July 2007 Archives

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Those of you that have been reading SurvivalBlog for a while have probably taken the time to read through the Retreat Owner Profiles page. Today we present a new profile, for a gent that now carries the moniker "Mr. Uniform." The profiles are not mere brag sessions. They are the opportunity to see preparedness in action, custom tailored or various locales, circumstances, preferences, and budgets. There is a lot to be learned from the Profiles. Read between the lines. OBTW, we still have room for a few more profiles. I'd particularly like to hear from overseas readers, and anyone that has established a retreat in a severe climate.

Present Home: 63 year old brick veneer over weather board farmhouse (1,300 square feet) built by my father. 25 acres, consisting of 3.5 acres of pine, 9 acres of old growth hardwoods, 1.5 acres of apple, pear, pecan, grape, muscudine, and scuppernong orchard/grove/vineyard. Additional 900 square foot house, 100 year barn (30'x30' with loft and sheds), outdoor privy, detached 24'x24' garage building, 140 square foot storage building, dog house/lot, hog house lot (not used at present). Approximately three acres in farmstead buildings, drives, and gardens. Balance of land in open arable land presently used by neighbor as native grass hay field. All but the very front of house is inside a fence. Yard and road frontage is behind a five foot chain link or five foot wood picket fence. Remainder of property line is behind an old five-strand barbed wire fence (needs upgrading). Property is in northwest portion of South Carolina. Family has lived in area for over 500 years (Cherokee portion), most of the remainder for more than 200 years. Family on two sides and long term (over 80 years) family friends on two sides. House fronts on a small farm to market road but backs to a heavily traveled Interstate. Attend a small Baptist Church that ancestors helped to found 204 years ago (veterans of Revolutionary War). Property has two hand dug wells near headwaters of creek. Presently use public water, but both wells are usable by hand drawing with a windless. Water is free of contaminants per test. Presently plant garden from heirloom seeds and co-operate with neighbors and family in trade.

Ages: Mr Uniform: 47 His widowed mother: 82

Annual Income: Gross $86,000, Net $43,000

Occupations: Government employee. Mother is a retired widowed homemaker and cancer survivor.

Hobbies/Avocation: Hunt, Fish, Camp, volunteer fireman (Board Member and Arson Investigator), Volunteer Advanced State Constable (Police Officer), trained medical First Responder.
Investments: Gold and silver coin including ‘junk’ silver, copper coin, Thrift Board (similar to 401k). Some open note debt due to family sicknesses and deaths.

Vehicles: 1968 Chevy pickup, two Cadillacs (one built in 1980s, the other in the late1990s), 1998 Ford F150 4WD Pickup, 1957 Ford Tractor (34 h.p. gas) with crop implements and some mule implements. Keep all vehicles fueled and serviced.

Fuel Storage: 500 gallons propane for cooking and furnace. 15 gallons of K-1 kerosene for lamps, lanterns, and back-up heat. 25 gallons of 4 cycle gas. 2.5 gallons of 2 cycle gas. Two wood heaters in storage in barn. Plan: to cut and rack wood in a shed to be built. Plan on buying wood cook stove in future and put in storage. All wood heat was removed from house in 1985 due to Father’s health. Also to put in at least 1000 gallon gas tank and fuel oil tank. Also, a kerosene tank in 500 to 1000 gallon range. Probably in a ventilated shed instead of underground due to water table in the defensible zone.

Livestock: One collie at moment, used for guard/watch dog. Hope to add small livestock within a year (one species at a time). Beef cattle on one neighbor’s place. Dairy within 3 miles (high school class mate). Hogs on two neighbors farms within two miles and chickens close.

Communications: Land line with DSL hook up. Cell phones. Two privately owned walkie-talkies programmed for direct communication with local law enforcement, fire, and EMS. One pair of FRS radios. One small programmable scanner, one CB transceiver, one shortwave receiver. Want to add field phone capability.
Food and supply storage: 9 months to a year on most everything from food to toothpaste. We employ the method of :"use one and buy three."

Mail service: Rural route delivery for some things, P.O. Box in neighboring village for others, while package delivery generally goes to one of the offices that I work out of.

Shortcomings: Too close to interstate highway though county is almost an island with lakes, control points could be manned at all of the bridges entering county and control much of the flow of traffic. Patrol the Interstate Highway corridor to keep unauthorized exit from the Interstate. Also, patrol the lake shore for unwanted landings. 100 miles from Atlanta, 50 miles from Greenville, 150 miles from Charlotte. All too close. Not enough food and supplies, I think 3 years should be on hand and rotated. Not enough ammo. Inadequate fuel supply, and no alternative source of electricity yet. Nuclear plant nearby.

Taxes: Moderate and rising due to refugees from northeast moving into lake developments and demanding more county services. Many of these will be first to go down in a long term grid down situation

Armory: Fire rated safe with S&G. Adequate with a mixture of heavy battle and hunting rifles, medium battle and hunting rifles, and light battle and hunting rifles, and .22 rimfire. Same with shotguns, and pistols. Somewhat of the Mel Tappan philosophy. Good supply of spare magazines. Have had very good tactical and firearms training from law enforcement, SAR, IDPA, and SASS. Two ballistic vests and several non ballistic tactical vests. Next door neighbor similarly armed and prepared. Sister (40+ acres) and cousins (1 to 10 acres each) (within 3 miles) are more armed for personal protection and hunting than tactical. I go armed from rising to bed. Also carry a minimum kit in vehicle: one .40 cal with rig, one carbine, ammo, water, clothes, meds, MREs. I travel an average of 800 miles per week on job. I average 13 hour days, 5 days per week, plus 12 hours per week law enforcement volunteer, three hours per week average for VFD. This is to help me get home. Need some NVGs. Have motion sensors. Placing more. Have more fencing in storage.

Other People Joining Us: Cousins from metro Atlanta area, former naval IT electronics person and shipboard security team leader. Maybe one cousin from Hart County, Georgia who lives alone and in late 60s. He grows the grain and has a saw mill. He is former army signal corps telephone. I have married sister, married niece, and several married cousins within area. If ones property becomes compromised, we will double up.

Affiliations: Active in Church (Bible Study Teacher, Church Clerk, and Deacon). Past Master in local [Masonic] Lodge.

Education: BS in Ag Ed, Masters in Agricultural Education, many semester hours over Masters in Administration and Supervision, 50 quarter hours in Criminal Justice. Former high school ag teacher and animal science professor in a Jr. College.

Area: Local fire district (all volunteer) is 25 square miles with a permanent population of about 2,500. Two private church schools, five churches, one truck stop, four country stores and locally owned building supply store, Medical Clinic with two Doctors, Pharmacist, and Nurses. Local fire department forms the basis of local Civil Defense. 24 out of 26 members are armed. Two Unarmed: One is a local Doctor and Army veteran (Bosnian Call-Up) and the other is a CPA. Adjoining fire districts are similar. I am covered under Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs).

Safety Act for firearms carrying. Most of the fire department have South Carolina and New Hampshire carry permits with [reciprocity] coverage in several states. Civil Defense plans are in place to secure the interstate in an emergency. Overall, community, including elderly widows, is well armed, just not tactical. Has at least 14 present and former LEOs within five miles, one is the County Sheriff who belongs to same Lodge and is active in an adjoining Baptist Church. Both local sheriffs’ offices are upgrading their tactical capabilities with a full auto .223 in each patrol car. I am working with the new chief at the largest town in my county trying to convince him to upgrade to individually assigned patrol cars, preferable take home, and patrol rifles.

JWR's Comments/Recommendations: Given your proximity to the interstate freeway, you should definitely plan on having at least three families to man your retreat. With any less than that, you won't have the manpower to maintain 24/7 security for an extended period of time. Stock up on plenty of ammo, defensive (concertina) wire, and night vision gear, for a "worst case" situation.

In a follow-up e-mail, Mr. Uniform added this commentary:

I would like to comment on preparedness as a mindset and as a way of life instead of just acquisition of things. I pondered this over the weekend as I ate various meals. At breakfast, I ate grits and eggs and sausage. The grits were from corn I grew and ground on a cousin's mill. He received a toll for the grinding. I traded extra grits and cornmeal (which he also ground) for the eggs and sausage. At noon, we sat down to dinner and enjoyed fresh ham and several vegetables. All the vegetables were grown either in my garden or my sister's garden. The ham came from a feral shoat that became a nuisance in the garden. Supper was similar. For dessert, we had fresh fig preserves. The figs came from a fig bush/tree that my grandfather had planted. He died in 1946 at age 83. We grow a lot of what we eat and eat what we grow. It is not just about saving money, it is more about living healthy and being self sufficient. Being able to open the store room or pantry and see a year's worth of provisions is comforting during troubling times. As well, it is nice to know that one has the means and capability to protect and defend ones family, friends, and home. But simply a year's capability is not enough for severe times.

In the past, my family went through roughly ten years of what is now called the French and Indian War, about seven years of the Revolutionary War, four years of the War of Northern Aggression then accompanied by 12 years of armed occupation by Union troops. It took another 100 years to somewhat recover economically. I believe that we need to prepare for a long term situation such as that. Also, plan on having property tax money saved back for multiple years in as many different currencies (paper, gold, silver) as possible. The Depression lasted for about 13 years. Now to address how do individuals practice living the lifestyle when not at a retreat. If you can grow flowers, you can grow vegetables. This will give [you] practice. In some cases, you can rent small tracts of garden space from landowners near the city's edge. I know of one case where a city family made a trade with an elderly widow lady in my community. They work a three acre garden and three acre mixed orchard/vineyard. For rent, they share the produce with the lady and keep her yard cut. A good symbiotic relationship.

Take classes in Emergency Medicine, Fire Suppression, and the Martial Arms (Rifle, Pistol, and Shotgun in target and tactical). Maybe even volunteer as a fireman, EMT, or [Sheriff's] deputy. Learn to do many things: weld, wire, carpentry, masonry, etc. Learn to be the needed member of the community. Live in the community as much as possible, create a sense of belonging. Create a healthy lifestyle. Get rid of addictions, get health problems under control, build a network of friends and acquiesces. Most importantly, get right Spiritually. In troubling times, there is an inexhaustible supply of help from the Heavenly Father through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Become part of a local church congregation. Be the one to be ready to help the elderly, widows, and orphans in your church. Just some thoughts, - Mr. Uniform

Mr. Rawles:

The August '07 issue of Motorcyclist [magazine] (pg 74) has an article on a diesel conversion of a Kawasaki KLR. They are currently making the bikes for military only, however the article does mention that a civilian design is in the wings. The company is Hayes Diversified Technologies. I have seen discussions on the SurvivalBlog about storing diesel and people wanting a motorcycle. This may be a great advertiser for you to chase. I have no relationship to Hayes. I am just a reader of you blog. Good luck, and thanks for all the great info. - Vince

[Regarding the recent mention of soon-to-be-banned Polar Pure water purification and Betadine iodine products,] Just to let you know, today I picked up some Betadine at my local Walgreens store [a discount drugs store] and it was $17.99 for the name brand (8 oz.) and about $13 for the Walgreens’ [generic] version (also 8 oz). I got home, and called Ready Made Resources, and their's is $12.96 for a QUART (32 oz). This is between four and six times less expensive!

The owner was very courteous, mentioned that he has two sons in the military, and I look forward to doing business with him in the future. Just thought other SurvivalBlog readers might want to know this. Regards, - M., near Seattle

From Business Week, by way of SHTF Daily: Why Bernanke Won’t Save Investors

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DAV sent us this: Zimbabwe's Leader Says He'll Print More Cash. Good thinking, Comrade Mugabe! That ought to put a damper on the 5,000% annual rate hyperinflation!

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I just noticed mention over at the Kel-Tec Owner's Group that Midway USA (not one of our advertisers, but a reputable company) currently has several different models of original Glock magazines on sale, including the 33 round "Glockamole" magazines. I don't even own a Glock, but I just ordered 20 of these magazines, for barter stock. If you place an order with Midway, please encourage them to become a SurvivalBlog advertiser. Thanks!

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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Today we welcome our three latest Affiliate advertisers: All-Battery.com (NiMH, NiCd, and Lithium Ion batteries and battery packs), HurricaneStore.com (NOAA weather radios, 72-hour kits, LED flashlights, et cetera) and  Pyramid Air (precision air rifles, pistols, Airsoft guns, paint ball guns, and accessories.) Whenever you patronize our affiliates using our links when you order, we get a little piece of the action to help support SurvivalBlog. I should also mention: Please patronize our paid advertisers (in the scrolling side bar) first. But if they don't have what you need, then take a look at our Affiliate advertisers' web sites.

I often encourage folks that are preparedness-minded to develop a second income stream. Why is this important? "Living off the land" style self sufficiently is an admirable and commendable goal. But even if you are living truly "debt free", you will still have property taxes to pay. That means that you will need at least a modest recession/depression proof revenue stream in the event that you lose your primary job. Let me underscore this point with a bit of Rawles family history: My family came out west by covered wagon in the 1850s. They soon after set up a sheep ranch that eventually had more than 6,000 deeded acres where they ran more than 3,000 Merino sheep. Sadly, more than 5,000 acres of the original Rawles Ranch was forfeited, mainly because of unpaid property taxes in the Great Depression of the 1930s. There was just no market for either wool or timber--which constituted the only cash income for the ranch. The family was easily able to feed itself, but despite their best efforts, chunk after chunk of the ranch was taken over by the county and the bankers for unpaid taxes and unpaid agricultural loans, between 1932 and 1942. By the time that the economy started to recover during World War II, the ranch was down to only about 800 acres.

Successful home-based businesses usually center around: unfilled needs. In a rural area, that is easy. Just ask your neighbors: Is there anything that you buy or rent, or service that you "hire" on a regular basis that currently requires a 40+ mile drive "to town"? Those are your potential niches.

A successful recession-proof home-based business is likely to be one where the demand for your goods and services is consistent--even in a weak economy. These include septic tank pumping, home security/locksmithing, care fore the very young and the very old, and escapist diversions such as DVD movie rentals. (It is noteworthy that the movie industry was was one of the few sectors of the economy that prospered in the 1930s.)

Another category of business that prospered in the 1930s was repair businesses. Obviously, in hard economic times, people try to make do with what they have. So repair businesses are a natural. If there is some small appliance that you could repair that could be mailed from and back to the customer, so much the better. (That way you could have a nationwide business, rather than just a local one.) This might include: DVD player repair, laptop computer repair, and so forth.

Another category is second-hand stores. People on tight budgets will be actively looking for second-hand goods, rather than buy new items. A second-hand book store in a medium-sized town might do just fine in a depression.

Yet another approach, for those with mechanical aptitude and don't mind strenuous outdoor work: Own one or more useful pieces of fairly expensive machinery that a lot of people need to rent (or hire the services of ) on a fairly regular basis, but that are expensive enough that they cannot justify buying one for themselves. Typically, this is a piece of machinery that sells for $2,000 to $20,000 that you can "hire out" in a relatively unregulated business. (Not requiring any special licenses, guild membership, or a union card.) Examples include "Ditch Witch" trenching machines, vehicle-mounted posthole augers, vehicle-mounted well drilling rigs, portable sawmills, "cherry picker:" bucket hoists, Bobcat tractors, small tracked excavators, and so forth. Once you've identified a clear unfilled need, and after you've confirmed that nobody else in your local area already has one that they presently rent out, then start looking to buy one. Ideally, you'll want one that is a few years old (since brand new machinery is usually too expensive) in nice reliable running condition, at a reasonable price. As necessary, get a trailer to transport it. Practice with it at your own property, so that you'll be competent and confident that you can do a good job. Practice loading, hauling and unloading your machinery (if needed) a few times, so that you won't look like an idiot when doing so. Be sure to get liability insurance started before you officially launch your business. Then it is simple enough to advertise your services on the Internet, through your local chamber of commerce, and post flyers at the local feed store and supermarket. You can "scale" the size of your second business (read: how busy you'll be) by setting your prices. If you want a lot of "hours", then price it low. If you are getting too much work, then just start raising your rates to slow your business down. Then, if and when you ever lose you primary income stream, you can drop your rates on your second business substantially, so that it can take up the slack for your lost income. If necessary, add a second or third piece of equipment that you can rent out, to diversify your business. (For example, your business card might read; "Exemplary Excavations: Bobcat, Mini-Excavator, Ditch Witch, and Portable Posthole Auger. Reasonable Rates!")

Dear JWR and SurvivalBlog Faithful:
Here is a dilemma that I may encounter soon and one that other Survivalblog readers may face as well.

I work for the state (which is in dire fiscal condition) and face a possible layoff later this year. When and if this layoff occurs, I will have the opportunity to cash out my pension fund, which after penalties and taxes, would amount to about $50,000—a tidy sum indeed considering I have no other savings except for 4-1⁄2 ounces of gold and several hundred dollars (face value) in silver coins (thanks to SurvivalBlog's admonitions and a re-ordering of my discretionary spending in the past year). If I were to leave the pension intact, I would receive approximately $2,100 in monthly benefits beginning in 2017.

The conventional wisdom is to leave the pension fund intact to ensure subsistence funds for the not-too-distant future. I have been called foolish by some (parent, attorney, and friends) to merely consider cashing in my pension early. “Whaddya? Crazy?

If one subscribes to the survivalist way of thinking, an economic or societal collapse will most certainly occur prior to 2017 that would likely reduce or eliminate my pension benefits.

What to do? Take the sure thing, cash in the pension early and invest in silver, gold and other survival provisions? Or roll the dice and hope that society remains intact [and inflation remains low] for another decade or two? SurvivalBlog readers, what would your decision be? Cash in or stand pat? - David J

JWR Replies: My vote is to cash in. Put at least half of the proceeds into survival preparations, and invest the rest in precious metals. One option for folks with 401(k) and IRA plans is roll them over into a precious metals IRA. These special IRAs are available through Swiss America. With them, you can avoid a tax penalty, yet have it invested in gold.

Here is an article I found describing a shortage of vitamin C due to production cutbacks in China. The following are two quotes from the article:
"New York and Beijing - A sharp rise in the international price of vitamin C is focusing fresh attention on the risks of the world's growing dependence on China for essential food supplies and additives.
China, which exports more than 80 percent of the world's ascorbic acid – also known as vitamin C and a key food preservative – appears to have cut production over the past several months, pushing prices up by more than 200 percent to a four-year high."

"Though there appears to be no reason to believe that Chinese vitamin C is contaminated, the sudden shortage highlights another cause for concern over America's growing reliance on Chinese food imports. Only one Western company, DSM of the Netherlands, still makes ascorbic acid, concentrating production in Scotland since shutting down its US plant two years ago. Chinese firms have driven all other competitors out of business."

[My observations:] Only one production facility remains in the Western world and that one is in Scotland. The U.S. must either be suicidal or terminally stupid (same result either way) to have actively put itself in the position of depending on non-free countries to supply its daily needs. How many other items like this does China control the market of? I'd bet it's a lot more than we think and that we won't realize it until it bites us. Anyway, here is another item that people may want to stock up on. Keep up the good work! - David D.

A brief follow-up to my July 10th post mentioning that iodine crystals and iodine solutions over 3% will be restricted in the U.S.: I just heard from my NAIS grassroots contacts that the DEA regulation will be implemented as of August 1st. That will mean that any of these products that are not already in the retail supply chain will be restricted. So this is your last chance to stock up on Polar Pure iodine crystals. I heard that Ready Made Resources only has about 275 bottles left in stock. They also have some one quart bottles of 10% Betadine solution available, at a bargain price. Both products will likely disappear in just a couple of days.

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Chrysler crisis and the plunge into chaos

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Learning to recognize the many names of MSG. Here is a quote: "It is very difficult to really know whether MSG (monosodium glutamate) is in your food, because it goes by so many aliases. To avoid ingesting this toxic additive, you're best off choosing fresh, unprocessed foods. But becoming familiar with the hidden names of MSG can also help you determine what foods to eat."

"Outside of the Constitution we have no legal authority more than private citizens, and within it we have only so much as that instrument gives us. This broad principle limits all our functions and applies to all subjects." - President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875)

Sunday, July 29, 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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

A lot of people tend to approach survival planning as a simple exercise in gathering stuff and making a "to do" list. Having the right supplies and equipment is important, as is prior planning. But there may be a way to optimize your post collapse/disaster actions. I'd like to talk about the concept of the decision making aspects of survival. Decision making is the "Why" that joins the "What" (As in "Here's what we're going to do...") to the "How" (As in "...and here's how.") All the gear and knowledge in the world do you no good if you don't think your actions through before you act. Right up front, I'd like to acknowledge that a large part of these thoughts are drawn from various decision-making training that I've been exposed to, not the least of which is the OODA Loop, conceived by Col. John Boyd. The simple fact is decision making is a skill, and not one that naturally occurs for most people. But it is one that can be learned. The ability to calmly and objectively make the best decision in a given circumstance is largely the cultivated skill of learning to quickly sift through data in a systematic way in order to evaluate the available options.

Your plan is really a string of objectives, culminating with a desired end state; safely at your retreat, family accounted for and well, property secured. Decision making is critical in determining what actions to take to move you closer to a particular sub-objective or your ultimate goal. All decisions are based on the probability of a favorable outcome, but that probability is rarely, if ever, 100%. Even a slam-dunk, no-brainer decision has some slight chance of failure. The validity of a choice can be measured as those choices with the highest probability of a positive outcome, but even those have a tangible risk of turning out badly, and thus not being ultimately "correct." Poker players call it getting "cracked", when a strong, high probability hand is still beaten by the luck of the draw. A decision maker should understand that no decision is guaranteed to produce a positive result. Setting the expectation for yourself that even well thought-out decisions will be 100% successful is the road to disappointment and frustration. This is because decisions have variable dimensions, most of which are beyond the average person's ability to control or even be fully aware of. The validity of a given choice is a function of the available data, context, and time. A valid decision is the best one you can make, right now, with the available information. Five minutes (heck, 30 seconds) from now a different choice may be better. But realize you will never have perfect, complete, and timely data, and that's assuming that no one else is actively interacting with the situation, changing it and invalidating your information, or actively generating/feeding disinformation in some form. You will bring some level of bias to you we interpret the given dataset, as do your information sources; this works against our being able to form the proper context for a decision. And all factors are in flux, changing constantly; and implementing a choice once made takes some measure of time, making the clock an enemy. A good decision making process has to exist in the here and now, and be forward looking. You must avoid self recrimination and the tendency to doubt after something bad has happened; past choices are in the past, and useful only for how they inform future decisions. Focus on your goal, and how you get from your present location/situation (the here and now) to there (your future goal.)

The point of a decision is to generate a course of action. The objective validity (or lack thereof) is measured by the actions facility to meeting your desired end state – your ultimate goal. Decisions should be framed in terms of the what/why/how of the chosen action;
* What action do you think you need to take?
* Why are you taking this action?
* How (exactly) do you intend to accomplish this action?
Systematically examining your choices with the same criteria will let you determine their relative validity. Define the choices; state their goals and success or failure conditions, and reasonable prediction of the consequences of either. Is the objective critical or merely preferable/optional? How does it advance your larger goal? Do you have the means to accomplish it, and do those means require external help, or "a bit of luck"? What can go wrong? Once you've got answers for those questions, congratulations, you've just done simple risk analysis. Large and complex courses of action should be broken down to simpler action components to make them easier to analyze. It really should never be left at "…then we'll head to the retreat…"; that action has tons of smaller actions and tasks that need to be accomplished to make it happen. Addressing that as a whole is almost guaranteed to under analyze one of those components, thus jeopardizing the overall chances of success. Part and parcel with a decision (part of the "How") is the subdivision into logical action/decision chunks and delegating, communicating, or performing the required sub-task/making a required subordinate choice as quickly as possible. A seasoned decision maker may look like they're making snap choices, but a good one has just internalized and sped up the pace at which the decision loop occurs.

Weighing the long list of variables can make for complex decisions. However, you can take a few shortcuts by using what I'll call "filters" or rules of thumb. Think of these as decision constants; chunks of the equation where the math's already been done. There are reasons why these are the case, and it's interesting to learn the reasoning behind them, but for our discussion, it suffices to say that these are truisms that generally hold up pretty well. A few of my favorites are:

1.) Decisions where the outcome leaves you more future options are generally preferred over those with less.
2.) A decision that can be implemented now is generally preferred over a decision that requires you to wait.
3.) A solution that's proactive is generally preferred to one that is reactive.
4.) Equipment fails.
5.) New data is worth more than old data, old data is worth more than conjecture, and conjecture is worth more than sentiment.

You can build additional ones based on your experience and observations, which again is where past decisions inform future ones. If you've got options that seem equal, run them through your list of filters and use them to break the ties. Over time you should be looking to develop a feel for the exceptions to those truisms and build your own, which is what separates great decision makers from good ones. (But beware laziness here; there's a knife edge between a good rule of thumb and a lazy or bad habit that just hasn't bitten you yet.) Having them in your bag of tricks really speeds up your ability to evaluate options and get to a valid choice.

Routines or processes are similarly useful for simplifying, speeding, and eliminating redundancies in your decision making cycle. At the granular level, for a decision that can be immediately implemented once made, preset (and tested) routines mean that the "How" is already answered. A process that anticipates the possible consequences of the actions it proscribes and addresses them is even better, since it effectively 'multiplies' a decision and frees up a decision maker's bandwidth. For example, you could decide that in the case of a bug-out situation, you need to get the car loaded as soon as possible, and stage your supplies in an area where loading will be easier. That's fine. But when you're on the side of the road, unloading and digging for some vital piece of kit that was buried during the loading process, you've now got another set of choices that needs to be managed, and decisions that need to be made because of a fairly foreseeable outcome. The process could be proofed/practiced and perhaps fleshed out to not only what and where, but how and why; anticipating what supplies will need to be at hand and which probably won't, using this info to create a loading inventory and order. And taken one step further, this prompts you to containerize your supplies and label them with contents or loading order; now someone else ("Come here son...") can be assigned to do this job with little to no input from you other than the loading order. Even if an hour's worth of work now only hastens your departure by 30 minutes in some future time of crisis, that's a reasonable trade off. The vehicle gets loaded quicker, you get to make better/other use of your pre-departure time (since you're not the one loading the car), you are on the road quicker, and you arrive at your destination quicker. The one decision has been multiplied, enhancing multiple steps in your plan of action.

And realistically, beyond the granular level, you also want to devote some thought to encapsulating groups of processes within procedures. Define success and failure conditions, when it's time to try something else or what to do next. This branching logic is more complex than a "by rote" routine, and requires more work up front, but the simple fact is canned strings of actions can't adequately respond to changing real world conditions. Defining procedures and communicating them to your family/group makes for greater speed in going from decision to execution, while still giving you the flexibility to modify your course of action midstream. It also allows for greater autonomy, allowing you to delegate decisions (or entire branches of the decision tree), which means people who are closer to the the current situation are free to act on new data without having to report back. Going back to the bug-out situation example, predefining a fueling procedure might encompass processes to effect a quick and safe fuel stop under pre-, intra-, and post collapse scenarios for the driver alone, driver and passenger, and so on, out to the capacity of the vehicle, and what to do if none of those scenarios is possible. The base procedure and it's variations are built on the logic of criticality and minimizing risk. A vehicle with no driver is sculpture, so a driver is critical; during a stop is when you're most vulnerable, so you want to get moving again as quickly as possible. An individual is significantly more vulnerable than a pair or group, so you never want to get separated or have a member isolated if possible. All the variations are "best fits" to those criteria with the available bodies. For instance, with us, in a typical full four-passenger vehicle situation, once stopped, the driver stays where they are, someone else fuels, another person gets out to provide eyes/security for the fueler, the last person is extra eyes for the driver. Once fueled the vehicle is immediately restarted, the two people outside go to pay and the vehicle moves to support/retrieve the other two. (If you can't pay at the pump). With three people, the driver's extra eyes are eliminated. With five people, the extra person stays in the vehicle, except in intra or post scenarios where the odds of having to go inside are greater and the odds of needing extra muscle/firepower is more likely. And so on. It may seem excessive, and maybe it is. But ultimately, once the basic idea is communicated, it's just a flexible, simple, and easy to execute procedure to get in and out of a gas station quickly that scales from everyday stops all the way up to worst case scenario with a couple of choices and some communication on your part. And no procedure is complete without an exception alternative, what to do when the process has obviously failed or something you didn't anticipate occurs. Programmers call this an "if else" clause and it's always a good practice to include them in decision trees since it accounts for the possibility of a result/condition that the programmer didn't anticipate. Never assume that you thought of everything, because it's almost guaranteed that you didn't.

We've barely scratched the surface, but the foregoing is a good start. This stuff isn't profound, we all do it every day, yet rarely do we take a systematic approach or verbosely examine why we make decisions a certain way. The problem is that without ever examining your thought process during non-critical times, even if it generally works, you have no idea why it works. Luck, blind chance, the support and forbearance of others; day to day life in most of our normal existences is fairly forgiving and tolerant of simple mistakes and occasional bad choices. But when the Schumer has really and truly hit the fan, the margin for error goes way down. When every choice may truly be life and death is a hard time to start learning how to make good decisions, and one would expect that the lessons will hurt. One shouldn't focus on obsessive micromanagement or anal-retentive over-planning. Just give some thought to how you make choices, and maybe look for ways to optimize that area.

The massive injections of liquidity from the Federal Reserve for the past five+ years--created by artificially low interest rates--have clearly come to an end. Cheap credit "fixes" are no longer available, and the credit junkie is going to experience withdrawal symptoms. Recently, news of the sub-prime debacle and teetering derivatives hedge funds have registered with investors--at least at the institutional level. Collectively, they have come to the realization that the party's over. So it was no surprise that Wall Street prices declined 4.23 percent last week. I predict that this is just the beginning of a major bear market cycle that will last several years, bringing the Dow down out of the stratosphere--perhaps to as low as the 9,000 level. I foresee that many trillions of dollars of "on paper" gains will be erased. This bear market will make the 2000 sell-off seem quite small, by comparison.

Sadly, the Generally Dumb Public (GDP) is the last to catch on to these macro-scale market swings. Long after the institutional traders have switched to bonds, TIPS, and other instruments, lots of individual investors are going to continue to stand fast like deer in the headlights, and consequently get splattered. Individual investors tend to be emotional and get attached to particular stocks, or hold out for price points that are determined viscerally. The big traders are down right dispassionate, by comparison. To illustrate: I have some close friends--a couple in their 40s--that had recently sold most of their stocks, but were still hanging on to some Sun Microsystems (SUNW) stock, waiting for it to touch a $5.50 price. (The wife had acquired most of it between $3 and 4 per share, from her stock options while working at Sun.) I strongly encouraged them to sell when Sun was at $5.41, just before Sun reported their quarterly earnings. I had advised them: "Sell your Sun stock within two hours after the earnings announcement, regardless of the exact price. It is only going to go down if you wait." But they hesitated, because the stock didn't jump to the $5.50 as they had expected. (Sun's earnings numbers were good, but the entire market was sliding last week.) The last I heard, after last week's mini-debacle, SUNW was selling at $4.93. So, presently, my friends are down about 10% from what "might have been." By selling now, they would still realize a good profit. I have again urged them to sell, but I doubt that they will. Some deer just won't budge.

For those of you reading this that that are still in the US stock market, my advice is now practically at shouting level. Get out now. Cut your losses. To quote one of my favorite movies: "Eject, Buckaroo, Eject!" You are driving straight toward a mountain, and your vehicle is not equipped with an Oscillation Overthruster. If you "stay the course" or "wait for a big rally" then you are probably going to be disappointed. To mix metaphors, the US equities market is now is a down escalator. Chances are that the Dow will continue to decline--at least until interest rates turn around. That may be a decade away.

Tom at CometGold.com flagged this piece: The Real Morons of Orange County Why America's most reckless real estate investors come from Irvine, California. About a year ago, I coined a name for this crowd: contrapreneurs.

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The high bid is still at $300 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

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Courtesy of our friends at SHTF Daily: Europe in fire and water onslaught

"A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money." - G. Gordon Liddy

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dear Mr. Rawles,
On the subject of generators, I was wondering what your thoughts were on fuel.
Recently, the municipality I live in equipped it’s municipal buildings with large generators powered by propane. My thought was that a wiser choice would have been diesel. My reasoning was:
Propane can only be provided by large trucks with specialized equipment or by smaller, but heavy, containers. In a situation where the roads may be blocked or impassable, a propane truck would not be able to get through.
It’s hard to convince a propane dealer to come out with his truck for a smaller delivery such as when you are looking to just ‘top off’ your tank From a re-supply standpoint, I sort of favor diesel.
If roads are closed or impassable, diesel can be delivered by something as simple as filling five gallon fuel cans and transporting them on snow machines [(snowmobiles)], horses, pack frames, etc.
In a true emergency, there are more re-supply points, as diesel can be found in the tanks of municipal vehicles, in storage tanks at the municipal garage, in private storage tanks at the bus depot and construction yards, etc. And again, in a pinch it can be man-portable by using smaller containers.Your thoughts? - RMV


Hi Jim and Family,
I wondered if you had heard the actual hard facts on the proposed ban on properties housing more than 1,000 gallons of LP? From what I understand, this will be a very large feat to register, prove need, and obtain such a quantity.
In my region, 1,000 gallons does not last very long drying corn. I understand that we in the agri-economy will still be able to obtain it. But, I guess we can add this to the ever expanding list of common items that are being made difficult at best to obtain. Maybe stocking up sooner than later is a goal. I sure don't like your predictions. Time is starting to tell. - The Wanderer


Having had the opportunity to run/install/maintain all sorts of generators. Propane is by far the easiest, and the cleanest fuel for standby generators, and the fuel never goes bad. To get any sort of quantity of diesel legally stored on your property takes an act of God and reams of paper: Rules, EPA regulations, containment systems, et cetera. And this country is set up for propane delivery, not diesel delivery.

While I won’t deny the longevity of diesel engines, I can tell you that propane engines last almost as long. And to get a 1,000 gallon propane tank delivered to my house tomorrow takes a phone call. No papers, no permits not anything but money. Try putting a 1,000 gallon diesel tank in your yard. (Legally )

If anyone is thinking of long term power ( TEOTWAWKI ) then they ought to be looking at [photovoltaic] solar panels and inverters, as getting diesel will be harder to obtain than propane. Mainly as they will reserve the diesel for trucks, military and police. But propane? It’s a consumer item mainly used to cook and heat with, so it will be available to you and me.

I am adamant with my clients to not look at diesel for all these reasons.

I have a 20 KW Onan water cooled genset at my house that has 80 hours on it now, burns 2 gallons per hour and I have 1000 gallons in reserve. That coupled with my large battery bank and solar would give me a very long time of independence and electricity. Plus my genset is very quiet.

What is my backup genny? A small tri-fuel from Northern Tool & Equipment that is loud but puts out 9 KW on gasoline, 8 KW on propane and 7 KW on natural gas…

When I moved into my house 12 years ago, I bought my first gennie to power my well pump during power outages. And later moved to the big one…

I am currently designing a large renewable energy setup on Lake [Deleted for OPSEC] and they are going with Solar (large array and batteries), Wind (10 KW Bergey) and Propane Generators (Onan) as backups. Regards, - Mel

JWR Replies: Parts of the United States have a home heating infrastructure that is geared more heavily toward home heating oil delivery rather than to propane delivery. In those regions, diesel generators might be better option, especially for those that live in farming or ranching country outside of city limits. There, large diesel tanks would not attract suspicion, and they are only lightly regulated. (At least in most western states.)

Virtually all diesel generators will run equally well on off-road (dyed) diesel, road-taxed diesel, biodiesel (including waste vegetable oil and freshly pressed oils), and home heating oil. The only significant difference between "home heating oil", road taxed Diesel #2, and off-road diesel is the Federal standards for sulphur content and ash content. In fact, up until the recent introduction of Ultra-Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) all three typically came from the same production runs at refineries. In essence, they are just marketed differently. And of course the portion that is destined for on-road vehicular use gets a hefty tax added--and it is left un-dyed. (The dye is intended to keep people from cheating on the road tax.)

