September 2007 Archives

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We note with humble thanks that we've surpassed 2,000,000 unique visits. Congrats to SurvivalBlog reader "Stealth Neighbor", who as the two-millionth visitor. (He even sent us a screen capture to prove it.) I'll be mailing him a special gift.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Perhaps you could help me understand the mixing ratios for two stroke oil.
I remember buying the old Homelite oil, you could either buy it in a can to mix with one gallon of gas or a can to mix with two gallons of gas.
Most of the new two stroke oils I have seen recently state that they are 50:1.
Is this mixture acceptable for my old Homelite Super XL chainsaw and other two stroke equipment?
The rep at the Stihl store by us said that the new oils are so much better formulated than the old oils, that 50:1 is good for all two stroke equipment--old and new. Does he know what he is talking about? - Mark G.

JWR Replies: While it is true that some of the pre-1990 manufacturers' manuals called out a 32:1 or even 24:1 mixing ratio, with modern name-brand mixing oil, there is no problem using a 50:1 ratio in just about all two cycle chainsaws and other two cycle power tools that are marked 24:1 or 32:1 (such as leaf blowers, weed trimmers, ice augers, et cetera). The modern mixing oils provide plenty of lubrication at a 50:1 ratio. You can use more oil if you'd like, but it would be a waste of oil, and will also produce more smoke.

OBTW, I discovered that there is an interesting thread of conversation on this topic over at The Arborist Site Forums.

I don’t know if you are familiar with this product already but I thought it couldn’t hurt to bring it to SurvivalBlog readers attention. It is called “Dip Seal” protective removable coatings, peels off like a banana [skin]. It is, from the company’s own description two or three different types of plastic seal, “Type one coatings are the most commonly used for corrosion protection. These coatings leave an oil film on the protected part. A relatively hard coating that is excellent for long-term storage and protection from rough handling. Part numbers, UPC codes, etc., can be easily seen through any of the transparent Type One colors. Recommended dipping temperature for all Type One coatings is 350° F.”

I thought this type of seal could be used as a part of a redundant system of sealing parts, etc. for long term storage. I’ve used the product myself and like it very much. If one is peeling off the seal it’s rather easy not messy at all and leaves no unwanted residue or particles as long as you check to make sure its all been removed. They have different types of seals some with oil and some without, so the user would want to be aware of what was okay or advantageous to seal with which type of Dip Seal product. For what it does it’s a safe product to work with and not pricey either. - John T.

JWR Replies: Thanks for that recommendation. It is a precaution that is particularly appropriate in damp climates. Just be sure to start with tools that are free of rust, since in some circumstances oxidation can continue even underneath dip sealing.

Mr. Rawles:
Anyone who carries a sidearm for protection should watch these three videos by Surefire: One Two Three. The first one covers principle of using light and flashlights to your advantage. It also discusses the Harries and Rogers Surefire techniques for shooting and advantages and disadvantages of both. The second one covers the FBI and neck index methods of shooting. The last covers clearing techniques in a building. I personally don’t like the Rogers Surefire technique because it requires a specific flashlight and will not work if the switch is not properly adjusted. - Bill N.

There is an interesting thread in progress titled: "Popular Mechanics new take on Heinlein's skill list", over at The Mental Militia Forums (formerly called the Claire Files Forums.) I agree with the consensus view there. Parenthetically, I'm glad that I'm raising our kids out in the hinterboonies in a largely self-sufficient lifestyle with plenty of "do it yourself"--mostly by economic necessity but partly by choice. A boy should know how to build a field fence just as well as a web page.

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From Bloomberg: U.S. New-Home Sales Drop, Prices Fall Most Since 1970

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At The Economist web site: The turning point--Does the latest financial crisis signal the end of a golden age of stable growth?

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SF in Hawaii recommended this site: You Grow Girl--Make Your Own Pop Bottle Drip Irrigation System

"It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something."
"What are we holding on to, Sam?"
"That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of The Rings

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This weekend I have a table at the Great Falls, Montana gun show. It was a very long drive, but it was worth it. The fall colors here are starting to come on strong in the higher elevations. It certainly is beautiful here!)

Today we are pleased to feature an excerpt from the novel Enemies Foreign And Domestic by Matthew Bracken. The story is set in the near future, as a small scale resistance movement develops in reaction to the end of constitutional liberty. The author is a SurvivalBlog reader, former US Navy SEAL, novelist, and an accomplished blue water yachtsman. I trust that like me, you find survival fiction a useful tool for "thinking outside the box" and considering "what ifs", in preparedness planning.

Brad was driving his red pickup with Ranya snuggling against him as they crossed the five mile wide I-664 James River Bridge-Tunnel from Newport News. They covered in only a few minutes the same water which they had sailed upon yesterday at a tenth of their present speed. It was a little past four PM on the warm Sunday afternoon when they passed back onto the northern shore of Suffolk County, almost within sight of the burned ruins of the Edmonds house. Neither one of them spoke of it, although they both stared in that direction.
Driving down from Poquoson they had been listening to the news on AM talk radio. The latest shock to hit Tidewater was an accidental police shooting. Either Virginia Beach police or an FBI team—it wasn’t clear which—had shot a man in the head at a dramatic felony traffic stop. The man, whose identity had not been released yet, had been pulled over in his black full-sized pickup truck on Laskin Road, misidentified as a possible suspect in the shooting of Attorney General Sanderson.

Blocked in by their patrol cars and surrounded by uniformed police and undercover agents, the unlucky driver had been simultaneously ordered both to “freeze!” and to “get out!” of his truck. The man had slowly reached for his seat belt buckle to comply with the order to get out, and this had been seen as a “suspicious movement” by one of the police or undercover agents who had heard him ordered to freeze.
He had been shot in the face point blank through the windshield, with either a police or FBI assault rifle or submachine gun, that wasn’t determined yet. This had happened two hours ago in broad daylight, in front of numerous witnesses, some of whom were already angrily calling in to the radio talk shows. Apparently the police and FBI undercover agents had been seen whooping it up and “high-fiving” over the bleeding body of the man they had thought was the sniper. No firearms or weapons of any kind were recovered from his vehicle.

As they entered Suffolk they were in a grim mood, the magic of their afternoon aboard Guajira already shattered. The news of the man’s death hit Ranya with another spiritual hammer blow. She felt personally responsible, because instead of pursuing her for Sanderson’s murder, the police had killed an innocent person instead. Her stomach knot twisted another turn, but of course she couldn’t share this secret pain with Brad…

In a few minutes they would arrive back at Crosby’s Boatyard in Portsmouth, where she had left her Yamaha the day before, and then they’d return once again to Brad’s sailboat. She was looking forward to wrapping herself around the bike and snapping it into gear, using its clutch and throttle to fly over the highway at three digit speed. She hoped the wind blast and the onrushing pavement might clear her mind of its accumulation of guilt, pain and fear.

“I need to get gas,” Brad told her, and he pulled over onto the exit lane for Hoffler Boulevard. The exit ramp cut through a break in the wall of pines alongside the highway, then curved off out of sight to the right and sloped gently downward. “Oh cr*p, what’s this?” he said, braking quickly.

Ranya bolted upright and buckled her seatbelt. There was a police cruiser on the side of the ramp just beyond the trees, and a cop was standing in the middle holding up both hands, blocking Brad’s truck and two cars in front of him.

“Checkpoint!” Ranya said. “One of the FIST checkpoints, it’s got to be!” The FIST program, the brainchild of Virginia Attorney General Eric Sanderson, was intended to stop the transportation of illegal weapons. Sanderson had come down to Norfolk to announce and promote the program on Friday, he had been shot and killed Saturday morning, and Sunday afternoon they had driven straight into one of his FIST checkpoints. There just seemed to be no escaping his reach, she thought.

Thank God she’d left her Tennyson Champion .223 sniper pistol hidden back on Guajira! But she still had her father's gift to deal with: the new .45 pistol was in her fanny pack on the floor.
Hopefully they would be able to slide through the checkpoint unmolested. The police would readily verify that the pickup carried no long guns of any kind. On the other hand, Ranya was sure that if the pistol was found, its serial number would be called in to some national data base, and she would be taken aside and cross-examined closely. She would be questioned about the legal ownership of the gun, leading to more questions about her murdered father. She would be questioned about Brad, about their relationship, their destination, what they were doing together...
Maybe they would be questioned separately, and there was no way to know how such a split interrogation session would turn out. Should she admit to the police that she had the pistol if she was asked, or deny having a firearm in the car and hope it wasn't found in a search? Fear constricted her throat, instantly turning her mouth desert dry yet again. But at least she didn't have the Tennyson, that scoped .223 pistol would have linked her directly to Sanderson’s death as neatly as a signed confession.
She had to tell him she had the gun. While they had time, they had to quickly get their stories lined up together, in case they would be questioned apart.
“Brad, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I've got my .45 with me. What should we do?”
“Ahhhh...Cr*p. Okay, it should be all right. I think they’re just looking for rifles. I hope.”
“Me too.”

The exit ramp made a slight right then left “S” curve as it descended through brush down to Hoffler Boulevard. There were large stop signs on both sides at the end of the ramp at Hoffler, which passed under the I-664 overpass off to the left. Halfway down the ramp, parked along the right shoulder, there was another police car, then a line of eight or ten civilian cars and SUVs, then two more police cars. Orange traffic cones divided the wide asphalt ramp down the middle. Police and camouflage-clad soldiers were walking alongside the row of parked cars; some of the cars had open doors and trunks. A single slow-moving motorcyclist was being waved past the line of cars to proceed on his way, a fact which Ranya noted with great interest. Obviously, the police did not think a motorcyclist could be concealing a banned semi-auto or sniper rifle.

Two hundred yards away at the bottom of the ramp, parked off to the left in the weeds and facing uphill towards them, was a desert-painted Army humvee.
“Damn, look at that!” said Brad. “The humvee’s got a machine gun on it. I’ve never seen that before, not in America.”
“I’ve seen it up around DC sometimes, they put them near the Pentagon and Reagan National during security alerts. They were there all the time after 9-11.” A helmeted soldier’s head and torso was visible, sticking out of the humvee’s roof behind the pintle-mounted machine gun.

“They picked a perfect spot for a checkpoint. I didn’t see anything until it was too late,” said Brad.
“Yeah, they can be damned sneaky. I’ve seen them set up this way a few times when they’re searching for drugs. It’s just like a trap: by the time you see it, you're caught in it.”
“I wonder if they’re checking every car, or if they’re letting some pass around? I wonder if they’re going to hassle us?”
“A thirty year old white guy in a red pickup truck? What do you think Brad? They’re not looking for guys named Mohammed down here; they’re looking for guys named Bubba.”
“I guess we’ll find out in a minute.”

The young father in the white Ford Taurus, the second car from the front of the line, said, “No sir, I won’t open my trunk, not without a warrant, and I do not ‘consent’ to be searched.”
The even younger Virginia National Guard corporal standing outside his driver’s side window looked around, confused. This situation had not come up before. Could this guy just refuse? Was that allowed?
The holdout’s young blond wife said, “Martin, please, just do like he says. Don’t make trouble; the girls are frightened.”

“Honey, it’s the point of it. This is still America, and there’s still a Constitution.”
“Daddy, why are there soldiers here? Is there a war?” asked seven year old Danielle from the back seat. Her four year old sister Ashley, next to her in her booster seat, sucked her thumb, afraid without knowing why.
“No sweetie, there’s no war. The soldiers are helping the police to look for some bad men.”
“Criminals daddy?”
“That’s right sugar plum, criminals.”

Another man walked up to their window. Martin Powell could not tell if he was from the military or the police: he was dressed in black from his helmet to his boots, with no badge or insignia in sight. The man in black rapped on his driver’s side window with the steel muzzle tip of his black submachine gun. “Open up! Get out! Now!”

“Officer, do you have a warrant? What’s your ‘probable cause’ to search our car?” Martin Powell was trying very hard not to show the fear he felt, holding onto the wheel to keep his hands from visibly shaking. He hoped he did not sound as afraid as he felt. He remembered reading about the Eagle Scout in Maryland, who had his face shot off a few years ago by an FBI agent with an M-16 rifle, after a mistaken traffic stop. Powell had not yet heard about today’s accidental police shooting in Virginia Beach of the man in the black pickup truck. His wife could not stand listening to news talk radio and they played soft rock music CDs instead.
“My ‘probable cause’ is you’re an a**hole who refuses to give consent for a search, that’s what! Now get out! Out! Out!”

ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart was having a bad day, and now he was angry enough to chew up barbed wire and spit out nails. He was angry because it was Sunday afternoon, and he was pulling the absolute sh*t duty of all time manning a FIST checkpoint, instead of kicking back on his recliner in his den, with a cold Budweiser in his hand, watching the Eagles play the Carolina Panthers. For this he had become a Federal Law Enforcement Agent?

He was angry because he was pulling his second consecutive day of twelve hour checkpoint shifts, which really meant a 14 hour work day, only with no overtime pay like the State Troopers were raking in. And worse, he knew that he had to do it again tomorrow and the next day and it looked like forever. If he had wanted to pull this kind of sh*t duty, he would have joined the Border Patrol like his brother Daryl!

He was angry because he had to walk around all day in full tactical gear in almost 90 degree heat, including his Kevlar helmet and black body armor, carrying his MP-5 as if they were expecting a head-on terrorist attack right here in Hicksville Suffolk Virginia! This had been at Sanderson’s direct orders. Sanderson, that preppie douche bag who was not even in his Federal chain of command. Sanderson, who had never sweated like a pig beneath heavy body armor and tactical gear on a hot day in his life. Just for this alone, Bogart was glad that Sanderson had had his head blown off on the golf course yesterday! But unfortunately, the FIST checkpoints had not died with the state Attorney General; instead they had been stepped up.
He was extremely angry because earlier today he’d heard through unofficial federal law enforcement back channels that a brother ATF agent had been killed in the line of duty last night, shot in the neck by some punk-a** redneck during a raid not three miles from here.

And now Alvin Bogart was positively livid because this curbside Allen Dershowitz in the old piece of sh*t Taurus wanted to give him a lecture on the 4th Amendment, consent searches, and probable cause! As if he needed to hear that sh*t! Like all ATF men, Alvin Bogart held a special burning hatred for “Constitution fanatics.”
“So, you refuse to give voluntary consent for a search of your vehicle, is that correct?” Bogart smiled pleasantly at the man in the car.
“Yes sir, that is correct. Under the 4th amendment of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution...” The driver’s side window was rolled halfway down. Turned slightly sideways, ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart had casually slipped the small can of pepper spray from his tactical vest unnoticed, and then he snapped it up and sprayed Mr. Martin Powell, U.S. citizen and taxpayer, straight in his shocked face.
As Martin Powell screamed and dug at his eyes, Bogart snaked his arm down inside the half open window, grabbed the handle, and jerked open the door. As Powell’s wife and daughters screamed both in terror and from the effects of the pepper spray being released inside the car, Agent Bogart grabbed Powell by his hair and shirt and pulled him halfway out, until he snagged up on his seatbelt. Bogart unsnapped the belt, and then used both hands to jerk Powell all the way out onto the asphalt, where his head landed with a satisfying smack. Active duty Navy Lieutenant Commander Ira Jacobson was sitting in his mint-condition 1971 red Mustang Mach One just behind the Taurus. He was not in uniform, returning from a visit to his mother’s house in Alexandria. His ship, the Burke class destroyer Winston Churchill, was at the Norfolk Naval Base. He was the ship’s Operations Officer.

He had sat patiently in the line awaiting his turn, fully intending to cooperate. But seeing the black-uniformed policeman (if he was he a policeman, it was hard to tell) abuse the civilians in front of him was getting him steamed. When the black-clad policeman had maced the interior of the car Jacobson couldn’t believe it; he clearly heard a woman and children screaming!
When LCDR Jacobson saw the man in black pull the driver out of his car and slam his head down onto the ground, it was time to take action. LCDR Jacobson would have intervened automatically if he had seen a Chief Petty Officer abuse a junior sailor even half as severely; he’d write the Chief up for Captain’s Mast in a heartbeat! For assault! So Navy LCDR Ira Jacobson, not in uniform, stepped smartly out of his red Mustang. It was his nature and his training to take action; to render instant decisions and intervene in such a situation. LCDR Jacobson did not skate away or tap dance around when dealing with out-of-control junior personnel, and he did not shrink from his perceived duty today.

“ Just what the H*LL do you think you’re doing to that civilian?” he barked, using his strongest officer’s “command voice” to impose order and gain control of the situation.
ATF agent Alvin Bogart was kneeling on Martin Powell’s chest, one hand around his throat, getting ready to pepper spray him again with the other.
The other ATF agent was at the uphill end of the line of cars when he saw and heard the fracas. He was working with a State Trooper K-9 dog handler and his German shepherd, searching the trunk of a Volvo.

Six National Guardsmen and women and three other state troopers were spread out along the line of cars and past it in both directions, directing traffic and generally trying not to be jerks, avoiding actually searching the cars as much as possible. None of them wanted to be there. The two ATF agents were the gung-ho ones, pushing them to search more cars, to find contraband weapons.
None of the state troopers or soldiers was certain about what had happened in the white Taurus, to cause the driver to be pepper sprayed and pulled out, but they assumed an illegal weapon or maybe drugs had been spotted: after all, that’s what they were there for. Suddenly they saw a tall civilian with short black hair jump out of a red Mustang and go after ATF Special Agent Bogart, screaming something. Bogart’s ATF partner shouted, “Turn the dog loose!” to the K-9 handler. He immediately did as he was told, pulling the 100 pound beast back short on his leash, crouching down close to his canine partner to direct his attention, aiming the dog like a missile, and releasing him with the command “Hansie! Attack!”

The German shepherd cleared the thirty yards to Jacobson in a blur and knocked him down from behind, biting him viciously on the buttocks and in the groin area. Ira Jacobson screamed, Martin Powell was still screaming, and Powell’s wife and little girls in the car kept screaming as shocked state troopers and soldiers converged on the scene of the melee.
From Bogart’s first rap on Powell’s window, to the dog attacking LCDR Jacobson, only sixty seconds had passed, but they had been a long sixty seconds! The next sixty seconds were going to be far, far longer. Two cars behind Jacobson’s red Mustang, 83 year old Luke Tanner’s hands were locked in a death grip on the steering wheel of his cream-colored 1986 Cadillac Eldorado. His teeth were grinding, his breath was short and labored, his heart was racing, and his skin was so flushed that the liver spots on his bare arms were nearly invisible.

The last time that Luke Tanner had seen that black uniform and peculiar black coal-scuttle helmet in person had been six decades earlier. It had been in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium, trying to hold out against the 6th SS Panzer Army, during the defining days of his life in The Battle of the Bulge. Tanner had fought regular German Wehrmacht across France, and he’d fought the Waffen SS in Belgium, and he still held a burning hatred for them even six decades later.

But he had never imagined that he’d see the God damned black uniform of the SS here in America! Then he watched as a young man was pulled from his car by the storm trooper, and he saw his head bounce off the pavement, he heard a lady and children screaming, and his hand fell to the seat beside him.

He’d lost his wife Edna in 1997 after almost fifty years together. She had been dragged to her death alongside her own Buick, the victim of a botched carjacking in Richmond. After that, Luke Tanner always kept his old Government Model .45 caliber pistol under a folded newspaper on the seat beside him, with a round in the chamber. He didn't know what the particular legality of that was, and he didn't care: a man had a right to defend himself, law or no law. It was the very same .45 automatic he’d brought back on the hospital ship in 1945. Every year since then he had fired one box of ammunition through it at the National Guard Armory range where he knew people, then he cleaned it and reloaded it with fresh bullets. He’d never fired it in anger in over sixty years.

The last time Luke Tanner had fired a weapon at anything except paper targets had been around frozen Ettebruck, Belgium in 1944, and it had been at a God damned Nazi storm trooper in a black SS uniform!

Who could ever have dreamed that sixty years later, Nazi SS storm troopers dressed in black would be running loose right here in Virginia! Certainly not Luke Tanner. All those good men of the 28th Infantry Division had died in the Ardennes fighting the Nazis, and now here they were again, in the flesh!

Then a brave young fellow got out of a red Mustang in front of Luke and proceeded to give the SS Nazi h*ll for what he was doing to that man on the ground. Good for him! But an instant later a dog, a big German shepherd no less, had that fellow on the ground thrashing like a whirlwind and biting him to pieces, then more soldiers and police were hollering and screaming and running from all over!

Another of those black-uniformed Nazi SS storm troopers ran past Luke Tanner’s Cadillac and began kicking the man on the ground with his black boots, and that’s when Luke Tanner had seen enough! Too much! The 28th Infantry “Bloody Bucket” Division had not killed all those God damned Nazis in France and Belgium just so they could regroup here in America! He’d long ago seen far too many fine young Americans killed and crippled at the hands of the Nazis, way more than enough to last many lifetimes.

Luke Tanner had always considered every day since December 23rd of 1944 to be a Gift from God, a bonus day, springing from the pure dumb luck which had for unknowable reasons deserted so many better and more deserving young men than him. December 23rd of 1944 was the day that he earned a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, and a trip home all during one fire fight near frozen Ettebruck, Belgium.
He’d lost his left eye and part of his stomach over there, and more recently he’d lost his wife, and that was enough. To Luke Tanner, it was not going to be worth living in America another year, if the last vestige of freedom was going to be lost too. What had all those guys died for in France and Germany and all across the Pacific? What for? What for?

Somebody had to teach the youngsters how to fight Nazis, and Luke Tanner figured he knew about as well as anybody. There just weren’t many of his generation left, who’d had the good fortune to still be alive so many years after those bitter-cold never-forgotten days at the end of 1944. He wrapped his leathery old hand around his heavy slab-sided Colt .45, thumbed back the hammer, opened the door all the way, and stepped out into the sun.

The police and soldiers and Nazi SS storm troopers were all busy, focused on the tangle of confusion beside the white Ford when Luke Tanner walked up along the red Mustang, his .45 held down beside his right leg, hammer back, safety off, finger on the trigger. When he’d picked up that .45 and thumbed back the hammer, the last six decades cleanly disappeared. But no one paid any attention to the frail-looking old bald man with the thick black-framed glasses in the yellow short sleeve shirt. Not until he unexpectedly grabbed one of the Nazi SS storm troopers by his black shoulder strap.
ATF Special Agent Alvin Bogart spun part way around, saw yet another civilian interloper and yelled “Now what the h*ll do YOU want grandpa?”
Luke Tanner, chronological age 83, and the survivor of more than that number of deadly skirmishes and battles with Nazis as a much younger man, smiled unexpectedly and said, “I want to see you dead, Fritz!” He held Bogart off with his once-again strong left arm still gripping the black shoulder strap, quickly raised the .45 from behind his leg, and fired once.

The .45’s report was like a cannon, sending off shockwaves through the huddle of police and soldiers. Bogart was hit upward between the eyes. His Kevlar helmet contained his brains, but did not prevent a shower of blood and tissue from flying back out all over Tanner, making it appear that he had been shot himself. Then Bogart was down, dropped like a pole-axed steer, police were screaming “GUN!” and drawing their pistols, soldiers were trying to unsling their M-16s from their shoulders, and Tanner, still smiling, aimed again at the other Nazi SS storm trooper who now stood in wide-eyed mute amazement seven feet away. Tanner fired one-handed, aimed and fired again, as the ATF agent tried to turn away and raise his submachine gun (which was snagged on his chest sling) at the same time, then suddenly the second ATF agent went down, his wound unseen, acrid gun smoke bitter in everyone’s noses, all ears ringing from the .45’s steady barking in their midst.

