June 2007 Archives

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 11 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. Round 11 runs for two months, ending on the last day of July. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The Improvised Explosive Device, or IED, is the predominant killer of US troops in Iraq today. Since the initial invasion in 2003, they have become increasingly sophisticated and deadly. If a terrorist organization ever decided to use them to any great extent in the US, the effects would be devastating. We are going to look at the fixed IED as opposed to a Vehicle Borne IED (VBIED,) simply for space and to better cover each subject individually.
First off, there is one rule that will enhance your survivability tremendously: Never set a pattern! If you are able to, have at least three different routes to and from your destination, and vary them. Not only your routes, but your times as well. The harder you are for the enemy to track, the better your chances of survival. When I went to Iraq in 2003, the roadside bombs, as they were simply called, were mainly old artillery shells packed with plastic explosives and placed on the side of the road with a simple trigger such as a cell phone of pager, or land mines that would be buried in the road. Once the convoy of vehicles was spotted, all that was required was for one of the bad guys to make the call, using his cell phone, to the triggering device. Or, the convoy would simply drive over the land mine, not suspecting one had been emplaced in the asphalt. They could also be emplaced by railroad tracks, on the side of the road attached to a guardrail, or at an intersection, either in the road or inside a stoplight pole. As time went on and these roadside bombs were found and defeated, the enemy came up with new and more ingenious methods for using them. One technique was to use dead animals, and place the IED inside of them. Since there was an abundance of dead dogs on the side of the roads, no one would ever suspect! Another technique was to "daisy chain," or wire several bombs together at one time to cover a greater area. Also, they were found in concrete blocks, behind road signs, and hidden in current roadside construction debris. Many of these techniques are still being used today, in 2007, with tragic results. A new threat has emerged this year, the Explosively Formed Penetrator. This device, which acts very much like a sabot round, is a copper formed, shaped projectile designed to penetrate the heaviest of armor plating, and has been highly effective against US and Coalition Force vehicles. A standard car would stand no chance.
So, how to identify a potential IED? Just the thought of one is terrifying to most people, as it well should be! Vigilance is the key word here. All IEDs require the initiating system to be near the main charge. Common initiating systems, or triggers, include cell phones, walkie talkies, keychain car alarm fobs, garage door openers, or pagers. Anything that will receive a radio or electronic signal. Key indicators are freshly dug areas, dead animals on the side of the road, or people milling around where they shouldn't be, i.e., a group of people under or on top of a highway overpass. If you see any type of signal, such as lights or flares or warning flags, these are also indicators, along with obstacles in the road that will force you into a "choke point," where your escape options become nil. Any of these should set off your "spidey sense," which you need to listen to!
Wires or other obvious indicators in the open will alert you to the presence of an IED, but it can also alert you to the fact that it may be a "hoax" IED, designed to channel you into an area that you may consider safe, but in reality has been already wired by an enemy with the true IED. Hoax IEDs, or secondary IEDs have been used in Israel and Iraq against first responders who have come in response to either a fake bomb, or have come to aid the victims of one IED, only to become victims themselves.
If you suspect an IED, get out of the area as quickly as possible. When you are satisfied you are out of the kill zone, call and alert the authorities. Do not use your phone while you are still in the area! You can set off the triggering device! Let the authorities know what you have seen so they don't walk into the situation blind, then let them handle it.
Will the US ever see the widespread use of IEDs like Israel has, or Iraq? I hope and pray not, but maybe you now have some idea of how to identify the threat, and strategies to survive another day.

Hello Rawles Family,
First off let me say thanks for all the work y'all have put into sharing the knowledge you have. It has opened many eyes and caused may to be saved in the event something really does happen, I'm sure.
I have recently started preparing for several types of emergencies and one of them is the collapse of the American dollar. I have seen several times that you suggest pre-1965 [silver] coins, and gold coins. They are a good item to have in this situations but I continually find myself asking "Why?". My position on this is, people (in general) can do nothing productive with silver or gold that I'm aware of, so why would it be "worth" anything. Sure it's a commodity that governments are after but individuals on the street? I think not. It seems to me that salt, toilet paper and ammunition are a much wiser investment for survival than any form of government issued coins whether they be silver, gold or copper. It seems to me that everyone could use them and everyone would need them. Those are my thoughts, I would be interested in hearing the opinions of both you and your readers about this. Thanks for the time and any info you have to give, - Richard P.

JWR Replies: My opinion on precious metals differs from the majority of other "hard money" advocates. You are correct that in the midst of a "worst case" TEOTWAWKI situation that precious metals will have little or no utility for barter. In fact, during the depths of a socioeconomic collapse, do not expect even pre-1965 silver coinage to be accepted in barter. However, people will likely be willing to conduct barter via common caliber ammunition, flashlight batteries, and food in small packaged units (such as MREs or cans of soup) . It won't be until the recovery phase that silver coins will be accepted in barter.

The real value of gold and silver will be to act as a "time machine", preserving your buying from one side of a currency collapse to the other. There may come a day when paper dollars are made almost worthless (as in present-day Zimbabwe), but precious metals will hold their value. After a new --and presumably sound--currency is issued, you can convert part of you precious metals holdings into the current money. Meanwhile anyone that held all paper dollars will be left holding kindling. Thus, precious metals are a form of insurance for limited circumstances . Don't expect anything more of them when the proverbial Schumer Hits the Fan (SHTF).

An article published in The Lancet confirms that taking the herbal remedy echinacea can reduce the risk of catching a common cold by 58%

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By way of Matt Drudge come this news story from Florida: How do you prepare for "a bolt from the blue"? (Florida is the nation's lightning strike capital.)

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Remember that there are now less than two weeks remaining for the $500 Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) vest special from BulletProofME.com. July 12th is the deadline. Anyone who has shopped for body armor knows what a great deal $500 is for a new Interceptor vest. Don't miss out on this deal.

"For more than two thousand years gold's natural qualities made it man's universal medium of exchange. In contrast to political money, gold is honest money that survived the ages and will live on long after the political fiats of today have gone the way of all paper." - The Late Dr. Hans F. Sennholz

Friday, June 29, 2007

Because so many readers of SurvivalBlog are interested in establishing survival retreats, I'm continuing the process of setting up a new SurvivalBlog "sibling" web site that will feature survival retreat real estate listings. These will be both For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and from licensed real estate agents, worldwide. If you have a retreat property for sale, or know of someone that does, here is the deal: To get the new survival real estate web site off to a fast start with a lot property ads, I am offering two free months of advertisements for the first 25 property sellers that respond. Just e-mail me a brief description (200 words or less) of the property that you have available. (I'll need detailed description and digital photos, later.) I can't guarantee exactly when the new web site will be launched, but our tentative goal is to have it up and running the week of July 4th, or soon after.

I get great satisfaction cutting firewood and "stockpiling" fuel for winter, and I always put Sta-Bil in my gas if I know I will not finish the gas can. But I know if my Stihl chainsaw won't start it is the gas(premixed with 2 stroke oil) If my knuckles are bloody from trying to start it, I dump the gas, pull it a few times to get the fuel out of the line, refill with fresh gas and it will fire-up on the second pull. My saw doesn't like gasoline that has lost the volatile gases. Post-TEOTWAWKI I will be stuck with bow saws and axes to heat my house and all that 2 stroke oil I bought last month at your suggestion might as well be gun oil! Any diesel chainsaws out there?

I went to my Stihl dealer yesterday and asked about the ethanol chainsaws that you mentioned a while ago that are available in South America. He will look into ordering one for me. (But how will I get the unique parts if they wear/break?) I mainly wanted to know about gas/2stroke mix going bad quickly even with Sta-Bil added. The mechanic said that if you leave the oil/gas mix together too long before using it the 2 cycle oil dissolves too thoroughly in the gas and burns without lubricating, then scorching the cylinder! I guess I will start mixing only 'just enough' oil/gas mix. I am looking for a syringe to measure the oil to add to the gas also because I bought bulk package Stihl 2 stoke oil. I can't be throwing away oil/gas mix that gets old, that would be poor stewardship of our resources. Its better to do our trouble shooting now rather than later. - Edventures

JWR Replies: The dearth of diesel chainsaws was mentioned in SurvivalBlog a few weeks ago. I concluded that: "...there were a few diesel saws made decades ago, but they never caught on, since diesels are inherently heavier than gas engines of the same displacement, and they typically have lower RPM."

Jim -
Do you have a diagram or plans for a well torpedo? In case I have the term wrong, a PVC tube with a flapper valve at the bottom that when sent down the well shaft hits the water, the tube fills/sinks, when you pull on the rope the flapper valve closes sealing in the water for you to pull up the well shaft. I have the well. What I need is the way to install the flapper valve. Thanks, - DAB

JWR Replies: For any readers that aren't familiar with them, narrow shaft well buckets--also sometimes called "bullet buckets" or "torpedo buckets" are designed for manually drawing water from modern modern small diameter wells that are more than 20 feet deep. Shallow wells (less than 20 foot depth) are much more efficiently accessed with a hand pump, such as a traditional pitcher-type cistern pump (available from Lehmans.com) or this home-fabricated PVC design by Keith Hendricks, shown at the PermaPak web site. Deeper wells require a sucker-rod actuated pump.

Have a deep well but you can't afford a manual pump or you don't foresee anything but short term emergency need to draw water? A bucket will do. The following method works, but you will first have to pull the pump, wiring and its draw pipe before you can use an emergency bucket. Most modern wells have 4-inch or 6-inch diameter casings. Well buckets can be made from PVC pipe and some fittings available at nearly any hardware store. (The only hard-to-find item is the foot valve.) Use a 4 or 5 ft. length of 3-inch diameter white PVC pipe if your well has a 4" casing, or 4" diameter pipe if your well has a 6" casing.

Assembling the Bucket:
For the top cap, drill a hole in the center and insert a threaded eye-bolt with lock washer and nut to hold the lifting/lowering rope. Use PVC cement to attach the pipe cap. Be sure to use sturdy nylon rope. (Recovering a bucket if the rope breaks would be problematic, to say the least.) In the bottom cap, drill a centered hole and install a "foot" valve. This will be open when floating and allow water in to the bucket. The valve will automatically close when the bucket is pulled up. Foot valves (also called "check valves") are available in PVC construction, as well as brass and cast iron. Depending on the type of valve you buy, you will probably have to screw a threaded pipe adapter (male-to-male short coupling) to into the top of the valve and then glue it into the appropriate size hole that you have drilled into the end cap. Needless to say, you need to be sure that the valve's "flapper" is oriented in the right direction before you attach it to the bottom cap. You need the bucket valve to hold rather that release water when the bucket is raised!

OBTW, for anyone that would rather buy a commercially-made well bucket, they are available from Ready Made Resources (search on "Well Bucket"), and from Lehmans.com (search on "Galvanized well bucket".)

Hey Guys,
I was the first to order an Interceptor [body Armor (IBA)] vest from BulletProofME.com and I am very pleased. I disassembled the vest to check the inserts, and there was a momentary panic because they were made by Second Chance in 2005. I sent the serial number and lot number in to Second Chance, and they told me the vest had no Zylon. With that knowledge, that vest turned into a heck of a deal. Thanks, - Jeff

I got a note from the Western Rifle Shooters Association today. They've offered a free scholarship to the first 10 SurvivalBlog readers who send an e-mail to westernshooters@gmail.com with the word "SurvivalBlog" in the subject line, for their upcoming Kooskia, Idaho shoot/clinic on July 7-8. All they ask is that if you say you are going to be there, be there. (Don't take a place and then not show.)

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Reader Tim. L. mentioned that Dr. Hans F. Sennholz (whom I quoted yesterday) passed on to the great reward on June 23rd. He was a great Austrian school economist. His eulogy has now been published on the web. I have updated the Quote of the Day posting , to note his passing.

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There is lots of buzz on the Internet about the upcoming Sarah Connor Chronicles television series. Fans of the Terminator franchise--all over the world are anxiously waiting to see the new show. There is already a Yahoo discussion group dedicated to the series. Summer Glau, who you may remember as "River" from the short-lived but widely acclaimed Firefly television series will play a "protector" Terminatrix in the series. Meanwhile, Kristanna Loken (who you'll remember as the baddy Terminatrix from Terminator 3) is starring in a Sci-Fi Channel series that is also set in the near future: Painkiller Jane. And, as previously mentioned, the Jericho TV series has been saved from cancellation. So it seems that survival-oriented fiction is building a niche in the mainstream media. One can only hope that this may help some heads to emerge from the sand before TEOTWAWKI arrives.

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Pardon me for engaging in a bit of personal biz: I'm looking for a propane freezer to use here at the ranch. It must be in good condition, 14 cubic foot capacity or larger, and less than 15 years old. I'd prefer a chest freezer, but will also consider upright models. I can pay cash, and/or I have some great items available to barter. (See my catalog, plus a lot of other ammo and pyrotechnic goodies that aren't listed in the catalog.) If the price is right, I'm willing to come pick it up just about anywhere in the western U.S.! Let me know via e-mail if you have one available. Thanks!

"Using the commons as a cesspool does not harm the general public under frontier conditions, because there is no public, the same behavior in a metropolis is unbearable." - Garrett Hardin

Thursday, June 28, 2007

There are now just two days left in the special two week "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" Six Pack Sale. For any orders postmarked on or before June 30th, I'm offering a box of six autographed copies of my novel "Patriots", packed in a well-padded USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box, for $93, postage and Delivery Confirmation tracking label costs paid, to any US or APO/FPO address. That is just $15.50 per copy! And again, I pay the postage. Get your Christmas shopping done early this year! Make sure that your order is postmarked on or before June 30th. See my original post for ordering details.


UK's Daily Telegraph has a warning from Bank of International Settlements (BIS) about danger of global economic depression. [JWR Adds: This was also featured by NewsMax in the US.]
Here are some excerpts from the Daily Telegraph article:
[begin quote]
"The Bank for International Settlements [BIS], the world's most prestigious financial body, has warned that years of loose monetary policy has fueled a dangerous credit bubble, leaving the global economy more vulnerable to another 1930s-style slump than generally understood... ...The BIS said China may have repeated the disastrous errors made by Japan in the 1980s when Tokyo let rip with excess liquidity advertisement" The Chinese economy seems to be demonstrating very similar, disquieting symptoms," it said, citing ballooning credit, an asset boom, and "massive investments" in heavy industry.
Some 40 percent of China's state-owned enterprises are loss-making, exposing the banking system to likely stress in a downturn.
It said China's growth was "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable", borrowing a line from Chinese premier Wen Jiabao In a thinly-veiled rebuke to the US Federal Reserve, the BIS said central banks were starting to doubt the wisdom of letting asset bubbles build up on the assumption that they could safely be "cleaned up" afterwards - which was more or less the strategy pursued by former Fed chief Alan Greenspan after the dot com bust.
It said this approach had failed in the US in 1930 and in Japan in 1991 because excess debt and investment built up in the boom years had suffocating effects. While cutting interest rates in such a crisis may help, it has the effect of transferring wealth from creditors to debtors and "sowing the seeds for more serious problems further ahead." The bank said it was far from clear whether the US would be able to shrug off the consequences of its latest imbalances, citing a current account deficit running at 6.5 percent of GDP, a rise in US external liabilities by over $4 trillion from 2001 to 2005, and an unprecedented drop in the savings rate. "The dollar clearly remains vulnerable to a sudden loss of private sector confidence," it said. [end quote] - Don W.

JWR Replies: I was shocked at how remarkably frank the BIS Annual Report was in its assessment. When even the international bankers start talking this way, watch out! Coincidentally, Sean M. and Tom at CometGold.com both spotted this new story: Banks 'set to call in a swathe of loans' Some serious "food for thought and grounds for further research" (FFTAGFFR).

You may have noticed that on Tuesday the spot price of gold fell to a three-month low, and silver fell to a six-month low. Rather than shaking my confidence in the metals, I look at this as a buying opportunity. I am still fully confident that the metals are in a primary bull market cycle that is likely to extend for another decade. It is difficult to "time" investing in fluctuating markets, especially the metals, which tend to be volatile. However, there is a time-honored tradition of buying on dips. Tuesday's sell-off represents a big dip in what is an overall bull market, so take advantage of it. When you buy immediately following a 5% dip that means that you are essentially buying metals with no commission. (Since dealer markup on precious metals is typically 3% to5% over the day's spot price.)

I should also mention that Summer is traditionally a quiet time of year for the precious metals, with statistically the weakest spot prices. (Historically, the biggest gains come in late Fall of most years.) So it is a great time to buy. The aforementioned timing talk is not to denigrate the systematic dollar cost averaging approach to investing. That also has its merits. But for any of you that realize that you've been dawdling, take the current market dip as your cue.

Silver, or Gold?
I am a steadfast supporter of silver rather than gold investing. In the current bull market, the gains in silver are likely to be considerably much greater that the gains in gold. This is because silver benefits from what I call the penny stock effect. Psychologically, is is not "far" for silver to double from $12 to $24, but it is seemingly a long way for gold to double from $640 to $1,280. Furthermore, the aboveground supply of silver is being used up in industrial use, whereas most gold is recovered for re-use. If you look at the ratio of the price of silver to the price of gold from a multigenerational perspective, silver is the clear winner. For hundreds of years, the ratio was 16-to-1. (It took 16 ounces of silver to buy one ounce of gold.) In the 1930s the ratio was 90-to-1. When the metals reached their last bull market peak in 1981--admittedly a wacky time, with silver spiking to $50 per ounce--the ratio briefly dropped to about 17-to-1. But by 1985 the ratio had climbed back to 63-to-1. In 1991 the ratio peaked at about 98-to-1. But the silver-to-gold price ratio has been falling ever since. And with the aforementioned ongoing aboveground silver depletion, the ratio will surely continue to slip. Back in February, 2001 (when I fairly accurately called the bottom of the silver market) the ratio was around 59-to-1. Presently, the ratio is about 52-to-1. I expect a ratio to decline to something closer to 23-to-1 when the current bull market peaks out, possibly around 2018 with perhaps $2,500 per ounce gold and $108 per ounce silver. BTW, don't quote me on those figures! A lot of underlying market factors could change between now and then, not the least of which is the fate of the US Dollar itself. The very existence of the dollar as a currency unit is uncertain, given that time scale. Objectively, if the US Dollar were to someday assume its real value (since it is now backed by nothing), then it would be equivalent to the Zimbabwean Dollar. And FWIW, for my opinion of the eventual value and use of the U.S. Dollar, see the cover illustration of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Silver has been called "the poor man's gold.". I agree that it is the best choice for middle class investors. One concern is that dollar for dollar, silver is much more bulky and heavy than gold. (Presently 59 times more bulky!) But the average investor can still fit their entire silver investment in the bottom of a typical gun vault. For planning purposes: A $1,000 face value bag of 90% silver coins weighs about 55 pounds and is about the size of a bowling ball, and a 100 troy ounce (think of it as 6.86 pounds if measured in the more familiar avoirdupois scale.) Johnson Matthey silver bar measures 5-1/8” x 3” x 1-3/16”. They stack nicely, so after you buy two or three "$1,000 face" bags of silver coins for barter, you'll probably want to buy the rest of your silver in the form of 100 ounce bars. Granted, silver is a poor choice for someone that needs to "Get out of Dodge " in a hurry or on foot. Gold, or even platinum would be much better for that. But of course I'm also an advocate of living year-round at your retreat.

James Rawles;
I have been riding bikes since I was old enough to learn some 35 years ago. In my teens I had a paper route with over 100 customers and I used a ladies single speed bike (the lower center bar allowed me to get on and off easier)with wide (balloon) tires and two of the biggest baskets you could find on the rear like saddle bags and one up front so I could grab a paper and throw it up on the porch. The wide tires handled the weight better than the narrow ten speed tires. I could put that bike anywhere I needed it and in all weather conditions including a ice storm I ended up with frost bite from. Later in life I bought a 10 speed touring bike and loaded it up with front and back panniers to go cross country. It had the narrower tires, but held the weight just as good, but I bent the rim when I hit a pot hole--and I mean bent the rim. It folded at a 90 degree angle to the rest of the rim. Needless to say I had to call a taxi to get me to a bike store to repair the bike. A few years later I went on the Great Ohio Biking Adventure where you ride 450+ miles in a one week period covering 50 miles each day. I had my trusty 10 speed loaded to the gills and the folks I hooked up with had the 21+ speed mountain and hybrid bikes. I had to walk up the hills with my 10 speed where the mountain and hybrids down shifted and rode up every hill on the trip.
With my bicycle experience I would recommend a 21+ speed hybrid, mountain bike with road tires. The wider tires will handle the loads and terrain better with less risk of failure. You should Slime the tires as well, to reduce the risk of flats. The solid frame like mentioned is the sturdiest and least likely to fail. You can get gel filled seats and seat posts with shock absorbers in them to help ease the jarring
Get a repair kit with tools and spare tubes and tires to put in it.
I am looking for a hybrid to replace my trusty 10 speed, because of the gearing, I want to climb the hills not walk the bike up them. It will take the weight of the trailer I plan on pulling. I am looking at the local bike shops that have the expensive models up to $1,200 for the basic bike and even the local K-Marts to get a feel for what I want. I am looking at garage sales and on the Internet for the trailer and other accessories. (A friend of mine found a trailer for 25 bucks and it looked like new.)
I will see what I learn and then decide what I can afford to get and outfit, but want the bike to be able to make the run from where I work to where I live some 100 miles if required as "Plan B" if my truck cannot make it. I am also out of shape, having not ridden several years, and need to get myself back in shape...
Bicycle repair and sales/bartering may be a good business to get into in a TEOTWAWKI event. As mentioned before it does not need gas or hay to make it go and it is a reliable form of transportation.
- Ron from Ohio

I read your blog every day but I fell behind when I took a long weekend fishing. If I am not hunting with a rifle, I carry a [Colt Model] 1911 or Glock 10mm for brown bear protection in Alaska. I'm not trying for a one shot stop, I just want to change the bear's mind to not touch me. The gun you are carrying is 100% more effective than the elephant thumper [that you left behind] in the gun safe. If the gun on your hip is too big then it inhibits the work you are trying to perform. I have guided more than 30 successful brown bear/grizzly hunts and I only saw one "one shot kill." (A central nervous system hit) Every other bear soaked up .375 H&Hs, .378 Weatherbys, .338 [Lapua Magnum]s, .300 [Winchester Magnum]s and started running for cover. (I always get in on the running shots!) Remember, in a DLP (defense of life and property) [encounter] with a brown growler it is going to be at point blank range and fast! You might end up on the ground, like most fights do. God Bless You and Your Wisdom Jim, - Edventures

Two different readers have mentioned this book catalog. Lindsay's Technical Books. An assortment of unusual books with tinkering "how to" information. They should be a SurvivalBlog advertiser!

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I was pleased to see that Mickey Creekmore has re-launched his blog. It is now titled "The Survival Strategies Blog." Check it out.

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Police bust coin melting racket in Kolkata (West Bengal)

"The history of fiat money is little more than a register of monetary follies and inflations. Our present age merely affords another entry in this dismal register." - The Late Hans F. Sennholz (He passed away on June 23rd.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 11 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. Round 11 runs for two months, ending on the last day of July.

This article is a bit long, and some of you may consider it off-topic. If so, my apologies. But I think that it is worthy of inclusion in the contest. I should also mention that the author is "Captain Dave." He is the operator of the venerable Captain Dave's Survival Center. (You may remember them as a former SurvivalBlog advertiser.) Be sure to check out the many free resources at Captain Dave's web site.

The recent school shooting at Virginia Tech demonstrates a huge underlying societal problem that many of us are either ignoring or are ignorant of. Because society has spent much of the last several decades trying to stamp violence out of schools and out of our children, we end up with kids who are made-to-order victims that will line up to be shot execution style rather than fight back.
The answer to school violence is not to arm the campus police, have campus SWAT teams, or class rooms that can double as fortresses, it is to teach our children to protect themselves aggressively and confidently with whatever weapon may be at hand. Clearly the schools are not doing this, so responsible parents need to be sure they are.
While it may be politically incorrect to say so, how many of us have wondered why the 30 college kids in a classroom didn't mob the gunman, tackle him, hit him with a chair, or otherwise fight back? Why was the only defender a concentration camp survivor old enough to be the students' grandparent? I believe that the answer to those two questions is the same: Because in two generations our feel good society has gutted the right to self defense in our public schools and created a generation of victims. That's right – they have brainwashed our children into pliable victims who will not defend themselves.

Creating Willing Victims
In our school district, kids in middle school and occasionally in lower school are handcuffed and arrested when a fight breaks out. Because of "zero tolerance" towards fighting, even kids who defend themselves when attacked are arrested and suspended, regardless of who was "in the right" or what witnesses say. The concept that students have a right to self defense does not exist in these schools and the lesson taught is "do not fight back." Is it any wonder that kids who are indoctrinated in this system have no idea how to defend themselves or that it is even permissible to try, even when faced with a gunman killing their fellow students?
This politically correct emphasis on non-violence is really a drive to non-confrontation that teaches kids to be victims at an early age. Violence not only still exists in our schools, it is worse than ever because the system does not allow kids to counter force with force. This means that kids cannot fight back when they are harassed on the school bus, spit on in the lunch room, assaulted in the hallway, or beaten in the locker room. Teachers routinely do not intervene in bullying or one-way assaults. This bullying behavior is allowed until the target decides to fight back, at which point school rules treat both the attacker and defender the same way. I am afraid that these days, the only place bullies and their victims really meet after school to settle their differences is on television or in the movies.

Stamping Out the Competitive Spirit
In addition to creating willing victims who are powerless to defend themselves, public schools are stamping out the competitive spirit out of our children. This is terribly unfortunate, because competitiveness and the desire to win are two of the things that have helped make America great.
In public schools, competitiveness is looked down upon because it might hurt a less competitive student's self esteem if they don't do as well as someone else. For the sake of self esteem, standing out must be discouraged and everyone must be equal – equally bad, that is. (Didn't we fight the Cold War to keep this communist mentality from spreading? And now it is being enforced in our schools.)
Public schools are routinely taking those kids who are smarter or otherwise above average and forcing them to work at the level of the slowest kid in the class. For example, in my daughter's public elementary school class, smart children were teamed with slower kids on team projects to bring up the slower kids' grades up.
This approach is an example of backwards thinking. Instead of allowing kids to succeed or fail on their own merits, the system promotes mediocrity. Worse, the smart kids are bored by the slow progress and frustrated at having to do the teacher's job of instructing the other kids. They also learn early that by appearing smart, they have to do everyone else's work, and so some decide to hide their intelligence. The slower kids learn that society will promote them even when they don't do the work (so called social promotion – don’t get me started), so there is little incentive for them to try harder or to improve their performance.
We used to encourage success and honor our high achievers; now the public schools teach your kids that standing out and excelling is wrong because when you stand out, someone with a lower average may get their feelings hurt. So much for pride in a job well done.
This effort to improve children by falsely boosting their self esteem is wishful thinking. Kids know where they stand regardless of what the teacher says, and it sends the wrong message when teachers and school officials honor everyone, regardless of their performance. We need to go back to rewarding the high performers and addressing the problem with a child who isn't finding success, even if it means we have to hurt their self esteem by holding them back a grade.

Sports, the Last Bastion of Competition
About the only place in public schools that competition still exists is on the sports field. In fact, the coach is about the only teacher who can still yell at kids without a parent calling up and complaining.
But how long will this last? If football were not such an institution and economic boon for high schools and colleges, I have no doubt "well meaning" school administrators would have banned it by now. Already, there are fewer hours of PE class in most schools than ever before. Adults are even interfering with pick up games at recess by saying that kids can’t pick their own teams because someone might have their feelings hurt by being selected last. I'm sure everyone reading this has heard of a school district where dodge ball has been banned because it is too violent or dangerous. When did we start to coddle our children so much that getting hit with a big red rubber ball became something we must protect them from?
In most organized contact sports, you can still hit the other player. As a coach of a girls soccer for six seasons, let me tell you that it is difficult to get a young girl to be aggressive on the soccer field. Even by age 7, they are so indoctrinated in non-violence that they back up or will run away from a charging player instead of advancing or holding their ground to steal the ball or disrupt a fast break. The short-term result is that the one or two aggressive kids dominate play, largely because they are unchallenged. The long-term result is that later in life the girl will become a woman who shies away from confrontation and is afraid to stand up for herself. Another ready victim.
Yet even organized sports are changing. At young ages, the parents and coaches are told not to keep score, because losing may cause a child to lose self esteem. As if a kid old enough to swing a bat can't keep score! Such behavior on the part of adults who are supposed to be experts in childhood development is laughable. Let's face it, in life you will win some, and you will lose some, so the sooner you learn to be a good sport when you lose, the better off you will be. Pretending that "everyone wins" also eliminates the life lessons that come from losing, such as picking yourself up and trying again.
Sports are tough, but so is life. Get used to it young and you will survive better when you are older. I was knocked unconscious playing "touch" football in sixth grade. In high school, I broke my leg in a soccer game. (The coach told me to walk it off, and I tried to.) My younger sister almost lost her front teeth in a softball game in junior high. (Her braces actually kept them from getting knocked out – it was the only time she was happy to have braces.) Were we disillusioned or too dispirited to return to the game? Of course not. We both overcame these temporary setbacks and continued playing sports. It's the old getting back up on the horse that threw you idea, which is an important lesson for success later in life. How will our kids learn perseverance and to overcome obstacles if we clear all the obstacles out of their way? No wonder the Virginia Tech victims did not fight back – they had been taught to wait for someone else to come and solve their problem for them.It's Not Your Father's School Anymore
When my father went to school during World War II, he and his friends would often bring their .22 rifles or single shot shotguns to school so they could shoot rabbits and other small game on the way home. When I went to school in the 1970s, I remember bringing cap guns to school on Halloween, and I carried a pocket knife every day after I turned 10. Today, dressing like a cowboy for Halloween or bringing a pocket knife to school can get you expelled, and don't even think of bring a .22. Not only will the child be expelled, authorities will likely charge the parent with a crime, confiscate any weapons in the house, and restrict their right to own a gun again in the future. My, how times have changed.
So are schools any safer today than they were 30 or 60 years ago? Of course not. Just as gun control does not reduce violent in the real world, it does not reduce it in schools. In fact, there is evidence that concealed carry permits for teaches and administrators is far more likely to forestall a bloody school massacres than laws and metal detectors.
I don't have to tell you that we live in a violent world where things are not fair – perhaps the one lesson that public schools do consistently teach our youth. Unfortunately, public schools do not teach kids how to counter violence, how to walk with their head held high, and how to avoid or deal with trouble before it escalates. Instead, it teaches them to be fearful, to slink around with their heads hung, and to call an administrator, police officer or other member of the nanny state when something goes wrong. This curriculum has not only rendered students powerless and created a generation of easy victims; it has lead to the type of slaughter we saw earlier this year at Virginia Tech.
Further, I postulate that the zero tolerance policies that force good kids to be victims rather than fight back cause frustration and suppressed anger in otherwise normal kids. It is this anger and frustration that causes the oppressed kids to one day reach the bursting point and bring a gun to school, seeking to end their torment. We will never know how many kids fantasize – without taking action – about bringing a gun to school and killing their abusers. But we do know that school shootings driven by revenge on bullies and tormentors, such as Columbine, show no sign of abating.
How many adults would allow ourselves to be subjected to verbal, psychological and physical abuse by our peers for six or eight years? Yet kids from fifth grade up routinely deal with this kind of abuse at the hands of their fellow students. Should we really expect high school kids, with their raging hormones and adolescent angst, to survive years of this daily abuse without cracking? Maybe this is why the use of antidepressants is so high among teenagers today.
Unfortunately, the policies of feel-good, self-esteem raising, zero-tolerance school administrations have created a generation of ready-made victims and a revenge-based school shooting culture that never existed before.

