. I wish that I had.) And again, I've never had my hands on a .45 XD in captivity.) I've noticed that the TRP-Pro is a bit over-priced, owing to the FBI mystique.(Since these are currently being issued by the Bureau, after their brief flirtation with 10mm S&W pistols.) The TRP Stainless retails for about $800 less than a TRP Pro, yet they are functionally quite similar. That $800 will buy you a lot of spare magazines and ammo. If you like the functionality of a Glock, then you might prefer the polymer frame XD. I recommend that you find an indoor range that rents both types of guns and shoot 100 rounds through each. (By "both " I mean both the XD-45 and one of the TRP series 1911s.)

As I've previously stated, another option is to get a Glock Model 21 (and/or a Model 30) and have their grips re-contoured. These Glock "grip reductions" were pioneered by T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems. They are also now done by several other gunsmithing firms such as Robar.

OBTW, if you are going for the TRP, then I'd recommend getting one of the stainless steel models, given the very humid climate you have in Hawaii.

For the folks using the Kenwood MURS radios [such as those sold by our advertiser MURS Radios] or Ham gear, upgrading the stock antenna can make a world of difference in performance.
I highly recommend the extended rubber duck and especially the large 1/2 wave telescoping antennas from Smiley Antennas in San Diego. They cost $20-25, and can dramatically improve their useful range.
My little Yaesu walkie-talkie can hit maybe two repeaters with the stock antenna from my house. Using the large telescoping Smiley, I can get at least six more. Folded up, these aren't that much larger than the stock units.
If you call or e-mail them, they are happy to make custom antennas for a specific frequency (i.e. MURS or GMRS) and with the proper connector for your radio. - JN

Dear Jim:
Nothing beats living at your retreat, but there is one burglar repelling device that can actually stops a burglary in process (without an alarm or monitoring): Pepper Spray Alarms - either trip wired or set off by electronic sensor. These can fill a room with pepper spray in seconds. You can even get one that can fire up to four times in sequence!
I have used them (and tripped them accidentally). They really work - and it only takes about an hour of ventilation to get back in the room comfortably. As an added bonus you get to either increase your attentiveness, or increase your resistance to pepper spray every so often! ;-) I recommend them 100% for gun safes, safe rooms, access doors/hallways, occupied and unoccupied buildings. They that say it is dangerous to put them in a vehicle, but an RV trailer should work. A lot safer and ethical than the old shotgun booby trap. Regards, - OSOM

"As long as law-abiding citizens assume no personal responsibility for combating crime, liberal and conservative programs will fail to contain it." - Jeffrey Snyder, A Nation of Cowards

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for putting so much effort into your blog and your writings. I bought your novel "Patriots" a few years back, dog eared it, and passed it around. To my wife's consternation (and my to the consternation of my brothers' wives), you've started to make a difference in how we look at life. Your blog is a daily "must read."
Since I live 200 miles from my brothers in Iowa (my most likely doubling-up partners) I have to consider a retreat farther north in Wisconsin. There are large tracts of federal, state, and county forest, plus the rivers up that way are spawning grounds for the salmon in the Great Lakes. One concern I have is that many of the hunting lots and vacation homes up that way are owned by Illinoisans (Ill and Annoyings) or from southeast Wisconsin (the Milwaukee area). When the balloon goes up, I would expect refugees with cars and trucks loaded to the gunwales, headed to their property to hunker down. It's not a case of refugees wandering aimlessly; it's people returning to their own property, however ill-prepared. ("Hurry up and pack...yes, dear, I know there's no cable up there...At least we can shoot some deer and eat. Where's my flashlight? Showers? I suppose that somebody will have a working well.")
I guess my message to the community of "retreaters" is to make sure you know who owns that 40 up the road that was just sold "to the doctor from Illinois." Use the county [Recorder's Office] records to track down the owner and send a welcome note. It is better to understand his philosophy and belief system now, than when he shows up with a SUV load of kids, a big-screen television, and his wine collection. Godspeed, and Merry Christmas! - B.H.

JWR Replies: You are correct that most owners of vacation property have the idea kicking around in a dusty corner of their mind that they could use that property as a retreat in the event of an emergency. If we enter an era of deep drama, the legal status of "squatters" versus deeded landholders will be worlds apart: Squatters could and probably will be forced from public or private holdings by your local sheriff's department or by the BLM or US Forest Service. But for those that occupy land that they legally own--regardless of how poorly provisioned they are--there would be no recourse for the sheriff's deputies unless or until the newcomers actually started committing thefts or robberies. This is one of the reasons that I place strong emphasis on A.) Storing extra to dispense in charity, and B.) Getting to know all of your neighbors. The latter includes making the effort to introduce yourself to absentee owners that are only there seasonally. (Or, "deer seasonally"--as is the case of one of ours that that has an undeveloped parcel just three miles away. (That is considered practically "next door" by local standards. ) Please make it clear to those folks where you stand. Tell them forthrightly that it takes more than just venison to survive and mention there are just a few folks that are prepared to dispense charity. I suggest that you be intentionally vague about the depth of your own larder. You should strongly and in no uncertain terms encourage them to pre-position food, heating/cooking fuel, foul weather clothing, gardening tools, fencing materials, and so forth if they are considering "bugging out" to their seasonal cabin in the event of a disaster. Yes, I know that this won't register with some dimwits, but at least you will have a clear conscience, knowing that you warned them. If they don't have a clue about disaster preparedness, then at least warn them that side roads can become impassable with snow for "many weeks" in a hard winter and that long term power outages are not uncommon in the area. Don't overlook telling them how many cords of firewood it takes to heat a home for a winter in the area, given your climate. Be sure to say: "Even if there is just the outside chance that you might have to come out here in an emergency, then you must be properly provisioned with an honest one year food and fuel supply."

In some vacation/resort locales there are people that have nothing more than a RV hookup at their property and a "building site" that they never do anything with. For folks like those---with no on-site storage space--you might even offer to let them leave a 20-foot or 30-foot CONEX on your land for you to "keep an eye on" for them, if they give you their assurance that it will be well-stocked so that they won't become a burden. Also, think in terms of standardizing logistics. ("Oh, by the way, we nearly all shoot .308 Winchester around here, so it would be in your best interest if you own a rifle in that caliber.") Also, make provision to coordinate security with them. For example by purchasing a spare military surplus field telephones and a couple of "doughnuts" of WD-1 commo wire.) Don't underestimate the impact of of "landed refugees." The good news is that if they can afford to own a vacation cabin, then they can probably also afford to stock it properly. But the bad news is that if they don't stock their cabins then they will become charity cases at best, or potentially even confrontational armed looters in a "worst case."

Mr. Rawles:
I recently purchased one of these units from Laurus Systems. Upon opening the package, imagine my pleasant surprise to find that this piece of electronic gear was made in Finland, not communist China! While a bit pricey at $375, it is definitely a piece of lab quality gear, but rugged enough for field use. Clean, compact, easy to read LED display. Pocket clip, audible alarm and powered by a standard AAA alkaline battery.
Radiation detected: Gamma and X-Ray
Measurement range: Dose: 1 uSv – 9.99 Sv or 0.1 mrem - 999 rem
Dose Rate: 5 uSv/h – 3 Sv/h or 0.5 mrem/h – 300 rem/h
Calibration: Better than + or – 5% (Cs-137, 662 keV at 2 mSv/h), Hp(10)
Dose rate linearity: Better than + or – 15% up to 3 Sv/h (300 rem/h)
Audible alarms: Seven separate alarms, sound level typically better than 85 dBA at 30 cm
* integrated dose
* dose rate
* dose overflow
* dose rate overflow at 3 Sv/h or 300 rem/h
* low battery 1 and 2
* defect
Alarm thresholds: Six preset values each for integrated dose and dose rate-push button selection
Power supply: One triple A alkaline cell, typical life is 1800 hours in background (dose mode)
Reader : Infrared communication via bottom of the dosimeter
Temperature range: -20 Р+ 50ºC operational, humidity up to 90% RH, non-condensed -20 Р+ 70ºC storing
Dimensions: 78 x 67 x 22 mm
Weight: 80 g –including battery

- Dutch in Wyoming

Dear Jim,
I'm leery of the "House Gun" that you linked to. First, the flared muzzle of a blunderbuss was for ease in loading, especially with improvised pellets. It had little effect on accuracy.
As to the barrel on the house gun, I first notice it is mounted so the cone points slightly upward. This means it blocks any sights and will shoot high. Given that most people tend to shoot higher than they should at close range anyway, that's a pending problem. Attempting to sight over the barrel will mean shooting low.
I don't believe the spread will be as great as they suggest. While the muzzle does look intimidating, its main effect will be to waste most muzzle velocity in a large flash. As they specify that it will reduce velocity to avoid penetrating walls, that seems to be confirmed. The penetration tests at and others, as well as police testimony, suggest that full power buckshot is necessary to stop attackers--not bird shot, and not reduced power loads.
Also, in event of a hostage, a shotgun at close range can still effectively be aimed at the perpetrator and miss the victim...not with that thing.
At best, it looks interesting and intimidating. At worst, I see no real advantage, several flaws, and it might not be taken seriously as it doesn't look like a weapon so much as a fire extinguisher bell.
Looking at their other products, they seem to be going for gimmick factor rather than practicality.
Of course, I may be wrong, but I'd like to see a test fire before I buy. - Michael Z. Williamson

Reader "MP" mentioned this one: Another water purification solution?

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From Reuters: Fake snow in Alps, Moscow blooms: green Christmas?