The second BATF agent was still rolling away slowly as Tanner continued to fire at him on the ground, until his eight rounds were expended and the .45’s slide stayed locked to the rear. He was surrounded by police and soldiers who were all falling back away from him, some running, some seeking cover behind cars, but for the moment it was a “circular firing squad” with police and soldiers and civilians in their cars all around him, causing them all to hesitate, until finally a state trooper took careful aim with his service pistol and fired.

Tanner was hit several times and sat down hard, then fell onto his back staring up past the clouds, blinking at the sun, his empty .45 fallen from his hand at last. A soldier leaning over him heard the old man whisper: “I got ‘em Sarge, did you see me kill those Nazi bastards?” The young soldier could not see who the blood-covered old man was talking to, he could not see in himself Luke Tanner’s last platoon leader, Sergeant Alonso Delvecchio, who was killed in action on Christmas Day of 1944 by a Nazi sniper’s bullet. This was two days after Tanner got his “million dollar wounds” and was evacuated from the battlefield at last; to go home, to live, and to remember.By this point the soccer mom in the forest-green Ford Excursion SUV two cars behind the Cadillac had seen and heard too much, and finally her stunned brain somehow reconnected to her frozen limbs. She switched the ignition back on and in one fluid motion turned the wheel sharply to the left, threw the shifter into drive, and stomped hard on the gas pedal. Her giant SUV clipped the Toyota in front of her, spinning it sideways, ran straight over two National Guardsmen, crossed the exit ramp and headed down the brushy slope towards Hoffler Boulevard bouncing and picking up speed with every yard. The soccer mom’s mind was operating in an unfamiliar emergency crisis mode; she was on automatic heading for the safety of her three car garage like a crazed doe fleeing before a forest fire.

Down at the bottom of the ramp Private Hector Ramirez was still standing on the middle bolster seat of the Humvee, leaning back against the ring cut through the roof when everything went crazy up at the line of cars. When the shooting broke out, he had reflexively leaned forward and shouldered into his M-60 machine gun, sighting up the road, but could make no sense out of the “lucha libre,” or free-for-all fight.
Hours before, Private Ramirez had been content to accept the duty in the Humvee with the machine gun. For one thing, he remembered how to load and fire the M-60 from his active duty Army time, unlike most of his squad. But mainly he knew he had been given the machine gun duty because his English was very bad, muy malo. Terrible in fact, lo peor, the worst. Sgt. DuBois didn’t want him searching the cars with the policias and dealing with the public because he could not understand rapid southern dialect English; and he could not communicate well in English in any case.

Private Ramirez’ lack of English skill was understandable. After all, he had walked across the frontera Mexicana in central Arizona for the third and final time only a few years before. Then by the grace of all the saints, he had been granted ‘amnistia’ along with millions of his countrymen living in El Norte. A little later a cousin warned him that the amnistia might be taken away, but that there was a program where if he joined the gringo army, he would be guaranteed full gringo citizenship in only two years, and then he could bring up his mother and the rest of his family. And in fact, that is exactly what happened.
Gracias a Dios he had been given the answers to the tests before the Army boot camp, or he would have been rejected. But Ramirez more than made up for his lack of Ingles with an abundance of enthusiasm, always shouting “Sir Yes Sir!” in boot camp the loudest, whether he understood the question or not. His uniform was always perfect, he always had the fastest times on the runs, and his Sargentos had put him in front of the Compania to carry the flag. Army boot camp had been a high point of Hector Ramirez’ short life!
So he’d spent the day leaning against the hole in the roof of the humvee, sitting, standing and trying to stay awake, until all h*ll had suddenly and without warning broken loose, with people screaming, dogs barking, and now guns firing!

Hector yanked back on the cocking handle of his machine gun and got ready to fire, but was unable to find a target: all he saw were policias and soldados. Anyway, his orders were to just make a show, a demonstration he thought they had said, to be the “blocking force.” Ramirez understood “fuerza bloquear.” It meant that he must keep anyone from escaping from the checkpoint. He understood that mission well enough! This was something he had grown up seeing routinely as a small boy on the roads back in Chiapas. But today, although he had 200 cartuchos of ammunition in the green steel box next to his M-60, he had never expected to fire even one bullet of it!

Suddenly an enormous dark green truck roared out from the line of cars behind all the fighting and shooting, and drove straight over two of the members of Ramirez’ esquadra, smashing them! Then it drove faster and faster down the hill directly towards him! And he was the blocking force, to prevent the escape of the terroristas!
He sighted directly at the onrushing windshield and fired a prolonged burst, causing the truck’s windows to explode. The truck veered back toward the highway ramp, and it was still trying to escape as far as Ramirez could tell, so he followed it with his machine gun’s front sight, firing continuously until it crashed into a police car at the bottom of the line! But when Hector took his finger away from the trigger, the maldita machine gun continued to fire without a pause, as if it had a mind of its own, so he raised the barrel to fire safely up over the hill.

A hundred yards away, halfway up the exit ramp, Sergeant Ashante DuBois of the Virginia National Guard was crouching behind the trunk of the cream colored Cadillac, while down the hill Ramirez raked the line of cars with 7.62 caliber machine gun fire. The rounds snapped as they passed; with every fourth shot a red tracer flashed by. Then the windows in the Cadillac blew out, showering her with a thousand tiny glass fragments. The Mexican had obviously gone totally insane with panic!

Sergeant DuBois knew that it was up to her to protect the civilians still hiding in their cars the only way she knew how. She laid her M-16 rifle along the left rear trunk of the Caddy, pulled back the charging handle to chamber a round, aimed carefully at Ramirez and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Sergeant DuBois turned the rifle on its side and looked at the selector switch, turned it to “semi,” and began to pepper Ramirez with fire as more 7.62mm tracer rounds cracked past her up the hillside and over the highway behind them.

Back up at the top of the ramp Brad and Ranya had watched events spiral out of control in disbelief, but when the M-60 on the humvee opened up on the big green SUV, and the tracer rounds started flying past, the policeman in front of them finally ran for cover behind his cruiser. Brad noticed he was a Suffolk cop, and not a state trooper like the rest of them doing the searches down the ramp. He threw his pickup into reverse and burned rubber fishtailing backwards up the ramp, then threw it into forward and took off down I-664.

In another sixty seconds they were a mile and a half away, and Brad took his foot off the gas pedal. There was no remaining sign of the inexplicable mayhem they had witnessed during those two mad minutes on the Hoffler Boulevard exit ramp, except for the adrenalin still pumping through their blood, and their intensely focused memories.

I was doing some web surfing and stumbled across this video clip on American Gun Owners. I haven't yet seen the book on which it is based, but the video is remarkably unbiased. I think that it would be a good introduction to the American "gun culture" for SurvivalBlog readers that live in countries that restrict firearms ownership.

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A Financial Sense editorial by Eric Englund: From Prime to Sub-Prime: America's Mortgage Meltdown Has Just Begun

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The WRSA has a high power rifle shooting clinic scheduled for October 6-7 in Brookings, Oregon. These clinics are great way to get high quality rifle shooting instruction for a fraction of what you'd pay at one of the big name shooting schools. Don't miss out!

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RBS forwarded this: No end in sight for Idaho's growth

"I cannot guarantee that you will not get hurt or killed whether you follow my advice or not. Just keep in mind that people who never lifted anything that could be classified as 'heavy' got hernias from coughing and died of a stroke when they strained on a toilet. As someone smart said, fear of doing things does not prevent you from dying, only from living." - Pavel Tsatsouline

Friday, September 28, 2007

We are rapidly approaching the two million unique visits milestone, and we have readers all over the planet. Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a huge success. Please keep spreading the word. Links at your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

The bidding is now at $460 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle from my personal collection. This rifle was rebarreled by Valmet during WWII, and is in excellent condition. It comes with a replica bayonet, original sling, and original muzzle cap. Since the receiver for this rifle was made in 1898, it can be mailed directly to the winning bidder's doorstep, with no FFL paperwork! The auction ends on October 15th.. Just e-mail us your bid.

Hello Mr. Rawles
I'm a fairly new reader of your site and have been meandering through your archives and checking back periodically. It's a wonderful site you have here, and I've found your articles to be quite interesting and informative. My personal concerns for the future are more focused on nuclear events than fiscal ones, but in either case I'm likely screwed as I am living on the east coast in close proximity to dense population centers and terrorist/military targets.

As of late however I have been considering buying a few acres in one of the rural areas a few hours away. Someplace where I could build a small cottage to go and relax every now and then. Perhaps with a few unobtrusive modifications to make it a bit more disaster resistant. But I want to do something that's both low budget and low visibility. Especially since I hope to move away from this area in the years to come, and don't want to spend a fortune setting up something I'll be a thousand miles away from in times of trouble. (Or trying to sell a place with expensive hidden features I don't want to mention publicly... I believe you just commented about that issue today.)

To that end I've been pondering the pros and cons of buried cargo containers, and I was wondering if you know of anyone who has done any serious engineering studies of them? I've read a lot of speculation about them, but very little hard data. Obviously they're quite strong and stackable, but only along the corner posts. I haven't ready any serious studies of what kind of lateral force they can withstand, or what kind of internal or external reinforcement might be necessary to berm or bury. I've heard suggestions about flipping the containers over, since the floor is designed to support a massive load. But it seems to me that if you flip it over, the load is now on the wrong side of the floor supports. A system to carry the load on the corner posts should work, just like the floor of each stacked container does. But cutting the bottom off of one container to use as the roof support of another seems wasteful and inefficient. And I'm not sure what kind force would be applied to the sides of a buried container or how much pressure corrugated steel can withstand.

Personally I was considering burying two twenty foot cargo containers side by side. At eight feet or so wide, that equals around 320 square feet of storage and living space and produces a pretty square footprint. Bury them under three feet of earth and you have a decent fallout shelter with space for a significant amount of supplies. Presuming it's not going to collapse under the weight above it. And that it is properly ventilated. And hasn't filled with water or condensation.

Now here is a second item I was hoping you could offer some advice on. If I do build something like this, I want it to remain a secret. I am assuming that with a bit of training, a bit of rental equipment, and a lot of elbow grease, I should be able to excavate my own pit and even drag a cargo container or two into it without killing myself. But what if the structure does require some additional support in the form of a concrete shell or load bearing roof? It would be a significant volume of concrete. Far more than one man and a few friends could possibly mix and pour. Which would mean hiring a cement truck. And a load of cement workers curious as to what the h*ll you're building in a hole in the ground.

So, any advice on how to have work such as that done without worrying about every concrete worker on the crew showing up on your doorstep in bad times, families in tow? Aside from avoiding outside labor in the first place? This, of course, applies to any sort of expert service you can't possibly handle on your own.

I was also considering how to ensure proper ventilation, and how to camouflage the vents. Here is a thought that may prove useful to some of your other readers who are considering similar projects: It might be possible to hide the air intakes in plain sight. A lot of passive heating and cooling systems are becoming popular these days, and one such system is earth cooled tubes. An earth cooled tube is pretty much what the name says: A length of tube buried a few feet underground, where the temperature is fairly stable. By blowing air through the tube you can cool it in the summer and warm it in the winter. I'm not sure how cost effective it actually is, since you still need a fan to blow air through the system and it's efficiency depends on the local climate, but it hardly matters. You can simply claim that you have such a system, and that your bunker vent pipe is the intake for it. You could even pass it off as a reason not to dig or build over your bunker, since that's where your 'passive cooling system' is buried.

Or alternatively you could actually install such a system and route it through the bunker, keeping it well ventilated as you cool or heat your house. Mind you, there may be moisture and condensation issues you would have to take care of. But if you do need to make use of your bunker it might help keep the living conditions inside it a bit more bearable.

Anyway, I believe this e-mail has rambled on long enough. I'd appreciate any advice you can offer, and I wish you and your site the best of luck. Keep up the good work! - Robert in New York

JWR Replies: I've seen precious little hard data and lots of speculation about using CONEXes underground. One thing is certain: "as-is" they are not designed to take a substantial load anywhere but the corners. Since I'm not a structural engineer, perhaps a reader that has some "in the ground" experience can fill us in on what sort of internal or external support is required to make CONEXes safe for use underground.

About your comments [on Thursday] and others in regard to kerosene use in a gasoline engine: From anything I've experienced, you are correct about it not being as simple as some have posted. Engines that were built for "all fuel" use - including distillate and kerosene, had very low compression ratios - usually around 5 to 1. Low compression makes a low-power, inefficient engine. The carburetors were jetted differently, a twin fuel tank setup used, a selector-valve installed for quick fuel changeover, and a closeable air-shutter on the radiator to keep the engine hot. You started the engine on gasoline, got it good and hot, then slowly switched over to kerosene. When it came time to shut the engine off, you had to switch back to gasoline first -otherwise once cool, it would not start again.

Modern automotive gasoline engines with computer controls can be anywhere from 9-to-1 to a 11-to-1 compression-ratio. Older automotive engines, if not made to run on "high test" tended to be in the 8 or 9 to 1 range. Modern heavy-duty industrial use gasoline engines - and other off-road equipment - including lawn-mowers and such, tend to run a compression ratio of 8.5 to 1 which is too high for kerosene use.

I was a John Deere tractor mechanic in the 1960s/70s and used to work on a lot of "all fuel tractors." Deere and other companies made them up to the late 1950s. We usually converted them to higher compression ratios to run on straight gasoline. This way, they made more power and ran more efficiently. In fact, we sometimes took standard gasoline tractors - and installed "high altitude" pistons to make them even more powerful. There are still a few all-fuelers around being used - including the two I own. My 1937 Deere [Model] BO still has the original all-fuel parts including the radiator shutters. I have to get it really hot before I dare switch it over to kerosene. And, after working it - if I park it with the engine idling and still hooked on kerosene - it will cool down, start backfiring and eventually die - unless I either get it hot again - or switch over to gasoline.

Just to show the power difference, a 1956 John Deere 720 all-fuel tractor with a 360 cubic inch engine put out a max. horsepower of 42 horsepower. Same engine and tractor in the gasoline-only version put out a max. of 55 horsepower and ran 20% more efficiently. Same tractor in diesel version put out a max. horsepower of 56 and ran twice as efficiently as the all-fuel version. Seems using diesel power is a no-brainer. If you have some kerosene in reserve, stick it in a diesel. - John from Central New York

Doubling Up Before the “Crunch”
This is a unique time in survival real estate. Never before have we seen so many people actually wanting to purchase a family retreat for the coming hard times, but as last week's update alluded to, most people are struggling to complete their purchase due to the lack of capital, usually because a current real estate asset has yet to sell.

These times call for more purposeful thought and planning in order to come up with a solution. One idea is to bring two or more like minded families together in order to increase their buying power and their odds of survival when the retreat is activated. Although the monetary side of such a deal is delicate, it can usually be worked out with simple terms and conditions put down on paper, it is the personality issues that become exponentially diverse and could pose a major problem that may lead the parties to regret such a partnership.

One solution for someone who cannot immediately move and has a trusted friend or family member who is like minded is to purchase a retreat and move that person onto the property as a caretaker. This person(s) would have their ‘rent’ reduced such for such activities as ground maintenance/improvement, receipt/inventory and storage of supplies shipped to the retreat (off site delivery is recommended), building of additional structures and emplacements and a myriad of other daily activities to keep the retreat in tip top shape. A spin-off of this would be two or three families purchasing a larger retreat and move the caretaker (who may or may not be one of the buyers) onto the property for services rendered.

In today’s world of reckless abandon it is an idea that some will consider absurd, but it is a solution that with careful thought and planning can be a life saver in the future. There are many parcels that are out of reach for the average buyer, but with several families in concert together they can purchase more acreage, many with multiple dwellings or a single main house that will someday become the retreat’s ‘lodge’ once everyone builds their own home on the land.

For example, there are several parcels for sale northwestern Montana in great locations that have good acreage and are already set up for two families, having multiple dwellings with plentiful water, sun exposure and defensible terrain but run above $750,000. That is out of reach for the average buyer, but perfect for two or more families willing to ‘double up’ for the hard times.

So, logistically this solution is fairly easy to coordinate and pull off. Now, to tackle the issue of ‘who’ do you choose to double up with and how. Most preparedness minded people are low key and may not have friends that share similar views so they will be stuck trying to find someone in the dark. Well, the best advice is to find another person or family that shares similar views on critical issues, especially moral and ethical values. As to where you would meet them, who knows, maybe you have overlooked some folks at your local fellowship or home school group, give it some careful thought and put it to prayer, God will lead you. - T.S.

From The Independent: Only £4.4m left to protect UK's bank deposits

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There is an interesting topic posted over at The Mental Militia Forums (formerly called The Claire Files), about the tremendous gains in the price of Rhodium in the past five years. Obviously, somebody made a lot of money. (FYI, it wasn't me. I was very conservatively invested in silver and gold.)

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Pets being slaughtered in meat-starved Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is now truly in crisis. 80% unemployment. An average life expectancy of just 37 years. The inflation rate is continuing to increase--some analysts predicts a 100,000 percent annual rate by the end of 2007.

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Courtesy of RBS, from U.S.News & World Report: Bozeman, Montana Locals Worried About Wealthy Newcomers

The one weapon every man, soldier, sailor, or airman should be able to use effectively is the rifle." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to do some on-site consulting with a client that owns an elaborate retreat in Eastern Oregon. I really like the region, since it is wonderfully remote. The upper elevations have copious timber and wild game, and fairly plentiful water.

Half of the fun of my Oregon trips is poking around county history museums and graveyards. I'm distantly related to David Lawson Shirk, one of eastern Oregon's early cattlemen. (See the book "The Cattle Drives of David Shirk.") Shirk was involved in a much-publicized range war with cattle baron Pete French (of the famous "P" Ranch), in the Steens Mountain country--in the southeastern corner of the state. The whole affray started with a quarrel over the affections of a young lady, Miss Frances Crow. (She was my great-great aunt.) David Shirk won the lady's heart, secured his stock watering rights, and a few years later he won a gunfight with one of Pete French's hired men. (Later, Pete French died in an unrelated gunfight.) One could conclude that for serious social interactions--involving ladies and lead--that there are no second place winners.

[As a follow-up to the letter about running gasoline engines on alcohol:] In case you don't know it, most gasoline engines will also run on kerosene. No jet changes, all you have to do it adjust timing. Many small engines like generators and such made by Kohler and Briggs and Stratton have an adjustable timing ring. Many have markings for [setting] use to for gasoline or kerosene. It works well. Now to tell you the truth, I never tried it in a car engine. Though generally what works in small engines should work in a car, and yes, you still need the spark plug to ignite it.. I'm not sure what the power loss is, though something safer then alcohol. and fewer permanent modifications..You can store a lot of kerosene [more] safely then gasoline and alcohol. - ka3ffy

JWR Replies: From what I've read, only low compression gasoline engines will run on kerosene without considerable modification. Coincidentally, the following is a snippet of from the oral history of my grandfather, Ernest E. Rawles, recounting his experiences when he works as a surveyor for the New Cornelia Copper Company in and around Ajo, Arizona, early in the last century. Note that a 1916 Ford truck would have had a low compression engine:

"To get there, [to Hat Mountain] we went on Mr. Gibson's truck. It was a delivery truck. a Ford, stripped down. It was hard to get gasoline in Arizona in 1916. He used to run it on kerosene, if you can believe that. As long as he could keep it hot, he could get it started all-right. Once he got it started, he kept it started."

Mr. Rawles-
I truly enjoy and appreciate your site and hope to soon be able to express that with a [10 Cent Challenge] commitment.

Perhaps one solution to the marketing of property with "special features" would be a multi-layered approach to advertising and responding. First present the property with a limited description such as general location and non-specific amenities using descriptions such as "special", "hardened", if appropriate and perhaps a philosophy statement and pricing that would lend a sense for the property without risking over-exposure. Interested parties could pursue a phone interview or email exchange to determine actual depth of interest, still without disclosing critical specifics. Truly interested parties would then be requested to sign a non-disclosure agreement for any further detailed information or before a visit, with a remedy statement in the event of inappropriate disclosure. This would serve to filter the less-than-serious, serving both parties and help protect both the seller and prospective buyers from over-exposure. It's not foolproof, but it could help provide some protection.

I don't think anyone serious about such properties would mind the extra steps and anyone unwilling to sign is unlikely to be a safe prospect anyway. In fact, this could be a way to do business in this kind of real estate on a larger scale. Using such buffer instruments could be a requirement to participate in any 2nd or 3rd tier prospecting for any properties listed as retreats. This could save everyone, including the list or, some legal headaches if a buyer or seller wished to get picky about a transaction gone bad or a revealed retreat. While I must admit I haven't the faintest idea about the SOPs of your listing process, I would have concern that this could get sticky and would hate to see you or anyone acting in good faith get hurt. Indemnification of you and those taking the risk of listing or presenting is merely prudent and, I think, not at all inappropriate.

Keep up the good work. Best Regards, - Randy G

US Dollar Trades Near Record Low Against Euro Before Durable Goods. When I checked last, the US Dollar Index was down to 78.56. Some analysts suggest 75 or perhaps even 72 as the next support level.

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Dr. Gary North asks: Has the Fed Lost Control Over Money?

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From The Boston Herald, by way of SHTF Daily: Despite Fed cuts, mortgage rates rise

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Stephen in Iraq sent us this: Subprime Panic Freezes $40 Billion of Canadian Commercial Paper

"The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait." - G. K. Chesterton

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm planning to have a table at the Great Falls, Montana Gun Show this coming weekend. (September 28-29-30, 2007). It is a very long drive for me, so I hope that it is worth the expense. (High gasoline prices have curtailed my travel schedule considerably.) I will be bringing lots of books and some full capacity magazines. For a list of most of what I'll have with me, see: my catalog page. The show is at The Four Seasons Arena. To spot my table: Look for a blue table drape and a stack of copies of my novel "Patriots", as well as the usual implements of liberty. I hope to see some of you there!

May I give an anecdote about being very careful about the hidden value/risk of shelters and other preparations when selling a property.
In Portland, Oregon a person I know purchased a property which after closing was revealed to have a medium sized manhole entry type fallout shelter in the back yard. This person was quite annoyed to have what he considered a dangerous hole and had it filled in by a cement pumper and the doors and frame broken away and sodded over, after documenting the total costs he filed a lawsuit against the seller for reducing his property value by not disclosing the shelter. The buyer was raised in a British Commonwealth country and considered survivalist preps to be an American illness. You can expect many Americans to share this opinion and they may consider you strange or paranoid. So, for some buyers, you might unfortunately see your expensive preparations become liability when selling a property. - David in Israel.