I'm glad that you mentioned photovoltaics. There was recently some interesting analysis/commentary over at The Oil Drum from Robert Rapier: The Future is Solar. If SurvivalBlog readers want to get serious about making their own electricity with photovoltaics, contact Ready Made Resources. (Our first and most loyal advertiser.) They have the expertise, and great prices on panels, charge controllers, and inverters. They even offer pre-packaged systems up to 5.6 KW. Also BTW, lots of states now offer special incentives and rebates for people that install alternative energy systems.


I'd like you advice on buying the Holbrook "Thumb Saver" modification device for M1 Garand Rifles. Do you have any experience with this device or thoughts on it?

The following is John Holbrook's description of his Thumb Saver Device. It has been advertised in Shotgun News for a long time.

The Device is a replacement for the GI op[erating] rod catch and it stops automatic bolt release when loading a clip. It also prevents auto clip ejection when the last round is fired.

With it installed, the Garand operates much like the M14/M1A. When a full clip is inserted into the receiver it will latch, however you must pull and release the bolt handle to charge the top round. It will operate in the normal manner until the last round is fired and the bolt will lock open but the clip will not eject. To eject the clip you
must push the eject button on the receiver...

With an empty clip latched in the receiver, single rounds can be loaded into the clip, 1 through 8. when you have as many as you wish, just pull and release and away you go...

The rifle is not modified and can be converted back to GI [specification/function] by replacing the Device with the original catch.

The maker of the Thumb Saver is
John Holbrook
2015 24th Street, #57
Bellingham Washington 98225
phone: 1-360-671-8522
E-mail: john.holbrook@comcast.net

Also see: Boston's Gun Bible (post-2002 edition) page 11/30.

JWR Replies: The Holbrook device works fine, but it is primarily designed for target shooting. I recommend leaving a Garand's action "as is" for defensive shooting situations. You'll want automatic clip ejection in most foreseeable self-defense situations, because you'll want to know when your rifle is empty, so that you can reload quickly. One exception would be if you have a scope-equipped and match-accurized M1Garand that you plan to use as a counter-sniper rifle. For those circumstances, a high rate of fire and rapid reloading are secondary to stealth. That would be where a Thumb Saver would be apropos.

The only real drawback to automatic clip ejection is that if you are operating solo, the bad guy(s) are familiar with Garands, they will wait until they hear "bang-bang-ping!"--the sound of the empty en bloc clip ejecting--and then charge your position. But luckily, as time goes on, there will be fewer and fewer bad guys that have been around Garand rifles.

DV forwarded this one: Goldman Sachs guru warns of war-debt failure -- Is America becoming a global credit risk?

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Thanks to B.H. for sending us this: Ammo Makers Prepare for Drop in Demand

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J. from East Tennessee Sterilizer Service sent us what might be the answer to the honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) mystery: A Spanish researcher blames an Asian parasite

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The Army Aviator sent us this one: Economist: World Is One Hedge-fund Collapse Away From Crisis. The article begins:"The problems in the U.S. subprime mortgage market could spiral out of control into a global financial crisis, economist Mark Zandi said Thursday. With a "high level of angst" in the financial markets about who will take the losses from more than $1 trillion in risky mortgages, we could be just one hedge-fund collapse away from a global liquidity crisis, said Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com."

"The friend in my adversity I shall always cherish most. I can better trust those who helped to relieve the gloom of my dark hours than those who are so ready to enjoy with me the sunshine of my prosperity." - Ulysses S. Grant

Friday, July 27, 2007

Today we welcome our newest advertiser, Liberty Mags, in Casper, Wyoming. They offer a 17 round magazine for the Saiga .308 series rifles. These magazines work without any modifications to your existing rifle. They are based on modified steel HK91 (G3) magazines and retain the original feed lips and reliability. All the magazines are made with new surplus magazines and are completely refinished using zinc phosphate Parkerization. Their price is $35 each for each freshly-modified and refinished magazine, or $25 each with your steel 20 round HK91/G3 magazine supplied as a trade-in. These mags are guaranteed for 100% function in the Saiga rifle system and each comes with a full replacement guarantee. Presently, their "on hand" supply of completed magazines is limited to less than 100 pieces. Orders are shipped in the same order that payment is received, ("First come, first served.") For ordering information, contact Liberty Mags: libertymags@hotmail.com

I have backup generators at my home and at my retreat. Both are propane powered. The generator at the retreat is a low speed (1800 RPM), liquid cooled generator. I have run it for up to 10 hours straight, with no problems.

The vast majority of us "off the grid" folks have low speed propane generators. They are very reliable and fuel storage is not an issue since propane does not go bad. Most residences that I have seen, run the house and generator off of the same 500 gallon tank. My generator has a dedicated 500 gallon tank, as does the house. Next year I plan on installing a 2,500 gallon underground propane tank.

I have started my propane generator at 10 degrees F with no problem.

I bought both my generators from Norwall Power Systems,. Regards, - PED


George B. 's site is an excellent source of info for building your own diesel genset. I had purchased one of the Changfa 22HP single cylinder diesel engines before the EPA ruled against their sale here in the US.

The info alone on the Lister CS diesel (clone) engines is very valuable for all interested in off grid power.

I also bought a generator head (12 KW) from Georges friend's store (Powerful Solutions).

This web page is a good example of a Lister CS diesel clone employed for power in hurricane prone Florida and the progress of the learning curve needed to keep power for the duration of four hurricanes.

I hope this helps your readers a good bit. - Tim P., on top of a wind swept ridge



I have not yet gotten to the level of ordering one of the [generators from] Powerful Solutions, but want to. I did find the driving engine also for sale in Minnesota, I think. This same individual had 1,800 RPM generator heads for sale, they look like exactly what we should be getting for Schumer time. It is always Schumer time here, he is one of my senators. Guess who the other one is. Talk about depressing!! Check out his store: Powerful Solutions. He has practically a kit that will fix a retreat right up. - Sid in New York State



Regarding Diesel generators, the diesel tractor with Power Takeoff (PTO) generator option is important to consider. Many people own a diesel tractor already, they are extremely handy if equipped with a front end loader in homesteading situations. They are sturdily built, and designed to run for extended hours. The PTO drive generators are available in a variety of sizes, as low as 7 KW, ($1,500 including trailer to carry it), and up to 75 KW, my personal unit is a 25 KW Onan. The other advantage is that the tractor is generally used on a regular basis, so fuel is kept fresh, batteries charged and the machine maintenance is kept in mind. Contrast this with a generator that often sits unused in the back of a shed until needed, will it start? For the price of a good quality dedicated genset, a multi-use tractor and a PTO generator is much more survival friendly. - DD


Mr. Rawles,
Thanks again for your very informative web site. I continue to enjoy my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. In my search for a good generator/drive system, I have run across a design that seems to be among the most durable. It is referred to as a "Lister." One can do a web search on "Lister" or "Listeroid" to get started. These engines were designed by the British and have been known to run almost continuously for years and even decades, according to posted accounts. The Brits discontinued manufacturing new units in the 1980s, but there are enterprising folks in India that continue to make clones (hence the "Listeroid" name). One caution on the India units: many accounts I have read indicate that new units still have some (a lot?) of casting sand in the interior. If you purchase one of these units, be sure to tear it down before you run it and make sure that the sand is cleaned out. While this may sound daunting, it actually will illustrate one of the key qualities of this design - simplicity. The valve train itself is on the outside and the unit is intended to be owner-serviced and maintained.
In addition, these diesels are started with a hand crank. This is possible because there is generally a large, heavy flywheel mounted on the crankshaft. This flywheel develops the inertia to assist in overcoming the high compression that most diesels require to fire. So, again - simplicity due to the absence of electric starting. One other quality that David V. was seeking was low RPM. These diesels generally run in the 600 to 1800 r.p.m. (depending on size/number of cylinders) with most operating in the lower part of the range.

Now the best news of all - there is a company in the US called Old Style Listers that builds them - from scratch! They are located in Washington state. I have spoken to the owner and visited the web site. They don't make many each year and they're not cheap, but quality rarely is inexpensive. In my conversation with the owner, he told me that they are fitted with a [large] muffler for an automobile and, therefore, operation in a residential area results in little or no disturbance to the surrounding neighborhood. He said that they routinely run theirs in a residential zone and holding a conversation nearby is no problem while it runs. According to the web site, they have cylinder heads that boast a duty cycle of at least 100,000 hours - that's almost 11.5 years. I hope this provides some food for thought for David V. and others. Thanks again for such a complete, informative site. I consider it required daily reading.
P.S. on another note I have used your rather thorough treatment of derivatives to inform my wife (a CPA) about my outlook and concerns regarding future large-scale financial problems. She found it quite eye-opening - something of a big "aha" experience. Thanks again for all that you provide for us on your site. - Rob in NC

RBS mentioned this interesting/frightening piece from the Dr. Housing Bubble Blog: The Foreclosure Story: What Does the Process Look Like?

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From NewsMax: Homeland General: Attack 'Could Happen Any Day'

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A hat tip to Matt B. for this alert: Castleberry's canned food recall.

"The number of deaths from violence will be far exceeded by deaths from cold and hunger. The total casualty list will include a remarkable number of deaths in hospitals. Some millions of people will die in the two weeks during which the crisis will last. With hygiene virtually absent, an epidemic will be the widespread new phenomenon causing more deaths. This will be the decisively lethal fact - half the surviving population will die of bubonic plague. Historians estimate that during the fourteenth century the plague destroyed half to two thirds of the population of Europe. We think of that as long ago and far away, and we cannot help thinking that the plague is one of history's horrors, unknown in the modern world for about 170 years. But as Hans Zissner wrote in Rats, Lice and History, 'We have no satisfactory explanation for the disappearance of plague epidemics from the Western countries and we must assume that in spite of the infectiousness of the plague-bacillus, the plentiness of rats their occasional infection with plague and their invariable infestation with fleas, the evolution of an epidemic requires a delicate adjustment of many conditions which have fortunately failed to eventuate in Western Europe and America during the last (nineteenth) century. The most reasonable clue lies in the domestication of rats. Plague epidemics in man are usually preceded by widespread epizootics among rats; and under the conditions of housing, food storage, cellar construction, and such that have gradually developed in civilized countries, rats do not migrate through cities and villages as they formerly did. Plague foci among rats remain restricted to individual families and colonies'." - Roberto Vacca, The Coming Dark Age

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I just heard that Ready Made Resources has almost finished building their new web site. I heard that they've already posted more than 1,000 different cataloged items, and they have 1,500 more that will be posted within the next week or so. Be sure to visit their re-vamped site and check out their huge inventory of photovoltaic power components, storage foods, field gear, medical supplies, intrusion detection systems, night vision gear, wheat grinders, water filters, just to name a few items. They have it all, at great prices!

Hello Jim,
I'd like to respond to MB's article. In the Securing Your Castle section, MB wrote:
"If you have studied survival even a little, then you are aware that arming yourself ranks high on the list of recommendations. Perhaps some of you share my reluctance to build an armory in my home. I have children, and being married to someone who is strictly against guns makes security a particularly difficult element in my survival preparations. While I recognize security as an absolute must, I have reservations about keeping a device designed to kill in my home. Ironically the reasons not to own a gun are the very reasons why I feel I should own gun. The reasons are aged 2-11, not including the Mrs. In a volatile scenario that could spiral out of control; I would feel helpless without weapons to protect my family. All the stockpiling of food and water will be futile if some thug can easily take it from you (and maybe your lives with it). If you do decide to own a firearm (or firearms), don’t flaunt it and please educate yourself and practice. Keep a chamber or trigger lock in place and store the ammunition in a different location if necessary."

Keeping a firearm with a trigger lock in place and ammunition stored in a different location renders that firearm useless in my opinion. In the city, once there is an unknown perceived noise in the house, the clock is ticking. You would have to go and get your firearm, unlock it, go get the ammo and load the magazine. If it is at night, reaction time to get out of bed and wake up enough to grasp the situation is additional time that will depend on the person. You might as well just go and greet your designated thug and let them in and save yourself the structural damage.
City people have to deal with the constant propaganda that makes them rethink the reason to have firearms in the first place where it's always about the children and not about self defense. It reminds me of the book "Dial 911 and Die". Here are the numbers: Five seconds to your firearms or five minutes until the clean-up crew arrives.

The solutions: Gun Safes, Educating your Family and Training.

Gun Safes keep children away from the firearms and keep you within 5 seconds of having a loaded and round chambered firearm that is ready to go. In larger houses, multiple locations are useful to keep one close by. There are many types of handgun safes that can be located thought a house that will keep children out. They should contain the gun and magazines or speed clips preferably in a pouch to make easy to grab and clip on to whatever you are wearing at the time. A holster would be handy to have adjacent to the safe so you can have both hands free if needed. There are other wall-mount safes for long guns and shotguns as well. I also know people who normally wear their firearms while they are at home or at least when they answer the door.

Educating your Family is the most important thing. The safes keeps young ones away from the firearms. When they are ready, they can be introduced to what a firearm is, its uses and to not speak to others about them besides immediate family members. The other major aspect is that they can ask to see the firearms at any time they want. At that time they are interested, they will listen and learn. I'll drop what I'm doing and allow them to explore while teaching them further. This eliminates the mystery and "forbidden fruit idea" that leads to most problems.

Training can be broken into two categories, firearms training and planning for your location.

The successfully use of a firearm in self defense can be greatly enhanced by training and practice. If you buy a firearm, don't get a false sense of security now that you have one. It does no good without being able to properly use it. Know the firearm you purchased. Read the manual, learn all the features and know how to manipulate it. There are a number of basic firearm training courses available from various organizations. If you don't take a course, go practice with a knowledgeable friend. There are many resources available on the internet as well.

You've got a firearm, you know how to use it and now how will you employ that tool to your particular location? You wake up from a disturbing noise and now you need to take action. What will you do? Where will you go? Where are the children? If someone confronts me here and now and I miss, will I have a chance to hit a family member in the next room? Looking at your location and developing simple action plans will take the time consuming guess work out when you only have time to react. Plan and practice that plan so when the time comes you will naturally follow your plan without needing to think. Make the "what if" scenarios fun for the whole family so if the time comes, your family will be coordinated and have a greater chance to handle the threat. There are numerous resources on the internet for thinking about scenarios as well. - Paul.

I remember hearing an ex-army friend comment that he would always remove the laces from his boots and replace them with 550 parachute cord. His reason was that he could remove the laces and make survival stuff from the inner strands. If a person is in the military and has a steady source of 500 cord to replace their laces every other month in the field hen this is a good idea... Until they have to do real SERE and they are unable to replace the laces when they wear out.
A survivor has priorities than having seven tiny strings one yard long, they need longevity. Kevlar laces are available to places that supply forest crews and might just out last the boots that they are laced into.

Think about the consequences of "survival" modifications of your gear. To answer those that advocate 550 cord boot lacing: why not buy Kevlar laces and 50 meters of 200 pound test Spectra fishing line hidden somewhere in your boots or pockets? - David in Israel

Regarding the question you received from a reader regarding protection from gunfire. Might I suggest a decorative planter made from poured concrete or concrete block? Brick would do in a pinch, assuming it was face brick (which has holes in them) with rebar and mortar or cement in the holes, although brick shatters easily. (Concrete block should have the cavities filled, with vertical rebar in the cavities and horizontal strengthening rectangular wire loops in the mortar every other layer). An inexpensive and attractive one or two tiered planter 16-24 feet long and 4 feet high can easily be built in a day, another day to fill with dirt and plantings. Building a foundation below frost line would add more construction time. The front and rear filled block thicknesses
plus the dirt filler will stop any shoulder fired projectile, and it can be dressed up further with a "thin brick" veneer on the visible sides. Built to window sill height or slightly above, it will provide
protection from the bottom edge of the window to floor level. Walls without windows, of course, can have higher planters. Pressure treated wood can also be used.

A similar structure can be assembled with interlocking concrete decorative block to build an attractive wall, and the wall can be built with curves, making a very attractive terrace structure. Another
advantage of strategically placed 3-4 ft high "planter terraces" is that they can stop vehicles without being an obvious anti-vehicle barrier. This would allow controlling the vehicle access path to a
house if they are built far enough out. If built close in, I'd suggest not using the house wall as the back of the planter or terrace due to moisture problems from the dirt. Regards, - H.


In regards to the earlier letter from Denise about protecting a mobile home from gunfire, I would like to share something that might be in their realm of “do-able”. A lot depends on if the home is in a park or not. If it is, oops…. If the home sits on its own land, here is an idea that I have seen more than once here in the Pacific NW. Not the cheapest, but cheaper than starting over.
A mobile home is securely placed on a strong foundation and anchored against earthquakes, wind, etc. Then a six inch wide foundation wall, up to the same height as the bottom of the mobile home, is built around 7/8 of the home, leaving a crawl space access under the home. This foundation wall is along the outside perimeter of the home and extends the full six inches horizontally past the existing home walls.
Using standard 2x4 constructions, a frame is built on the new foundation around the home up to the roof line, and then a standard peaked roof is added. If one is creative, I have even seen second floors added with stairs added inside the home up through the old mobile home roof.
If one were to use some of the ideas from this forum and add 3/4 inch plywood to the in and outside of the frame and then fill with gravel, you will add immensely to the bullet resistance of the home.
A creative person could improve on this idea to maximize insulation values. Be sure to tie the outer shell down against earthquakes as well. You would also want to tie the inner existing mobile home walls to the frame. Where windows are, you would have to remove them long enough to build new sashes and will have windows that are recessed deep into the wall. This would be the time to consider shutters.
Basically what you are doing is building a frame and all the electric/plumbing/appliances etc. are part of a modular “drop-in” unit. You are just doing the drop-in first, and then building the walls.
I hope I have been clear on how this works. Details can vary from project to project and may depend on how your county building codes view this. Of course, if you live in a lenient area, you are already a step ahead.- TM

Mr R.,
Read the entry about making the casa bullet proof. Sand bags filled with a mix of earth and gravel ( or 2" river rock - the landscape stuff ) will be better than dirt alone. Kinda like a poor mans' Chobham armor.
If needed, I'd site them along the inside of outer walls, making sure to cover corner angles. [JWR Adds: Because of the tremendous weight of the filled sandbags, I would only recommend this if your house is built on a slab. The floors of most wood frame houses with crawlspaces cannot support that much weight.] I might .. or might not ... have them ready to be emplaced at the roof lines of our flat roof SW home, of course having set up a "floor" layer. I did a minutes' math and figured the double-deep linear runs needed and the height ( minimum 24 " ) and ordered from Saddleback Materials in Lake Forest, California. Phone: (800) 286-7263. When I checked they were the cheapest for the polymer-composite bags. We xeriscaped 25 years ago, and have the raw material at hand. Three yards of rock will set you back a couple hundred bucks [as of] last year.
Make sure you have a wheel barrow, or a friend with one eyebrow and a build like an ape if your plan on carrying them..And gauntlet gloves. And the apes - MurrDoc

In my part of the world, many mobile homes, single, double, and triple wide have been expanded with additional rooms and porches. Many of these additions are concrete block. Eight inch block or larger when re-barred and poured solid make a good ballistic wall except for heavy, concentrated fire from large calibers. Many of these mobile homes and additions have then been brick veneered with a new sheet steel metal room over the entire dwelling porches. The brick veneer alone would be good protection. The concrete block room addition with brick veneer even better. For window and door protection, could add Lexan storm windows and doors for most events and sheet steel window and door shutters mounted over heavy wood. When open, the wood side would be seen. When closed, the metal side would be seen. I would provide for openable firing loops. These must be well set with heavy duty hinges and locks. With kind regards, - Lame Wolf

Tom at CometGold.com sent us this article link: Italy set to bail out bank after huge derivatives losses. This is not the end of it folks. You can look for more much, much larger derivatives crises, in the near future, just as I warned you.

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DeFazio asks, but he's denied access: Classified info - The congressman wanted to see government plans for after a terror attack

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From a Gander, Newfoundland newspaper come this editorial on the next depression: Unsustainable future. Hmmm, does somebody there read SurvivalBlog?

"There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." - Professor Bernardo de la Paz in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, July 25, 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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As long as I can remember, I have felt that someday the comforts of a modern American lifestyle would vanish, at least temporarily. So I have made small mental preparations for some time now; keeping my mind and body fit and strong, staying informed, dropping hints to the wife, etc. Recently, and mostly after reading Patriots, I have a renewed interest in preserving my life and protecting those I love.

After educating myself on the subject of survival, I felt, as I’m sure many others have, very vulnerable and even overwhelmed. I needed to take action, immediately. Many thoughts spring into one’s mind during these moments. “What will I feed my children; oh man, water is essential; what about all those crazy people in the city, I need a gun, I need several guns; I need to move to North Dakota!” Sloooow down! These are daunting items. Once you quiet your mind and restore some sense of calm (it may take a couple days), you realize that you must be realistic. It’s not feasible for most of us to pack up an arsenal and move to a remote retreat in the hills or forests of the upper Midwest. We have jobs and responsibilities, relatives and friends; lives that at least for the time being, limit our options. And there is also the feeling that hundreds or even thousands of dollars spent on preparations could be wasted if The Schumer doesn’t ever Hit The Fan. (Doubtful, but it does cross one’s mind) A sense of urgency is implied; however, a caution against panic is warranted. It’s easy in this post 9/11 age to let fear control your life. Don’t! Simply take comfort in the fact that doing something to prepare for various scenarios, however big or small, will most importantly increase your odds of survival in the worst of emergencies, but also increase your comfort in the less dire situations and even improve your life now.

You Don’t Have to Move to Idaho--Survival Mindset for City Folk

I wanted to write an article for people like myself who are in the beginning stages of survival preparation. People on limited budgets, who may not live on farms, or maybe have never served in the military or had experience with guns. Those people who live in or near a city, particularly congested east coast cities. I write for those city dwellers and suburbanites in less than ideal regions; students, urban professionals, everyday people. However, it can apply to just about anyone who is not already well “squared away”. I will attempt to provide ideas on where to begin, how to prioritize and how to prepare mentally and with limited monetary resources for a multitude of events. I will try to focus on things that can be useful now and for a lifetime. My intent is not to instruct on what exactly is needed for every particular individual; there are more capable advisors for that. I aim to get people thinking and to provide a more general approach to surviving the times.

Get Your Mind Right
First and foremost is your mindset. Think about your values, your morals. What is most important in your life? Who is most important to you? How far are you willing to go to protect them? In the most serious situation, we would do anything, right? Why let it come to that? There’s good reason to get motivated. Put yourself and your family in the best possible position for survival now, so you don’t have to act out of desperation later. Also, think about what you spend your money on and where you spend it. Do you really need that big screen plasma television? What are you teaching your children about spirituality, health, money? Just as important, what are others teaching your children? You see where I’m going here. It’s not all about beans, bullets and Band-Aids. It’s about your mentality. Only the strongest-willed individuals will make it through tough times, be it TEOTWAWKI, high school, or simply life as an adult in the 21st century.

Beginning Logistics

Now think about tangible items to have on hand. Make a list. Just jot down ideas, then categorize (based on cost or type) and prioritize later. Your location and climate will impact your list. Set up your inventory and storage on varying degrees of threat and length of time of crisis. For instance a blackout that lasts 30 days vs. a full scale economic collapse. Will you be staying put or escaping to a safer location? What criteria will you base your decision on? What would you miss most if something tragic happened? Put yourself in that situation. The obvious answers are food and more importantly, water. If you are human, you already eat and drink water, so this is nothing new. You just need to think about having more of it on hand. In turn, storage is needed. We find room for other items; we can find room for potentially life saving sustenance. Package enough easily transportable food for 30 days. A durable plastic tote should work well. Then store enough for much longer periods of time. Buy a little extra food with each grocery shopping trip and date it. Not extra chips or TV dinners, get extra items such as dried fruit or granola that will last for an extended period of time, without electricity. Buy in bulk and incorporate raw grains into your diet. Start a garden. Not only will you know how to prepare these foods now, you will be more accustomed to eating them later, not to mention the health benefits. Think about buying a food dehydrator. They are reasonably priced. Keep a few five gallon containers of water in your garage, basement or crawlspace. If you live in an apartment, do you have a spare room or a patio? For long term situations, any amount of water that can be conveniently stored in most homes will be consumed surprisingly fast. Think about other sources and get a good water filter. Again, this is prudent to have anyway. A [compact] portable filter might come in handy also. With both food and water, as much as possible, use your storage as supplement, not a main source.

Little by little set aside money and acquire items you will need. Keep an extra supply of first aid items on hand. Don’t forget some of the less apparent items like toilet paper, sanitation, batteries, tools, candles, medications and fuel. Keep some spare 5 gallon containers of stabilized gas in your shed. It’s not wasteful as it can be used in your vehicles at any time. And with the rising gas prices it may prove to be a worthwhile investment. Don’t forget to rotate [your stocks]. Consider buying a generator. In a full scale crisis, drawing attention to yourself and home with a loud, light-producing device is not going to be very smart, but when power goes out and the masses aren’t yet rioting in the streets, a generator will be nice to have. Get a portable model. Study maps and plan different routes to and from your home. Keep an emergency kit in your car. This is by no means a complete list, it’s designed to get you started. Yes, the preparations are abundant. Don’t get overwhelmed into thinking you have to get it all at once. The key is minimization. Minimize the chances that you will be taken by surprise, wondering why you didn’t do something earlier. Start small and with things you can use in everyday life. The wealth of available information on specifics is immense. This web page is a great resource. It’s up to you to educate yourself and determine exactly what and how much you will need.

Help Others Help You
Working together will be to your advantage during crunch time. Find strength in numbers. Seek out others who share your values and have skills you lack. How can you help each other? Build relationships and share ideas. Educate others, but be careful as you can imagine the funny looks you might get if you start prophesying doomsday. And guess who’s doorstep they’ll be standing on come crunch time. I am a firm believer that the more people around you that are prepared, the better off all of us are. If your neighbors can take care of themselves, then it’s more likely your preparations will be preserved in the event of crisis. In short, at least fewer of your neighbors will be knocking on your door the same day of an event.

Securing Your Castle
I’d like to take a moment to discuss security, specifically firearms. If you have studied survival even a little, then you are aware that arming yourself ranks high on the list of recommendations. Perhaps some of you share my reluctance to build an armory in my home. I have children, and being married to someone who is strictly against guns makes security a particularly difficult element in my survival preparations. While I recognize security as an absolute must, I have reservations about keeping a device designed to kill in my home. Ironically the reasons not to own a gun are the very reasons why I feel I should own gun. The reasons are aged 2-11, not including the Mrs. In a volatile scenario that could spiral out of control; I would feel helpless without weapons to protect my family. All the stockpiling of food and water will be futile if some thug can easily take it from you (and maybe your lives with it). If you do decide to own a firearm (or firearms), don’t flaunt it and please educate yourself and practice. Keep a chamber or trigger lock in place and store the ammunition in a different location if necessary. In addition, don’t rule out other ways of defending yourself. Albeit, less formidable, they are less expensive. These include pepper spray, knives, batons, stun guns and martial arts. I don’t think I need to remind people that these are mostly ineffective against attackers with guns, or even large groups of unarmed evil doers. However, they may prove useful in that they are very portable and can be used in less dire emergencies. Deterrence in the form of dogs, fencing, motion detection, alarm systems and location should also be considered. Protection from those who intend to harm is imperative and yet another item that is useful even today.

Back to Basics
Take an assessment of your skill sets. What knowledge do you posses that would be of value in a crisis situation? Don’t worry, if needed, your survival instincts will take hold, but some basic skills can make you an asset and will help you survive. Develop and hone these skills now. Start simply; make your own bread, catch your own fish, grow your own vegetables, prepare healthier, less processed meals. I enjoy beer, I brew my own. It’s rewarding and I’ve learned much from it. Learn basic plumbing, carpentry and electrical skills. You don’t have to be a master mechanic, but any vehicle owner should know the basics; how to change the oil, filters and spark plugs. Having a skill can be just as valuable as having an inventory; you never leave home without it and could earn you a spot in a group if needed. Maybe you are a dog trainer or electronics engineer. Don’t forget your kids. Teach your children to swim, hunt, split wood or sow a garden. It seems that all too often, in our frenzied lifestyles, we focus all our energy on skills that will get us fat paychecks and forget the simpler but more important things. Get back to basics. Slow down. Simplify. If something isn’t adding positive value to your life, eliminate it. Many preparedness items can be fun and done as a family. Go camping, take hikes, etc. If you have kids, consider home schooling them. Most importantly get to know your children; spend time with them.

It’s Up to You
You can make self sufficiency a way of life without going “off the deep end,” so to speak. Taking action will not only give you peace of mind, a sort of insurance policy, but also can improve your life in the meantime. Many corollary benefits will emerge. Here are some that come to mind: Less reliance on outside institutions, money saved, healthier eating habits, time spent with your family. Regardless of the future, you’ll be teaching your children to be prepared, to think logically and independently and not to have a lazy, consumerist attitude of entitlement that dominates our culture today.

This writing isn’t packed full of technical how-to information, but I sincerely hope it helps to serve those of you that may feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin and to breathe hope into those who are obliged to retain their current lives without major upheaval. There are many who see the challenges involved with getting ready and are scared into doing nothing. For one reason or another they go back to sleep, their head comfortably lodged in the sand. Don’t be one of those people. Enjoy the time and blessings you have, but be ready. An old proverb says “Trust in God, but tie up your camel.” Just the same, pray for peace, but prepare for war.

Hi Jim,
I am new to survival/preparedness and was curious if you have any resources for Canadians? In particular places to source out retreat locales? I just found your site, and love it. Keep up the great work. - Brent A.

JWR Replies: Just like the US, my advice is go west! The eastern provinces are at risk from nuclear fallout from strikes in the US, in the event of a full scale nuclear exchange. Of course the population density is much lower in Canada than in the US, so population in and of itself is not as great a risk. (Although in a worst case situation Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec might be at risk from refugee inflows from the eastern United States.) But again, even aside from population density considerations, you would probably want to be west of Edmonton or Calgary (in Alberta) to avoid fallout.

I generally don't recommend Canada because of its draconian gun control laws. But if you can live with that, then my preference is for the relatively mild climate portions of British Columbia, such as Duncan (in the Cowichan Valley, in the southern end of Vancouver Island), or around Kent in the Fraser River Valley, or perhaps as far inland as the Bella Coola Valley. (Which is much colder, but wonderfully remote.) If you dislike the heavy rainfall in western BC, and don't mind a shorter growing season, then look for property in the Kamloops area. Another nice agricultural area with moderate rainfall is around Creston. You can link up with other Canadian preppers through Survival Bill's Forums. (Most of their readership is Canadians.)

Reader Ben L. mentioned that the August issue of Popular Mechanics magazine is dedicated to theme of "Survive Anything!"

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There is another RWVA Appleseed high power rifle match and clinic scheduled for August 18th and 19th in Ottawa, Illinois. Don't miss out on this training opportunity. The offer, great rifle training at a very reasonable price!

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While wandering that wacky world of Wikipedia, I was looking at the Wiki page for The Sarah Connor Chronicles (SCC) television series, trying to figure out why the link to the SCC Yahoo Discussion Groups Page keeps getting deleted. (I have a friend in Afghanistan who has posted the link on the Wiki page twice, and each time it has been zapped after just a few days. ) So I clicked on the "Talk" page, and found that there was an argument raging as whether or not it is wiki-ethical to mention the download availability of the entire pilot episode for the series, in the P2P "Torrent" underworld. So is I did a little searching with Scroogle, and found the source. Wow, it is still five months before the SCC pilot ever even airs and this video is very popular. People must be very anxious to see this show! My friend The Chartist Gnome (who in addition to his market watching does a lot of sci-fi watching) told me that the Azureus Magnet Link at MiniNova for this download works just fine.

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FOREX-Dollar hits record low vs euro, subprime weighs

"Success demands a high level of logistical and organizational competence." - General George Patton

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What is the way to go in generators? I own four now, all gasoline fueled. Last winter the power was out for nine straight days, and it was 28 degrees below [zero, Fahrenheit]. I have used gas generators for near 40 years, but mostly for remote site construction. They are started and shut off as needed. But last winter with the power out, I would run for 4 hours, then off for 6 hours, for nine days straight. What happened is that the 3,600 RPM of long run time vibrated them apart. In the summer one would just tighten up the nuts and bolts, but at -28 and in the dark, I opted to employ another unit. It also came apart. I was on my third generator when power came back on. Gas units are just not made for that type of use. Also the heat from the exhaust thaws the ground, the [generator] unit tips, the oil level sensor thinks it is low on oil and automatically shuts-off. At -28 the ground freezes, you have to heat water to free it for re-leveling.

I want to buy a diesel 10 KW or 12 KW power plant that runs at 1,800 RPM (not the China Diesel that runs at 3,600 RPM.) I don't want Batteries, or Invertors, or wind power ( I had a Winco Wincharger at the homestead 40 years ago ). The other thing I learned; I have two 1,000 gallon capacity diesel fuel tanks that I use for a fleet of diesel trucks, and they had just been filled before the power outage. Want to guess how much gasoline was around? Not much, since the only thing that I normally put gas in in the winter is my snowmobiles.

I am hoping some of your readers could help with what to look for in a diesel power plant, and more important what to avoid. Also a little about load, I know that they want to have a fair load, and a load that changes. - David V.

JWR Replies: I generally prefer diesel generators, especially big block low-RPM models. These are designed for continuous duty, and they typically last three to five time longer than high RPM gasoline-powered generators. However, be advised that diesel has a problem with fuel gelling at low temperature. Typically, this clogs fuel filters, when the temperature reaches the so-called cold filter plugging point (CFPP). Fuel gelling can be avoided at temperatures as low as 40 degrees F. below 0, with a diesel fuel additive, called Diesel Fuel Supplement, made by the same company that makes Diesel 911 (which was recently discussed in SurvivalBlog.) It also reportedly prevents gelling in biodiesel blends up to B20. (Which is 20% biodiesel and 80% "dinodiesel".) There is also a product made in Germany called a Diesel-Therm that pre-heats diesel fuel before it enters the fuel filter.

OBTW, one thing to keep in mind, in these days of high commodities prices. Copper windings from "dead" generators are currently bringing top dollar. If you take the windings from six or seven old "dead" gensets to your local scrap metal dealer, you may net enough money to pay for as much as half of your next generator purchase.

Hopefully some readers will chime in with some specific diesel genset brand and model recommendations. (It has been more than five years since I've bought one, so frankly I'm out of touch with the marketplace and vendors.)

I am currently in the position of not being able to leave in the event of collapse or epidemic or whatever God may throw our way. I do, however, have the opportunity to build a "storage" area that may also be able to severe as a safe haven for my family when the hordes come out of Atlanta. Thanks to your blog we are way better prepared to survive than we were five months ago. However I feel we have virtually no gunfire protection in the mobile home we currently live in. I am going to be extremely irritated (assuming I survive) if, having prepared, it is taken from us by these hordes. So how do I build this storage area to protect us from gunfire? I have the fire protection pretty well down but I don't know what type of building material would be best to use for gunfire protection. We have pretty much eliminated the possibility of building underground due to the fact that we are in a "wet" area. I would appreciate any advice you could provide on this subject. Thanks, - Denise

JWR Replies: Unless you are on a tight budget, you should consider constructing an aboveground safe room/storm shelter as an addition to your house. These are available through Safecastle and a variety of other vendors. (Typically the vendor supplies an inward-opening vault door and provides detailed plans/specifications to a local masonry contractor to complete the job.) If you specify at least 8" thick reinforced concrete walls, it will be able to withstand repeated projectile impacts from pistols, shotguns and rifles.