"The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms has justly been considered the palladium of the liberties of the republic, since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of the rulers, and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them." - Supreme Court Justice, Joseph Story, 1833

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Today we present the first article eligible for judging in Round 8 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 there are a lot of great entries this round of the contest, I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 8 will end on January 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I've been reading through the survivalblog archives. I happened across a letter recommending Lasik for folks with significant refractive errors. I'm not an ophthalmologist, but I am a family and emergency medicine doctor, and I did a lot of research into refractive surgery before I had my significant nearsightedness corrected. I started out with [seeing only the] 'big E' [on the eye chart] (20/200) in one eye and [seeing] 'white rectangle' (worse than 20/200) in the other. I was always afraid I'd lose my glasses/contacts while out in the backwoods on one of my frequent solo adventures. I finally took the plunge six years ago. After careful consideration, I did not go with Lasik, but [instead] had photorefractive keratectomy (PRK) done. The main reason I chose PRK over the more popular Lasik procedure was fear of 'losing the flap' on a blow to the head during a martial arts class, or worse, an actual confrontation. There are advantages and disadvantages to both procedures. With Lasik, a thin 'flap' is cut almost completely free from the anterior cornea, and a laser is used to reshape the cornea underneath. The flap is then laid
back down and the cornea allowed to heal. With PRK, the laser is used to reshape the front surface of the cornea after removing the single layer of epithelium from the cornea (the place I went to also used a laser to remove the epithelium). The epithelium then grows back. Advantages to Lasik are several. The 'wow!' factor is significant; as soon as they lay the flap back down, your vision is significantly improved -- usually pretty close to 20/20. Its a pretty accurate procedures, and final visual acuity of 20/20 or better is not unusual. Recovery time is brief and not uncomfortable. This is all because the epithelium (the 'skin' on the front of the cornea) is only minimally disturbed. The work is all done deep in the cornea where there is no sensation.
The problems that can come of Lasik come from the same characteristics. It is possible to 'lose the flap'; have the corneal flap come off. Only about the outside one-third of the corneal flap ever heals, and there are stories of people losing the flap even a year out from surgery, due to fairly minor head or eye trauma. The only treatment possible at that point is a corneal transplant. Revisions are seldom necessary, but are technically difficult because you can't re-cut the flap exactly the same a second time -- usually another procedure like PRK is used if a revision is required. There are more immediate concerns with infection and other flap-related problems just out from surgery. After Lasik, your vision may change significantly with elevation/reduced air pressure (mainly a concern for mountaineers who go well over 14,000 feet). PRK's advantages and disadvantages look like the opposite side of the Lasik coin. For technical reasons, some refractive errors that Lasik can't correct can be handled with PRK. PRK is fairly accurate, but may not be as accurate as Lasik (numbers are hard to come by here; I went from 20/200 to 20/25 in one eye with PRK, still slightly nearsighted; the other went from 20/400+ to 20/35 -- this was my dominant eye so I had it revised and now have 20/17 in that eye with a little farsightedness. Both eyes still have slight astigmatism, but less than prior to surgery.) It takes 24-to-72 hours for the epithelium to grow back on the front of your eye; this makes it feel like you have an eyeball full of gravel. Its pretty
uncomfortable, but bearable (for most people). You have decent vision after 3-7 days (I was able to drive in about three days), but it takes months for it to completely stabilize. It is possible to have problems like delayed healing of the epithelium, which is pretty uncomfortable. On the flip side, you will never lose the flap, because there isn't one. If you have to have a revision, they can do the same procedure. There's no shear face inside the cornea, so no variation in vision with elevation.
If you have dry eyes prior to surgery, they will be worse after Lasik because of disturbance of the tear layer. They may be completely unbearable after PRK, and while this effect may reduce with time it may never go away completely.
Another concern that some don't stop to consider: your lenses harden with age, which reduces your ability to focus up close (if you have good
distance vision). If you are near sighted now and you get your vision corrected to perfect 20/20, you will most likely need reading glasses by the time you're 50. Life is full of trade offs. Note that I now have slight far-sightedness in one eye (an annoyance that inhibits close-up focusing in that eye) and slight near-sightedness in the other (but I can focus pretty close with that eye. More idea would be perfect uncorrected vision in my dominant (shooting) eye and slight near sightedness in my non dominant (close) eye -- monovision. Even when I lose my ability to accommodate (focus), I'll be able to read without glasses with my 'near' eye and see to shoot with my 'far' eye. A lot of folks walk around with this and do quite well. I find it annoying, so I wear glasses to correct
this -- but if I lose my glasses, I can still function quite well for both near and far vision, unlike the blind fool I would have been without lenses six years ago.
A slightly more obscure concern is aspherical errors; getting the cornea slightly out of round. I notice that, on a dark night, the dimmer stars appear slightly out-of-round or even double from my 'far' eye; this is not uncommon. The lens isn't quite perfectly round after the surgery. This effect can be much greater, and is very hard to correct for with lenses or
surgery. An even more obscure problem is contrast discrimination; this is what allows you to distinguish a white rabbit on a background of white snow.
There is some evidence that loss of contrast discrimination is significant with Lasik, probably less so but still evident with PRK. Most people never notice it, because they don't notice what they don't notice. But if you're ever in a position where you need to distinguish, say, Mossy Oak Breakup from the mossy oaks behind your house, it could be a factor in your continued presence in the world.
Obtain and understand as much information as possible before you let someone alter your anatomy, and understand that problems can and do occur, and it is usually impossible to tell ahead of time who is going to have problems with a particular procedure. Surgery always has risks (but so does being nearsighted in a world with no functioning opticians). - Simple Country Doctor

It's not often I recommend a web site, but this web site will disappear soon and your readers will want to check this out:
Jamie Mangrum has cancer and is shutting down the web site in three months. I bought the 2 CD set called "The BIG CD-ROM" 1 & 2. I think that the content is excellent. The web site includes instructions on how to disassemble and re-assemble many types of military surplus rifles and handguns. In addition, it also included videos on how to blue firearms and cast bullets. Anyone who does maintenance on their firearms should have a set of these CDs. Regards, - Fred the Valmet-meister

I noticed that after a fairly quiet week of trading last week, the US Dollar is back to making some big "mood swings" versus the Euro, with moves of up to 140 points in as little as a few hours. That kind of volatility indicates that the US Dollar market has not found a clear direction. The dollar could still rally, but then again, it could "tank." The Chartist Gnome tells me that if the Euro holds consistently above $1.332 for four days, then that will signal a renewed wave of bear market dollar dumping--possibly "the big one": a major collapse of the dollar to the point where it will take $2 USD or even more to buy one Euro. It is noteworthy that in recent weeks the dollar has even been losing ground against some Third World currencies. SurvivalBlog reader B.H. notes: "See this chart. About halfway down is a link to this chart. Support for the dollar at about 80 goes back 15 years. If that fails, well, 'Look out below!' I suspect it will hold as support [at this level] again." All that I can say is that I'm glad that I bought all my crucial British and European goodies like a Big Berky water filter, Valmet magazines, Steiner optics, Henckels knives, and Brenneke rifled shotgun slugs long ago, when the dollar was strong. Those sorts of items will be painfully unaffordable, come next year! Consider yourself warned. A Big Berky will probably retail for around $375 next year. Buy before the anticipated price increases.

   o o o

Paje sent this link: Rangers lead the way! Uncle Sugar taught them how to use the tools. Too bad that some of them never learned to be well-behaved. The war crimes charges are an interesting but not particularly credible twist.

   o o o

Reader AK in Panama recommended this article from the Strategy Page that might have some practical application in retreat defense: Kinder and Gentler Vehicle Barriers.

"I view great cities as pestilential to the morals, the health and the liberties of man. True, they nourish some of the elegant arts; but the useful ones can thrive elsewhere; and less perfection in the others, with more health, virtue and freedom, would be my choice." - Thomas Jefferson to Benjamin Rush, 1800. ME 10:173

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Wow! I just noticed that we've logged more than 875,000 unique visits! Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. It is gratifying seeing the readership continue to grow. I hope that you find what your read here is useful. (Or as my old buddy "Jeff Trasel" says "practical and tactical, high speed, and low drag.") If you concur, I hope that you will go ahead and get a 10 Cent Challenge subscription. These subscriptions are entirely voluntary, and gratefully accepted.

I live in Curry County [Oregon], and on occasion travel the road over the mountains to Galice. I think that the primary lesson to learn from his tragedy is that you have to know where you are. The SOP for being lost in the woods is to "hug a tree" and wait for rescue. That doesn't always work around here, and Mr. Kim wasn't necessarily wrong in trying to walk out for help. Several years ago, in March, a guy was found on that same road, frozen, sitting in his pickup waiting for rescue. He'd been missing since November. Another common piece of advice for people stuck in the woods is to travel downhill, find water, and follow it downstream. That doesn't work here either. You will end up cold, wet, and trapped at the bottom of a cliff. Around here you have to go uphill until you find a logging spur or an old log deck [also called a log landing or log yard] and then build a big fire. Actually, if Mr. Kim had just stayed on the road, he could have walked to either Galice or Agness in one hard day. You have to know where you are, and adapt accordingly. - R.M.

This is a comment about the remarks that Dutch from Wyoming made about the man who moved from Colorado due to gangs. What did Dutch want the guy from Colorado to do? Start exterminating them? We all fantasize about doing away with the bad guys, but how do you do it and still stay out of jail or get the lethal injection? I retired from law enforcement from California and moved to Montana for some of the same reasons the man from Colorado did. I arrested hundreds, maybe thousands (never kept count) of gang members during my career. An army of lawyers put most them back on the street. Many of those lawyers were/are paid with our tax dollars (Public defenders.) I've also been in shootouts with gang members, including during the 1992 riots. I was sued for those shootings and the city had to pay a lot of money (tax payer money) to gang member families. Remember, the gangs shot at us, we return fire, we win the gun fight, but loose in civil court. Some of my colleagues, went to federal jail for fighting the good fight against gang members. The department abandoned them on the battlefield, and the Feds put them in jail for civil rights violations. I read and see the news everyday where officers are fighting gang members, and God help them if a "use of force" is video taped at the time of the arrest. Even supposedly conservative Fox News doesn't get it. As soon as they see an arrest where the officers are using force, their comments are usually biased and negative against the officer(s). So, what do we do? Shoot, Shovel and Shut up? We are not there yet, but perhaps the day that that happens is not too far off. Or maybe [as Shakespeare suggested] "The first thing we do is kill all the lawyers". - John in Montana

Most people who read his [Dutch from Wyoming's] comments in your blog would be happy to make their stand in their current place of residence. It is not the bad guys we fear, rather the sheeple and law enforcement who punish individuals for the crime of self defense. - D.A.