Dear James and SurvivalBlog Family:
Thank you for this tremendously vital preparedness forum. It has been the direct impetus for me to seriously prepare to survive various natural disasters that could assail the New England area, but more importantly, to be prepared for the inevitable TEOTWAWKI situation, which I expect, we will face within a decade, as soon as the oft-predicted Winter Solstice of 2012--Which still leaves us plenty of time to prepare, if we only make that crucial decision to begin (or to enhance) our preparations and remain steadfast in our intentions to survive whatever may come our way.
For the newer SurvivalBlog readers, and those just becoming interested in survival and preparedness activities, I say, do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of that which you feel you need to do to be get yourself reasonably “prepared” or anywhere near as prepared as others that have been preparing for a long time. Make the decision to prepare for survival and methodically acquire the basic food, water and equipment you will need to handle any emergency situation, short or long-term.

I am a charter 10 Cent Challenge SurvivalBlog subscriber and I enclose two $5 rolls of silver dimes to cover years two and three of my subscriptions (2007 and 2008). In addition, I have enclosed a boxed silver round medallion that commemorates the 1975 Bicentennial of the Battles of Lexington and Concord . Paul Revere is featured on the medal’s obverse with the words “American Revolution Bicentennial” and “The Shot Heard Round the World”. Please accept this coin as a token of my appreciation for all you have done for me and your other readers, in the name of survival and preparedness—for your tireless, Christian efforts as a true American Patriot--an honorific you have so justly earned. Keep up the good work and may God bless you and your family!
I have been an avid reader of SurvivalBlog for over a year and a half and have learned a tremendous amount of valuable insight from [Mr. Rawles] and the many outstanding contributors to SurvivalBlog. Not a week goes by that I do not receive valuable preparedness advice and tips to add to my store of knowledge.
I am proud to say that I have made a deep, personal commitment to change my life’s focus from a wasteful, spendthrift mode, bent on acquiring so many useless things and squandering cash on drinks, gambling and other frivolous entertainment, to a conservative mode, investing the bulk of my discretionary income in durable goods, firearms, ammo, long-term bulk food, silver and gold coins, a generator, and the like.

At the beginning of 2007, I resolved to eliminate all discretionary purchases that were patently unnecessary. Socks and underwear are okay, no CDs or movie rentals. Less fast food and daily coffee’s, and no impulse eBay buys, etc… Rather, I have been earmarking (budgeting) a substantial portion of my discretionary income for stocking my “pantry” and procuring key survival supplies and equipment. Having recently finalized my child support and alimony commitments (ensuring that my ex-wife could keep the house), I have had been fortunate to have a significantly larger amount of money to “invest” the past six months and now going forward.

Each month, I buy at least $200 worth of silver or gold coins (mostly silver). I have amassed nearly $750 in face value junk silver coins (although I do not consider them “junk” by any means) and nearly 5 ounces of [fractional] gold coins (mostly American Eagles, Maples Leafs and Krugerrands).
Each pay period I add another $100 in reserve food stores and other basic survival gear. I have a half dozen cases of #10 Mountain House cans and will continuously add to that store a few cases a month with a goal of two dozen cases by the end of 2008.

I am pleased to have finally exercised my 2nd Amendment constitutional right to purchase and own firearms. I had never been a gun owner before 2006 as my father was never a sportsman and would not (still does not) allow guns in his house. Since I do not hunt, there was never a need for a gun or guns. That 20th century mindset has changed and I now know just how crucial firearms are in this present age of uncertainly and fear. I keep the knowledge of my guns to myself (and to my two adult sons) and am now fully comfortable to own several guns and will be buying more on a regular basis.
I have respect for my firearms and keep them safely stored (but strategically loaded). If fact, I keep a loaded .40 caliber Glock in my laptop computer bag in a secure, zippered pocket. No laptop, just files and the Glock. My bag is always with me, either in my car, office or at home ensuring that I will always be close to a weapon in the event of an emergency. While I have no concealed carry permit (and am leery to obtain one), I think I will continue to look askance at my state’s laws that prohibit one from having a loaded handgun in their immediate possession without a concealed carry permit. I’ll just risk the consequences. I’d rather be safe than sorry.
I have been averaging a firearm purchase every two months or so to include two (2) Glock 23 .40 pistols, four (4) .22 pistols, six shotguns (a Remington 870) for home defense and five Mossberg 500s for home defense/target/game, and two new Ruger .22 rifles (since I must have accumulated some 20,000 rounds of that ammo so far). I will continue to buy shotguns on a regular basis so that I am able to arm as many able bodied sons, daughters and other family members as possible (with two guns each).

Here are a few of my SurvivalBlog“Pearls”:

1. Stock up on: beans, bullets, and band-aids!
2. Live by the Golden Rule, Treat others as you would like to be treated…
3. Buy two or more of everything!
4. Pray for peace and thanksgiving
5. Buy silver (pre-1965 [US 90%]) and gold coins; an excellent way to preserve wealth for the recovery period); Take physical possession of all precious metals
6. Stock that pantry! You can never have enough food! Check those expirations dates! Rotate your stock! Donate almost expired food items to the local food pantry.
7. Buy guns, ammo and multiple magazines for every firearm! You can never have too many guns, ammo, or magazines. Try to standardize weapons and ammo.
8. Pack several bug out bags (one for each person)
9. Buy “survival” presents for your family and friends (flashlights, batteries, first-aid kits, camping equipment, sporting goods (guns) bugout bags, etc…)
10. Buy a (bio) diesel pickup truck and a small SUV for a G.O.O.D. vehicle (and consider a used U-Haul (or the like) too; also buy a bicycle for everyone)
11. Exercise, get fit, go for long walks (also food for the soul)
12. As the Boy Scouts say, “Do a Good Turn Daily” and it goes without saying, “BE PREPARED”.
13. Life is unforgivingly short! Live for each moment; get the most out of life,
14. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive everybody and give thanks to God!
15. Oh yeah, please give blood!

I plan on buying several more firearms and the next several purchases will be a mix of shotguns and a series of 9mm weapons: four 9mm pistols (Glocks) and two (or three) KelTec 2000 folding rifles (super-sweet) that use the 33 round Glock magazines (which are available for a bargain at $25.99 each at Natchez Shooters Supply). I figure a dozen 33-round mags will be a good start to outfit this part of my arsenal. Those high capacity mags work in the Glock 9mm pistols too.

[Since originally writing this letter in July, I’ve bought one KelTec 2000, one Glock 19 (9mm) and one 20 gauge shotgun]

Finally, I will look to acquire two AK-47s and two then two long-range rifles. I figure this part of my plan should take another two years to accomplish, one gun per month or two.
I consider my cache of firearms as an extremely valuable store of wealth in the face of the inevitable economic collapse. These guns and ammo will be worth as much as I paid for them, or likely even more in the future. Guns and ammo are like money in the bank (except better) and will make tremendous items for barter in a post TEOTWAWKI society.
I have stocked several "But Out” bags (for my two sons, dad and I), thousands of rounds of ammunition ($100/per month at WalMart) and many other suggested items. I have been chipping away at my extensive list and ply eBay and yard sales for many of the items that I deem essential. At present, I am prepared to withstand a month or so without power, and am primed to protect my investments, but I am not so confident about surviving a really long-term societal collapse as predicted by so many learned prognosticators. My next level of preparedness will be to survive fully three months off grid, with an eye towards a more complete ability to survive any SHTF circumstance by 2012.

I live (rent-free) with my elderly dad and am committed to staying with him in a quite pleasant coastal New England town. I work for the state in a good-paying civil service position. I have no monetary resources to relocate to a tsunami resistant, easily defensible retreat in the mid west (or abroad) and am committed to my dad who was born in this community, owns his home outright, and has absolutely no inclination of moving. Further, I run into an elderly parental mindset when I suggest basic survival activities such as drilling a simple well or installing a wood stove (forget about voice mail or a dishwasher).
I have gotten away with my ostensible preparations for a hurricane (high New England possibility) but when I expound on the potential collapse of the US economy (due to any of several likely scenarios), dad disregards my exhortations. Since I am the “baby” of the family (even though I’m 50) and am the only family within 400 miles, he accepts my advice as if I were a teenager. Therein lies the actual predicament for me.

Retreat Considerations
I need to prepare for a short, medium, and long-term siege in my existing locale. I expect that most SurvivalBlog readers find themselves in a similar, structurally restricted situation. All of my family, and my fiancé’s family reside along the East coast from New Hampshire down to South Carolina . As a result, I hope to secure a farmland retreat that will be strategically located such that immediate family members could get to the retreat by bicycle or on foot in a worst case scenario. I’ve been thinking about northern New Hampshire or the northwestern quadrant of Pennsylvania .
A topic that I have yet to see discussed in SurvivalBlog is the bugout in the Atlantic region of the country. I understand that there is nowhere along the East Coast that one can escape the fallout from a nuclear detonation in the New England or middle Atlantic region but there will many people stuck along the Atlantic coast in the event of some type of cataclysmic event. I would greatly appreciate hearing from other readers about places in rural New York/New England or anywhere along the Atlantic coast that would be suitable in the occurrence of TEOTWAWKI.

I know that the world is headed for a day of reckoning and that the United States is teetering on collapse due to decades of financial and administrative malfeasance. As a student of history and social sciences, I have always been an ardent patriot but as of late, I have come to the tragic understanding why most people in the rest of the world distrust us, and in many instances, hate us. The current administration’s brainless deficit (and mostly pork-barrel) spending, the spiraling national debt, our sole world super-power mindset, insatiable consumer demand and burgeoning trade deficit will surely land this once great nation in the scrap heap of history’s supercilious, bankrupt empires. I’ll be ready, however. Thanks, JWR and loyal SurvivalBlog contributors!

At least our forefathers were insightful when they insisted that our (appropriately silver and gold-backed) monetary instruments be inscribed with the dictum, “In God We Trust”. My one suggestion would be to go back to silver and gold coins and add the alliterative phrase “…Glocks and Gold” after the word “God” to aptly symbolize our current plight.
As it was in the story of the tortoise and the hare, slow and steady wins the (preparedness) race.May peace be with you all. - David J. (in a blue New England state)

Tim P., "C3", and AAP all mentioned this article about a former Titan missile base for sale, near Moses Lake, Washington.
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For the "In Case You've Been Wondering Department": The List of Foreign Governments that Hold US Debt. As Senator Everett Dirksen put it so aptly many years ago: "A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you're talkin' about real money!"

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An emerging threat in the long term: China Build's World's Largest Navy. OBTW, the current news about the scrap iron and steel shortage--since China is buying everything in sight--has an eerie similarity to what Japan was doing in the 1930s.

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S&P: US Home Price Decline Accelerates--Steepest Price Drop in 16 Years

"There is no glory in practice, But without practice there is no glory." - Anonymous

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

An unusually dry summer has created a hay shortage in much of the western US that is bordering on "severe." In our area, just plain grass hay is fetching $250 per ton in the field. I've noticed that the local classified ad paper is chock full of ads for inexpensive horses. We are blessed to have some good pastures here at the Rawles Ranch, but we still need to supplement for winter feed--for when we have snow on the ground. With hay prices like these, our beloved saddle horse Money Pit is starting to live up to his name.

On Saturday 22 September 2007, you posted a web link from T.A. in Indiana for a video on how to take apart a lantern battery and get 32 AA batteries out of it.

I tried that with a heavy duty Ray-O-Vac and it had four cells approximately the diameter of C cell batteries but longer. Before people stock up on 6-volt lantern batteries thinking they will break down for AA batteries, they need to disassemble the brand they intend to buy to see how it is put together. The battery in the video appeared to be a bargain brand and that may be the difference. - Bill N.

This is a hoax. You cannot fit 32 AA cells inside a lantern battery, they are slightly too tall. What you will find inside a 6V lantern battery are 4 large 1.5V cells tac-welded together in series (they look like elongated D cells). Here is another video for you.

Note: When possible, always assemble cells with the current rating needed in series for the desired voltage. Having battery cells in parallel leads to power flow in-between them during discharge. Unless the cells are exactly the same, differences in capacity make the strong cells feed the weak ones, and so the capacity of the total battery is less than what it is rated. If you have to connect cells in series/parallel for needed discharge amperage, disconnect them as soon as possible, and do not charge in that configuration. This is especially true for sealed or non lead-acid cells.
My battery knowledge is from working as an engineering/research tech for a battery firm. - JB

JWR Replies: My apologies for posting the link without first trying this "hack" myself. From what I've read recently, the battery configuration varies, depending on the maker and vintage of the lantern battery. Traditionally, they used four Type "F" cells, which look like extra-long C-cells.

Thank you for the web site. I check the listings regularly, hoping for my own retreat purchase in the future.

The Bunker Home Retreat caught my eye since I've been to Pueblo Colorado many times. The bunker sounds very well designed and built. But the aerial views show exactly where the home is located, including street names. I don't see how anyone can consider the bunker as secret, or "stealth" any more.

Also, the seller includes a picture of the hidden entrance plainly open in broad daylight right in the middle of his front yard. I can only assume his neighbors saw this display, which defeats the entire purpose of a hidden bunker.

While I greatly appreciate the aerial views of the other properties with acreage, I would recommend the seller rethink which photos he makes available.

This also brings up an interesting point, how does any buyer of property with hidden features guarantee that the features are truly secret? I suspect there is no way. Who knows what sneaky neighbors watched the construction process? Or which workers talked too much in town? Or how many other potential buyers know the features, but bought down the road, and will be talking soon? As a buyer, how could I guarantee none of these things happened? And why is the seller selling in the first place? Maybe he knows the secret is out and his bunker is the first place all his neighbors will turn for help, voluntary or involuntary.

Maybe there could be some kind of "prenuptial" agreement between the buyer and seller that stipulates a fee or back out clause if hidden features where revealed by the seller at any time before or after the sale. But I doubt this would be fool proof. Stories of hidden rooms never die. But it might work in one sense, the reaction of the seller to this kind of request would speak volumes to the level of security they maintained.

[One paragraph deleted, for OPSEC reasons.]

I hate to critique your hard work without offering a solution. It's probably why I wrote this a week ago and haven't sent yet. Here's one possible solution. It's based on my own plans, so maybe it will work for others. When you sell a home with security features, you just don't advertise them, otherwise they will no longer be security features. Yes, you will lose the potential of a higher price. But you owe it morally to the buyer not to advertise these features. After the sale is complete, then you inform the buyer of their gain. I would trust in the Lord to steer the right buyer to me, who deserves such a bonus. If you start with this philosophy at the start of construction, there is no feeling of financial loss at time of sale. If this philosophy could be stated on SurvivalBlog, maybe it will take root across the community. Maybe not.

I'll admit this ties in with my own basic philosophy on Preparedness. I don't prepare for myself. I know I don't have the skills, or strength, to be one of the survivors. But I can see where the world is headed, so I prepare that others may live, whether they be my own family, or a fortunate deserving soul in the future guided by an unseen hand to the preparations I have made. This thought gives me some comfort as I see the trials coming upon us in this lifetime. Regards, - SG

JWR Replies: I share your concern. But there is always a trade-off between secrecy and the ability to sell a house when it is time to move. I don't think that there is any clear cut solution, and every seller has to make that judgment for himself.

Parenthetically, I grew up in Livermore, California (the home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory). My father was a physicist, and nearly half of our neighbors were also in the hard sciences. A surprising number of houses in Livermore had family blast/fallout shelters in their yards. Nothing quite so elaborate as the fictional shelter in the movie "Blast From the Past," but you could definitely see some creative genius put into action. One in particular that I saw stands out in my memory: It had the entrance cleverly hidden in the brickwork of an outdoor barbeque, and its air vent concealed in a rock sculpture. Tres Batman.

At the time that those shelters were built, (40+ years ago), virtually all of the neighbors saw the excavation work and knew exactly who had shelters. But as time has passed, people have moved and memories have faded. I know of at least one shelter that has been used as a "rumpus room" by the owner's teenage kids. (Shame on that family for letting a good shelter be disused.)

In one instance a few years ago, the owner of a home near East Avenue School found out by accident that his house had a shelter (built circa 1962), when he began to re-landscape his back yard. As it turned out, the house had changed hands several times since the 1960s, and somewhere along the line, mention of the shelter was overlooked. Somewhere, someone may be sitting atop the equivalent of Crystal Peak (the semi-abandoned 1960s Continuity of Government shelter from the movie Terminator 3), and not realize it.

Mr. Rawles:
After reading your recent comments regarding the possibility of extreme inflation in the US, I began asking myself how well prepared I am to handle such a situation. The answer was not pretty. You see I am only 24 years old and my wife and I are saving for a house, so most of our funds are tied up in some sort of bank. I fear that if inflation hits, all that cash in the bank will be worthless, and all my saving will be for naught. Do you have any suggestions on how a person like me who needs to save a large sum of money, can do so with as little risk as possible?

I plan on buying a few more tangible items like an old diesel truck and a rifle for my wife, but I need the majority of my funds to be available for a down payment in the March timeframe. Thanks for any suggestions. - Paul in Kansas

JWR Replies: Here in the U.S. the best place to park funds in the short term with protection from inflation is in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) , which are inflation indexed. They are available through Treasury Direct.

 Hawaiian K. forwarded us this piece from Mineweb: $3,400 Gold – pipe dream or possibility?

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Treasury Secretary Paulson tells U.S. Congress current debt ceiling will be hit on Oct. 1

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From MSN Money: What the big banks aren't telling you -- yet

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An editorial from The Financial Times: The Bank loses a game of chicken. From the same publication, we also read: Ease of FOREX swaps vanishes in rush for cash

"Don't ever promise more than you can deliver, but always deliver more than you promise." - Lou Holtz

Monday, September 24, 2007

A brief reminder that the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" is still underway. The sale price of a box of six books is now just $90, postage paid. (Normally they are $22 per copy, but during this sale you get six autographed copies for $90, mailed in a Priority Mail Flat Rate box, sent to anywhere in the Unites States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents.

Mr. Rawles:
Several years back I purchased 40 acres next to a National Forest. In three months I will have the property paid off free and clear so I am using the cooler months ahead to clear a homestead site, put in a well/septic system and try to move ahead faster than the world is declining. (It is surreal at times to live a nice life now but constantly prepare for what a lot of folks are seeing coming down the tracks - a huge train wreck!) I am always feeling I'm behind the curve, but I've decided that if I do several things each week toward preparedness, then I'm better off in the end. I get a few tools here and there, round out the food stores, etc. And sometimes not do anything at all--I need the mental break from it. It took many years for the wife to get "on board" but after she saw how my preparedness paid off after [Hurricane] Katrina, she is a total believer. Hang in there guys, sometimes you are alone for awhile but you still have to do the right thing to protect and provide for your family.

My question is this: Do you have a design of a homestead house that is practical, defensible and can be built by a do-it-yourselfer in short order? I don't want a "bunker" but am looking for something that blends with the landscape, can be buttoned up in a moment's notice for security, and most of all is affordable. ([House construction ] prices aren't going down, ever.) I'm not sure if I can get a cement truck out this far so foundation designs are a concern also. I figured on building a base structure first for essential living, and then add on extras after that. "Pay as I go" is also my motto. Off-grid solar is a must, although my property has a road with power/phone running close by. I noticed a local saw mill so I plan on purchasing rough cut wood there. Metal roofs, noncombustible siding and ability to secure windows/doors ("Patriots" gave good examples on doors and windows.) Thanks for your advice. Also, I'm in a hilly area. Do you build toward the top of the hill, but not on the ridge?
Your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is great. I need to re-read it again.

JWR Replies: Your letter raises a number of related issues, many of which I discuss at length in my books Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.and SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1. First, in terms of house siting, the traditional "castle on a hilltop" (with lower ground in all directions) still makes sense if, from the vantage point of the nearest road that there are higher hills beyond your house site. This way your house (and anyone walking near it) will not be "skylined."

Many of the designs that I have worked with for my consulting clients have involved copious poured concrete. If you are limited to pickup loads of concrete sacks and a small portable mixer, then perhaps you'd be better off with a log house, rammed earth house, cordwood house, brick house, or Earthship (tire house). If those sound like they would significantly "stand out" from among your neighbors' houses, then consider building a traditional wood frame house with metal roof and metal siding, but with specially reinforced floor sections to support the weight of sandbags that could be added at a later date. (For in-house defensive positions.) This would fit in with your "pay as you go" goal.

For your photovoltaics, take advantage of the free consulting available from Bob at Ready Made Resources.

Thanks for your positive feedback on the "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. It is gratifying to know that the course has both informed and motivated so many people.

What a lot of folks don't think about is that during the last depression, almost 80% of the population was still connected to a family farm. They also knew how to can meats and vegetables and had all of the equipment to do so. It was a way of life for them. Today less than 1% is connected to a family/small farm. That is daunting. Even if some of the population knows how to can and has a small garden, How many of them have 500-600 jars, lids and rings? Got lots of Salt, a working smokehouse that doesn't attract the attention of the local toughs?

The final blow to the "My-parents-survived-the-last-one-so-I can-too" crowd is that we were still on a Silver and Gold backed currency system in 1930. Dollars were still very valuable during that time, they just weren't easy to come by. After we converted to [irredeemable] toilet paper for money, with zero backing, we discovered inflation. The next depression will be a lot more like [SurvivalBlog correspondent] FerFal's stories about buckets of cash to pay for a meal in Argentina. The problem for most is that we don't even have one bucket of cash. Thanks and God Bless, - Melbo (Editor of SurvivalMonkey)

Regarding the "signal stalker" technology: This type of thing has been available for years in the form of frequency counters. Perhaps the best known in the ham/scanner community is the Opto Electronics Scout series. These units let you scan for radio transmissions and will store the last detected frequencies in memory for later recall. This is a handy feature if you are visiting a race track, for instance and want to find out the frequencies in use while you tour the pit area.
They also sell a cable that will interface to various scanners, allowing you to immediately tune in to the detected frequency. Some models also decode the PL tones for you.
Keep in mind that these work best when you are in a "quiet" area, i.e. not too many commercial radios, cell phones, etc in use. They have a pretty short range in a noisy RF environment like a major city.
For enhanced COMSEC between locations, consider using low power and directional antennas. If you're not radiating the energy in 360 degrees, there are a lot fewer places it can be intercepted from.
Cheers, - JN-EMT.

I agree with you that throbbing out high power Ham signals is not needed, but most ham kits I've seen allow down powering; there's even a subset of the hobby that specializes in low power operation.
I am having the devil's own time finding many MURS rigs. Still lots of CB out there, but MURS seems to have fallen out of favor with FRS/GMRS and the remaining CB users. Where are you finding your gear? Are there the same line of sight VHF troubles as with FRS? If so, how are you getting a good lightning proof antenna up? I'd have to have my nice radios burned out by EMP, or worse a simple thunderstorm. Regards, - Michael G

JWR Replies: One nice feature of many 2 meter handhelds is adjustable output power. I agree that it is best to use minimal power and directional antenna. If you suspect that someone might be trying to intercept and possibly conduct direction finding (DF), then use terrain masking. In my novel "Patriots", I also describe a method for bouncing signals off of metallic structures, to confuse DFers.