Reversing the Brainwashing
So what can you do to fight this conditioning and brainwashing? My advice is as follows:
First, enroll your boy or girl, in extracurricular sports as young as possible, preferably by age six. Sports like football, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, roller hockey and ice hockey are in my opinion better than sports like golf, tennis and baseball because there is contact and aggressive play is both encouraged and rewarded. In their lives, your kids will have to face violence, and learning to face it in the controlled environment of the playing field is the first step in successfully facing it in an uncontrolled environment. Contact sports do not teach violence and aggression, but they provide an outlet for the aggression that the schools otherwise bottle up. Sports also teach kids how to channel aggression and anger into positive activities.
If finances are an issue, choose soccer over a sport that requires lots of pads such as football or hockey. You can outfit a youth soccer player for less than $50.
Second, when time and finances allow, enroll your kids in other extra curricular activities where they will meet and mingle with kids from other schools, towns and cultures. As they get older, they will need to have a network of friends outside of the people they go to school with. This provides an escape; when everyone at their school knows they did something stupid, the kids from the next town over will probably have no idea. These extra curricular activities can be programs that teach valuable and vanishing skills, such as Scouts, junior shooting competitions, and 4H.
Third, do things with your kids. Spend time with them so they can observe your behavior in difficult situations and learn by your example. Have dinner with your children regularly and ask them what they learned at school. If you disagree with what they were taught, provide your contrasting opinion in a reasonable, even handed way. Remember, any time spent with them is better than no time. Use examples from your life to and tell stories with morals. Even a drive to the store and back gives you time to talk and is better than time spent watching television or playing video games.
Fourth, try to find other responsible adults for them to spend time with; relatives who think like you do are a good choice. The more one-on-one time they have with a right-thinking adult, the better, as that influence will slowly infiltrate, overcoming the brainwashing and protecting them from it in the future. I say this from experience, having raised two politically conservative children who understand the second amendment, regardless of what the school tries to teach them
Fifth, encourage your children to stand up for themselves and tell your child that you won't punish them if they fight back and defend themselves. There is a fine line to walk here, as they must understand that 1) the school will still punish them, but that you will back them and they will not get in additional trouble at home. And 2) they can't go around looking for or starting fights. The other person has to throw the first punch or two, so to speak. In my personal experience, a good martial arts school can help give kids the confidence and discipline to walk this line as well as the skills to enforce it.
At the same time you give them permission to fight back, teach them that the best fight is the one that they avoid. Teach them to not to make enemies – there's no profit in it and potentially much pain as they will have to see the other kid every day for the rest of the school year. Teach them to think and reason, and not react emotionally. Cooler heads do prevail. But teach them that when a fight cannot be avoided, they need to do whatever it takes to win it clearly and decisively in a way that discourages re-engagement at a future time.
Sixth, talk about what to do in a school shooting scenario. Don't avoid the topic or turn off the television – address it, just as you would another survival situation such as an earthquake or tornado. Discuss when to run, when to hide, when to fight back. Discuss what, if anything, the school told them to do and whether it makes sense. Teach them to be aware of exits and where to sit in the room. Teach them to look for hiding places and that a table is unlikely to stop a bullet. They also need to know that that action beats reaction. Demonstrate how it is harder to hit a moving target than a stationary one. At the same time, reassure them that while it is very unlikely they will have a school shooting at their school, it is better to plan ahead of time than to panic.
Finally, if you can afford to do so, get them out of the public schools and into a good private school. Preferably a small one with class sizes under 20, where kids will have opportunities to learn at their own pace. Home schooling is another excellent alternative, and is usually very safe, but unfortunately is often not an option for single parent households or households in which both parents work.
Because private schools are expensive and generally do not refund your tuition if your kid is expelled, parents have a much greater vested interest in keeping their kids in line and well behaved. This makes a world of difference, as does having independent administrators who do not need to please an elected official.

The Private School Experience
We chose private school, and after the mortgage, it is our largest single expense. It also requires that we drop off and pick up our child each day, which required some scheduling changes as well as some additional dollars for gasoline. We evaluated several schools before picking what we felt was the best one for our daughter.
Yes, private schooling required a sacrifice, but in our experience, it is well worth it. Not only does our daughter get far more individual attention from teachers that she did in public school, she is encouraged to work ahead in the book. Rather than be held back by the lowest common denominator, kids in her school compete to see who can finish the most vocabulary words, math sheets, and reading assignments in the given time. She is no longer bored in class, and competition encourages her to push herself harder than the teacher could. She is much happier and well ahead of where she would have been had she stayed in private school.
Several of the sports teams are co-educational, so the girls learn to play with the boys – they have to be aggressive if they want to play. Kids pick their own teams at recess and make their own rules, often with much healthy argument and dissent, yet the teachers usually do not interfere, letting the kids work out their differences. Yes, the kids get bumps, bruises, and abrasions, but they wear these playground injuries with nonchalance, just like we did 30 years ago.
Most refreshing is the attitude of the administrators. I met with an administrator at my daughter's school to express my concern that she was going to punch an especially annoying boy if he kept up his inappropriate behavior on the basketball court. The administrator said "Yes, we are aware of his behavior and are taking steps to address it. We have discussed at our staff meeting that your daughter or another child may sock him, and a good number of us think that it would be well deserved." Imagine that -- a school official acknowledging that a student had a licking coming and that the school would not punish a girl for defending herself against his boorish and inappropriate behavior.
In the end, no one punched him because the school and his parents got the problem under control. But it was a refreshing attitude, and one that could never exist in our politically correct, zero tolerance, public school child warehousing system.
Whether you go the private school route, are able to home school or have no option other than public schooling remember that if you take an active role in your child's life, your influence and teachings will exceed those of the most liberal school system. So take the time and teach your child well.

Dear Jim and Family,
Some months ago, our president signed into law a bipartisan bill that protects Americans from gun seizure during a disaster. In theory, every emergency worker (including police and National Guard) knows they cannot take guns from citizens, period. In theory. In practice its far more likely that we can all expect: the worst case scenario. This is uncomfortable as you have no idea if the cop down the street is honest or a bully who's taking guns because he can, or because he's been ordered by by his boss, or a buddy on the force with plans. I have encountered crooked cops. They really do exist, not just in movies. They do a real disservice to honest cops and endanger lives but investigations are hampered by the code of silence and Internal Affairs can only do so much without getting murdered undercover.[JWR Adds: Thankfully, the vast majority of police are honest and trustworthy.]

I'm wondering if your encounter with the police is about to make you a victim or not leaves you with the unpleasant choice of either losing your ability to defend yourself during the most critical time or deciding to be proactive and run the risk of dying for it, or even killing an honest cop by mistake. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Federal government and National Guard behaved in a shameful manner, disarming people trying to protect themselves. The result is this law, which probably won't be followed. How would you enforce it? Take them to court? If you survive, great. But if you really needed the gun, why did you survive, weakening your own case. If you really did need it you're too dead to sue.

When the cop says give me your gun what will you do? Do you have a backup? Do you have an argument that will keep him from taking it? Does the cop know or care that taking your gun during this disaster is a Federal crime? And will he harm or imprison you for pointing it out? These are ugly questions, but you had better think long and hard what your options are and what is the appropriate response.
Best, - InyoKern

JWR Replies: You are correct that H.R.5441 has been signed into law, (becoming Public Law No: 109-295). So it would be considered an extrajurisdictional act for any officer to "temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation" during "a declared disaster." By now, all sworn officers at all levels should have been briefed on this law, and its existence has surely been added to the curricula of police academies. In most states, by exceeding jurisdictional authority, officers shed their "Sovereign Immunity" from prosecution and/or civil suit as individuals. (Up to a $100,000 per Title 42, USC.) In many states, sworn officers sued in this manner for damages in their personal or individual capacities are classed as "persons" (rather that state officials). See: Hafer v. Melo, S.Ct., 112 S.Ct. 358, (19, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 91). And in many states, by doing so they even put themselves in the same category as a common criminal. To wit, extrajurisdictional seizure of property constitutes common theft. (Technically, you would be able to place an officer under citizen's arrest. But I wonder what circumstances would allow you to safely do so.)

The wise course of action during a disaster is to studiously avoid confrontations with anyone in law enforcement that is exceeding their authority. And, if you are unfortunate and do get your guns seized, then have a backup set of guns cached nearby. They can't take what they can't find. BTW, this is just another example of the value of redundant logistics. Don't be belligerent or come to blows over this issue. Worry about recourse in the courts later. In the short term, your key responsibility is to protect your family members and see them safely through the crisis. And you can't do that if you are behind bars.

Reader Harvey J. sent us a link to a web site that ties in nicely with our recent posts about utility uses for bicycles: Hauling Cargo by Bike

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We've recently added two new Affiliate Advertisers: 1.) TotalVid. They provide a wide range (thousands) of instructional videos via high speed Internet download. Many of these videos are for practical do-it-yourself skills. They offer a free trial subscription. Check them out. And, 2.) KeepYouSafe. They provide off-site backup of crucial documents for both businesses and families.

Oh, and speaking of our Affiliates, I should also mention that Nashbar has Nalgene Assault 1.5L Hydration Packs (similar to CamelBaks) on sale at 60% off. I have found that this size hydration pack is ideal to wear under a ghillie suit or ghillie cape.

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Rob at Green Mountain Gear tells us that the last of the 3,000+ magazines in the recent group Buy have now been shipped. Rob apologizes for the delay, but government contracts took priority so GMG only got the Group Buy magazines in dribs and drabs--taking a full month longer than expected to ship all of the magazines. Thanks for your patience! Rob says that he is confident that he can put something together with a faster turn around for the next SurvivalBlog Group Buy. He is currently working on:several Group Buy possibilities, including an AR-15 magazines from D&H, M14 magazines from the Army prime contractor, Glock magazines, and Camelbak hydration systems.

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Preparing for a digital Pearl Harbor

"Punishment is now unfashionable... because it creates moral distinctions among men, which, to the democratic mind, are odious. We prefer a meaningless collective guilt to a meaningful individual responsibility." - Thomas Szasz

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

There are now just four days left in the special two week "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" Six Pack Sale. For any orders postmarked on or before June 30th, I'm offering a box of six autographed copies of my novel "Patriots", packed in a well-padded USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box, for $93, postage and Delivery Confirmation tracking label costs paid, to any US or APO/FPO address. That is just $15.50 per copy! And again, I pay the postage! Make sure that your order is postmarked on or before June 30th. See my original post for ordering details.

One thing that we take for granted in our modern age is ready access to sophisticated weather forecasting, complete with satellite imagery. But when the Schumer Hits the Fan (WTSHTF) and the power grid and Internet go adios, those will no longer be available. Under these same circumstances, gardening, hay cutting, and small scale grain raising will be crucial. You will need to be able to predict the weather with some accuracy. If you cut your hay at the wrong time--just before the advent of a wet summer weather system--you could end up with a moldy hay crop. And if you delay your late summer harvest a week too long and your vegetable garden is hit by an early frost, you could lose a substantial part of your annual crop. Either of those could be disastrous for a family that is dependent on subsistence farming to fill their larder. So I strongly recommend that you learn how to predict weather the old-fashioned way, with a thermometer, a barometer, an anemometer, a hygrometer, and some cloud-reading skills.

I recommend traditional mercury bulb thermometers. The latest electronic thermometers are fantastic, but there is a lot that can go wrong with them. Instead, buy a traditional glass outdoor thermometer in a sturdy housing with easy-to-read gradations.

The barometer is the crucial tool for weather prediction. With the current high price of mercury, barometers are very expensive to buy brand new. But used barometers can often be found used at thrift stores for just a few dollars. (In fact the mercury that they contain can often have a scrap value that is more than the asking price for the instrument!) Just be sure to get a well-made modern instrument that has a tick-marked front scale, an adjustable reference pointer (to compare daily rising or falling pressure readings) and a properly-marked "offset" adjustment dial on the back to compensate for your local elevation. Note to high elevation residents: Many barometers have adjustment dials that go no higher than 3,000 feet. Check on this before you make a purchase!

OBTW, it was recently reported that the EU has banned the production of new barometers and thermometers that use mercury. (They will be phased out in the next two years.) So much for tradition! Readers of SurvivalBlog in Europe should buy their traditional instruments soon, before prices inevitably rise.

And anemometer (wind speed instrument) is another important tool to have at your disposal. Unfortunately these have also gone "high tech " in recent years. But if you shop around (for example on eBay) you can often find traditional mechanical/analog instruments that don't requires batteries. Many of the better anemometer units report both wind speed and direction. The ones built for maritime use seem to be the most sturdy and resistant to corrosion. New units are expensive, so yet again, it pays to shop around for a used one.

A less important but still useful tool is a hygrometer (humidity gauge). You will of course want an outdoor humidity gauge. And again, traditional technology is preferable to high tech for WTSHTF preparedness.

Cloud Reading Skills
The art of cloud reading is complex and requires graphics to explain, so I will suffice here with some pointers to some good books and web sites:

Cloud Reading Books:

The Weather Wizard's Cloud Book: A Unique Way to Predict the Weather Accurately and Easily by Reading the Clouds

The Weather Identification Handbook: The Ultimate Guide for Weather Watchers

Cloud Reading Web Sites:

Caity Ross's World.
Non-Instrument Weather Forecasting by Dennis Kawaharada
Marine Navigation and Naval Operations I (Powerpoint Presentation)
Mountain Weather (UK)

Many of the instruments that I've mentioned are available from Wind & Weather. They are one of our Affiliate Advertisers. (By using any of our Affiliate links, SurvivalBlog will get a small commission if you place an order.)

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First off, I would like to thank you for writing the novel "Patriots" and starting SurvivalBlog. My dad sent me your book in the mail and told me to read it. Being a fan of Tom Brown-ish survival literature, I decided to give it a try. I read it in one night, starting at about 8 pm and finishing at 3 in the morning. Truly, my world view has changed. I have immediately started making preparations---getting my Bug Out Bag together, my Bug Out Routes planned and starting to practice some of the skills sets I've let fall by the wayside recently.
I am a full time college student and collegiate cross country and track runner at a school in the great state of Tennessee, but have had the benefit of being raised in a preparedness oriented family in a
southwestern region of rural Montana. I was at school when [Hurricane] Katrina hit and remember the close-to-home impact it had on many of my friends who lived in the New Orleans area. Our school sent relief teams to New Orleans immediately afterwards, with shipments of food and water. At the time, my perception of the Katrina disaster was largely shaped by the major media
outlets. A humanitarian crisis it surely was, but I never realized the uglier side of the story until recently.
It seems that disasters and emergencies bring out the best and the worst in people. Having read extensively many of the SurvivalBlog entries and perused the Internet for stories and first-hand accounts of surviving the Katrina disaster, I discovered that the population of New Orleans could be broken down into four "classes" of people during the evacuation/hurricane/post-disaster crisis.
The first class of people was composed of a small group of individuals and families who had plenty of food, water and protection stored away to either weather the storm, or to travel to a safer location without sacrificing their safety.
The second class of people was composed of a larger section of the populace who decided to leave New Orleans or evacuate their area and had no food, water or self-protection supplies built up before-hand. These became the highway refugees, or the refugees huddled in the Superdome. Some were successful in escaping safely, many were not.
The third class of people was composed of people who decided to stay in New Orleans, without the necessary preparations, and planned on either the government helping them or on obtaining supplies from their vacant neighbor's homes and Wal-Mart. These were looters, thieves and murderers.
The fourth class of people was composed of law enforcement and National Guardsmen who stayed in New Orleans to try and maintain order. They were usually not successful.
In my analysis, everyone in the first class of people were prepared to handle whatever came their way. They were good, hearty men and women, with respect for God and a practical view of the world. In order to survive, they just needed to minimize contact with all three of the other classes of people, namely the refugees, the looters and the police.
The refugees were desperate people, some willing to kill for gasoline so that they could rescue family members. While not necessarily bad people, they were victims of the circumstances. Avoidance of these people was relatively easy, as long as one stayed off of main highways and out of refugee concentration areas. One reader posted a letter on this blog about his experience with his dog and pickup filled with gas-cans on his way back to secure his gun store. The looters were also desperate, but not necessarily refugees. They weren't fleeing, but were actively preying on people and businesses to
sustain themselves. These people were a lot like the "Mutant Zombie Bikers" [often mentioned by SurvivalBlog readers]. Mostly active in New Orleans, these looters were to be feared and avoided mostly by the prepared and self-sufficient people.
The police were able to direct traffic and enforce the law in the early stages of the disaster, but by the time traffic spilled out into the opposing lanes and looters really started opening up on their rampage,
they were relatively helpless. One thing that much of the public is not aware of is the indiscriminate"martial law" tactics undertaken by many police/SWAT and National Guardsmen during and after the evacuation. While their actions in arresting and confiscating weapons may have been justified in trying to control the looting problem, many honest, prepared men and women who were "holding the fort" had their homes invaded, searched and any and all weapons confiscated. In one of the parishes near New Orleans, the police used boats to pull over riverine traffic and search and confiscate any weapons found, often without providing receipts for the weapons confiscated. Obviously, for a prepared survivalist who was protecting their property, Bugging Out, or trying to provide humanitarian/rescue assistance, this was a major problem. After watching this short documentary on 2nd Amendment violations in [the aftermath of Hurricane] Katrina, which every law-abiding American owes it to themselves to watch, I have realized that in a TEOTWAWKI or near-TEOTWAWKI type disaster, even law enforcement can be more of hindrance than a help. The indiscriminate firearm confiscations that occurred in the wake of Katrina are very worrisome indeed.
In planning my Bug-Out-Plan (with multiple, redundant routes...one by foot if need be: yes, all 2,000 miles of it back home to Montana), I fully intend to avoid law enforcement like the plague. As [the] Doug Carlton [character] said in Patriots, "Roads are for people who like to get ambushed." Similarly, getting searched by the police in a TEOTWAWKI type situation is something you definitely want to avoid. There may be cops out there with their heads screwed on straight who can discern an honest citizen from a looter, but the risk of running into a hotshot and losing the means of protecting myself is too great.
I hope all other preparedness men and women take this into account when planning. Oh, and never become a refugee and confine yourself to a refugee camp. - R.D. from southern Tennessee

JWR Replies: The troublemakers in New Orleans came from many races, and surprisingly from both lower class and the lower middle class. It is difficult to stereotype the "looters" when based on the archived news footage it is clear that they represented a fairly wide cross-section of the New Orleans populace. Safe distance from major population centers is the key to survival during a widespread disaster. Fewer people means fewer problems. Most of the armed confrontations will take place in the big cities. Yes, lives will be lost far and wide WTSHTF, but the vast majority of the violence will be in the cities.

This news story caught my eye. Buffalo Man Lives in Underground Bunker. On a somewhat related note, the folks at Walton Feed have an interesting web page titled: "The Granddaddy Of All Underground Storage Areas "

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Home Sales in US Hit Slowest Pace in Four Years. Don't say that I didn't warn you. This "downturn" may very well be the beginning of a housing market collapse that will last a decade.

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Commentary from the International Herald Tribune: Finding doomsday asteroids.

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From WorldNetDaily: Untreatable Tuberculosis threat 'apocalyptic scenario'

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." - Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

Monday, June 25, 2007

The high bid is now at $180 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a batch of 10 brand new original Imperial Defence SA-80 (AR-15) steel 30 round rifle magazines. The auction ends on July 15th.

Last week's big economic news was that two Bear Stearns hedge funds worth $20 billion are teetering near collapse. These two Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) funds--ironically named the "Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage Fund" and the "High Grade Structured Credit Strategies Fund"--are in trouble because of their heavy exposure to sub-prime mortgages. A well-publicized rescue plan involving Merrill Lynch fell apart. At one point Merrill Lynch--one of Bear’s credit backers--said that they planned to seize about $850 million worth of collateral assets from Bear Stearns and sell them on the open market. Reuters reported Bear Stearns injected $1.5 billion of cash into the troubled CDO funds. Meanwhile we read that the head of the European Central Bank, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and about 250 other international banking executives planned to meet at a "Financial Stability Forum" on June 23 & 24 at BIS headquarters in Bale, Switzerland. Much of their conversation will surely center on the derivatives traders, especially the Bear Stearns hedge funds. The results of the BIS meeting? Uncertain. The bottom line: Be ready. Minimize your exposure to market fluctuations. Diversify into precious metals. Minimize you exposure to U.S. dollars. Any U.S. dollar-denominated investment should be specially selected to be resistant to inflation. For example, see the next blog entry about Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS.)

I've been warning SurvivalBlog readers about derivatives trading in general, and hedge funds in particular, for more than a year. Ditto for the US residential real estate, especially on the coasts. The hedge fund crisis will likely widen. Collateralized Debt Obligations will plummet as their underlying assets lose value. The macroeconomic consequences of this nascent collapse are enormous. The ride may get very bumpy. Fasten your seat belts, folks.

James Wesley:
I recently inherited several U.S. Savings Bonds, Series EE. Do you recommend that I keep them, or cash them in so I can get better prepared? (We only have about two months of storage food here at our house.) How do I find out if the bonds are still earning interest, and what they are currently worth? Thank you, - C.C.

JWR Replies: You are right about recognizing priorities. You can't eat bonds. If the bonds have fully matured, then by all means cash them in. You can check of the status of most bonds at the Treasury Direct web site.


Mr. Rawles,
You once mentioned Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). Do you still recommend them? Assuming they are still a good investment, which brokerage house should I use to minimize the fees? - Robert L. in Michigan

JWR Replies: Since further inflation of the U.S. dollar is inevitable, and significantly higher levels of inflation are likely n coming years, I still consider TIPS a great investment for any extra cash that you have on hand. That is, after getting your food storage squared away, after investing 25% of your portfolio in precious metals, and after investing as much as 50% in a productive retreat property. (By that iI mean farm or ranching land in a lightly populated area that is well removed from major population centers and away from likely refugee lines of drift.)

It is probably best to buy TIPS directly from the U.S. Treasury.

Mr. Rawles,
Many have written on this topic and many more have mused on it. Some have even written on what I thought about, but revisiting topics and ideas allows for fresh perspective and ideas to surface and breath.
1. How Many People? – Does it take a Village?: ‘Billary’ references aside, what is the ideal size for a group of people after the Schumer hits? So many people really buy into the image of the rugged, self
sufficient individual. However, if we isolate ourselves, does not that make us easier targets in the long run? Small numbers of people can only do so much.
There are very few true ‘renaissance’ men today. A larger group of people creates a better pool of skill and skill potential to draw from. Also, security concerns can be less burdensome with a larger work
force to draw from. How many people have dental skill, especially in less than desirable conditions? Midwife skills? Children will be born, especially if the scenario goes on from more than one year. Trying to help a mother give birth while reading how to do it for the first time may not be a good thing. How many skills and how much practical knowledge do you really possess for yourself? How about members of your extended family? My maternal grandfather is a retired farmer and I remember watching him improvise and fix just about anything that he had in order to make it work, while at the same time costing him little to nothing.
Granted with larger groups of people come greater issues and problems. Sanitation, food storage and supply, clothing (especially shoes) and list goes on and on. Studying history can give us a sense of just
what size of population you need to survive, although every situation and our reaction to it will be different.
2. Records and Record-Keeping: One of the very unfortunate side effects of any conflict throughout human history has been the loss of knowledge – both in human experience and in the archived form. Since the trend is away from actual hardcopy volumes and to the electronic form, the risk to loss of knowledge is greater in a post-EMP world. Granted, today the sheer volume of printed material is greater than in the past, however, that paper will still burn just as easy as it has in the past.
So, what kind of records should we keep and in what form. At some point in the future the availability of some sort of records could be of immense value. Journals, diaries, birth records, death records, and
wedding records, especially in a multi-generational situation, can help establish a semblance of ‘proper’ civilization.
Oral history and traditions served many cultures well for countless generations. However, one must remember that especially in oral history, the memorization cannot be a trivial task. It is vital that the
training be just as seriously undertaken as any survival training. Both native American tribes and the Druids trained for years for such an undertaking as this.
Especially in the dreaded multi-generational scenarios, what kind of stories will be passed down from parents/grandparents to children/grandchildren, some 50, 100, 200, 500, or even 1,000 years later? Stories could be told of the magical metal stick “Evie” that could strike a man down over 1,000 paces away. It does fire the imagination. - Clayton S.

The UN does it again: Remember when the UN appointed Libya to head their Human Rights Commission? That was ironic. The latest outrage is that the UN has just appointed Zimbabwe to head the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Is this some kind of cruel joke? The economic masterminds of Zimbabwe have absolutely wrecked the nation's once-thriving economy. Basic commodities are chronically in short supply. Commerce and agriculture are in shambles, verging on total collapse. They have turned a major food exporter--once "the breadbasket of Africa""--into a food importer, with hundreds of thousands of their citizens malnourished, and thousands now starving to death. Meanwhile, the grid power is now off more often than it is on. They have sown the seeds of hyperinflation--expected to soon exceed 24,000% per annum. I wouldn't trust them to run a neighborhood lemonade stand, much less chair the commission that ostensibly guides the world on key economic and agricultural issues. Leave it to the UN to make this sort of whacko appointment.

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From Steve Quayle's web site: Milk, Eggs and Bread: Is Preparation a Lack of Faith?

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"The Werewolf" (our correspondent in Brazil) recommended these two books on survival cookery: Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out, and The Storm Gourmet: A Guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals Without Electricity

"What are the marks of a sick culture?
It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population.
A very bad sign. Particularism. It was once considered a Spanish vice but any country can fall sick with it. Dominance of males over females seems to be one of the symptoms.
Before a revolution can take place, the population must lose faith in both the police and the courts.
High taxation is important and so is inflation of the currency and the ratio of the productive to those on the public payroll. But that's old hat; everybody knows that a country is on the skids when its income and outgo get out of balance and stay that way - even though there are always endless attempts to wish it way by legislation. But I started looking for little signs and what some call silly-season symptoms.
I want to mention one of the obvious symptoms: Violence. Muggings. Sniping. Arson. Bombing. Terrorism of any sort. Riots of course - but I suspect that little incidents of violence, pecking way at people day after day, damage a culture even more than riots that flare up and then die down. Oh, conscription and slavery and arbitrary compulsion of all sorts and imprisonment without bail and without speedy trial - but those things are obvious; all the histories list them.
I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all. This one I shall tell you. But go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms as you have named... But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.
This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of his/her strength. Look for it. Study it. It is too late to save this culture - this worldwide culture, not just the freak show here in California. Therefore we must now prepare the monasteries for the coming Dark Age. Electronic records are too fragile; we must again have books, of stable inks and resistant paper." - Robert A. Heinlein, Friday

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I've once again updated and expanded the SurvivalBlog Glossary. There are now more than 1,500 entries.

If you find what you read in SurvivalBlog useful, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Subscriptions are entirely voluntary. All those little $3 monthly payments do add up--enough that they help pay the bills here. Thanks!

Mr. Rawles,
Being a Vietnam era vet, I'm well aware of the efficacy of bicycles as transportation and "mules," as Grandpappy describes in his article. Viet Cong forces used convoys of bicycles to transport war materiel south from North Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh trail. U.S. forces would bomb the trail during the day in the hopes of obstructing truck traffic moving south. At night the Viet Cong would use bicycles to move supplies in lieu of trucks. One should never underestimate pedal-power. Regards, - Jeff P.

James Rawles;
I enjoy your blog and wish I had more time to review [all of the content]. I plan on getting the best of the blog when my funds permit.
I saw the "Convincing the Unconvinced" post and thought I would reply.
I like what another reader recommended on bringing people around to preparing and hope you have a section dedicated to this subject somewhere on your blog.
Pushing a lot of information too fast will be counterproductive. They need to learn and decide for themselves to be prepared, and how prepared [they want] to be.
MJS could try getting Government-issued preparedness brochures. They are available from the American Red Cross and The Department of Homeland Security. This literature shows the need to be prepared for various situations. The information coming from a source that the doubtful will consider "mainstream" may be what they need to convince them to be prepared. You can work from there to discuss with them all the types of potential disasters (man made and natural) that can occur in your area and what can be done to be prepared.

Preparedness gifts are also a way to get the doubtful thinking about preparedness. I have given first aid kits, power inverters, Flashlights, Baygen radios, vehicle 72 hour kits, Preparedness books--some published by the Red Cross and Homeland Security--as Christmas gifts to plant the seeds of preparedness thinking. With the bird flu threat looming, I am considering a long term food supply for a month or less and publications on what you should know about bird flu for this Christmas. I am looking at water purification equipment for the following Christmas.
At least this gives family members a chance to survive a short term event. I know I cannot prepare for them and they have not considered what to do if the big cities that they live in melt down. But I can give them the information to make them think and to help them if they ask for it. - Ron from Ohio

Your reader OSOM wrote in with a question relating to whether or not owning a suppressor would be a good idea.
My comments are as follows:
- Legally, the National Firearms Act (NFA) [of 1934] regulates "silencers". A rose by any other name is still a rose -- owners of such articles commonly call them "suppressors" to avoid the Hollywood association with assassins and hit men. I use the term interchangeably, and either term is perfectly appropriate.
- There's no such thing as a "Class III license", and none is required for ownership of Title II firearms (machineguns, suppressors, short barreled rifles/shotguns, etc.). There is a Class III Special Occupational Tax that a normal 01 FFL holder (that is, a gun dealer) can pay in order to sell such items, but that's just for the dealer.
- Individual owners have an ATF Form 4, which describes the Title II item, and has the tax stamp. This is not a license, but simply proof that one has paid the necessary tax.
- Individual owners lose no privacy rights. No rights are waived. The ATF is not going to come crashing through your door at 3 a.m. simply because you own a [registered] suppressor. They can ask you for a copy of your Form 4 if there's a question relating to it (the NFA registry is notoriously disorganized, and occasionally they might need to clarify something), but that's it.
- If one forms an Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)--or a trust, which is usually cheaper--and has the LLC/trust own the Title II items, one bypasses the necessity of fingerprints (as you can't fingerprint a corporation) and the local chief law enforcement officer sign-off. This can prove to be handy if you put other family members in on the trust, as they could possess the regulated items even if you're not present -- otherwise, if an individual owns the items, they must be present whenever they're being used. Also, without the local Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) signature, only the ATF and your Class III dealer would know you own the item.
I'm a suppressor owner, and shoot with it regularly. It makes already-fun .22 LR shooting even more fun, and it creates a more comfortable environment for teaching new shooters. It also has useful SHTF applications, as has been noted by OSOM.
The $200 tax is a bit of a burden, but after a few times using [a suppressor], you wonder how you lived without it before. It makes subsonic .22 Long Rifle (LR) sound like a stapler, supersonic .22 LR sound like some sort of laser-gun/ripping cloth, and ones rated for centerfire rifles significantly reduce the muzzle blast, allowing one to shoot supersonic ammunition without hearing protection. While it does reduce the noise, supersonic .223 out of 16" barreled ARs and supersonic 9mm out of a standard Uzi SMG do get to be somewhat somewhat annoying after a short while, but are much less uncomfortable than unsuppressed fire.
I highly recommend the Gem-Tech Outback II .22 LR silencer for a first time buyer -- it's low cost (about $550, including tax, shipping, and dealer fees, though your mileage may vary), light weight, and effective noise reduction make it ideal for putting on the end of a Ruger 10/22 rifle or any .22 pistol with a threaded barrel. Subsonic .22 LR ammunition are plentiful, inexpensive, and fun.
While hardly scientific, you can compare the relative difference between suppressed and unsuppressed supersonic and subsonic ammunition by viewing this video. (That's yours truly with my lovely girlfriend.) SilencerTests.com is an ideal web site to visit as well, and they have all sorts of useful tests and reports on a wide variety of silencers, an active forum, and all sorts of other silencer-related goodies. Cheers! - Pete

Regarding your prudent insistence on keeping a low profile, I found this information and I wondered what you thought: Only “individuals” are required by law to have the law enforcement certification section filled out. Corporations and other legal entities may purchase NFA items without submitting photographs, fingerprints and without the CLEO signoff. This exemption is frequently used by those who are unable to obtain a CLEO signoff in their area [because of political incorrectness]. Many people are already an officer of a corporation by virtue of being self-employed and therefore purchase the NFA item through their corporation as a business investment. Others will form a corporation for the express purpose of purchasing NFA items. Forming a corporation is easier than you may think. While you can do it yourself and for a very modest sum of money and you can have a professional do it for you. Thanks, - Daniel

JWR Replies: The incorporation approach would definitely provide a lower profile, at least locally. I just wonder about the longer term implications for everyone that is on "the list."