Odds 'n Sods:

Joe from Tennessee mentioned this scary piece: Imminent US Dollar Collapse? Meanwhile we read, Oil Producers Shun the US Dollar. Gee, this starting to sound a lot like the opening chapter of my novel "Patriots." If this does occur, the full implications of a dollar collapse will be far-reaching. Be prepared!

   o o o

Hawaiian K sent this: U.S. Criminal Probe Rattles $2 Trillion Municipal Bond Market. That is all we need--a municipal bond collapse, right at the same time as a dollar collapse. Do foreign investors need any more inducement to get out of the US dollar and US investments?

  o o o

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lets the "nuclear ambiguity" mask slip

King of Swamp Castle [gesturing toward the window]: One day, lad, all this will be yours.
Prince Herbert: Wot? The curtains?
King of Swamp Castle: No, not the curtains, lad! All that you can see stretched out over the valleys and the hills! That'll be your kingdom, lad.
When I first came here, this was all swamp. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a swamp, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the swamp. So I built a second one. That sank into the swamp. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England. - Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975

Monday, December 11, 2006

I got a great view of a bull moose on Saturday. It crossed the highway about 300 yards ahead of our Explorer and was still near the road standing under some cedars when I got near. Since there was no one in either direction on the lightly-traveled highway, I was able to actually stop and watch the bull for several minutes. Visiting moose--especially bulls--are not an everyday occurrence here at the Rawles Ranch, so seeing one is always a thrill for us.

Hi, Jim:
I appreciated your comments regarding New Hampshire as a potential retreat site in today’s SurvivalBlog item. While I live in Idaho and am mostly pleased with the state, I did have occasion to visit Vermont six months ago. I was highly impressed with several gun stores I visited, and from information I learned from the stores’ staff members. In actuality, I was very surprised that their gun laws were less restrictive than Idaho’s. Thanks for the blog and your writings. Cheers! - TLP

JWR Replies: The gun laws in Vermont are indeed favorable (most notably the legality of concealed carry without a permit), but the taxes? No thanks! New Hampshire has much lower taxes. Here is a snippet from my recently-released book, Rawles on Retreat and Relocation:

Total Tax Burden
It can be useful to look at the Total Tax Burden of a state. This includes: property taxes, income taxes, and sales taxes combined: Taxes as a percentage of income (as of 2002):
The Best:
Alaska 6.3%
New Hampshire 7.6%
Tennessee 8.3%
Colorado 8.4%
South Dakota 8.9%

The Worst:
Maine 13.6%
New York 12.9%
Wisconsin 11.9%
Vermont 11.7%
Hawaii 11.6%
Note: Includes state and local taxes including property and sales tax, excise tax and some business taxes. You may pay even more if your income is considerably higher than average, or if you live in an area of the state with high property taxes.


As a lifelong Wyoming resident, I never could quite figure out what the "Free Staters" were all about. From what I gathered, they wanted to move en masse to some particular state and "set things right". I understand that Wyoming is/was one of the target states.

Wyoming is no paradise. We have a harsh climate, short growing season, high energy prices, sales tax, over-priced real estate and a huge governmental bureaucracy. On top of all that, about the only people here who welcome newcomers are the bankers and real estate agents.

I live a few miles out in the sticks from the nearest town. That town has a population of around 200. We have no mail delivery, so we all make a daily pilgrimage to the post office. It's the social event of the day. The other morning, I was at the post office, waiting my turn at the window. The fellow ahead of me is telling the postmaster why he moved here from some place in Colorado. "Yeah... the gangs took over the town. Got to be where my wife couldn't go shopping by herself."

Jim (the postmaster) simply asked: "Well, what did you do about it?"

The guy said nothing. But in reality, what had the guy done? He'd let himself be run out of town by some hoodlum, hoping that he'd be able to find security at someone else's table.

I don't know about you, but I don't have much trust in a fella who moves in next door, crowing about rights and liberty after he's just proved that he values neither enough to stand his ground. - Dutch in Wyoming

SurvivalBlog reader "Rmplstlskn" mentioned a tale of woe, posted over at The "Fongman" (not to be confused with the character in my novel "Patriots" with same moniker) had most of his survival gear stolen from his unoccupied retreat. As I've mentioned in SurvivalBlog several times before: The best approach is to live at your intended retreat year-round, or have someone that you really trust live there year-round. If you are forced by circumstances to leave your gear unattended, the two best options are: 1.) Underground caches in well-drained soil, or 2.) Renting a commercial storage space that is within 20 miles of your retreat. Both have their drawbacks, but at least they are are superior to gambling with simply leaving valuables in an un-observed trailer or CONEX in a rural locale. Even specially shrouded padlocks on CONEXes are no match for a thief with time on his hands and a cutting torch or power tools. If a container is not within line of sight of an occupied habitation,a thief will eventually gain entry. I've heard the same sad story, over and over. Some might suggest keeping all your gear at home, and transporting all of it to your retreat after the balloon goes up. But that is problematic. If things get Schumeresque, odds are that you will only have one trip Outta Dodge. That would leave you in the unenviable position of having to "pick and choose" and inevitably leaving most of your precious logistics behind. Psychologically, that would be just as devastating, if not worse, than being burglarized.

   o o o

Gulf summit opens with a warning from Saudi King Abdullah: "Our Arab region is besieged by a number of dangers, as if it was a powder keg waiting for a spark to explode,"

   o o o

From the London Telegraph: UN downgrades man's impact on the climate.

"In truth, a state that deprives its law-abiding citizens of the means to effectively defend themselves is not civilized but barbarous…revealing its totalitarian nature by its tacit admission that the disorganized, random havoc created by criminals is far less a threat than are men and women who believe themselves free and independent, and act accordingly." - Jeffrey Snyder, A Nation of Cowards

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mr. Rawles:
I followed the search and rescue story [the tragic death of James Kim--stranded on a remote Oregon logging road] in the news recently and was struck with very emotional feelings about their ordeal. Apparently he and his family did the right things, but in the end bad luck and a lack of proper survival gear was disastrous. Putting myself into his shoes I feel that I too would have definitely tried to hike for help after a week of hunkering down and waiting for rescue.
See the series of Google Earth images showing his path while trying to hike out. The heartbreaking fact is that he started in the wrong direction if trying to reach the nearest shelter/help. These also show the long distance and elevation changes he surmounted in attempting to hike to help.

Lessons to be learned from this tragedy:
1. Never travel without some sort of emergency gear in your vehicle. A good Bug-Out Bag with extra items for warmth and additional food might have made the difference for these guys, in terms of prolonging their ability to stay put and wait out for rescue. (Particularly as since they were on a road that would get searched eventually).
2. Friends from back east taught me the old saying, "Dress to survive, not to arrive". Meaning that when venturing out in an area with inclement weather make sure you are equipped with clothing that would enable you to walk home if you had to. Better, warmer and or waterproofing layers could have made the difference for James Kim in his hike out.
3. A good map is worth its weight in gold. His wife has now said that after reviewing the tourist map they had he left to attempt to hike to Galice, a town they thought was four miles away. In fact it was much further than that, and ironically had they continued forward on the road they had gotten stuck within another mile they would have found a cabin to take shelter in.
A good map and GPS receiver is even better, especially in an unfamiliar wilderness area.
4. When in doubt, turn back. The Kim's became stranded after trying to find a cut off road, and made a wrong turn at a fork that led them onto a secluded and seldom used logging road just as a snow storm hit. If it's getting dark or weather is turning don't be afraid admitting a mistake and re-tracing your steps back to where you know you are on the right path. Better very late than never.

JWR Replies: Echoing S.H.'s comments, an article titled "Lessons Learned from the Kim Family" was posted over at Doug Ritter's Equipped to Survive Blog

The following are some things has prompted me to do since I began reading it:
I've had no debt for 20 years, but my meager holdings are now about 1/3 precious metals. Is lead considered a precious metal? :-)
My freezer is full of elk, whitetail deer, and caribou. I added to my long-term foods during your Safecastle special, but I'm now reviewing the viability of my existing stocks. Like the realtor's mantra of "location, location, location", a survivalist's creed should be "Rotate, rotate, rotate. "
A 10 KW Generac generator is ready to be wired to my primary residence.
My primary heat source is now a shelled corn burner
My wife and I just finished a first aid course refresher and bought a couple of family-sized first aid kits from the American Red Cross.
I upgraded my firearms battery to include a third .308 Winchester rifle--a DPMS Panther LR-308 [AR-10.] An accurate load for the Sierra 168-grain HPBT has been found and loading on the Dillon press commences soon.
During this year's whitetail deer hunt, our group adhered to the hunting laws but still kept in contact with our MURS Radios.
And thanks to your blog, I'm practicing preparedness more. I've never learned how to take a deer apart other than simple de-boning. So with instructions at the ready, the wife and I will skin this year's buck and carve the meat into steaks, roasts, stew meat and burger. But with a full freezer, I'll be practicing charity by giving it to my friend Mike, a less fortunate carnivore.
Now it's time to renew the 10 Cent Challenge subscription. There is much more to do and learn. Merry Christmas to you and yours, - Redmist

Nearly every day after their home schooling, the Rawles kids have asked to go snow sledding. We are fortunate to have a great sledding hill in the national forest land that adjoins the Rawles Ranch. It is just a five minute walk from the house, The kids demonstrated their inventiveness by constructing a packed snow jumping ramp at the base of one of their longer sled runs. Our #3 Son regularly achieves "air", clearing the surface for about 10 feet before landing in deep powder. Quite exhilarating. Speaking of inventiveness, at the dinner table last night I jokingly suggested the new sport of "sled-athalon"--shooting targets with a stainless M1911 .45 ACP whilst traveling downhill on the back of toboggan. (Sort of reminiscent of "Skeet Surfin'" in the opening scenes of the movie Top Secret.) But, alas, The Memsahib nixed that idea, post haste. That was probably for the best, but whatever happened to her sense of adventure?

  o o o

OSOM sent us this link about crime in South Africa: Home Sweet Fortress.

  o o o

Senator James Inhofe announces release of A Skeptic’s Guide to Debunking Global Warming Alarmism.


"Whenever Destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to it’s owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of a arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn’." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957

Saturday, December 9, 2006

When you write your obligatory Christmas card insert letter this year, please mention that you've been reading SurvivalBlog. And if you send an electronic version, it would be greatly appreciated if you'd include a SurvivalBlog link logo or link text. Please spread the word about SurvivalBlog. Thanks!