Until recently, we had $49 MURS Radios as an advertiser on SurvivalBlog,. They sells Kenwood MURS hand-helds. They stopped advertising only because they are now nearly out of radios. (They bought them as trade-ins, in a big package deal.) Sadly, they are having trouble finding any more to sell

The range of the Kenwood MURS seems much better than FRS. By comparison, the FRS hand-held radios are pipsqueaks. For very short range communications (such as within a retreat perimeter), that might actually be a COMSEC advantage.) MURS hand-helds are still under 5 watts of effective radiated power (ERP), so they have fairly low probability of intercept (LPI.) beyond about 8 miles, in all but dead level terrain.

Our base station antenna here at the ranch is equipped with a good ground and a coaxial in-line surge protector. (A DLS "Surge Ender", model SE-1), to provide at least modest lightning protection.

From The International Herald Tribune, via our friends at SHTF Daily: Dollar hits bottom, and then falls again

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Dave Duffy, the editor of Backwoods Home magazine (one of our favorites) offers some very useful Recommendations for Handling/Storage of Specific Fruits and Vegetables:in his latest e-newsletter. If you don't already have a subscription to the magazine, then I highly recommend it.

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"The Fox" sent us a link to a CNN video clip with more about Zimbabwe's black market and hyperinflation

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Frequent contributor RBS recommended this eye-opening primer from Financial Sense on the ravages of "low inflation."

"It is not the responsibility of the Federal Reserve -- nor would it be appropriate -- to protect lenders and investors from the consequences of their financial decisions." - Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, speaking at the Jackson Hole Federal Reserve conference, August 31, 2007. (Just 25 days before doing exactly that--by lowering interest rates by 50 Basis Points, to the advantage of banking lenders and equities investors, and at the expense of the value of the US Dollar in foreign exchange, and to the detriment of all holders of US dollars.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My special thanks to the anonymous SurvivalBlog reader that recently made his 10 Cent Challenge subscription donation in the form of pre-1964 silver dimes. (He sent us a small box containing 365 silver dimes.) Considering that US 90% silver coinage is now worth nearly 10.3 times its face value, that was very kind of him. Many thanks!

I was not aware of this until last weekend. I visited a friend of mine who lives up in the hills. I brought with me a [older] handheld 2 Meter radio that I got for free when I bought a Kenwood 50 watt [2 Meter Band] mobile radio. Anyway, this handehld has crystals in it. It works excellent and can be used ether simplex or to bring up major repeaters. I did not know that or what frequencies it had.

Now for the story. My friend showed me a new type of handheld scanner from Radio Shack. It has a button called "Signal Stalker." What this does is find a local strong transmission. It was able to identify all the frequencies in my 2 meter radio; I keyed up just briefly and it found them all. I mention this because hoodlums could use just such a scanner to find someone at their retreat property. Few [recently produced] scanners [in the US] cover 225-300 MHz and it would be difficult to modify one to do so. I like to operate on the 220 MHz ham band where just a few scanner models can listen--and of course other hams with 220 gear. Just thought you should know about this new type of scanner with the "Signal Stalker" feature. - Fred The Valmet-meister

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. I have long been an advocate of using field telephones and relatively low power handheld for most retreat communications. Why unnecessarily blast out 40 to 50 watts with a 2 meter rig, when a few watts with a MURS radio will suffice? Save the higher power transmitters for longer range communication, and then use them only when needed.


Greetings from another SurvivalBlog newbie. I discovered your site back in the spring of this year and all I could say then was “Wow! I think I’ve found a home!” I’ve been lurking here ever since. I’d been wandering in the wilderness of flame-filled newsgroups and not-quite-filling-enough survival/self-reliance publications since the days of “Survival Tomorrow”, nearly thirty years ago. Back then, I mostly spent time just collecting information on various survival topics while making only small, half-hearted preparations. At last, here is a site that has revived my slumbering interest in the disaster preparedness movement and inspired my wife my son and me to undertake concrete measures to improve our family’s Readiness Quotient (RQ) if you will. One of the first things I did was to send off a check for a 10 Cent Challenge membership (That’s right, the check is in the “snail mail”: No kidding.)

As a bit of background, I’m ex-Air Force and my wife is former Navy; we have one grown son. Like “SF” and “Hawaiian K”, I’m a resident of the islands (Oahu.) I've been here going on 40 years now, which makes me an old-timer or “Kamaaina.” My wife was born and raised here. However, our family’s situation may differ somewhat from those of the above-mentioned islanders in that we live in a townhouse development and, therefore, have limitations on what we can do in the way of emergency preparedness. (Correct me, if I’m wrong, gentlemen.) Nonetheless, we’ve not been idle.

A couple of months ago, we began our food storage program with an “extremely productive” visit to the local Costco. Our one mistake was that we loaded up on a large amount of, subsequently recalled, chili and sauce items which we must now replace. We also laid in a substantial supply of bottled water, and we also have several 6 gallon plastic water containers that were purchased several years ago, which can be filled in an emergency and stored in an available closet (they’ve come in handy during several past power outages and at least one hurricane.) We’ll continue to add to our stocks, buying a little more than we use each time we go grocery shopping. We also intend to purchase the food storage planning software you mentioned, in an earlier post. Then, we can computerize the associated record-keeping (with hardcopy backup…of course!)

Now, having food supplies is one thing; but, one also needs a way of cooking without electricity if necessary. For that, we have available that great Hawaiian standby, the outdoor grill. Currently, we rely on a large propane powered model with two tanks of fuel, but will soon back it up with a smaller, charcoal fueled grill or “Hibachi” for lesser cooking duties and to act as a substitute if propane becomes scarce or unavailable.

Our emergency lighting needs are handled with a Coleman propane lantern and several bottles of fuel, as well as several sizes of battery-powered flashlights and a more than adequate supply of batteries of all sizes. In the future, we will be reducing both the types and quantity of conventional batteries on hand and adding more rechargeables, along with both AC & solar chargers to keep them ready to go. I’ve also been checking into various types of indoor & outdoor emergency lighting, but, again, options are limited due to townhouse association rules.

Family survival transport consists of two late model SUVs for the wife and me. We’re evaluating obtaining/storing backup electronic modules for both vehicles as the conversion to an older points/condenser style ignition system is not a practical or affordable option for us. Supplemental cargo capacity is available via our son’s 1990s-vintage mid-size pickup. If the need to “bug out” arises, we’ll be able to reach relatives elsewhere on this island, or (now that a practical inter-island passenger and vehicle ferry system is about to begin operation) more remote areas of the “neighbor islands” – given enough advance warning. I hold a private pilot’s license; however, I’m not sure how much use that would be in a rapidly developing emergency situation. You can’t haul many persons and their bug-out gear in a Cessna 172, at least not if you want to go very far.

Our weakest area, at the moment, is in the realm of first-aid and medical supplies and training. I’d like to take a beginning first-aid and CPR course from our local Red Cross chapter, but considering their schedule of course offerings and my work situation, it’s going to require quite a bit of juggling; but, later in September or October looks like a good bet. Right now, we have only a few band-aids and some OTC medications on hand to deal with minor cuts and scrapes encountered around the house. Also, we need to acquire our basic health and medical library. I took a medical terminology course, but that was over twenty years ago and I haven’t had to use it in the last five years.

Speaking of libraries, our survival library is small, but growing; and, includes books by Joel Skousen, Gene Gerue (“How to Find Your Ideal Country Home”), and Ragnar Benson. We also have Internet access to several other survival and self-reliance related web-sites in addition to

Home defense is one area of preparation we’re currently beefing up. We have one AR-15 rifle (one of those “mouse guns” you’re not fond of) and one .40 cal. S&W pistol with a couple of hundred rounds for each. Next up is a reliable pump-action shotgun; right now, I’m leaning toward a Remington 870. Planned additions include either an M1A or FN[-FAL]-type MBR. However, the cost of acquiring enough arms and ammo to equip each family member means that this aspect of our preparations will proceed at a slower pace.

Communications: Presently, that consists of FRS units for each family member; a CB base station – able to operate on either AC or 13.8 volt [DC] battery power - and one mobile [CB] unit in my SUV. Beside the usual emergency AM/FM/SW portable radio, we also have a trunking UHF/VHF scanner and a weather monitor with National Weather Radio/Specific Area Message Encoding (NWR/SAME) capability. All of these units have battery backup power. Our CB coverage is limited by the necessity of utilizing a low-profile base station antenna. (Again, due to townhouse association rules.) I obtained my Novice class Amateur radio license years ago, but never used it. That’s about to change as I will be upgrading to Technician and then General class within the next few months.

We are now seriously pursuing debt reduction. I will be eligible to retire from my present work as a civilian contractor for the Army in about three years. My wife also has 20 + years in Civil Service with the military. For my part, I’m not waiting for retirement, but have been preparing my resume and following job leads in addition to researching some ideas for a home-based business. Once the means of providing an income are more clearly defined, we hope to sell our Hawaii residence and relocate (as you’ve advised) to a more suitable area in the western mainland. I grew up a city kid, but with close family ties and much youthful experience in the Michigan countryside; I’m no stranger to farm life, though it has been a long time since I had to rise before dawn. My wife has a “passing” acquaintance with hard work as well, having helped to raise four younger siblings in a family of six while going to school and working in the pineapple cannery.

So, what would you say of our efforts up to this point, and what advice would you offer for the future; particularly with regards to our plans for relocation? I really enjoy my daily blog visits. I’m always anxious to see what you and your readers, especially, have to offer regarding their own disaster preparations and efforts to become more self-reliant. I urge you to continue to provide this timely and much needed service to those of us out here that have glimpsed the future and need your and your audiences’ experience and knowledge to prepare to meet it. Thank you, again, and as Michael Biehn’s character (the Colonial Space Marine corporal in “Aliens”) said, “Stay frosty.” Aloha, - Gandalf

Peter D. recommended a great article on CDOs and their impact on the world economy, written from the perspective of a market insider.

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Stephen in Iraq set us this: Canada's Dollar Nears Parity on U.S. Weakness, Commodity Surge

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Thank to Dave R. and Bruce A., who both sent us this: International credit derivatives expert asserts that the current credit crunch is just the beginning. A big bear is looming.

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Take a look at this delightful web site and sporadically-written blog by a lady that is a SurvivalBlog reader: ChickenSense. It has a lot of useful information on gardening, and would be of particular interest to southerners.

"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian" - Pat Paulsen (American comedian)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

If reading SurvivalBlog has added substantively to your knowledge and family preparedness, then please consider becoming a voluntary 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. All we ask is 10 cents a day. I hope that the blog is worth that to you. Thanks!

I know you get a lot of mail so I'll be brief. I highly value your information and input on the current economy. I also have read your book "Patriots", and your current assessment of our economy's future terrifies me.

What are the probable chances of this turning into a worse case scale as seen in your novel? Even if it is not worse case, I have no idea
what a Moderate case would look like. Your wisdom would be greatly appreciated. Thank You.- William

JWR Replies: In the context of America's current economic situation (namely, the implosion of the Debt Bubble), I think that the "Moderate" outcome would be a depression of the same severity and duration as the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is hard to assign percentage chances, because there are umpteen variables in play. But we are definitely now in a very volatile cycle.
Don't panic, but do what you can to limit your US dollar exposure, get shed of rental properties, minimize your stock portfolio, diversify into precious metals, and be well-prepared, logistically. (Beans. bullets and Band-Aids). If you don't know exactly what supplies to lay in, then get a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. Above all, pray hard!

I'm not sure if you've mentioned this series before, but on YouTube there is a video series called "Off the Grid" hosted by Les Stroud of Survivorman fame. He moves his family out of the city and into the country in search of an off-the-grid home and lifestyle. It's a fairly realistic look and (I think) good introduction to what it would take to make the jump to living in the country and self-sufficiently.

The other videos in the series can be found linked from the first page, or just search for "Off the Grid". Hope you enjoy this, and I think many of the SurvivalBlog readers would too.
I hope you and your family are well, - Jason U.

The Memsahib Replies: Been there, done that. Got a few scars to prove it.

So here is a cheap, useful item for your preparations: The "turkey deep fryer" kits that sell for around $100 as [the U.S.] Thanksgiving [holiday] gets closer are perfect for all kinds of disaster-related tasks. They often sell for even less on the day after the holiday.

The typical kit comes with a large, high-powered propane burner with stand, a 5 gallon stainless kettle, lid, a large thermometer, and often and assortment of pans and perforated steaming/frying inserts.
You can boil 5 gallons of water in about 20 minutes with one of these, and they are perfect for steaming large quantities of veggies, making gumbo, etc.
As a further bonus, they are perfect for rendering soap or smelting lead. (Use dedicated [and specially marked] pans for these tasks!)
Pick up a few large utensils at a restaurant supply store, and you've got the basics for a Red Cross-style soup line. - JN-EMT

JWR Replies: Use the standard safety precautions whenever melting lead, as previously described in SurvivalBlog.

According to Bill Bonner, editor of The Daily Reckoning, house price over-valuation is not unique to the US. In the U.K., Bonner said, house prices are 20% overvalued. He opines that Britain is one of the three most vulnerable to a house price crash/correction (after New Zealand and Denmark).

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By way of SHTF Daily come this article from Australia: US rate cut decried as 'socialism for Wall Street'

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Reader Dave F. told us about an interesting new bullpup stock available for M1A and M14 rifles. If they provide a decent trigger pull (which, from what I have seen, is one of the most common failings of bullpup stock conversions), then this stock might be worth the price.

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T.A. in Indiana found a video on how to take apart a lantern battery which typically sells for $5 or $6 and get 32 AA batteries out of it.

"Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder." - President George Washington

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm sure that most of you remember back in the first week of August when CNBC market analyst Jim Cramer was screaming hysterically: "Open the discount window!" Well, it seems that Bernanke and Company have done exactly what he asked. As of the past week, commercial banks are now taking $2.7 billion in loans per day from the Federal Reserve discount window. With just this lending from the discount window, the increase in the U.S. money supply has jumped to an annualized rate of more than 50%! I've said this before: The biggest red flag imaginable for pending economic catastrophe is the Fed massively monetizing the debt. (Much like I described in the opening chapter of my novel "Patriots".) This is a highly inflationary measure. And this is exactly what the Federal Reserve is presently doing. If the discount window stays open for an extended period of time, then be prepared for at least double digit inflation, and possibly hyperinflation. I'm not saying this in jest.

Let's face it, inflation is already upon us, at least for commodities. The prices of consumer goods are bound to follow. My good friend Fred the Valmet-meister recently sent us a link to a web page that shows the upright spike in Uranium prices. Where is the top? Who knows? The run up in the prices of base metals, precious metals, and the exotics (such as uranium) are indicative of a primary bull market in commodities. As confirmation, we observe that the price of wheat has tripled to $9+ per bushel, gold has zoomed up to $730+ per ounce, silver at $13.25+ per ounce, and oil is at $82+ per barrel. In times like these, all un-backed paper currencies are trash, and all useful tangibles are treasure.

The Schumer could start to fly very soon, folks. Be ready. If you have any unfinished pre-WTSHTF shopping, then now is the time to make that trip to Costco, and to place those mail orders. (I'm sure that our loyal advertisers would appreciate your business.) And if you are an urbanite or suburbanite that has been delaying buying your "Hidey Hole", then this may be your last chance to make your move to the country before the coming winter. There is a storm coming...

Mr. Rawles

I've found the discussion of alcohol power and stills very interesting. Building a still has been something on my list of things to do, but I never seem to get around to making it happen. Here's a link to [a PDF of] the [still building] plans I'd like to follow.

The plans are concise, relatively simple and, best of all, free. I think the web site says you can build one of these for about $65, less if you have access to an inexpensive stainless steel milk can.- Tim R.

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I found this online auto parts store is going out of business. They are selling some parts for a dollar per pound and other parts for 10% of the original cost. This is a good place to buy the extra parts one might need for their Bug Out Vehicle, at a steep discount. - Regards, Sam M.

The window is opening, but only for a short time.
Consider the life expectancy of King and the Peasant, in times of great peril. Does it really matter who you are, financially? Sure, but not if you’re on the Titanic. You see, there are those out there both rich and poor that take their preparedness seriously, whether they research skills and topics till dawn's early light or proactively practice with their supplies and equipment, but it will be all for not, because they are sailing on the Titanic. The only difference is the cost of their cabin! But either way the ship is slowly heading towards that proverbial iceberg.
The Titanic represents the lack of action relating to actually purchasing either a retreat or a secure storage property to pre-position supplies, and the iceberg is the possible global collapse of the US Dollar that is about to rear its’ ugly head along with a ‘not if, but when’ incident/disaster. I can’t tell you how many fellow preparedness folks I know that are simply going down with the ship! As JWR has stated many times in SurvivalBlog that you may not be taking anything but your B.O.B. with you should a major incident happen in CONUS. Wake up folks! Trust me, I know making the ‘break’ is hard, it took me almost three years to turn away from the ‘fairytale’ land (the People's Republic of California) where ‘Everything would be okay, I’d make it somehow’ dream had a hold of me. King or Peasant, your money means nothing in times of great peril, only your will to survive and hard work will pay off and I’ll bet your life you’ll never make it a 100 miles in that 28 foot trailer with all your stuff. It’ll be ‘Ambush on Irish’ for you my dear friend. Good luck.

Now that we have passed the normal lemming's attention span, let’s save your bacon shall we? The opening window, ah yes! I was on a phone call today with some confidential clients and their mortgage broker (thanks for the Titanic analogy MK!) and he had an amazing analysis for not only these clients but for some of you out there as well. No matter your financial resolve (King or Peasant) and as long as you have some equity still in your property (congratulations, I might add) the idea behind taking advantage of the opening window is simple: The Fed just took action that has huge short term benefits for those smart enough to pull the trigger (take advantage of lower interest rates on some fixed rate mortgages), but will most likely and ultimately end in the collapse of the US Dollar and rapid inflation of some proportion.

The key to the strategy MK spoke of is this: Refinance a property and take cash out to purchase your retreat or land/ storage bunker. Don’t encumber the refinanced property more than you feel the market will fall and be prepared to ride out the storm, should it take 10 years for the market to recover. Remember, equity unused is no security at all. Unfortunately, most of us do not abide by Biblical financial principles; otherwise we would not be in this situation in the first place, of ‘owe no man’ and live debt free.
The idea at this point is to transfer equity to your safe haven by using your equity as a tool and have your retreat paid free and clear, if possible. Obviously this will be a more viable option for those financially capable of carrying a larger mortgage on the refinance property for a time, but the satisfaction will come when the retreat needs to be activated and, as in JWR's novel "Patriots", you mail off a few years of property tax one day and go on about surviving. If you are blessed with a job that allows you to telecommute each day and maybe fly to the ‘office’ once a month or so I have one question for you: Why are you still living in your current locale? Make the break! Wake up in the morning and hear the song birds sing as you sip your coffee and your mate slowly loads your next magazine for your morning defensive drills. (Oh, I’m sorry I must digress, that’s my life, get yours quick!), not the roar of commuter traffic and shots from the local gang member doing a drive-by occurring at the local stop and rob!
For those folks with smaller portions of equity the advice is similar, but instead of purchasing your retreat, simply buy a few acres and have a secure storage facility built for your supplies. I hear that JWR has a friend that is selling some five acre parcels with secure storage. [See below.]
As we wrap up this week's update I want to remind you to cancel your seat on the Titanic, research, think, plan, then make your move. Do not hesitate! Whatever you do, do something! Hope to see you here! - T.S.

Huckleberry Ridge: Modestly-Priced Five Acre Retreat Properties Located in North Idaho--between Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene
I have good friend that is selling some very desirable retreat property. Here is the description: Very unique location and terrain yield maximum privacy yet easy access. You won't find a better combination of affordability, suitability and accessibility anywhere in North Idaho. Grid power and phone available. Defensible features. Very pretty location. Perc tests certified. These three parcels are the only properties located on a well-engineered private fire-code-rated road. All three properties have a nice seasonal creek, lots of trees, and abundant wildlife. Two of the three lots have year-round springs. Lots are also within walking distance of an elementary school and two miles from a fire station. The fire station proximity is very, very rare for retreat properties and means that you will actually be able to insure your home -- and at good rates! There is also a very nice public boat ramp only four miles away, for summer fun on the lake.

From these lots you have a lovely view of a forested valley. As far as the eye can see you can't see another manmade structure -- no houses, roads, wires, telephone poles, antennas -- nada. Even though these properties are so remote, you can leave your house and be on Highway 95 in less than 5 minutes, in Sandpoint in 15 minutes, and in Coeur d'Alene in 30 minutes.
These lots are available as raw land with prices from $79,500 to $84,500. They're also available with a secure underground 8'x10' storage facility; and a private tactical shooting range so you can begin to pre-position your supplies; and begin/continue your firearms training. Prices including secure underground storage facilities and tactical range are from $129,500 to $134,500. On-site security services for your storage facility available. Contact If you don't have a local agent, Keith can recommend one. The property is not yet up on the web site, so for now, here are links to some photographs: Five Acre Parcel #2 - Spring at Five Acre Parcel #3 - Spring at Five Acre Parcel #4 - Road Design - Rock Wall on Road - The Local Firehouse - The Local Boat Ramp - JWR

Joe. P. picked up (via The Drudge Report) an interesting article about the ongoing oil drama that predicts crude oil at perhaps $100 per barrel

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Stephen in Iraq flagged this one: Morgan Stanley Profit Drops After Losses on LBO Loan

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After seeing my recent reference in the blog about the implications of the declining dollar, reader S.K. e-mailed me to mention that CDNN Sports recently received a large shipment of both Kahles scopes and binoculars, which are made in the Swarovski plant. Luckily, the pricing was set before the recent dollar exchange rate declines, so at least for now their prices have not changed. I suspect that the prices will increase substantially at the end of the year, so stock up!

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RBS spotted this: Soaring gold price forces U.S. Mint to pull American Gold Eagles from the market

"Once a nation parts with the control of its currency and credit, it matters not who makes the nations laws. Usury, once in control, will wreck any nation. Until the control of the issue of currency and credit is restored to government and recognized as its most sacred responsibility, all talk of the sovereignty of parliament and of democracy is idle and futile." - William Lyon Mackenzie King (1874-1950) Prime Minister of Canada, 1935

Thursday, September 20, 2007

If you are currently doing your web browsing through a typical web browser without a cookie/history blocker then you are leaving behind a trail of "cookie crumbs" that might come back to haunt you decades from now. I strongly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers do their web browsing through Anonymizer.

Re the bank runs in the UK and warning about similar actions in the US: I don't deal much with banks so I have a rather silly question to ask about this situation. If there is a run on a particular US bank that I happen to have accounts/cash in, what actually happens at the bank? Do they close the bank up completely? Can you still access your safe deposit box or is everything shut down? The reason I ask is that if I moved physical cash from my "electronic accounts" to a safe deposit box, will I have access to that box when the bank is closed in a "run" scenario? I realize inflation will go crazy and cash will be worthless, but having some is better than not be able to get to it at all. At least I would have potential access to the cold, hard cash in a safe deposit box. I would also consider moving cash out to other "safe" locations, but I am not really confident about security. There is also the problem with the $10,000.00 cash in/out "restrictions" by the Feds. I already have junk silver coins but I don't want to convert more of my cash to coin or tangibles in the short term. Any advice? Thanks, - Russ in Georgia

JWR Replies: In the event of a bank run, your local banks's doors would probably remain open, and you would probably still have access to you safe deposit box. But I still consider leaving precious metals in a bank safe deposit box an unacceptable risk. You never know when a financial crisis could inspire a "banking holiday" (a la 1933) or another ban on private gold bullion ownership. Then, when banks do re-open, there could be some extra scrutiny--most notably an IRS agent (or a delegated bank employee) looking over your shoulder when you access your safe deposit box.