OBTW, in addition to incorporation, you can set up a revocable trust. This is fairly inexpensive, and a great way to designate the eventual transfer of guns to your heir(s)--that will become the successor trustee(s).

Reader "Alfie Omega" flagged this new article: Gas at $6 per gallon? Get ready. (Congress has an expensive "solution.")

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Sean M. forwarded us this one: Solar Shingles Could Power Tomorrow's Homes. Sean's comment: "It would difficult to keep these clear in the winter in snow country. But it is discrete, so you won't be screaming 'Hey, I have power' to anyone passing by."

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For those of you that asked about promotional clips for the upcoming Sarah Connor Chronicles television series, for some reason they were removed from YouTube, but are still available at Daily Motion.

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Frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson mentioned this amazing snow bike.

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible." - T. E. Lawrence

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Today's first letter is from a gent who has been a friend of mine for 23 years. The "Doug Carlton" character in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" was loosely based on him. (Most if the characters in the novel were drawn directly from friends of mine, or composites thereof.) We went to college together and were in the same ROTC program. Upon graduation, he became a U.S. Army helicopter pilot and served in South Korea. He now works in the civilian transportation industry. Among other things, "Doug" is an expert on practical concealed handgun carry, since he has been a CCW license holder for more than a dozen years--in several states--and habitually carries a handgun whenever he leaves his home.

I'm afraid you're out of date on tourniquet use. It's been a couple years since we were in the Army, and the world in general has shifted gears on tourniquets. In Iraq and Afghanistan, [we read] "no iatrogenic injury has been reported, even with tourniquet times up to 8 hours." (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, 76th annual scientific congress.) US Army literature on the subject has indicated that if the limb can be saved, it can still be saved three hours after a tourniquet is applied (U.S. Medicine, May 2005)
Tourniquets got a bad rap, probably deservedly, in WWII. This was mainly due to the long casevac times, and the mass number of casualties, and state of medical science at the time. The mantra of "use a tourniquet=lose the limb" stems from this. Like many things from WWII, good and bad, it became ingrained in the training of the military even though subsequent studies indicated that tourniquet's could be useful, especially with the reduced casevac time. It's estimated that 8-10% of the deaths in Vietnam could have been prevented by using a tourniquet.
Recent actions in Somalia and in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that tourniquets are effective time-savers, and it's all about time with a casualty. The WWII notion of loss of limb being automatic is simply false. What's not false is the notion that you'll bleed to death pretty fast if you don't stop the bleeding. Current figures from Iraq indicate that 50% of the combat fatalities before evacuation are due to bleeding out. (Guardian News and Media) Much of this is due to the wound pattern being different than previous wars.
Advanced body armor has saved many lives, but shifted the percentage of injuries to the limbs. Combine that with IEDs and you have many traumatic amputations (in the event of which obviously anyone would use a tourniquet) and other wounds in the same body parts. Obviously a tourniquet isn't for everything. The old joke about [using a tourniquet on the neck for] a head wound still applies of course;)

Forget writing the short story ["L. Leg Tourn.@0845Z"] in magic marker. Just put a "T" on his forehead in blood, which you will have plenty of. Don't cover the tourniquet--so it's seen--but even if it gets covered the doctors will find it pretty easily. This is common sense stuff. If you're bleeding from your arm, the doctor will look at your arm. If there's a tourniquet there, then he'll see it.
The "T" helps out in Triage, etc. but modern battlefield medical care is competent enough to deal with a tourniquet.
Now as I've said before, things that apply to the military may not apply to Joe Survivalist. You may have to go "Civil War" on his arm and take it off yourself if that's the situation, but the application of a tourniquet will not alter that. Don't loosen the tourniquet until you have the bleeding controlled in some fashion. What that fashion is will depend greatly on your resources. - "Doug Carlton"


I'm a 30-year military vet and Reservist, combat lifesaver qualified, three tours in Iraq, two in Afghanistan, and one in Grenada <grin>; I also was a military / civilian law enforcement SWAT trainer for about 10 years and still attend training annually on subjects like survival, weapons work and medical topics. ("Emptying the teacup" on a regular basis, so to speak)
Like yourself, I held -- for years -- that the word tourniquet was synonymous with amputation but it is a "last resort" that still beats bleeding to death in a combat situation.

During recent pre-deployment training for a combat tour, I was exposed to the idea of tourniquet usage as a "necessary evil" but I still held -- perhaps only within my own mind -- that tourniquets were still just a "final option" reserved for times when all other "stopping blood flow" methods failed. (And, implied here, is the associated time lost -- and blood loss -- with trying all those other methods first.)

At a recent twp-day Wilderness Medical Survival class taught by an emergency room surgeon (who is also on a multi-jurisdiction police SWAT team), the topic of tourniquets arose -- and he heartily endorsed their usage sooner versus later, citing not only their employment during the current Global War on Terror but noting that, during microsurgery (the reattachment of a severed hand was the example he cited), tourniquets are routinely applied for 2 to 4 hours without the "guarantee" of follow-on amputation that I naturally expected.

After class, I personally tied -- under a paramedic's supervision -- a one-hand-application tourniquet on my upper left arm (I'm left-handed) and left it there for 15 minutes without any distal artery pulse detected in the arm...and with no ill effects and without the arm turning brown and falling off. It hurt / burned immensely, "fell asleep" and was cold to the touch (and bluish) -- and I did have a temporary bruise on the skin where the tourniquet strap was twisted and tightened -- but that was the extent of the "damage." (FYI, I am 48)

I don't advocate trying this on yourself -- for many safety reasons, and it was probably very foolish for me to have experimented with my own primary upper appendage -- but I had always held an image that the application of a tourniquet would almost immediately transform my extremity into a dried and twisted piece of useless, vestigial flesh within seconds...and it simply wasn't true. (and, FYI, 15 minutes is an eternity-and-a-half in a firefight)

As such, I've had a "paradigm shift" and no longer consider tourniquet usage a "last resort" or "fall-back position" -- but now hold tourniquets in the same regard as any other specialized tool, technique, or skill in my toolkit. It has its place, .and not just as a blood stopper of last resort. Hope this helps. - StealthNeighbor

Hi Jim
I found the article about real gunfights, earlier this week, very interesting. I happened to run across this video of a real gun fight between quite a few law enforcement officers s and one guy with a battle rifle.

I am no gun expert, but it sure taught me a few things:

1) Never take a handgun to a rifle fight

2) Take cover. These guys just walked out the door and got shot.

3) Riding on the hood of a car is not a good tactic.

All the best, - Kurt

U.S. Economy: Housing Starts Drop; Slump May Persist. Notice how the 20% slump in housing starts in the western U.S. was buried in the article? After reading the entire article, I think that it would be better titled "US Economy: Housing Market Enters Death Spiral." But of course I'm the pessimistic type.

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China sells more US T-bonds. I've said it before: the U.S. Dollar is doomed.

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From MayoClinic.com -- West Nile virus: Signs and symptoms

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Our friend Tom at CometGold.com sent us this: Bear Stearns Staving Off Collapse of 2 Subprime Leveraged Hedge Funds. I see this as just the beginning of the global derivatives implosion that I warned you about.

"An elephant. A mouse built to government specifications." - Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough For Love

Friday, June 22, 2007

We are now halfway through the special two week "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" Six Pack Sale. For any orders postmarked on or before June 30th, I'm offering a box of six autographed copies of my novel "Patriots", packed in a well-padded USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box, for $93, postage and Delivery Confirmation tracking label costs paid, to any US or APO/FPO address. That is just $15.50 per copy! And again, I pay the postage! Payment options include USPS money order, AlertPay, GearPay, or PayPal.
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net
If paying via USPS money order (sorry, no checks), please use this mail forwarding address (because of forwarding down to the ranch, you can expect a two week delay):

James Wesley, Rawles
c/o Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

All orders will be mailed by our order fulfillment partner up in Montana, so no special book inscriptions are available. (Just my generic autograph.) This "Six Pack" offer ends on June 30th, so get your order in soon. Thanks!

Thought I would pass on some advice that I received while I was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base just south of Fairbanks, Alaska . During “newcomers” orientation, we were told by the local game warden, that “playing dead” might work with a grizzly, but if they decide to charge you, “playing dead” won’t save you. They are coming to kill you and won’t stop the attack until you are. I remember reading about an Alaskan couple who tried to escape a black bear attack by climbing up on the roof of their cabin. It had a lean-to type roof and unfortunately for the couple, there was a tree that the bear climbed and got up on the roof with the couple. The woman was killed. I don’t remember what happened to the husband. I believe he survived somehow. The one brown bear hunt I when on, the smallest rifle caliber in my group was a 300 Win Mag. (There is no such thing as too big of gun for bears.) - Rick E.


I've been watching the bear protection thread and thought I might toss-in an idea or two. Last year I experienced an invasion of hungry and seemingly fearless black bears onto my property in southern Colorado. My last bear encounter had me armed with an EAA Witness in 45 ACP and I was not at all comfortable with my odds. Fortunately, shots were not required.
The situation left me thinking about a better way to defend myself if there was a confrontation with one of these bears. I did some simple web-based research on bear hunting with handguns and found more than one reference to "200 grains, 1000 fps" as the "bear minimum" load. (Pardon the pun,) That works out to about 445 ft.- lbs., which is beyond the abilities of all but the hottest 45 ACP rounds. And I would probably want to run those loads only through a revolver, not an autoloader. Additionally, the articles tended to recommend solid-/soft-point bullets in lieu of hollow-points to achieve better penetration.
I already had a single-action 44 Mag but its 7-1/2" barrel makes carrying it 24x7x52 a burden. For me personally, the sheer size of the revolver makes it a bit intimidating for quick response, close encounters. I felt I needed something else and started my search for The Perfect Bear Handgun. (Okay, close to perfect.)
What I ended up with was a Taurus 425 in 41 Magnum. This 5-shot stainless steel revolver has a ported 4" barrel, a great trigger, and a fabulous rubber grip. Being a 5-shot'er, it's relatively compact and the lighter weight makes it much easier to carry all day. Since factory ammo is not available in much of a variety, I (happily) resigned myself to reloading for it. I've worked up a load with 210 grain soft points that chronographs at about 1200 fps. That makes the bullet energy right around 675 ft.- lbs., or about 50% more than the "200 grains, 1000 fps" rule-of-thumb. In my book, that's plenty adequate over-engineering!! The 41 Magnum recoil is stout -- you know you're not shooting a 357 -- but it's tolerable and quite a bit more manageable than the 44. The 425 is also surprisingly accurate. I found a nice Galco holster for it and some speed loaders. Needless to say, I'm very pleased. (And, no, I don't work for Taurus.)
Hopefully this gives folks another option to consider. - Scott W.


I read your site everyday and have passed on this resource to all of my contacts! The site is among the best on the Internet, in my view. I was surprised and proud that Walter Williams reads your site the same as myself.

Anyway, a couple of years back I went fishing on the Kenai River in Alaska and stayed with a friend. That friend spent about 10 years there doing 'Alaska'. Anyway, he had a couple of bear encounters. On one such occasion, he had helped another hunter bring a Dall Sheep off of a mountain. Upon arriving back at their camp, they realized a brownie had followed them into camp. My buddy banged the bruin with a .454 Casull, one shot and the bear was down.

Your recommendation of a .454 Casull would be seconded by my friend. According to him and the cartridge manufacturers, the Casull has more gumption at 100 yards than does the .44 Rem. Magnum at the muzzle.

For my part, I use a 629 S&W with a 6" barrel. I got my brother, who resides in Anchorage, to get me a box of what I call ".44 Heavies." They are hand loaded in Alaska specifically for bears. They are hard cast 420 grains of sheer terror. Anyway, they are packaged in a wallet style carrying case holding 18 rounds. I would recommend these type of rounds for that caliber in the event one anticipates a cat or bear encounter. However, I would not recommend the 'recreational' use of these heavies as they are hard on the shooter and the gun. One more thing, both my buddy and my brother said to always, always never shoot the 6th round in the .44 at a brownie, but to instead save it for yourself after you have really pissed the bear off. - Matt, Somewhere south of Kentucky and north of Alabama.

You were right on with your advice as far as setting tourniquets. One thing that I totally fail to understand when it comes to some of my preparedness oriented brethren is their desire to mickey mouse/improvise a solution when one already exists.
Also, thanks for the recommendation on TraumaDEX, it looks to be as good or better than some of the other offerings, and wow is it cheap! ($11/50 applicators).
While all of these gizmos are neat, just like in your novel "Patriots" there was someone there with honest to god medical training. While becoming an RN or LVN is a bit much for most. Taking an EMT class a few nights a week, or even taking one of the first aid and CPR classes offered by the American red Cross (ARC)--most are just a few hours or a day--will put them in a much better place than taking the advice of other amateurs.
Cheers! - Drew

I was slightly distressed to read your [warning] statement on tourniquets. I am not a doctor, but I am a Marine (Rifleman and Force Recon) and am also a EMT-B who has used those skills here (Volunteer) and in Iraq. I would like to pontificate briefly on the use of a Tourniquet. What you posted was the predominate mindset in the medical community, but it is changing due to 'real world' experience in Iraq.
As I'm sure you know if you have an arterial bleed you have about 90 seconds to do something about it before you pass out. At that point unless someone else can help you you are a dead man.
What you can do (If the injury is on a limb) is to slap on a Tourniquet. I recommend the Cinch Tight for two reasons: It is cheap, and in military testing it is in the top three in effectiveness.
-A bungee cord will also work pretty well.
Once you have a tourniquet on you can begin to apply a pressure dressing... (Or move the casualty out of the line of fire so that you can work on him without becoming a casualty yourself.)
-If you don't apply a tourniquet he may die before you can work on him, or before you can control the bleeding.
As for losing a limb... once the bleeding is under control (Israeli bandages and the Cinch Tight 'H' bandages are both excellent)
You simply remove the tourniquet one wrap at a time... if the bleeding is under control leave it above the wound in case it is needed later, but unwrapped.
You will not lose a limb within about four hours, and you can control bleeding and remove the tourniquet in a much shorter amount of time.
On the placement of a Tourniquet:
A hands width (About 4 inches) above the injury (Arteries retract up into the body when harmed that much, remember the 'bloody scene' in Blackhawk Down?)
If below the knee or below the elbow, put 'packing material between the Tibia and Fibula, or between the Radius and Ulna due to the fact veins and arteries go between these bones, and will be hard to 'pinch off'.
In review, a tourniquet is an immediate method to stop the arterial bleeding, which will give you time to treat the wound with other measures, and then [promptly] remove the tourniquet. - Nomad, 2nd

JWR Replies: Where did you read the four hour figure that you cited? I have read that the use of a tight tourniquet for as little as 45 minutes can produce local necrosis, neurapraxia, hypoxia, pain, and injury to veins and arteries. I've also read that leaving a tourniquet in place for more than 120 minutes can lead to extensive necrosis, which can result in the eventual loss of a limb. There are very few wounds for which Carlysle-type bandages and direct pressure won't minimize bleeding. Granted, a tourniquet might be apropos for a very short term application. (I've read about the "one-hand" US military issue Combat Application Tourniquet and some competing varieties.) But once one is applied, do not lose track of time! For a patient that will be medevaced or otherwise handed-off, you can mark time that the tourniquet was applied on the patient's forehead with a magic marker. Perhaps something like: "L. Leg Tourn.@0845Z" Medics carry Field Medical Cards to record that sort of data. The bottom line: Minimize the period of time a tourniquet is in place by applying other dressings/wound packing promptly, and then remove the tourniquet as soon as possible.

Minnesota's "Code Ready" preparedness campaign urges deep larders

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Reader BWN sent us a link to fairly detailed plans for a slow sand water filter.

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I recently updated my Pre-1899 FAQ and Mauser Bolt Rifles FAQ. Both are available (along with many others that I authored or co-authored) for free download at my FAQs Page

"Preparation through education is less costly than learning through tragedy." - Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The first item today is a long article by Grandpappy, who you may remember as the winner of Round 10 of the the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. We greatly appreciate his willingness to share his knowledge with us. OBTW, get your entries in for Round 11. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards.

Unlike horses and other farm animals, bicycles do not require any food, or water, or pasture, or daily care. They also don’t generate any garden manure and that could be either a plus or a minus depending on your situation. And a bicycle is ready to go the instant you need it, even if an EMP blast disables other modes of transportation. A bicycle can be stored for decades with just a little oil on its chain and on its other moving parts. In the event of a serious worldwide catastrophe, a bicycle may become extremely useful in two important ways: (1) transportation between locations, and (2) as a pack mule.

TRANSPORTATION: Depending on the type of worldwide catastrophe, transportation may or may not be necessary or even desirable. However, if it is necessary and automobiles are not available for some reason, then a bicycle will enable a person to cover distances easier and faster than walking. A person can walk about 3 miles per hour but a bicycle can easily cover between 10 to 30 miles per hour, depending on the road conditions (hills, etc.) and the physical fitness of the rider.
PACK MULE: When forced into service as a pack mule, an adult human male can carry about 30 pounds and still be able to walk 2 or 3 miles per hour. However, most bicycles will allow the rider to add about 20 pounds to the front wheel and about 30 pounds to the rear wheel for a total of about 50 pounds plus the rider. If the rider is willing to walk beside the bicycle and push the bicycle, then a typical adult bicycle could be loaded with 200 to 250 pounds of supplies and equipment strapped to the metal frame of the bike. [JWR Adds: When doing so fro more than a short distance, it is useful to lash a stout broomstick or a 5+ foot length from a sapling on to the handlebars, to provide a solid surface to push against with equal pressure of both hands, as well as leverage for keeping the front wheel pointed in the desired direction.]
Or a bicycle trailer could be attached to the rear of the bicycle and the rider could add about 100 pounds of supplies onto the bicycle trailer. You could purchase a special bike trailer or you could convert a two-seater child trailer into an equipment trailer by replacing the children’s compartment with a large lockable waterproof plastic storage box securely mounted between the two trailer wheels. If you use a rear mounted bike trailer to transport supplies and it is not lockable, then you need to be very careful when you travel through an area where there are other people. People will steal things off your rear bike trailer when you aren’t looking or while you are being intentionally distracted by one of their associates. This type of theft can be prevented by using a locking waterproof plastic storage box bolted to your trailer instead of just strapping things down to a basic flatbed trailer.
Even if you are walking and pushing a fully loaded bike, you can still occasionally stand with your RIGHT foot on the LEFT pedal and lean the bike gently away from you at a slight angle to maintain its balance, and then coast down a hill or incline while operating your hand brakes to keep the bike at a safe speed.
A bicycle will allow you to cover more ground with more supplies and equipment with less fatigue, and this could make a significant difference in your chances of survival. Even if you do not anticipate the need for transportation during a worldwide catastrophe, a bicycle would still be a good investment in the event you were forced to become a refugee for some unexpected reason and your automobile was not available. Anyone could be forced into the life of a refugee due to events beyond his or her control, such as forest fires, or floods, or drought that results in dry wells, or enemy soldiers with heavy artillery who are destroying all the homes they find.
Two or three-hundred pounds of supplies and equipment is not a lot but it could keep one person alive for one-year (or longer) depending on how wisely you selected your items and how successful you were at supplementing your food supplies with hunting, trapping, fishing, foraging, and growing simple vegetables from seeds such as corn and beans and tomatoes. Growing pinto beans or kidney beans is a lot easier than searching for wild edible plants. For some additional information on seeds, please see my article entitled “How to Harvest, Process, and Store Vegetable Seeds

Bike Style: Any style adult bicycle is acceptable. This includes mountain bikes and road bikes. I recommend a bike with a fixed rigid rear wheel as opposed to a spring mounted rear wheel. The advantage of a spring mounted rear wheel is that it helps to absorb road shocks and not transmit their full force to the saddle. The advantage of a fixed rear wheel is that you can install a more substantial rear luggage rack over the rear wheel.
Folding bikes are also nice and eBay has them for $200 or less. However, unless you really need a folding bike, a normal fixed frame bike is probably a better investment and it will probably last longer before needing repairs.
All bicycles need roads or paths or trails or some other relatively smooth unobstructed surface to ride on. Therefore don’t buy a mountain bike simply because you think you will be riding through wilderness areas. If you are in a thick forest, you will be walking beside your bike and picking it up and carrying it over obstacles, such as fallen trees. Almost any type of bike works fine when you are walking beside it.
Price: You can purchase a bike at a specialty bike shop or at a store such as WalMart. If you make your purchase at a bike shop you may discover you are paying a premium for the bike because bikes, bike accessories, and bike repairs are the only source of revenue for the bike shop. However, a store like Walmart has a standard markup on most of its items and their profit on bicycles is not that much different from anything else in the store. At Walmart you can usually find a really nice selection of good bikes for under $200. If you look carefully, you can also find several below $100 and a few below $75. If you go to a bike shop, the bikes usually start at $200 and quickly jump to $300 or $400 and some are even priced at $800, $1,200 and $2,000. The final decision on how much you wish to spend on a bike is up to you, but I think you could get a very, very nice bicycle for less than $200. (Note: I have a $59 ten-speed bike that I purchased 10 years ago from Walmart and I am still very happy with it.) Many, but not all, of the accessories mentioned below can also be purchased at a very reasonable price at stores such as Walmart. However some items must be purchased or ordered through a specialty bike shop or purchased off the Internet.
Gears or Speeds: A bicycle with three or more speeds is highly desirable. A bicycle operates the same way an automobile does. If you only had ONE gear in your car, you would NOT be very happy with the performance of your car. With three or more gears in your car, the car can shift gears as you gain speed and improve the performance of your car. If you encounter a really steep hill, the car can shift into a lower gear. The same principle applies to bikes. Many, many years ago there were only single-speed bikes. To demonstrate the advantage of the newly invented three-speed bike a simple road test was conducted. An adult male racing champion was allowed to ride his favorite one-speed bike but a petite female was given a three-speed bike. The race was over a typical course involving some hills and some decent stretches of level ground. The young lady literally beat the socks off the professional male bike racer because she had three gears to pick from. She could pick the best gear for climbing a hill and a different gear for maximum speed on level ground. The professional bike racer only had one gear and he couldn’t keep up with the lady even though he had substantially more strength in his leg muscles. That simple two-person race resulted in the end of single-speed bicycles in professional bicycle races.
The Optimum Number of Speeds: Any number of speeds between 3 to 21 will yield good performance. The total number of speeds is not as important as a person might expect.
A three-speed bike has one front gear and three rear gears. All three speeds work just fine.
A ten-speed bike has two front gears and five rear gears for a total of ten combinations. However, each front gear works best with the three (or four) gears closest to it on the rear. So the RIGHT front gear works best with the three RIGHT gears on the rear wheel. And the LEFT front gear works best with the three LEFT gears on the rear wheel. Therefore, even though the bike has ten possible speeds, somewhere between six to eight speeds are used most often. The reason is chain crossover. If you use a front gear on the far right with a rear gear on the far left, then the chain is at a bad angle and the chain undergoes excessive tension and chain wear and other chain problems are more likely, such as chain breakage. Therefore, most bike riders use the three or four rear gears that are most closely aligned with the front gear currently in use.
A 21-speed bike has three front gears and seven rear gears for a total of 21 options. However, based on the previous discussion, somewhere between 9 to 12 of those options are high quality combinations that minimize chain wear.
Therefore, a three-speed bike has three good gear combinations, a ten-speed bike has about six really good gear combinations, and a 21-speed bike has about nine really good gear combinations. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with a good ten-speed bike. I have a ten-speed bike and I really like it. I also have a 21-speed bike and I like it too. I suggest that you select a bicycle based on factors other than the number of “total” possible speed combinations.
Brakes: Hand operated braking systems are really nice. Rubber brake pads and disk brakes both work well in my opinion. Don’t let a bike salesperson talk you into a bike with disk brakes unless that bike also has all the other features you really need. You should also purchase a spare set of brake pads for your front and rear wheels. There are two basic sizes so look at the ones on your bike before you purchase your spare brake pads. Bicycle brakes will wear out before the other parts on your bicycle, just like the brakes on your car will wear out and need to be replaced several times during the life of your car. Spare brake pads cost between $4 to $6 for a set of two rubber pads.
Tire Size: A 26-inch tire is a very good choice for adults. Some individuals prefer a 24-inch tire and that is also a very popular tire size. A 27-inch tire is also an option but in a disaster situation it may be very difficult to find replacement parts for a 27-inch tire.
Tire Design: Any standard tire design will be okay. Smooth tires and knobby tires each have certain advantages but your choice of a good bike should probably be based on factors other than the design of the tire tread. All the different tire designs work reasonably well in most situations, although some are superior for specific applications.
Bike Comfort and Riding Fatigue: When selecting a new bike there are two related issues that should be considered: (1) comfort, and (2) riding fatigue.
Most of us grew up riding a bike and we already know what feels right and what doesn’t. To evaluate a new bike you should sit on the seat and then lean forward slightly and put your hands and some of your weight on the front handlebars, with your arms slightly bent at the elbows. If you feel comfortable in this position then the bike is worthy of further consideration. Remember that the seat height is adjustable and if you need to move the seat up or down to improve your comfort then that is really easy to do on today’s modern bicycles.
Don’t let a thin skinny bike seat influence your decision about comfort because you can easily replace the seat for about $20. It is the rest of the bike that can’t be easily modified. The seat design issue will be discussed in more detail below.
Some individuals, such as professional racers, prefer a really low set of handlebars so they can lean forward to an almost horizontal position to minimize wind resistance. However, in this position you must tilt your head and neck backwards so you can see ahead. This position is not comfortable for many people.
When you are standing upright astride your bicycle with both feet on the ground the center bar should not make contact with your groin area.
Most new bikes have the adjustable seat in a low position so the prospective customer can sit on the seat and put both feet on the ground to stabilize the bike. This is the seat position from which most of us learned to ride and it is the way we teach our children to ride. It is very easy to start and stop a bike if both of your feet can touch the ground when you are stopped. There is nothing wrong with this seat position and it works well for short riding distances when there are frequent stops. However this low seat position will result in your becoming tired more quickly if you are riding a long distance.
To find the best seat height to minimize long distance riding fatigue you will need to sit on the bicycle seat and extend one leg straight down to one of the pedals in its lowest position. When you are sitting on the seat the pedal in the down position should allow you to fully straighten your leg. This means you will have to get OFF the seat when you stop so you can put your feet on the ground and keep your bike upright. To minimize fatigue and maximize power while riding your legs need to be straight when each pedal is in the full down position. Adjust the height of the seat by trial and error until you find the optimum seat height that is just right for you. However, unless you anticipate long distance bike rides, there is no need to raise the seat and you can leave the seat in a low position so both your feet can touch the ground when you are stopped.
Seat or Saddle ($20): If your bike comes with a standard slim style racing seat, I suggest you consider replacing it with a Wide Bottom Gel Seat. Your rear end will be spending a lot of time on this seat and those thin seats are not comfortable for an extended ride, in my opinion.
Kickstand: The kickstand should be long enough to support the bicycle in an almost vertical position when on level ground. If the kickstand is too short then the bicycle will fall over when a front wheel luggage rack and saddlebags are added as an accessory.
Pedals: Most bikes have good pedals and you will probably not need to replace them. This is one area where an upgrade is definitely not recommended.
Gasoline Engine or Battery Power: I have looked at adding either a gasoline engine or a battery powered motor to my bicycle many, many times during the past five years. Each time I decided not to invest in either option. Their range is usually 30 miles or less and their speed is usually 30 mph or less. Both types of motors take up space and weight behind your seat that could be used to store other more useful items. Instead of motorizing your bicycle, I suggest that you use the power in your legs unless: (1) you are unable to do so, or (2) you intend to use your bike for daily commuting back and forth to your current place of employment to save a little gas money.
Bike Tool ($13)): The bike mega ultra-tool is a special bike tool that includes all the tools and accessories needed to perform minor (or major) repairs to your bike if it should require service while you are on the road. At a retail price of about $13 this tool is a real bargain.
Tire Patches ($2): For emergency repair of a flat tire.
Air Gauge ($3 to $25): A dial gauge is usually more accurate than a stick gauge. However, they are also more expensive. If money is an issue, a simple automobile tire gauge will do the job. A bicycle tire requires a LOT more air pressure than an automobile tire because the surface area of the tire that actually makes contact with the road is very small.
Small Storage Bag That Fits Under the Seat ($7) (or attach it to the front handlebar): Use it to store your special bike tool, a Leatherman type tool, a 6-inch adjustable crescent wrench, an air gauge, tire patches, a small can of Three-in-One oil inside a small plastic freezer bag, a small LED flashlight, a good folding stainless steel pocket knife, a butane lighter, a small good quality first aid kit, and any special tools such as little hex wrenches that come with any accessories you install on your bicycle.
Air Pump ($8 to $25): A necessity, in my opinion. The hand pump model that attaches to the side of the bike frame is really nice. I also have a smaller more compact air pump but it does not work as well as the mid-size air pump that attaches to the side of the bike frame. Some bikes have predrilled threaded holes for attaching the special air pump holder and some bikes do not. If your bike doesn’t have the predrilled threaded holes you can attach the air pump holder to your bike using two Velcro straps.
Rear Luggage Rack ($20 to $35): My suggestion is to avoid the rear luggage rack that mounts ONLY to the seat post. However, if you have a spring mounted rear wheel bike then this may be your only option. My preference is a rear luggage rack with TWO downward metal supports on EACH side that attach to the frame of the bicycle just above your rear axle. It will support more weight than a seat post mounted luggage rack. These luggage racks can be mounted to the rear frame of most bikes using the pre-threaded holes just above the rear axle. The holes are generally either 5mm or 6mm and when you add a lock washer they eliminate the need for an inside nut to hold the luggage rack to the rear frame. An inside nut could get in the way of the chain when it tries to make contact with the outside rear gear. If your bike has a rear hole that it is not threaded, then you can add threads by purchasing one or two extra bolts of the correct diameter and screwing them into the opening to thread the hole. This may damage the threads on those bolts but if they are extra bolts then you can simply toss them in the trash when you are done. Or you could use a tap and die set to thread the holes. Luggage racks can be purchased at your local bicycle shop or they can be purchased over the internet.
Front Luggage Rack ($15 to $30): Adds about 20 pounds of extra storage capacity to the front of your bike. It can be used for any item, but it is best suited for bulky light weight items such as extra clothing and a blanket or a sleeping bag and a small pillow. Do not put too much weight over your front wheel or you may find your bicycle difficult to steer. Some bikes have mounting holes just above the front axle. Neither of my bikes had those holes so I used 3-inch long predrilled braces to mount the rack on the front of each bike. (Necessity is the mother of invention.) If you are looking for a new bike then I suggest that you examine the front fork to see if it has the predrilled holes just above the front axle for installing a front luggage rack. After you mount your front luggage rack and put a few things onto it, you may discover that your bicycle falls over. This is because the kickstand that came with your bike is too short. Install a longer kickstand and you will solve this problem.
Luggage Rack Design: The front and rear luggage racks are each uniquely designed for their specific application and you should not buy two of the same type in the belief that you can simply turn it end to end and make it fit on the opposite end of your bike. It won’t work. Each rack has it own special mounting hardware designed specifically for one end of the bike. You will need one rack for the rear and a different but similar design for the front.
Saddlebags or Panniers ($30 to $200 per pair): Bicycle side saddlebags are called panniers. I have three different brands, including Jandd and Ortlieb. Ortlieb was the most expensive of the three brands and I bought a pair of them due to their most excellent reviews on the internet. However, they are NOT my favorite panniers. My personal preference is the Jandd Economy Pannier. The Jandd Economy Panniers have good quality workmanship and materials, they attach quickly, easily, and securely to either the front or the rear luggage racks, they have a zipper closure, they are rain proof, they are really easy to open and close, and their design makes it easy to store and remove items from the panniers. If I purchase any more panniers they will all be the Jandd Economy Panniers. Panniers can be special ordered through your local bicycle shop or they can be purchased over the Internet. The Jandd Economy Panniers can be purchased at this web site:
Bungee Cords and Cargo Nets ($2 to $6): Saddlebags can be used to store items on both sides of your luggage racks. However, you can also secure items to the top flat surface of each luggage rack using elastic bungee cords and/or cargo nets. They also make specially designed panniers for use on top of these racks, but I prefer the flexibility of being able to secure my own personal survival backpack onto the top of the rear luggage rack and my sleeping bag on top of the front luggage rack.
Water Bottle (Optional): Attaches to the frame in the center of the bike. I bought one out of curiosity but I only bought one. In a refugee situation the small amount of water in the bottle would NOT last very long. A person would be far better off with a quality water filter such as the Swiss Katadyn Pocket Water Filter. It will process up to 13,000 gallons of water for drinking purposes and it is about the same size as the water bottle designed for bicycle mounting. If you should become a refugee, then one of your most important problems EVERY day will be a fresh supply of safe drinking water. The Katadyn Pocket Water Filter will easily solve this problem for several YEARS. There are LOTS of other cheaper water filters available that are advocated by a wide variety of individuals, but they will only process a few hundred gallons of water before they wear out. If you should become a refugee, then your family will be depending on you for EVERYTHING, and water should not be one of your daily problems. In my opinion, everyone should become as educated as possible about water and its importance. I suggest you review the information available on my web site about “How to Find Water and Make It Safe to Drink.
It is a very long read but it contains information that could save your life one day.
Speedometer: I prefer a non-electric speedometer. However, the one I purchased would only fit on one of my bikes. Although a battery-operated speedometer would have worked on my other bike, I decided I really didn’t want one of those. You need to make your own decision on whether or not you need a speedometer.
Shoes: Most bike shops sell special bicycle shoes. You may buy a pair if you wish. However, your normal walking shoes will do just fine if they do NOT have a flat smooth sole. Your normal walking shoes should have ribbed or tread type soles for traction while walking. This type of sole will also make positive contact with the pedals on your bike and prevent your foot from slipping off the pedal when in motion. Since you will not be riding all the time, a quality set of footwear will need to function as walking shoes in addition to riding shoes. Your shoes are a VERY important consideration because the shoes you are wearing when you first become a refugee will probably be the only pair of shoes you possess for several years. I suggest you research the shoe issue very carefully and purchase a really good pair of quality walking shoes instead of an expensive pair of high performance bicycle shoes.
Helmet: If you like the bicycle style helmets, then buy the one that appeals to you. However, a motorcycle helmet is a better investment, in my opinion. Just walk over to the automotive section and they usually have nice motorcycle helmets for $90 or less. During the past 50 years I have had occasional rare accidents with bicycles and motorcycles and, in my opinion, a helmet is an absolutely NECESSARY piece of safety equipment.
Other Safety Equipment: You may invest in other typical bicycle safety items, such as elbow pads, knee pads, and gloves as you believe appropriate.
Rain Gear: A good rain suit is a nice thing to have. It consists of a waterproof upper, usually with an attached hood, and a waterproof pair of pants. You will need waterproof pants if you intend to ride your bike in the rain. If you already have a good waterproof jacket of some type, then waterproof pants will complete your outfit.
Bicycle Lock: Always take your bike INSIDE wherever you happen to be and lock it securely so it can’t be stolen. If you leave your bike outside, even locked to a bike stand, you will eventually discover that there are some people who will intentionally disable your bike or steal stuff off your bike. You really don’t need those kinds of problems.
Headlight: I have a battery-operated halogen headlight on one of my bikes. It uses two standard C cell batteries. I was NOT impressed with the headlight so I did not install one on my other bike.
Oil: I normally use whatever I have available, such as motor oil or Three-in-One oil. I put a little oil on the chain, the gears, and the axles before I put the bike in storage. This consists of hanging the bike on a bike hook from the ceiling of the garage. This may not be the best way to store a bike but it has not caused me or my bike any problems for over ten years.
Child Carrier Seats: There are several different types of child carrier seats. Let’s look at three different models.
The first child seat ($40) mounts behind the rider’s seat and it replaces the rear luggage rack. Therefore I don’t recommend this type, unless you have two small children and for some reason you must install Two child seats on one bike. If you have two children then the third option below is a better choice.
The second option is a child seat ($45) that mounts between the front handlebar stem and the rider’s seat post. This puts the child where you can see the child at all times and it positions the child so the child can see where you are going, regardless of whether you are riding or walking beside the bicycle.
The third option is a two-seat child carrier ($110) that attaches to the rear of the bike.
If you are forced into a refugee situation and you have small children then a bicycle would allow you to travel relatively quickly with your young children. Young children cannot walk very far before they become tired and they need to be either carried or transported. Carrying children is not a good option if it can be avoided.
The best solution would be to have one front mount child seat per adult or teenager bicycle. However, in an emergency, one adult could transport up to four small children on one bicycle and the adult could either ride or walk beside the bike. One child could go in the forward child’s seat (mounted between the handlebars and the rider’s seat), one child could go in a child’s seat mounted behind the rider’s seat, and two small children could fit in a child trailer attached to the rear of the bicycle. If one person had to transport four small children using one bicycle then there would be very little space left over for food, supplies, and equipment, but your primary responsibility in this type of emergency situation would be the immediate safety of your children.
If you perceive a situation where you would need to transport several children on one bicycle, then you should also consider installing a quality set of heavy duty children’s rear training wheels on each side of your bicycle to help keep your bicycle upright at all times.
Different bike enthusiasts have different opinions about the advantages and disadvantages of every possible type of bicycle and bicycle accessory. I am not a bike enthusiast. I am just an ordinary person who has ridden bicycles for more than 50 years, beginning with a single-speed bike, and then a three-speed, and then a ten-speed, and then a 21-speed. The above is just my opinion and it is nothing more than my opinion. Before you invest in a bicycle you should research this topic very carefully and collect a variety of different opinions and then make your own decision based on what is best for your particular situation and your anticipated riding conditions.
Before you spend any money on a bicycle you should first make a list of the different bicycles that are available along with their prices, and a list of the different options and accessories you wish to purchase for your bike. Then add up the total cost and determine whether or not you can afford it. If not, then reconsider the bike, the options, and the accessories based on need and not simply desire.
Finally, I strongly recommend the purchase of the following book: “Bicycle Maintenance & Repair,” 5th Edition, by Todd Downs. I suggest you place this book inside a two-gallon plastic freezer bag and store it inside one of the rear saddlebags on your bicycle. Bicycle maintenance and repair is not complicated if you know what to do. A typical bicycle has a variety of different simple adjustments that can be made and knowing the correct sequence of adjustments is very important. This book, plus your bicycle multi-tool and your Leatherman type tool and your 6-inch adjustable wrench, will help you keep your bicycle operational until it eventually wears out from old age.
One place where you can begin to acquire additional knowledge about bicycles is Sheldon Brown’s web site.
His web site contains a lot of information and you should read the articles that are of interest to you. When you are finished reading you will be able to make a superior choice about the type of bicycle that is just right for you.
I truly hope you will never need your bicycle except for recreational purposes. However, if world events should unfold in an unexpected fashion, then your bicycle would allow you to take your most important survival possessions with you if you were suddenly forced into becoming a refugee and your car was not available for some unexpected reason. In my opinion, the best option would be not becoming a refugee, if it is avoidable. However, if the choice were between certain death or life as a refugee, then I would select the life of a refugee. A good bicycle would significantly improve a person’s chances of survival in that type of situation. Respectfully, - Grandpappy