Here's an item some of your readers may be interested in, Mobile Solar Power, it's a mobile solar power setup and looks like it would fit in with a number of different scenarios. I spoke with the owner a few days ago and he said he will size the equipment to fit your needs/specifications. It appears to be made with high quality equipment and the owner said the batteries have a 10 year warranty, but with care, may last up to 15 years, otherwise the remainder of the equipment should have a life much longer than that. This solar generator, used in combination with a Generlink would make a nice setup for whatever your plans are. I am not connected with either product, just thought they might be of interest. Regards, - Keith

JWR Replies: That sort of system is ideal for either A.) someone that maintains retreats in two states--i.e. for "snowbird" seasonal moves towed behind an RV, or B.) someone that wants backup power but because they live in a community with strict CC&Rs, they can't have solar panels visible on a day-to-day basis. (After TSHTF, your problem will not be your development's Homeowner's Association--it will be chaining the system down to keep someone from stealing it!) OBTW, packaged photovoltaic systems"made to order" are available from Ready Made Resources . They also have an expert there, available for free consulting (with no purchase obligation) on photovoltaic power system sizing and design. Bob has the specialized tools needed to calculate current loads, requisite battery bank sizing, charge controller capacity, available solar hours, solar panel array solar exposure and orientation, and so forth. I can attest that Bob really knows his stuff, and unlike some solar system specialists, he has considerable experience building systems that are custom tailored for survival retreats. I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering installing an independent home power system take advantage of the free consulting offer from Ready Made Resources.

The use of utility easements as bug-out routes has been mentioned here and elsewhere (e.g., the [online shareware] novel "Lights Out" by Halffast.) It seems to me, living next to one would have both pluses and minuses. Plusses: Handy access in case you need to bug-out and clear lines of sight (in at least two directions). Minuses: (If you choose to stay put) the necessity of monitoring bug-out traffic at least and the potential of defending your retreat from such traffic at worst. Are there other advantages or disadvantages? In the final analysis, would you recommend purchasing property adjacent to or near utility easements? Thanks, - d'Heat

JWR Replies: One other disadvantage might arise before TEOTWAWKI: an easement may be used from time to time by a utility company for repairs, maintenance, or system upgrades. I have a friend in California that had planted a vegetable garden on the power company easement running through the back of his property. One summer, just two weeks from the harvest of most of his crops, the power company, with no prior notice, exercised their right to take down the fences and "pass through" with their trucks to perform some sort of maintenance. Nearly all of the plants were trampled beyond viability. At least they did a good job of putting the fences back up.

In my estimation, it is advantage to have a easement near your home if your intention is to relocate to a stocked retreat elsewhere after things appear to be getting Schumeresque. (Since major highways and freeways might be jammed with traffic.) But it is a disadvantage to have an easement near your intended retreat since it would constitute another avenue of approach for intruders.

 SurvivalBlog reader "Paje" put together a detailed analysis on the relative value of gold, dollars, and ammunition that he posted over at the forums. Nicely done!

  o o o

Rich at KT Ordnance mentioned this article at News With Views by constitutionalist lawyer Edwin Vieira: Will the North American Union Be American Patriots' Last Stand?

  o o o

There is an interesting thread of discussion in progress over at The Claire Files on using water well hand pumps during sub-freezing weather.

"Inasmuch as liberals are demanding that Americans ritualistically proclaim, 'Islam is a religion of peace,' Muslims might do their part by not killing people all the time." - Ann Coulter

Friday, December 8, 2006

The high bid is now at $260 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. (They are one of our first and most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their site and check out their huge inventory of preparedness-related products. BTW, they have additional copies of each of the titles listed below, as well as more than a hundred other titles.)

What is your opinion (since it isn't on your list of 19 [preferred states for retreat relocation]) of the Free Stater's choice, New Hampshire? I personally would not be that comfortable living near the east coast with their weather Thanks, - GRD

JWR Replies: If for some reason I was forced by circumstances to live in the northeast (it would probably take a set of Peerless handcuffs and a whole roll of duct tape), I would probably choose New Hampshire. It certainly has the highest "freedom quotient" of any of the states in the northeast. Its guns laws resemble those found in the Deep South and in the West. The tax situation is also more agreeable than in some of its neighboring states. New Hampshire is very friendly to small business and entrepreneurs. I could live with weather in the northeast. However, the overall high population density of the northeastern U.S. is a hazard in the event of TEOTWAWKI. The three following quotes from my recently-released book, Rawles on Retreat and Relocation: sum up my thoughts on this subject:

The northeastern states depend on nuclear power plants for 47% of their electricity. (South Carolina is similarly dependent.) This is an unacceptable level of high technology systems dependence, particularly in light of the emerging terrorist threat. (Refer to Chapter 8 for further discussion and a map of reactor locations.) You must also consider that virtually all of the eastern states are downwind of major nuclear targets--most notably the USAF missile fields in the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Colorado. (Refer to Chapter 9 for further discussion and a map of likely fallout distribution.) If for one reason or another you are stuck in the northeast, consider New Hampshire or Vermont. They are both gun friendly and have more self-sufficient lifestyle. But unless you have some compelling reason to stay in the East, I most strongly encourage you to Go West!


If you are an eastern urbanite and come to the conclusion that you need to buy “a cabin in upstate New York” or “a brick house in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens,” then you are wrong, quite possibly dead wrong. (BTW, I’ve heard both of those quoted suggestions in e-mails from readers of my novel [Patriots]!) A rural area that is within an overall heavily populated region is not truly rural. It lacks real isolation from the basic problem--population. Wave after wave of refugees and then looters will overwhelm these seemingly “rural” areas. In essence, you will need to be at least one tank of gas away from the big cities--preferably at least 300 miles, if possible.

and, to explain the significance of population density:

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

In my opinion, the Free State Project made more of a political choice than a practical choice when they selected New Hampshire rather than Wyoming. Let's face it: The majority of the nation's population lives in the East. So in terms of attracting the greatest number of Free Staters that would actually relocate, they did what they thought the best. The political impact of those relocatees would have been much greater in Wyoming, which is very lightly populated. Instead, they diluted their potential effectiveness by moving to a state that has a relatively high population. I wish them the best, but they should have listened to Boston T. Party!

Agreed [with your comments] on the kludge of AR-15/7.62 variants. However, since he already has the upper. I might suggest the purchase of another lower [the "AR-47"], that is intended to directly take AK mags, eliminating the [straight magzine well] problem.
I'll be honest, these things kinda suck, the fit and finish on them is truly horrible. I've assembled a few of them into California-legal configurations, they do work, but getting them to fit with the upper, and everything else is a pain in the a**.
Personally, I would be inclined to just replace the 7.62x39 upper receiver group with either a .223 or 9mm upper, and go that route. If anyone is looking for a cheaper place to pick up those AR-47 lowers, I think the guy with Metroshot still has some (last time I checked, he wanted about $125 for one of them.) Send him an e-mail if you are interested in one. He's an FFL, and will ship
to your in-state FFL. Regards, - AVL


Mike the Blacksmith and Ben L. both mentioned this article: Bird flu virus 'still smoldering,' U.S. expert says

   o o o

William S. Lind, writing in Counterpunch, penned this thought-provoking piece: When Will the First IED Strike Cleveland? (A hat tip to Eric S. for recommending this article.) According to IED experts, the terrorist IED threat shows spiral development. My personal prediction is that IEDs in the Middle East will soon display far greater sophistication. It is an inevitability of Fourth Generation Warfare. In perhaps just five years, "mud hut tribesmen" will be employing unmanned aerial vehicle borne IEDs (UAVIEDs)--an acronym that I coined when is was a technical/proposal writer in the national defense community. And Mr. Lind is partially right. It is just a matter of time before we have roadside IEDs going off in the U.S. But most of the culprits will not be returning U.S. servicemen that have learned the technology. Rather, I believe that it will be Islamic terrorists who have already learned how to take advantage of the relative anonymity of our big cities.

   o o o

A tornado tears through a north London street


"The essential characteristic of Western civilization that distinguishes it from the arrested and petrified civilizations of the East was and is its concern for freedom from the state." - Ludwig Von Mises

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Today we remember the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. It is estimated that 2,403 Americans were killed, and 1.178 injured. It wasn't the first time that as a nation we were blind-sided. The events of 9-11-2001 proved that it could happen again, and sadly similar attacks are likely to occur. We are thankful for the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen.

A very good shortwave portable is the Sony ICF-2010. It is an older portable from the 1980s but is a very strong performer with its synchronous detector. It is often found on the used market and eBay. One fact that many sellers don't know is that you need to have fresh AA batteries in them for memory retention or the unit will not even function. Many sellers believe that their radios are broken when in fact only need fresh batteries. The unit can be run of D cell batteries or via an AC adapter. Another thing that "goes wrong" with them is the FET transistor blows when connected directly to an external antenna. This transistor can be easily repaired and diodes can be placed in line to help protect the radio from this happening again. If you know how to fix some of the common issues with this radio, you can often obtain a bargain that will perform nearly as well as a tabletop unit with a long wire antenna!
Another good performing SW radio is the Yaesu FRG-7. This radio has an almost cult following. It is a table top unit that was originally produced in the late 1970s. It has a preselector that allows for signal peaking. Useful to help bring in the weak ones and attenuate the strong ones. The radio can be run off AC or via D cells.
Other radios to have available:
CB - Every trucker has one installed, high usage near freeways, good way to hear what's happening down the road from you (get a good antenna for the best range)
2 Meter ham - Nearly every ham has one, listen to the national simplex frequency 146.520 MHz if electricity is not available and repeaters are down (again, get a good antenna for best range)
FRS/GMRS - Many families have them and know how to use them, be sure to match the CTCSS (privacy tones) to communicate
All the above are very inexpensive to own. Having multiple radios gives you more options because no one will know what its gonna be like! Regards, - Echo Echo

Hi Jim,
In reference to magazines for the Colt [AR-15 chambered in] 7.62x39 [,the AK-47's cartridge.] Have you had any experience or feedback with the ones that have the AK type mag. welded to the top of an AR type mag.? I think they call them Frankenmags? Thank you, - Tom

JWR Replies: Because of the sharp angular transition between the curved Kalashnikov magazine and the straight AR-15 magazine well, they don't work very well at all. You can expect lots of "failure to feed" jams. The sadly inescapable problem is that the 7.62x39 Russian cartridge uses a steeply tapered case, designed specifically to feed in a curved magazine. AR-15s should have never been adapted to fire this cartridge. It was a very bad idea! If you load more than about 10 of these cartridges into a straight magazine, they tend to get jammed, even to the point of "tipping over" in the magazine!

I recommend that you sell that 7.62x39 upper receiver group (or perhaps the whole rifle) and buy an AK or SKS. (Or better yet, a Valmet M62 if you can afford one.) For the now "surplus" AR-15 lower, (assuming that you want to keep it) either get a 5.56mm NATO upper receiver group, of if you want more "punch" then get a 6.8mm upper. (See the recent discussion about these in SurvivalBlog, posted on November 4th.)


Readers David D. and Bret F. both recommended a speech transcript at the Energy Bulletin site: Closing the 'Collapse Gap': the USSR was better prepared for peak oil than the US.