Here are a couple of alternatives a bank safe deposit box:

1.) Hide your precious metals at home, preferably in two well-hidden caches--one small and one large. The small cache would be the one that you could reveal if someone is ever pointing a gun to your head. (Say, for example, a home invasion robbers wearing black ski masks, or perhaps someone else wearing black ski masks.)

2.) A private non-bank safe deposit box company. These are fairly common in the suburbs, but I've heard of them in major metropolitan areas. You might have to do some searching to find one near you. This is a poor second choice, because even these firms may be subject to IRS scrutiny in the event of a national financial crisis.

With all that said, I should mention that the likelihood of bank runs in the US is lower than in England. Here is why:

Unlike here in the States, where any deposit up to $100,000 USD is 100% insured (and $200,000 for husband-and-wife joint accounts), England's deposit insurance system has two tiers. Their Financial Service Authority (the rough equivalent of the FDIC) guarantees 100% of deposits up to £2,000 GBP, and 90% of anything over £2,000 but under £32,000, and, zero for anything above £32,000. So it is safe to assume that most of the people "in the queues" in front of Northern Rock bank branches are people with more than £2,000 GBP on deposit. They are at risk of losing perhaps 10% of their deposits.

Bank runs are largely a psychological phenomenon. There is one apocryphal story about a bank in the midwestern US that placed a newspaper ad offering a free set of dishes for anyone that opened a new savings account. The offer was so good that a line formed and started to extend out the front door of the bank. Seeing the line, passersby assumed that there was a run on the bank, so they quickly extended the queue, intent on extracting their deposits. By the time that the line reached the end of the block, wild rumors had circulated among those in the queue. Some of these rumors reached the head of the line, where at least one early-comer decided to forget opening a savings account and instead asked to close his existing checking account.

Don't underestimate the ability of people to get panicky. These things can take on a life of their own. Bank runs tend to spread to other institutions, when people start making "just in case"-style decisions. If there are further bank runs in England, I woudln't be surprised to similar runs in Ireland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and perhaps even the United States. And, needless to say, it is the banks most closely associated with home mortgage lending are the most likely to have such problems in the next two years.

I don’t understand why the discussion on your blog regarding EMP assumes only ground based and aircraft altitude detonations. It seems to me an equally likely attempt will be a ballistic missile detonation at maximum altitude, such as with a Scud or Chinese one, launched from a freighter off the east or west coast of the US. Al Qaeda is known to own a fleet of freighters which are not well tracked (stolen in hijacks or even purchased outright). Iran, North Korea, Syria, and [Dr. A.Q.] Khan’s rogue network are all working hard to develop a nuclear capability and are hostile to the US. China has advanced nuclear capabilities and is gearing up to attack Taiwan by 2030, Wouldn’t it be convenient if a third party such as Al Qaeda, were to launch an EMP strike at 200 mile altitude of the US just prior to their invasion of Taiwan? China has actively assisted Islamic nations and groups hostile to the US with missile, communication technology, supplies and infrastructure. Those same Islamic countries have a long record of aiding and abetting Al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist organizations.

While EMP detonations at ground level or in aircraft are also possibilities, a high altitude missile detonation is also highly likely and would have far worse impact. A single detonation at 300 mile altitude or more would inflict damage across most of the continental US and even parts of Canada and Mexico . This worse case scenario would seem to be of great interest to survival minded folks. Limiting discussion to 200 mile radius [of effect] seems unwise.

I enjoy your blog and 99% of your writing is prescient and spot on. This one assumptions therefore stands out as a big gap in risk assessment. Yours truly, - JB in Oregon

JWR Replies: Let's start with your "terrorists with a Scud" scenario: From what I have read, the maximum altitude of a typical R-11 Scud missile in a parabolic trajectory (vertical or near vertical flight path) is just 78 kilometers (48.5 miles), with a time of flight of 5.4 minutes. The maximum velocity at the time of booster burnout is 1.43 kilometers per second. That is far short of achieving the near-orbital velocity of an ICBM (which if I recall correctly is roughly 6 to 7 kilometers per second). Let's suppose that a terrorist group gets hold of an operational Scud missile and a compact nuke (with a weight within the Scud's payload limit and sufficiently small dimensions to fit the Scud's payload parameters). Even then, the only way that they could achieve the potential maximum 48.5 mile altitude over the Continental United States (CONUS) would be if they launched it within our territory. That isn't very likely. If they launched a Scud from a barge or a ship say 30 miles off the coast with a depressed trajectory, it might be at most 15 miles up, at apogee, over our territory.

For details on how to calculate line of sight (and hence EMP footprint dimensions), see some of my previous SurvivalBlog posts. (Wherein I also discuss beyond line-of-sight EMP coupling through power and telephone lines.) I'm not a rocket scientist (my name after all, is Jim Rawles, not Jim Oberg), so I don't claim to be an expert. But I do have a rudimentary understanding of how these things work.

There are only a few nation states that have ICBM technology, and that is essentially what would be required to put an EMP-producing nuke at 200+ mile altitude over the CONUS. It is much more realistic to assume that a Third World nation or a terrorist group would use a jet aircraft (or perhaps, if they were quite clever, a large radiosonde-type balloon) at high altitude in an attempt to maximize EMP line of sight. And, as I've previously stated, even the highest flying aircraft would give line of sight to produce an EMP footprint of at the very most a 280 mile radius. It would take 30+ such blasts to blanket the CONUS with EMP.

Yes, nation states like North Korea and China have ICBM technology, but the most likely near-future scenarios involve Osama bin-Laden, not Kim Jong Il.

Thanks to RBS for sending this: U.S. Home Foreclosures Soar in August, Up 36 Percent From July, and Prepare for prolonged turmoil, says US Treasury Secretary. A comment from RBS: "Once again, we have to go aboard to get any [substantive] economic news."

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Chuck, Joe, and Nathaniel all forwarded us this one: Fears of dollar collapse as Saudis take fright. The article begins: "Saudi Arabia has refused to cut interest rates in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve for the first time, signaling that the oil-rich Gulf kingdom is preparing to break the dollar currency peg in a move that risks setting off a stampede out of the dollar across the Middle East"

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From (by way of SHTF Daily): National Association of Realtors Admits to Initiating Bush's Mortgage Bailout Plan

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Countrytek recommended this set of web posts from someone that housed 30 refugees in the days following Hurricane Katrina. It has some interesting "lessons learned."

"Do not ever make the mistake of thinking that the other guy is as bad a shot as your shooting buddies are." - JC121, at

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The bidding is now up to $450 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle from my personal collection. This rifle was rebarreled by Valmet during WWII, and is in excellent condition. It comes with a replica bayonet, original sling, and original muzzle cap. Since the receiver for this rifle was made in 1898, it can be mailed directly to the winning bidder's doorstep, with no FFL paperwork! The auction ends on October 15th.. Just e-mail us your bid.


You can buy a couple of standard jets for the particular carburetor you are working on, then measure the opening in your current carb and add the 38% to the hole size and drill the jet out with the proper size drill. Be sure to go 38% larger in cross-section, not in diameter. - Michael Z. Williamson


In regards to the article about converting small engines to ethanol, there are a few things to be aware of as far as "being prepared" goes. BATFE regulations: Regardless of what you are making with a still, whether it be distilled water, distilled spirits, or alcohols used for fuel you must register your still, and have a tax stamp for anything you produce. While it is fairly easy to get an experimental fuel distillers permit, you had best make sure all your paperwork, and product is in order in case the revenuer ever shows up.
As far as the practice of making home made alcohol: Alcohol can be made from just about anything, however, the trick is processing it properly. When making alcohol from grains, the cellulose, and more complex sugars in the grain need to be converted into a simply sugar (glucose, sucrose). For anyone who has made their own beer, they are likely familiar with the malting process. In England making whiskey the old fashioned way, they would take the grain, soak it, and then lay it out on what was called a "malting floor" at this point, they would allow the seeds
to germinate. During the germination process, the seed creates enzymes which break down the starch in the plant to sugars to allow growth.
However, once a percentage of those enzymes are created, they will break the rest of the starch down into sugar regardless of the plant continuing to grow.
There are other ways of malting, in the Asian Pacific region, fermented products would be put in the mouth and chewed, mixing them with saliva which contains amylaze and other enzymes which break starch down into sugars. The resulting mash would be spit out and fermented. This process is ideal for potatoes and other starchy plants. Most fruits have a high enough sugar content to be fermented directly. Allowing them to turn a bit usually helps this process along.
When fermenting, it is important to make sure you are creating a perfect home for the yeast you want to turn all the stuff into ethanol. The way to do this is by killing off any competitive fungi or bacteria. This is done by boiling, since it won't disrupt the environment after the yeast are introduced (compared to bleach or iodine). You must sterilize all glassware, stoppers, and tools you will use, you must also sterilize (by
boiling) the water, and whatever you are going to ferment (now known as the mash). After bringing it all up to temp, let it boil for an hour or two (this helps break down, and dislodge the sugars further).
You can now transfer the mash to your primary fermenter, this is usually a 5-10 gallon carboy, but could also be a 250 gallon pallet container doesn't really matter, as long as it's clean. At this point you add the yeast, most yeast needs to be activated first, by putting the yeast in hot/warm water.
In most cases it needs to be a brewers yeast. The primary method by which the yeast functions, is it converts sugars into alcohol, up until the point that it runs out of sugar, or the alcohol content gets high enough to kill the yeast. Thus there are different kinds of yeast depending on what you want--beer, wine, etc. I have heard of hybrid yeasts from New Zealand which can tolerate up to 25% alcohol (twice that of wine).
After a few days to a week (the best way to tell something is done is by waiting for it to stop bubbling) the fermentation should be done. You can now start distilling.

Still types and uses:
I won't go into some of the more complex issues of moonshining. They often use thumper kegs, worm boxes, and other things I won't describe since I believe the reflux method to be superior.
Pot stills - A pot still is a very very simple device. It has a pot, and a tube coming out of it which coils around maybe goes through ice water and then dumps into a jar. Controlling what comes out of this still is done entirely by monitoring the temperature of the mash as it's boiled.
Reflux still - Similar to a pot still, but has a reflux tower on top of the pot. This is usually full of rashing rings, crushed glass, steel wool etc.
The tower is usually made of 1-2" copper tube and is welded, soldered, or mechanically affixed to the top of the pot. At the top of the reflux tower is a thermometer, and a draw pipe. The draw pipe connects to a condenser.
The refluxing tower can be made more complex by putting draw tubes through it, these tubes will move coolant from the condenser through the refluxing tower allowing better temperature control.

The reflux still controls it's temperature by throttling the fire (usually propane) and by throttling the water moving through the condenser and the reflux tower. Once you have loaded the pot with mash, start to heat it up.
When you get to 75C you will start to see vapor, and liquid come out of the condenser. If you desire fuel, turn on the water supply to the condenser and continue collecting until the temperature goes up to about 99-100C (the boiling point of water). At this point, you should now have a product which is 95% pure alcohol (the 5% is water, which has been absorbed from the air) if you want to keep it legal, you should now add about 5-10% of something noxious, gasoline, MEK [methyl ethyl ketone], or kerosene. Even if you don't mix it with a denaturing agent, do not drink this, it is full of methanol, isopropanol, pentanol and butenol. These chemicals can cause blindness, liver, kidney, and other internal organ damage. I won't go into drinking alcohol. But these are the steps to keep in mind for making alcohol.
You should now clean out your pot still. Just to warn you, mash after it's been processed smells like boiled vomit. So I suggest you do this outside.
As a side effect of this however, you can make another chemical which is very useful as a disinfectant: Acetic acid. Use a beer/win yeast to brew with (giving about 10-15% alcohol by volume) and then allowing it to turn by adding mothers of vinegar (organic vinegar usually still contains mothers). After it turns, you can then distill it (as above) but the boiling point is different, or you can make glacial acetic acid. If you live in a cold climate, simply place the mash outside, and periodically squeeze the mushy ice. The water and other goo will freeze, but the acetic acid has a much lower freezing point. This can be used to wash vegetables, clean medical areas, bathrooms, and can also be added to the laundry to boost the disinfecting power of soaps.
Sorry to be so long winded, but I hope all that fills some gaps. - AVL


To correct an inaccuracy in a recent SurvivalBlog post: Having successfully completed the process to build a still and obtain an alcohol fuel producer permit, I can help walk your readers through the process to legally comply with Federal Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) rules.

TTB licensing is required for all producers of any type of alcohol, including ethanol for fuel uses, for all types of uses. [The TTB now handles the still licensing- which was formerly administered by the BATFE.]Production of alcohol without a TTB license is extremely illegal and a great way to get sent to prison. There are a variety of different types of TTB alcohol production licenses depending on the use of the alcohol and the scale of production. Their primary concern is collecting the stamp tax on drinking alcohol, with safety being a secondary concern. There are a lot of hurdles to get BATFE licenses for drinking alcohol and for production in volumes over ~5,000 gallons per year - these include background checks, bonding, environmental, and location hurdles. However, it is extremely easy to get a TTB license for small volume production of ethanol for fuel and non-drinking applications. See the TTB web site for more information on the rules and application forms. The application is relatively simple. As long as the applicant can pass a standard background check (e.g. not under indictment or previously convicted of a felony) and makes sure not to fall into a couple of traps, approval is automatic and typically takes a couple of months. After you mail in your application, TTB will contact you for a telephone interview about 4-6 weeks after they get your application. Answer their questions honestly, don't joke about making alcohol to drink, and tell them you want to experiment with ethanol fuels. There are two primary procedural traps that can get one disqualified. The first is the location of the still on the map you provide in your application. It should not be in your home (too much danger of fire). TTB want to see it in a shed or another locked structure separate from the home (even if only several feet away). The second is that you must already possess the still and have it assembled before applying. Once you get approved, you have to file an annual report every January stating how many gallons of ethanol you produced, how many you used, and how many you have in storage. You can also use this annual report to claim federal ethanol producer tax credits, but this is only of value if you produced hundreds of gallons of ethanol. You don't have to denature the alcohol if you use it [for fuel] on site.

The Amphora Society sells several good books on designing and operating stills for both fuel and drinking applications and sells stills. Their PDA-1 still with the extension has worked very well for me and is capable of producing about a liter of 95% alcohol per hour at the maximum production level. Mile Hi Distilling is another provider of distillation equipment and supplies. For home production, space and storage for fermenting ultimately becomes the limiting factor as most home scale distillation systems simply are not capable of producing even close to the legal limit of your permit. If you are using the ethanol for fuel, you need to remove the ~5% water from the ethanol. This can be done using a 3A, 4A, or 5A molecular sieve. I have purchased and used 3A (3 angstrom) molecular sieves from Delta Adsorbents for about $100 for 25 pounds. Note that molecular sieves can be recycled by heating them in an oven to dry them. - Dr. Richard

I am a big fan of your writings but I did have to try to correct a misconception I saw [posited by a reader] on SurvivalBlog. I am an ex-fighter pilot and am well-versed on EMP effects as it did affect my mission at the time. I am now a pilot for one of the major airlines and have been one for about 18 years now. Not all airliners will fall out of the sky as is popularly thought from an EMP. Many airliners still actually fly by cables like the DC 9 and its versions such as the MD 80, 88, and 90. The Boeing 737 has a backup mode that flies the control surfaces (except rudder) by cables, this mode is called manual reversion. Generally, the engines on airliners can still suction feed fuel if the fuel pumps are lost. Navigation is another matter however, I suppose that is where proper pilotage comes in though. A good rule of thumb might be to avoid the European Airbus aircraft in the event of an EMP. If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going. - Rhino.

The Fed blinks. From Bloomberg: Federal Reserve Lowers Rate to 4.75 Percent, First Cut Since 2003. This rate cut can only spell further weakness in the dollar versus foreign currencies. If the Fed has misjudged the patience and charity of the international financial community (and I think that they have), then be ready for a full scale dollar crisis in the next few months. OBTW, did you notice that spot silver jumped to $13 per ounce and gold to $724 in after-hours New York trading? I told you so...

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RBS sent us this: Fears grow for British economy as panic over Northern Rock spreads

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Iraq's government decides to expel Blackwater mercenaries.

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Mark and Nathan both suggested this link: Should teachers be allowed to pack a gun?

"[T]he militia, sir, is our ultimate safety. We can have no security without it." - Patrick Henry (from the debates over the adoption of the proposed new American Constitution of 1787)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The headlines are full of economic gloom and doom. (For example, don't miss reading today's Odds 'n Sods section.) This is the news that I've been warning you about for many months. You can expect things to get much worse before they get better. At least I can rest assured that most SurvivalBlog readers are well prepared.

A reminder that the WRSA has a high power rifle shooting clinic scheduled for this weekend, in Yakima, Washington (September 22-23). These clinics are great way to get high quality rifle shooting instruction for a fraction of what you'd pay at one of the big name shooting schools. Don't miss out!

There is now less than two weeks left to get your entries in for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging. Today we present another entry for Round 12:

One of my hobbies is muscle cars and I have friends that are drag racing fanatics so I am around engines that run on ethanol weekly. Here is what I have learned, If an engine is carbureted and runs on gasoline then it can be converted to run on ethanol (corn liquor). First off a little info on ethanol, it is any distilled spirit in its pure form. Everclear is ethanol, its just expensive due to the alcohol tax the government imposes. Now the ethanol you buy has been denatured so as to make it poisonous to drink and therefore can not be taxed as spirits. Ethanol like gas burns readily under a flame but not with as much energy as gasoline. It burns clean and very dry with almost no reside after it is burned. It also loves to mix with water so making sure you store your ethanol in a sealed container is super important otherwise you will have to re-distill the spirit to remove the water. So here is the deal, you can not just pour ethanol into your gas tank and make it work but it is not that hard for a person with basic mechanical knowledge. First you need to figure out what parts of your fuel system is not ethanol friendly. This is usually the hoses as the ethanol will eat it in short order, I recommend soaking all parts of the fuel system in ethanol for a week to see if anything is affected. Once you know that your fuel system will handle it you can move onto the carburetor. Ethanol contains about 30-40% less stored power then gasoline per unit [of volume]. This is why flex fuel cars get fewer miles per gallon on E85 than pure petrol. This means that you will need to add that much additional fuel to make ethanol reach the correct air/fuel ratio that internal combustion engines love. On a car this means that you need to up the jet size to add more fuel. I usually run a 38-42% increase in my engines but your mileage may vary based on elevation and engine. So cars are easy since it is just a simple jet change but other things are a little more difficult like say chainsaws or small motorcycles. These will usually only have a small amount of jets available to compensate for elevation changes and not nearly enough change for the ethanol conversion, so you will have to improvise. You can buy a couple standard jets for the particular carb you are working on, then measure the opening in your current carb and add the 38% to the hole size and drill the jet out with the proper size drill. Once this is done you can reassemble the carb. Now based on the burning characteristics of ethanol you will need to advance your engines timing to the range of [spark plug ignition] 20 [degrees] before top dead center (BTDC) to 45 [degrees] BTDC, again you will have to experiment with this because I have found that it varies widely based on what that particular engine likes. This is easy on a engine like a cars which is made to be adjusted but can be a huge pain on a smaller engine that has its timing set without adjustment. This is where you will have to investigate your personal engine and see how the timing is set. All engines have a "trigger" that tells it when to spark, to advance that you just have to trick the trigger into firing earlier by modifying the mounts or moving the spark trigger. On a single cylinder engine this is easy since there is only one "trigger" and that is usually based off the crankshaft, but again that varies by engine. That is it, test the fuel system, bigger jets, and advance the timing and now your engine will run on 100% pure ethanol.

Now as I said earlier ethanol does not contain as much stored energy as gasoline so doing the above modifications will result in an engine that will run on pure ethanol it will also run with a noticeable drop in power. So to make up for that you can exploit the fact that ethanol can withstand much higher compression ratios then gasoline without suffering detonation (pinging). Ethanol does not have an "octane" rating since it is not petroleum based but for comparison here I will use that style rating. Most gasoline has a 87 octane rating and ethanol has a "147" octane rating. So what does that mean? It means that you can run a higher compression ratio in your engine to make up for the loss of power. Now I must forewarn you that once you up the compression ratio you are no longer going to be able to run gasoline ever again in that engine. In the drag racing cars we have found that ethanol loves around an 17:1 compression ratio where commercial "pump" gas is around 9.5:1 ratio. Now that is really stout and requires really strong engine parts so I keep my chainsaw and roto-tiller at about 13.5:1 so I don't break a crankshaft. You will be able to increase the compression ratio by either adding a higher compression ratio piston or by milling the heads down to provide a smaller combustion chamber thus increasing the compression ratio. Once you do this you will find that the engine actually has a lot more power then it did on gasoline.

Now for the downside of ethanol, like I said before it burns very clean with little residue, this also means it has very little lubrication properties for your pistons and valves. In a two stroke engine this is not a problem since you are mixing oil into the fuel anyway so I don't worry about it at all, Actually I think two stroke engines are the best conversions. On a four stroke engine you will have to add some sort of lubricating additive. We use a little bit of Marvel's Mystery Oil in the ethanol for the drag cars, but again there are tons of other products out there, Or you can do like me and just run pure ethanol in my roto-tiller since it is not a continuous use kind of machine and I figure the tines will wear out long before the valves.

It is also a little more finicky about storing then standard gasoline because it will absorb water right out of the air, but it also from what I understand has a pretty much indefinite storage life if it is kept sealed unlike petroleum.

We just buy our ethanol locally. You can find it anywhere that sells commercial fuels and kerosene but prices vary widely based on stores so shop around. But the best part is anyone can make their own ethanol right at home. Now I am not all that knowledgeable about this part as I am not a bootlegger (yet) But making ethanol is basically making moonshine. Now I must warn you that making illegal hooch is against the law and the ATF [Bureau's agents] will be at your door and I assure you that they have absolutely no sense of humor. So if you decide to do this make sure to get the proper permits to do this. From what I understand this is quite simple and is nothing like dealing with the firearms division of the ATF, just explain that you are using it as motor fuel and not spirits.

Once you have your still you can make ethanol out of anything that ferments, i.e. sugar, fruits, grass, hay, grain, corn, potatoes, berries, I think that anything with sugar content will provide the highest yield based on weight and that is why brazil uses sugar cane to produce theirs. Think about all the organic waste you have around you, un-ripened fruit on the tree, garden plants after harvest, grass clippings and soon you see what kind of renewable resource this, and it would be even more important in the event or TEOTWAWKI. Think about how much easier life would be with a roto-tiller, a chainsaw and a four wheeler that you can make fuel for indefinitely, when no one else around you has gasoline.

It is nice to be able to buy your ethanol now and get used to using it and storing it and work out all the kinks that you will run into before you are depending on it for your life. So I am of the opinion that you should do this now to figure out everything so the transition is seamless if something happens. Plus running ethanol is cheaper then gasoline, around a buck a gallon.