Rourke sent us the link to this PDF: The Day After Action in the 24 Hours Following a Nuclear Blast in an American City. In this study, Harvard and Stanford professors recommend a return to constructing bomb shelters and an active Civil Defense program in the U.S. (Rourke's comment: "Geez, these Harvard and Stanford professors are sounding like survivalists!")

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SurvivalBlog reader"Mr. Bill" kindly created more convenient single-file PDFs with chapter bookmarks for three crucial medical references that are now in the public domain:

NATO Emergency War Surgery, Where There is No Dentist, and Where There is No Doctor. (The original download locations for the less convenient separate chapter files were Hesperian.org and U.S. Army.) Be sure to print out hard copies for you retreat reference library.

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Attention SurvivalBlog readers in the Northwestern U.S.: Don't miss the first WSRA high power rifle training event in Kooskia, Idaho. They offer great training at very low cost.

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Linked at Drudge: Read the sunspots: The mud at the bottom of B.C. fjords reveals that solar output drives climate change - and that we should prepare now for dangerous global cooling

"There is an inverse relationship between reliance on the state and self-reliance." - William F. Buckley

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I've had inquiries from two SurvivalBlog readers in England about my current Six Pack Sale for autographed copies of my novel "Patriots." Yes, I'm extending the sale offer to SurvivalBlog readers in England. The cost for a six pack mailed to England would be: $121 USD (£61 GBP) via Priority Mail, or $142 USD (£72 GBP) via Express Mail. OBTW, I would actually prefer it you sent your funds via PayPal in Pounds Sterling, so that you don't have to pay for the currency exchange. And I can certainly use the Pounds in my PayPal account, since I often buy L1A1 rifle parts from England. My PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net. For those of you that don't need six copies, individual autographed copies sent to England via Global Priority Mail are still $36 USD or £18 GBP.)

Mr. Rawles,
I may soon have the chance to take a job with the USGS in coastal Alaska. It will involve some field work, mostly in summer months. What should I carry for defense against bears? Pepper spray? A magnum revolver? For guns, if it makes any difference: I am in my late 30s, I'm 5'11" and weigh 220. I have fairly large hands. Thanks, - Future Cheechako

JWR Replies: We live in bear country here at the Rawles Ranch. (Brown and black bears.) It is also mountain lion, moose, and wolf country, but bears are our biggest concern. By SOP, we have our children trained to carry 9 ounce canisters of Guard Alaska brand pepper spray in belt pouches whenever they walk more than 20 yards away from the house. That is our standing "20 yard rule": always carry bear spray. Meanwhile, the Memsahib and I carry lead spray. At the minimum, we carry .45 automatics and two spare magazines for each. (I usually carry four spares, but then I'm the over-prepared type.) Here at the ranch, we carry our pistols loaded with 230 grain full metal jacket ("ball") ammunition, because of its superior penetration. (Ball is less than ideal for defense against two-legged predators, but reportedly better for stopping bears than hollow points.) Yes, I realize that any .45 ACP load is just a marginal stopper for bears. However, most of our training has been with Colt Model 1911s, so under extreme stress shooting situations I expect to rely on that ingrained training rather than cope with an unfamiliar pistol or revolver. They say "A man has got to know his limitations." Well one of mine is having 30+ years of experience with M1911 pistols. I know that under stress I can use a M1911 "on autopilot." With anything else, I know that I'd be Mr. Fumblefingers. That would be a Very Bad ThingTM, when a 500+ pound bear is approaching in a ferocious blur. Our eldest son is about ready to train and start carrying a handgun. Since he doesn't share my training limitations, he will probably carry a S&W Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver. When you select a handgun, do not emulate me. If you don't already have a lot of training/muscle memory invested in a particular breed of pistol, then I recommend that you buy the biggest revolver that you can comfortably carry on a daily basis, at least a .44 Magnum and possibly something as heavy as a .454 Casull or one of the new S&W .500s. You are already used to carrying around 220 pounds. If you diet and you lose five or ten pounds then you should be able to comfortably carry a four pound revolver, holster, belt, and a couple of speed loaders.

If we know for a fact that a bear is in the area, I also carry our 12 gauge Remington Model 870 riotgun, loaded with #00 Buckshot shells alternating with Brenneke rifled slugs. The Memsahib has a Remington 1100 "Youth" variant, with a Choate extension magazine. It is kept loaded with all Brenneke rifled slugs. Both shotguns hold eight shells, and both are equipped with a spare five shells in stock-mounted pouches. I recommend that you get a pump action 12 gauge shotgun, preferably a Remington, Mossberg, or the often-overlooked Smith and Wesson.

Carry your holstered revolver at all times when you are in the field. Keep your riotgun handy in your jeep or helicopter. Depending on what sort of surveying gear that you have to carry, you might also be able to carry the riotgun when walking trails. Practice with both your handgun and riotgun a lot. OBTW, Front Sight has a training center on the Kenai Peninsula, called Front Sight Alaska. (It is just 20 miles out of the town of Kenai.) Taking the (shotgun and handgun courses there would be money very well spent. Yes, they are expensive, but what is your life worth? Don't skip taking the shotgun course. Under stress, many inexperienced shooters have a tendency to short-cycle a pump action shotgun, causing jams. So training and regular practice are crucial!

In closing, when I'm armed with just a handgun I don't necessarily expect to win a fight with a brown bear, but I will still do my utmost to do so. I never go unarmed in the woods. There is the chance that I'll get surprised and chomped before I ever get my pistol out of its holster, or that even if I do, that I won't kill the bear before it kills me. But at least when the deputies come to collect what is left of me, they'll see all the empty brass scattered around, so they can vouch that I put up a good fight.

See this link for a PDF that provides a short article by two medical doctors concerning the different clotting agents. Anyone contemplating a [blood clotting agent] purchase should read the article. - Bill N.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I may be “just a dentist,” but hopefully I can offer some insight into the gentleman’s question regarding ferric sulfate as a coagulant. He is correct that it is a coagulant. I use it every day in a 15.5% aqueous solution to control minor intraoral bleeding (modern dental impression materials and tooth colored filling materials don’t do well in the presence of moisture, especially blood, during initial placement). Aluminum chloride solutions also work, but not as well. Now keep in mind that I am typically using these products to control bleeding gums around a tooth or a few teeth prepared for crowns where a little bleeding of the gums is generally inevitable. If a patient has very unhealthy gums there can be quite a bit of bleeding and these products can have a little trouble in those situations. Now keep in mind we are only talking about capillary (as opposed to arterial or venous bleeding of more traumatic injuries) around a tooth. I have used these products for minor extraoral cuts on myself also, not that a Band-Aid wouldn’t have worked (think shaving cuts!). Also it has to be “burnished” into the wound to work effectively. So thinking of the small surface areas and typical time for effect (1-2 minutes) that I am dealing with, it doesn’t seem practical to try and control larger amounts of bleeding with this technique.

In my experience (and observation of major oral and general surgery during my Air Force residency), electrocautery like the soldering iron used in Patriots (or laser cautery as I sometimes use in my practice), suturing, direct pressure, indirect pressure, elevation and other traditional methods are much more effective for more extensive bleeding.

Before replying I also did a quick search and noticed that ferric chloride is used to create thrombi experimentally in lab animals (simulating clogged arteries). Thrombi that break free are emboli. Emboli are potentially deadly (think brain or lung emboli[sm]). You definitely don't want to do that to your patient in a survival situation. These ferric solutions do create some chunky coagulum even in the minor bleeding situations I deal with. In a more serious traumatic injury I could envision a chunk entering a vessel and creating an embolus.

I hope this helps and I hope a trauma surgeon or emergency room doctor reads the blog and can add to or refute what I have stated. Thanks for your great blog, - Joe, DMD

I enjoyed reading through these pages describing how to build a biological sand filter for water: It appears to be a great, low tech solution for treating contaminated, diseased or otherwise unclean water for drinking. The "download" link gives very good construction directions, certainly within the abilities of most survival minded people.- jr

SF in Hawaii recommended this article on midwifery in austere circumstances: Border Patrol Learns "Emergency" Childbirth .

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Linked at Drudge: New age town embraces dollar alternative. This trend has implications for post-collapse local economies, based on barter.

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Sean M. suggested this article from one of Guns & Ammo's spin-off magazines: What Really Happens In A Gunfight? The conclusions from twenty-five years of lethal force investigation.

"Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyway." - John Wayne

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The high bid is now at $160 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a batch of 10 brand new original Imperial Defence SA-80 (AR-15) steel 30 round rifle magazines.

To the young man having trouble getting his parents to prepare for disaster, I have some suggestions that may help. These ideas can be easily modified to fit other relatives and friends too.

First, lead by example. Whenever you, personally, do have money, no matter how little, spend a bit to stock up on something you, personally, use. It can be something as inexpensive as a toothbrush, or a bag of potato chips, whatever. Store it in a clear bin somewhere prominently in your room. As your parents see that it is so important to you that you spend part of all the money you get on preparing for disaster, they may begin to believe its importance. It will be slow going if you are buying a toothbrush at a time, but you and your parents will see that bin eventually starting to fill up and you will be encouraged to do more.

Next, buy your parents their own plastic bin with your birthday or Christmas money. (This again emphasizes again how important it is to you.) Stash it in the coat closet, or the laundry room or under a table. (You can stack two bins, put a tablecloth over it, stick a lamp on top and put it next to your bed. Only your family will know its secret identity.)

Then go grocery shopping with your parents at least once a month. When they toss a package of batteries (or whatever) in the cart ask if they will buy an extra one "just in case." At first do this for just one or two very inexpensive items each trip so they'll hardly notice. Mention that you'll put it in their "bin" for them. When you get home be sure you help unload and put the groceries away. Take that extra package of batteries and put it in their bin. Now you have earned brownie points for helping out, and you have helped them to start their own preparations.

By the way, I would not recommend having their bin in plain sight or in the kitchen because it would be too tempting to not buy batteries next month because they know there is a package in storage. (I speak from personal experience here.) But, as they say, "out of site, out of mind." They won't have it out reminding them every day. Make sure you do not use anything from either of the bins as that would undermine all you are trying to accomplish. It's their stuff though, so if they insist on using something just let it go. If you are patient and consistent with your spending and storing, they will be more likely to "see the light."

Finally, offer to prepare supper at least once a month. Whatever your cook, make twice as much as your family needs. Before you even sit down to eat, package the extra and put it in the freezer. Now your family has at least one day's supper in case of trouble and it wasn't even painful. (If you are short on freezer space, store things laying flat in a freezer bag on a cookie sheet. Once frozen turn the bag up on its side like a book on a shelf. You can get a lot more in the freezer that way.)

The key to this whole idea is showing your belief and commitment to your parents in a tangible way. If you are not willing to spend your money preparing, why should they? If you are not willing to take the time to cook extra to freeze, why should they?

Start today. Be consistent, be patient and be imaginative. Even as a broke college student you can do more than you think. - KB

I found the three following Australian web sites while surfing the web. The AusSurvivalist site led to the second two: Australian Government information concerning the London bombing and how Australia needs to prepare, and the Australian Government Emergency Management web site. Regards, Bill N.

Regarding the letter from the BATF on your [Pre-1899 FAQ] web page concerning antique rifles keeping their antique status even if built as custom sporters, etc. I don't remember the exact wording. But this question has come up and someone cited your letter as proof that once an antique, always an antique... Except I know of a respected [Class] 01 FFL who was told by the BATFE to stop building pre-1899 Mauser custom rifles because they then became "modern", manufactured on that date [of modification], not when the receiver was manufactured. - Dutch

JWR Replies: I suspect that the FFL holder that you heard from had heard a personal interpretation of the law from a field agent. The letter that I posted came directly from the ATF Firearms Branch and is hence definitive and authoritative. In essence, here in the U.S., either a receiver was made before 1898 or it wasn't. Pre-1899 manufactured rifles, pistol, and shotguns--except for machineguns and short-barreled rifles and shotguns--are outside of Federal jurisdiction. Legally, the receiver is what constitutes the gun, and anything that someone does to modify it--aside for turning it into a full auto or attaching a short barrel in violation of GCA-'68--cannot bring it into Federal jurisdiction. Please read the letter again. (See the scanned pages.) The wording from the ATF Firearms Branch is quite clear: "The fact that the firearm has been re-barreled, re-chambered, re-blued, or sporterized would have no bearing on its [Federally exempt] classification." Most likely the source of the confusion for ATF field agents is their vague recollection of the U.S. Curio and Relic (C&R) law, that states that if a C&R gun is substantially altered, then it loses its C&R status. But that is an entirely different law, pertaining to modern (post-1898) listed C&R guns, which are inside ATF jurisdiction. It is also noteworthy that the ATF letter on pre-1899s specifically addressed Model 1893 Turkish Mausers, that had their receivers re-heat treated and were then rebarreled for higher pressure 8x57 cartridges, in the1930s. These even had their receivers prominently stamped with 1930s dates at the time that they were re-arsenalized. But even these rifles are still considered legally "antique" and outside Federal jurisdiction!

Brian H. sent us a link to this article about NBC shelters in Germany: Bunkers in vogue in as cold war fears rise

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There is an interesting thread of discussion over at The Claire Files Forums about precious metals investing. OBTW, this thread was started on April 23rd, when spot gold was at $687 per ounce. Gold is presently around $656. So I think that it would now be a good time to buy. (As I often say: "in a bull market, buy on the dips.") My prediction for gold is somewhere north of $2,000 per ounce, and silver at over $50 per ounce. Of the two, I prefer silver because a.) I believe that it will out-perform gold as an investment (in percentage gain) and b.) because it is more manageable for bartering, particularly if it is bought in the form of pre-1965 dimes and quarters.

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Tim R. said that there is a good article in eWeek about Google's invasion of privacy. As previously mentioned, I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers update their "Search" browser bookmarks to point to Scroogle instead of Google.

"For those who are in sovereign control of arms are in a sovereign position to decide whether the constitution is to continue or not." - Aristotle, The Politics

Monday, June 18, 2007

The high bid is now at $150 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a batch of 10 brand new original Imperial Defence SA-80 (AR-15) steel 30 round rifle magazines.

Interesting question - is it worth it to get a Class III firearms license to legally buy a sound suppressor ([commonly, but erroneously, called a] "silencer")?
I'd always dismissed it as a a big hassle, but I'm now told it is not the hassle it used to be. Full auto firearms are a waste of ammo for the most part, but it occurred to me that a silencer would be a huge tactical advantage:
1. No muzzle flash and very little noise to give away your position, or attract return fire.
2. No muzzle flash or noise so you keep your night vision and hearing for the firefight. Especially if shooting indoors, preventing long term hearing damage in invaluable. Post-TEOTWAWKI you really wouldn't want your first defensive shooting to be the end of good hearing ability, now would you? :-)
3. Can train more discreetly, and without bothering neighbors
Of course, there is the $200 tax stamp per suppressor, and the loss of privacy, etc., etc. Your thoughts on the matter? Comments from Class III folks? Regards, - OSOM

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I can't make a blanket recommendation. Why? Every individual must weigh the risk/benefit ratio of acquiring any federally registered firearm or suppressor for themselves. As you mentioned, they do have some tactical advantages. But the risk associated with owning one is the higher profile that comes along with the registration process. That might not be an issue in some locales. Suppressor ownership is considered "cool" in some western and southern states. But it is considered quasi-criminal or even "borderline whacko" in many of the more populous Nanny States. So take regional differences into account when considering a purchase. Some SurvivalBlog readers in parts of Europe--where suppressor ownership is commonplace and virtually unrestricted--might laugh at this. But sadly, here in the U.S., Hollywood movies have warped public perception of suppressors, particularly in the big cities.

I must also mention that it goes without saying that untaxed/unregistered (illegal) purchases or home manufacture should not even be considered, since they carry the risk of a felony conviction in the US.

Although I have several friends and acquaintances that own registered full auto firearms and suppressors, I decided not to buy any. For me, even living in a rural and lightly populated pro-gun state, the risks of the high profile outweigh the benefits. But your mileage may vary.

In reply to Bill H.'s questions about Ferric chloride to stop bleeding. In the U.S. Ferric Chloride is recognized as a styptic in veterinary medicine and should be used at a concentration of 10%. Lower concentrations are progressively less effective as a styptic but become useful as an astringent. Ferric subsulfate is currently used in the U.S. in human medicine as a styptic. I see it used frequently in our hospital in the surgery department. The typical use is at full strength or 20%. Alum is another potential styptic used at 0.5 to 5% solutions (yes, the stuff for pickles). Bismuth subgallate powder is another styptic used in hospital surgery departments at full strength. These products can be obtained without a prescription. Try to acquire the highest purity possible for human use.
I fear that much of this olde tyme information is being lost to ultra modern medications. The old products still work. They have just lost favor in the brilliant light cast by the high pressure pharmaceutical sales promotions of newer glitzy products ( I was once on the dark side, selling such products). As a pharmacist, I would recommend that you befriend an older pharmacist or a compounding pharmacist where this knowledge still resides. Understand that since 1980 most pharmacy schools have shifted their emphasis to the new Pharm. D. (Doctor of Pharmacy) degree which has a greater focus on clinical issues. The older Bachelor of Science Pharmacy degree focused primarily on the older traditional pharmacy knowledge based on how to make the drugs. I work with two other pharmacists who are also survivalist minded and all of us are collecting selected textbooks. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, pharmaceutical plants will not be functioning. The olde tyme chemistry and pharmacy skills will be extremely useful to a family or local community during the hard times. I recommend that you try to acquire older (1940-1970) versions of the following texts to be able to refer to the older formulations: Remington's Pharmaceutical Sciences, USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) and the NF (The National Formulary) as well as current and/or older copies of the Merck Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, and the Merck Index. These texts will give you a good foundation to work with. Good Luck, - Yonah .

Goodness gracious, no, don't use ferric chloride! Where do people get these ideas? It's not even used in the so-called styptic pencils (aluminum sulfate or titanium dioxide). According to the Merck Index (which is not the same as the Merck Manual, it lists chemicals and some drugs with their chemical properties) Ferric chloride is an astringent, not a styptic...and it's toxic, also.
If someone is willing to invest in very small quantities of expensive chemicals from the Radio Shack for first aid purposes, they should invest in the right stuff. It's great to be able to 'make do' with a multi-tool and a rock, but I've found that I always do a better job with the right tools at hand.
Most bleeding will stop with the application of direct pressure, or elevation, or using a pressure point. Failing that (which works 99.999% of the time) a tourniquet can be used. The blood stopper products are for very rare, specific instances of certain injuries that don't lend themselves to conventional treatment.
In a wood or metal shop? Make sure the guards are in place, "read, understand and follow all the safety rules" as that guy on television says, and get a real first aid kit.
On that subject, the only product like that, that has not only been FDA approved but actually tested in controlled, blinded medical research published in legitimate journals, is Quik-clot. It's what I use. Disclaimer: I have no interests in the company of any sort, I just buy their stuff - at market prices.
But, something I've used on animals after cuts from wire or rocks, is instant potato flakes. Just put them on the wound, the effect is similar to that of some of the approved products that I don't use...and it's cheaper. I can't suggest using it on a person, of course. - Flighter

Mr R
Quik-Clot is the best available product for instantaneous hemostasis
It's available in both powder/packet, and impregnated-bandages. It works. I've seen it in action with my son, who lacerated an artery in the hand. www.z-medica.com
It's even been used intracorporeally in a trauma case, written up in the Journal of Trauma Surgery. Although not recommended for this, it worked
It costs about $17 per packet, can be purchased in a coyote-brown trauma pack with compression bandages and a tourniquet for about $35, and is worth every penny. I don't know the bandage cost, but the site would have it. This should be in everyone's car and home medical kits.
THIS SHOULD BE IN EVERYONES' CARS AND HOME MED KITS ....Off subject, I'd encourage everyone to get the books Ditch Medicine (by Hugh Coffee) and Emergency War Surgery ([Martin Fackler, et al], Desert Press ) And to just think about what they'd need to handle the kind of mundane and exceptional injuries that are likely in normal and extranormal circumstances. - MP


Bill H. in Birmingham, Alabama wrote that using Ferric Chloride felt like a cautery iron, or worse. That was an ingredient of the older-style clotting agents.

The latest and greatest is Celox. This stops just as fast and doesn't burn. There is a Group Buy [for Celox] in progress at WarRifles.com by Broadsword. He and his wife are great folks for the cause of survivalism. BTW, SurvivalBlog is well-followed by many of the readers at WarRifles.com. Keep up the good work, - Gilmore in Arizona

Mr. Rawles:
I'll let doctors speak to treatment but as someone who worked in a famous lab researching blood coagulation let me make a few general statements about clotting. There are two clotting pathways, extrinsic and intrinsic. As an organism the body cannot allow uncontrolled bleeding either internally or externally. However the clotting cascade is fairly long and includes some check points because to have blood clot when it shouldn't is also dangerous to the organism.
There is a substance in skin that starts the coagulation process when the skin is broken (this starts the extrinsic pathway). One thing a lot of people don't know is that the clotting cascade involves a number of steps and the timing of these steps can determine the speed of clotting. We spent a lot of time researching the structure and action of
Factor VIII and Factor IX. Factor VIII is the classic hemophiliac factor, if you have a very low level of it you will have a lot of problems in any situation where you need for clotting to occur. But the distribution of Factor VIII is across the whole spectrum, some people have 100% of normal but many people do not. I measured my own level in an assay and found I have about 20% of normal. This means my blood will clot but slower than someone who has a higher level and that is what I have in fact observed when I get cut. So people should realize that there are wide variations in efficiency of clotting from individual to individual and they should expect that. - Karen L.