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Michael Z. Williamson sent this link, with this comment: "Further evidence that the "inevitable" Atlantic [La Palma] megatsunami is merely hype.

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Rourke (moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group) noticed that SurvivalBlog was linked in the entry on "Survivalism" at conservative commentator Glenn Beck's "Glennpedia."


"For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and devotion above and beyond the call of duty. During the first attack by Japanese airplanes on the Naval Air Station, Kanoehe Bay, on 7 December 1941, Lieutenant Finn promptly secured and manned a 50-caliber machine gun mounted on an instruction stand in a completely exposed section of the parking ramp, which was under heavy enemy machine-gun strafing fire. Although painfully wounded many times, he continued to man this gun and to return the enemy's fire vigorously and with telling effect throughout the enemy strafing and bombing attacks and with complete disregard for his own personal safety. It was only by specific orders that he was persuaded to leave his post to seek medical attention. Following first-aid treatment, although obviously suffering much pain and moving with great difficulty, he returned to the squadron area and actively supervised the rearming of returning planes. His extraordinary heroism and conduct in this action were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service." - From the Medal of Honor citation of John William Finn, the only Medal of Honor recipient from the attack on Pearl Harbor that is still living. At last report, Finn was also the oldest living recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Please take the time to visit the web sites of each of our paid advertisers. They have some great products at very competitive prices. If and when you do buy, please give your patronage to our paid advertisers first! If they don't have what you are looking for, then move on to the web sites for our affiliate advertisers.

Western U.S. Climate Historical Summaries is another great link for those researching retreat locations in the western states. Includes 30 years' averages for monthly max/min temperatures, precipitation and snowfall for a stunning number of locations (258 in Oregon alone). Great data on frost-free growing days. Also shows record temps, snow and rainfall -- you see how the locals got those weather stories. Take care, LM.

Hi Jim.
I concur with your answer to the post regarding communications and scanner monitoring for disasters. I chose to and recommend implementing both multi-mode and redundant communications. Being that it may be virtually impossible to replace never mind repair most receivers and transceivers it is imperative to have at least two multi-band radios. Some good general coverage models that are still available are the venerable Radio Shack DX 300, DX 302 the DX 400 and the DX 440. The DX 400 and DX 440 are Sangean-made [chassis] in Radio Shack cases. All three radios are quite sensitive, wide band (the 302 tunes from .001 to 30 mhz and the 400/440s tune 150 KHz to 29.999 MHz), have AM-USB-LSB modes and the 400/440 has FM. There is a long list of Avanti, Kenwood, Yaesu, Drake, Icom and other manufacturers but the Radio Shack, Bearcat, Uniden and assorted host of off brands made by Uniden and Bearcat
are lower cost and easily found in pawn shops, big indoor flea markets and at yard sales. Ham radio fests will yield many receive only radios and in the big name offerings but they are quite pricey. There is one caveat though. The Sangean radios have a very sensitive field effect transistor (FET) connected to the external antenna circuit. A brisk static discharge could conceivably damage the FET. This is true to other models although varied across the manufacture spectrum. During built in antenna operation grounding out ones body is important. For fixed radio installations a grounded antenna switch, lightning discharge device (Blizt Bug) and disconnecting the antenna altogether are recommended.
For security work it is wise to have not only redundant transceivers and the associated accessories but, if ones budget makes it possible, multi band radios as well. For the sake of COMSEC, having a wide band of frequencies to select from decreases the odds of eavesdropping on the vital communications between the LP/OP(s) and the CQ desk. Dual band hand held transceivers such as the Yaesu FT50, and FT727A, are not only dual band (144-148, 440-450) radios but are highly programmable, and can have the frequencies "opened up" and have hi/low power outputs. The FT50 is small, both are rugged and have lots of accessories. Quite a few ham radio operator select models such as the Kenwood 221 and 231 2 Meter mobile that can have the band opened. Off band [transmission] has it's advantages especially at low power so there is a lesson here. Most 2 Meter mobiles have up to 50 watts of output power so they can transmit a good distance, if COMSEC is not an issue. [This is quite effective when this available power is] combined with a with the proper beam [directional] antenna.
The aforementioned radios are to name a few. There are many models and makes to chose from. The newer versions are expensive and not as available at reasonable prices as their older counterparts. For those who can, touring pawn shops can result in some lucrative finds although pairs of like radios are the best choice.
As a note Rob at MURS Radios has been the model of helpfulness. He has answered all my e-mail queries regarding his radio offerings and will get my business. He even has the software available that will allow the operator to reprogram the radios at will which is important for comm security. - Joe from Tennessee

JWR Replies: I agree that it is wise to purchase redundant commo gear. There is a certain logic on buying three, four or even five older, used Radio Shack receivers for around $900 rather than the same amount on purchasing just one shiny new Drake R8B. OBTW, be sure to keep those spares in ammo cans, just in case of EMP.

By coincidence, my first general coverage receiver was a Radio Shack DX-302. It was a sturdy, very reliable receiver and it had the advantage of a 12 volt DC power input jack in the back. In retrospect, I should have never sold it.

Regarding "off band" (or out of band" or "freeband") transmission: Such transmissions are not legal in the United States except under emergency conditions. Do the requisite research before considering "keying up" out of band!

I heard from Rob at MURS Radios that he temporarily ran out of stock but that he just restocked and is ready to ship. He usually get orders out within one to two business days but please order early if you want your radios in time for Christmas.

Writing in yesterday's Daily Reckoning, editor Bill Bonner observed: "People who lend in dollars get repaid in dollars. An obvious consequence of a falling dollar is that lenders have to expect to get less back than they originally invested. In the last few weeks, the dollar has lost about 5% against the euro. Yet, the 91-day T-bill lending rate is only about 4.90%. Go figure. Lenders expected only 4.9% on their money - for a full year. And in a few weeks, they’ve lost more than that, in international terms. What’s more, they still have to pay taxes on the nominal gains...and still have to suffer the effects of domestic dollar inflation."

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In an e-mail, Ron mentioned that Time magazine reported the Marines in Iraq are using silly string to detect trip wires on IEDs.

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The previously mentioned special promotion at Northern Tool & Equipment (one of our affiliate advertisers) has been extended to December 11th. Northern is offering sitewide Free Gift Cards with purchases over $100. You will need to enter keycode 94660 in order to receive their free gift card.

"Out here, due process is a bullet." John Wayne, as Col. Mike Kirby, The Green Berets, 1968

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

We had elk and tomato sauce with our spaghetti dinner last night. Yum! We all love the taste of "elkison" here at the Rawles Ranch. There is no shortage of elk in this region. Speaking of which, the elk have recently come down out of The Unnamed Range of Mountains (TUROM) to winter in our valley. In hard winters--as it appears this one will be--we dispense a bit of charity in the form of salt blocks, C-O-B sweet feed mix, and hay to the local deer and elk. We also sometimes see wild turkeys, bear, and moose here at the ranch. Even more rarely we see bighorn sheep and mountain goats on the cliffs that loom up on the other side of The Unnamed River (TUR), at the back end of our property. Between the fishing and the wild game, we will certainly never starve here.

Hey Jim,
My father recently gave me a Winchester Model 88 [civilian lever action sporting rifle] chambered in .308 [Winchester]. I've acquired a few rounds of 7.62x51 ball from a separate source. Can I use that ammo in the rifle? I've Googled to no avail. Can you help? Thanks, - d'Heat

JWR Replies: The short answer to your question is: Yes. From a precise technical standpoint, they are not identical cartridges. Military 7.62mm NATO is almost dimensionally identical, but actually a hair longer than the SAAMI dimensional specs for .308 Winchester. Military 150 grain full metal jacket ("ball") loads have lower chamber pressure than commercial 150 grain .308 Winchester hunting loads, and military brass is thicker than civilian brass. So what you mentioned doing is certainly safe.

All US military ball and nearly all of the European 7.62 NATO is non-corrosively primed, but keep in mind that tracer and incendiary loads leave a corrosive residue. (Clean your bore, chamber and bolt face three days in a row after firing anything suspected of being corrosive.)

You may be wondering: "What about the other way around"? I generally do not recommend shooting .308 Winchester commercial hunting loads through a military 7.62mm NATO rifle--especially a semi-auto. The specification for military rifle chamber length is 1.645 inches, versus 1.632 inches for civilian .308 Winchester chambers. The 0.013 inch difference may not sound like much, but the stress on commercial brass--which again is thinner than military brass--could conceivably cause head separations if fired in a military or paramilitary rifle such as an M1A, FAL, L1A1, or AR-10. This is especially true for handloaders that use brass over and over. For this reason, I exclusively use once-fired U.S. military match grade brass for all of my .308 handloads. That way we can use the same ammo in any of our L1A1s, in the Memsahib's .308 Valmet, and in our various .308 bolt action rifles.

As a survivalist, you need a complete set of tools to keep your stuff running. As this could include cars, trucks, tractors, motorcycles, ATVs, bicycles, snowmobiles, little red wagons, etc. You
might think that is already a fair number of different types of tools required. But what about other things you might need tools for? Some examples:
Weapons - tools used by a gunsmith or armorer are rather specialized.
General - Hammers are a common, but what about sledge hammers? What about post-hole diggers? Axes? Hatchets? Roofing hammers? Crow-bars? Saws?
Levels? Mattocks? etc., etc., etc.
Plumbing - Requires some specialized tools, pipe wrenches, pipe cutters, and maybe a [propane] torch if working with copper.
Electronics - From soldering to testing, voltage meter, lots of specialized tools required.
Electrical – AC/DC, some similarities and some differences to electronic tools.
Blacksmithing - Very specialized set of tools here, especially if one includes [farrier] equipment to shoe horses.
Butchering - Not only the knives and saws but also grinders and sausage makers.
Also consider how many of each tool that you should plan for.As an example, imagine your group has two shovels and one axe. So if you send one group out to chop down a tree, another to pull a stump, and another to work on fighting positions, which ones will get the tools they need to get their job done? Or will each have to cool their heels until the tools become available for them?
Each group would have need of each of the two tool types mentioned. So you can see where you might run into issues. Especially if all three jobs were important to the same end result. Say you need the tree chopped down to provide overheard cover for the fighting position. And the stump that needs to be removed was from a tree that was cut down to provide wood used to strengthen the parapet of the fighting position, but it is now blocking some of the field of fire for that fighting position. And of course the fighting position is needed to defend the retreat. Should one try to prioritize such work, or is it better to have enough of tools to equip everyone? - R.C. (Submitted with permission of the author--a moderator on the Yahoo Group "Survival Retreat")

I noticed that the spot market price of silver closed at over $14 per ounce yesterday. Back when silver was around $7 an ounce I told you that silver was likely to double, and now, just 17 months later, it has indeed. I also predicted that silver would out-perform gold. I was right about that, too. As I've stated before, I think that we are in the opening phase of a multi-year bull market for precious metals, and a bear market for the dollar. I hope that you folks took my advice and bought some silver. Back on August 6, of 2005, when I first started SurvivalBlog, I wrote this, citing my earlier track record on the metals market:

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

[Some commentary on interest rates snipped, for brevity]

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

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

Reader H.V. suggested this article: Zimbabwe Finance Minister promises to slash inflation by two-thirds. What a vast improvement! If he manages to accomplish this, then the inflation rate would only be around 400%, annually. Please pray that Comrade Mugabe and his henchmen leave Zimbabwe soon and that they are replaced with a legitimate, competent government.