There is also a ton of information out there on converting engines, so do your research and learn all you can before jumping into it, remember I have friends that run ethanol so when I have problems I take it to their house. You might not be so lucky in your area.

So you do not need to buy a special engine to run on ethanol, you can just convert any engine with a carb. I have ran my roto-tiller for three years now on ethanol every spring, my chainsaw quite a bit for work monthly, and for the past five years I have ridden a two stroke motorcycle that runs on ethanol without much more of a problem than gasoline. The best part is that with a still you can produce your own fuel at your retreat with almost anything as your mash base. Also one more perk of this is that making ethanol is actually making drinking alcohol so that is another barter item that will be of great value after TEOTWAWKI, to an alcoholic spirits will be more valuable then gold.

JWR Adds: Some special precautions must be observed when making and operating an ethanol still, storing its product, and using it as either fuel or liquor:

1.) Use only uncontaminated ethanol-producing sugars. Otherwise--with wood, for example--you'll run the risk of making methanol, which is toxic for consumption and causes blindness.

2.) Copper flashing to prevent lead contamination from any soldered pipe joints in the still

3.) General boiler safety (including pressure relief valves) to prevent boiler explosions

4.) In the United States, BATFE licensing is required if any ethanol produced that will be sold for sipping. And presumably the portion sold for use as fuel must first be denatured.

5.) Tightly capped containers for your finished product, since ethanol is highly hygroscopic--it rapidly absorbs moisture from the air.

6.) Most gasoline engine fuels tanks and fuel systems are not suited to alcohol. This one reason that I recommend buying "Flex Fuel" (E85 compatible) vehicles, whenever possible.

7.) Alcohol burns with an almost invisible flame, so any leak in a fuel system can cause a particularly dangerous vehicular fire.

(See this distillation safety guide as well as this piece from Backwoods Home magazine for further details.)

Hi Jim,
I saw the posting about police trade-in guns and thought I could weigh in both as a cop and as a law enforcement firearms instructor and armorer.

Cop trade in guns can be a real steal if a buyer understands a few things. First, a majority of trade-in guns are low mileage, high wear guns. What that means is that the guns will often see anywhere from minimal to extensive holster wear. However, in this day and age, a majority of cops are not routine shooters and therefore, rarely shoot their assigned duty pistols. If a buyer has the ability to look through whatever collection of trade-in guns a dealer may have, it behooves them to do so to find the low wear low mileage gem. Second, most cop guns are expected to be serviced and internal parts inspected at least yearly. Some of these guns may have new internals not replaced by the manufacturer if an agency upgraded with the same manufacturer (Such as older Sig 239s for newer ones). Many “previously owned” guns like SIGs “certified pre-owned” (CPO) have refurbished internal parts. Third, because the guns are used, their prices are much better than [buying] new. As an example, a current vendor is selling Generation 2 Glocks 22s and 23s for 1⁄2 to 2/3rds of the usual new gun price.

As always with trade-in guns, caveat emptor. But they can be a real steal! When my trusty Generation 2 Glock 22 duty pistol is retired and traded, I already have a deal set-up with the distributor to buy it back for sentimental reasons. Best Regards, - MP in Seattle (10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

Frequent content contributor SJC suggested this article by Michael Panzner: The Time to Panic is When Those in Charge Say "Don't Panic". JWR's comment:The bank run that Mr. Panzner mentioned (at Northern Rock--a mortgage lender in England) could very well spread to other banks primarily associated with mortgage lending, and then in a worst case, if a fevered bank run ensues, all banks. Here in the States, the public's trust in the FDIC and FSLIC insurance will probably slow any bank runs, but the end result may be long delays before deposits can all be paid out, and even lengthier delays while the Treasury cranks up the printing presses to print up the requisite cash. (With a fractional reserve banking system, only a small fraction of the total deposits exist in the form of printed cash money.) Yes, Uncle Sugar can eventually make good on their bank insurance promises, but they will have to print mountains of $100 bills to do so. In a worst case situation you might only get a cashier's check, and then have no place to cash it. Following any widespread bank runs, once people have lots of cash in hand they will understandably want to convert some of it into tangibles. Thus, big bank runs will be highly inflationary at the consumer level. Fundamental market laws are inescapable.

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From SHTF Daily: World’s banks hit for $30 billion in credit crunch

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Found at The Economist web site: Still hanging on--How far, and how fast, will the dollar fall? The article begins: "For several years, the darkest scenarios for the world economy have involved a dollar crash. The script was simple. America’s dependence on foreign capital was a dangerous vulnerability. At some point foreign investors would refuse to pile up ever more dollar assets. If investors were spooked, say by a crisis in American financial markets, they might ditch dollars fast. The greenback would plunge. A tumbling currency would prevent the Fed from cutting interest rates, deepening and spreading the economic pain." Gee, this sounds a lot like a novel that I once read wrote.

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Steve in Iraq forwarded us this link Former Fed Boss Says Euro Could Replace U.S. Dollar As Favored Reserve Currency. Meanwhile "Mr. Magoo" Greenspan was also quoted by The Daily Telegraph, as stating that Britain is in some ways more vulnerable U.S. real estate market. Specifically, Greenspan said; "Britain is more exposed than we are - in the sense that you have a good deal more adjustable-rate mortgages."

"Let me now reassure you, your money is safe with us and if you want some, or all of it back, then you are perfectly entitled to it. Whilst you may have to wait a little longer than usual to receive it, you will get it." - Adam Applegarth, Chief Officer, Northern Rock Bank, (The fifth largest mortgage lender in England), September 14, 2007

Monday, September 17, 2007

The bidding is already up to $350 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle (7.62x54R) from my personal collection. This rifle was rebarreled by Valmet during WWII, and is in excellent condition. It comes with a replica bayonet, original sling, and original muzzle cap. Since the receiver for this rifle was made in 1898, it can be mailed directly to the winning bidder's doorstep, with no FFL paperwork! The auction ends on October 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

The US Dollar recently posted new lows against most currencies. Most notably it now takes $1.39 to a buy a Euro, $2 to buy a British Pound and the Canadian Dollar is at 97.16--nearing parity with the US Dollar! This weakness in the once-almighty dollar may help boost US exports, but overall the weak dollar is bad news for Americans. Most importantly for those interested in preparedness, it is making some key imported items prohibitively expensive. This includes optics from Germany, water filters from England, and spare gun parts from Austria and elsewhere.

Since the Federal Reserve has opted for a slightly less painful way out of the current credit crisis--by lowering interest rates--I expect the slide in the dollar to continue. So I most strongly recommend that if you have been delaying buying any critical preparedness items that are imported, quit dawdling. Most notably, buy spare parts and accessories for all of your imported gear.For example, if you own a British Berkefeld water filter, now is the time that you should stock up on spare filter elements. If you own any imported guns--Steyr AUGs, FN-FALs, HKs, Glocks, SIGs, Berettas, Galils, and so forth--lay in your supplies of extra magazines and spare parts, now. And if you want to buy a Kahles, IOR, Schmidt & Bender, or other brand of imported scope, you had better buy it soon, because within a couple of years it will probably be unaffordable!

Aloha Jim & Memsahib,
Per your advice in an earlier blog posting, I rushed in an order for 16 bottles of Polar Pure water purification crystals from the folks at Ready Made Resources. I placed the order on August 26th and received my shipment on September 14th. The entire shipment of 16 bottles (enough for our family of three for quite a while plus something extra for barter and/or charity) arrived via Uncle Sam’s snail mail in what I thought was a surprisingly short time. (I had been expecting something like 6 to 8 weeks from Tennessee to the islands.) The shipment was sturdily packed, the documentation was clear and accurate ad the price was quite reasonable – approximately $205, including shipping. That tells me these folks care about their customers; and they’ll definitely be seeing more of this customer in the future. Again, thanks for the head’s up on the Polar Pure. Though we’ve been pretty lucky this hurricane season in the Pacific, we’re technically not out of the woods until December 1st. I’ve lived through two hurricanes and a number of tropical storms during my nearly forty years here, not to mention the occasional odd water main breaks (some of the mains on Oahu are 50 + years old and fracture on a regular basis) and the odd winter flood, or sewage spill which can result in water outages lasting for hours – sometimes days. With a good supply of water purification crystals along with our backpack water filters and stored bottled water, we should be in reasonably good short-term shape on that score. I’m still working on possible solutions to our long-tern storage problem – we live in a three bedroom, two bath townhouse. However, it’s ground floor with a yard, so food grade plastic barrels for catchments are a possibility. Next up is a replenishing run to the Big Box store(s) to restock our canned goods shelves. We make it a point to store what we eat and eat what we store. That way there are no last minute surprises with family or neighbors being confronted with unfamiliar foods they may not like, or might, say, be allergic to.

As an aside, I read your earlier evaluation of Hawaii as a retreat/relocation area and, much as I hate to say it, I have to agree with you. If things should get severely Schumeresque, this is not the place you want to be caught. Beside all the items covered in your evaluation, there is the day-to-day cost-of-living to just carry on a normal life, here (about 35-40% more, on average than on the mainland). For example, I just picked up a hundred rounds of mil surplus .223 [Remington] 55 grain ammo for my AR, in Honolulu, and it ran me just about $43.50, including tax. Since private individuals without an FFL are forbidden by law from shipping ammo to Hawaii you are pretty much at the mercy of the local dealers and what they see fit to charge. There only two or three firearms dealers, per se, here on Oahu .

If you are coming to Hawaii and you’re single, it would be best to have a really good paying job lined up in advance; if you’re married and not already financially comfortable, you will both be working…guaranteed! Even with my military contractor’s salary, my wife’s pay plus cost-of-living allowance (she’s Civil Service), and my son’s post-high school entry into the work force, we ain’t exactly “livin’ large”. A two bedroom townhouse can easily set you back $300,000 or more; median price for a three bedroom two bath single family home is over $625,000, depending which island you settle upon. And, if you’re hoping to find any sort of decent sized land suitable for a survival retreat/farm, you’d best be well-heeled, indeed. It’s just one of the reasons the Admiral and I (my wife is ex-Navy and my son says she can be as tough as Bull Halsey when she wants to, hence ”the Admiral”) are planning a move to the mainland mountain-west after retirement.

I really enjoy the blog, Jim. It’s a regular part of my daily regimen; and, I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned in the year or so I’ve been frequenting the site. It’s been well worth my 10 Cent Challenge subscription. Keep up the good work. - Gandalf, in Hawaii

"Always be the best, my boy, the bravest,
and hold your head up high above the others.
Never disgrace the generation of your fathers.
- Hippolochus, to Glaucus, in Homer's Iliad VI, (Fagle's translation, p.202)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Congrats to John T. in California, the high bidder in the auction for the Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter. It was kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers.

Today we begin a new SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle from my personal collection. This rifle was rebarreled by Valmet during WWII, and is in excellent condition. It comes with a replica bayonet, original sling, and original muzzle cap. Since the receiver for this rifle was made in 1898, it can be mailed directly to the winning bidder's doorstep, with no FFL paperwork! The bidding starts at $200. The auction ends on October 15th.. Just e-mail us your bid.

I'm a believer in being prepared for the worst. However, how do I (we) survive 4+ years of an extreme left wing political take over of our system? Right now it looks like Hillary or Obama will win the Presidential elections in '08. With either of those two in and a left wing house and senate, I have to believe that we're doomed. You have to know that firearms will probably be banned similar to Canada, Australia, and Great Britain. Are you going to give up your means of defense? When times get tough and food gets scarce, the government will ban "hoarding" and place stiff penalties on the same.
I view the coming elections with dread. I don't like having a target on my white male, conservative, Christian back. But, that's how it will be.
Sorry for such a gloomy note. Regards, Tom E.

JWR Replies: You have good reason for your gloominess. Quite frankly, I share it.

One of the great things that I have always loved about the United States is that if a state's laws (taxes, gun laws, homeschooling laws, or whatever) get too oppressive, you can always "vote with your feet" and move to another state that has preserved more individual liberty. This is exactly what I did when I left California in 1990. I am a fourth-generation member of a pioneer California family that had arrived via covered wagon in the 1850s. But my wife and I decided that the political battle in California was lost. It is impossible to fight a demographic tidal shift. When the liberal do-gooders and their legions of welfare recipients that make up their voting bloc begin to out number the decent, hard-working conservative "bedrock culture", there comes a day that you realize that no matter how many well-reasoned letters your write to the newspapers and the state capitol, the battle is lost. So I packed up my family and didn't look back. From what I've heard, this process continued and is ongoing. Some of the best and brightest are wisely still bailing out of California in considerable numbers. OBTW, the latest outrage I heard was that the City of San Francisco has instituted socialist universal health care for every resident of the city, all to be funded magically by tax dollars. Papa Fidel would be proud of his understudies. The Liberal Nanny Staters that rule California have totally lost touch with reality.

But you have raised an issue that involves the Federal government. There is no escaping Federal law, short of leaving the country altogether, which I generally do not advocate. Let's face it, America is called "The Land of the Free" for good reason. Nearly all of the alternatives are not very appealing. yes, the prospect of a liberal Democrat president working with a liberal Democrat-controlled house and Senate is a nightmare for those of us that love our liberty. I expect that the First, second, Fourth, and Tenth Amendments will get tarnished if not outright trashed in the event of four to eight years of "enlightened" Nanny State government. All that we can hope and pray for is that there will be legislative gridlock in congress, with little erosion of our liberty during those years. And hopefully that will only last four years, a and the political pendulum will swing back the other direction. Pray hard.

I can't recommend any specific survival strategies or tactics, other than keeping a low profile, and scrupulously obeying all of the new laws and directives that will surely issue forth from the bowels of Washington, D.C. if the Democrats take control. You've probably noticed that the prices of many commodities have dramatically increased in the past year. Large diameter PVC pipe may very well be the next commodity to rise in price, due to scarcity.

Again, pray hard for God's guidance, providence and protection.

Dear Jim:
Your site is excellent. It is on my list of daily reading. Your book is also excellent. I've also taken the 10 Cent Challenge.

Under scenarios you mention minimal deaths in an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack. You posit the EMP would disable flight controls. Published information indicates that 3,624 domestic commercial flights were airborne during the attacks on 9/11/01. If that number is relatively accurate and it is multiplied by 267 (average) passengers per plane (not including flight crews) you get 967,608.

If a number of these aircraft are in/near terminal control areas (cities), wouldn't their ensuing impacts add to the death toll?

Newark Airport sits next to the New Jersey Turnpike and when the wind is out of the north the approach takes flights over the 12 lanes of a very busy highway. Any aircraft losing control and landing/crashing short of the runway would create a massive disaster. There are also rail yards and refineries nearby.

Using a base number of 967,608 and adding ground losses appear to produce a significant number of casualties in your scenario. Are these observations realistic? - JH

JWR Replies: When I referred to "minimal" casualties with high altitude EMP-tailored bombs, I meant that in comparison to ground bursts in cities, which could cause many millions of deaths.

Regarding your 967,608 figure, that would only be accurate if there were multiple devices detonated simultaneously at very high altitude and there were overlapping coast to coast "footprints" of EMP. The potential line-of-sight range of EMP--and coincident "coupling" through linear metal objects--has been previously discussed in SurvivalBlog.

Our friend Tim forwarded this: Welcome to Stockton, California: Foreclosure Capitol USA

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Stephen in Iraq sent us this piece: Not so Corny: Fuel Shortages May Hurt Corn Harvesting

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DAV suggested this article on Somalia: The Rule of Law without the State

"If pointing an empty gun at your opponent makes him duck, you may live for an extra two seconds-and who knows? You may find another gun, the bad guy may give up, or the Ammo Fairy may drop you a magazine." - Clint Smith, director of Thunder Ranch

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The high bid is now at $300 in the last day of bidding in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. As a bonus for this auction, I'm also including three autographed books: Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and my novel: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". (Together, these books have a retail value of $82, and hence the full auction lot has a combined value of $307.) The auction ends at midnight EST, tonight. Just e-mail us your bid.

I read, with great interest, your reply to Ron in Alabama about solar powered refrigeration and wanted to let some of the other diabetics out there know about a product I discovered through an Internet search and currently use when camping, fishing, hunting, traveling, etc. It is called the Frio Cooling Wallet. It works great and I keep two in my Bug-Out Bag. While it isn’t designed for the long-term, it sure is a life saver for 1-5 day trips or in case of a bug-out. They are not cheap, but then nothing about diabetes is. - Bassnbear in Florida

Probably the best [chain]saws on the market are Stihl and Husqvarna. Unfortunately, as noted previously, they use a lot of plastic in the construction of them today.

One design feature you need to look at very carefully is the handle bar and how it is mounted to the saw. I own an 046 Magnum Stihl, which is supposed to be one of Stihl's upper end, "pro" model saws. The handle bar wraps around to the right side and mounts with two self tapping screws into the gas tank. Any blow to the top of the handlebar results in shearing out these two screws and a ruined gas tank.....more than a hundred dollar repair. This has happened twice with this saw.

The odd thing is, several of the 030 series, a supposed "lesser" quality saw, have a handle bar design that fully wraps the saw and mounts down under it, which is far superior to the gas tank mount. My advise is take note of this design flaw and buy your saw accordingly.

Bottles of Stihl [two cycle gasoline mixing] oil for mixing (the 2.5 gallon mix size) cost a bit over $9 for a 6 pack a my local dealer. A case of 48 bottles runs 52 bucks. Thai is a savings of 20 bucks over the individual 6 pack size. - Andy in East Tennessee


I've had Homelites, McCullochs, several Stihls, currently down to one - an old Stihl 320AV, all-metal saw. I don't know if other saws have this same issue, but I know the older mid-size Stihls do - chain size. My 320 came in either .325 inch chain pitch or 3/8 inch (.375"). The clutch drum has the chain drive sprocket on it, and a drum for one size won't work for the other. Well, it will, for a while, then it's toast.
It came with a 16" bar, for which I have three chains, plus a 20" bar and three chains for it, all in .325" and spare clutch drums in both .325 and .375. I also have a chain breaker and peener tool, so I can take a 20" chain and make it fit the 16" bar. FYI, you can buy chain in bulk to make your own, but always securely peen the rivets. Never use a spring clip master link on a chainsaw. Buy lots of extra link pins and side plates for this. Make sure all the chains you buy are the right size.

When you buy a new chain, break it in by cutting gently with it for 5-10 minutes, then hand sharpen it with the right size round file to put a real good sharp edge on the cutting teeth. From the factory most chains aren't as sharp as they could be. Easiest way to do it is in a vise, not on the bar. Don't forget a flat file to adjust the depth guides. Clean the chain in a fire safe evaporating solvent using an old toothbrush, let it dry completely, and soak it in oil. I store my spare chains in wide mouth plastic jars immersed in oil, jars noticeably different; it's a pain, and maybe more, to drive 30 miles to harvest some wood only to find you have a 20" bar but only 16" spare chains. The 70-90 weight hypoid lubricant - for auto differentials - works well for auto lubricators on saws. Soak chains in something thinner, though. If you change your own auto engine oil, filter that, stir in some graphite or molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) and use it for soaking chains. [JWR Adds: As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, it is not recommended that used engine oil be used , since it has been documented to be carcinogenic.]

Redundancy is good; I'd rather have two saws with 20" bars than one big one with a 36" bar, even if one of the saws is a cheapie.

Motorcycle shops are good sources of 2 stroke oil in quarts. Synthetic oil is good, stay away from castor oils, which burn gummy [and smoky] and require more maintenance. Best is the 6 or 12 packs of small bottles from lawn equipment dealers; each bottle is sized to mix with 1 gallon of gas, and if one bottle leaks it doesn't affect the other 47 in the case. Warehouse clubs sometimes have this in quantity.

I can't stress this enough: chainsaw safety. Learn how to use your saw safely, never, never, never break the safety rules, never cut alone, quit when you're tired, never cut "in a hole," plan all your cuts ahead of time, maintain secure footing. Chainsaw accidents are never minor. Develop the mindset that if you lose your footing you toss the saw away from you, so no one ever stands in front of you or close to you while cutting; saws are cheap, legs aren't. You can cut through Kevlar safety chaps, by the way. If you're cutting from top down you can throw the saw away from you; cutting "in a hole" means you have branches above and below the saw so you can't toss it. Wood moves when it's cut, sometimes springing up, sometimes rolling. Rarely do people understand just how much a few feet of 12" diameter green oak weighs, or the energy in a trapped branch. It's not at all hard to die in the woods from a chainsaw accident.

Spare parts are a must. I have two spare electronic ignition modules and coils for mine, EMP-protected in a steel ammo can, along with two sets of gaskets, seals, air filters, two pistons (one standard size, one .010" oversize, both with two sets of rings), extra bearings, spark plugs, and an assortment of specialty bolts for specific points on the saw. You'd be surprised how many places on chainsaws that standard metric bolts won't work because of [the small] head size [of those used on chainsaws]. Procure and toss in any specialty tools you might need to work on your model saw. For example, my Stihl requires extra-long metric Torx drivers.

I never take the chainsaw out without also taking a one-man buck saw, some shallow and steep hardwood wedges and a 4 pound [sledge] hammer. Once I misjudged which way a tree was balanced and wound up disassembling the saw, leaving the bar with the chain on it pinched in the cut. Came back the next day with another saw to drop the tree and retrieve my bar and chain. Since then I've gotten away with cutting an unbalanced tree from the wrong side by using the wedges to keep the cut open behind the bar.
Take the time to learn how to use your saw safely and efficiently. - Homer

JWR Adds: Kevlar safety chaps are available from Northern Tool & Equipment (Search on item # 181931.) Along with gloves, goggles, earmuffs and a safety helmet, I consider chaps a must. I agree with Homer's recommendation on carrying a sledge hammer and wedges when felling. Don't use metal wedges. Just one brief touch of the moving chain would mean a badly dulled chain at the very least, and perhaps a fire or trip to the hospital. For felling, use only hardwood wedges or the new plastic wedges available at saw shops.

 Reader E.L. recommended the Flu Wiki web site for anyone with an interest in researching Asian Avian Flu.

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"Cowboy255" pointed us to this tongue-in-cheek British documentary on US survivalists that appears to have been made back in the 1990s.

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By way of SHTF Daily: Discount window loans surge to $3.16 billion a day

“The hope of every central bank is that the real problem can be kept from public view. The truth is that the public -- even professionals on Wall Street -- have no clue what the real problem is. They know it has something to do with derivatives, but none of them realize that it’s more than a $20 trillion mountain of unfunded, unregulated paper that has just been discovered to not have a market and, therefore, no real value . . . When the dollar realizes the seriousness of the situation -- be that now or sometime soon -- the bottom will drop out.” - Jim Sinclair

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tomorrow is the last day of the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. As a bonus for this auction, I'm also including three autographed books: Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and my novel: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". (Together, these books have a retail value of $82, and hence the full auction lot has a combined value of $307.) The high bid is now at $300. The auction ends at midnight EST, Saturday the 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

First, a preface on my background: I can't decide if I should be a Cassandra (Sunspot cycle, Peak Oil, suitcase Nukes, Mayan Calendar mythology) or a Pollyanna (Y2K Flop, Heaven's Gate, 2003 Hindu prediction Flop, and the 6-6-06 Flop; not to mention all of the countless predictions of the beginning of the "Time of Jacob's Trouble," rapture, et cetera, that hucksters and zealots have hawked for thousands of years). I believe whatever happens will happen and be over very shortly, and it will either leave us relatively unharmed or (given that I live in a city and work at an inner-city teaching hospital) will kill us quickly.
Given this indecision, my thoughts on preparedness lean more towards self sufficiency and community building than fallout shelters, concrete bunkers and 75 years worth of canned soup on the shelves. I largely enjoy the genre as fiction, but I don't expect cataclysm (The Road, Lucifer's Hammer, or even Patriots); a friend and I once termed it as a “crumple.” Like the high school chemistry experiment of the metal can with the vapors boiled out that is suddenly capped and plunged into cool water: it crumples, but with some effort the shape and function can be largely recreated, save for a few creases in the metal and some weak points in the structure that will need repair before a "good as new" functionality returns.