In my novel "Patriots", I describe how to improve the ballistic protection of brick or other masonry homes, by installing steel shutters and door upgrades. For those living in "stick built" (frame construction) houses, or for most other circumstances, a double layer of sand bags works remarkably well at stopping bullets up to .50 caliber. So it is a good idea to have a few hundred sandbags and a pile of sand available, so that you can fill and emplace sandbags soon after TSHTF. Consider them cheap insurance.

This is an excerpt from a report in The Drudge Report on 7/23/07:
"Police at an emergency services briefing in Gloucester said the water treatment works could be out of action for at least a week - and possibly two before it would be fully operative again.
This would have serious implications for water supply in the Gloucester, Didsbury and Cheltenham areas, they warned. In Gloucestershire, members of the armed forces have been taking 600 water tanks into the area while 22 miles of temporary mains are put in place to enable water to be pumped from outside the county."

[There were also these reports: Looting, panic buying - and a water shortage, and Official: Worst Floods In Modern History]

And this is my observation:
So, if these folks have to carry water from the tanker to their homes, I wonder if they have anything besides a scrub bucket to carry it in? And at one gallon per person per day minimum, do they realize how much weight they are going to be carrying? [As recently discussed in SurvivalBlog.] I sure hope that SurvivalBlog readers get the message! - Robert B.

From The Wall Street Journal: State Farm to Drop 50,000 Policies Of Homeowners in Coastal Florida OBTW, The Wall Street Journal is one of SurvivalBlog's Affiliate Advertisers. They are currently running a special Wall Street Journal Print & Online Combination subscription offer: You get a one-year subscription to both editions of The Wall Street Journal plus an additional 8 weeks free, for $125 – a savings of over 70%. By using our The Wall Street Journal link when you subscribe, we'll get a little piece of the action. Thanks!

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Murphy's Law: Just one day after I recommended the Jarbidge area as a retreat locale, I heard from both Ron H. and Fred the Valmet-meister that the town has been evacuated because of a massive wildfire. Oh well, perhaps that means that some properties will hit the market there, after all. (Of course, al that timber that I was raving about may be gone...)

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Via SHTF Daily: The housing slump extends beyond houses

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I just heard about an interesting new member of the blogosphere: TEOTWAWKI Blog

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

Monday, July 23, 2007

The high bid is still at $300 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

I'm a former Army Ranger living in Salt Lake City, Utah and I've been considering Nevada as my bug out / retreat location. I was wondering if you had any resources regarding land for sale or lease in the area north or south of Elko. Any information would be most appreciated. Keep up the outstanding work on the Blog. I love it and read it every day, Thank You and God Bless., - Jason

JWR Replies:
As mentioned in my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, rather than the Elko area, I recommend the Jarbidge, Nevada area. Jarbidge is in Elko County, but nowhere near the city of Elko. It is about 75 miles north of Interstate-80, just short of the Idaho state line. In my opinion, the city of Elko is too dry and not strategically located. Ely is a bit more off the beaten path, but as previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, there are two prisons located near Ely, including one of Nevada's two maximum security prisons, housing the state's most dangerous inmates. In contrast to Elko and Ely, Jarbidge has plentiful open water sources, and is presumably remote enough to avoid the onslaught of the Golden Horde from California. If you like isolated retreat locales, then Jarbidge is a fine choice. The hunting there--especially along the edge of the Jarbidge Wilderness area--is excellent. (Including mule deer and elk.) Not many properties change hands in and around Jarbidge, so you have to watch the market carefully--or better yet have an agent in Elko County watch it for you. One other proviso: There is currently a legal battle in progress in the Jarbidge region over water rights. Be sure that you will receive deeded water rights before you buy property there.

There is currently a 3,700 acre cattle ranch for sale south of Charleston, Nevada (in the sagebrush country about 20 miles south of Jarbidge) but I prefer partially-timbered areas that are father north, around the town of Jarbidge. I don't know any real estate agents in that area personally, but I've heard that Paul and Lori Bottari of Bottari Real Estate (in Wells, Nevada) are reputable and quite knowledgeable. OBTW, I suggest that you resist the urge to look in or around the Ruby Mountains unless you have a big budget. Sadly, the Californians have enormously driven up the land prices around Lamoille and the Ruby Mountains. That area is also uncomfortably close to the I-80 corridor.

OBTW, if the main appeal of Nevada for you is the lack of income tax (rather than its proximity to Salt Lake City), then I would instead direct you to the Star Valley of western Wyoming. The Star Valley is much nicer than anywhere in Nevada. And, like Nevada (but unlike Utah and Idaho), Wyoming has no personal income tax! (Again, see my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation for details.)

I read your blog nearly every day and benefit from it greatly. I am sending by "snail mail" my Ten Cent Challenge. Thanks for a great site.

My wife and I both are 55 years old and have been "survivalists" for about 10 years. We have been able to create a preparedness larder of 8-to-12 months of food, water and other necessary supplies. For self-defense, we have several shotguns, two AR-15s, two SKSes, a .22 [rimfire] rifle and one handgun - plus several thousand rounds of ammo for each. We hope to take some of the Front Sight courses this fall. Our home is now paid for and we are completely out of debt. We have our business in our home and have the freedom and modest income to do more in preparedness as needed. By God's grace, we have numerous skills and the mindset to tackle whatever situation God's providence allows.
The one major thing we don't have is a retreat property. Our brick rancher, 1,800 sq. ft. with full basement, is in a golf course subdivision about 20 min. from a city of about 200,000 people. Over the years, I have always thought that we could "bug-in" during any kind of crisis; therefore, we concentrated on stocking up and paying down our debt. But now, partly through reading SurvivalBlog and partly through thinking through more thoroughly the ramifications of the present mindset of the masses, my thoughts are changing on staying put during any "Schumer" scenario, and I want to get away to a retreat.
However, my wife is against going into debt again - with good reason, since debt usually is bad in most crises. Also, we need to remain within 30-45 minutes [driving time] of our present location to maintain many of our present business contacts and to take care of my mother who lives by herself. And while we have looked at numerous properties over the past year, everything seems to be way over-priced or not suitable for our needs. To purchase any retreat property in the areas desirable far enough away from the city, we would have to sell our existing house and still borrow $200,000 or more - a hefty sum when you've been enjoying having no debt at all for the past few years. Therefore, I am uncertain what to do, especially as regards to going into debt for land, etc., versus staying put where we are and remaining debt free. I cannot decide which is better: to be debt free but in some possible danger being closer to the city, or in debt again but more secure at a retreat. I readily see the value of a retreat, but cannot get past the danger of too heavy a debt load - especially if the economy tanks quickly or even goes into a hyperinflation; we could lose everything through bankruptcy. I need some help sorting this out and wondered if you and/or your readers had any other insights. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for a great site. - Greg in North Carolina

JWR Replies: In essence, you must ask yourself: What do I fear more? The wrath of the bankers, or the wrath of my erstwhile "peaceable" suburban neighbors? I agree that debt is bad. I agree that debt should be avoided, if at all possible. There might be some alternatives to taking on additional debt to buy a retreat:

One alternative that you may not have considered is: buying a modest retreat free and clear, but encumbering your house with a second mortgage. That way, if times get really bad--particularly in a 1930s-style deflationary depression-- then you might lose your house to the bankers, but not your retreat.

Another approach would be to sell your present home, and with the proceeds buy a rural retreat house with a "granny cottage" and live there year-round. Encourage your mother to sell her home and move there with you. That might even allow you to remain debt free.

Yet another approach is to pool your resources and set up a group retreat with like-minded relatives. The retreat could ostensibly be a jointly-owned "vacation cabin." I've also seen this done with homesteaded family farms to "keep them in the family."

Regardless of what you decide to do, don't plunge into a major purchase without some careful study and prayer. One key consideration is that here in the U.S., the real estate market is currently softening in inland areas, and deteriorating rapidly--almost to the point of panic---in some coastal and resort areas. Meanwhile, the sub-prime lending market is nearing a crisis, and bankers are starting to dump some foreclosed properties at a loss. It might be best to wait a while and watch for the opportunity to pick up a foreclosure or otherwise "distressed" property at a bargain price. One of SurvivalBlog's affiliate advertisers is Foreclosure.com. I suspect that in the months to come that they will have some suitable rural property listings at genuine "fire sale" prices. Watch the foreclosure market closely, and be be patient

The folks at Safecastle recently sent us a SteriPEN Adventurer, charging case, and pre-filter for evaluation. Our #1 Son tested them in the secret laboratory beneath the JASBORR. Here are his findings:

Model Tested: SteriPEN Adventurer

The SteriPEN uses an ultraviolet light to sterilize microbes in water. The pen can treat water in 1 liter batches, in only 90 seconds. It runs on standard CR123 batteries, which are becoming ubiquitous. (A plus for anyone that already stocks these batteries for their tactical lights and/or lasers.)
USE: You just push the power button, put it into a bottle of clean water, and stir for about 90 seconds.
DESIGN: The pen is about 6 inches long and only weighs 110 grams (about 4 ounces), so it is certainly portable enough to take on lightweight backpacking trips. It is water resistant and has a sturdy plastic casing.
ADVANTAGES: It is very easy to use, lightweight, and sturdy. The price of filtration per liter is much less than most filters, and it runs on rechargeable batteries.
DRAWBACKS: The pen can only treat water in batches of up to 1 liter. Also, the water needs to be clear of any sediment, or microbes will survive.

Water Bottle Pre-Filter
The filter attaches to standard Nalgene-thread water bottles. It has a replaceable 4 micron filter, which removes sand and dirt. The pre-filter works quite quickly but still leaves the water a bit cloudy. so it cannot be depended on by itself. (We surmise that a couple of thickness of t-shirt cloth could be used as a "pre-pre-filter.") But the pre-filter still makes a useful compliment to the SteriPEN.

Charging/Carrying Case
The case is hard plastic, with a small photovoltaic panel on the lid. It has a charging slot for two CR123 batteries, and a foam padded slot to hold the SteriPEN. There is no direct charger for the pen, so the batteries have to be charged separately, and then put in the SteriPEN. The case also comes with a 117 volt wall (grid/utility power) adapter for charging the batteries at home. (Both chargers, BTW are great to also keep on hand for charging the rechargeable varieties of CR123 batteries for tactical lights and lasers.)

The bottom line: Both the SteriPen and the chargers are easy to use and sturdy. We endorse this product. SteriPENs are available from Safecastle, Ready Made Resources, and several other Internet vendors.

Brian H. mentioned an interesting note from retired journalist Charley Reese regarding Swiss preparedness.

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Umpteen SurvivalBlog readers have mentioned the new proposed OSHA regulations on ammunition, gunpowder, and primers. Please get involved and write a few letters during the public comment period,.

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SF in Hawaii was doing some research on potable water storage and he found this low cost supplier for barrels, and this supplier for large tanks.

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Richard of KT Ordnance sent us the link to this entertaining and informative video: Chevy Pickup Truck Versus Various Brands of AR-15/M16 magazines. I should mention that upon seeing it, The Memsahib declared that since "it includes a truck, gun stuff, and things getting broken", that this video has nearly all the key elements to make it a perfect "guy video." OBTW, Magpul PMAGs are available from Green Mountain Gear (one of our advertisers.)

"A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I would greatly appreciate readers adding SurvivalBlog graphic links to their web sites and/or e-mail footers. Our goal is to double the SurvivalBlog readership by the end of 2007. Many thanks!

Regarding Carl's question of cleaning and harvesting grain. First get some horses and a binder, it’s much easier than by hand.

Regarding proper use of a scythe: It is largely a matter of gaining a rhythm. Proper rhythm will allow you to cut all day without much effort., merely swinging your body. To exaggerate, swing the scythe to catch between 1⁄2 and one inch of grain/grass. At the last second jerk it toward you. In practice, if you have a good swing, it more or less does the jerk by itself. I have found that doing it properly will lay down the crop in rows, and it is almost as easy to pick it up by hand, rather than raking it. If you are using an 18th century basket to transport (No ends but a long handle) Pick up a handful of grain/grass, lay it on the basket with the heads in one direction, and you get about a bundles worth before you have to transport it. If the grain is ripe, and you lay the heads over the end of a flat surface, all you have to do is whack the heads only, and the kernels will fall out. (Or you can do it on a tarp or something on the ground. But still, whacking the heads only on ripe grain makes it easy to remove the straw by hand.) After cutting, the grain should be let dry to loosen the seeds from their hulls.

As to the cleaning of grain, I have seen several versions of a hand operated fanning mill. All were about three feet to 40 inches square. (And about 5 feet tall.) At the top, a hopper the width of the machine and between two and three feet wide with a sloped bottom so the grain would gravity feed. Depth of hopper about 18 inches to a max of two feet) (The whole machine shakes somewhat so feeding isn’t that difficult.) At the bottom of the hopper a variable crack feeds the whole screening area. (A metal or wooden bar that you can tie down with clamps when you have the right amount of flow.) (Facing the machine from the front, the hopper feeds the back of the first screen, and the crank handle is on the right.) The first screen slopes downward to the front. The crud pile is right at your feet.

I think at this point it would be wise to interject that the majority of the machine (except for the fan, the hopper, and the frame,) is a series of sloping screens. All of these screens are zig zagged downwards in a “Screen frame” that all move or vibrate more or less in unison. (Separate from the frame of the machine total.) (And which will be described later)

The screens are the difficult part in an 18th century setting. The top screen has holes large enough for the seeds to fall through. (Of course different grains have different sized and shaped holes.)(Wheat, oats, barley for example so you need different screens.) This first screen is to remove stones, straw, rabbit poop, or any larger items. It simply dumps all of the garbage that makes it to the end of the screen onto the floor in front of the mill.

The second stage (screen) is sloped in the opposite direction. And depending on how the fan is situated, is designed and sized so that the wheat must travel the whole distance because the holes are too small for it to fall through, but weed seeds and dirt get through the small holes and are directed on a solid metal sheet to discard. Either before hitting this second screen, or after, the stream of air coming from the fan is directed at the stream of falling grain. This, if adjusted properly, blows all the light stuff onto the refuse pile. The grain, being heavier than the air can readily move, falls down to the next screen.

Depending on how fancy you want to get, you can get other screens as well, but the two major things are to remove the big, heavy stuff, and the small light stuff which leaves you with the grains you wanted. (And sometimes some very small rocks)(Heavy enough to not be moved by air, and the right size to make it through the screens.)

Regarding the fan. Most of the units I have seen were a sort of straight sided barrel on its side. (Mounted on the rear of the mill.) (15-18 inches in diameter, some smaller. 18 is too big IMHO.) A metal rod with a gear at the end, driven by a chain off the crank, went in one end through a larger than necessary hole (Acts as air intake) You have seen these river boat stern paddlers? That is exactly what the interior fan looks like. A series of flat boards which move the air by centrifugal force, out through a variable slot on the side of the barrel. In what I think were the more efficient (Albeit more prone to breakage and more difficult to repair) models, the air was piped by a stationary oblong box type pipe to the area where the grain was falling off the first screen on its way to being caught by the second screen. This blows the light crud out into the same pile as the heavy stuff falling from the first screen. Not a lot of air is required. Usually the problem is that you are blowing light seeds out into the refuse, and if nothing else they can be fed to the animals. But then, if you are fanning for seed, you can re-fan the crud pile using less air and get the small grain.

In this simplified model, with two screens and one air output, the grain comes out the back. (Which most of them were.)

The “Screen frame”. I saw one (never saw it in operation.) that had a rigid box frame. I would think with so much vibration going on that it would not have lasted long Usually the tray type holders for the screens were part of the screen frame. Under the screen frame was usually two, but occasionally four eccentrics which had a gear on the end, driven by the chain from the crank handle. (Often the gear itself, with a protrusion on the side acted as the eccentric.) The crank chain had three contact points. The crank handle gear, the fan gear and the eccentric gear.

The “screen frame” was simply four hardwood slats ”hinged” at the four corner contact points with the screen trays and the eccentric frame. (Hinged meaning it had a bolt type rod with a sleeve to act as a bearing so the whole thing could flex.) Note that they do require regular greasing, just as wooden wagon wheels.) The whole object of this exercise is to make the grain and materials bounce and roll down a bit so they can hit holes in the screens, and either fall through, or not, to separate them. Not a lot of vibration is needed, but enough bounce is needed get a kernel with its small end stuck in a hole on the screen out and on its way. In fact, I would think the old mills erred on the side of too much bounce if anything. It has been a lot of years since I saw and used these things, but from memory the bounce was about half an inch, and the slope of the screens was three to five inches in 36 [inches], with a favor toward the three inch end of that dimension. (I would use [a] four [inch in 36 inch slope] if I were building one)

To summarize, the whole machine is built of wood with the exception of: the screens, the crank handle and its attachment to the machine, the gear and rod for the fan, the gear and rod (and probably the eccentric itself) for the vibrator, and the flat chain to drive the latter two. (And of course the nails or bolts to hold it all together.) The crank handle could be mounted on the fan, but design problems would likely make it the wrong height, and therefore uncomfortable to operate for long periods. As well, you can vary the speed of the fan, and the vibrator too for that matter, by changing the number of teeth on the gears. - JustaMereFarmBoy

I have been reading SurvivalBlog most every day for nearly a year now. I'm a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. I had long ago read most of those "button" web pages up at the top [of the SurvivalBlog main page], but it wasn't until yesterday that I read your new page on Peak Oil, and I took the time to read all the way through the Glossary page. That thing has gotten huge. Not only was it interesting and educating to read, but it was also a laugh riot. You snuck some very funny stuff in there, like your definitions for "BS", "Contrapreneur", "JASBORR", "RV", "Schumer" and "UA 571-C". (That [last item] was from the movie Aliens, right?) ROTFLMAO!, - Phil in Arkansas

Courtesy of our friend Tom at CometGold.com, comes this blog link: Is Mexico About to Fail?

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More on the commodities boom: The price of tin reached an all-time high early last week, at over $7 per pound!

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Vic at Safecastle is offering SurvivalBlog readers an opportunity to purchase a lifetime membership in the Safecastle Royal buyers club at half-price now through August. Simply enter the coupon code JWRMEMBER on the payment page in the checkout process, and your membership will cost just $9.50. That membership gets you at least 20% off and free shipping on everything in the store. In fact, through August, members get 25% off any Mountain House or Maxpedition purchase. (Note that Mountain House will be raising prices for the first time in six years on September 1st.)

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I found this at SHTF Daily: The Five Stages of Counterfeiting by Gary North on LewRockwell.com:

"If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed." - Mark Twain

Saturday, July 21, 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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Knowing how to dig holes, make trenches and move earth is an important, if often overlooked skill. Here are tips that I thought might be helpful.

The Tools of the Trade

Digging instruments are as sexy or fun to shop for as battle rifles and Snap-On automotive tools, but having a good selection of these can mean the difference between completing a task in a day or spending three weeks in agony. Here are the basics.
Folding Shovel - Every vehicle you own should have at least one shovel. A small folding shovel or "E-Tool" is compact and easy to carry. These get the job done when it's time to dig out under a stuck car or dig a small trench. They are limited by their size and do not have much leverage for breaking hard ground or digging through roots. I prefer the wooden-handles models available as surplus, but any quality military-spec shovel will do. Beware the [flimsy] Chinese imitations. [JWR Adds: Ah, yes, the dreaded "GI Type" tri-fold shovel. Avoid!]
Short-handled shovel - This is the next step up from an Entrenching Tool (E-Tool). Any truck or utility vehicle should have one of these stashed somewhere. With more than twice the length and 3-4 times more area, you will move earth much faster. Get one with a spade point for cutting into hard ground. The flat-blade types are for mucking, or moving already broken up material around.
Full-Size Shovel - This is your basic digging tool for home or farm. You'll want a sturdy model with a tempered steel blade and a quality wood or fiberglass handle.
Get several, as these are inexpensive and allow you to put your whole crew to work. One limitation of the standard shovel, however, is that you must dig your hole wider as it gets deeper. To get 3 feet deep, you may end up with a hole 4' wide. That's a lot of earth to move if you do not need happen to need such a hole, so specialty tools are in order.
Post Hole Digger - This is the best tool by far for digging deep, narrow holes. Some of the tasks you'll want this for are installing fence posts, digging a pit toilet, or making a foxhole. Additionally, it's nice to be able to make a small test hole when you're looking for buried pipes or other objects. [JWR Adds: Here, JN refers to the type with two handles and two hinged shovel ends that "clamshell" together when the handles are separated, as opposed to a twist auger.]
Auger - These are available in hand or powered models. They basically look like a huge twist drill bit with a big 'T' handle. These are excellent for making fence post holes or breaking up the ground for bigger excavations (i.e. roots cellars, fortifications). This is the preferred tool for installing caches made from PVC tubes. [JWR Adds: Except in soil with rocks over 1" diameter, where a clamshell type posthole digger works better.] Note that the gas-powered models are very powerful and can hurt you easily if they bind. I recommend only using a larger model with two people.
Digging Bar - This is a heavy steel bar, about [1" to ] 1.5" in diameter and 5 [to six] feet long. [JWR Adds: Typically these have a broad chisel point on one end, and a square-cross section point at the other. The points are hardened enough that they usually hold up to many years of service. This is is an indispensable tool for any property with rocky soil!] ] To use, a person picks it up and drops the pointy end forcefully down into the ground. This tool is excellent for breaking up hard ground and digging in places where a shovel will have major problems cutting through the dirt.
Pickaxe - Also good for tearing through hard ground. The point end can be used for breaking up rocks, while the flat end is best for hard earth and cutting through roots.
Hatchet/Axe - May be needed if you have lots of tree roots to deal with. A big tree root will stop your shovel cold. A hatchet is often easier to work within the confined space of a hole.
Sand Point - If you have pressurized water available, this is a really easy way to bore into dirt or sand. Basically, a sand point is a section of water pipe that is attached to a hose inserted into the ground. When the water is turned on, the rod is forced down through the dirt, and the flushing action of the water erodes away the dirt as it goes with very little effort. Additional pipe sections can be screwed on as needed. This is a great way to install an electrical ground rod for your generator, or run a pipe under a driveway or road. A homemade version would simply be a length of 1/2" copper water pipe attached to a valve and a garden hose coupling.
Commercially made sand points are available that have a screen at the end and fittings for larger diameter pipe. These can be used to bore down 20+ feet to install a shallow well.
Demolition Hammer - This is a lightweight electric jackhammer. With a spade-style bit installed, a "demo" hammer can make it much easier to excavate hard ground. This assumes, of course, that electricity is available. These are often available to rent at home improvement stores, and they are much quieter to operate than heavy equipment or gas-operated tools.
Water Hose - A shovel works best for moving soft material. Pre-soaking the area to be excavated usually softens the first 12-18" of hard soil. In sandy, desert areas adding some water makes it much easier to dig, as it prevents the sand from caving in. I've found that a 5 gallon bucket of water is just about right for digging a fence post hole.

Putting it all together

Now that you have a good assortment of tools, digging that drainage ditch or digging up a faulty water line should be much easier. But you will not have any idea how much work is involved in digging a large excavation unless you've tried it a few times in your [local] soil and discovered what works best.

Anyone whose plans include building a fallout shelter or other structure at the last minute should reconsider, especially if the only tool available is a shovel and the excavators are not accustomed to this sort of work. The time estimates on some of those Civil Defense plans should be taken with a large grain of salt. Some of the available [U.S.] Army manuals, such as FM 5-15: Field Fortifications are full of great earthworks ideas and include time estimates. FM 21-10: Field Sanitation and Hygiene is another great reference for long-term and temporary latrine plans.

As the British would say, it was one of those rare moments of 'serendipity,' but I was watching "The Postman" the other night on cable [television], and decided to field strip and clean a couple of rifles while doing so. As I was reassembling my CAR-15 in particular, I told my wife, as I charged the bolt - and felt everything moving as it should in a rightly reassembled firearm - that, "guns are a lot like computers these days - either you put them (back) together the right way, or they simply won't work at all."
The very next day, I was attempting to mount a brand new MTI lo-mount scope base on my PTR-91, and sure enough, I stripped the threads on one of the tiny little hex-head bolts that clamped it to the rifle. In mid-panic, over possibly ruining a $155 mount, I suddenly remembered my own comment about "guns & computers," and went downstairs to check my cabinet o' spare computer parts. Sure enough, I found a tiny Phillips head bolt, that was long enough, and threaded perfectly, to work on my mount! Problem solved - expensive mount, saved!
In a worst-case scenario - nuke strike with massive EMP - most computers will be nothing more than over-sized paperweights anyway. But, since all of them are held together with a plethora of tiny, finely threaded bolts, nuts, and screws, they can be a treasure trove of spare parts for mounting optics, rails, and other rifle accessories, not to mention all the other uses you might find, or even dream up, while scrounging out an existence post-SHTF. As I also wear eyeglasses, computers just might be the difference between being terribly near-sighted, and of little use to anyone, and being able to put my eyeglasses frames and arms back together!
In my "can't do without" bag, I have now added an empty medicine bottle full of assorted computer bolts, nuts, and screws, from my ample supply of spare parts, to go alongside the jeweler's screwdriver set I also have in there. No guarantee that Lenscrafters will survive the apocalypse any better than any other business. Extra pairs of glasses are nice; extra screws and screwdrivers to go along with them, are even better. - Bob McC.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that tip. BTW, as The Memsahib can attest, I am famous for scrounging hardware. Whenever any appliance here at the ranch is beyond repair, I always strip it of any usable fastener hardware, cooling fans, lamps, lamp sockets, motors, batteries, battery holders, switches, wire, ribbon cables, fuses, fuse holders, annunciators ("beepers" and bells), and power cords. I've ve even bought "dead" appliances at garage sales for 50 cents or a dollar, just to strip them for hardware and scrap sheet metal. As I often say: "These things may come in handy someday". I keep most of the parts in two large sets of well-labelled military surplus metal divider drawers, down in the JASBORR. OBTW, if you plan to do likewise, show great caution when working around capacitors or power supply modules that could still be holding a charge!

Reader Roger S. sent us an article by David McWilliams in Ireland: World’s financial community gives two fingers to the US. One note of clarification, however: The June 12th auction was of Treasury Bills, not Treasury Notes. The Auction on the 15th was Treasury Notes.

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From The Motley Fool's UK edition, by way of SHTF Daily: It’s Heading For Crunch Time…

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Rob at Green Mountain Gear mentioned that he is continuing his special on HK91/G3 Alloy magazines in new, unissued condition. He has just a few 20-packs left. Rob notes: "Some of them might have slight handling marks from moving around the world over the years. The first 20rnd magazines I pulled look simply awesome! Hit them with a little degreaser and you have a great looking magazine at a rock bottom price. These are not “bargain bin” used magazines and each shipment will be hand-packed to make sure that no 'junkers' slip in. This is not a group buy and thus there is no wait time. First come, first served as there is limited quantity. HK G3 magazines in this condition are drying up fast so this is a great time to stock up. There are no additional quantity discounts available at this time due to availability. I want to make sure everyone has a chance to stock up. However, you can order as many 20 packs as you like. A 20 pack (Twenty HK magazines) is $84.99 mailed to the 48 continental states via USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate ($8.95 is included in the price). That is just $4.24 per magazine, delivered! Most people receive their shipments within three days via this shipping method so it is a real bargain and much cheaper than UPS/FedEx options."

"Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." - Douglas Casey

Friday, July 20, 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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Some time about June of 2006 I decided after long months of listening to James, the editor of The Bison Newsletter talk about storing wheat that I would try to grow some in an exercise in Post-TSHTF Farming/Gardening.
On page 172 of the Readers Digest Back To Basics book it states that a 10’ by 109 ‘ foot plot would grow about 100 pounds of wheat, enough for a family of 4 for a year. I figured that a plot twice that size would be perfect for two people and a dog and a cat. I also question if 100 pounds of wheat is actually enough for a family of 4 for a year.
I am a firm believer that we are headed for 1880’s technology, therefore, I was going to try to use the tools from 1880. I started by going to the field with my trusty dirt turning spade and small pitch fork. I started on July 1st and stopped on July 2nd. I t was just too much back breaking work. Soooo… I roto-tilled a spot about 20 by 100 feet. So much for 1880!
In September, I got about a gallon of wheat out my storage and proceeded to use my hand-held grass seed spreader. I spread those little wheaties just like a pro. I then raked the whole plot to work the seeds into the soil. That took a day.
Over the next two months until about December 1st the little guys actually came up just like winter wheat is supposed to. From then until March we got some snow, about 1/2 of a normal Wisconsin winter and it got below 0 a couple of times. Winter was just no big deal like it is supposed to be here.
In March I noticed they were turning green again and starting to grow. We two snow storms and temperatures dropped below 0 a couple of nights. It got warm and the wheaties were growing again. In April we got frost about 10 nights in a row, but my little green buddies were okay. Along come May and guess what? More frost and no rain! The wheaties were looking dismal. They grew to about 18” in height. In early June we got some rain and they were looking good again.
It had not rained in 20 days as of July 1st. It was close to 100 degrees a couple of days in there. On Sunday, July 1st I checked on them at about 6:00 am and they were all falling down. I checked some of the heads and there was grain, small but all the same its was grain.
I decided it was time to harvest. I went to my storage building and got my razor sharp scythe. I confidently entered the field and made a sweep with the tool…. Much to my amazement the wheat just leaned further over and did not cut. I tried and tried, faster, slower, adjusting the pitch of cut, nothing worked. Remembering that this is a really dangerous tool, I decided to cheat and cut down the wheat with my walk-behind weed whip. The 20th century made a come back. The weed whip did a nice job. I didn’t give it full gas and laid the stalks down nicely.
I went and got my wife. I told her she was drafted to help rake the wheat up. Between the two of us we had it raked by 11:30. By the way we used leaf rakes. This may be the biggest error of all. A proper hay rake is absolutely required.
We loaded the truck up with the bundles of stalks and moved them to my garage. We put down a huge tarp and spread the wheat out.
Back to the Readers Digest Book! It showed a process on page 173. I saw it called for a flail. I don’t have a flail, but I do have the chained Kung-Fu [Nunchaku] sticks that I confiscated from my wayward son 20 years ago. So I began beating the pile with the Kung-Fu sticks. I only hit myself in the back of the head once before I realized I had to slow my swing down.
I kneeled in the pile; I stood by the pile, swinging madly at a pile of straw. After about an hour I decided to find out how much wheat I had. Of course I was expecting huge kernels and lots of them.
I turned a section of the pile to find chaff, dirt, dried deer and rabbit poop and a few wheat kernels. Once again I checked my trusty Back to Basics and found it called for winnowing. I went to the house and got a sifter. I got a 5 gallon bucket and filled up the sifter with a pile of “stuff”. The dirt fell through but that was it. I decided to get an old window screen and try it that way. This worked better but still too much trash in the mix. So back to the 20th century, I got a small electric fan. This helped immensely. It blew much of trash away and left me grain, no dirt, but left the dried animal poop. I poured the remaining stuff back to the kitchen sifter and hand picked out anything not wheat. A very time consuming job.
I have completed perhaps half the pile and have about a cup of wheat. I think I have negative return.
My little experiment in basic farming skills has taught me the following. Remembering that I wanted to do this without the benefit of modern tools and on a small plot:
1. The seed/plant count was way too low. I need a lawn spreader or a very small grain drill. I bought a small hand operated push unit at a garage sale for $2.00 for next year. I should be able to get a more even and consistent spread of seeds.
2. The weather/climate is/has begun to change here. I cannot rely on “normal weather” to nurture the crop. I need to find seed that is more drought resistant. Non-hybrid, but something that will survive on less moisture. I am considering buying a bag or two of wheat Seed at my local coop.
3. Irrigation may be needed. I am building a rain water catchment system for the house and barn. I believe I need to extend the system to where the wheat plot is, move the plot closer to the barn or build its own system. Both are easier said than done.
4. I can extend the existing house water system 600 feet to the plot and use a sprinkler, but that is hardly 1880s technology.
5. I think I need to get a hand held scythe for cutting. I need to find a grain/hay rake. I am going to see if the local Amish have something.
6. I have got to have a winnowing machine. It does not need to motorized, just designed for the task. I have seen one at a local farm for sale. I will be going that way soon and will check. I have also found several designs on the web for small winnowing units. One that uses an electric fan, the other is hand operated. Both are at the Victory Horticultural Library. This entire exercise was to see how I would do using 1880s technology. It was also a test of skills and ability to adapt. I learned much. The most important being that skills and tools do not come from books, but experience. I live at my retreat so I have the luxury to try learning different things.

I have been playing with my ham radio stuff for years but I wish I had started out in high-school with a high frequency (HF) low power (QRP) radio kit instead of playing with 2 meter handhelds and repeaters. I would have had a better grasp on circuit and antenna design and gotten into Morse code more quickly.
For about $15 or less a transmitter kit around the size of a silver dollar can be made that can be picked up by a larger station sometimes hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Moving up form there are transceivers which are made to fit into an Altoids mints tin and can communicate around the world. Of course more power is useful when you need to get through right away but a 20 meter band (day), 80 meter band (night), or 40 meter band (both day and night), set built into an Altoids mint tin with a battery and some cut to frequency magnet wire for an antenna provides a good survival radio for cases where a survival group is separated across the country like in Jim's novel "Patriots", during the long winter nights.

Expensive kits can work multiple HF bands but are mostly larger or cost much more. Some interesting kits are the $160 range AT-Sprint 3 which is a multi-band 80M, 40M, 20M surface mount kit that can fit in an Altoids mints tin. (BTW, it won't be back into production until late summer, 2007.)

Another larger and easier to build kit is the $55 SW+ series in 80M, 40M, 30M or 20M from Small Wonder Labs,
Wilderness Radio makes some good kits like the $90 SST which can be built to cover on of the following 40m, 7.032-7.042; 40m/novice: 7.105 - 7.115; 30m,
10.105-10.120; 20m, 14.046-14.064.
QRP radios as a general rule are Morse code only but some radios get past the old primitive key and use a built in paddle instead which is quicker, smaller, and easier to use after about a day of practice.
Combined with a rechargeable battery and a very small solar panel you can carry a low power station in your shirt pocket at all times.
Many SurvivalBloggers love their [EMP-resistant] tube technology and this is an option with QRP kits but these are larger and hog power.
Readers should know that [in the U.S.] once they pass the easy Technician level test they can operate on the 80, 40, 15 (code) and 10 meter (code and voice) HF bands as well as
higher frequencies all without having to pass a Morse code test.

Mr Rawles:

You are dead on with the advice on water on July 19th.

Even a fairly small spring is a great resource. We have used ours for 25 years now, even though I had a well drilled last year as a backup. Sometimes in the fall, our spring gets down to less than a pencil sized stream of water output.

Several other points to mention for springs. For gravity feed, figure about 1/2 pound of pressure on the output end for each foot of elevation between the spring and the output. Also, run at least a 1" line if you have any distance and/or your elevation difference is minimal, to reduce friction loss in the pipe. And you might want to consider going larger.

Storage is also an important factor, since a spring may not put out much volume, but does run 24 hours a day. For example, my spring may get down to a low of 1 quart a minute in a dry fall time, but that is 15 gallons per hour, and 360 gallons in 24 hours. In a typical day, we might only use 100-200 or so gallons between showers, toilets, etc.....but come wash day, the washer along with the 'normal' household use will exceed that 360 gallon figure by far. This is where adequate storage overcomes "peak" loads.

My first storage was a 1,000 gallon concrete septic tank, in ground, I had the tank company cast a 1" pipe fitting n the bottom for connection. Later, I changed to 2-1,500 gallon plastic tanks housed in a 10'x20' concrete block building built back into the mountain. If you plan to use plastic tanks above ground, they should be housed away from sunlight which will promote algae growth. These tanks are available at most farm supply stores, already have a 20" manhole top fitting and a 2" bottom drain fitting installed.