No doubt, bleeding is scary, but bleeding in the vast majority of survivable wounds can be stopped with simple pressure or a pressure bandage. There are coagulants on the market (Quik-clot and Hemcon) but unless you are either a surgeon or can get to one (or a vet), if you can't stop the bleeding with pressure alone (the scalp is an exception), you're patient is probably not going to make it. Hemcon (unless a femoral or brachial artery for which Quik-clot is indicated) is preferred as Quik-clot burns like heck. The worst burning with Quik-clot is at the skin layer so try to keep it off the skin. Quik-clot should not be for surface/oozing bleeding. A great use for Hemcon bandages is for hard to control scalp bleeding externally. If you're going to use one of these powder coagulants, get the versions that are in bandages (for Hemcon) or little sacks (for Quik-clot). The earlier versions where you just pour the powder into a wound can (if a femoral bleeder) get squirted out of the wound by the force of the arterial bleed before they can work.

In general, for bleeding you can:
1) Apply direct pressure
2) Apply a pressure bandage
3) Use pressure upstream on arterial pressure points
4) Cauterize (portable cautery devices are available, the Aaron Bovie change-a-tip is what I have)
5) Use the clotting agents as per above
6) You can use a tourniquet on the extremities (Write down the time it was applied and make sure anyone who takes over care knows about it).
7) Apply a hemostat or ligate the artery

If you're more sophisticated and have the money, you can get Factor 7 (Novoseven), but it's not without risk and has been associated with blood clots. The idea is that if you have a patient that is going to bleed to death, the clot is secondary.

Better to focus on not bleeding in the first place (body armor anyone?) and some advanced medical skills like surgical cricothyrotomy and airway management (anyone can learn to use a combitube) and decompressing a pneumothorax. Perhaps next would be learning to run an IV. If you give fluids IV, remember, if you water down the blood too much, it can make the bleeding worse by diluting the clotting factors and raising blood pressure. A little shock is a good thing. Getting more advanced, you need to manage the lethal triangle (hypothermia, coagulopathy and acidosis.) This will be done by (1) keeping the operating room at 100 degrees F (2) use of whole blood and (3) managing blood pH respectively. A contraindication to a hot emergency room would be in the case of cardiac arrest where you actually want to cool the patient to inhibit apoptosis.

If all you have is some sterile gauze, (heck you can use your clothing) just stuff the wound tight and apply pressure until you can get to more definitive medical care. If you have a wound packed tight, long term, you will decrease circulation in tissue that can be salvaged. (Causing it to die, increasing the need for debridement so if no help is coming, keep that in mind.) Quik-clot would be appropriate for a femoral or brachial artery but if you're on your own, you're looking at an amputation next, so I hope you have some muscle relaxants, painkillers, and sedatives. - SF in Hawaii
P.S. I'm not a doctor so if an emergency room doctor wants to criticize this response, have at it.

JWR Replies: I'm not doctor either, but I would recommend avoiding the use of a tourniquet unless everything else you have tried has failed and you still fear that your patient will die of blood loss before transport to a hospital. The simplistic guidance that the U.S. military has given on tourniquets for the past 25+ years is: "If you apply a tourniquet, chances are that the limb will be lost." Yes, that is generalizing and overly simplistic, but overall it is still a good proviso.

I should also mention that in addition to the aforementioned Quik-Clot, Hemcon, and Celox, there is a competing product called TraumaDEX. From what I've read, it has proven efficacy, and does not cause a burning sensation. (It is a potato-based formulation.) It is sold by a number of Internet vendors including Ready Made Resources.

As if things couldn't get any worse in Zimbabwe, the latest estimate is that the annual currency inflation rate could reach 24,136% by December. This quote from the article reminds me of accounts of the hyperinflation in Weimar Germany: "This weekend bread prices rose again, to Zim$20,000 per loaf. At the beginning of the week, one loaf was selling for around $9,500." The exchange rate to the US Dollar is now approaching Zim$65,000 to USD$1. I've said it before (and hopefully I won't have to say it again): Comrade Mugabe and his band of fools must go!

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I noticed that a particularly nice HMMWV is for sale on eBay.

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The recent revival of the CBS Jericho television series (following the much-publicized "nuts" fan protest campaign), may spell for success for the The Sarah Connor Chronicles series, planned by the Fox network for 2008. (There is also a Terminator 4 movie in pre-production, slated for release in 2009.) Perhaps survivalist fiction is now carving a substantial niche in the mainstream America's media appetite. This gives me hope that my Pulling Through screenplay might get noticed by a producer. But I'm probably just dreaming.

"Willingness is a state of mind. Readiness is a statement of fact!" - Firearms trainer John S. Farnam,

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The high bid is now at $130 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a batch of 10 brand new original Imperial Defence SA-80 (AR-15) steel 30 round rifle magazines.

As a hobby machinist, I spent some time prowling sites catering to the hobby. Did, when I was out of work for a while and had the time. A most interesting reference showed up on several "foreign" sites. (Outside the u.s.)

Posters were recommending the chemical Ferric Chloride as a coagulant. According to the texts, it would stop heavy bleeding on contact. Presumably, it chemically cauterized the wound. I have spilled it into minor scrapes, by accident. It felt like a cautery iron, or worse.

I lack knowledge of biochemistry. But I am aware that both iron and chlorides are present in blood. That's why it's so corrosive to my machines. The busted knuckle syndrome. Perhaps it simply coagulates open bleeding quickly.

So, the questions posed are thus:
1) Is Ferric Chloride truly a good coagulant?
2) What is the optimum dilution (percentage)?
3) At what dilution does it lose effectiveness?

I write to ask you to pose these to your regular readers. There appears to be a wide knowledge base in your readership. I am hoping there are some knowledgeable in the subject.

Ferric Chloride is available at Radio Shack as an etchant for making circuit boards. The purity is not really what I would ask for in First Aid. But when one is bleeding severely. Any port in a storm, so to speak.

Obviously, such treatment should not be used on spurting wounds, or sucking chest wounds. But as a shop treatment? A lathe or table saw can take a finger, or a hand, faster than it can be said. - Bill H., Birmingham, Alabama

JWR Replies: Your question goes far beyond my expertise. Perhaps some of the doctors that read SurvivalBlog would care to comment. I'd also appreciate their comments on commercially available clotting agents for treating trauma.

Good Evening JWR:
I am very thankful for you site. It has catapulted our preparedness agenda, leaving 99% of our friends and family lost in a smoke screen of Utopian chatter. We have been in a preparedness state of mind and action since hurricane Andrew. Approximately 3 million had the same experience and are unmoved.

Here is my problem: Many of your readers still "don't get it". The three primal needs are water, food, and shelter. Now I agree 100% with the ability to defend your home, and family. You will buy the 'BIG' gun, the intermediate rifles, the short range rifles, and the handguns, and all the ammo you can carry and hide. Obtain the knowledge of how to repair them within reason, then it is time to get back to the primal needs. For all the talk on transportation, once you get to your retreat...where are you going? Bicycles? Give me a good horse that mows the yard and gives me fertilizer. Low energy refrigerators? A 36 inch well will suffice, that you can drop a wire basket down into to keep food cool or the old fashion spring house.

In my opinion, the Amish and Mennonites have the right idea for a self-sustained life style. A closer look might help a few people.

If you can't eat an ear of corn that you have flicked the worm off of or pulled the worm out of your peach then you might think you are going to throw some seeds in the ground and they will instantly grow. Jack and the Bean Stalk was a fairy tale.

One last issue on food storage. You will need to be able to can food. But the math might be a little off. If you put up green bean and plan on eating one jar per week (hardly a sustaining diet) , that would be 52 canning jars and lids for one item for one week. If you canned 10 vegetables for 1 year that would be 520 jars/lids per year. Jars can be used over and over, [but] canning lids are a different story. Canning lids for bartering? I don't think so. I don't believe you can have enough.

I don't mind hard times but I will be really angry with myself if I have not prepared appropriately. Thank for listening, - Lauralei


Mr. Rawles,
After reading your novel "Patriots" and researching about proper disaster preparedness, I am ready and willing to start seriously preparing for surviving economic collapse and/or Katrina-like disasters and the rampant looting that follows both -- the problem is that my parents aren't so ready or willing.
Whenever I bring up the subject of having extra food and water in the house, I'm told we don't have the space or the money. When I bring up the subject of firearms, they flat-out refuse to allow guns into the house. When I tell them about all the possible disaster scenarios that could happen in the near future, I am told to "quit being so negative!" In short, they don't know (or don't care) about what could happen if hyperinflation hits, if all the oil ran out next month, or if the United States gets into a nuclear conflict with another major power. The scariest thing is that if these problems came up they believe "the government will take care of us."
If I had the ability to move out and start preparing on my own, I would -- but I am just a poor college student with no car, no job, and no money, so: is there anything I can do to make my parents realize that:
a) something bad could probably happen in the near future that causes all h*ll to break loose
b) the government probably can't (or won't) do anything to fix it, and
c) the best way to ensure our survival is to take the proper steps and prepare for all possible scenarios the best we can. Thanks, - MJS in Tucson, Arizona

JWR Replies: All that I can recommend is to try to get your parents to read your copy of my novel. I've been told that this has worked for a few others with their heads in the sand. Some folks that were in full-scale Pollyanna denial did a 180 degree turn after reading the book. I can't make any promises, but it may be worth a try.

Dear Jim and Family,
In the beginning of a collapse, you carry a concealed weapon, and deal with the police if you have to use it. Gunfights [typically] last 4 rounds or less, and its usually just one attacker. In theory, after the fight and you've survived, you get it back, eventually. Use a revolver or automatic, your choice, just be sure its small and light enough you always carry it.

As the collapse deepens, you start encountering more and more threats, packs of them. They attack your vehicle, they go after your home, they try to stop you with roadblocks and hostages. It only gets worse as your survival makes you a bigger target for them. The Golden Horde descends and committed amateurs require a lot more firepower to dissuade. As we've read in the Argentina diary by FerFAL, you need volume of fire, and cheap ammo so you can fire lots, spray and pray to drive them off. JHP if at all possible. At this point, the police are coming late or not at all, and investigations are perfunctory and dismissive as long as the bribes flow.

Traditionally, these collapses don't last, and things get better again, with more happy motoring and mass consumption of products... but that's the past. The future is a touch more simple and ugly. The mass quantities are over because the cheap energy is over. Along with those are mass ammunition supplies. Eventually, after years of self defense shootouts and MZB assaults, you start getting low on ammo. You reload your brass, you shoot semi-auto. You pick up your brass but you start running out. It doesn't fit right, its got overpressure damage due to firing in a dirty chamber, incipient case-head separation, cracks, etc etc. What to do? Your automatic pistol needs specific care and feeding to stay reliable. What indeed...

The revolver is a finicky beast, despite what you've heard. Carefully tuned by a decent gunsmith they're a dream to shoot and usually very accurate and amazingly reliable (tuned, mind you). Replacement parts are not drop in, but require fitting and polishing by a smith, which will cost around $1,000. That said, they're relatively simple and most importantly: they don't throw brass. After all the MZBs are mostly dead, a few loners are left wandering around, most of them wary of you or harmless. You'll still need to carry a gun to be safe but you probably won't need a rifle for day-to-day chores or killing snakes in your garden. A revolver is ideal for this job. You can save and reload the brass because the empties are still in the gun. You don't have to crawl around in the dirt, looking for the .40 S&W, one of 43 [pieces] left in your collection, you are sure its over here somewhere. With a revolver, the brass is in your hand.

The Peak Oil collapse is not quite generational, but almost. In some places it will be. In others it won't. The recovery that comes after about 20 years of misery and shortages and temporary bouts of violence (or true anarchy), will eventually end. After two decades of poor or no-police presence, distrust will be such that going armed is the only way to go in many places. However, you will probably find yourself not needing it very often because those 20 years very effectively killed off the most aggressive people, and organized the smart ones into those more able to use, not kill the peasant class, which may include you. You won't have access to spare brass (copper is in short supply now, and will be expensive or impossible to get by then), so having brass is a good idea, stockpiling it and the dies and such needed to load.

As to caliber for your revolver... well, in the old west gunfighters used .35 caliber (slower that .357s), lawmen used .44 and .45 caliber. While the .45 LC cowboy action pistols are fun shooters, they're slow to unload and reload, which I'd call a major problem. I'm aware of bullet swaging hobbyists (make the bullets from lead wire and copper tubes) who can get .454 Casull velocities out of .45 "Long" Colt revolvers which are built strongly. It also bears point that the .44 Magnum can be easily loaded at .44 Special velocities which is more like a .45 ACP in recoil and every bit as effective and comfortable to shoot, so as long as you're reloading anyway, load it to match your preference in recoil. There's also the .41 Magnum, which is between the .357 and .44 in power and recoil, basically a hotter 10mm/.40S&W. Taurus is fond of the chambering for some reason and is selling quite a few models with it, which makes me wonder. Besides two-legged predators, you'll be dealing with feral dog packs, cougars, and black bear which have been eating the dead and see you as a meal (no really, that's why the lions in The Ghost and the Darkness were eating people: poor disposal of corpses taught them that people were food). While animal attacks will be infrequent, you must carry a gun to protect yourself.

The short of it is, buy a sturdy automatic for the first and second parts of the collapse, and a revolver for the third. Best, - InyoKern

Chuck alerted us to this piece of commentary from Eugene Linden, published by Business Week: From Peak Oil To Dark Age?

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S.F. in Hawaii mentioned that he found a Wikipedia page on Olduvai Theory, which ties in to Peak Oil.

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I heard from SurvivalBlog reader "BVance" that the James Wesley Rawles Wikipedia article has been flagged for lack of notability--mainly because it lacks references. The gent that wrote the original wiki entry is currently deployed in Afghanistan and tells me that he has just sporadic Internet access and hence doesn't have the time to add the apropos web references. Could some kind SurvivalBlog reader--that has experience with formatting Wikipedia references--please do so? Thanks!

"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." - Ayn Rand

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Congrats to Ed Z., the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a selection of 17 survival and preparedness books. Special thanks to Ready Made Resources for donating most of the books in this auction lot.

A new auction begins today. This one is for a batch of 10 brand new original Imperial Defence SA-80 (AR-15) steel 30 round rifle magazines. (See photo.) These were original British military arsenal made (with tags marked "ENGLAND"), 8 are black finish, and 2 are gray finish, all brand new, with 8 of them still in wrappers. Most of these are of recent manufacture, with light green anti-tilt followers. These magazines have a reputation for flawless function and their steel construction gives them multi-generational durability. They have a retail value of at least $26 each . ($260 for the batch of 10.) These will fit and function in all .223 M16s, AR-15s, CAR-15s, and M4s, as well as the new AR-180B and a few other guns. (Such as the new Remington pump action police rifle and the OA-93 pistol.) Please do not place a bid if you live in a locale where these are restricted. Just send us your bid via e-mail. Thanks!

Your advice is excellent; however, one of the best tools to have for checking [water] sanitation levels is a DPD [Diethyl-paraphenylene diamine reagent] test kit available from Taylor or Hach, to name a few.
I do not recommend OTO [orthotolidine reagent] kits as they are not as accurate as DPD. A 5mg/L initial shock should take care of most contaminants.
After you have treated any water with bleach, it should be tested for free chlorine residual after 30 minutes of contact time. Water with a free chlorine residual of 4 mg/L should not be ingested for long durations as it can cause mild digestive tract issues.
NOTE: The suggested residual is between 0.5 and 1.0 mg/L (parts per million or ppm). The EPA requires all discharge to have less than a 1.0mg/L free chlorine residual before
leaving the process flow.
The great thing about chlorine is that it will kill 95+% of all the biological contaminants; however, chlorine cannot kill giardia cysts as their outer covering is very difficult to break down. One other potential problem with the use of chlorine to treat surface water is the formation of bromide compounds which are cancerous; however, unless the precursors, carbon compounds, are present the formation rate is very low. If you are treating a contaminated well, the chance of bromide formation is even lower.
If you can pre-filter and add bleach to your water then allow the free chlorine level to drop to 0.5mg/L, placing the treated water in an opaque, sanitized vessel for long periods of time should be fairly safe as long as the initial feed stock was fairly free of organic matter to begin with. Thank you for all your hard work keeping us prepared for what ever may come. Sincerely, - Drew

Using calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water is a good idea. However, rather than trying to dump some amount of pool shock chlorine into a tank and hoping that it dissolves and mixes with the water, a better idea is to mix a slurry of it in a plastic bucket (it will corrode a metal one) and pour and mix the slurry.
Also, the halide (halogen, chlorine or iodine ions) need to be in contact with the water for some amount of time before they can kill all the bacteria - and that time is dependent on the temperature of the water. Colder water takes longer.
To test the degree of halogenation in water, I suggest that people get a pool water test kit and use it. They are very inexpensive, and easy to use: Simply get a (clean) bucket of water that's been treated, and use the pool water test kit (for halogenation), ideal 'pool water' is about 2 parts per million (ppm) chlorine, drinking water should be between 2 and 5 ppm when treated - the chlorine will gas off over time, as long as the water isn't likely to be re-contaminated (in an open top tank, for example) it doesn't really need to be retreated. Dump the 'test' water out, [orthotolidine] OTO isn't too good to drink.
The test kit will have directions but basically you put the test water into a clear chamber, add a reagent--usually orthotolidine (OTO)--to the chamber, and compare the color to the provided chart. If the water tests too low, add more slurry, if too high, next time don't add so much. People will be able to figure out the approximate 'right' amount pretty quickly.
The military chlorination kits (for Lister bags and water buffalos) suggest as much as 10 ppm. This is to allow for high levels of organic material in the water (which adsorbs the chlorine, keeping it from disinfecting the water, and allowing the water to not be retreated too quickly); you probably recall drinking beverages so treated with as much fondness as I do. - Flighter [His article follows]

How to Disinfect Water, by Flighter

How to sterilize water? Simple: You don't need to ‘sterilize’ water. Sterilization is the destruction of all microorganisms in, on and around an object. What is needed, is disinfection (killing of pathogenic (disease causing) organisms).
Disinfection can be done many ways, including filtration, heat, ozonation, and chemical disinfection.
Despite many stories to the contrary, simply boiling water will disinfect it. At any elevation you're likely be at the boiling point of water is high enough to kill (or denature) anything in the water. You don't need to boil it for any particular length of time, just get it boiling at a good rolling boil.
Filtration is a good method, you should use a filter that has an absolute rating of 0.2 micron diameter or less (0.1 micron). Personally, I use iodine crystals (Polar Pure first, then filter the water.
Chemical disinfection is the use of various chemicals (usually a halide like chlorine or iodine) in the water. It's usually a quick, economical and effective method.
Here is a summary of water disinfection chemical usage based on the Wilderness Medical Society Practice Guidelines 2nd Edition, edited by William Forgey, MD (page 63):
For chemical disinfection, the key is the concentration of halogen, in parts per million (halogen to water):

Concentration of Halogen

Desired Concentration Contact time
@ 5oC / 41o F
Contact time
@ 15o C / 5o F
Contact time
@ 30o C / 86o F
2 ppm 240 minutes 180 minutes 60 minutes
4 ppm 180 minutes 60 minutes 45 minutes
8 ppm 60 minutes 30 minutes 15 minutes

How to get the desired concentration of halogens, for various products:

Iodine tablets, also known as: tetraglycine hydroperiodide; EDWGT (Emergency drinking water germicidal tablets); USGI water purification tablets; Potable Aqua (trade name); Globaline (trade name):
4 ppm – 1/2 tablet per liter of water 8 ppm – 1 tablet per liter of water.

NOTE: These tablets should be gunmetal gray in color when used – if rust colored, they are useless:
The free iodine has combined with atmospheric moisture. The bottles should be kept well sealed and replaced often. Checking the tablets in the bottle just exposes them to moisture in the air.For 2% iodine (tincture of Iodine) (gtts=drops)
4 ppm – 0.2 ml (5 gtts) 8 ppm – 0.4 ml (10 gtts)
NOTE: Tincture of Iodine should not be used as a wound treatment, so this is not a good option for a 'dual use' item.

10% povidone-iodine solution (Betadine)
NOTE: Solution only, not the "Scrub"variety - Since Scrub has soap in it
4 ppm - 0.35 ml (8 gtts) 8 ppm – 0.7ml (16 gtts)

Saturated (in water) Iodine crystals (Polar Pure ™)
4 ppm – 13 ml 8 ppm – 26 ml

Iodine crystals in alcohol
0.1 ml / 5 ppm 0.2 ml / 10 ppm

Halazone tablets (Monodichloroaminobenzoic acid)
4 ppm – 2 tabs 8 ppm – 4 tabs
NOTE: The old Vietnam era chlorine tabs are decades out of date. Chlorine tabs decay even more rapidly than iodine tabs. Not recommended.

Household bleach (Clorox™)
4 ppm – 0.1 ml (2 gtts) 8 ppm – 0.2 ml (4 gtts)
Note: Bleach offers a relatively economical method of treating large (gallons) of water at a time. 4 liters is approximately 1 gallon.
For very cold water contact time should be increased.

If drinking this water after disinfection, flavoring agents (drink mixes, etc) can be added: This must be done after the period allocated for disinfection ([otherwise] the disinfecting agent will bind to the organic material and not work).

Mr. Rawles:
I've seen you mention precious metals, and silver in particular, pretty often in your blog. I'm new at this. What is your guidance on a safe (conservative) way to invest? What percentage in precious metals? Thanks, - TZK in Central Kentucky

JWR Replies: I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers should put at least 25% of their portfolios into gold, silver, and barter goods, and roughly 50% into productive farm ground--a retreat to occupy year-round--in a lightly populated region that is well-removed major metropolitan areas. The exact ratio of investments will vary, depending on your age, indebtedness, risk aversion, and other circumstances. Parenthetically, I have stated before that I believe that the fractional reserve banking system should be abolished, and that the U.S. should return to the gold standard. I consider any investment denominated in un-backed paper dollars risky, at least in the long term, since the US dollar, as a currency unit is doomed. It faces the same fate as all other un-backed currencies throughout history. In the long run, they will all inevitably revert to their actual value, which if measured either by weight or per square inch is comparable to toilet paper.

Four readers all sent me this same link: World oil supplies are set to run out faster than expected, warn scientists

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Reader RBS recommended this book excerpt article: The Ethic of the Peddler Class, by Frank Chodorov

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"Alfie Omega", KonTiki, and Hawaiian K. all sent the link to this recent article at the Jeff Rense web site: Lowest Food Supplies In 50-100 Years

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Losing it All: Home Foreclosures Reach Record Levels

"It is perfectly possible to get what you think you want and be miserable. It's possible too, to never get it but deeply enjoy the process of trying. In this world, there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, June 15, 2007

Notes from JWR: I'm launching a special two week "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" Six Pack Sale. For any orders placed between now and the end of June, I'm offering a box of six autographed copies of my novel "Patriots", packed in a well-padded USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate box, for $93, postage and Delivery Confirmation tracking label costs paid, to any US or APO/FPO address. That is just $15.50 per copy! And again, I pay the postage. Payment options include USPS money order, AlertPay, GearPay, or PayPal. (We prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don't share PayPal's anti-gun political agenda.)
Our AlertPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our GearPay address is: rawles@usa.net
Our PayPal address is: rawles@earthlink.net
If paying via USPS money order (sorry, no checks), please use this mail forwarding address (because of forwarding down to the ranch, you can expect a two week delay):

James Wesley, Rawles
c/o Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845

All orders will be mailed by our order fulfillment partner up in Montana, so no special book inscriptions are available. (Just my generic autograph.) This "Six Pack" offer ends on June 30th, so get your order in soon. Thanks!

Today we present another article for Round 11 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. Round 11 runs for two months, ending on the last day of July. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

In today’s survival forums much emphasis is placed on issues such as Bug Out Bags (BOBs), Main Battle Rifles, or Bug Out Vehicles (BOVs) These are important but I feel that it is critical that we also remember to return to the basics in an emergency situation. It was through my neighborhood Emergency Training program that I was reminded how fragile our homes, apartments, and neighborhoods can be during and after a disaster. Before flooding, hurricanes, tornados, famine, pestilence, plague, war or martial law. You and your family should get prepared so that you will be ready for anything that rolls down the pipe! The basic eight in your home are: gas & propane, water, structure, communication, light, food, and first aid.

WATER & NATURAL GAS/PROPANE: A four-in-one tool can be used to shut off gas and water lines, turn off main lines to your home/apartment. Water heaters should be strapped to the nearest wall, in case of an earthquake. By shutting off your water, you will not waste water pressure to the fire hydrants.

ELECTRIC: Get familiar with the location of your main power switch so that you can turn off all of the power to your home in the case of emergency. Remember that the power company will be receiving thousands of service requests during an emergency and will not be available to respond quickly to them. By knowing how to turn off the power quickly you will reduce the risk of electrocution and fire in your home.


  • If your domicile is damaged beyond repair and is not livable, have a tent or Geodesic dome handy where your family can live until a new structure can be rebuilt.
  • If you live in area that is prone to wildfires, you will need a 100 yard radius around you home that is limits flammable materials, including shrubbery and trees. [See: this site on "defensive space" for your property.]
  • Sand bags are important for flood prone areas, and be used as a safe room, bunker, or to cover windows to stop incoming rounds. Single stacked sand bags will stop 7.62x51 [NATO] rounds.
  • Chainsaws will be handy for cutting down branches/trees after a windstorm, ice storm, tornado or hurricane.
  • Heavy curtains placed over windows will help protect you and your family from falling glass in earthquake prone areas.
  • Installing anti-tilt brackets on furniture and bookshelves will also prevent injury from falling objects.
  • Constructing a concrete storm shelter will keep your family alive in hurricane and tornado prone areas. It should be below ground level and connect to your house basement, if possible. Food, water, blankets, first aid kits and cots should be stored in in the basement.

COMMUNICATION: Battery-powered SW/AM/FM/Weather band radio. Store it without the batteries installed. [Store your radio in a metal ammo can] in case of EMP.

LIGHT: Small flashlights next to every family member's nightstand will help guide them around or out of the house in a power outage or disaster. Also remember to keep a flashlight next to the power junction box to replace blown fuses.

FIRST AID: Two first aid kits should be available in the home. One can be kept in the home and the other should be in your jump kit or backpack to take with you in the case of evacuation. These kits should be organized and easy to find so that first aid items can be accessed and used quickly. Check and refill your kits on a yearly basis. Burn gels, Betadine and other creams and dry out and over-the-counter pain killers will expire. Remember to have a three month supply on prescription drugs in both kits.

FOOD: Last but not least, it is important to remember that we need to build our food pantries so that in the case of emergency we have enough food to survive for at least two months. This includes storing good drinking water that is safe from contamination.

I had to write you and correct something that could lead to health damage or even death from the use of chlorine [for water treatment]. People have to know that this use [of chlorine] is for treating water [shortly before use], not long term storage. If you have a water supply that you intend to drink/use within a month, then chlorine (as long as it's pure - as you so instructed) is fine. But it is not for long term storage!
When water is treated with chlorine, and then sealed in a container, the chlorine degrades over a short time period. Depending on variables (mixture, amount of water, heat, et cetera) this could be as soon as 2-3 months. As it breaks down, it releases chlorine gas, which does nothing to protect your water, but it can cause health problems (obviously) and it will also degrade and weaken your container.
There are products out there that can be used for long term water storage. (Stabilized Oxygen is but one of them.) These products can keep water stored safely for up to five years, with no bacteria or algae growth. - Kurt


James Wesley:
I can't remember where I got this, but thought it might help with the question of "how much" in chlorinating water.....

Two common forms of chlorine compounds can be used, those disinfectants that contain Sodium Hypochlorate (household bleach) or Calcium Hypochlorate (swimming pool chlorine powder). It is very important that Chlorine is added to water at the correct dosage. Firstly, calculate the amount of water in the tank by using the following formula:
3.14 x radius2 x height of water in the tank (meters) x 1000 (The radius is half of the width of the tank)
Once you have calculated the volume of the water in the tank then place 40 milliliters of Sodium hypochlorite or 7 grams of Calcium Hypochlorite for each 1000 liters of water in the tank.
For example, if the tank's dimensions are 5 meters wide, 3 meters high and there is 2.5 ml of water in the tank, the calculations would be as follows:
Volume of Water in the tank is:
3.14 x (5 x?)? x 2.5 x 1000 (liters)
Volume = 49,062.5 (liters)
40 x ( 49000/1000) = 1960 mils of Sodium Hypochlorite
Or 7x ( 49000/1000) = 343 grams of Calcium Hypochlorite

Regards, Terry M.

Because so many readers of SurvivalBlog are interested in establishing survival retreats, I'm in the process of setting up a new SurvivalBlog"sibling" web site that will feature survival retreat real estate listings. These will be both For Sale By Owner (FSBO) and from licensed real estate agents, worldwide. If you have a retreat property for sale, or know of someone that does, here is the deal: To get my new survival real estate web site off to a fast start with a lot property ads, I am offering free two month advertisements for the first 25 sellers that respond. Just e-mail me a brief description (200 words or less) of the property that you have available. (I'll need detailed description and digital photos, later.) Since this project is still in its infancy I can't guarantee exactly when the site will be launched, but our tentative goal is to have it up and running sometime in July.

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Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to a great how-to page on how to make "A better soda can stove"

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Safecastle's current Food-Locker Load-Up Sale, with free club membership with qualifying purchase, is ending this weekend, June 17.

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I heard that Rob at $49 MURS Radios just picked up a limited quantity of earbud/microphone combos at a bargain price. The earbud is cushioned and the push to talk button has a clip that attaches to clothing. These are brand new Kenwood EMC-3 models and are only $5 each, shipped! I strongly recommend that you buy a couple of them for each of your MURS transceivers. (I just did for mine!)

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The high bid is still at $410 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a great selection of 17 survival and preparedness books. The auction ends tomorrow--June 15th. Our special thanks to Ready Made Resources for donating the majority of the books.

Mr. Rawles,
I want to buy some pool chlorine crystals for long term storage. Holly Deyo's book had a formula for purifying large amounts of water with this product, but how would I make a chlorine bleach substitute that could be used to purify smaller quantities of water or as laundry bleach? Is there an amount in grains or grams that could be used to make up, say, five gallons at a time? I know store bought laundry bleach like Clorox has a limited shelf life, so I wanted to be able to make [my own hypochlorite solution.] Thank you for any information you could provide. - CG in North Carolina

JWR Replies: Calcium hypochlorite is available from any swimming pool supply company. A granular (dry powder) "pool shock" product that lists only Calcium Hypochlorite as the active ingredient should be safe to use for water purification. The problem with other varieties is that they include other algaecide or fungicide chemicals that are probably not safe for human consumption. Ditto for using liquid bleach for the same purpose. With those, you want to buy plain Calcium Hypochlorite bleach. Do not buy bleach with fabric softeners, scents, et cetera. Keep in mind that bleach solutions break down and weaken with time (anticipate a 24 month shelf life), but that dry granular bleach stores indefinitely. Here is a quote from an EPA web site: "Granular Calcium Hypochlorite. Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of high-test granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately 1/4 ounce) for each two gallons of water [to create a chlorine disinfecting solution]. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 mg/L, since the calcium hypochlorite has an available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 oz.) of stock chlorine [solution] to each 12.5 gallons of water to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the water..."