I don't deny the Walter Mitty streak that I think many have; depending on the day you ask me. this can range to extremes: from being able to smugly smile that I was prepared for the bump in the road to being the last man on earth hunkered down and preserving the flame as the last bastion of learning. Naturally, the latter fantasy often includes a bevy of nubile young and (naturally) worshipful admirers that Domestic-6 might not approve of.

Given that preface, I did have an opportunity to look at what many would consider a subsistence, or at least a Third World, standard of living during a recent family vacation to the Yucatan We were given the opportunity to visit a Mayan village, populated by perhaps 30 families, and were invited into the homes of two of those families. I'll begin by paraphrasing a comment that our tour guide made just before we left to return to our hotel: "They may not have all of the conveniences that we are used to, but they have shelter and food and children, and perhaps they are happier than we are."

Overview of the Mayans

The families lived in one-room structures built of wood poles of about the diameter of a wrist that were stuck vertically into the ground [in stockade wall fashion](think an old western fort from cowboy films). They were not chinked, and the roof was thatch. Sleeping arrangements were hammocks, and these were rolled up over ceiling rafters during the day. As many as nine children (a total of eleven people) lived in a house no larger than my living room.
One corner of the structure was dedicated to cooking, and the matron of the house spent most of her day over a griddle that sat over an open fire cooking palm-sized corn tortillas, which she made by hand. Corn was soaked overnight, ground in the morning and then the dough was pressed and cooked all day. Given the size of the tortillas, I suspected it would take 8 or 9 of the flat cakes to make a meal. For a family of 11 this is over 450 handmade tortillas a day griddled on an old piece of sheet metal over a wood fire. Needless to say, Mom doesn't get out much...
The wood and thatch construction of every house showed the location of the fire pit easily: the walls and thatch roof were singed black over and around the fire pit. As an aside, there were piles of cinder blocks and masonry everywhere. Our guide explained that after a bad hurricane season in 2005, the Mexican Federal government brought in building materials for the populace to construct sturdier shelters. They sat largely unused, save for a few towers to gravity feed water tanks. Our guide explained that the locals' attitude was that their people had been living with hurricanes in their huts in the Yucatan for thousands of years. The thatch and wood huts were good enough for their ancestors, and were good enough for them.
I saw no cultivation to speak of; this made me think of the Thucydides' comments on the barbaroi: "they planted no trees or vines." The houses did have what could be, with enough generosity, considered a potager: a few plants were grown in pots, and several trees were scattered around the houses. It was not an orchard, per se, but almost appeared that a seed cast there had sprouted and grown, and the family now would make use of it. Chickens were kept in tiny crates that would make Tyson Chicken's confinement operation jealous; the crates were not crates as much as piles of something against a pile of something else and covered with yet another thing that restricted the chicken to its 18 by 18 inch area. I saw a large sow likewise confined, though in a larger area. I didn't ask if the animals were allowed out to forage.
There is some hunting by the men of the community to add a little variety to the diet. I only saw one old double shotgun. Herbal medicine and locally gathered wild foods are also used extensively.
Feral dogs and cats lived in the village, ribs showing and patches of fur missing. My father pointed out that in the United States the SPCA would take and put down the animals for maltreatment, but to me the animals were there because the chose to be around humans. I don't know if this was because the proximity to the people gave a few scraps to feed on or if it is a result of some deeper genetic need on the part of the dogs to be around people.
Water was pumped by gasoline engines from the abundant natural cenotes- underground wells. As I described earlier, many houses had a tank on a cinder block pole (many of the "proper" buildings around the area had roof mounted water tanks as well). To my knowledge, this was raw well water.
Another thing our guide pointed out was a solar panel. If I had to guess, based on size, I would think it was less than 100 watts. It was mounted high, and somewhat obscured by trees, but it was certainly less than 3 feet by 2 feet. This fed at least two huts. I saw a single battery of unknown vintage and type, but likely from a car. The only electric device I saw was a fluorescent bulb (U shaped, certainly not more than 40 watts). There may have been a radio squirreled away unseen.


My experience in the Yucatan is not directly portable to our own experience in northern latitudes. The Mayans have the advantage of occasional injections of aid from both governments and charities which would be lacking in a large scale collapse. September 11th and Hurricane Katrina both showed that eventually help may arrive, but a situation like [Hurricane] Katrina in the face of a massive recession or being the second or third disaster of the year, when society has already “shot its bolt” of aid, could mean that assistance will a long time in coming.
Thus, the implications for our preparations are many. The foremost thing that I took away was that the need for “75 years worth of canned soup on the shelves” that I described earlier is somewhat less than I'd thought. The Mayans lived self sufficiently on cornmeal cakes, a few minimally cultivated plants, and foraged game and foods. I would not begin to call it an easy life: the adults were universally missing teeth, the floors of the huts were of dirt, and simply preparing food was a full-time proposition.
Coming as I do from a life of soft hands, high speed Internet, 24-hour supermarkets, and year round fruits and vegetables, it was an eye opening experience for me.

I'll repeat what our guide told us as we left the Mayans, “They may not have all of the conveniences that we are used to, but they have shelter and food and children, and perhaps they are happier than we are."

The Disappearing "Jumbo" Creates a Window of Opportunity for Some Retreat Buyers

For many years the "Jumbo" mortgage has been the means by which middle class buyers have purchased A.) Large homes, B.) Homes on large acreages, or C.) Homes in desirable suburbs. With the recent credit market crisis, the availability of Jumbo loans has declined precipitously. This has had a number of immediate effects. First, it has been an impetus for owners of houses that had been listed between $417,000 and $450,000 to lower their asking prices to $416,000 or less. Secondly, with a few exceptions, it has effectively put a damper on the market for any property over $450,000 in many areas. Lastly, it has put cash buyers of properties over $450,000 in a very strong bargaining position.

Say, for example, there is a survivalist (or a group of survivalists) moving from a suburban coastal region with high real estate prices to an inland rural region where the only properties over $400,000 are on very large acreage. And, for the sake of argument lets say there are a few people (or survival groups that are pooling their resources and plan to split up a large ranch) that have $417,000+ in cash scattered around in several banks. (Again, these are smart individuals, so they don't have more than $100,000 (or $200,000 for married couple) in any singe FDIC insured institution, right?). With that cash in hand, they now they have considerable bargaining power to talk down the asking price on any property that is listed over $417,000. I expect this situation to persist for several months--at least until the credit market regains some semblance of order and the mortgage writers start to issue Jumbo loans again. But for now, this represents a great window of opportunity. In today's market, the seller of property listed at $650,000 might seriously consider a "low ball" offer of $525,000. (A year ago, he probably would have dismissed such an offer, out of hand.) Think about it. - JWR.

I recently discussed this development in an exchange of e-mail with a SurvivalBlog reader who is a mortgage specialist that lives in the San Francisco Bay area. The following were some of his comments:

"[The Bay Area is an unusual market.] We do have [recent] immigrants and one thing you don't hear in the news is that in the Asian and Indian and to a lesser extent, the Hispanic cultures, three generations
under one roof is not uncommon if you have 4-6 working adults and grandma watches the babies all day, its not a problem to make that monthly nut, even if 1 gets laid off. Also there are lots of high tech
money out here and financial industry money who can afford a multimillion dollar semi custom house here in the Bay Area. There is still plenty of money out there to be lent by banks at good rates (long term rates are back down to low 6%) but the banks are not going out with the 100% stuff anymore, although those 100% loans are available they are tough to find and [have] fairly high rates. Banks want people to have some skin in the game.

One thing to remember about the Fannie Mae limits is $417,000 is for 1 unit, the limits on a duplex is $533,850, 3-plex is $645,300 and 4-plex is $801,950, for a government saleable loan (limits are much higher in Hawaii and Alaska. Although I don't know how many 4-plexes there are on a multi acre parcel but a duplex might be reasonable (Two+ extended families or very close and trusting friends, make sure any of your agreements are in writing!, or form a partnership or LLC and make sure it is spelled out exactly who is responsible for what).

Also, on anything over 20 acres and your bank may have issues not calling it a 'farm' and wanting to charge commercial rates and even making it FNMA Saleable. I recommend talking to a local bank or Agricultural credit union if somebody needs to finance a big piece of land. Talk to a direct lending bank or Credit Union, not a "non bank" finance company (Countrywide, Charter Funding, American Home Mortgage etc.) they have money to lend. The non-Banks have to get money from investor-lenders and then repackage the mortgages as bonds to investors, well the meltdown occurred when nobody would lend and nobody would buy so they were sc**wed on both ends. A portfolio lender bank does not have such problems.

Seller [note] carry backs may be an option. If Farmer Jones is retiring or sectioning off some of his land, he may be very open to a bit of cash now, and holding a note for 5 or 10 or 15 years at a decent rate for some monthly income and he can foreclose if you default but the nice part is, he'll probably be more friendly and work with you in a default situation then the bank who has stockholders to please and will call the sheriff for eviction after 60 days or whatever your local rules are if you run into a problem.

Finally, yes in this market the buyer is king and a well qualified buyer with no contingencies is a seller's dream. Especially if seller is in a panic or already bank-owned [Read: in foreclosure]. Two years ago, sellers held all the cards."

I'm currently reading the book "Fighting the Current: There and Back" by Jared Jellison. It is the true story of two ordinary guys who embarked on an adventure of a lifetime, as they paddled across America in canoes. This journey was a tremendous test of endurance that took two and a half years and covered 8,000 miles. Oh and, speaking of long treks, I should again mention Karl Bushby's on-foot expedition. If and when completed, it will cover 37,000 miles.

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From SHTF Daily: The R-word surfaces on Wall Street. Personally, I use the D words: Depression and Default.

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From The Guardian: Al-Qaida has revived, spread and is capable of a spectacular

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From a Greenville, South Carolina newspaper: Retired preacher warned intruder he had a gun

"The most fundamental fact about the ideas of the political left is that they do not work. Therefore we should not be surprised to find the left concentrated in institutions where ideas do not have to work in order to survive." - Thomas Sowell

Thursday, September 13, 2007

There are just two days left in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. As a bonus for this auction, I'm also including three autographed books: Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and my novel: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". (Together, these books have a retail value of $82, and hence the full auction lot has a combined value of $307.) The high bid is still at $235. The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
We are in the market a new chainsaw. We currently have an old Homelite Super XL which has served us well for the past 25 years, but it is getting tired. We have looked at the Stihls and Husqvarnas, both of which are mostly plastic. I guess I am spoiled by the old heavy duty all metal Homelite. Do you have any suggestions regarding a saw, how many chains, and how much lubricant to keep on hand? - Mark G.

JWR Replies: I also miss the sturdy, all-metal brutes of the 1970s, but I certainly don't miss their weight. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we mainly use a Stihl 029 with a 20" bar that we've had since 1998. It is big enough for most felling, yet light enough for limbing and utility work. (We mainly have second growth, with few trees over 18" in diameter.) We've found the Stihl to be very reliable. Yes, it has a plastic shroud, so of course I am careful to treat it more gently than I could an old Homelite.

I'm a big believer in spares, so we keep six spare chains on hand. Three of these are brand new, and three have been re-sharpened many times, but even that has its limits. The other limitation is eventual chain stretching. After a point you will find that the chain length will exceed the range of travel on your chain bar adjustment. (At which point the only practical remedy is removing a link from the chain.) We keep at least three gallons of bar lube oil on hand, but of course standard 10W30 or 10W40 motor oil can be substituted for chain lubrication in a pinch.

The chainsaw item that we have most enthusiastically stocked up on is two cycle gasoline mixing oil. We bought two large cases (of 48 bottles per case), back when the Shindaiwa brand was on sale at a local store. I anticipate that this will be a crucial barter item WTSHTF, because unlike bar lube oil, there is no satisfactory substitute for fuel mixing oil. There may come a day when two cycle oil is worth a fortune. For ease of divisibility (anticipating barter and charity), stocking up on a lot of small bottles rather than the typical one gallon jugs is best.

Mr. Rawles,
I did a write up on the Greasel conversion I did for my truck starting at 40,000 miles when I had it converted, to 100,000 which was a week or two ago, and all the things I have done to modify the process along with lessons learned. I posted it at

Polar Bear has it pretty well described, but I would differ with him on one very important point, filtration. If you don't pre-filter the oil down to one or two microns you will clog your vehicle filters in short order, like a few hundred miles. Also, excessive engine wear can occur because particles in the sub-micron to 2 micron range typically do the most damage. Gas stations filter down to 30 microns normally, but they can do that because they are using distilled low viscosity fuels that sit still so they can settle most particulates. Oil is thick and will suspend small particles for a very long time. I filter my oil to one micron before it goes into my tank, and then again through two vehicle filters as I drive.

Also it is necessary to have a lift pump serving the oil tank. You can use the regular vehicle pump, but it puts a lot of strain on it, and it was never designed for that load. Having a lift pump hooked to the fuel selector switch means you have a second pump pushing as the regular pump pulls. I use a pump from F.A.S.S. that came with a 6 year warranty, which is unheard of.

Immediately after [Hurricane] Katrina, which was before my veggie conversion, I drove to Slidell, Louisiana with my brother in law to help him put his roof back on. I had underestimated the situation, and ended up having to buy 7 gallons of Crisco [cooking oil] at a Wal-Mart in Mississippi. As I was loading up my shopping cart a lady asked me if I was having a fish fry. I said, "No ma'am. This is fuel for my truck." She got a soft, pitying look on her face, patted my arm, and said, "Sure it is honey." [JWR Adds: Now that qualifies as s genuine SurvivalBlog moment!]

Remember, in a pinch, you can dump [clean vegetable] oil into a standard tank to mix with diesel and it will run fine. This works best in hot weather of course, but if your truck has a heated return line it will keep the fuel at about 115 degrees F, so you can do this in cold weather as well.

Since the conversion I can run my truck on:

Home heating fuel
Vegetable oil
Jet fuel [JP4]
Kerosene -- preferably mixed with one gallon of vegetable oil to each 10 gallons of kerosene [to provide lubrication, since kerosene by itself is insufficient]
Or any mixture of the above

The conversion allows me to drive for 10 cents a gallon. 10 cents is roughly my cost after filtration. I can take $3 and drive for 17 miles on pump diesel, or I can take $3 and drive 510 miles on vegetable oil. That being said, the conversion was never about saving money, even though the conversion has paid for itself repeatedly now. The conversion was always about fuel flexibility in a pinch.

One last thing, Polar Bear states that there is a power drop when he transitions to vegetable oil. I don't have that problem, but then I use a lift pump, so fuel delivery stays strong for me.
Thanks for taking the time to let me ramble to you again, - Jeff P.

The US Dollar Index has sagged below 80 for the past four trading days. When I last checked, it was at 79.42. (It currently takes a whopping $1.39 to buy a Euro.) As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, this dollar weakness is a red flag. Obviously the international currency market sees lower interest rates ahead in the US. Be prepared for a full scale dollar crisis in the near future. Have you diversified into tangibles? (Gold, guns, and ground.) OBTW, have you noticed that the spot price of gold is now over $700 per ounce? On a related note: Oil hit a record $80 per barrel. I can't help but as, is this a sign of more scarce oil, or just a weaker dollar?

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JLM suggested this news story, which is not too surprising: Foreclosures increase at triple-digit rate in 11 states-- a 471% increase in California. Let's just hope that the foreclosure rates across the nation don't start to mirror Costilla County, Colorado, where 256 of every 1,000 houses was lost to foreclosure.

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RBS sent us this: Mystery South of the Mexican Border: Authorities on Tuesday confirmed that the death toll was 28 from the explosion of a truck loaded with ammonium nitrate Sunday evening in the border state of Coahuila.

"Hoc erat in votis: modus agri non ita magnus, hortus ubi et tecto vicinus iugis aquae fons et paulum silvae super his foret."
Translated: "This used to be among my prayers - a piece of land not so very large, which would contain a garden, and near the house an abundant spring of ever-flowing water, and beyond these a bit of wood." - Horace, Satires 2.6, "On the Sabine Farm"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The folks at Guardians of Jericho are gearing up for the Jericho Convention ("Jerichon") in Oakley, Kansas this coming weekend (September 14th through 16th.) If you attend, be sure to look for folks that are wearing SurvivalBlog T-Shirts. I've heard that there will be at least a half a dozen SurvivalBlog readers there.

What are your thoughts on the firearms that the various police department (PD) are trading in? From what I'm able to determine the service life of a firearm is just 6 years with police departments after that the firearms are either traded in to be sold to you and me or are destroyed. right now I'm seeing a lot of former police firearms hitting the market the S&W Model 10, 64, 5906, 4043, 4566, Sigma, Glock 22, Ruger P89, every brand of riotgun from the bigger names, and the Ruger Mini-14 GB. all for very reasonable prices, the pistols are running in the $200-to-350 range, as are the shotguns. If you don't mind the holster wear these look like good deals. Do you see any problems with them? Some of them have NYPD, MDPD, some even having badges engraved on the slides? I'm guessing that if you get caught with one of those after a Katrina-like event you going to have some explaining to do. Signed, - Dan N.

JWR Replies: Yes, I generally recommend buying police trade in guns, if the price is right. In addition to basics like bore condition and general mechanical condition of all guns, and the specific inspection points for handguns, here are a couple of provisos:

1.) Be careful to check for sloppy cylinders on revolvers. (Some poorly-trained owners have a bad habit of flipping open the cylinders of their revolvers.)

2.) Watch out for rust or pitting on the backstraps and/or under the grips of blued handguns. (Some officers tend to rest their sweaty palms on their grip backstraps when they walk.)

If you get a blued gun that has significantly loss of bluing, you can have it refinished. Say you are getting a gun that would normally cost $600 new, for just $300. That leaves a big budget for refinishing. These days, I generally recommend the exotic finished such as as NP3 or METACOL. This will leave them better than new, since they'll have a more durable finish that their original bluing or parkerizing. There are now a wide range of exotic materials such as Teflon and Zylan are frequently used as "after-market" gun finishes. The Robar Company uses a nickel/Teflon composite that they call NP3. My personal favorite exotic finish is called METACOL (for METAl COLor), which is offered in a wide variety of colors by Arizona Response Systems. Exotic material finishes offer rust protection that is exceeded only by stainless steel. They are quite durable. Parenthetically, for anyone that that dislikes the highly reflective surface of stainless steel, or if you buy a trade-in gun with lots of scratches, it too can be coated with one of the exotic materials such as green Teflon, with a non-reflective matte texture.

Most of the trade-in Mini-14 GBs on the market are ex-Department of Corrections (prison guard) guns. If you can get ones that still have most of their bluing, I do recommend them. (Replacements for battered stocks are cheap and plentiful, so don't pay much attention to the stock. Instead, look at the bore and the bluing. And again, if you buy it "right", then some of your savings can be budgeted for refinishing.

As for guns with departmental markings, be sure to save your receipts! In the case of a rifle or shotgun, you can leave a photocopy of your purchase receipt under the buttplate, so you'll always have it handy.

One final note: Keep in mind that the appearance of gun is not crucial. Preparedness is not a beauty contest. Mechanical condition and bore condition are the essential things. In a pinch, and in just a few minutes, you can tone down a rifle or shotgun's shiny finish with flat brown or green spray paint. If you let pristine appearance be a determining factor, it will actually be to he detriment of your preparedness. Here, I should mention that I have a friend that has a large collection of pre-1964 production Winchester Model 70 bolt action rifles. He would never dream of cutting a stock to install a recoil pad, threading a muzzle to install a flash hider, or camouflage painting one of his rifles. From a practical standpoint, it is probably better to start with used, slightly dinged-up guns. Not only will you save money, but you won't have any reluctance when it comes time to modify your guns to suit your practical and tactical needs.

While digging through a web page associated with Grandpappy's SurvivalBlog article on making home-made-soap, I found some other interesting information. In particular I was reading about survival cooking on the run in this online short story.

So I did a search on "Thermos cooking" and found that Kurt Saxon has published an online article about this topic. (I had looked at his front page before but hadn't dug much further.)

This may be a valuable item for a Bug-Out Bag (BOB) or a get-home-bag. Plus the aforementioned short story while maybe not written too well is chock full of survival goodness, [so it has an instructional aspect] much like "Patriots"!

Oh, and I have a question for you and others. How do you deal with grass, weeds, etc. that can occlude your line-of-sight, fire sectors, etc.? Cut grass would definitely indicate an active presence in a retreat but un-kempt areas could allow concealment for assaulting forces. Was there something in "Patriots" about this? I often thought about it while reading [David Crawford's] "Lights Out" since they developed a distinct fenced perimeter. Just curious. I'm not sure how I'd handle it so I would love some input on it. My apologies if it's buried in your archives and I haven't found it. - Tanker

JWR Replies: Thanks for your input on Thermos cooking.

Regarding grass and weed control, my answer is short and sweet: sheep. Some of the smallest breeds (such as miniature Shetlands and Miniature Cheviots) can be contained with a fence only 20 inches high, so you can construct unobtrusive fencing. If you leave galvanized woven wire out in the weather for a couple of years it loses its reflective sheen. Steel "T" fence posts can be painted with botches of flat green and brown spray paint. Remember that pasture fences do not need to be constructed in straight lines. Low fences with these features are difficult to detect from a distance. Electric fences can be even less obtrusive. For Grid Down preparedness, you would of course install a photovoltaic (solar) fence charger, such as the Parmak brand. Be sure to follow the fence charger installation instructions carefully, especially those regarding grounding rods.

"As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value; every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it." - Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Today is a sad date in American history. Unfortunately, Islamic extremism isn't likely to go away anytime soon, so there could be many more such red letter days. Just be prepared, regardless of what the terrorists throw at us.