We also use a UV light as a sterilizer, though only installed that a few years ago....the first 20 years, simply had a sediment filter on the line, and never suffered any ill effects from the spring.....the UV light is simple me getting cautious in my old age. - Andy in Tennessee

Reader Matt B. forwarded us a link to the new White House Fact Sheet: Implementation of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza

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Jericho Convention in Kansas: Oakley officials hope nothing shy of nuclear bomb will keep 'Jericho' fans away. If you can attend, there is an opportunity to give a presentation and/or be a preparedness panelist at "Jerichon". Send an e-mail to: Stacey.Adams@guardiansofjericho.org. OBTW, let me know if you definitely plan to attend and I'll be happy to send you a free SurvivalBlog t-shirt to wear while you are there, as a conversation starter.

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From The Financial Times: UN warns it cannot afford to feed the world

"An unconstitutional act is not a law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; it affords no protection; it creates no office; it is in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it had never been passed." - Norton v. Shelby County, 118 US 425 (1885)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The high bid is now at $300 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Plentiful fresh drinking water for drinking, cooking, washing, and gardening is the most critical resource for all societies. The vast majority of the residents of First World countries are dependent on grid power to supply their water. When the grid goes down for more than a few days, water towers will soon be drained and huge numbers of people will be forced to draw water from open sources. Thankfully, there are streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds in walking distance of most homes. Rainwater from roof downspouts can also be used. But the logistics of hauling water will just by itself be a challenge. Next, people will need treat all that water, or face infection. Most families don't own a water filter. Boiling water is an option, but only for those that have natural gas, propane, or wood cooking stoves, since electric ranges don't work without grid power. Even folks with well water will face difficulties, unless they have a backup generator, or better yet a fully capable alternative energy system. (Coincidentally, we recently addressed emergency well buckets in SurvivalBlog.)

Spring Water

Gravity-fed spring water is the ideal water supply for a rural retreat. There is no need for power, relatively low installation expense, low maintenance and little risk of frozen pipes. But unfortunately very few properties are blessed with a spring that is situated to provide gravity flow to a house. When I advise my consulting clients, I urge them to make gravity-fed spring water a top priority when they are evaluating properties when relocating.

Well Water

Grid-powered wells are problematic, since most wells use just a small pressure tank. Whenever there is a power failure, the water pressure drops to nil in just a short time. Photovoltaically-pumped well water is a good solution, albeit with a fairly high installation cost. With a large cistern that is positioned to supply gravity flow to your house (typically 35 to 60 feet of "head") you can skip putting a battery bank in your system. When the sun shines, it pumps, and when the sun sets it stops. Simple. A float switch on the cistern will insure that you prevent needless wear and tear on you pump.

Ultraviolet (UV) treatment is an interesting innovation that was first embraced by fish farmers and by koi pond enthusiasts. The UV technology is quite promising for anyone that has a shallow well or spring that has an unacceptable bacteria count. (This typically happens during a flood, or seasonally with heavy rains that increase surface water that can get into a well or spring.) The UV method of treatment is growing in popularity in the US and Canada because there is no need for chemicals. Ultraviolet light rays--just like those from the sun that produce sunburn, only stronger--alter the DNA of bacteria, viruses, molds, and parasites, so that they cannot reproduce. They are not killed, but are merely rendered sterile. Thus, they safely pass through your digestive tract, but cannot reproduce--which is otherwise the cause of intestinal illness.

The three questions that readers ask me about well and spring water are:

A.) Is well or spring water safe to drink?

Generally, yes. And because it is not fluoridated, it is probably much healthier than public utility-provided "city" water.

B.) Do I have to worry about pesticides, MTBE, or heavy metal contaminants in well or spring water?

Yes, and you should have the water tested before you buy a property that has a well. Any certified lab will test for these contaminants, as well as bacteria. Do a web search for your state's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), or equivalent. The DEQ web site should list some approved/certified commercial laboratories that do water testing. In some states, spring and well water testing is also handled by state universities. The good news is that you will only have to do this once, unless you hear about some drastic change in local water conditions.

C.) Do I need to chlorinate my well or spring water?

In most cases, no. As preciously mentioned, it is possible that your well might get contaminated by a flood, or seasonally contaminated with coliform bacteria from rain water run-off. The best solution is to use a UV sterilizer year-round, so that you don't have to worry about it. Alternatively, if you know that there has been a contamination, you could add a calculated quantity of plain hypochlorite liquid bleach solution down your well shaft, as described at this web site. But if there is continual bacterial contamination of your well or spring then again the best solution is to use a UV sterilizer year-round.

Open Sources

As mentioned previously, water from open sources must always be treated before use. Typical chlorine concentrations will kill bacteria but not all viruses. So I recommend a three step approach to treating water from open sources:

1.) Pre-filtering. This remove particulate matter. Pouring water though a couple of thickness of t-shirts or tightly-woven bath towels works fine. The water that comes through will still look like tea, but at least you will have removed the crud and larger particles. By pre-filtering, you will also extend the life of your water filter. (You avoid clogging the microscopic pores in teh filter media.)

2.) Chlorinating. This can be accomplished following the time and concentration guidelines previously discussed in SurvivalBlog.

3.) Filtering. I recommend the large Katadyn or British Berkefeld filters. Some filter elements available for Katadyn or British Berkefeld filters can even remove chlorine. (Complete filter systems and spare filter elements are available from Ready Made Resources, Safecastle, and other Internet vendors)

Compact Water Treatment Systems

I am often asked about compact water filters for backpacking, hunting trips, and "Get Out of Dodge"/"Bug Out" situations. For this, Katadyn makes an excellent compact water filter/pump called a Pocket Filter. The volume of water that they can process is limited, but they are perfect for their intended purpose. Another option is the recently introduced Hydro Photon SteriPEN--a compact battery-powered UV sterilizer. This is a miniatur version of a home water UV sterilizer. Very clever! We are currently testing one here at the Rawles Ranch. Look for a product review of the SteriPEN that will be posted on SurvivalBlog next week. SteriPENs are available from Safecastle, Ready Made Resources, and several other Internet vendors.

An even more compact water treatment method for lightweight backpacking is Polar Pure--essentially just iodine crystals in a mesh-top bottle. This is used to create a strong iodine solution that is in turn used to treat a quantity of water. As recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog, the US government is about to ban the sale of iodine crystals and iodine solutions over 2%, since they now deem iodine to be a "precursor" chemical for illicit drug manufacture. Therefore, I strongly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers in the US get themselves a lifetime supply of Polar Pure, as soon as possible. It is sold by Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors.

It is important that every prepared family make plans in advance on exactly how they will handle their water supply in the event of a long-term grid-down situation. Buy the gear. test is extensively. Also research a primary, secondary, and even tertiary source of water in your area. You need to plan ahead for transporting that water, even if fuel for vehicles is not available. Think in terms of a two-wheel garden cart or a bicycle cargo trailer with "Slimed" tires--or better yet, foam-filled "airless" tires (available from PerformanceBike.com or Nashbar.com). A cart or trailer can be loaded with 5 or 6 gallon plastic buckets or water cans. (For planning purposes, each 5 gallon water can will weigh about 42 pounds, so you'll want a cart or trailer with at least 200 pound capacity.) Oh yes, and don't forget that if times get really bad you'll need to plan for a security detail, to protect the water detail. This is starting to get complicated, isn't it? And if you are unfortunate enough to live in an area that lacks open water sources available in every month of the year that are within walking distance, then you ought to seriously consider relocating to area with more plentiful water .

Make plans to to be able to distribute water purification supplies as charity. (Pool Shock chlorination tablets can be bought in a five gallon pail--enough to treat many hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. Make some photocopies of of directions for using hypochlorite tablets. A few plastic zip lock bags of hypochlorite tablets (roughly 6 ounces per bag) along with direction sheets could save hundreds of lives.

I was wondering, as perhaps some other readers are, why you advocate paying off your fixed rate mortgage in preparation for inflationary bad times ahead. It would seem that, short of Zimbabwe-style economic collapse, leaving your money in investments that more or less track inflation, and using those increasingly deflated dollars to pay off a fixed rate, constant dollar mortgage that will become increasingly cheaper with time, is to your benefit (and very much not to the bank's). What am I missing? Regards, - Lou P

JWR Replies: I advocate being debt free for several reasons. The first and foremost reason is Biblical. Clearly, modern-day interest rates are usurious. (See Nehemiah 5:4-13.) That alsone is enough to keep me away from the banksters and their money. I have never taken a loan from a bank, and, Lord willing, I never shall. (I do use a credit card, but purely for convenience. I pay the full balance each month so that I'm not charged interest.) My other reasons are purely pragmatic:
A.) The times to come may not be inflationary. There is a chance (albeit far less likely) that times might turn deflationary, a la the 1930s. Those were dreadful times for debtors.
B.) You might lose your job and not have any income. At that pont, you might not be able to make your payments, even in inflated dollars.
C.) Never underestimate the ability of well-intentioned of governments to over-react in an "emergency." Governments are quite likely to institute wage and price controls, as they have done in the past. They might impose limitations on mortgage pre-payments. They might place limits on savings account withdrawals. They might index interest rates to match inflation. They might issue a new currency and reschedule/recalculate all recorded mortgages. And they might even decree that the remaining principal of mortgages be indexed to match inflation! (A banker's fondest dream is an installment debt that can never be fully repaid.) For some documented cases of government over-reaction in the recent past, see Dr. Gary North's book "Government by Emergency". (IIRC, it is available for free download, along with dozens of other books at I.C.E. Free Books.)

Coutrtesy of SHTF.com, and also recommended by SurvivalBlog reader KB, comes this article about Zimbabwe from The Economist: How to stay alive when it all runs out

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Zuke in Iraq sent us this one: Two Bear Stearns hedge funds are now worth nearly nothing. We read further details in The Daily Reckoning: "Last week, all three rating agencies - Moody's, Standard and Poor's, and Fitch - announced downgrades of subprime linked debt. And this week, Bear Stearns said investors in one of its hedge funds that bought CDOs on a
leveraged basis would get none of their money back. They were wiped out, said the letter reported by Bloomberg, buying Triple-A bonds. Just how subprime CDOs, suspicious byproducts of a disreputable industry, came to be rated AAA is a story worth telling, but today we will stick to the news. Bear went on to say that while investors in one of its two endangered funds had been wiped out, investors in the other fund could breathe a sigh of relief - they had only lost 91% of their money." (OBTW, I consider The Daily Reckoning a "must read." Subscriptions to the e-newsletter are free.)

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Rourke recommended this interview of Comptroller David Walker, head of the GAO, on 60 Minutes. Walker gives some dire warnings. "I would argue that the most serious threat to the United States is not someone hiding in a cave in Afghanistan or Pakistan but our own fiscal irresponsibility,"

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From NewsMax: Experts Agree: Major Terror Threats Loom

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature ... laws not preventive but fearful of crimes.:" - Beccaria

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you call in to a talk radio show to discuss survival, preparedness, or emerging threats. Thanks!

I recently read a piece in The New York Times, (linked at SHTF Daily) titled Somehow the Spending Doesn’t Stop. The author made some astute observations on consumer spending. But he didn't go on to analyze some underlying phenomena. I have observed that here was a subtle yet profound shift in the psychology of indebtedness that took place in the late 1990 and early Aughts: Somehow the average American gradually stopped thinking about the total amount that he owes his creditors, and instead started focusing on his minimum monthly payment. Consequently, consumer spending soared. For more than a decade, Americans have been wanting it all, and getting it all. Collectively, their debts have been accumulating and compounding horrendously. It is as if they've been winding up an enormous spring. Imagine one of those novelty "joy buzzers" that pranksters used to conceal in their palms. But American have been winding up an enormous "No Joy" Buzzer.

Thanks to the monetary policies of "Easy Al" Greenspan and his successor "Helicopter Ben" Bernanke, credit has been free and easy. Credit card offers arrive in the mail like manna from heaven. Millions of Americans that do not deserve any significant credit have had lots of it. Enough to buy $300,000 houses. With this credit, like a child set loose in a candy shop that they have bought just about everything they've wanted: big screen televisions, home makeovers, fancy cars, and McMansions. They have maxed out their credit. Inevitably, however, the elasticity of credit is not infinite. At some point the piper must be paid. America's credit spending spree will someday come to an abrupt end, most likely immediately following a sharp stock market correction. We will be startled by the noise and vibration of the big No Joy Buzzer. Bzzzzzzt! The party is over! At that point discretionary spending will drop to nil.

As consumer spending plummets, every business from mega corporations down to mom-ann-pop stores will start to lay off employees. Millions of employees. Those layoffs will mean that millions of monthly minimum payments will not be paid. Debt payment delinquencies, then defaults and finally bankruptcies will explode tremendously. Then it will take perhaps 20 years to unwind all the amassed consumer debt. It will be a very traumatic time--probably much more so than the Depression of the 1930s.Why? In the 1930s, nearly half of America's families were farmers, ranchers, or fishermen. But now, just 2% of the population feeds the other 98%. If unemployment jumps into double digits, most families will no longer have "country cousins" that they can depend on to help feed them.

Got your storage food? Got a big vegetable garden? Got a gun and plenty of ammo? Got the training to know how to use it? You may need all of that, and more. Pray hard. Stock up as much as you can, so that you can dispense copious charity. You neighbors will likely need it.

Hi Jim...
I noticed and read the letter from "NotDave" on, among other things, the use of a pressure cooker as an expedient sterilizer (autoclave). I would like to expound on what he wrote.
First of all I would like to state that he is correct in his statements of time, temp, and pressure.

To achieve steam-driven sterility you need to satisfy two requirements...time and temperature. In the medical, and lab/scientific field steam is the prevalent sterilant medium. This is due to the ability of steam to penetrate that which is being sterilized. At 20 psi [(g)auge (psig)] the temp is 250.3 degrees F. (There are other sterilants but suffice it to say that would be another dissertation.)

The point I want to make is in the form of a tip or two for all the good folks in blog land. It is important to select a pressure cooker that can
maintain a pressure of 20 psi. although most only have valves for 15 psi. Select one that has the "twist the lid in place" and screw down fasteners rather that the lollypop shaped lid that twists in place only. The former is far safer than the latter. Bob at Ready Made Resources provided me an "All American" pressure cooker that doubles as a sterilizer nicely. It is very well built and is a gasketless design. Needless to say stock up on gaskets
if you select a pressure cooker that has one.

In the course of sterilizing anything in a pressure cooker it is important to ensure that those items are placed above the water that is boiling. The goal is to expose the item to pure steam. If any or all of the items are immersed in the water then complete sterilization may not or will not occur. This is due to the fact that the item will be exposed to the temperature of the water not the steam. The pure steam will give off it's BTUs on contact with the item while water may not and will not do so as efficiently because water is an insulator as well as a medium for storing those BTUs. Even though the water is superheated due to the pressure (15-20 psi [(g)auge]) you would have to re-calculate and increase the exposure time to ensure the item has been sterilized. There also may be some air trapped in the cooker. Air is an insulator and no friend to sterilizing. Because most pressure cookers have the pressure gauge, not the vent, located at the highest point of the lid some air may remain near the top so. Do not place item in the uppermost region of the lid.
There is a technique for sterilizing in a pressure cooker and it is easy to do. A perforated or wire mesh, without handles, stainless steel deep frying/"Fry-o-lator"-type basket, of the appropriate size, placed open end down inside the p-cooker will act as the "shelf" for the item(s) providing the item(s) to be sterilized will fit in the pressure cooker with the basket. It must be tall enough to raise the item far enough above the anticipated water level to prevent being splashed by the roiling water surface. Chose a basket that has free swinging handles if possible so it can be used for par boiling things when not acting as a shelf. If free floating handles are not available just cut off the fixed handle and file the stubs smooth ("...cut to size, file to fit..."). A smaller perforated basket placed on top of the inverted one is handy for holding the items and convenient for handling that being sterilized but not necessary given the availability of space. Just be certain to use a perforated basket (or whatever) versus something solid such as a pan. Air will get trapped inside and, because the water is boiling, may get tipped over dropping the instrument (item) into the water.

In general terms, a few guidelines:

1) The boiling point of water drops approximately 2 deg. F. (1.1C) per 1,000 feet rise in elevation above sea level therefore the pressure of the steam needs to increase to cause the steam temperature to rise to 250 Deg. F.
2) When using a pressure cooker to sterilize something it is imperative that the pressure control valve/weight is left off to allow the air trapped inside to be driven off. A good rule is to allow 10 minutes to pass after steam is seen flowing out of the vent. Be certain to add sufficient water. Dry heat is a poor sterilizing medium and needs to be about 320 deg. F. for 2 hours minimum to effectively sterilize something such as a towel clamp.
3) 15.3 psi (g)auge) equals (approximately) 250 deg. F. This is the low temperature sterilization point used in hospitals, labs and in commercial
4) 10.3 psi (gauge) equals approximately 240 deg. F. This is used in labs and in commercial application where the items are temp sensitive.
5) The lower the temperature, the longer the exposure time required.
6) The minimum exposure time at 250 Degrees F (15.3 psig) should be 30 minutes.
7) The minimum exposure time at 240 degrees F. (10.3 psig) should be 1 hour (well, actually 45 minutes, but be safe and err for the longer time as there are too many variables and at the lower temp. it is too risky).
Above all, proper sterilization requires items be very clean prior to sterilizing. Any "debris" in an instrument will act as an insulator and prevent that zone from reaching temperature. The critters you are trying to kill may not die beneath that zone and replicate. If you are putting the item in storage there will be more than a sufficient amount of time to re-contaminate the item. If you use that improperly sterilized item in a surgical procedure then you may contaminate the op-site. In a SHTF condition a nasty infection in a surgical site is something you don't want to deal with. Just ask John O the M.D.
Thank you for your patience and thank you for reading this. I hope it helps. - J. at East Tennessee Sterilizer Service

Mr Rawles,
I was looking at the construction of different areas of my home and trying to think of the best area for a fallout shelter or bunker. I have a basement with access to the area under my garage and under a slab addition. I figure that it would be too dangerous to tunnel under the garage but was wondering if it would be feasible to tunnel under the addition slab. If this were an option I could really have a large bunker area, especially if there is a way to use the garage slab. Thanks, - ART

JWR Replies: Use extreme caution when digging under slabs. In essence, if a slab was not originally designed to span an open space beneath it, then is shouldn't be expected to handle doing so. For most typical 8+ inch thick residential re-bar reinforced concrete slabs other than those in garages, poured on clay or loam soil, a maximum 3-foot wide tunnel that doesn't extend more than half the width of a building would probably be fine, but anything wider or longer, or any excavation in sandy soil would require the close scrutiny of a qualified structural engineer. Garage slabs deserve a special of caution: Unless a slab is specifically designed to support the "live" load of a vehicle atop it and span a void beneath it, then you should not attempt to do any tunneling beneath it! Perhaps an engineer would care to chime in here, with further guidance.

"Perhaps the greatest disservice of Hollywood movies is their cartoonish villains. In real life, I promise you, the devil will look more like Julia Roberts than Snidely Whiplash. Evil does not arrive with a flashing neon sign: MEPHISTOPHELES! LUCIFER! SATAN! FOR ETERNAL DAMNANTION, APPLY HERE! Evil arrives packaged as a winsome movie about a long-legged brunette who manages to marry a rich, handsome bachelor and live happily ever after -- all by turning tricks on Hollywood Boulevard! There's a reason Beelzebub is known as the prince of lies." - Ann Coulter

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The high bid is already at $250 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Big Berkey water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources. They are one of our most loyal advertisers. The auction ends on August 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Being able to plant your own vegetables during hard times will be greatly desirable. In order to do this, a preparedness person should have multiple duplicates of commonly used garden tools. Gardening tools such as rakes, hoes, and pitchforks often break at the connection between the handle and the head. The wood becomes aged and with downward pressure/force – the wood can break away and or the tool head can just become loose and fall out. This occurs mostly on older tools where the wood has shrank but can also occur on the cheaper imported garden tools. I recently had to repair two of my older tools (heavy rake and hoe) which both broke when planting this year’s garden.

If replacement handles are not available, most of the tools can be repaired to useable condition by the following method:

1) Clean the metal tool head area that goes into the wood with a wire brush and coarse sandpaper.
2) Clean out the wood handle “socket area” using a small foxtail file or cylindrical wire brush or sandpaper on stick, etc. Try not to remove any wood – just clean the wood surface.
3) Mix up a batch of thick epoxy or JB Weld, etc. and use some kind of tape (masking tape works well) to bridge up the area where the wood has been chipped out or broken off).
4) Fill the handle “socket” with epoxy, and insert the tool head. Don’t forget to install the tool head cone before installing the tool head. Adding some additional epoxy to the tapered portion of the handle and the inside of the cone will further strengthen the connection between the handle and the tool head.
5) Wrap additional tape around the bottom of this cone to keep epoxy from leaking out, and then store the tool with the head up until the epoxy has hardened for at least 24 hours.

If the handle has become cracked or broken, the wood can be wrapped with copper or iron wire over the entire length of the crack/break, then twist the wire using pliers to get and maintain a tight wrap. Epoxy or tape over it (epoxy is best). This will add great strength to the wood in that area. Also, the handles can become splintered and or the varnish can crack and be hard on the hands. To resolve this – sand and re-varnish or oil stain, or wrap a rubberized tape around the handle in the working areas to provide a splinter free grip.

A little oil will help in keeping rust from forming during storage (as noted in previous SurvivalBlog posts). It is a good idea to keep all your tools and equipment in ready condition. You never know when you will need them.

For those folks residing in the Western U.S., the Big 5 Sporting Goods stores are selling 'collectable' Mosin-Nagant 7.62x54R rifles at very good prices; under $200. I don't know if all the stores have them but a couple of stores in the south Denver metro area have one or two each and they appear to be in acceptable shape. - Ken M.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that tip. OBTW, most Big 5 customers don't realize that the military surplus rifles in the display racks are just examples of their inventory. Each store typically has from three to five more of each model still in boxes, back in their stock room. If you "chat up" the sales clerks, you can usually get them to either let you look through the back room inventory, or have them bring out three or four more rifle boxes, so that you can hand pick rifles. Look for rifles with no cracks in their stocks, nice bores, and that still have most of their bluing. Parenthetically, I have a friend who was successful at this a couple of years ago at the Big 5 store in Carson City, Nevada. This was back when Swiss 7.5mm K31 carbines were coming in to the country in large numbers. He came home with a nearly mint condition K31 at the same $185 price as the "run of the mill" well-worn carbines.

A couple of points on ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD). Back in the 1990s low sulfur was introduced and we had a rash of pumps "wear out" prematurely for the most part these were older and or rotary pumps that were poor performers to begin with. It has been my experience that the "Bosch in inline" pumps tend to be more forgiving.
If on road legality is of no concern than a gallon or two of marvel mystery oil will cover your lubricity issue.
When I was in the coast guard we had a mixing formula to mix 40 weight oil to JP-4 through JP-8 so we could use it in our main diesel engines. This would have the advantage of not "dying" the fuel If you have a 500 gallon tank 5 gallons of lube oil should take care of your issue.
As to clogging filters it is the exhaust particulate filters in 2007 model year and later that is the issue. If you need a "good" vehicle, 2007 and later is a poor choice as maintenance and parts are very expensive and specialized. - Mike the Wrenchspinner

Hello Jim,
I have been a fuel distributor since 1972. I have seen many changes in the industry since then and IMHO the ULSD fuel is one of the goofier ones. The fuel is treated to get rid of the nasty sulfur. Along with this goes some of the wax, thus less power. BTU losses of 3-7% are common. The ULSD fuel is harder to winterize then the old 500 PPM fuel we have been using. CFPP (Cold Filter Plug Point) of the ULSD fuel starts out 20 to 30 degrees higher than the old fuel and requires more of the winter additive to bring the the CFPP down to acceptable numbers. Once again our government supplies us with unintended consequences.
We purchase our additive from Schaffer's. They have an additive for the ULSDF called Diesel Treat 2000 ULSDF that other than the power loss, virtually returns the 15 PPM to the 500 PPM specs. We purchase the additive in bulk and cost to treat is less than 2 cents per gallon. As the off road diesel is now at 500 PPM and may be as low as 15 PPM we currently treat all of our diesel sales.
Water fall out is also a problem with the ULSD fuel. All diesel contains minor amounts of water, called inherent water. In the older fuels this water would stay in suspension and would be vaporized during the ignition cycle and then would exhaust with the other gases. With ULSD the water over time will precipitate out either in your storage tank or vehicle tank. When you have water in your tank you are now ready to host many types of microbial life. Of course these bugs die and their bodies will clog up your fuel filters. (Looks like the filter was packed with black grease.) The Schaeffer's additive will keep the inherent water in suspension so as to eliminate or at least greatly reduce the food source for the microbes.
In regards to the expensive filter in the exhaust system getting clogged, that occurs when 500 PPM diesel is used in engines requiring the ULSD, engines manufactured in 2007 or later.
All diesel fuels both on road and off road are to be 15 PPM by 2010.
Any other questions please let me know - John & Abigail Adams


Mr. Rawles,
A common misconception is that ultra low sulfur diesel does not have the lubricating properties of low sulfur diesel when in fact it does. Sulfur is not the lubricant in diesel fuel. Although the process of removing sulfur removes some of the natural lubricating properties of the fuel the refiners add a lubricant package back to the fuel before it is sold to the public. Under no circumstances should you ever use a fuel additive containing alcohol in a diesel engine. The alcohol will absorb the water in the fuel and the water will then pass through the injectors at that point the water will explode and destroy the injector tips. The best thing a fuel additive can do with water in a diesel is remove it from solution by causing it to settle out so the filter system can catch it and it can be drained. The best fuel additives for diesel engines bar none are Stanadyne and Power Service. Power Service is available at most auto parts stores and Wal-Mart, while Stanadyne is available from diesel injector shops. - Jack S.

We have used Marvel Mystery Oil for years as an additive to our diesel trucks and tractors. If you read the side of the can, it says add directly to diesel fuel as a top cylinder lubricant. It also ups the Cetane Rating, as well as keeps the fuel for gelling in cold weather. My brother in Alaska swears by it, and I am sure others besides myself are familiar with it.
The ULSD is [presently required only] for over the road trucks. You still can special order in non-road diesel for tractors and off road vehicles. (No road taxes )
One under-reported fact: Biodiesel is an excellent lubricant and just adding a little Biodiesel to each tank helps with the lubrication.- Mel

Mr. Rawles,
This is the product that I use to remedy the low-sulfur diesel fuel issue. I own a 2002 Volkswagen Beetle with the tdi,1.9 alh engine (it's a diesel). This is the only product that VW of America recommends as an additive that will not void the factory warranty. Just thought I'd pass the info along. - JB in Boise


I make a living testing fuel quality for an oil company and wanted to comment on the post on Monday, July 16th, "Letter Re: Proper Lubrication with Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel." It is widely accepted that sulfur compounds increase the lubrication effect, or lubricity, of diesel fuel. With the recent reduction of sulfur from 500 ppm in low sulfur diesel to 15 ppm in ultra low sulfur diesel there has been a decrease in the lubricity of the fuel. But a lubricity specification was implemented simultaneously with the reduction in sulfur. Refiners have been required to increase the lubricity of diesel to meet a minimum lubricity specification while reducing sulfur. They have met the lubricity requirement using chemical additives.

There are several chemical additives available, at least commercially, to improve lubricity quality, but by the time a typical consumer purchases diesel from a retail station, the fuel has likely already been additized to improve lubricity.

I'm not sure if the chemically additized ultra low sulfur diesel that meets the minimum lubricity requirement lubricates an engine as well as the higher sulfur diesel, but the difference is probably not significant and the additized fuel probably lubricates sufficiently. In any case, it would not be detrimental to additize your diesel, but the money is likely better spent on other preparations. - Mike S.

Reader "Ed7B" sent us a link to a page at the Medical Corps web site with an account of an emergency appendectomy in a submarine in WWII - with not a doctor for many miles, and a dearth of proper equipment, tools and drugs. Ed's comment: "They still managed to get this sailor's appendix out and have a happy outcome. Pertinent to what people can expect when there is no hospital open, let alone a doctor to be found." Speaking of preparedness for austere medicine, don't miss the outstanding Medical Corps training on August 24-25-26 at the Ohio State University Extension Campus in Caldwell, Ohio.

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Frequent content contributor SF in Hawaii sent us the URL for Frontier Natural Products Co-Op, a mail order firm that has a lot of organic spices and mixes in foil packages. SF's comment: "Spices and precious metals used to trade on par in ancient times."

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Retail Sales Suffer Stiff Decline

"This is a delusion about credit. And whereas from the nature of credit it is to be expected that a certain line will divide the view between creditor and debtor, the irrational fact in this case is that for more than 10 years debtors and creditors together have pursued the same deceptions." - Garet Garret, A Bubble that Broke the World

Monday, July 16, 2007

Congratulations to Tom H., the high bidder in the recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for 10 steel SA-80 magazines. A new auction begins today, for a new-in-the-box "Big Berky" British Berkefeld water filter, kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, one of our most loyal advertisers. This is a high volume ceramic filter with four replaceable 9" ceramic filter elements in a sturdy polished stainless steel enclosure. We use this same model here at the Rawles Ranch. Big Berkey filters normally sell for $324, plus postage. The opening bid is just $80. (The winning bid includes free shipping in the US.) Please e-mail us your bid, in $10 increments. Be sure to visit the Ready Made Resources web site and check out their broad line of photovoltaic power components and their wide variety of food storage and preparedness products. They have it all, at great prices!

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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

When prepping for WTSHTF, many times we focus on how much dehydrated food we have stored. While dehydrated foods can have a very important part in our plans, we have to remember
that almost all that food needs water. Water you may not have accounted for in your plans. The following quantity figures were taken straight from the Walton Feed web site, a very popular source of dehydrated foods.
Feeding a family of four
Pancakes = 2.5 cups water
Milk = 1 quart water
margarine = 4 Tbsp water
egg mix = 3 Tbsp water per egg (4 times)
Bread = varies
peanut butter powder = Tbsp water per Tbsp of peanut butter
jelly = none
orange drink = 1 quart water
Macaroni = at least 1 quart to boil
cheese blend = 1 cup
1 cup green beans = 1 cup water
fruit punch = 1 quart water
Brownie mix = 3/4 cup water
No meats today.
this works out to about 1.5 gallons for one day.
Another quart of water each for drinking makes 2.5 gallons.
Another gallon minimum for cleaning makes 3.5 gallons.
Another gallon minimum for personal hygiene = 4.5 gallons.
We can see it would easily reach 5 gallons of water per day, minimum. This is pretty austere living as far as hygiene and cleaning goes. Even the amount of food is less than what most of us have become used to.
If you had to rely only on the 50 gallons in your hot water heater, you would have less than a 10 day supply. Remember, this is probably going to be the minimum you use per day! Many dehydrated foods will require more water than indicated here. If you have infants or toddlers, you can easily exceed the minimum of one gallon per day for hygiene. (Do you have someplace to clean those dirty diapers?) Ever try to tell your teenage daughter she can't wash her hair for a week?
Granted some of the above water could be reused. The water used to boil the macaroni could be used to clean up possibly or make fruit punch (hopefully it is strong flavored to mask
the taste.)
Regardless, there probably will be times during SHTF that water is at a premium. We have to be ready to eat with little or no additional water. We need to take a hard look at canned foods where they may allow us to use less water or have their own water included. Most canned vegetables, juices and meats fall into this category. I am not advocating eliminating them entirely from our dehydrated stores, but I am suggesting we cross-fill. Where possible, get both dehydrated and non-dehydrated.
If storage space is an issue, perhaps something like a wall mounted dispensing system from www.pharaohsstorehouse.com is the answer for you. This also allows for automatic rotation
of stores.
Other factors to include are that if you have neighbors family or friends you end up helping, they are going to need water for any dehydrated foods you give them. Do they have anything stored up? Have they already used up all the water in their hot water heater? If you give someone a cup of dehydrated peanut butter in a baggie, then they will immediately know that you have more. If you give them a small typical grocery store packaged bottle of peanut butter, then they just might think its your next to last one. Better to seem just barely better-off than to appear well-off.
This entire discussion can go for pages, and that is not my intent here. My purpose is to get you thinking outside the box. When you think about SHTF, try to think about all of the things that you will need and how they are connected.

I'm wonder if there is someone in the SurvivalBlog readership who has any first hand knowledge about the repercussions of the ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel that is being mandated by our government. I've heard that the sulfur content is being reduced from 500ppm down to 15ppm and that the sulfur in the fuel has a lubricating effect on diesel engines, fuel pumps, injectors, etc. The assertion is that this lowered level will significantly increase wear on older non-ultra-low-sulfur fuel designed diesel engines. I understand that many regions of the country can only get this fuel now and that many farmers, construction companies, etc. have to resort to an additive to insure proper fuel lubrication. Anyone know of an additive that will accomplish this? Also, there is an assertion that because of this fuel there is a difference in produced ash particle dimensions which clogs expensive filters. Any truth here? And finally, there is an assertions that the current oils used in diesel engines, using this reduced sulfur fuel, may not be adequate. Again, any truth? If so what is the proper oil?
I figured that if I heard this, then maybe so have others and they are also confused on this subject. Thank You, - Ken M

JWR Replies: An oil additive will indeed increase ULSD's viscosity. I've seen references to a commercial additive product called Diesel 911. The manufacturer's web site describes it as having the following benefits:
* Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel compliant. Contains less than 15 parts per million (ppm) sulfur
* De-ices frozen fuel-filters no requirement to change fuel-filters
* Contains Slickdiesel for maximum fuel lubrication protects fuel injectors and pumps against accelerated wear from Low and Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuels
* Reliquefies gelled fuel in minutes
* Removes water from fuel system

I suspect that since it is claimed to "remove water" that in addition to oil, this product also contains some alcohol. If you only goal is to increase lubrication, then a bit of less expensive oil--perhaps plain old 10W-40--might do the trick. (Although it might violate some Federal regulation.) Diesel 911 sounds like it has some other worthy attributes that might make it worth buying. A competing product is AMSOIL's Diesel Concentrate Performance Fuel Additive (ADF). Those are just the two that I've heard of. There are sure to be others. Perhaps some SurvivalBlog readers would care to chime in, and suggest a satisfactory and legal low cost (per gallon) ULSD viscosity boosting solution.

SF in Hawaii mentioned this copy of the US Army Field Manual FM 90-7, housed at the GlobalSecurity.org web site. SF's comment: "Click on the figures in this manual and you'll see some good examples of defensive obstacles."

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A Colorado city besieged by copper thieves

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I noticed an interesting thread of discussion in progress at The Claire Files forums, on choosing a gun for bear protection, while horseback.

"Betting against gold is the same as betting on governments. He who bets on governments and government money bets against 6,000 years of recorded human history." - Dr. Gary North

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The high bid is now at $350 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 at midnight (EST) tonight, so e-mail us your bid soon!

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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I started my preparedness journey a few years before Y2K. A friend of mine opened my eyes and both of our families have been adding to our preparations ever since. Unfortunately, looking back over the last 10 year, I have not been able to convince one more person to become better prepared. I am obviously not happy with the results so I have decided this year I will try something different.

I think where I went wrong is being too open about my preparedness journey. I would become very excited about some new aspect of preparedness that I had discovered and would immediately share it with my family and friends. They would respond with polite smiles and pretend to be interested. They would love to talk about the unique books I bought or all the guns I have. But it would always be a big joke. I will never live down all the jokes that started when they found out I bought The Humanure Handbook. The jokes start up every spring when I start my garden. And no, I don’t recycle my own waste. I just wanted the book.

I have learned that some people will never be open to the survivalist mindset. And I have made the mistake too many times in giving the whole load to people who are not ready. Emotionally many people can not handle it. Many times I can see the fear that begins to rise up in them. But instead of moving to the logical next step of “what do I need to do to solve this problem”, they choose to avoid this stressful train of thought because it is easier to believe I’m just crazy. I now realize that my method of trying to convince others to prepare has inadvertently opened my family to danger. Guess who's house they joke about going to if TSHTF! What was I thinking?