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Fred The Valmet-meister mentioned that he was experimenting with his Civil Defense surplus Geiger counter and was shocked at the high readings from his lantern mantles. "With Coleman [mantles], I got 800 - 1000 millirad. I also have a set of Primus mantles, and with those I got 1500 millirad!" .Then he started doing so web research and he found this web site. It has some interesting lists of the household items that are radioactive.

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Reader R.C. mentioned that he saw a notice that the web site will be taken down in March of 2007. They are suggesting that people buy their two CD collections of all site material for $5 each.

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"Papiere, bitte." U.S. Driver's Licenses are becoming a de facto National Identity Card.

"In the questions of power, then, let no more be heard of the confidence in man, but bind him down by the chains of the Constitution." - Thomas Jefferson

Monday, December 4, 2006

The high bid is at $245 in the latest SurvivalBlog benefit auction, This one is for a big batch of 16 survival/preparedness reference books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. (They are one of our first and most loyal advertisers. Be sure to visit their site and give them some business. BTW, they have additional copies of each of the titles listed below, as well as more than a hundred other titles.)

Please submit your bid via e-mail. The auction ends on January 15th. The books in the auction lot include:

1. From Seed to Bloom- How to Grow Over 500 Annuals, Perennials & Herbs by Eileen Powell
2. Keeping the Harvest- Preserving Your Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs by Nancy Chioffi & Gretchen Mead
3. How to Build Your Own Log Home For Less Than $15,000 by Robert L. Williams
4. Camouflage by Desert Publications
5. Natural Pest Control- Alternatives to Chemicals for the Home and Garden by Andrew Lopez The Invisible Gardener
6. The AR-15/M16- A Practical Guide by Duncan Long
7. Apocalypse Tomorrow by Duncan Long
8. Guide To Emergency Survival Communications- How to Build and Power Your System by Dave Ingram
9. Raising Rabbits The Modern Way by Bob Bennett
10. Mountainman Crafts and Skills- An Illustrated Guide to Clothing, Shelter, Equipment and Wilderness Living by David Montgomery.
11. A Guide to Raising Pigs- Care, Facilities, Management, Breed Selection by Kelly Klober
12. Survival, Evasion and Escape by Desert Publications
13. Raising Your Own Turkeys by Leonard S. Mercia

and, three more books that I'm adding, just to "sweeten the pot":

14. "Patriots: Surviving The Coming Collapse" (the scarce out of print Huntington House edition)
15. The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery
16. One more surprise book title!

Together, these books have a retail value well in excess of $250. Get your bid in soon!

The article on currency hyperinflation [by Lee Roger, posted on November 30th] was interesting. However, trying to keep the puny penny alive to prevent hyperinflation is like trying to prevent floods by banning depth gauges.

Someone will need to explain to me why we need any coinage with a denomination less than the value of a minute of a minimum wage worker’s time. For decades in earlier times, our smallest coin was worth about as much as out current dime.

How many billions in wasted time would be saved if we had a simple coinage system that reflected real current prices, instead of living in denial about past and current inflation?

I propose that we could optimally operate with fewer coins: dimes, halves, and dollars, plus $5 coins. All transactions transacted in tenth dollars (drop the whole darn penny digit) Four useful coins for daily transactions, instead of the current six. Drop the wallet-bursting $1 bill, and the silly $2 bill, and keep the $5 as the lowest [denomination] bill. Add a $500 bill to allow more portable wealth, and the system makes as much sense as it used to.

Anyone who worries that this will cause more inflation is well-advised to buy precious metals. And of course, it would be better if the coinage and currency reflected real value. But that is no reason to live in denial about the reality of inflation. A pocket full of worthless change will not change economic reality.

Also, note that is an interesting source to determine the theoretical “value” of coins based on their metal content. But be cautioned that no one is paying these prices. They reflect the value if the metals were separated and pure. The cost of the mint to buy the metal to produce a coin does not mean that it has that value to any buyer. Sure, you can “double your money” by picking out pre-1982 copper pennies. But if it takes you only 6 seconds to find each one, you are earning only minimum wage. Never mind that the cost to transport it to copper buyers would eat much of your profits.- Mr. Bravo

Dear Mr Rawles,
It is possible that I am simply not an attentive reader of the Survival Blog, so I may have missed this.
However, it seems to me that rather than getting into technically very difficult and potentially very dangerous pursuits involving home-made brass & home-made primers, why not become proficient with a flintlock rifle?
Flintlocks never went completely out of style, and there are many, many excellent makers today.
In the hands of a practiced marksman, a flintlock is certainly the equal of any modern rifle out to 100 or 200 yards, and at the Battle of New Orleans, Kentucky riflemen brought down redcoats at 400 yards or more.
Firing a flintlock requires no fancy chemical primers: just black powder. Black powder is dangerous to make yourself, but it is chemically simpler than percussion primer powder. Round balls are convenient to cast from lead. And flints can be hand-knapped. A good rifle will be nearly 100% in ignition. The only drawback it seems to me is that it is a single shot per barrel per load, but two barrel rifles are not unknown.
All the very best, - Dr. W.A.

JWR Replies: We have covered blackpowder (BP) muzzleloaders on SurvivalBlog, but not nearly to the extent that the subject deserves. Back in February of Aught Six, I posted the following in reply to another letter on blackpowder arms: "I agree that BP guns do have a place in survival planning. However, if someone's main goal is getting guns that are outside of Federal jurisdiction (with no purchase paperwork required in most locales), from a practical standpoint they are better off buying pre-1899 cartridge guns from the 1890s, such as
the Mausers and the S&W top break revolvers that are sold by dealers such as The Pre-1899 Specialist. If, in contrast, the intent is to have guns that will remain useful in the event of a multi-generational societal collapse, them BP guns make a lot of sense. Lead for bullet/ball casting can be stored in quantity, and even salvaged wheel weights or battery plate lead could be
Black powder and percussion caps could conceivably be "home brewed"--although there are some serious safety considerations.

BP arms have lower velocity and hence less stopping power than modern smokeless powder cartridge guns. However, they can still be fairly reliable stoppers. I would NOT want to be a burglar confronted by a homeowner that is holding a pair of Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers! OBTW, since black powder leaves a hygroscopic residue that is inherently corrosive, I recommend buying stainless steel guns whenever possible. So make that a pair of stainless steel Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers. If you ever envision BP guns being pressed into service for self-defense, then get models that optimize fast follow-up shots and fast reloading.
For example, consider the the Kodiak double rifle. (Up to .72 caliber rifles,. plus 12 and 10 gauge shotgun variants.) Some brands of BP revolvers have cylinders that are relatively quick to change. For those, it makes sense to buy two or three spare cylinders for each gun that can be kept loaded. Of course be sure to have each gun tested with all of the cylinders to make sure that they all function and "register" correctly.

I wonder how many other folks have read this: " ...Ritholtz told WorldNetDaily that yesterday's downward move "was a major market correction that points to the risk of subsequent downside to the dollar," and "... but the recent fall suggests "the probabilities have increased of a major dollar correction, or even of a collapse." " The whole story can be found at the WorldNetDaily web site. - Joe from Tennessee

 Reader S.P. mentioned this interesting new photovoltaic power technology. Could a price breakthrough on solar panels be coming soon?

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In a recent phone conversation, The Chartist Gnome told me that there are now rumors of a U.S. Dollar collapse circulating on Wall Street. Echoing this sentiment came this article:
about the dollar's slide
. The Dollar lost 1.7% against the Euro jut last week. (Thanks to Mike the Blacksmith for that article link.) My advice: Be like the Boy Scout. If you haven't already, diversify out of dollars and into tangibles.

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Ben. L. recommended an interesting retrospective about the Swine Flu scare of '74/'75, comparing the world today, and the relatively greater threat posed by Asian Avian Flu.

#2 Son, in the back seat of the car: "What was that I just saw run across the road? I just caught a glimpse."

#1 Son: "I think it was a chipmunk."

JWR, at the wheel: "To be precise, that was a Lesser Western Black Deathwish Chipmunk."

#2 Son: "How can you tell the variety?"

JWR: "Ah! Good question. The Deathwish subspecies nearly always starts to cross the road but then displays its second thoughts by stopping and rushing back from whence it came. Their odds of making it across a road are slightly better than playing Russian roulette."