SurvivalBlog reader Laurelei recently reported that she found the Poolife brand "TurboShock" available $14.85 for five pounds. For purifying drinking water, two of the five pound boxes would constitute a "lifetime supply" for most folks.

I wholeheartedly agree with your response. For quite some time now, I have been trying to get family members to visit your web site and make the appropriate investment into their own security in a very similar fashion as you did. I always advise those who inquire about personal/home security that appear to be starting from ground zero, like the ‘Distaff’ writer, to add layers to your security. The easiest quick fix is a big canine. I have five (all adopted from shelters and subsequently trained to get along with each other.) Yes, a canine can be defeated. However, a canine will hear out-of-place noises and will sniff out an intruder long before a human will, especially while you sleep or are distracted (watching television, on the telephone,…). Knowing that you have a threat in your presence is the key to surviving a situation. The first few seconds/minute is the critical window of opportunity for someone to get the upper hand. My advice, go get a nice big dog from a shelter who will protect you with his/her life and will be a constant companion. Better yet, get a few. - flhspete

I agree with continual training, especially for adults. No matter how good you think you are, you can be better. The Appleseed Program is great ([sponsored by] Fred's M14 Stocks out of Shotgun News), as are the more professional programs like Front Sight, et cetera.
But for the children, look at the local 4H clubs, they usually have a shooting class and team for youngsters. (starts at age 6 here locally). Also look at the CMP program, they have youth clubs (and you can get a surplus M1 Garand and a M1 Carbine while supplies last!). And I'm sure there are others like Jr. ROTC, and the Young Marines programs. Train a child up right, and he can hold his own with many adults on the range or in the field.

Not to disagree with you on toy guns, but I was brought up with toy guns as well as my first .22 when I was 8. and my kids have them as well. I don't think they have any harmful effects, but my kids are taught/trained on the difference between real guns (including BB guns) and toys and obviously on the danger. Airsoft has been a great training aid during the cold and wet season. Amazing how realistic (and expensive) they have become. Toy guns get a bad rap, and its fairly hard to get anything at the local Wallyworld [Wal-Mart], I suppose due to the liberal agenda. Walmart has just phased out real guns here too.
Lastly, one approach that has worked for me with our kids is to control their curiosity regarding guns. Any time my kids want to go shoot, or look at any of the firearms, I stop what I'm doing and go with them. This way they never need to sneak to find one! - Mike the MD in Missouri

JWR Replies: That is an important point about kids being curious about guns. Our approach here at the Rawles Ranch is two-fold: First, we keep all of our guns loaded, and everyone here assumes that they are continually loaded and treats them as such, even on the rare occasions that they aren't. Second, we don't try to control our kids' curiosity regarding gun, we indulge it. Since an early age we have have made it clear to our children that we are always willing to show them how to safely handle, load/unload, and even field strip any of our guns whenever they show an interest. Hiding guns or otherwise treating them as "forbidden fruit" just makes kids curious (and as you say "sneaky"). This has been the root of of many of the rare (but massively publicized) household accidental shootings in modern times.

In response to KB from Mississippi, as an NRA instructor I have to concur with your suggestion about taking an NRA-approved course. I would also offer these suggestions to KB:
-Start with the Basic courses (Basic Pistol, Basic Rifle, Basic Shotgun.) These are the foundation for everything else you'll do, and cover safety, firearms types and functioning, ammunition types, shooting positions, a basic familiarization course of fire, and different shooting activities to help you maintain and improve your shooting ability. Be sure to take your rifle, and if you don't have a pistol or shotgun, be sure to let the instructor know. I always bring extras to my classes for those who don't have their own, or want to try something
different. This also allows a student to make a better informed decision about what gun may or may not be right for them.
-Be sure to take the course with your son, if possible. Many years ago, my Mom took me to the NRA Basic Pistol course to learn more about my Dad's guns after he passed away. It was the best thing she ever did, for both of us. It is much easier to have a third party teach firearms handling, than someone who has an emotional connection. Trust me on this! (Or better yet, ask my wife!) BTW, my Mom is almost 73 years old and has had her concealed carry permit for almost 20 years!
-Once you have taken the Basic course, I strongly recommend you attend a Personal Protection in the Home course. This goes into more detail about using the gun for personal defense, safety, tactics and strategies for home defense, ammunition types for personal defense, and the laws regarding firearms in your state (this part of the course is taught by a local attorney or police officer.) The course of fire also goes into reloading, shooting multiple targets, and movement. Don't worry, the instructor will cover everything with you, and won't make you do anything you don't feel comfortable doing.
-At this point, you should start looking at more advanced training, such as Front Sight, Gunsite, or Thunder Ranch. I've attended Gunsite, and can attest to the quality of instruction one will receive there. As always, there is a cost factor involved with traveling to the big name schools, but there are also some outstanding instructors who travel the country teaching the latest in firearms training. Ones that I have experience with and can vouch for are Lethal Force Institute (Massad Ayoob), Suarez International (Gabe Suarez), Yavapai Firearms Academy (Louis Awerbuck), and Defense Training, International (John Farnam). Often, they will be somewhere close by at some point during the year, which will require much less in terms of traveling and money outlay, without sacrificing the quality of training you will receive.
I wish you luck with your journey, truly. I tend to be pretty passionate about this subject, and I apologize for the long winded letter. Don't be afraid to ask for help, that's what we're here for. Regards, - Steve in Iraq

"Unemployment is capitalism's way of getting you to plant a garden." - Orson Scott Card

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Today we present results of the most recent SurvivalBlog reader poll, wherein we asked "in seven words or less, What is/are/was Your Profession(s)?"

  • Actor
  • Machinist / Gunsmith / Aerospace engineer
  • Petroleum engineer / Alternative energy designer
  • Police sergeant / Small Arms and Tactics Instructor
  • Academic anesthesiologist / Engineer
  • Air Force Contractor
  • Airport manager
  • Alternative Energy R&D / Intelligence analyst
  • Army Officer (PSYOP)
  • Army Officer Instructor / Firearms Instructor
  • Physician assistant
  • Associate Dean
  • Attorney, Personal injury
  • Audio engineer / Compact disc mastering
  • Auto mechanic
  • Beekeeper
  • Business & PoliSci student
  • Business consultant
  • Elderly caretaker
  • Cell phone technician
  • 2 CEOs
  • CFO
  • CIO
  • COO
  • Building contractor / Mine / Butcher / Lumberjack
  • Chairman / Economist
  • Chef
  • Chief systems engineer
  • Chimney sweep (retired)
  • Christian CPA / Reserve deputy / Sunday school teacher
  • Civil Engineer / Gunsmith
  • Civil and structural engineer
  • PR practitioner / Writer-editor
  • Clinical engineer
  • Clinical nurse / college professor / herbalist
  • College student
  • Commercial construction manager / Residential builder
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Computer systems technologist / Police officer / Machinist / Cabinetmaker / MP Investigator / Yardman / Truck Driver / Roofer / EMT
  • Corporate jet pilot
  • First aid instructor / Sound engineer
  • Criminal defense lawyer / Special ops reserve officer
  • Critical infrastructure protection specialist
  • Currency trader
  • Database administrator
  • Dental technician
  • Dentist / anthropologist
  • Deputy Sheriff-Detective / Gunsmith
  • Design engineer / electric car manufacturer
  • Desk-clerk / assistant-bookkeeper / college student
  • Diesel mechanic / fleet manager
  • Educational book designer
  • 8 Electrical/electronic engineers
  • Musician
  • Sign contractor / Military history author.
  • 3 Electricians
  • Emergency Physician / Communications
  • 4 EMTs
  • Engineer
  • Environmental, Safety, and Health Manager
  • Ex-British Special Forces / consultant
  • Family law / estate planning attorney
  • 4 Farmers (including 1 organic, 1 mushroom), many secondary farmers
  • Federal agent / investigator
  • 5 Firefighters
  • Fire captain / EMT / Fire service instructor
  • Fire Marshal
  • Fish Farmer
  • Forensic anthropologist.
  • Insurance customer service rep (retired)
  • Marine Corps sergeant (retired) / CFO
  • Forward observer / NCO.
  • Furniture maker
  • Gemologist / Jewelry appraiser
  • Government bureaucrat
  • Graduate student
  • Green housing / Construction manager
  • Hacker
  • Hedge fund manager
  • Horse farm owner
  • Hospital pharmacist
  • Hunting Guide (Alaska)
  • HVACR business owner
  • ICU RN / Die maker / Mechanic
  • Insurance agent.
  • Investment manager
  • 5 Intelligence Analysts
  • IT consultant
  • IT Telecommuter
  • Pastor
  • Jack of all trades
  • Power plant operator
  • Laboratory technician
  • Landscape architect
  • Law enforcement
  • Lean manufacturing / Automotive.
  • LEO / Tactical instructor
  • Liquor salesman
  • Logistics manager
  • Lutheran pastor
  • Machinist
  • Maintenance engineer
  • Maintenance supervisor forest service / National guard utility man
  • Sign language interpreting agency manager
  • Manager / Manufacturer / Firearms teacher / Machinist / Intelligence analyst
  • Manager of Contracts and Pricing
  • Manufacturing jeweler / watchmaker
  • Massage therapist
  • Master plumber
  • Master plumber / Carpenter / AC tech / Electrician / Mechanic
  • 5 MDs (Emergency Medicine, Anesthesia, ER, and GP)
  • Mechanic
  • Airline mechanic / ER Nurse
  • Mechanic / Rocket engine builder / Heat treater / Tax Accountant
  • Mechanical engineer
  • Medical transport / Deputy sheriff / Fireman
  • Microbiology student
  • Motion designer / Cinematographer
  • Museum director
  • 2 Navy SEALs
  • Notary public
  • 3 Novelists
  • NRA field rep
  • Nuclear work and safety planning
  • Nuclear security officer
  • Psychiatric and Primary Nurse
  • Commercial truck sales operation owner
  • Painting contractor
  • Paper engineer / graphic designer
  • Petroleum geologist
  • Petroleum landman / farm owner
  • 5 Pharmacists
  • Pharmacist / Intelligence Analyst / Health and Safety Specialist
  • Pharmacy Recruiter
  • 3 Physicists
  • 4 Pilots (including 1 Canadian military)
  • Pipefitter / Welder
  • 4 Police officers
  • College student
  • Private investigator
  • Private mailbox / Packing & shipping store / Musician
  • Production control analyst
  • Professor of ancient Near Eastern archaeology
  • Property manager / Business continuity planner
  • Property tax consultant.
  • Prototype automobile modeler
  • Internet Purchasing Specialist
  • Psychotherapist
  • Radiologic technologist
  • Real estate appraiser
  • 5 Realtors
  • Region loss prevention manager
  • Registered investment adviser owner / CPA
  • 3 Registered nurses
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Retail manager / Salesperson
  • Retail operations / Small business consultant
  • Retail store manager, retired
  • Retired electrical contractor
  • Retired policeman / Park ranger
  • Safety manager for construction company / landlord
  • 2 Sales representatives/agents
  • Sales agent
  • Security dispatcher
  • Security officer / Writer / Actor / Designer
  • Security representative
  • Electronics technician.
  • Network security engineer
  • Small business owner / barber
  • Machine operator
  • 2 Software developers
  • Software engineer
  • Special Forces Vietnam Vet / Firefighter(Retired) / Rancher
  • 2 Submariners
  • Systems engineer
  • 2 Teachers
  • Telecommunications design engineer
  • Television producer / writer
  • Power company lineman
  • Truck mechanic
  • 4 Truckers
  • U.S. Treasury bond broker
  • USDOE Security Police Officer
  • Veterinarian / Dog Breeder / Farmer
  • Veterinarian / Attorney
  • Vice President of Finance
  • Wastewater treatment plant manager / Computer consultant
  • Welder
  • Welder / Chef / Blacksmith / Martial arts instructor / Gunsmith
  • Welder, Underwater
  • Writer / Secretary

One thing I haven’t seen on your blog is eye treatment. Nothing can put you out of action faster than an eye problem. Recently, I developed a bacterial infection in my right eye which was treated with a prescription oral antibiotic. I also used eye drops to help lubricate the eye and relieve some of the irritation. There are many different eye drops available. I used Allergan Refresh Tears which I bought at Costco. For my situation, my doctor said it was a good choice. My doctor informed me that I could have acquired the infection in many ways including rubbing the eye, someone sneezing or coughing around me. I also work at an auto shop where one of the guys is blind in one eye from an injury. Eye protection should be the first priority in protective gear. Make sure any safety glasses acquired have side protection and use goggles in dusty environments. Since most safety lenses are plastic and are easily scratched, make sure you get extra lenses. Sterile ophthalmic irrigation solutions (eye wash) should be included in first aid kits for rinsing the eyes if exposed to dust or chemicals. The eye wash solutions can be found in EMT. supply houses. One I am familiar with is Bound Tree Medical. They offer several sizes from 1⁄2 oz to 16 oz. I like the 4 oz size because it provides sufficient fluid for most situations and fits in most industrial first aid kits. - Bill N.

JWR Replies: Many thanks for raising this topic. Eye protection is crucial. Whenever anyone in my family shoots we always wear eye and ear protection. Ditto whenever we use a chainsaw. (BTW, I use a Stihl brand "forestry" helmet with built-in earmuffs and a full face mesh screen, although I've read that the Peltor brand may be superior.) We now store our workshop face goggles right on top of our bench grinder, where we can't forget to use them. A friend of mine with a very nice photovoltaic power system does essentially the same thing in his battery box:: he stores a set of wrap-around goggles right next to his hydrometer. (This, BTW, is a good practice for all safety gear. Store it alongside your tools--otherwise it will be "out of sight, out of mind." You won't forget to wear you kevlar safety chaps if you store them draped across your chainsaw box.)

We don't drink alcohol at the Rawles Ranch but we keep a shot glass handy, since they make an ideal "eye cup" for irrigating foreign matter out of an eye. And now that you've mentioned it, I now plan to add a mini-eye-wash station to our workshop. That is cheap insurance.

Parenthetically, many years ago a friend of our family was doing some tree pruning in his yard and had a pine bough whip across his face. This deeply scratched the cornea of his right and caused him years of trouble and some expensive medical bills. Simply wearing goggles would have prevented this mishap.

UN envoy Terje Roed-Larsen warns that middle east 'may see full-scale war'

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#1 Son has uploaded a list of the members of the House Natural Resources National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee, and their office phone numbers and addresses. Please write to them and ask them to table HR 1975, the "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act".

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Denver, Colorado is considering taxing heavy electricity and gas consumers to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Sigourney Weaver as Ripley, Aliens (1986)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Today we welcome our newest advertiser, BulletProofME.com, one of the nation's premier dealers of body armor, helmets, and related protective gear. As an introductory special, they are offering free ground shipping to SurvivalBlog readers, and a one month special--for SurvivalBlog readers only: a $500 special price for full mil-spec Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) vests. That is 32% off their regular price, and below wholesale. They tell me that this pricing is only possible because of military contact overrun. Frequent blog posters "SF in Hawaii" and "Mr. Sierra" are both satisfied BulletProofMe.com customers, and they've given permission to mentioned as such.

The high bid is now at $410 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a selection of 17 survival and preparedness books, courtesy of the fine folks at Ready Made Resources. The auction ends at midnight eastern time on June 15th.

Mr. Rawles;
I am having problems finding reliable headsets for Family Radio Service (FRS) radios. Do you know anyone I can ship mine to and have something made that will last and work?
I got Radio Shack models and the headsets do not last a year of steady use. I got one model you cannot get headsets for anymore.
The headsets cost $25 each and having to continuing purchase them is getting ridiculous. Even with Radio Shack warranties, if the SHTF you cannot run to them to get replacements.
I am willing to pay for quality headsets to last in a SHTF situation.
I just purchased some replacement FRS radios for the ones that I cannot get headsets for and they have a feature to scan and find the channels being broadcast on.
Do you have any experience with these? Does it include the silent or side band features? Does this mean OPSEC is even less (more at risk) if using them in the field?
Sure would appreciate the help. - Ron A. in Ohio

JWR Replies: My general advice it to buy yourself a sturdy $60 or $70 headset once, instead of four or five flimsy $25 headsets in succession to obtain the same service life. One good vendor that has been highly recommended is CustomEarpiece.com

OBTW, I prefer MURS band transceivers, such as those sold by $49 MURS Radios. MURS band radios have much better range and security than FRS radios. (It is more secure because it is a little known band.) The FRS occupied frequency scanning feature that you mentioned is likely become more common in coming years, making the pitiful security of the FRS band even worse.

Dear Jim,
Dragonskin Armor, from all non-PR reports, isn't nearly as good as its designers would like us to believe. (Also see: this article, as well as this one.)
Dragonskin is claimed to meet Level IV standards, but has only been certified by the NIJ to Level III. And that's only one model of several--others are not certified at all. They are being sued by the USAF over this fraudulent claim.
After several delays refusing to provide test samples to the Army, the Army purchased some and sent them to an independent lab. [The manufacturer] Pinnacle claims these tests were "incomplete." True. Because Dragonskin failed the tests almost at once, so why continue?
It can't survive high desert temperatures or other environments--the glue fails, the ceramic delaminates and it loses protection.
Meanwhile, despite Pinnacle's vicious smear campaign, Interceptor [Body Armor (IBA)] does stop rifle fire and is saving lives. It is possible to do better, I'm sure. I'm hesitant to believe a company that falsifies its standards is the one to do so.
I hate to sound biased, but to me Pinnacle appears to be a scam artist. I wouldn't be surprised to see the owner somewhere tropical with a suitcase full of cash in a few years. - Michael Z. Williamson

Dear James,
Regarding the letter “Letter Re: Greenspan, Gold, and the Safe Store of Value” I can assure you that gold is just as valuable before, during and after a crisis.
Gold has always been valuable, its safe to say that it always will be, it’s our alma mater currency, since the beginnings of mankind.
Unless you are stranded on an island, or in a plane wreck in the middle of the Andes, gold is always a cherished form of currency, and no one is going to trade you an ounce of gold for a piece of bread. Generally speaking people are smart enough to sell the gold [for the currency of the day] and buy as much bread as they can.
[In Argentina], we’ve seen [gold's] value increasing even more on the jewelry gold market, something most survivalists considered practically useless. It got to a point where wearing gold jewelry is an invitation to getting robbed or the chains snatched from your neck. Most people, especially women, don’t wear gold any more, specially on public transportation. Because of this, there’s an entire silver jewelry industry flourishing. Women simply prefer silver because it’s cheaper and you can wear it somewhat safely, unlike gold. There’s an entire market for buying and selling jewelry gold, and that’s what you come by on the shanty towns and poorest neighborhoods.
As you explain, gold works as a time machine, preserving your values in spite of what’s going on.
Even in prisons, gold is still gold, and no one is going to trade you a gold chain or Crucifix for a couple of smokes, unless you are paying a fair amount of merchandize in exchange for the gold. It’s easy enough to find someone that will sell your gold on the outside (for a percentage, of course).
People that think that cigars are more valuable than gold have never been to a prison, and television is not a reliable source of information.
While I never saw anyone buying anything with ammo, I’ve seen people go to the “I buy gold” stand in markets, selling their gold (either [legitimately] owned by them or stolen recently) and go shopping into the market with their money. The only thing worth it’s weight in gold... is gold. - FerFAL in Argentina

From Chris Hedges: What if our mercenaries turn on us?

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Matt Playne e-mailed me to mention PeakOilChat.com, a non-profit site dedicated to real time, web based IRC (Internet Relay Chat) discussion on the impact of the peak in world oil production, consequences, economics, depletion scenarios, permaculture, survival, self sufficiency and more. It is not a forum.

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India developing an e-bomb

"The use of solar energy has not been opened up because the oil industry does not own the sun." - Ralph Nader, Loose Talk

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mr. Rawles:
I have been reading your blog and enjoy it very much. I have been stocking up and working at independence, but I am sadly lacking in the area of protection. I have been taught my whole life that guns are bad, evil, dangerous. I can barely bring myself to touch one. I shot a boyfriend's handgun once many, many years ago but I really could barely stand holding it. I've never even let my children have toy guns or pretend to shoot people.

My youngest son (8 years old) has been given a real rifle and a box of bullets. (We now live in Mississippi where, "Every man's got to have a gun.") It says on the rifle: "Marlin, Model 60W Microgroove, Cal 22 LR Only." I'm terrified to have the thing in the house but glad I won't have to buy one. The world is changing. I know I must learn to protect myself and my family. So how do I start? How does one learn about something when you don't even know what questions to ask? I have read articles about ammunition and types of rifles and guns but they could be speaking Martian for all the sense it makes to me. Thanks for your time. - KB

JWR Replies: First, let me congratulate you for your common sense in realizing that you need to defend yourself and your home, and that firearms are the best method--and in fact only adequate method--to do so. Chemical sprays and electric stun guns are notoriously ineffective and both require you to be at close quarters with your opponents which is not advised for anyone, especially females who are are generally at a disadvantage in close-quarters fighting. It takes many months or even years to be come adept with martial arts and/or edged weapons. And again, body size is a factor. By comparison, rudimentary firearms training can be taught in just a few days. I suggest that you first take a basic firearms training course from your local NRA-affiliated club. They often offer courses especially for women. They will teach you all of the basics including safe firearms handling, shooting stances, sight alignment, trigger control, types of guns, firearms terminology, and so forth. (You are right that the terminology seems arcane to newbies.) Once you have the confidence of completing that course, I'd recommend that you take a local concealed carry course. Then if you can afford it move on to more advanced training at a top-notch training organization like Front Sight. You will leave there shooting more confidently and more competently than 80% of the "trained professional" members of your local police department. I'm not kidding, you will!

Your son's Marlin .22 rimfire rifle is a great gun for learning the basics, and to keep long term for pest shooting. But it is woefully inadequate for self defense. My advice to newbies on selecting guns for home defense is to buy both a shotgun (at least a 20 gauge, or preferably a 12 gauge if you can handle the recoil), and a semi-auto handgun of at least .40 caliber, preferably a Glock. Don't let anyone talk you into an under-powered "ladies' gun" such as a .25 ACP, .32 ACP, or .380 ACP. My wife ("The Memsahib") shoots a .45 ACP, and loves it. For some details on firearms selection, see my Survival Guns static web page. But let me reiterate, contact the NRA. They have many special gun education programs available at low cost.

Oh, and FWIW, regarding your comment about toy guns: We've never let our children have toy guns or pretend to shoot people, either. They've been taught from a very early age what firearms are capable of doing, so they respect them but don't fear them.

I started reading SurvivalBlog this year after a friend told me to check out the site and it has been a great resource. I had a couple of thing that might be of interest to everyone.
First is the 2nd annual Bug-out drill at Tiger Valley in Texas. Tiger Valley will host its second annual Bug Out Drill, September 29, 2007. We will run the same distance as last year, 15 miles, but the physical challenges will be tougher. For those who didn't attend the last event, the idea for this was spawned from reading the survival forum. I, like a lot of people don't believe that something does what it claims without a test; hence, the But Out Drill was born.
As last year the challenge was to move and recover family members who are a distance away. For the sake of argument an EMP has disabled all vehicles, I know some of you have spare parts wrapped in foil, but we have to keep this on an even keel. That means you have to travel the entire route on foot, no bikes, 4-wheelers Gurkhas or Donkeys allowed on the course. You must carry everything you need for the event on your person. We will have a hydration station that you can top off water during the event.
Last years event had 20 physical challenges, everything from having to cut through chain link fence to triage a tactical mannequin. This year I plan on making some of the challenges technically and physically more challenging. I won't go into detail on the plans but nothing is off the table.
We had 27 hard-core contestants compete last year. Everyone made a great effort, and from the feedback, learned a lot from the experience. As the concept stated last year, you don't have to complete each event. If the event is to challenging, you can bypass it and take the penalty. Remember, this event is designed to test you and your equipment, not kill you. We don't want to run those off who might be intimidated by some events.
I need some feedback from you guys on one area. I thought it might be good to require those attending to camp out on Friday night. Pitch whatever survival tent you have and take off in the morning. This idea is still up for grabs so let me know what you think.
The price for the event will be the same as last year, $150. I will start getting prizes as soon as I get back from this class in Waco.
The other item of interest is medical training information from Medical Corps. This organization has a substantial amount of information that I'm currently digesting. {Meanwhile,] OperationalMedicine.org has downloadable videos on various procedures like "How to Suture a Wound" that can supplement or help prepare for classes. It could also be the only training available to people without the means to attend classes. Thanks, - Paul in Texas

I've scanned the [poll results for] favorite Survival Book entries and haven't seen one of mine (unless I've missed it). It's "The Rift" by Walter J. Williams: an edge-of-your seat novel based on the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 occurring again in our time. I highly recommend it to your readers and have enjoyed learning from them of other works that I wasn't familiar with. Regards, - AdkNoah

James in Pennsylvania found a link to the Tearfund International Learning Zone (TILZ) that has some interesting publications. His comment: " Take a look at the technology section of Footsteps 21. Lots of practical information.:

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The PC crowd finds survivalists too "negative"

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Half of China on flood alert as rainstorms plague millions

"If an American is to amount to anything he must rely upon himself, and not upon the State; he must take pride in his own work, instead of sitting idle to envy the luck of others. He must face life with resolute courage, win victory if he can, and accept defeat if he must, without seeking to place on his fellow man a responsibility which is not theirs." - Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, June 10, 2007

I am new to SurvivalBlog but I thought that I would share my experience and thoughts with everyone. I have a totally off the grid ranch that is powered by wind and solar. We have more electricity than we can use with a 40 kilowatt (KW) battery bank, 2 KW of photovoltaics and 1.4 KW of wind power.

First I highly recommend a hybrid system, solar and wind. Usually when the sun isn't shinning, the wind is blowing, especially when a storm is blowing in. My batteries are usually full by 1100 hours in the summer and 1200 hours in the winter. The rest of the power is wasted. The inverters can be programmed for a diversion load such as a water heater or air heater. I have decided to get a 4WD electric vehicle to dump the extra power into. The unit I have decided on is the Bad Boy Buggy . It is used for hunting in the south because it is totally quiet. It has a 27 mile range. There is no fuel to store and it would be excellent for silent patrolling as well as chores around the ranch. I plan on storing extra batteries.

There was recently an post on wood-fired brick ovens. I got my plans from www.ovencrafters.net. They have it all figured out and you can get as many as 12 baking batches from one firing. You can bake bread, cook pizza, roasts and turkey as well. They are also fun and look cool.

There is a fairly new solar water pump out which is made by Grundfos. It is called the SQ Flex. It can run on solar, wind or generator or any combination of the three. You can pump water when its dark when the wind is blowing.

There are a lot of wind machines out there. I have found that many come and go. The two [brands] that have always been there are Bergey Wind Power and Southwest Wind Power. These guys have great customer support. I have one of each. Storing spare parts is no problem. The SQ Flex pump is designed to work with one of the Southwest Wind Power machines. Thanks for all the great info you provide. - PED

It is quite strange heading for the letter to the site like yours, isn't it? But it is really so.
My name is Andrei, I am Russian living in the suburbs of Moscow, Russia. I do have a lot of fun reading your great site. Of course, circumstances in Moscow, Russia and Moscow, Idaho, differ significantly, but there is a lot of the same stuff we must take care of if we are going to survive, be it in Western hemisphere or not.
Surprisingly, actually there are no local web sites like yours while your site is a great source of knowledge and reach experience. Thanks a lot for all your great efforts!
I would say that things are changing here, in Russia, quickly and dramatically. Thank God, we are not "commies" anymore (frankly to say, we have never been true and blue ones). To me, I have prepared a huge axe---it never misses fire---just in case I will ever see one of them at the doorstep of my house ;-) . While politicians may do their monkey business, ordinary people---in any country---have to take care of themselves mostly on their own.
As I have mentioned, circumstances of everyday life differ a lot in our countries, but I also find a lot of common things relating to survival. Since I have built my house---few Russians live in houses, vast majority live in apartment buildings---I am going to implement American experience for the benefit of me and my family. In addition to it, we are Latter-day Saints, and our Church teaches us a lot about family preparedness. So, I have a lot of work to do!
Let me express my thanks again. Sorry for my English, and please let me know if I can be of any help for your great site. I would gladly participate in the "10 Cent Challenge" if it will be technically possible. I'd even go beyond this figure.
FYI: My occupation is translation supervisor. By know I can also supervise a building of a cottage, including development of all corresponding engineering systems, from electric to sewage system. I hope that it will help me some day :-) With best wishes, - Andrei

I was bored, so I compiled the "raw data" that you recently provided in SurvivalBlog:

TOP 3 SURVIVAL BOOKS (# of votes)
Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse by JWR (10)
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank (6)
Lucifer's Hammer by Niven & Pournelle (5)

Lights Out by David Crawford
Earth Abides by George Stewart
Malevil by Robert Merle
Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson
Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein

Red Dawn (6)
Panic In Year Zero (5)
The Postman (4)

The Road Warrior

Regards, - GDS in PRK

JLM sent us the link to this Washington Post article: Switching To Biofuels Could Cost Lots of Green

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MWR flagged this article: Drought now covering more than one-third of the continental USA.

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CountryTek e-mailed us with a reference to a piece about a method discovered by MIT researchers for the wireless transmission of electrical power via materials resonance. His comment: "So far, they've been able to power a 60 watt bulb from about seven feet away. This non-technical article doesn't talk about transmission efficiency, but the implications are huge."

p>"Truth is stranger than fiction, but fiction can open an already crowded and busy mind to the wonders of possibility never before fathomed." - SurvivalBlog reader "Cowboy255"

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The high bid is now at $390 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a selection of 17 survival and preparedness books. Our sincere thanks to Ready Made Resources for donating the majority of the books. The auction ends on June 15th.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the use of gold as a store of value, it's important to realize that gold often functions as a fiat currency. It does have intrinsic value for jewelry, electronics, rust-proofing, and some chemistry applications but the vast majority of its value comes from the shared expectation that people will accept it as being valuable in the future. The only difference from fiat dollars is that it's harder - but not impossible - to increase or decrease the gold monetary supply, and that supply isn't controlled by any government.
In a disaster situation things get even worse, because if the lights are out you probably don't need gold for jewelry, electronics, or chemistry, and there are less conspicuous ways to rust-proof things than to gold plate them. The only significant value of gold in that situation will be the expectation that others will value it in the future - it will be a pure fiat currency. Contrast that to prison currencies like cigarettes, which hold truly intrinsic value but are still used as money for trading.
I'm not saying that it definitely won't be useful - fiat currencies have worked fairly well since the late 1960s and there's no reason to believe that gold cannot function as an unregulated fiat currency. However, all the preparedness sites I've read appear to see gold as having intrinsic value, where in fact only usable items and resources have truly intrinsic value. (Food, ammo, coal, whatever)
I know personally that given the choice between trading MREs for gold versus trading for bullets, I'd have a heck of a lot more use for the bullets - regardless of now or after a crash.
Thank you for the time you spend maintaining your site. When my own personal finances aren't so dire I certainly intend to buy your books. Sincerely, - Daniel

JWR Replies: I agree that gold will have only marginal utility for barter during an economic collapse. It will only come into its own in the recovery phase. Gold can act as a "time machine", preserving your buying power from now until the far side of a currency collapse. (When it presumably could be converted into a new, stable currency.) But don't expect it to do you much good in the middle of a crisis. (You are right that common caliber ammunition will be a preferred barter item.) I 've always considered silver preferable to gold for barter, for the reasons outlined in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"--most notably that gold coins are too compact a form of wealth for efficient barter. Silver dimes and quarters are much more practical.