This year I have a new plan. I am now going to downplay the survivalist stigma and promote what I do as a wise financial investment instead. I work in the banking industry and with it comes relationships with many business professionals. They understand money. I am building a new house and it is drawing some attention mainly because the same family and friends that loved to tell everyone about my unique books love to tell others about my unique house that is being built. I am investing quite a bit of money in solar air and water heaters and [photovoltaic] solar panels. But instead of promoting it as a good way to prepare, I have a break down on how renewable energy will save me money. The solar installers have a computer program that breaks down all the monetary figures and it’s great for showing to others that are interested. My line now is that I just want to diversify my long term investments. My friends understand numbers and spread sheets so this makes sense to them. I don’t rave about Peak Oil anymore I just explain that I believe oil prices are going to increase substantially and the more they increase the better the return on my renewable energy investment.

I am building a homestead on 40 acres of mixed pastures and woods. Next year I am hoping to move beyond just owning horses and add cattle, goats and chickens. I don’t have much experience with livestock except what I have read in books. So I am planning to take a couple of classes this fall at the Ohio State Agricultural Technical Institute. It’s amazing all the great classes they offer. The reason I give people for my desire for owning livestock--I am a city banker after all-- is all the organic food my family currently buys. It is really expensive. Goat milk is almost $4 per quart here! So growing my own food is a great way to save money. It’s also a fun hobby and good exercise. Along with canning or freezing the produce from our large organic garden, we can save a lot. I don’t banter any more on the need to stock up. I would rather them see the joy of having a full pantry of healthy foods and how I save money doing it.

Now that I am finally going to live in the country and not just visit my land on weekends I am going to get two 550 gallon fuel tanks; one diesel and one gasoline. Since I’m not a real farmer like others in the area this could look weird, but again this can make financial sense if explained correctly. With the high fluctuation of gas prices I fill up the storage tanks when the price is low and use it up when the price at the pump is high. I’ll throw out how many hundreds of dollars I save by doing this.

The older I get the more I realize I need to package things a little different. The old saying comes to mind that “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. Maybe the honey will work better than the vinegar I have used over the years and I can finally take a few interested friends to the next level. If nothing else when TSHTF I think it would be better to be known as a penny pincher than that crazy survivalist. - Adam in Ohio

JWR Adds: To both prevent thievery in hard times and to decrease fire danger, I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers opt for underground fuel storage tanks. You might consider hiring contractors from 50+ miles away, rather than locals. Ditto for when you have the tanks filled the first time, especially if the tanks are unusually large. If you are clever, it isn't very difficult to conceal the tank filler and pump handle "heads". I have one friend that concealed his by torching out the back of an old upright chest freezer. The freezer laying on its back next to his barn (along with some other scrap metal items) just looks like "junk." Since the freezer door's key lock mechanism still works, it prevents curious kids from looking inside. (And it also eliminates the risk of an "attractive nuisance" lawsuit.) Another friend bought some wooden wine barrels that had been cut in half for use as decorative planters. An inverted half-barrel covers the tank's pump handle and hose. Another half barrel sits on top of the "base" barrel. This upper barrel has had a false bottom partition built into it, making it look like it is full of soil, when the soil is actually only 6" deep. This barrel is planted with wildflowers each summer. To access the pump handle and hose, it takes just a few moments to set aside the 30 pound top barrel and flip over the base.

Mr. Rawles:
First, I'd like to thank you for your novel "Patriots". I bought it and read [the 31 chapter edition] in 2002, and loved it. I implemented many of your suggestions, and have my bug out bags prepared and ready. I especially have medical supplies on hand.

I have been trying to remember the name and author of a "formulary" book I believe you mention in Patriots. You said it was out of print but showed how to make things like paint, if you had no paint. You said it was a fixture on American farms at the turn of the 20th century. I would look in my copy of Patriots for this, but it is packed with my bug out items in a special safe place away from my home, so I can't just quickly go get it. Please let me know the title of this "formulary" so that I can be looking for a copy. Thanks! - Pamela G. in Oregon

JWR Replies: I believe that you are referring to Kurt Saxon's book: "Granddad's Wonderful Book of Chemistry", which is primarily a reprint of he classic formulary "Dick's Encyclopedia", circa 1872. Saxon also assembled a dictionary of old fashioned chemical terms and synonyms and included it in the front of his reprint. This is worth its weight in gold. (Having an old formulary is great, but if you don't know that "oil of mirbane" is now called nitro-benzene, then a lot of formulary knowledge verges on useless.) Kurt has some far-our political beliefs which, as a Christian, I find abhorrent. (Kurt Saxon is an atheist and a eugenicist.) But if you skip past those rantings, all of his books are great references. I've heard that a few of his hard copy books are now out of print, but that they are all still available on CD-ROM.

OBTW, if you search through used book stores, you will occasionally find other old formulary book from the late 1800s. Buy them when you find them. They are treasure troves of useful arcana!

Some special notes of caution on home chemistry:
Use extreme care whenever working with chemicals--even when doing something as basic as making soap. Always wear full goggles, long sleeves, and gloves. Always work in a well-ventilated area. Wear a respirator mask, when appropriate. Always keep an A-B-C fire extinguisher handy. Keep an emergency eyewash bottle handy. When working with a chemical that could burn your skin, be prepared with a bucket of water (if appropriate) or the appropriate neutralizer. Never use any of your regular kitchen utensils, containers, or measuring instruments when working with chemicals. (Have a dedicated set, and clearly mark them as such!) Never work alone. Study reactivity tables, and always keep them in mind. Whenever working with anything flammable or potentially explosive, always work with minute quantities for your experiments. Keep in mind that 19th Century safety standards were considerably more relaxed than today's, so old formularies often omit safety warnings. Always remember that exposure to some substances such as lead, mercury, and carbon monoxide are insidious and cumulative. FWIW, I'm not putting forth all these strong warnings simply to cover my assets from a lawsuit. I really sincerely mean them, since I've "been there, done that", and caught my hair on fire a time or two.

Alt-A: The New Home of Subprime?

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The Chartist Gnome reminded me that The Debt Clock is still ticking, relentlessly. We'll have a lot of explaining to do, to our grandchildren.

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From Bloomberg, via SHTF Daily: Dollar Drops to Record Low Versus Euro on U.S. Growth, Rates

"Almighty God...I yield thee humble and hearty thanks that thou has preserved me from the danger of the night past, and brought me to the light of the day, and the comforts thereof, a day which is consecrated to thine own service and for thine own honor. Let my heart, therefore, Gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on thee, and discharge those weighty duties thou requirest of me. Give me grace to hear thee calling on me in thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of the soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me, Gracious God, the good work for which thou has sent it. Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and for ever for His sake, who lay down in the Grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." - From the Prayer Journal of George Washington

Saturday, July 14, 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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The ideal survival vehicle is a 4x4, 3/4 ton made by GMC or Chevrolet. They are easy to work on, old enough to be cheap, new enough to get parts for and, tough enough to last.
My 1976 GMC 4x4 3/4 ton pickup has 300,000+ plus miles. Maintenance = reliability. It has V8 350, 4 speed standard shift, 4.10 axles, dual-range transfer case, manual hubs. In Low range first gear I have crept up and down icy mountain roads with perfect confidence --- and V-bar chains on all four wheels.
Between the steel line from the gas tank, and the mechanical fuel pump, I installed a piece of new neoprene gas hose with two in-line fuel filters in tandem. This serves to capture grit that would abrade, and shorten the service life of, the fuel pump diaphragm; and otherwise clog the moving parts inside the fuel pump. Between the output side of the mechanical fuel pump and the intake of the carburetor I installed a long piece of neoprene gas line, with one inline fuel filter, secured where it will not touch the exhaust manifold.
At the front of the block, near the mechanical fuel pump, there is a hole threaded 3/8x16. Screw a 3/8x16 bolt in that hole to secure the fuel pump push rod. Remove the old fuel pump. Now is the best time to install neoprene lines and in-line fuel filters as described above. Install new fuel pump. Remove 3.8x16 bolt before you start the engine.
I swapped the high energy ignition (HEI) with a [microprocessor] electronic module) for a [traditional and EMP-proof ] points-type distributor. The HEI distributor is $200 and points-type distributor is $50. I replaced Quadra-Jet 4 barrel carburetor with an Edelbrock 1405 4 bbl carb, and bought a calibration kit. I can change jets and rods for anything from max power in axle-deep mud to economy cruise at high altitude. Just now I have it calibrated for 6,000 foot elevation. In East Texas 400 foot elevation at 65 mph I average 12.5 mpg.
My carb flooded. The engine would not start. I disassembled the carb on my tailgate and found a defective float. I replaced both floats (from my tool box), reassembled the carb and drove home.
In my truck toolbox I carry at all times a starter, alternator, fuel pump, complete distributor; extra points, condenser and rotor; and hand tools ...as well as food, a rifle or two, two axes, and a daypack with a few goodies. If you ain't got it with you it could be a long walk to get it.
I use the alternator but have a generator; and installed a wire-wound voltage regulator. The generator stays in my toolbox. It takes only minutes to bolt the generator in place.
Chevrolet part number 3814970, right exhaust manifold, has a place to mount the generator. It fits all Chevy/GMC small block V8 '73 thru '86. You can order a new one from your dealer.
A generator-equipped vehicle with standard transmission will roll-start without a starter or a battery. If the battery is missing, secure the positive battery cable clamp where it cannot possibly ground. Tape it to a heater hose. Roll start and go!
An alternator must be electrically energized to produce electric current. If your truck has an alternator you must have a battery.
Avoid automatic transmissions. Since around 1960 [US built] automatic transmission vehicles will not push start.
We can thank Big Brother for the many changes in automotive design. Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) from a nuclear detonation 400 miles above earth will destroy all unshielded electronic parts in line-of-sight. ...... the electronic components in Electronic-Fuel Injection, alternators, telephones, radios, televisions, computers, watches, GPS........etc
In 1945 we nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At that time all vehicles had carburetors, generators with wire-wound voltage regulators, and points-type ignition. Vehicle exposed to EMP were still operable. In the early 1950s US conducted nuclear tests in Nevada, and studied effects of nuclear weapons ([including] EMP). Shortly thereafter the generator was replaced with an alternator that has unshielded electronic "chips" ..
If your racy 2007 model Technodazzle stops, call the AAA. Have it towed to the dealer. A highly educated Automotive Diagnostic Technician will attach it to a $100,000 computer to learn which parts to change. Repairs may cost as little as four months pay.
1973 through 1986 Chevy/GMC 4x4 pickup, Blazer and Suburban (seats nine if you wish) have 95% parts interchange. The same carb, fuel pump, alternator, starter fits them all. Every junkyard from Fairbanks to Florida has lots of old Chevy 4x4s.

Procedure for Changing HEI to Traditional Points Ignition on a 1976 GMC/Chevy V8 350:
A picture is worth a 1000 words. At the public library find a Chilton manual for 1974 Chevy/GMC V8 350 and study the engine ignition wiring; and photocopy those pages to use as a guide.
If possible, find someone who drives a 74 or older GMC V8 350 and eyeball his wiring.
buy these parts
- rebuilt points distributor for 1974 GMC V8 350, with cap and rotor
- also buy replacement points, rotor and condenser (for later tune up. each time you use tune up parts, immediately buy replacements for your toolbox for next time.)
- buy the Allen wrench with long handle with which to adjust the points
- set of points-type spark plug wires
- 8 each AC-Delco # 44 spark plugs (Gap them to 0.035")
- two ballast resistors ( one goes in toolbox for later)
- one coil and coil bracket (you may want to buy an extra coil at this time)
STEP ONE is to read all instructions three times before you do anything else. If possible have an experienced friend oversee your installation.
-remove negative battery cable clamp from the alternator bracket.
-tape the negative battery cable to a heater hose (so it cannot ground).
-mount ballast resistor on the firewall.
-mount the coil and bracket on the fire wall below the ballast resistor.
-the (only ) RED wire that presently runs from ignition switch through firewall to your HEI distributor will be connected to the driver side of the ballast resistor. (cut the red wire at a point 3" from HEI distributor. cut a 15" inch piece of number 12 insulated wire to extend the RED wire to connect to driver side of ballast resistor.
use a butt connector to connect 15" wire to red wire. use a spade connector to connect it to ballast resistor.)
-with an 8" piece of number 12 insulated wire, spade connector on each end, connect passenger side of the ballast resistor to the "plus" ( + ) side of the coil.
-the only black wire hanging out the bottom of the points distributor connects to the
minus ( - ) side of the coil. (it goes from points to minus side of the coil)
For future reference, with a white paint stick, mark a large - and + on the coil. when you are cold, tired and the wind is blowing up your jacket (and your wife is asking if you got it fixed yet) it will help to see those marks and not have to rely on memory.
points distributor cap terminals --
#2 is the first terminal CW of the "door" in the distributor cap where you adjust the points.
firing order is 1 - 8 - 4 -3 - 6- 5- 7 - 2
with masking tape label points distributor cap terminals, HEI distributor terminals, and each HEI spark plug wire near the spark plug.
driver side front to back 1, 3, 5, 7 ..... and passenger side front to back 2, 4, 6, 8;
pull the plug wires off each spark plug but leave them connected to distributor cap.
remove HEI distributor cap with spark plug wires still attached. lay that aside for now.
Note the position of HEI distributor rotor. If it points to 6 o'clock, write on a 3x5 card "rotor to 6 o'clock" and tape that card on inner fender.
-loosen hold-down bolt ( 9/16" wrench) and remove HEI distributor
-install points distributor with rotor pointing to 6 o'clock (if that is what you wrote on the 3x5 card taped to the inner fender). the points distributor rotor must point exactly as did the HEI distributor rotor.
-hand tighten the hold-down bolt. later you will need to turn the distributor by hand when setting the timing.
you bought new AC 44 plugs and gapped them 0.035".
-now install the new spark plugs.
-install the points distributor cap.
-install the new plug wires one at a time. using the HEI distributor cap and wires as a guide.
-connect dwell tachometer black clip to ground, red clip to "minus" side of coil
-open the window in the distributor cap, and stick the allen wrench (with long handle) in the points adjust knob.
-connect battery ground cable to alternator bracket.
-remove vacuum hose from distributor, and plug that end of the hose
-with starter turning engine, turn allen wrench to adjust points so dwell reads 30.(book specs 29 to 31)
to set timing:
- with engine idling.
- the vacuum advance hose is still plugged.
- turn distributor CCW to attain maximum idle RPM, then CW to 200 RPM less than maximum
unplug vacuum advance hose. connect unplugged hose to vacuum advance on distributor.
with 9/16" wrench tighten distributor hold-down bolt.
if engine pings or rattles on acceleration:
-- disconnect and plug vacuum advance hose
-- connect dwell tachometer, black to ground , red to minus side of coil
-- loosen hold-down bolt and turn distributor CCW to max idle RPM, then CW to 300 RPM less than max idle RPM.
--tighten hold-down bolt to secure distributor
-- unplug and reconnect vacuum advance hose to distributor

Now let me tell you how we changed points in the shop:
-Since the engine will start if the points gap (which governs dwell angle, the number degrees of distributor rotation that the points remain closed) is close to .024", we'd install the point set and eyeball the gap to that.
-You can use a matchbook cover if yer eye is out of calibration.
-Then we'd crank it up and slowly turn the adjustment to the point where the engine began to stumble, then back the other way til it began to ping. The correct dwell would be -- within limits -- at the midpoint between the two.
-Timing can be done the same way mentioned previously but listening for the "ping and stumble" and setting midpoint between.
-When doing timing or dwell by this method, make the adjustment as smoothly as possible to make changes in engine sound more easily detectable. Keeping the distributor clamp screw just finger snug will make this easier when doing the timing.
-I toss this on the pile because there will be times when ya just do no have a dwell [meter/]tachometer in your pocket and have to change out ignition components that require adjustment. Get in tune with the pitch and sound of a properly tuned engine running at idle.
When I was doing this stuff regularly in my shop (I once was an automotive masochistic), I could by ear tell engine speed within 50 RPM -- no BS on this. If you are serious about this stuff, get intimate with your vehicle.

Packing '73-'86 GMC/Chevy 3/4 ton 4x4 front wheel bearings:
As always read instructions three times before you do anything else. You will need a metal pie plate and large magnet
- place magnet in center of pie plate.
- place small parts on magnet. (they will be there when you look for them)
special 3/8" drive socket for castellated nut inside hub
3/8" allen wrench
3/8" drive breaker bar
3/8 x 16 x 3" bolt
-wheel bearing grease
-spindle grease seal
-hub grease seals
-- chock rear wheel front and back
-- loosen front wheel lug nuts
-- raise front of truck on jack
-- place stands under axle housing
-- remove front wheel
-- with 3/8 allen wrench remove bolts that secure brake caliper
( place bolts on magnet in pie plate)
-- remove brake caliper and secure it without stretching or kinking brake hose
-- remove hub
-- with snap ring pliers remove snap ring
-- with special socket remove outer castellated nut
-- remove the washer (++ note that it has a pin that fits into a hole in the inner castellated nut)
-- remove inner castellated nut
-- remove rotor
-- remove the six nuts that secure the spindle
-- remove the spindle. it may be necessary to tap spindle with a brass hammer to remove it . do not use a steel hammer as that will mar the spindle-remove oil seal on inner side of rotor
-remove inner wheel bearing. wash it in solvent. dry it. apply new grease. put a golf ball size lump of grease in the palm of your left hand. place new bearing on the lump of grease. place right hand over left. squeeze hands together to force grease into the new bearing.
-place greased new bearing in the inner side of rotor. place new oil seal. with a brass hammer, or wooden handle very gently tap around the seal seating it.
-remove oil seal from spindle. remove old spindle bearing. grease and install new spindle bearing, install new spindle seal. A note on reassembly: Screw the 3/8x16x3" bolt into the threaded hole in the end of the axle. pull outward on the axle so you can get the snap ring on.
PS: Buy new wheel bearings and spindle bearings and seals to keep in reserve. Open each package. Grease the new bearings. Wrap them and put them back in the package. This will serve to keep them from rusting; and allow you to install greased bearings in the field. Keep the new bearings and seals in the toolbox on your truck.

InyoKern flagged this piece about Mexico from The Oil Drum. InyoKern's notes: "The graphs in the comments section are nails in the coffin, too. Have a look and read the comments. Its rather nauseating because its [coming] so soon. We thought we'd have a year or two before things got weird there, yet conditions for collapse in Mexico are getting pre-emptive. "

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Charles G. sent us this: Manhattan [New York City] parking spot going for $225,000. Charles comments: "Note the 3rd to last paragraph: 'Some people are buying parking spots even if they don't own cars, but instead buy the spaces as investments, renting them out to cover their costs.' I remember Robin Williams once saying that “A cocaine habit is God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.” What should we make of this, I wonder? We have the most distorted economy in recorded human history, don’t we?"

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Some stark ranching economics: Central Utah cattlemen worry about how to feed livestock now that fire has ravaged the range

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I note that spot silver has bounced back above $13 per ounce, just as I predicted. I hope that some of you are buying on the dips, as I've suggested . Those of you that bought silver when I pointed out that it was a bargain when it touched $4.25 per ounce have made a pile of money. Even those of you that bought silver when I mentioned silver was $7, $8, and $9 per ounce have made handsome profits. But here is a news flash for you. We are still witnessing the opening phase of a bull market that will propel silver past $50 per ounce. Now that silver is $13 per ounce, don't feel that you've "missed the boat." Just buy on the next dip, and stay for the long haul. Someday, you'll be glad that you did.

"We are steadily asked about the age at which to teach young people to shoot. The answer to this obviously depends upon the particular individual; not only his physical maturity but his desire. Apart from these considerations, however, I think it important to understand that it is the duty of the father to teach the son to shoot. Before the young man leaves home, there are certain things he should know and certain skills he should acquire, apart from any state-sponsored activity. Certainly the youngster should be taught to swim, strongly and safely, at distance. And young people of either sex should be taught to drive a motor vehicle, and if at all possible, how to fly a light airplane. I believe a youngster should be taught the rudiments of hand-to-hand combat, unarmed, together with basic survival skills. The list is long, but it is a parent's duty to make sure that the child does not go forth into the world helpless in the face of its perils. Shooting, of course, is our business, and shooting should not be left up to the state. - The Late Col. Jeff Cooper

Friday, July 13, 2007

The high bid is now at $290 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 Sunday, July 15th.

I agree with you but I'd like to mention a few rifles. 1st one is the stevens 200,essentially it's a savage with the accutrigger as seen on the new savages. they are running locally around $250. Also why not scope an Ishapore arsenal Enfield, that 12rd mag would be nice in my mind and being an enfield is going to be pretty fast to fire. lastly what about the
the the mosin snipers going for $350? while not a .308, the 7.62x54mm will get the job done and the ammo is cheap enough that a couple thousand rounds could be put away and funds are better a .308 could be acquired.
The other thing about the Mosin is, as you know, is that pre-1899 examples can still be found, making it that much more of a good idea. Signed, - Dan


Concerning MWR's question about rifles I agree 100% on getting all SKS rifles first as opposed to some lever guns. But one Rifle to also look at as a mark between the SKS and an M1A or an FAL is the Saiga 308. It is based on the AK-47 action and carries with it the rock solid reliability and function. They retail price is around $399 (YMMV), But the only negative aspect is their magazine capacity: The tock factory magazine is 8 rounds and they are a composite plastic, which makes them weak. There is a company out there that has been developing a 20 round magazine for this rifle but they are still under development and not sure when they will be available. Second, hey are also composite plastic so they will be weak and prone to break. Third they are really expensive, suggested retail is $47 each.
Since I saw one first hand and was quite impressed with the fit and function of the rifle and after firing it I found that even though it was an AK design it was shooting a 1 to 1.5 MOA group. So I bought one and I have tinkered and found a way to modify a standard [HK] G3 steel magazine to work flawlessly in these rifles. They hold 17 rds and I have fired close to 1500 rds through them without a failure. If anyone would be interested I would be more then happy to explain the magazine modification process or if you don't have access to a welder and a well-tooled garage I can make them for $20 each. Just an option for someone to have an 308battle rifle at a relative bargain price. - Brian in Wyoming

I greatly appreciate SurvivalBlog and the solid, thoughtful info it contains, and have printed out numerous posts for future reference. It seems for many the ideal is having a bug-out location, so perhaps readers could glean some useful information from my experience owning and operating a fair-sized ranch, one of the goals of which is to be as independent as possible.
Specific observation on particular issues:
Top of the list, everything else is secondary. If you don't have indoor water for cooking, bathing, toilets, etc., the quality of life quickly plummets. Try hauling all of the water you need from the creek for a few days and you'll agree. Make a reliable water supply your top priority.
Absent a pure gravity-flow situation from a spring or lake, without outside electricity you can lift water with a wind-powered mill, solar pump, or conventional submersible pump powered by a generator. Because of our location in central Texas with abundant sunshine, we chose to employ solar-powered pumps. They cost about the same as a windmill but pump more water and are far more reliable. We currently have three solar pumps made by Grundfos, each powered by two 170 watt solar panels. Two of the pumps are in wells about 100' deep, the other is in a spring-fed lake. These types of pumps have the huge advantage of using both 12 volt or 220 volt standard power, so they can be powered from the grid, by generator, from the solar panels, or even by jumper cables from a vehicle, which gives lots of options to keep the water flowing. You just have to be certain to unplug the solar panels from the system before using 220 volt power. The pumps supply 3,000 gallon storage tanks with float valves; when the tanks are full the float cuts off the flow of water and a pressure switch at the well turn off the pump when pressure reaches 60 lb. The storage tanks then supply water gravity flow to the house and orchard/garden. We also have 10,000 gallons of storage which catches water from the roof, and can be routed into the house by simply opening a valve.
No matter how carefully a plumbing project is planned and materials lists are drawn, such as adding more irrigation to the garden, for example, it is rare to complete work without another trip or three for additional materials. I would advise having plenty of spare fittings and pipe, as well as items like pressure switches, breakers, and on/off switches. It is also an obvious advantage to have a standard pipe size, say 1 inch, so spare parts are interchangeable.
Give a great deal of thought to your water system. Good planning at the start will allow different aspects to be tied together for redundancy, as well as prevent haphazard add-ons later, not to mention needless expense. Once the system is in place and operational, it is relatively maintenance-free, with only the rare switch failure or even rarer leak.
For household use such as cook tops, ovens, hot water, and even lighting, propane is hard to beat. With a large tank (I recommend a minimum of a thousand gallons), the supply can be stretched to last for years. And propane has zero storage problems, being practically immortal.
Diesel and gas storage have been discussed at great length, so I won't add to that here.
It's hard to have too much two-cycle oil to mix with gas for chainsaws, as well as motor oil and filters (start saving used motor oil for chainsaw lube), hydraulic oil, grease, and differential lube. Also, we have more problems with tires (due to cactus and mesquite thorns, primarily) than any other mechanical problem, so gallon jugs of a tire sealer product and a reliable way to air up tires, even if only a hand pump, is essential.
Cooking oil, lamp oil, and light lubrication oil can be pressed from sunflowers, walnuts, pecans, flaxseed, peanuts, and many more. A simple hand-cranked press (www.piteba.com) looks to be adequate for household use, though I can give a further report once my sunflowers ripen next fall and I've given it a thorough test-drive. Olive oil can be used for the same purposes, though olives will only fruit in the far southern reaches of the US and the equipment to extract the oil is fairly expensive. Even so, we've planted a dozen olive trees and we'll see how they do.
Solar power with an inverter is an option I'm exploring for running power tools and refrigeration, but as yet have no direct experience with it. But it seems a viable alternative, with limits.
It takes a vast amount of experience and experimentation to reliably grow, process, store, and save the seeds from vegetables (Grandpappy's thoughts on seed saving were excellent, BTW). If the extent of your preparations in this area is a supply of heirloom seeds and three books on gardening, I've got some bad news: you're gonna starve. But don't despair, a great deal can be learned on a small scale: grow just a couple of tomato, squash, beans, peas, etc., and keep experimenting and saving seeds until you find what works best in your location. Once you know how to grow particular vegetables, it's relatively easy to ramp up the area to grow a significant food supply. But if starting from zero, it will take several years to become proficient.
Drip irrigation or soaker hoses are the way to go for most vegetables, at least in our locale, as they not only save water but reduce weed competition. Corn is the only plant I still put in rows and irrigate in the conventional way.
Our orchard is only now coming of age and starting to produce, as the trees are four years old. The forty fruit trees are also drip irrigated when necessary. One of the biggest problems related to fruit trees, aside from pests and diseases, is varmints; coons, possums, and ringtailed cats. Our solution when the fruit is ripening is leaving a dog in the fenced-in orchard at night.
We obtain more food from our 1.5 acre orchard and garden than we do from the rest of the ranch combined, and we only plant a small portion of it each year, so production could be greatly expanded in a pinch.
The whole key to security, in my view, lies in not being surprised. If the first inkling I have of trouble is when six vehicles with twenty-five armed men slide to a stop in my yard then I'm in exceptionally deep Schumer. So a layered approach, as James has outlined, makes excellent sense. Observation Posts (OPs) and MURS-type detection equipment [such as a Dakota Alert] are essential to having early warning to problems, and for most of us, if we're alerted, we'll be a very tough nut to crack.
A couple of good, well-trained dogs much more than pay their own way, acting as an alert and deterrent for intruders, as well as trailing game, barking at poisonous snakes, and, as mentioned earlier, keeping varmints out of the orchard and garden and away from the house. At the risk of blaspheming, if I had to pick only one rifle , it would be a .223. Now I'm well aware that a .308 has a lot more energy, range, and penetration, and I have several battle rifles in .308 that I love, but for one weapon to carry everywhere, every day, .223 is my choice.
First of all, I can't begin to count the number of deer and large feral hogs I've killed with one shot from a .223, so I have plenty of confidence in the round. But from a more practical standpoint, I've been amazed when carefully reading history with the number of settlers killed by Comanche indians in the old days right in this area because they were caught unarmed. And I realized they were usually caught unarmed because it's hard to weed the garden, cut wood, catch a cow, plow a field, wash clothes in the creek, butcher a hog, gather pecans, and a thousand other practical tasks when constantly toting a heavy rifle.
And the same may well hold true for us someday. A six and half pound .223 in AR platform or Mini-14 will be a lot more likely to be at hand when needed in the midst of constant work than a twelve pound H&K. Your mileage may vary, of course. - Bois d'Arc

Reader "Hawaiian K." mentioned this article on a sub-prime mortgage woes in Britain. K's comment: "We have a tendency to think of the sub-prime meltdown as being an American phenomenon when it's happening in Great Britain too."

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It's not even vaguely related to survival or preparedness, but I found this news story weird, wacky, and wonderful: Oregon man takes lawn chair up to 13,000 feet, travels 193 miles

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Sounds like something out of one of those survivalist novels: Desperate times in Zimbabwe - A country at the end of its tether. You will note that I've been highlighting Zimbabwe ever since the first month that SurvivalBlog was launched. (Mostly links to Cathy Buckle's free newsletter. Her July, 2007 newsletter was particularly powerful.) I've done so because that once prosperous nation typifies of what can happen in a "slow slide" collapse. We can learn from their sad experience.

"The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work." - Harry Golden

Thursday, July 12, 2007

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Hey Guys.
I came upon your site, and all I really had to say, was "Wow".
I suppose I'm not the best candidate to be a survivalist. I'm 21, I rent my apartment, have a mountain of student loans, and work as a waitress. My friends are mostly of the classic female-materialistic variety, and have no immediate concerns beyond a swimsuit sale at PacSun.
Anyway, I'm an avid reader. I began to develop an interest in the term "Peak Oil". I read several articles, and conducted a few small studies of my own. The fact that many of the articles said that we'd begin to see problems (power outages, ridiculous gas prices) in 2008 due to having past peak oil. Well, it got me worried.

From there, I began to notice other things. My grocery bill went up
significantly, and I realized I'd have to budget my grocery money to foods that were cheaper and had a longer shelf life. I did some research, and found the statistics that proved that I wasn't simply over-shopping. I haven't had a raise in over a year, but I'm spending on average about $20 per-month more, on my basic grocery list. Needless to say, this really disturbed me.

From there, I began an extensive research of web articles, publications,
editorials, and came upon several survivalist sites and resources. It drove me to the realization that our society is, indeed, on the verge of collapse. With the gross incompetence of our current government, the threat of an event of WMD in the US, Avian Flu, Peak Oil, Global Conditions... well, I'd have to say, to use the term: It won't be long before TSHTF.
Needless to say, my friends think I've gone nuts.
I can veritably assure myself, however, that this isn't just in my imagination. I consider myself a smart person - I was going for my medical degree at JHU/UNH, before a series of mishaps bumped me from that path, and I ended up being a waitress.
Anyway, I started a bit of basic preparation. With every grocery trip, I picked up a few items to add to my "stash" of canned food, medical supplies, and basic utility items. I've been doing this for about six months, and I was pretty proud of my efforts, given that I'm operating on a very limited budget. Then, I came upon your site, and realized that I was still incredibly unprepared.
I've got to say, reading through all of your articles and resources, I was completely overwhelmed. Even with my efforts, I haven't even scratched the surface of what I'd need to do to be even basically prepared, for, well, anything.
Given my financial situation, I don't know if I can make even a basic preparation effort in the next year or so. I've been attempting to save up to purchase a small firearm, to give myself the assurance of some sort of protection.
Anyway, I guess I'm simply writing to you to see if you can offer me any advice. I suppose I'm experiencing the classic level of fear, right now, that accompanies someone who has just realized that they are incredibly unprepared, should TSHTF. The "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course seems to be an incredibly valuable resource for someone in my situation, yet I don't think I can afford it at this time.
As you guys seem to really, really know your stuff, I was just wondering if you can offer me any advice or guidance. I suppose I just need to reach the level of assurance to know, that no matter what happens, my family and I will be alright (and what I need to do to reach that level). Thank you so much. Sincerely, - Carolyn G.

JWR Replies: Many thanks for your e-mail. I get similar ones every week. Do not feel overwhelmed. Just work at preparedness systematically, and gradually. Even with modest preparations you are already miles ahead of your head-in-the-sand friends and neighbors.

In your circumstances, the best thing that you can do is team up with like-minded people in your area. The Survivalist Group Matching Page (courtesy of the fine folks at SurvivalistBooks.com) reportedly works well. But of course use caution, just like you would with any other on-line person-to-person matching service. Proceed with prayer. Have some lengthy phone conversations long before you ever reveal your address or decide meet face to face. Avoid both the lunatics and the Tommy Tactical wanna-bes.

I assume by your reference to UNH that you live in (or near) New Hampshire. If so, you are fortunate to live in one of the most conservative states in the northeast. It is also home to one of the two Libertarian Free States Projects. (The other one is in Wyoming.). Many of the "Free Staters" are also strongly preparedness-minded. You might find some contacts in your area through their organization.

You also mentioned that originally had an interest in attending medical school. That may or may not still be a realistic option for you. But you could at least get involved with your local EMT organization, part-time. That will provide you with some free or very low cost paramedic training that will be invaluable in the event of TEOTWAWKI. In preparedness circles, honest-to-goodness skills are more highly valued than money. There are lots idiots out there that have money. Their wads of cash don't automatically make them useful or even trustworthy to be in retreat groups. I'd much rather be associated with plain folks that know how to fell a tree, pull a calf, rebuild an engine, raise a garden, or set up a perimeter of security. Gather and hone some valuable skills and you will make yourself indispensable to any retreat group.

Mr Rawles,
I saw the link to the anchorage daily news about alaska and I thought that you or your readers might be interested in a man named Dick Proenneke who basically left his life behind in the {Lower 48] states and lived alone in the Alaskan bush for about 30 years. Yes, he did have some outside support, and a few visitors a year but the man was amazingly resourceful. There is a documentary he filmed himself that actually shows how he made his own cabin by hand with no power tools, he makes not only the table and the chairs but also the bowls and spoons used for cooking and eating. You may be able to get a hold of one of the movies through your local library or you can order from the link below. Watching the guy build the cabin is practically a step by step how to guide that would likely be worth the price of the movie alone. Thanks for the blog. - "Sno" from Alaska

More than 50,000 turkeys on a farm west of Mount Jackson, Virginia tested positive for Avian Flu antibodies. It is a less virulent strain than H5N1, but still cause for concern.

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By way of SHTF Daily: US mortgage problem fears spark sell-off. Mark my words: A credit collapse could trigger a major recession or perhaps a depression. This is your last chance to sell off any rental or "spec" properties. Get out now, before it is too late. Ditto for stocks. The chain reaction has most likely begun. The real estate collapse is the precursor of a general credit collapse. As the credit market implodes, it will bring down banks, hedge funds, and pension funds. Starved for credit, corporations will start lay-offs. A contraction in consumer credit will trigger a recession. Imported cars will pile up on the docksides. Tax revenues will contract as well, so state governments will have trouble balancing their budgets. Things could get very nasty. Be ready to hunker down, folks!

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From TimesOnline (by way of SHTF Daily): S&P fears credit crunch as mortgage crisis hits house prices

"We might think of dollars as being 'certificates of performance.' The better I serve my fellow man, and the higher the value he places on that service, the more certificates of performance he gives me. The more certificates I earn, the greater my claim on the goods my fellow man produces. That's the morality of the market. In order for one to have a claim on what his fellow man produces, he must first serve him." - Dr. Walter E. Williams

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

In my post last night about the upcoming US Federal restrictions on iodine products, I neglected to mention that in addition to Polar Pure and KI, Ready Made Resources also stocks Betadine and other Povidone polymer products. These aren't listed in their web page catalog, but are available if you place a phone order. (In the US and Canada call: 1(800) 627-3809.)