Sunday, December 3, 2006

In response to those that asked for details, my newly-released nonfiction book, Rawles on Retreat and Relocation is 225 pages, in 8-1/2x11 format, and wire-o bound, so that it will lay flat when open. There are lots of maps and a comparative table. In answer to those of you that asked for details about the contents, here is how it is organized:
Chapter 1: Population Density and The Golden Horde
Chapter 2: The Self-Sufficient Retreat
Chapter 3: Climate and Growing Season
Chapter 4: Water, Power, and Fuel Sources
Chapter 5: Property, Income, and Sales Taxes
Chapter 6: Weapons Laws
Chapter 7: Zoning Laws and Other Nuisances
Chapter 8: Terrorist Target Structures
Chapter 9: World War Three Target Structures
Chapter 10: Offshore Options
Chapter 11: Privacy is Paramount
Chapter 12: Narrowing Your Search
Chapter 13: Making The Purchase
Chapter 14: Building (or Remodeling) a Retreat
Chapter 15: Stocking Your Retreat
Chapter 16: Food Storage
Chapter 17: Friends, Relatives, and Neighbors
Appendix A: Retreat Owner Profiles
Appendix B: Sources, Suppliers, and Consultants
Appendix C: References
Appendix D: Acronyms and Terms


I am writing to recommend two novels that may be interest to your readers. Written by Terri Blackstock, I would like to recommend a series of two novels: Last Light and Night Light. These are novels that are written in a series, and while they can be read one at a time, are better read in sequence. As survival junkies, we are always in search of decent fiction centered around survival motifs - a rare genre of writing. Terri does a pretty good job of producing some entertaining and page-turning yarns. I will admit for those of us that are truly hard core, you may find yourself reverting to thoughts of primordial survival logistics as you read these novels (e.g., " well, why didn't they do this, or why didn't they do that....), but written for the lay person, they have a high entertainment quotient., Also, they are really written as religious novels, more so than as a study in the art of survival pre se. As many of us are faith-based, this style of writing should not detract, but instead actually add to the enjoyment of the experience. From an editorial perspective, Terri's writing style is fairly basic ( no long. protracted descriptions of the scene, or massive amounts of internal dialogue of the characters), which at first was a little difficult to get used to, but ultimately provided for a brisk read. As with any survival-related work, there are lessons to be learned here. As a born again Christian, I appreciated the underlying message in each work. Terri's imagination is well preserved as she describes the trials and tribulations of the average upper middle-class family that is caught up in the unexpected circumstances of TEOTWAWKI caused by a mysterious EMP that renders all transistor and chip based mechanical devices inoperable. And, I must admit, that the origin of this EMP is a source that most of your Blog readers have not considered - and is absolutely insidious in its destructive capability. I would rate her at a solid "B" in entertainment value, and a must read for those of us that enjoy the celebration of our Savior in apocalyptic-based fiction. Zondervan Press, ISBN - 10: 0-310-25768-9 (book 1).and ISBN - 13: 978-0-310-25768-4 (book 2). Regards, - REM

The hot thing in scanners right now is digital trunking. Most public-safety services use this approach, without scrambling or encryption. Analog scanners are useless, but the new generation of scanners include direct support for digital trunking.
I recently bought a Uniden/Bearcat BCD 396T, which totally restored my ability to listen to common public-safety traffic where I live.
Some more sensitive government agencies use encryption on top of digital trunking, but there's no strong survival-oriented motivation to listen to their transmissions. Unless you're trying to survive an FBI manhunt, I suppose. In an emergency, being able to monitor fire and police agencies should be enough for most people, and these new scanners can do that in most areas. Regards, - PNG

I had delayed writing a review of the Yukon night vision rifle scope because I have to wonder who else is reading your site. I don't want to do a disservice to all the good folks that visit your [blog] site. I surely don't want the bad guys knowing the following. Unless they stumble on it themselves. If they are going to use one I would rather they use one of these gems. I may buy a few
other night vision scopes just to see if the problem is in the design or I got a bad one. Here's what I
The scope is a Yukon Gen 1 with a illuminated circle/dot reticle, 1.5x42mm NVRS. It has an IR illuminator that supposedly gives it a 350 yd. range. I found that when the scope is first turned on with the illuminator off the operation is normal. The resolution is was a challenge seeing a 4x6 foot target board 100 yards down range. I had an equally difficult time
finding my (black) horse in the pasture 50-60 yards out with fresh batteries. With the illuminator on targets were easier to spot and maintain.
Now the fun part: After the illuminator was switched off the IR source continued to produce an output albeit at a LOWER INTENSITY but VERY visible.
So, not sure what I was dealing with, I ran a test. While in a very dark closet the NVRS was switched on nv only and I donned a NVG to "see" what I
would find. Nothing. Okay. I then switched on the illuminator which functioned fine. I then switched off the illuminator and sure enough there was a healthy glow emanating from the IR diode. I waited quite a while and re-checked the IR just to be certain I was not seeing some persistence in the diode and/or circuit that drives the diode and it was still producing an
output. I shut off the NVRS and the IR glow was still present. If the batteries were removed from the NVRS and after the IR circuit discharged the NVRS and illuminator would function normally until the IR switch was again out in the "on" position.
I can assume that either the IR driver has a component leaking current to the diode, a very long time constant on a capacitor or the "problem" is in the design. Either way this is one accessory I would not want to have on me in a TEOTWAWKI situation. The green "power on" indicator LED is bad enough. It lights up the operator's face as a beacon in the night!
So, as you can see - if the problem is in the design and not confined to the one that I had - I would rather the bad guys have the scope. I do tell those I trust, respect and would like to see remain at 98.6 degrees F. - Joe

Thad K. suggested this link on how to grow your own luffa sponges. His comment: "What a great survival plant, eat them when young, wash with them when they are mature!"

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The previously mentioned special promotion at Northern Tool & Equipment (one of our affiliate advertisers) ends tomorrow. (December 4th) Northern is offering sitewide Free Gift Cards with purchases over $100. You will need to enter keycode 94660 in order to receive their free gift card.

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I got a note from Freeze Dry Guy, with good news: They are extending their November 10% off sale on selected Mountain House freeze dried foods, to the end of December.See their web site under "Freeze Dried Foods By The Case." The web page lists the standard prices, so you will have to CALL to get the special prices: (530) 265-8333. Please mention that you are SurvivalBlog reader. For example, Cooked Diced Beef, normally $273.18, is on sale for $245.86. There are similar discounts on Cooked Diced Chicken and Cooked Ground Beef (the latter is a new item not on price list, with 162 servings of 1/2 cup each per case ) They still pay shipping within the Continental U.S., even with these prices!

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us." - Abraham Lincoln, Oct. 3, 1863

Saturday, December 2, 2006

My much awaited non-fiction book, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation has just been released, in time to order for Christmas! It is available as a wire-o bound "print-on demand" book from CafePress - Click here for details Topics in the book include: Retreat Locales, Detailed State and Local Statistics, Weapons Laws, Climate Zones, Property Selection Criteria, Zoning and CC&Rs, Self-Sufficiency, Emerging Threats, Terrorist and WWIII Targets, Offshore Retreats, Privacy, Stocking Your Retreat, and Much More! 225 pages, fully indexed, with detailed maps and retreat locale analysis. Covers 19 western states. A considerable portion of the content in this book has never been posted on SurvivalBlog, including my heretofore "reserved for consulting clients only" recommendations on specific retreat areas in Idaho. $32.00. Click here for ordering details

Mr. Rawles,
I've been researching retreat areas and found a couple web site useful. National Geographic has a "MapMachine" program which allows for generating satellite, road, physical characteristics maps and, best of all, theme maps. The theme maps include weather, farming, vegetation, and population density. The MapMachine can be combined with [gardening] hardiness zone maps.

These may help others in their planning. Thanks, - John H.


One tidbit I recently learned less than a week ago: non-nuclear EMP bombs are actually easy and cheap to make Its a permanent magnet, a coil, an antenna, and a bomb to push the magnet past the coil. The enormous electrical energy is released through the antenna causes a powerful EMP to be released, depending on the size of the device used. These tend to be heavy so I doubt you'll see big ones flying around but a truck or railcar sized bomb would be really potent, possibly covering a dozen mile radius. Shipping containers probably won't work that well, as the metal walls would partially contain the energy. Keep in mind that the strength decreases with the distance, just like any radio signal. That's your area of expertise. You'd probably be able to learn something about this for your readers and write up a quick report on the danger/effects. Its amazing to see how easy it is, though. A friend of mine in high tech told me: this is how First World countries will fight wars. Set these off in/over cities and take out the credit card [processing infrastructure], the cell phones, the computer networks and then sit back and watch them tear themselves apart. Best, - InyoKern

The following are preliminary points meant to contribute to the early and continuing discussion of this newly released (as of November 22, 2006) USDA document concerning the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). I plan to write further on some of the key issues related to the User Guide in the near future. At the close of the discussion is a list of suggestions for further action.

  1. The only real "difference" from this year's prior Implementation Plan documents is the absence of stated dates for certain target levels of participation. The document still envisions making everyone comply with NAIS eventually. (See, e.g., User Guide, p. 5, "The goal is to establish a complete record of all locations, or premises, in the United States that manage or hold livestock and/or poultry.") (Emphasis added.)
  2. Note that Rep. Collin Peterson (D. Minnesota, 7th Dist.), expected to chair the House Agriculture Committee in the next Congress beginning in January 2007, lately has been quoted as favoring a "mandatory" NAIS. (Presumably Rep. Peterson does not yet understand the harms NAIS will cause to small farmers and animal owners, and the unfair boon it will be to the multinational meat industry and tech industry. Let's help him realize the true state of affairs by contacting his office and pointing out the harms of NAIS.) The USDA's increased (but misleading) emphasis on "voluntary" may well be nothing more than an attempt to shift blame to Rep. Peterson and some of his fellow party members for a "mandatory" plan that the present administration's USDA really hopes will be implemented.
  3. Note that the User Guide was released late in the day on Thanksgiving Eve. This is a typical tactic for actions that bureaucrats hope might escape too much notice. Further, unlike the release of the Implementation Plan of April 2006, the release of the User Guide was not accompanied by a well-publicized news conference by Secretary Johanns.
  4. The User Guide subtly reveals some new tactics the USDA is planning to employ for imposing "creeping mandatory" NAIS on animal owners who do not actually "volunteer." Note the following passage from p. 8 of the Guide: "USDA believes participation in the main components of NAIS can occur as a result of standard business practices. For example, in order for producers to obtain official identification devices, they first need to register for a premises identification number. Accordingly, the success of the premises registration component would be achieved through the participation of producers in longstanding disease management programs and compliance with interstate movement regulations." Translation of the above bureaucratic verbiage: If you want to buy, sell, or move animals in interstate transactions, or if you participate in a required (e.g., for many dairy producers) or voluntary disease program such as TB or brucellosis testing or calfhood vaccination, the USDA is going to force you to use NAIS Animal Identification Numbers (AINs) for these programs, and will also force you to get a premises ID as a prerequisite to getting the forced AINs.
  5. The USDA propaganda machine really went into high gear to produce the User Guide. The main propaganda objective is falsely to paint any NAIS non-participants as somehow "antisocial." Of course, the real facts are that people opposed to NAIS base their opposition on their positive religious, spiritual, social, and ethical values, and they want to create a more just world for all. NAIS opponents want a local, human-scaled economy that supports true family farming, offers fair compensation for producing food and other basic needs, and discourages greed, excessive commercialism, and materialism. In contrast, the pushers of NAIS -- originally multinational meat packers and tech corporations -- are driven by greed for undeserved profit and power. In particular, the tech corporations will happily microchip your grandmother or your baby if they think they can make a buck doing it -- these corporations absolutely do not care about the obviously negative spiritual, social, and political consequences of their behavior. The USDA User Guide attempts to turn these true values of things upside down. Consider the following statement from the Guide (p. 2): "There are a number of reasons for producers to participate in NAIS. One of the most important reasons is to better protect animal health. People who own or work with animals, or depend on them for income, understand how absolutely important this is -- for themselves, their neighbors, and their surrounding communities." Thus the USDA spinmeisters falsely paint NAIS opponents -- who in reality are religiously and socially dedicated people sacrificing their own time and money to promote a better future for all people, all animals, all of creation and nature -- the USDA falsely paints these dedicated people as somehow not sufficiently attentive to "neighbors" and "communities." Curiously, the USDA never seems to have anything bad to say about the CAFOs and CAFO-dependent multinational meat packers who pollute our air and water, create dangerous resistant bacteria by overuse of antibiotics, squander immense amounts of fossil fuels to produce and transport their products, treat animals like fungible "units of production" to be kept in total confinement, pay displaced foreign workers substandard wages, and drive family farmers and small local entrepreneurs out of business.