The House of Representatives is currently considering H.R. 1975, the "Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act." This is of interest to survivalists because it will be converting a huge amount of public land into "designated wilderness areas."
The affected land currently has roads and is open to public use. However, if the wilderness area expansion passes then public access use will be severely restricted. Many of you own or would like property with forest service land adjoining or nearby. With the act, all roads will be blocked off or removed, and hunting and wood cutting will be illegal. You will even need a "wilderness permit" every time you go camping or backpacking in these areas.
The act will affect more than 28,000,000 acres (45,000 square miles) in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. The area is more than half of the size of Idaho!
This act will severely affect our rights to public land, by removing access and restricting our activities.
Please write and/or call to the members of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands and your state's congressmen. It is currently waiting for subcommittee debate, so there is only a small number of congressmen that we need to reach right now. Please write to them, even if it is only a short note. This bill is still in it's infancy, where it can be fairly easily defeated.

"Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. And don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines." - Satchel Paige

Friday, June 8, 2007

Wow! We're about to surpass the 1.5 million unique visits mark. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Your SurvivalBlog graphic links (at your web sites and in e-mail footers) are helping tremendously.

The high bid is still at $350 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a selection of 17 survival and preparedness books. The auction ends on June 15th.

Mr. Rawles:
I have been reading your blog for some time. I have found it quiet interesting and informative. I’m a former combat vet and security professional for most of the 1990s. I moved back to North Carolina and started a company. I was raised by parents and grandparents that were survivalist long before the term became popular. I have made extensive preparations for the upcoming events that will befall the United States . I read the [blog] site and I think about us folks that do live in the east, a lot will be in a sad shape. I have huge amounts of water, food, and fuel stored. I’m not talking about weeks worth but several years worth. I believe that folks that have taken the time and spent the money to prepare should hopefully try to hold up with people of like minds. All of our supplies and improvements have been done very quietly and surely not publicized, [since] most people would think we were weird or crazy. The idea of bugging out is unacceptable to me because I have a wife and two sons that are 6 and 7. We surely do not want to be refugees! I believe that the biggest problem for us will be the clans and gangs that will leave the cities (Winston Salem, Charlotte , Greensboro, and Raleigh ) and migrate to the countryside. These people live inside of city limits where their water, sewer, and social needs are taken care of, when the Schumer hits the fan, these folks will be moving to the countryside to prey upon anyone they can. I figure these roving gangs will terrorize the countryside until people start to band together and kill them. I also see the average everyday needs that people just don’t think about. I’m not talking about water, food, and shelter. I’m talking about basic needs like shoes, clothing, and coats for the winters. Can you imagine what a pair of Danner boots would be worth? I think a lot of time as we prepare, the little things are forgotten. I think that a person can never have too much food, water, ammo, firearms, fuel, shoes, clothes, and blankets. If you don’t need them, they can always be traded.

Thanks again for a great site, the book "Patriots", your prior military service, and for the eagerness to teach and help folks get educated about the things they truly need. Sincerely, - Andy

While I am sure that this has been covered here before, it demands review. I was searching for information on a "safe store of value" and I came across the following. On or about 1966, Alan Greenspan wrote a lucid note entitled, "Gold and Economic Freedom." Greenspan's essay ends with, "This is the shabby secret of the welfare statists' tirades against gold. Deficit spending is simply a scheme for the confiscation of wealth. Gold stands in the way of this insidious process. It stands as a protector of property rights. If one grasps this, one has no difficulty in understanding the statists' antagonism toward the gold standard." Awesome verbiage, for a change, from the Maestro. As a related follow-on, Gary North provided great commentary given Greenspan's answers to Dr. Paul's questions in 2005. In his replies to Dr. Paul, Greenspan, called on the Gold carpet, stumbles in a way that only he can. Summary: 1966, Gold is golden. 2005, What, me worry? Perhaps on a tangent, or for a biographer, how did Dr. Greenspan's net worth change over that time period?

I urge readers to read the complete 1966 essay. It is short and unusually clear. The description of the events leading up to the Great Depression in light of today's conditions is quite informative. I even learned that my initial search was completely in vain. Greenspan said, "In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value [emphasis added]. If there were, the government [emphasis added] would have to make its holding illegal [emphasis added], as was done in the case of gold."

So, there is no safe store of value [in dollars]. Easy, I went out and bought more quality ammunition. Then I picked up Boston's Gun Bible and continued reading. James, thanks again for your hard work. - The DFer

I noticed the letter you posted about the man who bought his interceptor armor from eBay. Much of the Interceptor [Body] Armor on the market is stolen property.
Many times it was stolen through supply [channels] and that is one of the reasons so many troops had to buy their own.
On many of the tactical forums you have to be able to produce proof that you bought the interceptor armor legally.
The interceptor armor itself is outdated. It is very heavy and bulky. Dragonskin is also not available to civilians. You have to have a end user certificate to even get the stuff. Thanks for the great site. - Meerkat, Murfreesboro Tennessee

Dear Jim:
Dr. Richard makes a critical point about avoiding defective Zylon vests on eBay, but I must add some cautions to his suggestion about buying used Interceptor armor. For the sake of full disclosure, here at BulletProofME.com we are about to advertise a $500 special on our brand-new Interceptor Outer Tactical Vests on SurvivalBlog. But the following information is factually verifiable for any skeptics.
Beware of Stolen Interceptor Armor
Unless the armor was bought with private funds, it is U.S. government property and should have been turned in by the user. The Army criminal investigations unit has been aggressively confiscating undocumented armor from both military and non-military personnel, and prosecuting dealers who knowingly bought stolen armor. This has been such a problem, we simply won't buy Interceptor armor without verification of it's title - just like a car.
Beware of Damaged SAPI hard plates
Unless it has been abused, there shouldn't be a problem with the protection level of the aramid (i.e., Kevlar) soft ballistic panels in the Interceptor. Aramid does not degrade noticeably just from age.
Be very, very careful with SAPI Rifle Plates
These Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPIs) are made out of boron carbide and are more fragile than Ceramic Rifle Plates. Some will have hairline cracks not visible unless X-rayed. Even just improper packaging for shipping can leave them damaged (I swear a lot of the delivery drivers are former shot putters, the way they throw packages around! )
Also, unless it is an Enhanced model (E-SAPI) it is not full AP protection like Level IV Ceramic Rifle Plates, the original SAPI mil spec called for M-16 and AK-47 threats to be stopped - but not AP rounds.
Finally, regarding the "better" Dragon Skin. Well, Pinnacle has an impressive public relations machine, but they have only had the vest certified to Level III standards (to stop .308 FMJ) by the NIJ (National Institute of Justice). If I really had a superior product that was being ignored by the Army, I'd have it Level IV certified (stopping .30-06 AP) and sell it to police customers - why hasn't Dragon Skin done this? They only have a Level III certification on file.

We have customers in The Sandbox who bought Dragon Skin, but just couldn't take the extra weight. Just like everything else, take the time to dig below the marketing hype and know what you are buying. Thanks, - Nick, Manager, BulletProofME.com Body Armor


I am a new reader of the your blog. (About two months now) I even submitted a story [to the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest] about raising chickens for survival protein. It did not win, but hey it was fun to be published, and maybe it can help out someone else. Maybe I can try again next month I would love to have a copy of your book. It sounds good. And I am addicted to the blog. I read it almost every day.

The reason I read it is because I do most of these things any way but now I can learn to do it the right way. Thanks for all this great info. You may even see a few dollars in snail mail in a few weeks.

I was looking at the info about body armor and how some of the good stuff from Iraq is showing up on eBay. That got me thinking. Do you have any past info about body armor, what the rankings mean? What the ball park prices are and how to find used stuff. (I do love eBay) I think this would be a great Item to get a hold of but I need more info before I make any purchases. I looked over the web but all I can find is info from the sellers and some times I have trouble believing every thing the sales person tells me. Any info would be great. Thanks, - Korey

JWR Replies: A good description of the NIJ body armor protection standards numbers can be found in this primer. I have no idea about current auction pricing on IBA. Just be sure that what you buy comes with an original receipt or military Statement of Charges. (Items that are misplaced by soldiers are often paid for via Statement of Charges.)

"Yabba-dabba-do!" Hawaiian K. forwarded us a link about some transportation improvisation in Prague. (The intact bark makes me think that this was a prank rather than an economy measure.)

  o o o

Simon in England sent us this gem from the British press: a serving soldier (Private Christopher Trussler) has been charged with the illegal possession and sale of ammunition in late May. The private's arrest followed "a three-month investigation." His arrest followed an operation into the sale of 9mm ammunition in the Chichester area of West Sussex. The Metropolitan Police said the move followed a "proactive intelligence-led investigation into the supply of ammunition." Detective Sergeant Neil Lennon of Operation Trident said: "The ammunition we believe this soldier was selling would have been compatible with a number of types of firearms. It would undoubtedly have the potential to have an extremely harmful effect on a number of communities, and Trident remains committed to tackling those who seek to profit from the misery of others." So how much ammo did he have to sell? 21 rounds of 9mm. (About $2.50 USD worth.) And how much did that "three month investigation" cost the UK taxpayers? This incident is absurd and laughable, but the hoplophobic Brit officials are taking it oh-so seriously.

   o o o

More countries cut loose from the tarnished US Dollar: It started with China, in 2005. Then Iran and Venezuela followed suit. More recently, Kuwait and Syria have made similar moves. This week, Bloomberg.com reported that the UAE may be next. If this continues, I predict an "emperor, sans clothes" epiphanous global revaluation of the dollar, most likely this fall. My advice: Diversify out of dollars and into tangibles, pronto!

"I've figured out what those graduation 'mortar board' caps are for. They must be designed to keep the graduates' heads from exploding." - #2 Son

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Two issues seem to cause the most lively debate in the SurvivalBlog: climate change and Peak Oil. (On the latter, see the following letters.) There are brilliant minds that that support both sides of these issues. I am a gratified to see that SurvivalBlog readers can debate these topics rationally, without resorting to name calling. The bottom line for you, dear reader: Regardless of where you stand on these issues, be prepared. Even if they turn out to be overblown non-issues, there is no guarantee that government over-reaction might cause just as many problems as the "crises" themselves. And if either of them indeed do the economic damage that some pundits predict, then we are in for some very tough times. Perhaps even a multi-generational TEOTWAWKI. Self sufficiency and sustainable agriculture are solutions on the micro level, and perhaps at the community level, but on the macro level, things look bad for many, many years. There is just too much population to support at the status quo. In light of all this, my advice is to stock up, especially on fuel. If stored properly, propane, diesel, and firewood can be stored for decades. The shelf life of coal is limitless. Choose your retreat locale wisely. Good soil and plentiful water will be crucial. Hard economic times will at the very least mean higher crime rates, and possibly even organized looting--as in my novel "Patriots". So team up with several like-minded families for mutual defense. Plan ahead and proceed with prayer.

Again, Michael Williamson brings a bit of fresh air in his letter regarding gas prices. It's called the free market pricing mechanism and when allowed to operate it would solve most human problems in the most efficient manner. Regards, K

Dear Jim,
There is a huge difference between reserves (total resource) and the amount of the resource that can be produced each year (production flow rate per unit of time). Both Canada and Venezuela have large reserves of tar sands. However, the annual production of tar sands is limited by production constraints and has a low (but positive) energy return on energy invested. The largest limitations are the requirements for water and natural gas - these two constraints will limit Canadian production to at most about 3 million barrels per day. The tar sands production is creating an environmental disaster in Alberta and leaves the water toxic. The following quote from a Tar Sands Watch article about a recent University of Alberta study demonstrates how unsustainable the current tar sands production demand for water actually is:

"But to produce one million barrels of oil a day, industry requires withdrawals of enough water from the Athabasca River to sustain a city of two million people every year."

Likewise, natural gas production in North America peaked in 2002 and is in steep decline. Many natural gas analysts expect annual North American production to be roughly half that achieved at the peak as early as five years from now - despite extremely aggressive drilling of new natural gas wells. Modern drilling technology typically depletes natural gas wells after about 18 months of production. We don't have 1,000 years worth of natural gas and may not even have enough natural gas to keep pressure in the pipes for customers at the end of the pipelines and supply chain - particularly those in New England and the North Eastern portion of the United States. Simply sustaining current production levels will require the construction of nuclear power plants (deeply unpopular with many Canadians) to provide an alternative source of process heat and eliminate the need to use rapidly depleting natural gas.

Furthermore, the tar sands capital investment and production costs per barrel have been increasing every year - last year (2006) costs were in the $23 to $26 per barrel range and this year's costs will likely be higher.

While energy independence is desperately needed, it remains extremely difficult, there are no silver bullet solutions, none of the alternatives offer the low cost and energy concentration of cheap fossil fuels, and requires capital-intensive investments with long lead times even if one has the political will to make it happen. Unfortunately, there is no political will to make the needed investments and sacrifices at this time and today's poor decisions will lead to a future environment (economic and social collapse) where the resources needed (people, money, materials, imported technology, manufacturing capabilities) will either be partially or completely unavailable. - Dr. Richard


Dear Jim and Family:
With rue respect to Mr. Williamson, the Tar Sands will not save us. Neither will Corn Ethanol--a scam that benefits farmers and costs the taxpayer for a slight loss in energy return on energy invested (EROEI), Cellulosic ethanol (mostly an unscalable myth since the chemistry isn't proven or effective), cheap solar (a scam, alas), electric cars (we're running out of nickel so there will be no [nickel-based] batteries), biodiesel (eat for a year or drive for an hour, choose), natural gas (running out in North America, out in Europe, lacks capacity or density), coal (spreads mercury and uranium and sulphur when burned, kills plants and waterways, poisons everyone downwind and downstream, causes cancer) also lacks density, and coal [liquefaction], the best and most abundant energy we've got in North America but won't scale up for liquefaction fuel supply. Just enough for the elite, but not for us.

I've spent the last six years daily reading and studying energy depletion. The Tar Sands are an energy sink. It will take approximately 22 full sized nuclear power plants, or 48 conventional natural gas power plants to heat the tar sands after mining them like the low density garbage they are, to produce the current output of 85 million barrels [of oil] per day. And if you did that, then natural gas would stop heating homes in the United States, leaving millions to freeze to death [rant snipped.] If you just want enough for the United States and Canada and let the rest of the world rot, you still need something like 15 nuclear power plants. And those take 10 years to build [rant snipped.] Tar sands are less dense and less efficient than coal. It takes copious amounts of water to steam the oil out of the sand and the sand itself must be mined, then disposed of in a huge slurry pond. Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) doesn't tell you that part. Neither does the USGS, who has worse numbers than NASA where oil reserve totals accuracy is concerned. Counting it two and three times does not mean that total actually exists. Furthermore, the cost per barrel of oil generated from tar sands is $55, not the $15 that certain unreliable and unscrupulous organizations like to claim. They are "greenwash" organizations shilling for Big Oil and the scams that result from it. Tar Sands are a massive waste of energy and time, and a distraction from the reality of [Peak Oil economic] collapse. They'll probably be exploited by someone who failed basic math. 1-1 does not = 2. It equals zero, and that's what the tar sands are worth: zero.

Please let me make this perfectly clear to all your readers: there is no alternative to [traditionally pumped] oil. None. There are energy losers, there are projects that won't scale up beyond the elite, like biofuels. There are expensive toys like electric cars and hydrogen cars and fuel cells which require exotic components in very limited supply so also end up for the elite. There are no solutions. We are doomed.

Regarding TPD:
Some years ago (2003), Discover magazine ran a Gee Whiz article about turning Anything Into Oil using basic chemistry and steam and acids to break down complex proteins into hydrocarbons, basically refining plastics and turkey guts and old tires etc into oil. It sounded like a great idea. Alas, [we later read that] it was a scam.

The main problem is that they were trying to use a limited resource, other people's garbage, as a fuel source for a process which doesn't scale up, and isn't efficient to start with, and treated it like a perpetual motion machine. Whether intentionally or not, it was obvious from the outset that there were some real concerns about the chemistry, and whether the energy output was higher than the energy input. It wasn't efficient, so they tried scaling it up, using more money and trust from investors. If its not efficient at small scale, it sure as heck won't be at large scale either. The model collapsed under a lesser well known law called The Law of Receding Horizons, stated as "the less efficient the process the higher inputs required, the less efficient the process, repeat." Thermal Depolymerization (TPD) fell into this category and died a quiet death when the cost of turkey guts rose after becoming valuable to a competitor as compost or somesuch. The moral of the story is: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Buy ammo, build up your soil, stock up food for the coming famine. We've got at least 20 years of misery to suffer through, best case. If you live near a railroad line, you might even make it, if the train stops in your town. Trains offer cheap transit, so will have goods exchanged. If you're in the remote boonies you get to juggle isolation from the Horde with isolation that can be exploited by organized bandits. Make sure you've got plenty of ammunition reloading supplies and keep your powder dry. Best, - InyoKern

JWR Replies: I agree with some of your assertions, but not all of them. For example you suggest that we are running out of natural gas. Some petroleum industry analysts estimate that North America has a 800 year supply, given aggressive exploration. Even if we were to squander most of that for creating oil from coal or tar sands, or for generating ethanol, we will still have a very long term supply. I agree that the age of cheap liquid fuels is coming to an end, and we should make arrangements to live without them. My greatest fear is not energy source depletion per se, but rather the draconian measures that governments will take if they perceive that fuels are getting short supply. One lesson that can be learned from the two world wars in the last century is: when a government feels threatened, watch out!

You also describe cheap solar energy as "a scam." Perhaps you are right, since the cost per watt is not falling rapidly. (Too bad that it isn't analogous to the falling cost of computers.) But for middle class consumers, even currently expensive solar panels will mean the difference between a troglodyte existence and a relatively modern life with pumped water, radios, and electric lights. If you are the one that can recharge your neighbor's batteries, then you will be the indispensable neighbor. I strongly encourage SurvivalBlog readers to equip their retreats with at least a modest-size photovoltaic (PV) power system. The folks at Ready Made Resources can help you size your system, and source the components. It isn't rocket science. Lastly, if there is even the chance of an economic depression and concomitant social disruption, then it is wise to strategically relocate. My book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation gives some concrete advice on the safe places to live.that are well-removed from urban population centers, and how to best stock a retreat to be ready for a long term collapse.

The following letter from a CBS executive comes by way of Rourke (Moderator of Yahoo's Jericho Discussion Group):

To the Fans of Jericho:
Wow! Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.
As a result, CBS has ordered seven episodes of "Jericho" for mid-season next year. In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more "Jericho," we will need more viewers. A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.
We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.
At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that "Jericho" will return to our schedule. However, in the interim, we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes re-broadcasting "Jericho" on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on September 25 and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.
On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of "Jericho" in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference. Sincerely, - Nina Tassler, President, CBS Entertainment
P.S. Please stop sending us nuts :)

There is an interesting thread of discussion on caching in progress over at The Claire Files.

  o o o

The recent mention of the Kill-a-Watt power meter prompted reader RBS to send us a link to a discount supplier on the Internet.

   o o o

Peter Schiff comments on the economy, at Gold-Eagle.

"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. 9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? 10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: 11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man." - Proverbs 6:6-11 (KJV)

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Dear Jim,
Believe it or not, I find current oil prices encouraging as well as annoying, but with an undertone of warning. At our current domestic US price, it becomes cost effective to exploit the Canadian tar sands. Canada is next door, civilized, and easy to deal with. Their reserves in that form are probably larger than the entire world's crude supply. Venezuela has an equal amount, and Chavez can't live forever. The Canadians have gotten production cost down to $15/barrel, but are not yet producing at full speed. It is obvious, however, that growing technology will improve this, and some sites are able to extract up to 85% of the available hydrocarbons using three overlapping techniques. (By contrast, Saudi production is currently about $5/barrel. Even adding in transport and refining, how's that for a profit margin?)
Add in growing electric technology for cars and increased development of our 1,000 year supply of natural gas, plus TDP (thermodepolymerization--turning trash to hydrocarbons) recycling and the Middle East looks less appealing as a trade partner all the time.
Looking at the Middle East, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Emirates and Qatar, which are all city-states founded by trading families in centuries past, are already diversifying away from oil. However, that leaves Saudi Arabia and some others with no real long term plans once their oil becomes as cost ineffective as it is politically ineffective.
My concern is that it was Western money that developed their region, brought them untold trillions of dollars and Western morals and "decadence" that the hardliner Muslims find so objectionable. I don't expect they'll thank us for taking the money elsewhere at this point. In fact, I expect an increase in hatred and terror tactics with us completely independent of them economically. We could very well buy energy independence at the cost of a small but relevant insurgency within our borders, and certainly threats to our overseas assets.
Keep your eyes peeled and your powder dry. - Michael Z. Williamson

As a family we all live in Montana. Now our whole family is considering relocating to a larger parcel in different part of NW Montana, or to Priest River area or Bonners Ferry area of Idaho. We have found several suitable parcels. Politically why is Idaho better than Montana? Are the people in Idaho more stable than those in Montana? Strategically why is North Idaho better than northwestern Montana?
It seems to me the people in both states are very freedom minded. It also seems to me that the area around the capital of Idaho is becoming very liberal. What are your thoughts on this?
As I recall Clinton signed a paper while in office making the Border Patrol the ultimate law enforcement agency within 26 miles of our northern and southern borders. That is one
of the reasons you will see them participating on many sheriff's calls here. What do you think about living within the 26 mile Federal Clinton Border Zone in Idaho or Montana? What do you know about the US Dragon Troops being deployed along the Canadian Border?
I'm looking forward to your comments regarding these issues in SurvivalBlog. - Martin in Montana

JWR Replies: To begin, from the criterion of scale of government gun laws, home schooling regulation, and taxes, I consider Idaho and Montana roughly comparable. Unlike Idaho, Montana has no sales tax, but has fairly expensive car registration. Both states have moderately low property taxes. Most counties in Montana do not require residential building permits. Both Idaho and Montana are open range states. Both states have excellent hunting and fishing, with relatively inexpensive licenses and tags.(Their "sportsman's package"combination licenses are very similar in features and prices.) As you can see from my state level rankings, I rate Idaho #1 and Montana #2. They would probably be tied for first place if it weren't for the colder climate east of the Great Divide (which limits crop diversity), and Montana's nuclear targets. (None of which are in the northwestern part of the state, which would be safely upwind.) Parts of the USFS land in both states are currently targeted for expansion of designated wilderness areas under the pending Northern Rockies Ecosystem Act, which could be an issue when selecting retreat properties. (This law would curtail vehicular access, firewood cutting, and hunting rights for adjoining landowners.)

The reference to the 3rd Chemical Brigade "Dragon Soldiers" that you read was a piece of typical hyperbole from Sorcha Faal. She is notorious for mixing truth, half-truths, and absolute lies into her unique brand of "alternative journalism." I consider her a gray propaganda asset of the Russian Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB) the successor to the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB.) Anything that appears under her byline should be read with strong suspicion. (For each of her stories, ask yourself: Cui bono?)

I generally recommend avoiding buying property that is within 30 miles of the national border. The Border Patrol is indeed authorized to enter private property along the border without permission or prior notice. I have heard a few horror stories about Border Patrol agents zipping around on private property in SUVs or on quad ATVs, just to flex their jurisdictional muscles.But thusfar nearly all of these incidents have occurred within 10 miles of the border and only in a few enforcement "sectors." Parenthetically, I recently spent an afternoon with Todd Savage and a consulting client, touring two prospective retreat properties up in north Idaho. One of these parcels was several hundred acres, and it was literally right on the border. (The north property line was the national border.) I gave the client a thumbs-up on the retreat's water resources, agricultural potential, and defendabilty, but I also issued a strong proviso that they needed to interview the seller and the neighbors about how often they see Border Patrol officers and what enforcement access rights they have exercised.

The decision by CBS to simply cancel Jericho was compounded by how much of a cliffhanger the final episode ended on. Reminiscent of Star Trek and Firefly fans, there has been a steady and growing outcry of loyalist fans. In a show which has been loaded with them, the final episode had the homage to the WWII Battling Bastards of Bastogne, where General Anthony McAuliffe, surrounded and outnumbered, responded to the Germans' order to surrender with the famous one-word reply: "Nuts." The grass roots nuts online campaign, which I have contributed to myself, is a clever and tasteful protest to CBS's decision. The other things you can do, for free, is sign the Save Jericho petition, which is just about to over 100,000 now I see, and to e-mail CBS executives directly.
It was frustrating to see Jericho as such a "surprise hit" wane largely as a result of having to split the season (off air for several months, as was Lost which did survive but also lost viewers), and then be completely dropped cold after a season finale leaving fans on the edge of their seats with so many unanswered questions.
Statements by CBS has hinted there may be mini-movie or mini-series to wrap up to provide "closure" to Jericho. This is not an acceptable appeasement to most fans, who want an entire second season of 22 episodes like the first. The latest rumors though are that CBS is now close to signing an eight episode half season deal.
See also: this article at TV Guide, and this one at Yahoo.

As a final note, the fan appreciation web postings from main characters Skeet Ulrich (Jake), Ashley Scott (Emily) and Lennie James (Hawkins), have been some of the most humble, and truly, sincerely, appreciative to fans that I have ever seen from Hollywood actors. They are taken back at the surge of support in a show they admit through anecdotes they simply loved making. This is a great cast that obviously loved working together. The really seem to feel the pain of fans who were left hanging. I for one am glad I spent the $5 to deliver the message of Nuts to CBS.

More on Jericho:

In closing, I should also mention that Jericho season one, on DVD, will be out in September, on the 11th, a grossly inappropriate date for that IMHO. Nuts again to CBS.
- Rourke (Moderator of Yahoo's Jericho Discussion Group)

"The more I am acquainted with agricultural affairs, the better I am pleased with them; insomuch, that I can no where find so great satisfaction as in those innocent and useful pursuits. In indulging these feelings, I am led to reflect how much more delightful to an undebauched mind, is the task of making improvements on the earth, than all the vainglory which can be acquired from ravaging it, by the most uninterrupted career of conquests." - George Washington, Letter to Arthur Young, December 4, 1788

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Greetings from the rural Northeast, destination of choice for fleeing urban hordes!
I enjoyed the article from Australia a while back on converting a small chest freezer into a low-power refrigerator. I had planned to undertake a project like that this summer. I admired the elegance of the circuit design and the use of a latching relay to lower the power consumption as low as possible.
When I read the letter about using a brewer's thermostat instead, though, I had the same epiphany you did. Your BFO award is certainly appropriate, and I commend Kurt for bringing the idea forward. The reasons may not readily apparent to the majority of your readership however. I see the benefits of
the most recent solution as several:
* The switch is activated by capillary action from the temperature probe; it requires no electricity whatsoever and is totally EMP-proof.
* It is an off-the-shelf solution at reasonable cost.
* It has a nice dead band (difference between on and off). This should be consistent enough for food and medications, but not tight enough to cause overly frequent cycling of the compressor.
* It is completely set-and-forget.
The only cons I would warn your readership about are:
* Because the switch is mechanically activated it will eventually fail.
Based on having used a couple these switches for monitoring outdoor temperature in HVAC systems I would plan on a 10-15 year life span. Put a spare on the shelf. I would probably dial the spare up to 80 degrees and store it someplace cool and consistent like a root cellar to minimize the action on the diaphragm and lengthen its life. Remember that these are
working whether they are plugged in or not. Someone more informed on these may have a better opinion on how to store them long-term.
* If you crimp, crush, or break the tubing the unit will be completely and irreparably dead. Run the tubing carefully through something like surface-mount wire mold to protect it from falling objects, etc. Don't make any sharp-radius bends. Paint it with lacquer or nail polish in corrosive
* It will require a separate temperature monitor for you to see what the fridge is doing. I would recommend a digital thermometer with a remote probe for day to day use and a mechanical (alcohol) backup inside the fridge for TEOTWAWKI and double-checking. Both held in place with industrial Velcro for easy swap-out. An example: this solar-powered fridge thermometer. (I have no first-hand experience with this product.)
Overall, a simple and elegant elegant solution. I think I will pick two up for my project this summer instead of going electronic; one for use and one for the shelf. I am also thinking of gluing rigid foam insulation to the sides and top of the fridge and wonder if other readers have an opinion on
the pros and cons of that.
Speaking of fridge thermometers, keep an eye out for health care expos, etc. in your area. My brother was able to get nearly a dozen 2xAA-powered dual-display LCD thermometers for free at one. They were geared toward refrigerators in doctors' offices. These are promotional items branded by a vaccine company but work just fine nonetheless.

On a completely unrelated note, a friend of mine with a remote camp here in Maine is considering a hand pump as a backup for the well pump on his well. He found a company, Bison Pumps, that has solutions for drawing water from up to 300 feet down using hand power. I have no firsthand experience yet with the company or its products. They appear to be using a stainless steel rod to actuate a moving foot valve inside a 1 1/4" schedule 80 PVC tube that parallels the discharge tubing from your regular well pump. I thought this was a practical solution.
I am relying on a generator to power my well pump in an emergency now but I agree that noise discipline will be critical in a SHTF situation, and hand power certainly trumps gasoline power for long-term peace of mind. Their pump looks very well made, but at about $2,200 to get water up from my 180 foot well, it ain't cheap. Having a couple hundred gallons of water already stored and a list of other preps to finish leaves something like this somewhat lower on my list, but it is on the list. Thanks for a great preparation resource and keep up the good work. - Mike in Maine

JWR Replies: A hand-powered sucker rod pump will indeed work, but will be very labor intensive. Typically, these pumps only lift the water two or three inches with each stroke of the pump handle. So the first time that you raise the water that 180 feet, you may have to actuate the pump handle as many as 1,000 times. And if the foot valve ever starts to leak, the water in the service line will drain overnight. (Read: Possibly 1,000 extra strokes per day!) A more practical solution for deep wells is to either use a jack ("cricket") type pump or a windmill to actuate the sucker rod. Traditionally, sucker rods were made from hardwoods such as white ash. More recently they've been made with metal or fiberglass. Even with ash wood, their service life is measured in decades. The pump cylinders are made of brass and will last many decades. However, the pump leathers will eventually wear out, so you should consider buying a couple of spare sets and storing them someplace safe from mice and moisture/mold. Unfortunately changing all of the leathers on a down-hole sucker-rod actuated pump means yanking the entire sucker rod and then the weight of all 180 feet of your service line. That is a lot of weight, requiring a heavy duty hoist and of course all the usual "mind your head, fingers and toes" safety precautions and protective gear. Lifting a 1-1/2" or 2" diameter 180 foot long pipe is no problem for a pump company, but it would be a challenge for a typical rural family working with an improvised hoist. I recommend that you watch your pump company man carefully as he installs the pump in your well for the first time. You will notice that the crucial piece required is the flange that catches the pipe unions on each 20+ foot long section of service line pipe as they are raised or lowered in the well casing. I've previously owned a jack type pump, and in my experience I found them problematic. I would much rather use a submersible pump. Shallow wells can use DC submersible pumps, but because of the rapid voltage drop in DC cabling, deep wells are limited to AC well pumps. (Either run by an AC generator, or from AC power supplied by an inverter in an alternative energy installation.)