The high bid is now at $250 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 Sunday, July 15th.

I’ve corresponded a couple times before with you on this subject, but basically I’m strapped for funds in our [group's] “arms” area. My current idea is to have a couple of .30-30s, then four or so SKSes to hand out to others who might join us, and lastly, if possible, get one or two M1As or FALs.

My question is, should I get the 30-30s and SKS rifles first (6 guns), and later the M1A /FAL when funds permit, or should I get one M1A or FAL first, and then add the others when funds permit? I would appreciate your insight on this. I guess an additional question is if you think SKS’s are worth it. They sure are cheap, and the ammo is too. Another aspect is should I just get 2 M1As, or get 6 to 10 of something cheap for more rifles on duty? Thanks, - MWR, near Seattle

JWR Replies: In your circumstance, I would just standardize with all SKS rifles, for your first six rifles. Skip the .30-30s altogether, since the SKS cartridge (7.62 x39mm) is ballistically nearly identical to .30-30.(It has similar bullet weight, velocity, and trajectory. ) An SKS is about as accurate as a Model 1894 Winchester, much less expensive, very reliable, and semi-auto. Your next purchase should then be a scoped bolt action .308 Winchester as your dedicated "reach out and touch someone" rifle. For this, the Savage 110 series bolt action is quite accurate and relative bargain (versus a comparable Winchester, Remington, or Ruger). Then start saving and get yourself a couple of FALs, as your budget permits. Presently, M1As are just too expensive compared to FAL clones. Ditto for M1A magazines and spare parts. Spare USGI M14 magazines are $23+ each, but FAL magazines are just $5 to $7 each. Currently USGI M14 barrels are pushing $375 each, and trigger groups are around $225. A full set of spare USGI parts (minus a receiver) is now an $800+ proposition! (That same amount of money would buy you nearly three FAL parts sets.)

Dear Mr Rawles:
I have been enjoying your SurvivalBlog very much. I am new to these kind of web sites but have been of a preparedness/survivalist mindset all my life. I served in the US Navy for seven years as an Avionics Technician on both fixed wing (FA-18 Hornets) and rotor wing aircraft. Part of my training encompassed electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and its effects on aircraft and how to properly maintain and repair them so as to not compromise their ability to withstand EMP should it occur. Now that I have been out of the military for some time I have been researching [through] the Internet to find practical examples of how to harden modern microchip-laden automobiles so they might withstand an EMP attack. There is very little info out there from a practical hands on approach but I have come up with a workable method to harden most vehicles fairly economically. One of my biggest questions is, might there be a market out there? Would people care to prepare their cars and trucks in this manner? The government has been largely silent about EMP and its danger to the civilian sector and terribly unprepared in the DOD arena as well, from what I gather. I'm thinking that only a few of the survivalist folks might be interested in having their trucks/cars prepared against EMP and the rest of the population will scoff or gamble it will turn out okay. I also read that the EMP threat is not diminishing since the fall of the USSR but if anything it is getting greater with the possibility of smaller more efficient bombs designed specifically to radiate EMP that terrorists will surely not ignore. Any input or ideas out there would be appreciated. thank you. Keep up the great work. - Ross W

JWR Replies: Yes, there would definitely be a market, since you would be filling a need that heretofore no company has supplied for the civilian world. If your EMP protection solution is not too expensive, you are sure to find hundreds of customers. I wish you well with this venture. It sounds like a winner. (Talk about pent-up market demand!) Once you are ready to put your product(s) on the market, let me know and I will do my best to help you get the word out there to folks that will have both the interest and the means to make a purchase.

Mr. Rawles,
I've been reading SurvivalBlog for awhile and have read much on protecting equipment from EMP. I'm confused as to what would constitute as sufficient protection. The blog has articles on the effects of EMP, but I couldn't find any how-to subjects. I've read anything from wrapping car computers in tin foil to thicknesses of conductive metal that is grounded. Is there a set of guidelines or can you or the readership comment on this? (That is, how to properly configure an ammo can for EMP protection for radios/electronics, modifications to make for your gun safe, et cetera.) Thanks, - Paul

JWR Replies: Unfortunately, I can't issue any blanket guidelines that will protect any piece of electronics that is kept plugged-in to a grid power outlet. Radios receive some protection from zener diodes attached to external antenna cables, but that isn't a panacea. Vehicular electronics are safer than power grid-connected electronics, but still at risk. If left unplugged and disconnected from external antennas, most radios will be fine, except for close proximity nuclear detonations. In a perfect world, everyone would have three to five redundant radios, with just left one plugged in, and all of the spares stored in practical Faraday Cage type enclosures, such as steel ammo cans or a steel gun vault. But for most of us that are on a realistic middle class budget, the best that we can hope for is one spare of each radio. At least keep that one spare in an ammo can! To make an ammo can into a more efficient Faraday cage, its original rubber gasket should be replaced with braided wire, as explained in a September, 2006 SurvivalBlog letter. OBTW, I also recently posted details on how to EMP-protect a gun vault that has an electronic (key pad entry) lock mechanism.

Do you have any theory about a high altitude EMP in the northern most part of the US? Would it affect Anchorage, Alaska? Would mountains and the curve of the Earth block it? I don't think we are on the "grid", shared electric power with the Yukon Territory but there may be a old telephone line still plugged in to the South 48, does that count for a EMP? Although, Alaska's Air Force bases would be important military targets for a threat from a Pacific nation if times get tough.- Edventures (in Alaska)

JWR Replies: First, let me reiterate that in most terrorist nuke scenarios, EMP will be quite localized. Even if terrorists were to set off a nuke in an airplane at high altitude (highly unlikely, since their main goal is to see news footage of blast damage and panic on the ground), the EMP effect would be limited to the line of sight (LOS) from the detonation. (As explained in one of my SurvivalBlog posts in October 2005, and reiterated in April, 2007.) And even a very high altitude burst would be limited to about 280 mile line of sight. However, keep in mind that EMP can also be carried beyond line of sight (BLOS), via coupling through any linear metallic objects that can act as an antenna. These include phone lines, power lines, and even railroad tracks. The coupled EMP could conceivably travel many hundreds of miles. The bottom line: In Alaska you should be safe from the EMP generated by most anticipated terrorist use of nukes, but in the event that nation states start tossing around nukes, all bets are off.


Why isn't there an EMP category on your site? A while back, I inquired about back-up computer modules for vehicles and other means of protecting vehicle electronics, but you didn't post it.. - Stephen F.

JWR Replies:
Sorry about the delay, but I was saving up a few letters regarding EMP to answer all at once.

I have been filing most of the EMP letters and articles under the "NBC" category. I suppose that I should indeed create a more precise EMP category. To find most of the archived EMP articles and letters, just do keyword searches on the words "Faraday" and "Coupling" in the "Search Posts on SurvivalBlog:" window in SurvivalBlog's right hand window.

It is prudent to store spare microprocessors for each of your vehicles, especially if you live within 100 miles of any anticipated nuclear target. The spares should be stored in steel ammo cans, which make a decent Faraday Cage--effectively protecting their contents from most conceivable EMP events.

Since spare motor vehicle microprocessors are fairly expensive to buy brand new, you might consider finding used ones and auto wrecking yards. The most important spare microprocessor (or microprocessor box) to acquire is a Electronic Control Module (ECM), which control the ignition system. (Note that the terminology for this module will vary, depending on the vehicle's maker.) Some cars and trucks also have a Powertrain Control Module (PCM) and other s even have discrete microprocessors associated with the fuel system. Without all of these intact, your vehicle might not run. In essence, the newer the vehicle, the greater its vulnerability to EMP. Not only is he sheer number of chips needed to run a car increasing, but the gate sizes of those chips is simultaneously getting smaller. (Now "sub-micron" size gates are commonplace!) Both of these factors add to EMP vulnerability with each new model year rolling out of Detroit, Stuttgart, Seoul, and Tokyo. Consult your local dealership mechanic for details on the microprocessors needed for each make and model of vehicle. Your mechanic can also let you know if it is feasible to retrofit your vehicle with a traditional (rotor and condenser) ignition system.

Nuclear alert by ex-head of MI5: The article begins: "More than 100 suspects are awaiting trial in British courts for terrorist offences - a figure unprecedented in modern criminal history - Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former spy chief, has revealed. Dame Eliza: 'They may attempt a chemical, biological, radiological or even nuclear attack' Britain is a centre of intense plotting and faces a terrorist threat of 'unprecedented scale, ambition and ruthlessness'. In a stark warning for the future, Dame Eliza added: 'It remains a very real possibility that they may, sometime, somewhere attempt a chemical biological, radiological or even nuclear attack'."

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From Moneyweb (by way of SHTF Daily): Can the South African Rand and Save Zimbabwe? Also, from the AP wire: Zimbabwe's inflation hits 4,500 percent

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StealthNeighbor came across The Institute for Business and Home Safety web site. His comment: "[This site] has some interesting info / data / floor plans / et cetera. on natural (versus manmade) disasters and lots of good info on reinforcing your home against hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, ice storms, wind damage, etc. Much of the info is directly applicable to a TEOTWAWKI situation -- at any level -- and it might be of interest (and aid) to your blog readers for retreat-building or reinforcing the "bug-in location..."

"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

An item that was too important to bury down in the Odd 'n Sods... Billy G. sent us this: Iodine about to be regulated in US. Any solution over 2% will be restricted as "precursors" for illicit drug manufacture. Billy's comment: "Can nuke pills [potassium iodate] be far behind? I’m stocking up on Iodine crystals while I can." I strongly encourage readers to buy their "lifetime supply" of Polar Pure water purifier, as soon as possible. (Two or three bottles per family member should be about right.) Polar Pure, Betadine, and Potassium Iodate (KI) are all available from Ready Made Resources. OBTW, I'm not sure if the sale of Betadine will be restricted, since it has its iodine ingredient listed as "10% Povidone Iodine = 1% Available Iodine." So it might be wise to stock up on Betadine, as well. (Povidone is a polymerized "iodophore" designed for slow release. Effectively it is only 1% iodine, but you know how bureaucrats operate. They may see the "10%" and start caterwauling.)

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 ends on July 31st. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The return of home delivery is a fact that most of the survivalist community needs to face, and is a topic I have seen relatively little written about. My own experience derives from 10 years experience as an Emergency Physician, delivering 3-4 infants a year in situations either where the woman has had no prenatal care whatsoever and arrives in our emergency room (ER) [in] crowning [condition]; or as a private patient upstairs who progresses so quickly that her private obstetrician (OB) can't make it to the hospital in time. This has skewed my experience toward “normal” presentations where the baby is in normal position (not breach), as those tend to progress slowly enough for the OB to get involved. That said, “normal” delivery with minor complications is the area where preparation can make a big difference. Before we start, I believe that as a community, we need to accept the fact that the rates of death for both mother and infant are going to rise significantly if TSHTF. No amount of preparation is going to allow someone to do a c-section on their kitchen table and even breach presentations may be more than a layman can expect to handle.
The services of a good midwife would be invaluable, and the addition of a text such as “Heart and Hands” by Elizabeth Davis may be a wise addition to your stores as a second best choice. My goal is to help you keep a “good” delivery from going bad and preventing complications. It should go without saying that this information is for educational/survival purposes only, and I not suggesting a specific course of care. Fortunately, nature really does run its course in most cases, and there is a reason why one of the first procedures you get to do in Med. School is to “play catch” in labor and deliver (L&D) because there is so little to screw up under normal conditions.
Labor can be divided into a first phase -- a time when the cervix is thinning out and slowly dilating to from a canal roughly the diameter of pencil up to about 10 cm—and a second phase when the pushing begins and the mother actually pushes the baby out. The 1st phase is often divided into an early period, where the cervix is less than 4cm and contractions are relatively mild and spaced farther apart (7-8 min), as well as a late phase when the contractions are much harder and closer together. The early phase is pretty variable in length varying from a maybe two hours in multiparous women (lots of previous pregnancies) to as much as 24 hours in prima gravis (1st pregnancy). Late 1st phase tend to be more regular with the average woman dilating about 1 cm. per hour. Woman will usually want to get up out of bed, especially in the late phase. Encourage it, laying in a bed during labor is a bad habit that is really only necessary in hospitals due to the use of epidurals and intravenous (IV) narcotics. I have found that squatting really does help speed the progression as well as minimizing labor pains. You will note in the hospital that a woman's cervix is checked frequently, I would urge strongly against this practice at home. In the hospital setting, a woman who is not progressing may get a dosage of the labor hormone pitocin [("pit")], or may even go for a caesarian sections, neither of which you will be doing at home. In addition, they have a limitless supply of sterile gloves, so the risk of introducing infection into the birth canal is relatively low. In home deliveries where labor without pitocin tends to take longer, infection prevention is crucial. You will have a pretty good idea how things are progressing just by monitoring the frequency of contractions and the look on her face. Speaking of infection, now would be good time to discuss an infection called Group B strep. Group B Strep (GBS) is a bacteria that roughly 30% of woman carry in their birth canal. While passing through the canal about 60% of children will be colonized if the mom has it. Even in modern medicine, about 1 in 200 will develop severe complications such as pneumonia, meningitis or sepsis (blood poisoning). All woman are currently screened at about 37 weeks and treated with IV antibiotics prior to beginning labor. This has been shown pretty conclusively to reduce the amount of GBS in the canal, lowering the rates of colonization of babies. In addition, penicillin based antibiotics readily cross the placenta and afford the baby some protection even if he is colonized.
Since I don't imagine people will be getting screened for GBS in the future, I would recommend every woman start taking an antibiotic about 10-14 days prior to their due date. While IV antibiotics are currently recommended, oral where used pretty regularly until about 10 years ago. Ampicillin is probably best, any -cillin or cephalosporin (things that start with “ceph or cef” in their name such as Cephalexin (Keflex), Ceftin, Cefazolin, Rocephin, etc.) are good. -Mycin based antibiotics could probably be used in a pinch or for seriously penicillin allergic patients. DO NOT use -cyclines or anything with -floxin in the generic name as these are both toxic to young children.
After getting through the 1st phase, the woman will begin to feel the need to push or the sensation of needing to have a bowel movement from the baby's head pushing on the pelvis and bowel. I generally recommend getting back in bed at this point, though some midwives keep them up even now. At this point clean the entire pelvic area with either betadine, iodine, or high proof alcohol, including maybe 1/2-1 in. inside the vagina itself. Begin working on stretching the back wall of the vagina (also known to some as the taint) using KY jelly or oil. Take the area at about 7o'clock and 5'oclock as looking at the vagina between your thumbs and forefingers and stretch sideways and outward. Start gently but work up in force. Trust me, no amount of force you apply is going to equal the stretching from the head real soon. As the child begins to crown, assuming that you have clean or sterile gloves, work your fingers up around the neck to make sure the cord isn't wrapped around it. If it is, you can usually pull on the stretchy cord while pushing the head slightly back in to pull the cord up over the face and head to untangle it. If you don't have really clean hands, wait a little longer until the face is partly out, though this tends to increase the tension on the cord making it harder to get off. Unreduced nucal cords [umbilical cords wrapped around the neck] are a major source of death or brain damage in “normal” deliveries due to strangulation as they tighten, so don't forget to check. Finally the face will be out and the child will normally stick at the shoulders, as this is the widest point on the child. Take this time to suction the babies nose and mouth pretty thoroughly. I would highly recommend getting several blue bulb syringes over the counter now for just such a situation. If you note a greenish slime (meconium) on the baby or in his mouth, this means he has had a bowel movement due to the stress of labor, or because of the above mentioned nucal cord. It is very important to get this out of the throat and nose now, because once he comes out the rest of the way and takes his first breath, he will suck this junk down into his lungs. A small amount of previously boiled water may help to make it runnier and easier to suction. The meconium itself is sterile, and is no cause for alarm, other than the risk of aspirating it. Passing the shoulder is a little more difficult. Most of the time one can reach up and grasp the shoulders, pushing the trunk down to deliver the front shoulder, then up to deliver the back one. Sometimes an assistant can put pressure over the bladder while flexing the leg up into the air to help push the shoulder down to get it to pass under the pelvic bone. One can do a Google search on "McRoberts maneuver" for a more detailed and complex version. Do not tug down on the head itself, as it can tear the nerves going into the arm from the neck. Also, do not push down on the top of the uterus, as this can cause some serious problems as well. In a truly desperate situation, the baby's collar bone can be broken to cause the shoulder to collapse some. While it sounds horrible, they heal pretty readily, and is something I've had to do even in the hospital setting once or twice. One puts one palm over the breast bone of the baby and the other behind the shoulder of the collar bone to break, then one presses with both thumbs in the center of the clavicle with a force slightly greater than breaking a turkey wishbone. You will definitely feel the “pop”. It is important to note that after the first shoulder delivers, the baby pretty much wants to pop right out. Try to get the mom to breathe through her nose and stop pushing while you apply pressure back in, so that the baby slides out in a controlled fashion. Letting it slide out uncontrolled will greatly increase the risk of a tear to the mom.
After the baby passes, Lower him below the level of the birth canal to help his blood flow out of the placenta and back into his body. After about maybe 30 seconds clamp the cord with whatever you have (boiled clothespins?). Clamp above and below where you intend to cut, which is usually about 1-1/2 inches from the baby's belly. Cut with a sterilized blade, as this is a major source of infection in the third world. Keep the clamp on the baby for about a day or two until the vessels scar down. Clean baby with a dry cloth to remove all the slime and immediately wrap in a warm blanket, as babies have a hard time controlling their body temps initially. You can stimulate the baby if he isn't crying by rubbing his breast bone with your knuckle using moderate force or by a light pinch. Try to get the baby to breast-feed right away, as it will help the mom's uterus collapse down and minimize bleeding. Massage her belly, pressing down on her uterus at a moderate force (enough to be somewhat uncomfortable). After the uterus has contracted the placenta will separate from the uterus. After separation, apply gentle traction to end of the placenta to get it to pass, though too much force can cause the placenta to tear and leave behind a piece that can be a source for later infection. [The Memsahib Adds: Traction too early, when the placenta is still attached can cause an internal hemorrhage and the mother to bleed to death!] Ibuprofen works well to help with postpartum soreness and residual contraction pain. Four 200mg tablets will usually do the trick. As an aside, try to avoid aspirin products because they thin the blood and will increase bleeding, especially if taken before the actual delivery. I have not addressed breach births, as whole chapters can be written on the topic. One relatively simple procedure that can be tried before labor starts if the head is felt to be up instead of down is called external cephalic version. There are some risks, such as an early water breakage, but is probably better to try to fix the problem early, rather than waiting until the baby has entered the birth canal. Hopes this helps, hope no one ever has to use it. Once again, this for informational/education purposes, and is not a substitute for proper medical care.

I am currently working on the construction of a pandemic flu vaccine facility (way too far away from my intended retreat locale, but I need to be able to afford my retreat :-) and I have a couple insights that most people and some medical folks might not have.
First, the new cell culture flu vaccine facilities will have the ability to adapt to mutating strains during production - within reason, and in-process flu vaccine production can either be stopped, or the pandemic vaccine added to the regular vaccine. That is something that is not possible with even the normal flu vaccines when they are made today from eggs ... unless they can magically pull 300,000,000 to 6 billion eggs from the grocery store shelves at moments notice. A couple years back there was a big stink about the flu companies and the CDC 'guessing' the wrong strain; the cell culture facilities should be able to switch relatively quickly to a new vaccine for a new strain. But, it will still take months from identification to the first mass-produced vial of vaccine to be available (its a relatively straight forward process to anyone who understands biopharm, but it just takes time to go through all the steps).
Second, it takes a while to build a vaccine facility. With a 3-5 year mutation rate, and the world currently being at stage 3 of the 6 stages of the standard progression of a pandemic (per World Health Organization (WHO)), it really is a race at this point. If the new ones aren't online, regular facilities could be probably be used if the timing is just right for identification prior to production of normal flu batches. Even a pandemic flu vaccine that doesn't completely match a further mutated pandemic strain may have enough antigens present to provide a touch of resistance to give more people a better chance. Or at least be a nice placebo so the people in charge can keep a little bit of calm by injecting sheeple with some worthless vaccine until a "booster" shot can be developed a few months later. If someone jabs something into your arm, accept it and thank them, but definitely don't drop your guard: keep your masks on and keep friction washing those hands (i.e., don't rely on 'hand sanitizers)!!! People still get the flu after vaccinations today, and I can't imagine that changing with a pandemic strain.
Third, all the normal flu precautions still apply as other writers have said previously: washing hands, face masks, etc. One thing that I can say that might air in your readers home preparations: The thermal lethality of the flu virus (at least H5N1) is about the same as standard flu. It starts to "die" at about 60 degrees C ... so the simple boiling of contaminated sheets/towels/etc. for 5 minutes will pretty much inactivate of the virus (us biopharm folks go 'a bit' further than this in our equipment preps, but even we recognize the absurdity of what we do).
For survival purposes, a good autoclave to have sitting around the house is a 20-quart or greater, 15-pound pressure cooker/canner). Buy a cheaper aluminum one since it typically won't come in direct contact with food. When bacteria or viruses are a concern (botulism, staph, or anything but a couple laboratory created freaks tougher than /thermopolis/), 20 minutes under 15 pound steam (atmospheric pressure + 15 pounds) will kill everything present (molds, bacteria, virii, protozoas, lice, mutant zombie gophers) whether its surgical equipment, needles, thread for sutures, or anything that you really want to sterilize. Some pressure cookers are multi-select (5, 10, or 15 pounds), but they all typically operate at 15 pounds. Plus, a good canner/pressure cooker is still required to store away next winters' food supply.
When sterility (i.e., absolute of death of all things creepy) is required, boiling is not sufficient. On television , you see people boiling a pocket knife before they cut out a bullet, um, no. Twenty minutes in a pressure cooker is the equivalent of something like a day or two of boiling at 100C to obtain the same 'sterility' (I have all the equations, but I'm not motivated enough to do the absurd calculation); and if you're at high altitude, now you're looking at sub-100 temperatures when boiling. People can boil 'living water' and make it safe enough for drinking, because the simple reduction in number of bugs is typically sufficient to allow your immune system to stop the threat, or to keep the populations low enough so they are passed through your system before toxin levels grow to dangerous or even perceived levels. Most water filters (per FDA requirements) only need to hit 99.9x% reductions in various organisms which is perfectly fine for drinking and eating. But for field surgeries, go for full sterility.
Buy a smaller stainless steel pressure cooker for anything that comes in direct contact with the food you actually intend to eat (such as that roast from the 12 year old breeding bull that you finally had to butcher). I believe in the evil of too much aluminum in one's diet; regardless of what the aluminum industry and the politicians who receive campaign contributions from the aluminum products producers tell us.
Of course, my overall confidence: I have full set of duplicate survival gear/supplies stowed away in a storage facility a couple miles from my work site on the other side of the country. And I believe that its going to be a long walk home someday. I hope The Great Maker protects us all . - NotDave

More on the unfolding derivatives debacle: The $300 Trillion Time Bomb

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Mark sent us this news article link: Mass Zimbabwe arrests over prices. Mark's comment: "Note that today [in Zimbabwe] a single banana cost more than a four bedroom house did in 2000."

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David V. recommended this history article from Alaska that has a some applicability to retreat provisioning: Black River Trapper: Fred Thomas

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From Gold-Eagle.com, Gary Dorsch, Editor of Global Money Trends (by way of SHTF Daily): Global Exodus From The US Dollar In Motion. The article includes this alarming statistic: "Since the Bernanke Fed discontinued the decades-old reporting of the broad M3 money supply in March of 2006, the growth rate of M3 has accelerated from an 8% rate to a sizzling 13.7% clip, its fastest in more than three decades. The Bernanke Fed is preventing borrowing rates from rising at a time of explosive loan demand for US corporate mergers and takeovers, by rapidly increasing the US money supply."

"How rare is gold? If you could gather together all the gold mined in recorded history, melt it down, and pour it into one giant cube, it would measure only about eighteen yards across! That's all the gold owned by every government on earth, plus all the gold in private hands, all the gold in rings, necklaces, chains, and gold art. That's all the gold used in tooth fillings, in electronics, in coins and bars. It's everything that exists above ground now, or since man learned to extract the metal from the earth. All of it can fit into one block the size of a single house. It would weigh about 91,000 tons - less than the amount of steel made around the world in an hour. That's rare." - Daniel M. Kehrer

Monday, July 9, 2007

The high bid is still at $210 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.

When I attended the U.S. Army Northern Warfare School back in 1980, I was amused to see that all of the trash dumpsters at Fort Greeley, Alaska were stenciled with "Satisfaction Guaranteed or Double Your Trash Back". I was reminded of this slogan the other day when I was doing some reading about the unfolding derivatives fiasco. I'll get back to the quip about trash near the end of this blog entry.

Let me start with some background: Just like in the traditional bond world, with Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) it is always the holder of the highest rated ("senior") paper that gets paid first. Each grade level, "class", "slice" or "tranche" has its own risk level. Starting from the bottom, the lowest level tranche and then moderate risk "mezzanines" have to successively support the more senior tranches. The very lowest level tranches (called "junk" or even "toxic waste" in the bond world) are the riskiest. In a default situation, those investors holding paper in the lower level tranches will probably get nothing, or perhaps 5 cents on the dollar if they are lucky.

Now here is where it gets interesting: Some of the folks that have established the tranche ratings for CDOs for the past few years have played a little fast and loose with their terminology, effectively over-rating them. A lot of "B" rated CDO paper really should have been rated "BB", or even "BBB". Indirectly, this has made the investments even riskier, because lower rated tranches have higher margin ("leverage") requirements. When an investment goes bad, the degree of risk is directly proportional to the amount leverage employed. Highly leveraged investments can "go south" in spectacular ways. It isn't unusual in the CDO world for some tranches to\ use 25-to-1 or even 30-to-1 leverage.

A recent Financial Times article titled "Credit crisis to worsen as banks cut and run" noted that as public scrutiny has increased, the margin requirements for various CDOs tranches are suddenly getting more stringent. The article mentions:
"The Bear Stearns hedge funds were big holders of these instruments and the news two weeks ago that the funds were in serious trouble has led to much greater concern about the valuation of CDOs of ABS [asset-backed securities] held by other funds.
According to bankers and hedge funds involved in these and similar markets, this has led investment banks to begin reassessing their exposure to funds that are investing in ABS and CDOs of ABS with borrowed money.
Matt King, analyst at Citigroup, has estimated that funds invested in CDOs of ABS are likely to see some significant increases in the amount of margin they are required to post against their investments.
This “margin” in simple terms governs the amount of leverage, or borrowed money, they can use in their investments.
For example, Mr King expects that for the safest AAA-rated slices of these deals, margin requirements would rise from about 2-4 per cent now to nearer 8-10 per cent.
At the other end of the scale, the riskiest equity tranches would see margin rates increase from 50-100 per cent, which is to say banks will not lend to funds investing in these slices of risk.
“Over the near term, the biggest risk is probably that of forced selling driven by potential margin calls or investor redemptions,” Mr King says.
“We argue that this is likely to be a big problem only for a small number of people, but that its full effects may not yet have been seen.”

In reaction to this article, Yves Smith, co-editor of the Naked Capitalism blog noted on the revised margin requirements: "The question now becomes how quickly this development will work through the system and now many players will be affected. We've already seen Brookstreet forced onto the shoals by margin calls; the question is how many other hedge funds will follow. The secondary effect will be that hedge funds who have subprime exposure are facing redemptions (some like United Capital Markets have halted them). They were already faced with the prospect of having to sell fund assets in a weak market to pay exiting investors; reduced leverage will only make a bad situation worse (the implicit vote of no confidence by the dealer community will make it less likely that speculative buyers will step forward). The good side is, if we believe the report in a recent issue of Bloomberg Magazine, hedge funds are smaller participants in the subprime-related CDO market than thought earlier, owning 3% of the investment grade portions and 10% of the equity tranches."

I have read that a lot of CDO derivatives contracts are written with a Payment in Kind (PIK) recourse clause. In the context of CDOs, a PIK clause guarantees that if an obligation cannot be paid in cash, then it can be settled with the transfer of additional CDO paper. When default rates spike (as they have done recently with sub-prime mortgages) and a CDO party stops paying current interest (for lack of cash), they can hand over additional debt obligations, as a payment in kind. But what if that paper is also worthless, or nearly worthless? (This is the "double your trash back" that I mentioned.) Worthless PIK settlements could very well happen in coming months, as the US coastal residential real estate market unravels. This could get very ugly in a hurry. Changing margin regulations may make some holders of CDOs forced sellers, setting in motion a downward spiral in CDOs. If the sub-prime CDO failures start to snowball, beware! The liquidation could turn into a reverse bidding or "race to the bottom" situation, as anxious investors try to recoup something, anything from their initial investment. If and when this happens, it could make the $3.6 Billion Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) bailout and the more recent $4.6 Billion lost by Amaranth Advisors look like minor hiccups, by comparison.

Those of you that have read SurvivalBlog since its early days will remember that I've issued warnings about the derivatives market in general and the credit derivatives market in particular, since late 2005. My advice hasn't changed much. It remains: Be aware. Be prepared. Diversify. Minimize your exposure to both the real estate bubble and the credit derivatives market--directly or indirectly.

Mr Rawles:
I was shocked to see that only 1% of readers have gotten a [voluntary] 10 Cent Challenge subscription. I signed up after the second week that I began reading.your blog. There is no other site on the Internet that has the same amount of in-depth info on preparedness. Nothing even comes close. I am blown away by how much knowledge is piled up in your archives. I could spend two or three hours a day searching through news sites, financial advisory websites, backpacking websites, EMT websites, gun websites, food storage websites, and so forth, and still not glean what is contained in SurvivalBlog. Ten cents a day is tiny pittance compared to what I get out of it.

Because of you and SurvivalBlog, my family is now much, much, much better prepared than it was a year ago. SurvivalBlog has tons of useful info. Anyone that can't see that is either a fool or an idiot. I figure that SurvivalBlog has saved me hundreds [of dollars] by giving wise advice that has kept me from making some expensive mistakes in prepping. What I learned from your blog allowed my to package my own storage food (in [food grade plastic] pails) instead of buying over-priced [commercially] canned food for storage. SurvivalBlog also steered me away from radio gear that had short range and pitiful security. ([Instead,] I bought MURS band [transceivers].) The blog also directed me to some outstanding firearms training that cost very little. (The [RWVA] Appleseed range days and "clinics".) The blog convinced me to re-prioritize my life and cut out fast food. (Which did good things for both my budget and my waistline. I'm now down two full belt notches and about ready for my third notch.) The blog also motivated me to sell off some of my guns in odd calibers (like I had a 280 Remington, a .35 Remington, and a .41 AE [Action Express]) and get standard calibers. Now that ammunition has zoomed way up in price, I have a lot more options on where to buy and what to buy. Now I have all.308 [Winchester], .30-06, .30-30, 7.62mm (AK), .223 Rem., 12 ga., .45 Auto, .357 Mag., 9mm, .22LR and .22 Mag. guns. Like another guy that wrote a few months back, SurvivalBlog also set me straight on generators. (Now I plan to get a low RPM diesel, not gas!) So I figure that in the long run SurvivalBlog will save me thousands. Ten cents a day, by comparison, is a real bargain. So here's my personal challenge to anyone that reads this: What is SurvivalBlog really worth to you? If SurvivalBlog were to disappear, would you miss it? If you value it, then support it! - Phillip G.

Remember that there are now just three days 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.

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Reader Andy L. mentioned an article about the ultimate in privacy for retreats: Your own island in the Bahamas.

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MP noticed this editorial in a Seattle, Washington newspaper: Disaster's coming: Get ready. MP's comment: "Sure, 10 days is still a bit weak but it's a step in the right direction over the laughable three day idea [that is promoted in the region, mirroring the guidance from most Federal agencies.]"

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Readers Michael A. and RBS both sent this piece from The Financial Times: Nestlé chief fears food price inflation.The article begins: "Food prices are set for a period of “significant and long-lasting” inflation because of demand from China and India and the use of crops for biofuels, according to the head of Nestlé."

"The greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda." - Michael Crichton

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I am a regular reader with 40+ yrs of prepping and a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. My current career is as a Hospital Staff Respiratory Therapist.
We recently had a seminar on the coming Avian Flu Pandemic that scared the heck out of me. The timeline for human to human vector is 3 to 5 years, if it follows the current rate of mutation. It will probably come out of Thailand, and with air travel, will quickly spread around the world, with entry to the US through the major international airports. With luck and area quarantines, they may be able to limit the spread.
When it hits, they expect a desertion rate of at least 30% of all services: Health Care workers, Police and Fire, even National Guard.
CDC, FEMA and individual hospitals are stocking up on supplies in anticipation of a mortality rate of 10% to 20% of infected cases. Hospitals may become armed camps to control the panic. Basic hospital services will become limited and rationed, no elective surgery, etc.
Hand washing, use of a particle mask and eye shields will be your best defense.

And that's the good news

The world and even the USA is not prepared for such an event. It may take 3 to 6 months to develop a specific vaccine for the flu mutation, and the flu may mutate even more.
We do not have the capacity to handle the death rate. Figure bodies stored in Refrigerated Trucks, mass graves, or cremation.
We do not have the hospital beds to handle a Pandemic. We may have to go to a ward set-up again.
If you bring in a family member, you may be drafted to help provide basic care, and you may be the best way to have good care for that person. The professional staff will be overworked.

The main killer for the Avian Flu is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS requires intubation and use of a ventilator for survival. We do not have enough ventilators, and we are being inventive and are thinking outside the box for this one. We may have to "gang" patients on Ventilators, or recruit people to hand squeeze AMBU bags to keep people alive.
We may have to "Triage" patients and use the available resources to try to save the salvable. Factors such as chronic illnesses, morbid obesity, or even advanced age may resign patients to the "sink or swim" ward. We staff may have to do this to our own friends or family.