Suggested Actions
The issuance of the User Guide should not change the planned actions of NAIS opponents; rather, the Guide's misleading propaganda should inspire NAIS opponents to continue their socially responsible work.

  • Do not rely on expressing your opinions to NAIS Working Groups or other "insiders" such as extension agents or government animal-health workers. Instead, make your opposition to NAIS known where it counts -- to your U.S. Congressman and U.S. Senator and to state senators and representatives.
  • Seek an end to all federal funding of NAIS. Good organizations to support in this regard are the National Independent Consumer and Farmer Advocates Fund (NICFA) and the Virginia Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (VICFA) -- check them out at
  • .Work for state legislation to prohibit acceptance of USDA NAIS funds by state agriculture and animal health departments, and legislation prohibiting state involvement in premises ID/animal ID/animal tracking.
  • Demand animal products produced without participation in NAIS.
  • Avoid purchasing industrially-produced animal products and encourage others to boycott such foods.
  • Obviously, do not sign up for any "voluntary" aspects of NAIS. Avoid any actions that might trigger "forced voluntary" NAIS, such as need for interstate shipping permits or participation in "voluntary" government-sponsored animal-related programs.
  • Avoid attending any animal-related fairs or shows that require NAIS premises ID or animal ID. Instead, arrange your own animal-related events with trusted neighbors or friends.
  • Oppose any attempts by the USDA or state agriculture departments to obtain statutory exemptions from freedom-of-information laws for NAIS information. Remember, bureaucrats will be unable to implement NAIS if they cannot get FOIA exemptions for their databases.
  • Work to repeal the already-mandatory premises ID in Wisconsin and Indiana, and the soon-to-be-mandatory RFID tagging for cattle in Michigan. Help your friends and family from these states to relocate, if necessary.
  • Refuse to buy any land that has a premises ID or any animals that have NAIS animal identification numbers.

Copyright 2006 by Mary Zanoni. The following article may be distributed solely for personal and non-commercial use without prior permission from the author. Non-commercial distribution and posting to assist in disseminating information about NAIS is, in fact, encouraged, so long as proper credit is given and the article is reproduced without changes or deletions. Any other distribution or republication requires the author's permission in writing and requests for such permission should be directed to the author at the address/phone/e-mail address below.

Mary Zanoni, Ph.D., J.D.
P.O. Box 501
Canton, NY 13617


Regarding Mr. Yankee's article: Salt in some water softeners is potassium chloride, not sodium chloride. Both are 'salts' but they behave differently. Be sure you are storing the sodium chloride variety.- SF in Hawaii


Mr Rawles,
Hope this finds you and your family doing well. I'm not sure if this link has been disclosed in the past, and I am certainly no expert in this field, but this seems like a well thought out presentation for a fallout shelter. Keep up the good work, - R.C.

There is a very lively thread of conversation over at The Claire Files Forums, titled "Preparing for Abrupt Climate Change"

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From WorldNetDaily: Debunking the debunkers--Snopes snookered by 10 Commandments hoax.

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Don't miss out on the Free Shipping special, this month only at Ready Made Resources. They are SurvivalBlog's oldest and most generous sponsor. Please visit their web site and check out their wide range of products and place your order soon to take advantage of the free shipping special. (Shipping charges can otherwise be considerable, especially on storage food!)

"The price of freedom is the willingness to do sudden battle, anywhere, anytime, and with utter recklessness." - Robert A. Heinlein

Friday, December 1, 2006

The winner of Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is SF in Hawaii, for his article "Wheat Sprouts and Wheatgrass as Survival Foods" which was posted on November 6, 2006. The second prize goes to "Warhawke", for his article "Selecting Barter Goods" which was posted on October 30, 2006. Congratulations to both of you. Because there were so many great entries in this round, I decided to award some free books as "Runners Up" prizes. These go to:

Making Traditional Cordage in North America, by Ron (posted November 16, 2006)

Bullet Casting: A (Relatively) Simple Introduction, by AVL (posted November 14, 2006)

Getting Ready for Survival On a (Broken) Shoestring Budget, by J. Cole (posted November 8, 2006)

How Long Until You Starve?, by Mr. Yankee (posted November 3, 2006)

Note to all prize winners: Please send me an e-mail that mentions your snail mail addresses and I will mail you your contest prizes. Thanks!

Round 8 of the writing contest begins today, and end on the last day of January. 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. Special thanks to Front Sight's founder, Naish Piazza, for providing these course certificates. Second prize is another 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 7, get buy writing and e-mail us your article. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The discussion about cannibalizing tiny solar walkway lights prompted me to once again remind everyone about one of my favorite tools. Northern Tool & Equipment sells a 5-watt folding solar panel that folds down to the size of a paperback book for only $35. They come with a nice wiring kit that also allows multiple panels to be piggybacked for more power. They're tough and well-made, with the small panels fit into a ballistic nylon type of carrier to make it fold.
One of these lives in each of our Bug Out Bags (BOBs), along with a small battery charger that takes 12 volt input (just look for one with a separate "wall-wart" [power cube]). I tested these and they quickly charge
a set of AAs and will keep you comms running just fine in an emergency. Those little solar lights are probably about 1/4 watt panels, and if you're desperate they'll help, but for planning ahead I think these panels from Northern Tool are one of the must-buy items of the year. Having comms, a small shortwave radio and light at night makes life a lot more pleasant, no matter the circumstances.
Here's the link. - Bill in Oregon

JWR Adds: Since Northern Tool is one of our affiliate advertisers, if and when you do shop there, we'd greatly appreciate it if you place your orders only through this link: Northern Tool & Equipment, (Otherwise we won't get our little piece of the action.)

Maybe I missed something during the acquisition of several undergrad degrees, including one in physics (actually, I probably missed several things)... but how exactly does a Faraday cage have any effect on uncharged particle emissions (neutrons) as suggested by the author of the article that you recently provided a link to? And since when did Einstein claim discovery of an element (Uranium) that
was discovered in the 1700's?
His cages might work (hard to actually test anything vs. EMP without doing rather large scale experiments), but that sort of nonsense kinda damages his overall credibility. - Simple Country Doc
JWR Replies: The author did get a few facts wrong, as you pointed out. But his basic premise on shielding is sound. The Wikipedia piece on Faraday Cages provides further details.


Hi James,
I enjoyed looking at the link you provided about EMP. If there is ever a threat that will have a magnitude un-matched by any and all other terrorist activity combined, it would be a high altitude EMP attack, (in my opinion). Finding legitimate information and trustworthy sources is tough.
I like the simplicity of this featured "box in box" Faraday Cage, but wonder how well cardboard actually insulates at a conductivity level. In other words, I fear that the work would be for not if the cardboard became damp at any time which in this design is quite likely. Wrapping any object in Visqueen [sheet "painter's plastic"] or some non-permeable substance, change the temperature of the environment that it is in, and whamo, condensation.
I have no background in designing or testing such ideas, but common sense prevails in this matter. To me damp cardboard becomes a conductor, and not an insulator. A wood box would render the same results. I wonder if there would be some merit to a box out of glass, or maybe even some Pyrex container with matching lid and Mylar tape or Foil tape the seam to the ground wire? How about a glass aquarium for the larger items? Go to your local auto glass or commercial window supplier and have them cut you exact tolerance lids for the larger items.
How about adding the dry-ice in accordance with your earlier posts for long term food storage to displace oxygen and add absorbers as well? Ultimately, I think a semi-controlled environment would be a good idea. This does not solve the condensation issue; it does however put the items inside of a non absorbing insulating medium. I understand other precautionary measures would be prudent, (i.e.- foil, chicken wire, copper mesh, etc.) just trying to expound upon an idea and hear what other's with more knowledge can add to this discussion. Happy Holidays, - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: Glass would work as a damp-proof insulator, but it is fragile. I would instead recommend using a plastic box, such as Tupperware, for the inner box. The dry ice and oxygen absorber methods that you mentioned are only useful for killing pests. (They don't necessarily drive out moisture.) Stopping condensation is best accomplished by A.) Enclosing some freshly dried silica gel, gypsum, or a similar desiccant, and B.) Using an outer container that has an airtight seal. Desiccants can be "freshened" (i.e. have any collected moisture driven out of them, for re-use) by placing them in a kitchen oven or in a food dehydrator set to 180 degrees overnight. One safety tip: If your silica gel is in paper packets, then be sure to put it on a metal tray or cookie sheet to prevent the packets from falling through the oven grill and contacting the heating element. I presume that most of your reading this already own a dehydrator. They are great for making jerky and drying fruit. Every well prepared family should own one. The brand that I recommend (great for making jerky and drying fruit) is the Excalibur. We've had one of their large models here at the Rawles Ranch for 20 years and it is still going strong. Excaliburs are sold by a number of Internet vendors, including Ready Made Resources.

The modern blunderbuss. Is this the ultimate in intimidating a burglar?

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Details about the about planned microchipped "E-Passports". A hat tip to Redmist for sending this link, (Via Claire Wolfe's site.) And BTW, here is how folks have already cracked the new system.

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Gokuryu sent this, from We Were Warned: Tomorrow's Oil Crisis Gokuryu says "This segment explains how the former CIA director and other experts say we are on the brink of an energy crisis."

"Political speeches are like chuckar hunts. They go on for a long time but rarely accomplish much." - #1 Son

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