Regarding the refrigerator construction article, The Kill-A-Watt device measures power usage and (among other things) RMS [root mean square] current draw. It does not appear to measure peak current draw, which is a critical input when sizing a stand-alone PV system. The compressor cycling on the freezer mentioned (which may be exacerbated by the external controller) will make demands on the supply of current that far exceed those implied by a 1 KW average power consumption. I didn’t know if this would be obvious to your readers.
Keep up the good work. - Michael W.

A vehicle with standard transmission, points ignition, generator and wire wound voltage regulator will roll-start or push-start without a starter or battery. Disconnect positive cable clamp at the battery, and secure it where it cannot ground. Taping it to a heater hose is okay. Then push start. Any competent old mechanic can rig a truck as described. Many young mechanics were not trained to work on vehicles built before the Federal government mandated unshielded electronic [ignition]s on all civilian vehicles. One nuclear detonation in space 300 miles high and 99% civilian vehicles exposed to electromagnetic pulse (EMP) will not run. It is what? A conspiracy to put 250,000,000 armed American patriots afoot? Of course not. it is progress. - Vlad

JWR Replies: You should not disconnect the battery when push-, pull-, or roll-starting an engine. Operating an engine with no battery connected can create voltage spikes when the alternator goes into full field mode. These spike might fry the various processors, such as the Body Control Module (BCM), Powertrain Control Module (PCM), Electronic Control Module (ECM)--or Electronic Distributorless Ignition System (EDIS) in Ford terminology.

I believe that the EMP threat to automobile electronic ignition systems is real, but that it has been considerably over-stated by some pundits. With that said, it is prudent to own at least one vehicle that is either a diesel (a model with electronic fuel controls and a traditional glow plug switch) or a gasoline engine with a traditional points/rotor/condenser ignition system. If you don't have the budget to buy a second vehicle that is "EMP Proof" then you should store two or three spare electronic ignition processor modules in a steel ammo can. Consult your local auto mechanic for the details on exactly what would be needed for your particular make/model/year vehicle. If new processors are too expensive, you can probably obtain some used ones from a "pick and pull" auto wrecking yard.

Kurt mentioned a video with a very good practical demonstration of a Faraday cage suit.

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Reader M.P. found a web site for a company that makes a potable water storage bladder insert that fits in most bathtubs.

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Rob at Green Mountain Gear reports that deliveries are continuing on the SurvivalBlog Group Buy for M16 30 round magazines. Because of delays by the manufacturer, they still haven't received all of the thousands of magazines that were ordered. But rest assured that they are being shipped as soon Green Mountain Gear receives each batch, in the same order that payments were received. The final batch is expected to be shipped by the manufacturer on June 6th. Yes, such long delays with group buys are not unusual, but the good news is that you are getting the merchandise at the lowest possible price. Rob thanks you for your patience!

"Nature has made up her mind that what cannot defend itself shall not be defended." - Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1870

Monday, June 4, 2007

I'm amazed at the wide variety of people that read SurvivalBlog. I"m starting a new poll: in seven words or less, tell us you profession, (via e-mail) and I will post an anonymous list. For any of you that are doctors, lawyers, or engineers, and so forth please state your specialty. If you have two (or more) vocations, please state the both with a slash in between. (Such as "neurosurgeon / musician.")

As standard policy, unless specifically given permission I remove people's names, titles, e-mail addresses, company names, and other identifiers from letters before I post them. Without mentioning any names, let me briefly summarize some the more notable readers that I already know about: NASA scientists, Lawrence National Laboratories physicists, pharmacists, doctors in various specialties, Hollywood actors, foundry workers, novelists, a rock-'n- roll musician, dojo masters, current and former military intelligence officers, NSA intelligence analysts, stock analysts, derivatives traders, aircraft mechanics, an astronaut, beekeepers, military and civilian pilots (lots!), submariners, an underwater welder, veterinarians--including one that is also an attorney, a prototype automobile modeler in Detroit, real estate agents, truckers, organic farmers, a mushroom farmer, two fish farmers, research chemists, an underwater photographer, U.S. Army Special Forces officers and NCOs, Navy SEALs, petroleum engineers, umpteen electrical and computer engineers, and dozens of police officers, paramedics, and firemen. I'll be interested to see what a more complete list looks like!

I have been reading the SurvivalBlog for some time now and thought I would share some information about a retreat technology that I have not seen mentioned. I am referring to a brick oven for baking bread, pizza and a large variety of other foods. Brick ovens have been around for thousands of years, they were very common in Roman times. They are having a revival in the artisan baking community and can also be found in many authentic pizza restaurants. They do take a little work to construct, however it is very simple to operate (decidedly low tech) and just needs firewood. These ovens generate a good deal more heat that most modern electric or gas ovens. Generally around 700 degrees Fahrenheit, they can bake a large number of loaves in a relatively short time. They have a large thermal mass and stay hot for quite some time. For instance, you can bake several loaves one day and still have enough heat to bake bread the next morning for breakfast, all from one firing. This would be a valuable asset in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Also having fresh bread would be valuable for barter or charity for your neighbors. Besides being a useful skill for home use, it could also be a valuable asset for after the SHTF as people may have stored wheat but those fancy dual fuel ovens will not work without electric power.

JWR Replies: We mentioned masonry stoves several times in the first year of SurvivalBlog posts. These stoves usually have a bake oven compartment, although some are purpose-built, just for bread baking. I highly recommend masonry stoves. The higher initial investment is more than offset by their great efficiency and versatility. There are a few masonry craftsmen scattered across the US and Canada that specialize in building masonry stoves.

Military surplus Interceptor Body Armor (IBA) is starting to show up on eBay from Iraq war veterans who had to purchase the military spec armor themselves before the military was able to issue the armor to every soldier. This week, I purchased a full set of the Interceptor body armor with the front and back small arms protective insert small arms protective insert (SAPI) rifle plates from an Army officer via eBay. This equipment is heavy (around 17 pounds) tactical armor that is bulky. It offers good protection and intimidation factors for post-TEOTWAWKI uses and is perfect for guard duty or working security related jobs. The Dragonskin armor is better but is too expensive (~$5,000) unless if you need it for a day job (e.g. contractor in Iraq or Afghanistan). I would still recommend separately buying a concealable, lighter Level IIIA bullet proof vest for use in day-to-day, non-tactical applications, particularly for trading and leaving your home or retreat during an economic collapse or severe economic depression. Finally, your mileage can vary purchasing on eBay. The condition of the equipment varies greatly, not all auctions include the SAPI rifle plates, and some are for the older (defective) versions that used the Zylan material. I would recommend that SurvivalBlog readers create an e-mail alert on eBay to have eBay send them an email when the key word "interceptor armor" appears in new auctions. There are some bargains and more sets of Interceptor Body Armor are starting to show up in eBay auctions. - Dr. Richard

Mr. Rawles,
In response to a recent readers posting (Re: Raising Goats for Self-Sufficiency by Wife of NH Jumbo) A reference was made to wanting to learn more about the wood gasification used by Europeans to run vehicles without oil imports during and after World War II.
I have found a ton of information from Knowledge Publications. The books and videos while expensive can be priceless in the not too distant future. There is information and supplies for hydrogen, producer gas( wood or biomass gasification) methane digesters even refrigeration without electricity. They sell a small camp stove that produces and burns bio based gas they have for sale right no a small generator with the hydrogen conversion built in. Also see this YouTube video clip.
We like so many others here home school the kids, and the information in these books have provided several hair-raising, and eyebrow scorching science projects. But best of all it has let the kids, especially my "I am not going to sit still for this learning stuff" son, learn things that they can use in the future, regardless of when The Schumer Hits the Fan.
If nothing else, sign up for the e-mails videos and specials come in regularly that make you really want to roll up your sleeves and do it. - Tip in Lost Wages

Ex-Airport Worker Plots Massive Attack On New York's JFK Airport

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A SurvivalBlog reader mentioned to me that he is selling his five acre off-grid retreat in a remote area of northwestern Colorado. The home there is a two story, 24' x 32', post and beam cape style. There is a spring on the property that puts out 300 gallons a day into a 110 gal cistern which is then pumped by a Honda high pressure water pump to a 300 gallon holding tank in the house. The water is pressurized through the home with an RV water pump.They installed a tilt solar panel array to charge a 24 volt battery bank. A Trace/Xantrex 4024 inverter-charger powers the home. They later added an Air-X 24 VDC wind generator as well to take advantage of the 20 to 40 mph winds that frequent the area. Using a Honda EM7000 generator it takes just an hour of generator run time (about 3/4 gal of gasoline) the batteries are charged to run the refrigerator, TV, and household lights for 7-8 hours. The property is 45 miles from the town of Craig, Colorado--an hour and a half from Steamboat Springs. Because the county does not plow the roads in winter, they snowmobile their supplies in from the first week of December to the middle of April. The home is fully functional although the interior walls are lined with reflectix insulation. Anyone that is seriously considering relocating to northwestern Colorado and that enjoys isolation can e-mail me, and I will be happy to forward your e-mail to the seller.

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Cowabunga! I just noticed that spot silver just opened at more than $13.60 per ounce this morning in Japanese trading. I told you so...

"A good plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point in the future." - Gen. George Patton

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mr. Rawles,
Just received the updated version of your novel/manual "Patriots". I love it.
Just a short note about water usage some folks might find useful: My wife and I are pre-positioning our "stuff" at our new retreat home. Finally clearing out the storage sheds and the house we currently live in. Anyway, the water situation at the retreat is this. We have a well but because of no electricity we have no water. Electricity is being fixed this week and the well /pump issue soon to follow. When we would go down to the retreat to work we had to bring jugs of water with us and than "borrow" from our vary kind and supportive neighbors. This past memorial weekend (31/2 days) proved to both of us how much water two people can really use working in 80 plus degree days. Going to our retreat isn't a picnic at this time in its evolution. Lots of physical labor. With cooking, bathing, cleaning, flushing toilet (sparingly) and drinking we consumed approximately 100 gallons of water. Most of it went to hydration and hygiene. Being that we're both in our 50's I don't think that that had anything to do with water consumption. Thirty years ago when I was active in sports and such I would consume tons of liquid. A body needs water to keep going , plain and simple. No water and in three days your in deep Schumer.
In a grid up SHTF scenario it would be a time to store as much water as possible for when it becomes a grid down scenario (hopefully you're already storing some). Then there would be control of the water. We will get solar Panels/batteries and a genny hook up at the pump for grid-down scenarios. I couldn't imagine having to bug out on foot with just a gallon of water. You'd better have a water route planned and good water filters, etc because you will go through that gallon of water in no time. Than your going to be really hurting. If you have kids or grand kids your going to need to have a lot of water available. Do the math. Then multiply by 10.
Well, just sharing. Hope it helps someone. - Larry in Kansas

I recently discovered your blog. It is excellent -- very smart and very rational. Many thanks for the service you provide.
One of the most important concepts I've come across in years is the concept of "adaptive agents" within complex adaptive systems. Here's a definition from a useful web site:
"An entity that, by sensing and acting upon its environment, tries to fulfill a set of goals in a complex, dynamic environment. Properties: (1) it can sense the environment through its sensors and act on the environment through its actuators; (2) it has an internal information processing and decision making capability; (3) it can anticipate future states and possibilities, based on internal models (which are often incomplete and/or incorrect); (4) this anticipatory ability often significantly alters the aggregate behavior of the system of which an agent is part. An agent's goals can take on diverse forms: (i) desired local states;(ii) desired end goals;(iii) selective rewards to be maximized; (iv) internal needs (or motivations) that need to be kept within desired bounds. Since a major component of an agent's environment consists of other agents, agents spend a great deal of their time adapting to the adaptation patterns of other agents."
Because I regard myself as a smart person, I believe that I would be very foolish indeed if I did not use my smarts, along with all available information sources, to carefully model the environment and then to act on that environment in a way that achieves my goals. A smart person would be foolish to allow ideology to distort his internal model of the external world. Thus it makes no difference that I have for years been a resident of Nancy Pelosi's district in San Francisco or that my model of the political environment sees by far a greater danger from the political right than from the political left. It only matters that I do my best to model the environment and anticipate future states of that environment.
For some risks (as I see it), the variables are so wild that modeling is almost impossible. Risks that I place in that category include such risks as radiological risks from, say, dirty bombs; or biological risks from both pandemics and terrorist activities. When and where and whether such threats occur is almost impossible to predict, but it's easy to conclude that one would be better off in the boonies than in a densely populated area.
There is another kind of risk, however, that my model sees as coming at us like a freight train. That is the risk of economic calamity, followed by deep recession, probably followed by hyperinflation, followed by shortages of all kinds, followed by severe social and civil disorder and dislocation. Once conditions that harsh set in, it's obvious that those who were not prepared are going to be desperate.
Because of my age (58), and because I am descended from generations of hardy people who lived close to the land in and around the Appalachian mountains, and because I saw as a child and remember how they lived, it is easy for me to see that, during the 1930s, such people got through the Great Depression because they had the skills, the land, the infrastructure, and the community support for subsistence close to the land. They didn't turn on each other. They helped each other out. Such people are an endangered species today. The last 10 years have been particularly harsh for these people as cheap Chinese imports and a flood of borrowed money crushed their economic niche, and as the housing boom ate their land for second homes for city dwellers. For example, Allegheny County, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, lost 60 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2005, while luxury housing devoured its little family farms and scenic ridges, while the blind suburban and entitlement mentality of the outsiders ran roughshod over the fragile rural culture.
If my model differs from yours, it is that I'm willing to risk that the social structure may hold up in certain places that are sparsely populated, agricultural, that have a history of self-reliance, and where knowledge of how to live close to the land persists. This rural culture still exists intact in some pockets and escaped the recent building and development boom. Those who doubt my optimism on rural social structure would do better to seek greater isolation.
So what am I doing in Nancy Pelosi's district? Saving a few more dollars and meeting a few more goals before I head for the hills in about five more months. Two years ago I bought (and paid cash for) five rural acres in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It's not much land, but it's all I could afford, and to me debt is out of the question. My land is all woods, on a southern slope, with a small stream, surrounded by yet more woods and hilly terrain. It's at the end of a rough gravel road which is reached by a winding country road. I had my well drilled last year. I bought a used camping trailer to live in while I build a small house starting early next year. I admit that I am nervously hoping to time the housing market -- to whip out my hard-saved cash and build the house while my dollars are still worth something, while building costs are depressed, and before runaway inflation begins. I would not dare push that beyond 2008. The county in which I bought land is relatively poor, racially and culturally un-diverse, agricultural, and still undisturbed by suburbanization because of its hilly terrain, distance from the interstate highways, and inferior network of small winding roads. In this environment, I'm regarding my neighbors as lines of defense, and potential allies, rather than as threats.
A plan like mine would not work for everyone. Though I have lived in California for 16 years, I lived in rural North Carolina for much of my life, and I understand and know how to work with the rural culture there because I was born into it and have relatives there. For those whose retreat is based on maximum self-sufficiency and isolation, I suppose culture doesn't matter much. But for those whose retreat includes a modest amount of land and requires cooperation and trust among neighbors, I would regard culture as extremely important. The locals in most places would find it hard to trust someone they regarded as an alien. Trust is a dwindling resource in American society and is one of the first casualties of multiculturalism. This lack of trust, the frightening decline of civility to the lowest common denominator, is in my view making places like San Francisco hard and stressful to the point of being almost uninhabitable. We are coerced from both the political left and the political right to "celebrate" cultural diversity. We are told that it creates vibrant neighborhoods, etc., etc. But recent studies have shown that the opposite is true. Cultural differences cause neighbors to distrust each other, to keep to themselves, and to not work together to solve common problems. My advice to those who're still searching for their retreat or who're trying to decide whether they can ride it out in place would be not to ignore cultural factors. Do you trust the people around you, and do they trust you? Insofar as you need the cooperation and protection of others if things get really bad, will you get that cooperation and protection?
I'm attaching an aerial photo of my land (inside the blue line). I'm not sure whether the numbers make it identifiable, so the photo is not for publication.
Our models of the external environment must be constantly updated, else they become inaccurate and lead us into errors of judgment. Your Web site is an excellent source of information for keeping our models up to date. Best regards and many thanks, - David in California

Dear Jim and Family,
Regarding the [recent Odds 'n Sods] link to the article about the Aussie researcher [Australian Researcher warns about Mass Human Extinction from Global Environmental Collapse] As a geologist, I feel compelled to respond.

There are lots of critical events to worry about, but shifting the crust around like a greased orange peel is not one of them. Be worried about the collapse of the Cantarell oilfield in Mexico. Be worried about an attack on Ras Tanura loading station in the Persian Gulf. Be worried about Iran building nukes, and giving them to Al Qaeda and Hezbollah. Be worried about a hurricane taking down more oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico this summer. These are real and serious concerns. Best, - InyoKern

Economist Bill Fleckenstein's commentary: A Fourth Turning Economic Winter is Coming

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Dwindling of Rare Metals Imperils Innovation

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You may recall that we recently mentioned DiBlasi folding motorbikes in SurvivalBlog. I just heard from Vic at SafeCastle that they have secured a dealership from the North American DiBlasi distributor--noteworthy because Safecastle is their first and only web-based dealership. Vic has listed the Di Blasi motorbike in his SafeCastle Royal Buyers Club. (Where members get 20% off, and free shipping.)

"To sin by silence when one should protest makes a coward of a man." - Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Today we present the first article for Round 11 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) Second prize is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. Round 11 runs for two months, ending on the last day of July. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The author of this article is a 13 year old girl. She says "I live on a small preparedness homestead I have had the pleasure to raise chickens, ducks, rabbits, ponies, horse, calves, guinea fowl, dogs, and pheasants I love to read and study all about the animals and how to live more efficiently. My ultimate dream is to live in the mountains off-grid.

Horses will be quite handy in a survival situation to be pack animals, to ride, to do farm work, and many other things. But horses eat enormous amounts of food and generally are not surefooted.
So how are you going to have pack animals, riding animals, and farm workers? Well, ponies of course! Ponies are smaller than horses no taller then 14.2 hands high so they are easier to handle, they are more surefooted then horses, and eat a lot less than horses. (One hand equals four inches.)
Horses (Especially Draft horses) require high quality feed, but ponies can easily survive on poor quality feed if worst comes to worst, do to the rugged conditions they were developed in. Most ponies are very easy to train, unlike Mustangs who hardly ever lose their wildness. Many people think ponies are too small to do anything, but that is not true at all. Ponies are proportionately stronger than horses, and all the ponies I will suggest you to research to possibly buy are almost the size of a horse.
Most ponies don't even need to be shod, and that will come in handy in a disaster. In our area it costs approximately $430 to keep one horse shod for one year, on top of very expensive feed bills makes one mighty big sum to invest on a horse.
Here are a few good pony breeds, and benefits for survival and enjoyment.

Avelignese:From Italy
Unflappable temperament
Perfect family riding pony
Up to 14.3 hands high (hh)
Good for novice riders
Used for farm work
Color is chestnut w/flaxen mane and tail

Connemara: From Ireland
Good stamina
Hard feet
Good for riding and driving
Excellent for wet climates
Very intelligent
Up to 14.2 hh
Colors are Gray, bay, and brown

Dales and Fells ponies From England
Can carry huge weights
It was used to carry lead oar out of mines
Good riding and harness ponies
Good in bad weather
Sensible temperament
Dales up to 14.2 hh Fells up to 14 hh
Colors are Black, Dark Brown, and Bay

Garrano From Portugal
Good for riding and driving
Quite temperament
Good for woody and steep areas
10 to 14 hh
Colors are Bay, Brown, or Chestnut

Haflinger: From Austria
Good farm workers
Good riding ponies
Nice temperament
Up to 14 hh
Color is chestnut w/flaxen mane and tail

Highland: From Scotland
Very hardy and sturdy
Good in bad weather
Will do almost anything
It was used on deer hunts to haul dead deer out of Scottish hills
It also was used to haul peat out of the bogs
Very calm temperament
Up to 14.2 hh
Good riding pony
Colors are dun, gray, bay, and black
Good in swampy conditions

Nigerian From Nigeria
Excellent in hot climates
Quite temperament
Good stamina
Good for riding, driving, and packing
14 to 14.2 hh

Any color Norwegian Fjord: From Norway
Good for mountain areas
Were used as Vikings war ponies
Tireless workers
Excellent Temperament
Good farm workers
Good riding ponies
If worst comes to worst they can survive by eating stuff other horses consider inedible
Very hard feet
Remember what you teach them very well
13 to 14hh
Color is Dun

Welsh Mountain:
Up to 12 hh
Welsh pony class B:
Up to 13.2 hh
Welsh pony class C:
Up to 13.2 hh
Welsh pony class D (or Welsh Cob):
No height limit

All Welsh Ponies:
> From Wales
Hardy and sturdy
Eat very little
Good riding ponies
All colors except Piedball and Skewball

Any of these ponies are excellent choices for survival. Please research which one of those pony breeds will be best for you. I wrote this article so you can choose which pony breeds to research for survival and enjoyment. I hope that if you get a pony you will enjoy raising it as much as I enjoy my Icelandic pony Trigger (I did not include Icelandic ponies in my article because they generally have a bad attitude). My sisters and I also own a 35 year old Welsh Mountain pony whose just a big pet named Sam, a feisty 7 year old American Shetland named Dusty, and a very large and friendly 8 year old Quarter Horse named Sassy.

Well written article especially for a "newbie" to hurricanes in Florida. However, I must take exception to the one item that MFA ignored: a standby generator! Life after a storm in Florida without a generator can best be described in two words: "absolute misery." Without going into details, a generator will mean the difference between an Absolutely Miserable Time and a manageable Difficult Time.
Personally we have a Honda 6500 [6.5 KW] electric start generator to use during the storm to provide power for lights, television Weather News and to keep the refrigerators and freezers running. After the storm, we change over to the 40 KW diesel generator that will power everything and then some.
Imagine the difference between working outside in 100 degree [Fahrenheit] heat and going into a house that is 110+ degrees inside with no running water.
Now working in the 100 degree heat and going into a house that is 68 degrees and has a nice shower with all the hot water you can use.
Like the old-time carnival barkers used to say, "you pay your money and you enjoy what you pay for". Regards, - Roc O.

Hi Jim,
I thought it prudent to add a bit to Mr. Savage's fire fighting equipment article. It touches two topics worth mentioning.
In the article, Mr. Savage recommends a fire truck, bladder, tank, etc... for firefighting. I have no problem with this unless it is winter. Trying to pump this much water on as "as need" basis in the event of a fire is obviously not going to work as well. Storing the water in a "non-potable" type container clearly marked, one could add the appropriate amount of RV antifreeze to the tank to keep from bursting your firefighting vessel, pipes, and valves.
Please don't confuse this with vehicle antifreeze.
For those considering using the RV for bugging out or a second retreat, then it would be necessary to understand how to winterize and de-winterize your piping if you desire to keep things relatively intact.
This would also be an important segue into learning to winterize your home in case you decide to shut off heat to most rooms, but would like the ability to have pipes that are not broken/ frozen at a later date when outside temps are above freezing.
Since we are on the topic of water, another thing to mention in addition to the corn/ pellet, wood boiler type heat, I would like to add geothermal to what in my opinion is a worthless heat/cool source post-TEOTWAWKI. Most don't know this, but in our climate, the electrical needs for the system can easily surpass 100 amps! Good luck powering that with your wind turbine. Sorry for the ramble, but wanted to bring up a few talking points. God Bless, - The Wanderer

JWR Replies: The power required to run a home geothermal heating system varies widely, depending on the water temperature and well depth. In some places like Klamath Falls, Oregon, where there is fairly hot water at shallow depth, a "closed loop" system connected to hydronic sub-floor pipes can use just a small circulating pump that draws relatively little current. BTW, Klamath Falls is one of the preferred retreat locales mentioned in my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. And, BTW, I once had the opportunity to buy a ranch near Wells, Nevada that had a large hot spring with gravity flow to the house. This could have provided geothermal heat with no pumping requirement. However, the Memsahib and I decided to pass on buying that property because we felt that it was too close to the I-80 corridor and hence not strategically viable.

"Far from being grateful defenders of the system from which they have profited, the children of capitalism tend to turn against it. Thus it is that radicals and even revolutionaries almost always stem from the middle and upper classes rather than the working class or the poor, in whose name they presume to speak. And thus it is that what is called liberalism today is increasingly identified with the more, rather than the less, prosperous sectors of American society. - Norman Podhoretz, editor, Commentary, Harvard Business Review, 1981

Friday, June 1, 2007

Notes from JWR: We've finished the judging: The First Place winner for Round 10 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is "Grandpappy" for his article "How to Harvest, Process, and Store Vegetable Seeds", which was posted on May 11th. Congratulations! He is being awarded a valuable four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $2,000!) The Second Place award goes to Freeholder, for her article "Raising Goats for Self-Sufficiency", which was posted on May 26th. She will receive a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. I am also presenting three autographed copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. These go to:
Mr. Yankee, for his article "Top Ten Suggestions for Stocking Up" (posted April 2nd.)
RSC, for his article "Prepping for Children and Teaching them Preparedness" (posted April 7th.)
Korey, for his article "Basics of Keeping a Small Flock of Goats for Survival Protein" (posted April 10th.)

Note to the contest winners: Please e-mail me and let me know your snail mail addresses for delivery of your prizes. Thanks!

Round 11 of the writing contest begins today! Get busy writing and us your article. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging. Since SurvivalBlog is "text only" for the convenience of readers that use mobile devices, please do not include illustrations with your article. (Although articles with URL links to images housed at your own web site for at least three years are acceptable.)

A note about future trade items. Large conventional lead-acid batteries. They are necessary for starting most vehicles, tractors, etc. They are necessary for off-grid solar electric systems, et cetera. The problem as I see it is - long term storage. Most batteries come filled - and degrade over time regardless if you use them or not. Some companies are willing to sell batteries dry - for long-term storage - but even that comes with a problem. Most batteries offered for sale as "dry" have actually been filled once, charged, and then drained - thus the common term of "dry charged." These batteries still degrade over time - it’s slower but still happens. For long term battery storage, what is needed is a truly dry battery that has been assembled but never filled or charged. Very few companies sell them this way, but some do on special order.
JD from New York

JWR Replies: If stored "wet" typical automobile and deep cycle batteries will sulfate to the point where they won't hold a charge after 8 or 9 years. You are correct that the way to avoid this is to store batteries "dry"--sans battery acid. Some of the larger battery distributors including Interstate Batteries will indeed provide truly "dry" batteries on special order. But you are right: that you need to be sure that you are getting batteries than have never been filled with electrolyte. And of course you will need to also procure some carboys of battery acid. Filling batteries has its own set of handling, safety, and storage concerns.

If you do things right, with enough cash you could potentially buy yourself a 30+ year supply of spare batteries for your vehicle(s) and for your alternative home power system. And yes, JD, you are also correct that they will be an awesome barter item.

Hi Jim
There was an article on your blog a few weeks ago about converting a chest freezer into a low wattage refrigerator. I decided to make one of these as it is a great idea. I purchased a 7 cu ft freezer at Home Depot for $200 and then bought this device (the Johnson model) and that was all that I needed.

I first used it as a freezer and put a Kill A Watt [current monitor] on it. It averaged 1.13 KW per 24 hours. I then used the thermostat and used it as a refrigerator and tested it with the Kill A Watt and [found that it then] used .536 kw per 24 hours. The freezer is in the garage (average 80 degrees now) and as summer heats up, I'm sure the usage will increase. (I'm in Florida) but I'm sure it will still draw less current than a 100 w light bulb.

I do not have a photovoltaic (PV) system yet, but I am designing it so that it will power the fridge, as well as other basic electrical needs. Best Regards, - The Other Other Kurt

JWR Replies: Many thanks for sending those details! There are millions of diabetics whose lives might be saved with effective refrigeration of insulin during a natural disaster, localized power failure, or a widespread power grid failure (such as the U.S. blackout in August of 2003). I am surprised that the various charitable organizations involved in diabetes research and prophylaxis haven't made this sort of information widely available. A small PV panel powered system is affordable for most diabetics in First World countries.
OBTW, your letter just won you a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) award. I will be sending you an autographed copy of one of my books.

Regarding the letter on motorcycle engine oils, you are correct about most motorcycles using a wet clutch and the need for extra additives in the oil, but there are a couple of other issues of importance.
First off, cars use a separate oil supply for engine and gearbox, which allows the oil manufacturer to customize oils for each application. Motorcycle engines on the other hand usually use a common supply for both, which means that motorcycle oils need the additives in them for both engine and gearbox applications. The problem is that being in an engine destroys the additives needed for the gearbox, and vice versa, which is one of the reasons that motorcycle oils need changing so often.
The other issue is that motorcycles tend to be in a much higher state of tune than a similar sized car engine, and hence work their lubricants a lot harder. This shortens their life too, and means that you need higher performance lubricants in the first place.
When picking an oil you need to ask yourself two questions :
Is the oil supply for engine and gearbox separate?
Is there a dry clutch?
If you can answer yes to both questions then good car oils will do the job. If the answer to either is no, then you really need dedicated motorcycle oils.
The Harley brand oil mentioned in the original letter should have a section on the label telling you what particular standards it meets (as will any oil). Look for the text talking about American Petroleum Institute (API) standards or service classes.
The service class is a two letter code, the first being S for spark ignition (petrol / gasoline) or C for compression ignition (diesel), the second letter identifies the exact standard, with B being more modern than A. Given that engine performance has increased with time, a B standard oil could be said to be higher performance than an A standard oil (very, very roughly). Standards develop with time, and many are obsolete, but so long as the oil you use meets or exceeds the standard on the bottle / in the owners manual then you are should be OK (i.e if you need an oil to service class SF, then oil to class SG will do, but not the other way round).
Bear in mind the points above though, if you have a wet clutch / shared oil supply you must use a proper motorcycle oil as a car oil will not have the correct additives.
I'd also be as wary of using really cheap oils, even though they meet the required standard. They will be cheap because they use cheap ingredients, which won't last as long in the engine. Oils degrade as you use the engine, and a good oil will degrade less then a cheap one will.
As to traditional versus synthetic, well synthetic oils work better, lasts longer in the engine and can have a wider temperature grade - 5W50 against 20W50 (for example). Given that most engine wear happens when it starts (before the oil gets moving) an oil that is 5 weight when cold will be lubricating the engine a lot earlier than one that is 20 weight, so the synthetic oil will help your engine to last longer too. The down side of course is that synthetic oils are much more expensive.
The higher performance the engine, the more important this will be. A Harley (which is low performance by motorcycle standards) would see less benefit than the latest Japanese or Italian racer. I hope that the preceding is informative, and thanks for all the effort that goes into the site. - Brian E.

I noticed that spot silver and gold have broken out of their narrow trading ranges. It is unusual for metals to make a big move like this at this time of year. (Summer has traditionally been a quiet time for the precious metals markets.) So this move might foreshadow a frantic market this coming Fall. As I often say: 1.) Silver will considerably out-perform gold in this bull market and 2.) Buy on the dips!

  o o o

The new Western Rifle Shooters organization is having their first rifle training event in Kooskia, Idaho on July 7-8.

   o o o

Will the violence in Sonora, Mexico spill over into Arizona?

"And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, – Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough." - Luke 22:35-38 (KJV)

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