Contrary to my own survival instincts, I intend to be on the job when it hits. They tell us that the staff may take double the percent casualty rate of the general populace. I will keep you updated to any useful information that comes my way. - Sput

With regard to the article on getting into physical conditioning and buying used exercise equipment, here is a general rule for readers to remember. They are like room heaters, air conditioners, pools, and lawn mowers etc. They are very seasonal. I have friends who work at thrift stores, and I can assure you the time to buy any exercise equipment is during the warmer months like right now [in the northern hemisphere]! The Ski Machine you refer to that costs almost $1,000 for the higher end models can be had for song during the summer months. Sometimes pennies on the dollar over the cost of buying new. In fact, I know of personal experiences where one was sold for less than a dollar to a person who was willing to ask about a unit sitting out back of the store. It was in almost brand new condition.
In the summer months, when everyone is physically active and the days are longer, very few folks are thinking about exercise. Folks are too busy enjoying their summer months to exercise indoors. These "junk" and thrift stores generally cannot sell them and don't want to fill up valuable floor space with retail "dogs" when there are items that will move fast. With all the garage sales, flea markets, and yard sales, that are going on the supply is great and demand is low. They don't tend to sell well there either so they accumulate at the local thrift stores as donations. This rule of thumb also applies to treadmills, weight benches, and other high quality seasonal items. One thing to remember about this kind of equipment is that everyone has great intentions about exercise equipment but very few of us ever really dedicate ourselves to our lofty goals. As a result, why ever buy new equipment, when you can let someone else absorb the new sticker price and second if you decide to stop or lose your motivation, you wont be stuck with buyers remorse.
With respect to thrift stores and the like, each one is different so you may have to find the right place to do business with. Don't be afraid to make friends with the store workers and let them know what you are trying to find. Above all else be sincere. Then visit the store and remind them that you are still on a quest. Depending upon the circumstances, it's generally just a matter of time and patience before what you are looking for, finds you. Also don't be afraid to reward the employee or manager with a cold pop or a tip (if allowed) once you take delivery. This is very much appreciated by the employee and you will be remembered the next time you are on another "quest"- since so few people will ever display this kind of courtesy or generosity.
This same rule of seasonal supply and demand applies to other items you will need like clothing, insulation, building supplies etc,. Buy your necessities in the "off season" and be patient and most times you will find what you are looking for at a very reasonable price. That is the heart of the concept of preparedness on a budget. Tis Better to be the Ant with a mindset for what is coming than to be a Grasshopper caught up only in the moment with fiddle in hand.
A local auctioneer always sums it up best during his sales pitches before he starts the bidding on a piece of exercise equipment at his sales: "Folks, I have been in this business for over 30 years and I have yet to sell a worn out piece of exercise equipment!" Food For Thought. Keep it in mind the next time you are looking to buy "used" exercise equipment. - RBS

I recommend market watcher John's Mauldin's astute observations on the derivatives implosion and the tremendous downside risk in sub-prime Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) trading, titled "Where is the Real Risk in the Subprime Debacle?" It can be found in this PDF. (BTW, I highly recommend subscribing to John's free weekly E-letter.) Meanwhile, Bloomberg has more news on troubled derivatives: United Capital's Devaney Halts Hedge Fund Withdrawals

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Commodities market signs of the times: Keg Thefts Rise with Metals Prices, and Power line theft leaves South Africa in dark

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From a recent Daily Reckoning e-newsletter: "And here's the latest mortgage scam - 'equity stripping.' Of course, equity stripping is what homeowners have been doing themselves for more than 10 years. Until the early '90s, the typical homeowner owned nearly 70% of his house, free of debt. Now, the figure is only 52%. But now, as the housing slump deepens, more and more homeowners are faced with losing their houses. The American Bankers Association says that 19% of sub-prime mortgages are either delinquent or already in foreclosure. This has created a whole new mini-industry - helping people save their homes. Fast-moving finance companies read the published lists of houses entering the foreclosure process. They visit desperate owners, offering to restructure mortgages in order to prevent foreclosure. Then, they get owners to sign the houses over to the finance company, which strips out any remained equity - and then some. When the homeowners finally realize what has happened, they find themselves even deeper in debt...and the finance company no longer answers its phone."

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We note the latest entrant in the Blogosphere with a penchant for preparedness: SHTF Daily. Check it out.

"Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effective than that which deludes them with paper money." - Daniel Webster

Saturday, July 7, 2007

If you find what you read in SurvivalBlog useful, then please become a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. These subscriptions are entirely voluntary. Presently, only 1% of readers who visit at least once a week are subscribing. Our goal is 5%. For details on how to subscribe--including an anonymous method for those of you that keep a very low profile--see the 10 Cent Challenge Web Page. BTW, for those of you that have already subscribed, please don't forget to mark your calendar for your annual renewal. We don't send out e-mails to pester anyone about renewing. Unless someone opts for a PayPal recurring payment, renewals are initiated solely by subscribers. Thanks!

Jim and Family:
I just found out that I can get a 16" rifle here in Hawaii. I was considering an Uzi but am uncertain about the differences between model A and B. Also, the stamped metal doesn't excite me, but I think having such a gun fills an important role in my armory.

For travel out of the stronghold, it takes the place between carrying a .223 or .308 rifle suitable for home defense and reaching out and touching someone and walking about with a handgun.

For travel when the world is in quasi-collapse and I want more rounds and accuracy than a pistol but don't want to use a full assault rifle. I like the idea of an Uzi type gun, tucked under my jacket. Lightweight is also a plus. If the world becomes lawless, the barrel could also be shortened. So, what gun do you recommend? Uzi A, B or other? Thanks guys. - Fred in Hawaii

JWR Replies: I do not recommend full size semi-auto Uzis. In relation to the power of the cartridge that they shoot (the 9mm Parabellum pistol cartridge) they are quite over-sized and heavy. A Linda, TEC-9, or a Mini-Uzi is actually more practical if you want a high capacity 9mm with a fairly long sight radius. If you want a semi-auto 9mm carbine, then the Marlin Camp Carbine is actually a better choice. For that matter, an M1 Carbine is more powerful, and nearly as compact as an Uzi carbine (at least when one is in a Choate or M1A1 replica folding stock.)

I generally try to steer my consulting clients away from 9mm, .45 ACP or even .30 M1 carbines, except if they are strictly relegated to secondary/small game/training use. As previously discussed in SurvivalBlog, long guns chambered in pistol calibers lack penetration and stopping power. They generally give people a false sense of security. A semi-auto Uzi has a high quotient for drama, but is not a very practical gun. A .223 M4gery is far superior and versatile, capable of dealing with two-legged predators out to 300 meters. (That would be quite a stretch for a 9mm carbine!) If compactness is your primary goal (rather than long range accuracy) some pistols chambered in intermediate rifle calibers include the OA-93 pistol, the Kel-Tec PLR-16, and "Krinkov" AK pistols. Just be forewarned that they are quite noisy and have a big muzzle flash!

You have a unique situation in Hawaii, since "pistol" high capacity magazines are banned there. This is quite a limiting factor. If I understand the Hawaii magazine ban law correctly, if there is any pistol made that uses rifle magazines, then those rifle magazines are also banned. For example, there are currently pistols made that use AR-15 and AK-47 magazines, and there were also a few hundred pistols made back in the 1970s that used M1 Carbine magazines. (The Universal "Enforcer" pistol.) So 10+ round M1 Carbine magazines would be classed as high capacity "pistol" magazines in Hawaii. I did some searching and found this in a digest of state gun laws at The Hawaii Rifle Association web site: "Hawaii state law prohibits greater than 10 round detachable pistol magazines (including rifle magazines capable of use in any pistol, such as the AR-15/M16, M1 Carbine, H&K carbine, Thompson, and aftermarket Ruger .22 magazines) unless blocked to hold 10 rounds or less and 'not readily restorable.' Possession of illegal magazines is a misdemeanor, and possession of a handgun with one inserted is a class C felony." Based on this, you may have to do some more legal research and plan accordingly to stay within the confines of Hawaii's draconian gun laws.

What (if anything) are you willing to kill for post-SHTF? To consider this question, first let's start with a quote on justifiable homicide from Wikipedia:
Under early Athenian law, it was considered justifiable homicide to kill an adulterer caught in the act or a burglar caught in the act at night... in eighteenth century English law , it was considered a justifiable homicide if a husband killed a man "ravishing" or raping his wife (Blackstone, Wm. at p. 391), but modern law treats this as only a circumstance that will mitigate murder to a conviction for manslaughter . In other words, the socialization of modern men is supposed to result in less violent responses to provocations.
... in some cases in the United States . A homicide may be considered justified if it is done to prevent a very serious crime , such as rape, armed robbery, or murder. The assailant's intent to commit a serious crime must be clear at the time. A homicide performed out of vengeance, or retribution for action in the past would generally not be considered justifiable.
In cases of self-defense, the defendant should generally obey a duty to retreat if it is possible to do so (except from one's home or place of business). In the states of Florida and Louisiana , and other Castle Doctrine states, there is no duty to retreat. Preemptive self-defense, cases in which one kills another on suspicion that the victim might eventually become dangerous, is considered criminal, no matter how likely it is that one was right. Justifiable homicide is a legal gray area, and there is no real legal standard for a homicide to be considered justifiable. The circumstances under which homicide is justified are usually considered to be that the defendant had no alternative method of self-defense or defense of another than to kill the attacker.

There are two questions to ask ourselves. One, if SHTF happens gradually and some law and order still exists, how might the standards of justifiable homicide change? Secondly and more important, in our own minds and hearts, what degree of force are we willing to react with in difficult situations. Certainly if today a group of men stole your picnic basket you wouldn't open fire against them, even if your wife made your favorite bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. Now let's change the scenario. It's SHTF time and you wake to find a group of armed strangers stealing your food? Now how about your next door neighbor stealing your food for his starving kids? You've already been charitable and now he's getting into your deep larder, but you used to drive his kids to the local soccer match where they played together.

Would you shoot a black masked, private mercenary thug that the governor called in and deputized that tried to disarm you forcibly? How about a well-meaning young kid in the National Guard who, pointing a gun at you, told you he had orders to disarm you (of your only weapon), contrary to the constitution and the needs of your family's protection during a Katrina style disaster. You know that rapists and murders will be out at night while he's safe asleep in his barracks. He's too young and stupid to know what he's doing is wrong. Still, there you both are. How about the local cop who got the same order. You've been fishing with him. He's a good man, except for the fact that he's about to violate his constitutional oath.

It's better to go through these moral exercises in advance and have your line in the sand already drawn. Of course we cannot know what we will really do when confronted with difficult choices, but freezing up at the moment of truth while we work out our ethical dilemmas is not the best option. We need to know what we are willing to do, and how far we are prepared to go in advance so that when the time comes, we can act decisively, already having made peace with the righteousness of our decision. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: I am a strong proponent of storing extra wheat, rice, beans, and honey to dispense as charity. Buy as much as you can afford. Shop around for the best prices, buy in bulk, and pack it properly to prevent spoilage and the ravages of vermin (as described in the"Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course.) Bulk foods also make good barter items for paying neighbors that might become your employees in the event of TEOTWAWKI (farm hands, security guards, et cetera.)

Novelist Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to a PDF on Combat Loads in Afghanistan. Mike's comments: "It shows march, approach and combat loads of troops in Afghanistan, for reference for building bug out bags. Obviously, a civilian bag will be lighter on batteries and ammo, and heavier on food, water and shelter. But this is a handy reference for comparison."

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A pointed history lesson from the Von Mises Institute: Inflation and the French Revolution--The Story of a Monetary Catastrophe

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From The Chicago Tribune: Layoff fears part of 'new normal' -- Affluence, college education no protection from job market that cycles quickly through workers. Every family should develop a home-based business that they can fall back on, in hard times.

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I spotted an interesting thread over at The Oil Drum with some observations from Uganda, on improvised battery charging. My comment: Every family should at the very least have a small photovoltaic panel and a "jump pack" battery, for recharging small NiCd and NiMH batteries. (See the recent thread on SurvivalBlog for sources.) As a minimum, you need to be able to recharge batteries for your MURS walkie-talkies, intrusion detection sensors, and night vision gear. These are essential for retreat security!

"Civilization is hideously fragile and there's not much between us and the horrors underneath, just about a coat of varnish." - Carrie P. Snow

Friday, July 6, 2007

The high bid is now at $210 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.

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 a post-TEOTWAWKI environment many of the services we take for granted now will be nonexistent. We will be growing or own produce, butchering our own livestock, cooking our own food, performing our own minor surgeries and protecting or own lives. We will have to rely on our own skills, knowledge and equipment. Of all the tools available to humans none has more importance than a wide selection of cutlery. History has revealed to us six simple machines that revolutionized the world: the wheel, the lever, the pulley, the inclined plane, the screw, and the wedge. As you may have guessed the wedge is an example of the knife. If you were to keep track of every time you, or a mechanical device, used the simple wedge (knife) to accomplish a task for one day you would surely be amazed. In my opinion acquiring a wide selection of cutlery should be considered a top priority in any preparedness plan.
Contrary to the propaganda expelled by some of the mass marketing knife manufacturers there is no one “do it all” knife. There are hundreds of knife designs, shapes, lengths, grinds, etc. They all serve a specific purpose. Some can overlap and do double duty but to be truly efficient you should chose a knife specifically suited for an intended task. Let’s look at what those tasks might be and some suggestions to consider when purchasing your survival cutlery.
Butchering: When it comes to butchering domestic livestock you can get by with three basic knife designs: a straight or curved 6” to 8” boner, a 6” skinner with an upswept point and a 8” to 10” breaker. These should be stainless steel with a synthetic handle. The stainless blade will hold up to the acids and blood from the carcasses and the synthetic handles are much easier to hold when your hands are bloody. Victorinox, sold by Forschner, are superb knives at very reasonable prices. There are other well-made blades out there, but these are the industries standard.
Kitchen Knives: Here you will want a full set of 5” steak knives, 3 or 4 paring knives, a 10” chef's knife, a 8” scalloped edge bread knife, and a few 6” to 8” boning knives. I would also suggest a good quality game shears for disjointing wild (or domestic) small game and waterfowl. Again, I highly recommend stainless steel in the 440C series for corrosion resistance. Blade grinds for kitchen and butchering knives are generally based on a flat grind and work superbly.
Hunting: There are about a hundred knife designs sold under the heading hunting knives and my suggestions are just that, my suggestions. To help make things a little easier, I will give you too basic blade designs to choose from: a drop point or a clip point. A drop point is as it sounds, the spine of the knife drops slightly from the back edge to the point. It would be safe to say this is the most widely made hunting knife design in history. The clip point design has a shallow swedge (false edge) running an inch or two back from the point and is seen in many ‘so called” bowie knives. The clip point configuration makes piercing cuts a little easier but the choice is yours as both designs make for an excellent hunting knife. The blades length should be a least 4”. Blade grind should be either a flat or hollow grind. Both grinds make for excellent slicers that are easy to sharpen as well as strong. A high carbon blade with a mirror polish and Rockwell rating of 58-60 should serve you well for a lifetime.
Next you should get a bird and trout knife. If you have ever tried to skin a squirrel or dress a partridge with a full size hunting knife you will know frustration. A small 2” to 3” thin bladed knife, possibly with a ring to slip over your finger so you don’t have to set it down while skinning will be worth its weight in gold and yet cost next to nothing.
Lastly I would purchase two filet knives, one around 5” and the other around 10”. Fishing is not only an enjoyable pastime, but if times get tough could be an untapped source for the survival larder.
Rescue: Every vehicle you own should have a rescue knife secured to the steering wheel with a lanyard of some kind. The characteristics of a good rescue knife include a rounded or sheepsfoot type tip, a serrated edge, and possibly a glass breaker in the end of the handle. The serrated edge makes short work of seat belts and the rounded tip adds safety when under duress or injured. Keep this secured to the steering wheel so it is always within reach and not flying around the interior. There are several good one-handed opening rescue knives available if that style suits your needs.
Brush Knives: After the Schumer hits the fan you will be in need of a few good brush knives. From constructing hides and clearing shooting lanes to harvesting food and stripping logs. First off purchase a couple of machetes. 20” or so will suffice and set you back less than $20 a piece. Next you can’t go wrong with a Kukri. They will do what the machete can’t, namely cut thicker, harder stock as well as double as an excellent draw knife for debarking and shaping logs and the like. The kukri also works wonders as a cleaver when butchering small game and fowl for the freezer. “Cold Steel” carries both the machetes and kukris at affordable prices and they are superbly made.
Camp/Utility Knives: Knives under this heading are generally in the 6” to 8” range, made of high carbon steel with a flat grind for strength. Don’t get a blade with too high a Rockwell rating as you will be sharpening this knife a lot. A thick, stiff spine is needed as this knife will be used for everything from pounding stakes to shaving [fire starting] fuzz sticks. A Rockwell rating of 54 to 58 would be ideal. Also one of the baked on finishes that are widely available would be in order for this workhorse.
Fighting Knives: A true fighting knife is inherently designed differently than most other knives. First let me say, any knife can be a fighting knife in the hands of a desperate man or woman, but some are better suited than others. A well thought-out fighting knife has a few definite attributes. One is the handle, it should be well fitted to the hand and of a material that allows a strong purchase when held. Next the weight; it should be light enough to be fast in the hand, but heavy enough to cause impact damage when hacking or if a less than lethal technique is required. The length of the blade is usually 6” to 10”. A shorter blade will be fast but lack the heft for deep penetration and a longer blade may be slow and unyielding. It will be your choice as to blade configuration. There are those who will opt for the double edge dagger style and those who swear by the single edge. It’s our call. One thing I cannot stress enough about the fighting knife. Do not use it for anything but fighting. This knife should be dedicated to one job, riding on your hip next to your handgun. If when you should ever have to use it you do not want it dulled from clearing brush or chipped from digging roots.
Personal/Pocket Knives: Personal knives fall under a separate heading. This will be the knife/or knives you carry everyday. Mine is a one hand opening tactical folder, a three bladed stockman, and a Leatherman wave. Yours could be a neck knife, a belt knife or a pocketknife. You may like a folding knife in a sheath or a two bladed trapper. Personally I have dozens of pocketknives from several different knife makers. Buck, Case, Gerber, CRKT, Cold Steel, Browning, etc. all ride with me at different times. This leads me to another suggestion. Pocket knives make excellent barter items. If my services were rendered I for one would accept a nice Case Trapper over a few pre-1965 quarters any day. It just makes good sense to stock up on pocketknives now for future use. If you frequent flea markets, garage sales, and the like you can come by these gems at very reasonable cost. Look for brand names such as Case, Winchester, Buck, Camillus, etc.
Tactical Knives: In 1982 Spyderco introduced a new knife design called the Clipit. It was unique in the fact it had a hole in the top of the blade so it could be opened with one hand, a two step serrated edge and a metal clip that allowed it to be attached to a pocket, belt, etc. Today almost every knife maker offers a version of this design. I urge you to acquire at least one of these knives and become familiar with its function. There is truly a no more practical, and tactical blade configuration out there. To be able to clip a blade almost anywhere and open it with one hand as fast as a switchblade, with out the legalities, makes this my number one suggestion.
Sharpening: Now that you have a basic understanding of your cutlery requirements we need to address how to keep them sharp. First buy a Norton Tri-stone cradle. This unit consists of three India stones. One course, one medium and one fine. With these stones you will be able to sharpen almost anything. Next purchase a diamond whetstone and a diamond tapered rod for touching up your serrated blades. The diamond whetstones come in handy folding versions that are perfectly suited for your bug out bag or glove box. I suggest you purchase John Juranitch’s book or video called The Razor’s Edge. This man is a true expert on the subject and you will learn his time-tested secrets. Also, get in the habit of carrying a couple small 2” by 6” sheets of 320 or 400 grit sandpaper in your wallet. These are very handy for touching up a dull blade at virtually no cost. My final suggestion on sharpening is to acquire a good 10” to 12” butchers steel. Many knives that seem dull do not need to be resharpened on a stone, but simply stroked on a steel. If you were to look at the microscopic edge of a dull knife you would likely see the edge is simply rolled over to one side. If you were to lightly stroke the knife down the steel as if you were trying to shave a thin sliver off, you could straighten the edge back into serviceable function.
Miscellaneous: Finally I suggest you acquire a good quality multi- tool and/or a Victorinox Swiss Army knife. They are indispensable. A full sized hand meat saw as well as a cleaver. A dozen or so box cutters, a couple scalpels in sterilized packages and a straight razor. (The Bic disposable razors will run out fast.) Finally, one single and one double bit axe, a good hatchet, and a splitting maul. These are my suggestions to get you started, but you may have other ideas as to what you may need for your particular situation. Remember, the best knife is the one in your hand when you need it.

JWR Adds: There is a trade-off between quantity and quality in acquiring cutlery. I'd rather spend $600 and buy a dozen Cold Steel or CRKT knives instead of just one custom-made knife for the same money. In survival planning there is great value in redundancy, to allow for eventual loss, theft, or breakage of tools, and to provide spares for barter and charity. Having fairly inexpensive spares also means that you will have a knife when and where you need it. For example, here at the Rawles Ranch, in addition to a full-size hay cutting scythe, we also have five inexpensive hand scythes that cost a total of $30. Likewise, we habitually keep both a modestly-priced tanto style Cold steel or CRKT folding knife as well as a Leatherman tool in each of our vehicles and in each of our G.O.O.D. kits. But please don't take the emphasis on quantity to an extreme. Be sure to avoid the "bargain" mainland Chinese junk. You need cutlery that is dependable.

In the past few days, I've had readers forward me links to several very disturbing articles on the declining real estate market and what appears to be the opening stages of a full blown global credit implosion. First, I read this: Mutually Assured Mayhem: Wall Street is on edge, scrambling to buck up Bear Stearns and avert a domino-effect debacle. Then came this very telling piece: Bear Stearns Meets Possums in Georgia as Foreclosures Increase. The key quote in the article: "No lender wants to own real estate, but at the same time you can't just unload these properties because you would send home prices into a free fall." My advice: Be prepared for free fall. It is coming, and probably fairly soon.

Then I was forwarded the link to this article: Banks told to show subprime leniency. This is a very alarming development. If bankers are intentionally ignoring their traditional credit worthiness fundamentals, then this is indicative of massive underlying imbalances. Cue the the Wagnerian music. This is going to have a dramatic ending, folks. And it won't just be the coastal residential real estate contrapreneurs and the banksters that will suffer. Stocks, bonds, and the insurance industry will be shaken. Inevitably, even the dollar itself is at risk. I still stand 100% behind the article on derivatives that I wrote last year. My advice is unchanged: Diversify into tangibles! And if you are going to buy any land, make sure that it is productive farming or ranching land in a safe retreat area.

Hello again from a very wet England. I've been reading with interest the articles on physical fitness and would just like to add my two penny-worth.

Cross country skiing is generally considered to be about the best form of aerobic exercise, inasmuch as it works pretty well all the muscles. The Nordic company do a ski machine that retails new around $700.00, but second hand they sell [on eBay)] for peanuts.

Here is an example of one currently on that well known auction site. GBP 15.00 is about $30.00 - a very small price to pay for the ultimate exerciser. Admittedly, they take a little while to get the technique, which is probably why you see so many of them for sale, but they are superb. I would recommend everyone with an interest in post TEOTWAKI fitness look at them. Oh, and they're adjustable, so every family member can use them, and at these prices, get a couple, for spares - I've got several stowed away ready to export to our new GOOD location and one in use right now.

Keep up the good work. Very best wishes. - Michael

Surprise, surprise: Retail Food Prices Jump Five Percent in 2nd Quarter We also read Consumers paying higher food prices as corn prices soar , and Biofuel demands keeps agricultural prices high, OECD-FAO report

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Some strange summer weather in London, England.

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Our friend Tom at CometGold.com recommended this article: Cioffi's Hero-to-Villain Hedge Funds Masked Bear Peril in CDOs. Tom's comment: " 'Move along, nothing to see here...' (Insert footage of Detective Frank Drummond from Police Squad! standing in front of an exploding fireworks factory)."

"But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated." - Ernest Hemingway

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The high bid is still at $190 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.

When I was a police officer I carried a [Model] 1911. In 1992 I was hired to instruct, among other things, firearms for associate degree police science students. In that year we bought 13 Glock M-17s. It is my estimation that those first Glocks in inventory have put 90-to-110 thousand rounds downrange in the associate degree and the police academy. We have broken five trigger springs and have had three front sights fly off. There have been one extractor break on the 17s, however, three broke on the M22 (.40 S&W). Having five Glocks in inventory here at the Teutoborg forest, I would buy three trigger springs and swap them out every 20 thousand rounds or so. When you get a Glock, pull the slide off and put a drop of your choice of adhesive on the bottom of the front sight. For some reason the engineering of the Glock calls for the front sight to be held in by a mere plastic peg/wedge. If you have Trijicon or Meprolight [tritium] sights it is good to use the same technique. Those sights are retained by a nut. We have also had those also fly off.
A trigger bar would be another worthwhile investment. Glock parts are stunningly inexpensive. A kit of most internals and extractor assemblies would cost merely 30 dollars or so.
You cannot say that about the other weapons available.
I own SIG, Beretta, Springfield Armory, Colt and Walther auto pistols. I seem to shoot Glock. - Mr. Oscar


Wow. I disagree so thoroughly with what Teddy Jacobson says about spare Glock parts I hardly know where to start. He obviously really, really likes the Wolff hardened guide rods, and the silicon recoil springs are sounding excellent. But I'm pretty sure Glock has never nickel plated any of their extractors.

And what about the rest of the weapon? If you read Glock Talk for the last seven or eight years you'll discover that every single part in a Glock can break. Can. But other than the usual extractor, ejector and firing pin (the heavily stressed parts in most weapons) the standard trigger return spring is known to fail. The gun will still function, but the trigger won't reset on it's own. Many Glock users will replace the part with the New York spring set.

Parts for the Glock are so cheap and so widely available that I recommend that people get the full set to guard against not only breakage but also loss [during maintenance.] If you ever had a part go sproing! during assembly/disassembly, then you know what I mean.

Mr. Jacobson may have worked on 15,000 pistols, and I'm sure he's a far better pistolsmith than I am, but he didn't fully answer your question. - Catshooter

Hi Jim,
I'm a regular reader and 10 Cent Challenge contributor. I just wanted to pass on a little info that struck me as very unusual. I live in Louisiana, too close to New Orleans unfortunately. In my mailbox on Saturday, I received a 32 page publication from the Louisiana Dept of Health & Hospitals. It is titled "How You Can Be Prepared for a Flu Pandemic" Individual & Family Handbook.
What do they know that we don't? The state spent $663,594.40 publishing 1,658,986 copies of this Handbook under a grant support from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This is about the number of households in the state as of the 2000 Census, so I assume each household will be mailed one. I intend to wait about a week and take a poll of my fellow workers to see if anyone received and/or read the publication. My gut tells me most will simply pitch it with the junk mail and not
even read it. The book is very basic, but it does make an attempt to raise awareness and encourage preparedness and educate on a subject of which most people are ignorant. The KISS principle, I'm sure. If nothing else it could be a good tool to help persuade the "blind" to consider the value of preparation-especially skeptical spouses and close family members. Maybe you have seen this handbook or something similar. Here is a link to the publisher. (Item # ps92230)
Keep up the good work. We appreciate all that you and the family do to keep the information flowing. Thanks and God Bless, - GMac

Remember that there is now just one week 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. OBTW, I recently received another recommendation for the company: " I thought you would like some more feedback on your new advertiser, BulletProofME.com. After extensive searching for a vest supplier last year I bought one from BulletProofME.com. Because I had never purchased a vest before I had a lot of questions, and Nick answered them all. I was so pleased with my vest that my wife also just bought one, and received it yesterday." - L in Colorado

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In reference to the recent discussion of crosscut saws, Michael W. mentioned The Crosscut Saw Company, in Seneca Falls, New York. They stock both newly manufactured one- and two-man saws, as well as some very scarce "New Old Stock" saws made by companies that went out of business decades ago.

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In a post 9/11 world, it doesn't take much to get tossed off a plane

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RBS sent us the link to this amazing video clip of redneck style catfish fishing. You just hold the bait in your hand...

"All of the government's monetary, economic and political power, as well as its extensive propaganda machinery, will be enlisted in a constant battle to drive down the price of gold - but in the absence of any fundamental change in the nation's monetary, fiscal, and economic direction, simply regard any major retreat in the price of gold as an unexpected buying opportunity." - Irwin A. Schiff

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Independence Day! I pray that God will continue to grant us liberty in our land, for generations to come.

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. It is in your own best interest to do so. Why? Every friend, neighbor, and relative that gets motivated to prepare constitutes one less individual that will come begging on your doorstep, come TEOTWAWKI+1. I would greatly appreciate it if you added a SurvivalBlog graphic link to your web site and/or e-mail footer. Our goal is to double the SurvivalBlog readership by the end of 2007. Many 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.

The more physically fit one is overall, the better your odds are you will survive WTSHTF.
Or, maybe you don’t believe that survival preparations should include physical fitness.
U.S. military forces emphasize solid fitness in part because the higher the fitness level, the more an individual can maintain acceptable performance levels while under stress. Police SWAT units emphasize high levels of fitness for the same reasons. Organized units like these are highly effective also because they conduct rehearsals of established SOPs until it is ingrained to the point that they are able to perform under any conditions. They are able to train at high levels of performance seamlessly because they are capable of keeping up physically and mentally. They also have each other to depend on while operational making them even more effective. Maintaining a solid level of fitness is important for civilians as most of us are preparing with the free time available in our schedules. It is important to identify where you stand in physical fitness. Ask yourself, am I fit? How fit is fit enough? Who will be there to assist me when TSHTF?
When visiting the SurvivalBlog web site, consider how much of the material and advice provided requires you to be in good shape in order to take advantage of it.
I’ve assisted and encouraged others to improve their physical conditioning for decades. During yesteryear I promoted fitness primarily for healthy living. The reasons these days are for healthy living and potential survival scenarios. Living ‘healthy’ during a non-survival scenario is one thing, living healthy during a survival scenario is quite different. Fitness doesn’t just happen. Fitness is accomplished by adopting good habits of exercise, nutrition and rest.

Step One: Assessment
Assessing your level of fitness requires only that you be honest with yourself in several physical fitness categories including your present fitness level; your weight status; age; diet/nutrition; and your overall state of health.

Present Fitness Level: Ask yourself what you can do today in terms of sustained heart rate while active. If you are already active then this should be easy to answer. If not currently active (or haven’t been in the short term, i.e.: within 12 months), then you probably have a good understanding for where you stand and are capable of daily/weekly exercise routines not too far off from your previous workouts. If you haven’t been active for 12 months to 24 months but previously were active, then you know what you are capable of, you just have to start and make it routine again. For those beyond the 24 month time period, you fall into one of several categories spanning a range from former solid fitness to those who have never been fit. Either way, you have been away from a fitness routine for too long.
Weight Status: Are you overweight, underweight, or at (or close to) where you should be? Take this into consideration when deciding what course of action(s) you decide to take. If you are overweight today, you could be significantly trimmed down by your next birthday. Whatever your particular case is, when going from non-active to active, you will start to lose body fat and become lean. Just assess where you are and be cognizant of how your body will react. It is all important to keep in mind that your body will change and that you will need the proper diet/nutrition to recharge your batteries between workouts. Refueling with the right foods will payoff big when you go for the next workout. If you are not overweight but have never committed to a fitness program and feel it is unnecessary, consider this: my sister went for her annual physical. She is 50, mother of 3, is not overweight, and looks good. The physician advised her that she was obese. Huh?
The doctor's explanation: you have no muscle and therefore you are obese. My sister has never done anything physical, ever. This may be an extreme example, but illustrates the point that inactivity and not being overweight don’t add up to capable of handling the rigors of a post-WTSHTF life.
Age: Don’t let age fool you. It’s deceiving. I currently exercise by training/running long distance races (10 mile races to marathons), weight lifting, boxing, biking, and recreational swimming. I started wrestling when I was 6 years old and continued competing for 15 years and it still pays off. I have a small farm that keeps me moving constantly otherwise. I also have a full time occupation so I don’t workout daily. It is unnecessary. I bother to mention this because with all of the above exercise and while I averaged 15 long distance races a year for the last four years, I am constantly amazed at the older men/women who beat me (45 yrs old) to the finish line every race and I’m in the top 15 - 25%! Age definitely slows one down in terms of intensity and volume but that’s it. Age is deceiving so never judge a book by a cover regarding fitness/self defense. If you consider yourself ‘old’ and have never been fit (or out of it for quite some time), it is never too late and you will probably surprise yourself at the results. If you are young and never been committed to a fitness program, don’t wait. Find something(s) and go for it. Make it a habit and the health benefits will stay with you for a lifetime.

Diet and Nutrition: Assess what you are eating and how you feel. Eating fast food? Too many carbs? Sweet tooth? Living on coffee and cigarettes? Or, are you already eating a healthy diet? Either way, the new stresses added to your daily routine in a survival scenario will cause your body new stresses. You will either keep up or break down. It really depends on your present habits. An individual who is fit and maintains a healthy diet will be able to make the transition from living in the present day to a survival mode relatively easy. Adrenaline will carry the day for a brief time. But after the adrenaline subsides, what’s left in the tank and where is the energy required to keep up coming from? I know many over the years who have maintained poor diets but had excellent workout routines. They were mostly the younger generation. It always catches up with them. They usually become injured/hurt, sick, and/or are tired…but then they come back after a rest period and the cycle repeats itself. If you have poor fitness and a poor diet, you are advised to alter both. The body wants good clean fuel, not items containing too many carbs, items made with hydrogenated oils, trans fats, a diet loaded with sugar (sodas, desserts, snack(s)…). Also overlooked is hydration. Re-hydrating is critical. Once you begin to exercise, you have to replace your fluids. Not doing so will result in cramping, tiredness, and/or can result in heat exhaustion if not replacing fluids while exercising. Watch the sports drinks as some have lots of sugar. I always dilute my quarts of Gatorade 50-50 [with water]. Too much sugar can prevent the hydration you are seeking. ‘Emergen-C’ is a product I use daily to keep the immune system strong. It contains numerous vitamins and supplements in small packets mixed in water. Particularly good is the chromium, sodium, several antioxidants, vitamin C and low sugar content. Some final words regarding overall diet and fitness are: everyone has time to eat right. If you believe you are eating ‘right’ but are under/overweight, then your diet needs improvement.
Overall State of Health: Take the four assessment categories above and rate yourself overall. With the exception of age, you should be in control of the other three categories. While modern medicine has extended, saved, and aided our lives, could you get by without the convenience of it? If you find yourself not in control of your fitness, weight, and diet, you need to get control of each. If you score low in each of the categories and are overwhelmed by what appears to be too much at once, take Henry Ford’s advice: "Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs."

Step Two: Getting Started and Motivated
I found that to identify a realistic fitness program, it’s important to know that person’s motivation, goals, attitude and background regarding physical training. Rate yourself in each category. Not everyone has time or ability to invest in what it takes to climb mountains, run marathons, bicycle 100 mile routes, or carry a 60 lb ruck sack with battle weapon in hand over an extended obstacle course. That’s understandable. However, everyone should make time to ensure that they can do the arduous tasks that await us in a survival scenario. Your motivation in this regard is to increase your fitness level and therefore increase your ability to survive. Your goals need to be realistic. Most of us are not trying to qualify for the Olympic Judo Team. From a strictly survival perspective, ‘realistic’ fitness means different things to different people. Consider the answers to some commonsense survival questions: Just how arduous will it be? How much time are we talking? Will I be able to drive to my retreat? Will I have to run or walk long distances outside of my retreat? If forced, how much stuff can I carry and for how long? If threatened, will I defeat the attacker(s)? Can I carry/drag that 125 lb. deer I just shot to my retreat? How far can I push that bike I loaded up with supplies and while carrying a weapon, water, and ammo?
Only you can answer these types of questions. Identifying now your limits regarding stamina, endurance, strength, hand and eye coordination, and reflexes will certainly give you a good feel for where you stand in regards to survival fitness. It will also help fine tune your survival plan by forcing you to be practical. A likely money/silver savings will result by not wasting it on items that just don’t fit into your plan.
SurvivalBlog patrons already know that their survival depends on various factors including the location of your retreat (or staying put), your level of preparations, and the duration and type of WTSHTF in your area. Often overlooked is your fitness level. When going from ‘normal life’ to a ‘survival life’, it’s going to be stressful and require a lot more personal energy. Procrastinating fitness until the day you need it is risky. Getting ‘fit’ after it kicks off will be impossible. The best you can hope for at that point is that you get lucky, don’t get hurt, and/or are not too exhausted to survive when it counts. Keep in mind that if you are lacking physical fitness, the possibility of placing a burden on your family-retreat group when you can’t keep up will cause even more unnecessary (and avoidable) stress. Obviously, I’m not referring to elderly family members or those with illnesses.
A crucial key to success is what motivates you. If you are in the business of fitness, you are really in the business of motivation. If not motivated, then there is nothing anyone can do for you. If motivated, the sky is the limit. It’s up to you.
Getting started requires that you just select an activity. Once you determined what you plant to do, get some good advice and training partners to share the load. Go online for advice or subscribe to a magazine dedicated to that activity and identify beginner, intermediate, advanced, and expert workout routines. Then, make a suitable schedule and get started. Mixing activities is ideal as it keeps you mentally fresh and your body doesn’t get used the same activity. Furthermore, mixing activities challenges your body more and therefore reaps added benefits. Your fitness program most likely will change from time to time as your fitness increases and you take the next step in those activities. After time, you will discover that your body will ‘crave’ the workout and it’ll become difficult for you to ignore that. Competing in amateur events or joining a club which sponsors events will help define goals. Being around like minded fitness people also provides a pool of knowledge that will assist you in attaining your goals. Pushing yourself and testing how you hold up under ‘game time’ conditions is one of the joys of being active and gives you confidence. Keep in mind that being physically fit has a carryover effect where one becomes mentally tough along the way. Working out with others is always beneficial as you push each other to be on time and not waste time. Your workout friends also become good friends. Along the way, you learn what you’re made of and that’s an important part of knowing that you will survive.

Step Three: Which Activities? Where to Get Fitness Information
I’ve identified above the fitness activities that I participate in and maybe none of those appeal to you. Some people can’t get themselves to get fit in the ‘traditional’ sorts of ways. No problem. Those of you that fall into that category, I encourage you to take on activities specific to your threat profile. Any type of martial arts will keep you fit and provides a useful skill. For those participating in martial arts, I encourage you to incorporate ‘Empty Hands’ training. This involves the integration of empty hand skills with firearms skills.
One thought regarding martial arts training (and generally speaking regarding being fit and armed) I have often overheard that “ I have a gun(s), what do I need xyz training for?” Because, all weapons skills are physical in their nature. They all depend on your ability to move decisively, with balance and coordination, and at times with power. Just like you will need in a survival scenario. Maybe it won’t involve firearms but imagine yourself carrying water (weight = 7.8 lbs per gallon!), gardening daily, and/or hunting for an extended period of time. It’s hot or freezing outside. The fitness will pay off. These skills (and fitness levels) have to be developed. Training takes time and precious few of us have it to spare so make the most of your training time.

For those looking to multi-task and have dogs, training in Schutzhund will challenge you and canine, and both of you will get fit. Schutzhund is training for canines (and handler) in tracking, obedience, and protection. The canines trained for this are mostly German Shepherds but also include Rottweillers, Dobermans, and Belgian Malinois, Giant Schnauzers, and Bouviers. It seems that a Rhodesian Ridgeback would be particularly suited for Schutzhund but I’ve never seen one at a club. If you are ‘dogless’, consider adopting and he’ll remind you that he wants his exercise too. Not all dogs are suited for Schutzhund so be aware that the canine needs to have drive, agility, and intelligence.
Instead of listing numerous activities and providing levels of workouts ad nauseam, listed are tried and true sources of information to help you get started and/or enhance your current fitness program.

In my opinion, this is the best approach to overall fitness. Incorporates what is referred to as ‘Interval Training’. Provides a different workout daily (including a rest day) that is designed for all types. Focus is on intensity, varied exercises. Daily workout may be only one exercise [i.e.: run a 5k.], other days, three exercises are on the schedule. If you don’t have weights at home, access to weights will be necessary. No, you do not need an entire gym full of equipment. You can get by with a few dumbbells, plates, and a bar. Garage/yard sales sometimes give up this stuff for free just to get rid of it. The Crossfit.com web site has full video clips of each exercise for demonstration purposes. The web site offers substitute exercises for each workout. They offer nutrition advice, seminars, and an affiliates list. Lots of good stuff there!)

Road Runners of America. Running tips and coaching for all levels, calendar of events, links for local affiliates/clubs, nutrition advice, news, shoe reviews.
runnersworld.com (and their corresponding magazine)
I subscribe and it has much to offer all levels of runners. They have a very knowledgeable staff.

Title boxing has been around for a very long time. They have all the supplies needed to keep you fit using just a heavy bag or equipping yourself with an entire array of training items. Heavy bag training is an excellent choice for overall fitness (and stress reduction!). It also gives me a break from running and weight lifting, two things lots of folks just can’t get into. I subsequently created my own workout that is only 15 minutes. But believe me, 15 minutes is enough. Heavy bag training will build overall strength, power, and stamina. From head to toe you will improve fitness since you use your legs as much as arms while hitting the heavy bag. Title also offers videos/DVDs and books to illustrate how to train with the heavy bag. Huge advantage is that you don’t have to join a gym, drive anywhere, and is an all-weather, day- night friendly workout.

NEANDERTHIN, by Ray Audette.
Excluding the appendix and recipes, only 130 pages. Taken from the cover is this description: Eat the foods your body was designed to eat and have the body you were meant to have!
How to become a modern day Hunter-Gatherer and give up the addictive foods and habits that have kept you unhealthy and overweight.
How a high-calorie, high fat diet can actually make you leaner.
Becoming Neanderfit: a five-week exercise plan to complement your new diet.

PROTEIN POWER, by Dr. Michael Eades, and Dr. Mary Ann Eades.
Taken from the cover is this description: The high protein low carbohydrate way to lose weight, feel fit, and boost your health. I’ve adopted these eating habits and the description is accurate.

Combatives Hand to Hand Combat, Dept. of Army FM 21-150. For the individual seeking to increase his/her fitness via martial arts type drilling, supplement it on the cheap with military training manuals. Copies of these manuals are available at CheaperthanDirt.com (only $6.97); used book stores with a good military manual section; and/or many military surplus stores. Other titles available in military field manuals are: Hand to Hand Fighting, Karate, Tae-Kwon-Do, US Army Special Forces, ST 31-204 and Close Combat and Hand to Hand Fighting, US Marine Corps, FM 0-7.
Good luck and stay fit. - Flhspete

JWR Adds: Keep in mind that reading books on martial arts is no substitute for actual hands-on training. Instinctive, reflexive "muscle memory" in hand-to-hand combatives only comes with lots of practice.

From ABC News (by way of Matt Drudge): Secret Document: U.S. Fear that a Terror "Spectacular' is Planned for this Summer

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Adam in Ohio sent us a link to an animated cartoon on YouTube, about Post-Peak Oil Preparedness. Adam's comment: "It’s too close to reality for most of us."

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Commentary from securities market analyst Tony Jackson: Myth that could undermine credit derivatives.

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I just heard that JRH Enterprises (one of our most loyal advertisers) has on sale a couple of scarce original PVS-14 Gen-3 night vision units, normally $3,600 for just $2,595. These can be used as a handheld, weapon sight or head mount. With a full one year warranty. Only two of these are available, first come first served.

"The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered... deeply, ...finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people." - George Washington

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The high bid is still at $190 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.

I've recently had two different readers ask me about recommended spare parts and upgrades for Glock pistols. Since I'm an "old dinosaur" Model 1911 .45 shooter, I don't feel qualified to comment on Glocks. So I forwarded their questions to Teddy Jacobsen, a master pistolsmith in Texas, who kindly shares his wisdom. (Over the years, he has worked on more than 15,000 pistols and revolvers.) The following is his response:

I can easily explain how I look at things for a Glock. Basically I see no reason to install these aftermarket parts as a general rule. I am always looking for heat treated guide rods, but most you see are not [properly heat treated]. Check the Brownells book and only Wolff states the[ir product's Rockwell] hardness. Using a soft rod with a Rockwell hardness of 23 on the "C" scale is not good enough. it must be 50.

Wolff makes hardened steel guide rods with a Rockwell hardness of 50 but you must use his music wire spring, this is ok using the factory standard rating for the recoil spring. these are very good hardened steel guide rods.

When using a Wolff guide rod for the 19 or the 17 you must use wolff music wire springs. I do like the hardened wolff guide rod.

I prefer to use an ISMI flat chrome silicon recoil spring when I have the option. Only one person that i know makes a hardened recoil guide rod that will accommodate this ISMI spring and that is George Smith of EGW in Pennsylvania.

I will give you a parallel on music wire versus chrome silicon wire for springs. In an AR-15 or an M16 the large buffer spring that is supplied (music wire) is good for 25,000 cycles, but if you use the ISMI chrome silicon buffer spring (chrome silicon) it is good for 500,000 cycles. This superior spring is sold exclusively through DavidTubb.com, in Texas. The companies that manufacture the rifles will not spend the extra money for these springs but people like me will.

For spare parts for your Glock, buy a Jentra plug to keep the dirt out of the large hole in the bottom rear of the grip. [Called a "backstrap channel" in Glockese.]

I suggest that an extra extractor is necessary for all Glocks. I do not see many damaged original parts, they are all nickel plated and hold up well. The original guide rod in the 19 and 17 can be used but a hardened steel guide rod is a better option. I would prefer to stay with the original polymer guide rod if you can not find a hardened steel guide rod, it must be heat treated. using a soft steel guide rod will cause the guide rod head to get chewed up in no time. If you stay with the original equipment polymer guide rod , buy a few extra.

The guide rod head in the mini Glocks (26,27,33) does break, I am talking about the original equipment rod supplied with a new Glock, so the Wolff guide rod is a better idea for the minis with Wolff springs.

Teddy Jacobson - Pistolsmith, Actions By T
tel. (281) 565-6977

JWR Adds: Most of the parts that Teddy mentioned are available from Glockmeister or Top Glock. I should also mention that I highly recommend Teddy's gunsmithing, especially his trigger work. He specializes in M1911 pistols, revolvers, and Sig-Sauer pistols. One proviso: Be prepared for a couple of month delay. (Like most of the best gunsmiths in the country, he has quite a backlog of work.)

On a related note: I have already generically addressed the firearms spare parts issue in SurvivalBlog, and made some recommendations on part suppliers for guns from various makers.

Mr. Rawles:

I have to take issue with your abuse of Alaska in your [Recommend Retreat Areas page] location recommendations. There is a substantial area in Southeast Alaska that has none of the downsides you cite. I speak from experience and on the ground knowledge that affirms that the Wrangell-Petersburg area of Southeast Alaska is The absolute best location to be in the U.S. bar none. We have gambled everything on it and were absolutely right. We are not earthquake nor Tsunami prone. The biggest recorded tsunami here was not noticed. The fault lines all go out to sea South of Juneau and North of the Canadian Queen Charlotte Islands. We have an abundance of fresh water and sunshine (my garden attests to that fact!) We have very mild winters (check it and see if yours are nearly so mild). We have no major population centers, nor any targeted sites in the event of nuclear warfare. We have no close volcanic activity in this area either. We have unbelievable natural resources (the first Salmonberries and Blueberries are coming on now and they are everywhere!). We have copious game and fish in addition to the multitude of wild edible plants that we enjoy. We are quite near several glaciers and ice fields for a guaranteed supply of drinking water. Our home school laws are second to none! The Great Depression was hardly noticed here. Read [John] Muir's accounts of the area, and you will find that the natives grew fat here easily making a living. The salmon run thick in many areas along with many other species of fish. I could eat a clam a day for a month out of one hole on the beach here. No one clams, they are everywhere. Mussels are everywhere. Seals are everywhere. Deer and Elk, and sheep, and Moose. Rest assured that this area will fare better than any other when TEOTWAWKI comes! Property is cheap here. Try $15,000 for 8 acres right off the beach! I am quite content to be alone up here, but thoughts of misrepresentation and sincere seekers being turned away do not sit well with me. There is plenty of room and there are plenty of resources for all here. Who needs fuel? For what? I can get anywhere with my feet or my canoe. We have wood to burn indefinitely, food to eat indefinitely, protection from every conceivable natural disaster, who wants to travel anywhere else? I sure don't!

Greetings, Jim:

Several times you have mentioned using "lights of the night sky" [satellite] pictures to show where people are centralized ([assuming that a greater concentration of] people = trouble) in choosing where not to live/retreat. I have another suggestion: the maps of cell phone companies of their cell coverage. Cell phone coverage means lots of people or major travel routes. if a person wants to find a place to get away from people then looking on the no coverage area of cell phone maps is one tool to use. thanks for a great web site and great books. - RE in Oklahoma

JWR Replies: That is a great idea. You've just earned yourself a free copy of my novel "Patriots" and a SurvivalBlog Logo Tile Coaster with our compliments. These are your prizes for a "Blinding Flash of the Obvious" (BFO) award. I'll add one data point to add credence to your assertion: Here at the Rawles Ranch we don't have cellular service.

"T" recommended this article on "Chameleon" weapons, over at Noah's DefenseTech blog.OBTW, the comments that follow the article include some interesting links.

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RBS sent us this unusual survival story: Man survives after nearly being sucked out of plane

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Rob at Green Mountain Gear mentioned that he currently has a special on HK91/G3 Alloy magazines in new, unissued condition. Rob notes: "Some of them might have slight handling marks from moving around the world over the years. The first 20rnd magazines I pulled look simply awesome! Hit them with a little degreaser and you have a great looking magazine at a rock bottom price. These are not “bargain bin” used magazines and each shipment will be hand-packed to make sure that no 'junkers' slip in. This is not a group buy and thus there is no wait time. First come, first served as there is limited quantity. HK G3 magazines in this condition are drying up fast so this is a great time to stock up. There are no additional quantity discounts available at this time due to availability. I want to make sure everyone has a chance to stock up. However, you can order as many 20 packs as you like. A 20 pack (Twenty HK magazines) is $84.99 mailed to the 48 continental states via USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate ($8.95 is included in the price). That is just $4.24 per magazine, delivered! Most people receive their shipments within three days via this shipping method so it is a real bargain and much cheaper than UPS/FedEx options."

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Some more "I told you so" headlines: Dollar drops to 26-year low versus Pound Sterling. Meanwhile, Dollar drops against euro on static U.S. interest rates. Near the end of this article, we learn: "The New Zealand dollar rose Friday to 77.39 U.S. cents, the highest level in 22 years, and the Australian dollar climbed to 85.22 cents, the strongest level since 1989." We can conclude that this is a great time to be a US exporter, but a painful time to be an importer. Likewise, it is a great time to be a European tourist in the U.S., but a lousy time to be "An American in Paris." Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: Simultaneously, spot gold jumped $10 per ounce. I hope that you all took my advice and minimized your exposure to dollar-denominated investments. Look for more record-breaking declines in the USD in coming months.

"Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them." - Bill Vaughan

Monday, July 2, 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.

I've been lurking about SurvivalBlog for about six months now, and have found a lot of useful information hereabouts. There are lots of good tips about securing your retreat and making it less visible. One thing I have noticed though is that there appears to be a blind spot. Why go to all the trouble to screen your retreat location from view and practice nighttime light discipline if you are going to announce your presence far and wide audibly?

One thing I've noticed lately is there is a lot of discussion on stocking up on two-cycle and bar oil for chainsaws. For those of you who live in the hinterboonies already: Think back a few months to woodcutting season. I'll bet if you stop and think about it, you would be able to locate your neighbors for a couple miles around - at least - based on the sounds of their Stihl and Husqvarna--nobody uses Homelite or McCulloch anymore--chainsaws. For those of you not familiar with life in the hinterlands yet: The crisp airs of autumn and early winter carry the sound of chainsaw exhaust for miles. Those things are shrieking banshees that scream "Here I am!" Not only do they announce your location to the world-at-large, they also mask the sound of anyone approaching the woodcutter's AO. So, even if you post a security detail around your work party, they are going to be relying solely on visual contact to detect approaching hostiles.
To me, the better route would be to leave the chainsaw in the emergency stash, and do your woodcutting with a crosscut saw. Yes, the misery whip "sings," but its slight ring doesn't carry nearly as far as the chainsaw's blare and shriek. (For those who don't know -- The crosscut saw got the nickname "misery whip" because an improperly set and sharpened crosscut saw is exactly that: a miserable implement to spend your days with. Caution: Caring for and using this device requires some skills.)
Side Note: You did notice that I didn't say "Forget the chainsaws!" didn't you? I live in 'quake country and - due to misguided forestry practices over the past century - anyone who lives outside of town these days lives in wildfire country. When I want to get through the roof of a collapsed structure quickly, I'm going to reach for my trusty Stihl, not a crosscut. And, two men with chainsaws can clear a firebreak a lot quicker than two men with a crosscut. Just save the chainsaws for the times that saving time and lives is more important than keeping a low sound profile. There are always trade-offs to be made in survival situations.

You don't give up all that much in efficiency - if you learn to use and care for your saw properly - by using a crosscut instead of a chainsaw. I'm told that wasn't until the 1960s that a chainsaw was able to beat a two-man saw in log bucking contests. Those of you who take in logger rodeos know that those bucking saws are the chainsaw hot-rods -- they're anything but stock.
If you have the personnel available, you could send out multiple three-man teams with one two-man saw per team. The "odd man out" would serve as part of the security detail for the wood cutting operation. The cutting team would put their LBE and rifles aside - but close at hand - while the security person would retain his. (Yes, women can hang-to with men on a cross-cut once they learn the pace. I'm saying men for language simplicity.) Every 15 minutes the saw crew could take a 5 minute break and one of them could rotate with the security man. That way, each man spends a maximum of a half-hour on the business end of the saw before getting a 20-minute break. Once everyone is used to the drill, the interval between breaks could be stretched to a half-hour. By sending out multiple teams, you get a larger security detail, and it would be most effective to stagger the breaks so you always have one - or more - security man on point. This reduces the risk of everyone having to rely on sidearms until they can fight their way back to their rifles. (Which is the purpose of a sidearm, in my book: It exists solely to fight your way back to the rifle you shouldn't have let get out-of-reach in the first place. Or, to acquire another rifle when yours breaks or runs dry. Bad troopie! No cookie!)

Don't have the personnel? Then use a one-man crosscut saw and have your lovely bride or elder son be your security detail. Whatever you do, don't get in the habit of sending out work details without a security detail! That's the easiest way there is to take casualties and leave the door open to deadly infiltration. ([They see someone wearing familiar clothing and say] "It's Okay! That's just Bob coming back from cutting wood!") I am wholeheartedly against "going it alone" post-TEOTWAWKI. If you're single and alone in the world, you need to build a support group of like-minded individuals that you can rely on. They're just like finding the perfect bride: They are out there. The problem is finding them. Trust me - I know from experience. I come from a large clan (We're Celts -- the term clan has significant meaning for us.), so I'll be relying on family. My Dad insured that my brothers and I were all well-familiarized with the crosscut saw as a tool for doing real work. Along with the scythe, the #2 shovel, and a host of other "old school" tools. Once you become familiar with man-powered tools, you will be surprised what you can do in a day.

One way to reduce your exposure is to cut your wood to cord length (4 feet) in the woods, cold deck it, then transport it back to the retreat via horse and sledge once the snows come. (Personally, I'd leave it cold-decked for a year, and then transport it once it's seasoned -- much easier on the people loading the sledge and the horses pulling it. You should have at least two years' firewood stored at the retreat before TSHTF anyway.) You can buck it to stove length back at the retreat with a one-man saw. Better yet would be to have a water powered buzz saw at the retreat. Quiet, but much less work! Any cord lengths that are too heavy to throw up on your shoulder to tote to the cold deck can be hand split with a maul and wedges. Most hardwoods are much easier to split green than once they've seasoned. This brings up another point: Using steel mauls and wedges is just like ringing a bell. So learn how to fabricate a wooden maul and wooden splitting wedges. It's not all that hard, and the benefit of having your maul and wedges go "thwock" instead of having that high-pitched ping of steel hitting steel is worth it. (The secret is to fashion your wedges from green hardwood rounds, then set them aside to season for at least a year. You can 'smith up some top rings for your wooden wedges and put them on hot on the seasoned wedges that you've soaked in the rain barrel for a couple days. The hot rings will compress the grain on the wedges so they don't split when hit with the maul. You do the same thing on each end of the maul head, but - of course - the rings are much bigger.)
Here are some sources for crosscut saws and the necessary tools to maintain them:

If you want a good quality new saw at a bargain price, Woodcraft.com carries a five-foot German two-man saw for $74.99:

Lehmans.com carries the saw accessories that will allow you to maintain your saw.

The Federal Highway Administration has a series of articles on using and caring for crosscut saws.

Have you caught on to the fact that when you live in the hinterboonies you operate on a different time scale than the insane pace that city folk try to maintain? You have to learn to think and plan in a completely different manner when you are attempting to be self-reliant for the long term. It's not an easy adjustment. That's why I agree with Mr. Rawles: You want to be [long hence] settled in and living at your retreat when this post-modern world comes down around our ears.

One last admonition on "Sound Security:" Buy a [hunting] bow. Learn how to use it. Learn how to stalk and take game with it. Learn to have confidence in it and in your ability to provide for your family with it. Learn how to make a bow from wood from your woodlot, and learn how to make and fletch arrows. Then, when the Schumer goes through the turbines, leave your rifle slung while hunting and take your meat with a well-placed arrow. Rifle reports carry even further than a chainsaw's banshee shriek. Save your ammo for the hostiles. - Countrytek

JWR Adds: I addressed noise discipline in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", but you are right that it has been insufficiently addressed in SurvivalBlog. Thanks for sharing your comments on this subject. regarding bow hunting: Keep in mind that most state game regulations prohibit carrying a rifle when bow hunting, so your last comment would only apply to an absolute TEOTWAWKI situation.

Dear Mr Rawles,
After reading Edventures' letter about there not being any diesel chainsaws available, I had a thought: why not combine an electric chain saw with a small, portable, diesel generator? Besides solving his fuel problem, he would also have a mobile power source that could be used to operate other devises. It's just a thought.
Best Wishes, - James K.

Saw the letter about chainsaws and how stored gas didn't work well in them. There was some question about the availability of diesel chainsaws and how they aren't made anymore. ([Since they are] heavy and [have] slow rpm.)
I run my chainsaw on diesel--sort of. I drive a 1994 Ford F250 diesel pickup that I use for gathering firewood. I installed a 2,000 watt inverter with 4,000 watt surge capability. That cost me about $150 from Harbor Freight. A 3.25 horsepower Remington electric chainsaw is plugged in on a 100 ft. heavy duty extension cord.
I cut 10 to 15 cord of firewood every year with this arrangement. The electric chain saw works fairly well as long as the chain is kept sharp. I can only cut firewood within 100 ft of the truck, but frankly, that's about as far as I care to lug it.
By the way, the truck has been converted to run on waste vegetable oil. Pretty cheap way to gather wood. I do keep a 3.5 foot German steel manual crosscut saw as backup.- Raymond


First, be sure that the model used is not a smaller [displacement engine] Sthil [chainsaw] that uses the reed valve type carburetor. These are not a very good system.

Second, I'd recommend he quit using Sta-Bil brand gasoline preservative and switch to PRI-G (and PRI-D for diesel ) which are much, much better preservatives. I have personally used them for gasoline as much as four years old and run a Sthil chainsaw just fine with this stored fuel.

One of your advertisers, Ready Made Resources of Tennessee carries PRI [brand fuel preservative products]. - Andy in Jonesboro, Tennessee

The book currently at the top of my reading stack is: "Bulletproof: A History of Armored Cars and the Colorful Characters Who Ran Them, Rode Them, and Sometimes Robbed Them", by James L. Dunbar and Robert Grant Kingwell. A fascinating book to read, but a bit expensive to buy for a personal collection, and not likely to be used as a reference. So try to get a copy through your local library, as I did. (Here in the hinterboonies my family takes full advantage of the inter-library loan system.)

  o o o

Rourke sent us a link to a video clip from the Glenn Beck show, featuring Shane Connor of KI4U.com on the terrorist nuke threat. Rourke's comment: "This probably would shock most people who plan on being instantly dead."

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Jesse in North Carolina mentioned that he recently attended an AK-47 and shotgun class taught by Trigger Time Training, owned by Tom Bullins in Cameron, North Carolina. Jesse notes: "The class was an incredible value and the instructor/student ratio was 1/1. I posted a review online [at GlockTalk]."

"The gold standard, in one form or another, will prevail long after the present rash of national fiats is forgotten or remembered only in currency museums." - The Late Dr. Hans F. Sennholz

Sunday, July 1, 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.

When we are planning our choice of arms for TEOTWAWKI, most men will choose those arms that they think will best suit their spouse or significant other (SO), usually without consulting them first. Let me tell you, it will cause you nothing but problems if you follow that path!
The best course of action is to let the SO pick their own equipment; if this isn't feasible for whatever reason, then downsizing the gun will be required. Remember, we are planning for a situation that will not allow us to return to the local gun emporium on a whim! Also, the SO is essential to our survival, so why not let them choose the gun(s) that they will be using? This doesn't just apply to the spouse, but also to parents, children, etc.
As an example, I am just over six feet, 210 pounds, have been a shooter most of my life, and spend my spare time either attending training classes or teaching them! I stand about eight inches over and
weigh almost a hundred pounds more than my wife, who has limited knowledge of guns and wants to know her guns, but not all of mine.
Plus, she has limited hand and arm strength due to some health problems, and her training has been minimal, which I am trying to rectify. We have spent considerable amounts of time and effort to find the right choices for her, with me making suggestions along the way, but ultimately letting her make the final decision. I have also been teaching classes for a long time, in the military and as an NRA instructor, and have had many small statured shooters in those classes. So, taking all that into consideration, here are some solid choices to consider:

The Remington 1100 semi-automatic Youth shotgun, chambered in 20 gauge. The stock is too short for me, but perfect for my wife and daughter. We have added a magazine extension, XS Big Dot tritium front sight, and a Side Saddle shell carrier from Buchanan BagWorks (www.3gungear.com) which attaches with Velcro so it can be removed or added as needed.
None of these modifications has added much weight to the gun, which is primarily for home defense, anyway. It is usually loaded with
Winchester #3 buckshot, with slugs kept in reserve. Being semi-automatic, there is no danger of short stroking it and jamming the gun up. The gas operation also absorbs more of the recoil, making it
more pleasant to shoot. My wife chose it, with no input from me!

She chose a Bushmaster SuperLight AR-15 with a stubby stock as her rifle. It has a skinny 16" barrel--reminiscent of the early-generation M16 ["pencil"] barre--removable carrying handle for mounting optics (in her case, an Aimpoint red dot sight,) and the short, fixed stock. Why a fixed stock as opposed to a collapsible stock? Under stress, one cannot take the time to find the right adjustment hole on the stock for a proper firing hold.
Plus, it's just one less thing to have to worry about. The short stock is about 3 inches shorter than a standard stock, making it perfect for someone with short arms or someone wearing body armor. Combined weight of rifle, 20 round magazine, sling and sight is right around 6 pounds, which is perfect for her. All of the above is available from Bushmaster. Is the .223 round perfect for everything? No, but she shoots it well, recoil is virtually non-existent, and ammo is readily available. For home defense and general carry, she uses Cor-Bon
DPX. Plus, she is able to carry it for a long period of time without undue fatigue, which is very important to her!

-Finally, after much deliberation and trial, she chose a Glock 19 9mm semi-automatic as her sidearm. Being a Glock armorer, I installed a set of Trijicon night sights (www.trijicon-inc.com) on it straight away, put in the 3.5 pound connector and the 8 pound New York trigger, bringing the trigger pull back to the original 5 pounds and eliminating the S-shaped trigger spring, which I've seen break many times. She shoots it extremely well, and in fact has served as a demonstrator in my classes for some of the shooting drills. She doesn't carry concealed in public on a regular basis yet, so we haven't worked out a CCW holster for her, but she does keep it handy in a Galco fanny pack when she goes on her walks . The fanny pack allows her to keep pepper spray, Surefire flashlight (www.surefire.com), and cell phone handy, as well. She keeps it loaded with Speer Gold Dot 147 grain jacketed hollow points, which is an easy shooting load for her, and is one of the better rounds available in 9mm.
While these may not be the best choices for other, they work for my wife. There are other options to look at, though. The [Colt and Colt clone Model]1911, especially in 9mm, is an easy shooting handgun, the grip can be configured to fit the smallest of hands, and 10 round magazines are available for it. If the steel frame version is chosen, recoil is minimal, and the gun and shooter will last for a long time. The SIG-Sauer P239 is another good choice, especially if the optional short trigger is added, making for an easy fit for small hands. A long time popular choice is the Smith & Wesson 3913 9mm, a very flat, stainless steel compact pistol that has an enviable track record.

Remington not only makes the 1100 shotgun in a Youth version, they have just come out with a Youth-sized tactical version of the 870 pump shotgun in 20 gauge. This may be just the ticket for those wanting the reliability of the pump gun and the tactical coolness of the 870, but in a smaller format. I haven't seen one yet, but it does sound promising. Mossberg also makes a youth sized pump shotgun in 20 gauge, but again, I don't have any personal experience with it. The full sized Mossberg shotguns I have used have been excellent, and I would expect that to follow to the smaller guns, as well.
Collapsible stock AR-15 type rifles are available from a host of manufacturers, so you just have to take your pick. I believe the fixed stubby stock, though, is the best choice, simply for the rugged
simplicity of it. Other options might include the Ruger Mini-14, also in .223, especially the stainless steel version with synthetic stock. A large number of M1 Carbines are coming into the market, thanks to the Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP) The .30 U.S. Carbine round is not the Hammer of Thor by any means, but out to 100 yards, it can be deadly accurate, and when loaded with Cor-Bon DPX, finally becomes a very viable defense and hunting round, and the rifles themselves never seen to wear out! Very important, indeed.
There are many options out there for the smaller statured shooters, male or female, young or old. Make your choices wisely and carefully, allowing the end user to make the final decision. Whatever
is chosen, please make sure the user receives adequate training. Only your life, and the lives of others, depends on it!

JWR Adds: Here at The Rawles Ranch we have several small-statured shooters: the Memsahib and our children. Until our kids are closer to adulthood, they will continue to share with their mother a Remington Model 1100 "Youth" 20 Gauge with Choate magazine extension, and a Valmet Hunter .308 semi-auto rifle with Trijicon scope that has had both its stock and barrel shortened. It has also had both a very soft Pachmayr Decelerator recoil pad and a Holland's of Oregon muzzle brake installed. It is a very pleasant rifle to shoot. (It hardly feels like shooting a .308!) We also have one of our L1A1 rifles set up with an extra-short "Arctic" stock and a short "Papua New Guinea" flash hider. (Again, for The Memsahib and the kids.) As for handguns, the kids and I all shoot full-size stainless steel .45 ACP M1911s, but the Memsahib opted or the slightly more compact stainless Colt Commander .45 ACP. The crucial thing is that all of our pistol magazines interchange. Parenthetically, commonality of cartridges and magazines at a retreat is important, but being able to hit a moving target is even more important. Therefore, I don't object to having mostly L1A1 rifles but one non-standard Valmet rifle (that takes different magazines). Ditto for having mostly 12 gauge shotguns but one 20 gauge. Yes, in a perfect world we'd all shoot 12 gauge, but in a perfect world we'd also all be just like me: 6'2" and 190 pounds. It just isn't realistic to expect the smaller members of the family to shoot 12 gauge. OBTW, everyone at the ranch has been warned about inadvertently mixing up 12 gauge and 20 gauge shotgun shells. A "12-20 burst" can be ugly!

[Regarding the recent mention in SurvivalBlog about the resurgence of movies and television shows with survivalist themes,] I am a more than a bit of a movie buff, and I recently discovered that one of my favorite movies has been re-made. The sci-fi classic novel "I Am Legend" by Richard Matheson finally gets the big budget and big star treatment it deserves in this third adaptation. Due for release in US theaters on December 14, 2007, the movie "I Am Legend" stars Will Smith. This post-apocalyptic thriller may be best remembered by SurvivalBlog readers from it's earlier incarnations. Namely, 1971's "The Omega Man" starring Charlton Heston, and 1964's "The Last Man On Earth" starring Vincent Price. Although pure science fiction, I thought that the post-apocalyptic "survival" theme throughout the story may be of interest to the blog's readership. The trailer for the film looks impressive. Best Regards, - Cowboy255

Dear Jim and Family,

I have bad news. An analyst with an oil background did a study on the oil producing nations and found they would stop exporting 50% of their oil in around 5 years, averaging decline of 10%/year to total world oil exports. The USA is 60% dependent on imported oil, and is currently growing 7% of our needs via ethanol (corn). As we're in the process of losing Mexico at 15% per year and will see them encounter some social breakdown in 11-17 months time due to loss of exports and tax revenue for their social services, we're going to see two hard blows to our energy supply and our economy.

Currently the Average Joe driver uses around 10 gallons of fuel per week. In five years he's going to have to adjust to just 4 gallons per week, and that number will decline along with our domestic oil supply, in decline since 1970.

There are two ways to deal with this problem. (1) Ignore it until you get major shortages causing social collapse, which is expensive for everyone, including rich people and the government. or (2) Institute fuel rationing and price stabilization. I hate that that sort of thing is an option, but its that or total collapse. The government won't get paid taxes if there's total collapse, much less keep all its toys running. The rich people who own the government won't like it either, as it makes them targets for kidnapping and closes their favorite restaurants and ruins the service. Thus, option 2 is far more likely in my opinion.

What can you expect? Either next year or the year after, following some event that briefly causes a massive price surge (say up to $7/gallon over two weeks), the public will demand a solution. The Socialists, sorry Ruling Peoples Progressive Liberal Party (aka Democrats) will get themselves a law demanding gas rationing. The current president will refuse it, but they'll cajole an overwhelming majority or wait for the next president to sign it into law, which is certainly possible. What will it be like? Probably around 9 gallons per person, per week, based on driver's license. Spouses can share and it motivates people to either sell their SUVs or carpool with them, which effectively doubles or triples their fuel economy per person. Consider that a 20 mpg Ford Explorer with four people inside is effectively getting 80 mpg per person. Sneaky, isn't it? And they can combine their rations to fill up the SUV, thus keeping it on the road and keeping their jobs, even if it takes a bit longer to get to work. As time passes and the ration gets smaller, motivation to buy more efficient vehicles or simpler lives and work locations becomes a more serious pressure and the economy gets more fuel and location efficient.

Additionally, expect some blackouts and more screaming and yelling by the public before utility prices rise enough to keep the lights on and motivate people to conserve. Since the price of oil and gas are going to rise anyway, it can't be helped. If things go very well, we'll have something sustainable in about 10 years. If they don't, well, then be sure to visit the range to keep up your skills and stock up on food. This is going to be long haul and there's no bouncing back from the end of cheap oil, not exactly. We'll just get better solar panels and used to living on a lot less energy, just like people got used to living without muscle cars. Its the future and it can't be helped. Sorry for the news. This is awfully soon and not exactly abrupt, but very expensive and demoralizing. Best, - InyoKern

One of my heroes is is economist John Mauldin. He publishes a free e-newsletter that I consider a "must read" for anyone that closely follows investing and economics issues. In his most recent "E-Letter", John commented on the Bear Stearns sub-prime debacle (That I've also discussed.) Here is a quote:"The Center for Responsible Lending estimates that 2.2 million borrowers who got subprime loans since 1998 either have lost or will lose their homes through foreclosure over the next few years. This includes one of every five borrowers who got subprime loans in 2005-06, a default rate unmatched in the history of the modern mortgage market. You can go to your Bloomberg quote machine and pull up residential subprime structured finance deals. What you find is one Residential Mortgage Backed Security that was issued in 2006 that already has over 54% of its loans more than 60 days delinquent and 17% of them in foreclosure. Think the buyers of that equity tranche stand a snowball's chance of getting anything?
Has this security been re-rated? No, because the ratings agencies say they cannot re-rate something until they know for certain there are losses. They can't act on suspicion. However, I do remember them putting out warning notices for various bonds and corporate offerings prior to re-rating. I would think those are coming."

  o o o

A reminder to SurvivalBlog readers in the Northwestern U.S.: Don't miss the first WSRA high power rifle training/match in Kooskia, Idaho, on July 7th and 8th! A few free training scholarships for this training weekend are still available. Just send an e-mail to westernshooters@gmail with the word "SurvivalBlog" in the subject line.

   o o o

Reader MWR recommended an article from Jim Willie that was posted on Jim Puplava’s web site. MWR's comment: "I don’t always agree with his (Jim Willie’s) politics, but I think his economic analysis is spot-on."

"The international monetary order is more precarious by far today than it was in 1929. Then, gold was international money, incorruptible, unmanageable, and unchangeable. Today, the U.S. dollar serves as the international medium of exchange, managed by Washington politicians and Federal Reserve officials, manipulated from day to day, and serving political goals and ambitions. This difference alone sounds the alarm to all perceptive observers." - The Late Dr. Hans F. Sennholz

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