Last week my wife told me that another couple had gotten reservations at the cabins at Haleakela State Park for the Labor Day Weekend. We would hike across the crater floor, then down the Kaupo Gap. These are hard to come by and since we were invited, I felt we had to go. Great, a chance to try out my bug out bag. I gave my feet a liberal and prophylactic spraying of anti-fungal medication (a ritual I would end up doing every morning on that trip) and put on my Bug-Out Bag (BOB). Before we left, I unscrewed the aluminum pole from a mop, checked to make sure my backup knife would fit on it and now I had myself both a strong and lightweight walking stick as well as a spear in case a wild boar came too close. The BOB weighed in at 55 pounds. I'm 160 and with the backpack I was using it felt like a manageable weight. On the way there, the steering and brakes on the car went out. I hit the emergency brake and slowed down. The engine just turned off. Since it had power steering and brakes, when the car turned off, they went off too. Strange for a reasonably new car. It started up again so I figured EMP was ruled out. We drove up to about 10,000 feet, got our gear on and started hiking. It was a steep decline into the volcanic caldera/crater and within about 10 minutes I noticed a hot feeling in the heels of my feet. You see, as a sufferer of athletes foot, I tend to keep my shoes loose. Bad idea. Loose shoes make blisters. I stopped and got out the moleskins but I didn't have a pair of scissors. Let me say for the record, a knife is not a pair of scissors. These are separate tools. There I was with my BAK (Big A** knife) trying to cut moleskin pieces. Not only was it the wrong tool for the job, but one slip and it would be a bloody mess.
To take the pressure off my heels, I walked native style (toe to heel) and this helped.
We hiked for the rest of the day through what can only be described at the surface of Mars and finally arrived at the first cabin. The manual pedometer gave me some lousy data. It was set for a 2 foot step/4 foot stride length but I forgot to take into consideration that stride changes with inclines and declines. When I got there I tried out my Zipstove for the first time. At first glance, it looked like something made in a high school metal shop class, and it's a lot heavier than other stoves, but then again, I didn't need to pack any fuel. It has a battery operated fan built in and get fires hot real fast. I hit my sparker into a cotton ball with some vaseline rubbed in and presto. I dropped the little ball of fire into the stove, and added a few twigs and turned on the fan. Wow. The stove worked great. In a minute or two dinner was on it's way. I'll be investing in their titanium version and perhaps I can swap out their metal fan for a plastic one to drop the weight. I was cooking in a titanium Titan pot and I was concerned that due to the rapid heat transfer of titanium I'd burn the food but it never happened. Another nice thing about cooking with titanium is that as fast as it heats up, it cools down too and less than a minute after taking it off the fire, the top was cool enough grab and move around. We sat around when the lights went out, lit some candles and played Hearts for a few hours. (Make note to get Hoyle's Encyclopedia of Card games.) Before I went to bed I inspected my feet. Yup. Two huge blisters, one on each foot. These were the biggest blisters I'd ever had. Each one covered my entire heel. I also had burns on the backs of my hands. I was wearing nylon pants and a long sleeve shirt to keep out of the sun, and because we all know 'cotton kills.' I also had a cloth over my head which I kept in place by wearing a pair of sunglasses which had a retaining strap on them to keep from getting lost during activity. The strap around the back of my head kept the rag in place nicely and with the exception of a spot on my nose, I escaped the searing rays of Hawaii at 10,000 feet. What I didn't think to cover was the backs of my hands. The were bright red and angry when I saw them. I cut squared of cloth off my head rag and placed on the backs of each hand. I held them in place (mostly) with rubber bands around my wrists. They kept me from getting burned any worse, but it was a constant annoyance repositioning them for the rest of the trip. (Make note, put tactical gloves in BOB).
The next morning after having some oatmeal, I packed up. I put on another pair of socks and this was helpful as with less wiggle room, my feet didn't slip around so much and maybe I wouldn't make any new blisters. My wife suggested that in her experience (She hiked the Thorong La Pass. I lance the blisters. (Make note to bring needle in first aid kit) I left the blisters alone. Personal preference. The other fellow on the trip I noticed had the soles of one of his shoes come off. He was wrapping cord around them to hold them together when I suggested he use the awl tool on his swiss army knife to stitch them back on his shoe. He liked this idea and it worked. (Make note, find that Speedy Stitcher and add it to my BOB.)
The second day was excruciatingly painful. I can't recall the last time I was in that much pain for that long a period. I now had pain along the entire bottom surface of my foot. There was no comfortable way to walk. I was very grateful for the walking stick! Sure I could have make one from wood on the trail, but it would have been much heavier and bulkier to be as strong as the cheap aluminum tube.
After hours of promising myself I would never go hiking again, we arrived at the second cabin. At this point the fellow's second shoe fell apart. Keep in mind that both shoes were in good condition before we left. His wife was also having shoe trouble but she overcame it with a safety pin. (Make note, safety pins.) More cards and dinner and now the other people were complaining. No one else had a good external frame pack and their hips and backs were sore. For me, it was just my feet. Even though my pack outweighed anyone else's there by a factor of 2, it was a good pack and now showing itself to be worth the high cost.
The third day we had to hike down from over 6,000' to 1,000'. We'd already gone from 10,000' to 6,000 the previous two days and left the Martian landscape. We were now in fog enshrouded hills and rain forests. The next 5,000' would be a 30 degree incline though rain forests and meadows. I filled up my 4 steel water bottles with filtered water from my Katadyn and told my wife that with the condition of my feet, I wanted to leave a hour and a half before the rest of the group as I'd be going slow. I also wanted to hike in the morning to stay out of the heat . She finally agreed and we slushed though thigh high wet grass and we were both soaked in short order. It was about five minutes into the hike that I learned that not only were my hiking shoes too big, but they weren't waterproof nor even water resistant. The cool dewy water was sloshing around in by boots for hours. It wasn't just an annoyance either. When I took the map I got from the Ranger station out of my pocket, it was soaked and the pages were sticking together. Oh, did I mention that the trail I was taking was right along a crease on the map and due to the water damage it was totally illegible? (Make note, put Zip lock bags in BOB).
Although she didn't say anything, I know she was pissed. Cold, wet and pissed but when she realized how hard the hike was getting, she looked at me. "I'll just say it once and get it over with. I told you so." She thanked me. We smiled and moved on. That extra time was great to have. I used an altimeter to guesstimate where we were on the map. I didn't bring my topos with me, but it was a great psychological benefit to know how much longer you had to go.
My wife started complaining about her left knee under when we stopped at an old growth Koa tree. We snacked on ostrich filets (kept at 150 degrees in the oven overnight), peanuts and some chocolate. She wanted a Koa walking stick. "But that's a heavier wood and look, no straight branches here darling." Well, she wanted one anyway so I hacked her a walking stick, put a point on the bottom and cut away the bark where her hand would grip it. At about 4,000 feet I saw my wife walking backwards for a few seconds. I tried it and it was great. Although it was riskier, I couldn't walk forwards anymore. Aside from the fact that my blisters were hurting, I now had somehow developed a pain in my left knee too. It only hurt when I walked forward, or sideways (yes I tried that too) so my wife and I walked backwards down the rocky and treacherous declines for miles. The trails were covered with golf ball and base ball sized spherical lava rocks that acted like ball bearings. It was hard going and nerve racking. I made us both drink like fishes and soon I was dripping with sweat and she was peeing like a racehorse. Every time my mouth got dry I drank and so did she. I wasn't thirsty but I drank anyhow. Then the water stopped feeling good to drink. Dang, with all this drinking and sweating I was beginning to going hyponatremic. (Make note, put ORS packets in BOB). On the milder inclines I tried walking while dragging my left leg behind me to avoid having to bend it. It was slow going and again, my wife thanked me for getting us out early. We came across some ambiguous fork in the road and she lost it for a bit. I said that I thought both trails would probably work and let her pick the route. She picked and then got nervous. "What if it's the wrong one?" She was starting to lose it again. "This trail is the correct trail." I said forcefully and with more confidence that I really had about her choice. She seemed okay with that and we kept going.
We used the last of the water that everyone said I was crazy to bring just minutes before reaching the rendezvous point. One of the women in the group I later found out had a near nervous breakdown as she never knew how much farther she had to go. That altimeter kept my wife and I sane.
I'm finally home and writing this out before I forget. The blisters will probably heal in a week the knee, who knows. (Make note, put ace bandages and maybe even knee and ankle supports in BOB). I'll be walking with a cane for a bit but no permanent damage, I don't think. I will now have a dedicated foot first aid section for my BOB. Consider giving your BOB a test run. You may find things you want in it you don't have now and some things you can do without. I think of my BOB like a gun now. If it's all shiny and new but not zeroed in, you may be in for some nasty surprises. - SF in Hawaii

I am a Type 2 diabetic. I think that diabetics like me, and even more so Type 1s (those with onset in childhood) will be at particular risk in the event of a catastrophe, whether it is localized, national, or global. What is your recommendation for a method to keep insulin refrigerated in a long term so-called "Grid Down" situation? A solar powered fridge? Thanks, - Ron in Alabama

JWR Replies: I recommend the Engel brand 12 VDC refrigerators sold by Safecastle. A modest-size photovoltaic power system, such as the 520 watt 4-panel packaged "cabin" system produced by Ready Made Resources would provide plenty of power to run a compact Engel DC refrigerator (such as Engel's 22 quart capacity MT27) plus a flashlight battery charging tray and a couple of small lights.OBTW, for some other useful suggestions on insulation, including oral insulin, just type the word "insulin" in the Search Posts on SurvivalBlog window, near the top of the right hand bar.

Russell mentioned that The History Channel has started a news series: Mega Disasters.

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Kyle D. pointed us to this piece: The Western War Against Barbed Wire

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Reader Jon D. recommends the 1997 Reader’s Digest book: Back to Basics--How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills. (ISBN 0-89577-086-5). Jon notes: "Over 450 pages packed with diagrams and knowledge covering everything from building an outhouse to candle making." Even though it is out of print, used copies can often be found through or on dreaded eBay.

"For six years, the Bush administration has kept America safe from another terrorist attack, allowing the Democrats to claim that the war on terrorism is a fraud, a "bumper sticker," a sneaky ploy by a power-mad president to create an apocryphal enemy so he could spy on innocent librarians in Wisconsin. And that's the view of the moderate Democrats. The rest of them think Bush was behind the 9/11 attacks." - Ann Coulter

Monday, September 10, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

When Rudolph Diesel invented his internal combustion engine, he used refined peanut oil as fuel. The reasoning behind it was that farmers could essentially grow their own fuel for their tractors. Diesel cars have been widely manufactured and used all over Europe, but never really caught on in the United States. Diesel pickup trucks and Big Rigs are common in the US, and are renowned for their torque and towing abilities. These rigs run on “Dinodiesel”-typical diesel fuel refined from petroleum. You may have heard of the term “Biodiesel.” Biodiesel is a type of diesel fuel made by taking vegetable oil and adding Lye and Methanol to remove the glycerines and convert the “esters” in to “methyl-esters.” Dinodiesel has a lower gel point in cold weather than biodiesel. Fuel stations around the country have only recently began carrying biodiesel. Enough history and chemistry, this article is going to give you the basics of converting a standard pickup truck or car so it will run on Dinodiesel, Biodiesel, or Straight Vegetable Oil! As a motor fuel in a survival situation, or for daily use, Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) or Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) is hard to beat. It can be stored for years if a biocide stabilizer [such as Pri-D] is used, there is a potential fuel cache behind almost any restaurant, and while other folks are waiting in gas lines, you could easily check out at Costco and have them load a pallet of soybean oil in your truck!
Note: Most all diesel cars and trucks will run biodiesel without any conversion at all, but you must understand that biodiesel is a very powerful organic solvent. It will clean out old deposits and varnishes left in your fuel system by years of dinodiesel use, and may clog up your fuel filters shortly after you start using it (it is a good idea to carry spares!) Biodiesel also attacks natural rubber and breaks it down, so on cars and trucks older than about 1994, the fuel lines need to be replaced with synthetic lines, such as Viton® or Gates® 4800 marine grade series hoses. Now, without further adieu, let’s talk about conversions!
For the purposes of this article I will describe the conversion of a 1983 Ford F-250 extended cab with a non-turbo 6.9 liter diesel engine (my first conversion!) This particular truck has dual tanks (very important, but not 100% necessary.) I designated the mid ship fuel tank for the veggie oil tank for two reasons: 1- the veggie oil must be heated and we don’t want to lose heat in the long travel from tank to engine, and 2- the hose we need to run (Triple bypass hose or “3B” available from Golden Fuel Systems.) is expensive! Basically, we need to install a heating device in the front tank to thin the oil, add an additional filter with heated housing to run the veggie through, and splice in all of the lines. All of the fittings required (hose barbs clamps, etc) can be purchased at Home Depot or some other hardware store. A kit with complete instructions and all parts can be purchased from Golden Fuel Systems,,, Lovecraft Biofuels, or others, but I have found that the parts can be purchased individually for much less.
First, we need to purchase a transmission oil cooler. It doesn’t have to be enormous, 5”x10” will do, just remember that we will be cutting a hole in the fuel tank to put it in, and we do not want to interfere with the function of the fuel gauge float or the pickup. Now we drop the front fuel tank, and keeping in mind what we said about the float and pickup, cut a hole in the top of the tank the same size or just a bit bigger than the end of the transmission cooler. They are usually around an inch and a half thick, so you could cut a 1-1/2”x5” hole. I drilled a 1/2” hole and cut the rest out using a $7 pair of sheet metal nibblers from Harbor Freight Tools. Now that we have created a hole in the top of the fuel tank, a patch plate will need to be fabricated. I used aluminum, less than an eighth of an inch thick, and 1/2” bigger all around than the hole we cut in the tank, so for us it would be 2-/12”x6”. The plate needs to be fitted with hose barbs so the transmission cooler can be attached to it (one set of hose barbs sticking in the tank) and one set sticking out so the 3B hose can be attached to the other side. For clearance issues, I put those on a 90 degree elbow. The 3B hose is essentially 3 hoses bundled together, one 3/8” fuel line and two 1/2” coolant lines. Attach the transmission cooler to the hose barbs on the patch plate and insert the tranny cooler in to the tank, positioning it so it does not hit the fuel pickup or the gauge float. Then apply some high temperature RTV silicone sealant where the patch plate meets the steel of the tank and use self-tapping sheet metal screws to secure it in place. The metal shavings caused by the self-tapping screws can be removed from the interior of the tank with a magnet and a string. Now we must set aside the tank and mount the heated filter housing and filter.
There are many heated filter housings on the market today. Vormax®, Hotshot®, and Hothead® are just a few. Essentially, the heated housing is a machined block of aluminum with water jackets bored through it to allow for hot engine coolant to pass through. The filter merely screws on. Keeping the veggie oil hot is a key component to the system. Hot = thin and cold = thick sludge! The filter should be a Racor® filter with a water separator. This filter housing and filter should be mounted anywhere close to the tank, but it must be between the tank and the tank switching valve; otherwise it would take much longer to re-prime the system with dinodiesel fuel. Why do we have to switch? Because veggie oil is much more viscous than diesel fuel. That is why we heat it.

Essentially, the process of running your truck on Veggie Oil is this:
1. Start your truck on Dinodiesel (with the fuel tank selector switch set on the rear tank.)
2. Drive the truck. When the temperature reaches about 170 degrees, flip the switch to the front veggie tank.
3. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for the veggie to replace the diesel in the fuel lines and filter. You will notice a slight drop in power and your engine will quiet down and run smoother.
4. Voila! You are now running on veggie! (Note: this may not be legal in some states! If you are getting your Veggie for free as waste from a restaurant then you are not paying fuel and road taxes on it! This upsets the Government for some reason, so be careful!)
5. Remember, you must flip the fuel tank selector switch back to the tank containing dinodiesel and allow the engine time to re-prime with that fuel before shutting it down. Depending on the outside air temp and how long you are going to let it sit before restarting, I have left mine for up to an hour. Veggie diesel that sits and cools in your injector pump and filters may "kill" your vehicle. It will be very hard to start!

Once the filter housing and filter are mounted and the 3B hoses run from the tank to the heated filter housing and then to the tank switch, the rest of the hose will replace the existing fuel line from the tank switch all the way up to the low pressure lift pump mounted on the engine. Just unplug the old fuel line and plug in the new one. Then take the two coolant lines and splice them, one each, in to the heater core lines running out of the firewall. Make sure you add coolant to the engine once it heats up so the new coolant lines you have installed can be fully primed. The last thing we need to do s install a heater band around the existing fuel filter. The fuel filter is the last area that we need to heat. A 12 VDC band heater that will heat up to about 160 degrees is plenty. Once again, available from Golden Fuel Systems. The front tank may now be used for veggie oil, biodiesel, or DinoDiesel, in any combinations or mixtures!

A Word on Harvesting Veggie Oil:
New, fresh oil is obviously the best. It does not need to be filtered or treated for storage. There is also no worry of having water contamination. Much less expensive (free actually, with permission from the restaurateur) is Waste Oil. This oil can be harvested in a number of ways. I use a 2” trash pump and store the oil in 55 gallon drums or 275 gallon tote [palletized] tanks. Do not use "creamy" or hydrogenated oils! Trans fats in hydrogenated or creamy shortenings are bad for your body and your engine! Only use transparent oil. It is best to pump it in to drums and let all of the little bits of food settle out, and then siphon off the top layer of oil for filtering. Your filters will last twice as long this way. I use a $25 one inch pump from Harbor Freight to push the oil through a 10 micron filter bag in a X-1 housing. These are available through
In a G.O.O.D. situation it will probably be too much to pack all of your harvesting and filtration stuff with you, so I recommend Golden fuel system’s ONESHOT filtration unit. It is small, runs on 12v and is totally self contained.
This article is meant to be a primer only. I strongly recommend purchasing some books on conversions and doing your research! (This is my obligatory disclaimer, I am not responsible for your success or failure, or mechanical ability.) The book "Sliding Home" by Ray Holan and "From the Fryer to the Fuel Tank" by Joshua Tickell are both awesome references. Well, I hope you are hooked and are going to give veggie oil a try. The two tank system takes a little getting used to, but you will smile every time you drive by a fuel station. It takes me only about one minute to siphon and filter 3 gallons of veggie oil. At today’s prices $3.15/gal in Portland, Oregon, I save around $9.45/minute or $567 an hour! If the two tank system is too much, Elsbett in Germany makes single tank conversion kits for Volkswagen Diesels (expensive-the kit for a 2002 Jetta was around EU1,200 Euros) and Lovecraft Biofuels makes a single tank conversion for Mercedes Benz Diesels for around $400.
Good luck in your conversions! Don’t be surprised if you start feeling the urge to stop at a fast food joint while running veggie oil- your exhaust will smell like French fries!

JWR Adds: For those of you that are not do-it-yourself tinkerers, I just heard that Ready Made Resources (one of SurvivalBlog's first advertisers) now sells a home biodiesel making machine that can produce up to 330 gallons of biodiesel per day, at a cost of just 67 cents per gallon. This fuel can be used is standard (unmodified) diesel cars, trucks, and tractors, without the need to rig a separate fuel tank. Call Bob at Ready Made Resources 1(800) 627-3809 for details.

I agree 100% with Fanderal in his recent article on "Doing Versus Studying". I grew up helping with gardening and canning as a boy in southern Indiana. There is a tremendous difference between having helped (“Hold the bucket, son.”) and picking up the knife and beginning the slaughter of a 300 pound hog. I have spent the last 20 years raising my family in suburbia and have very fond memories of growing up in the country. Memories are not a substitute for practical hands on experience. The Millennium bug got me thinking about “What If” while the 9/11 events were the wake up call (9/11 brought me to my knees before God at which time I asked for salvation) and the Katrina disaster became the “Get your rear in gear” motivator. I have begun a modest food storage program, renewed my routine purchase of guns & ammo as well as routine instruction to my family on all survival issues. We now plan to sell our McMansion and move to the country. This past spring my mother offered me 6 extra tomato plants she was not going to plant and thus began my experiment in gardening. I learned a lot from those 6 plants. I learned that those little plants get very big. I used large pots and placed them on my back deck (note to self: put them somewhere else next year). I learned that it takes a lot of water to grow plants in a drought (100 degree F. temps in Atlanta for more than 3 weeks this summer). I learned that birds like to eat tomatoes when they get ripe (loss of 1/3 of crop). I learned that blossom rot is not good (loss of 1/3 of crop). I learned that high winds will blow your plants over and not to place them on the deck rail (1 broken pot and 3 broken pot plates). I remembered how great those fresh homegrown tomatoes taste on your plate at suppertime or on a Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato sandwich at lunch and that their flavor far exceeds the bland offerings at the overpriced grocery. I learned that the 1/3 of the crop that was harvested was still a lot of tomatoes. I learned that I need to learn or relearn many skills that I once knew and that I should practice, practice, practice. - Yonah

Walt suggested this from the New York Times: Virus Suspected as Cause of U.S. Honeybee Deaths. The article begins: "New research suggests a virus may be causing the puzzling collapse of honey-bee colonies across the U.S. that has hurt commercial beekeepers and farmers who rely on these bees to pollinate crops. A team of scientists said it has found a strong association between a pathogen known as Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, or IAPV, and the deaths of billions of honey- bees in the U.S. The identification of the virus may even suggest a way to fixing the problem: breeding bees that are resistant to the bug, and then repopulating decimated hives with them."

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Tom in Oregon sent us this article link about the ubiquitous CONEX container, from The Strategy Page: Tents Evolve Into Steel Boxes

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Thanks to J.M. for sending this: Is China quietly dumping US Treasuries?

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By way of Jim Sinclair's MineSet, we read that Bloomberg warned us back in May: Credit-Default Swaps Spur Fastest Derivatives Growth. I still expect to see a global derivatives melt-down that will change the financial landscape in a way that will still be remembered centuries from now--on a par with Holland's Tulip Mania of the 1630s or the South Sea Company investing fiasco, circa 1720.

"As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return."
- Rudyard Kipling, stanzas 9 and 10 of The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Let’s say that TEOTWAWKI comes, and you are ready! You have your sealed can full of heirloom seeds, and you’re going to start a garden right away. Well, if you haven’t been gardening and practicing the skills necessary and learning how to deal with your climate and soil, you may have difficulty producing the food your family needs. It is really imperative that you begin now to grow the things you’ll need in a crunch. You don’t have to grow as much as you would conceivably need when grocery stores are not an option, but the skills for each particular crop are definitely good to cultivate.
For one thing, if all you have is the commercially prepared vacuum-packed can of seeds, they may or may not be appropriate for your area. Here in the Deep South, certain varieties of vegetables can take the heat, etc., while other varieties just don’t do well. And some of those vegetables – well, my family is just not used to eating. I think that in a crunch, the familiar foods will be appreciated while those unfamiliar foods may or may not be eaten, thus wasting your time, effort, and garden space. So, I buy heirloom seeds for the varieties that grow well in my area and that my family will eat and vacuum seal them myself, then keep them in the freezer.

I began my gardening career by reading Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew. Then, as I began to try my hand at building raised beds and using his methods, I realized that although the basic ideas are helpful, his planting guides were not necessarily for my area. I found that the local county extension office has a planting guide for your area which includes when to plant and what varieties do best in your area. This knowledge is invaluable. I have also gained a lot of useful knowledge from older folks who’ve gardened in my region for a long time and enjoy passing on their knowledge to any willing listener.
I have arthritis, which makes it difficult to garden on my knees and has caused me to be a bit innovative. The raised beds made from railroad ties work fairly well, but I was searching for something a bit higher from the ground. I found the perfect solution, absolutely free! Old cast-aside refrigerators and freezers make perfect “raised beds”. I call the local “Maytag man” once a week, and he is delighted for me to take old refrigerators and freezers off his hands. After a recent hurricane in our area, there were scads of refrigerators and freezers out for the trash man to pick up. What a wonderful opportunity those folks missed to have great garden beds!

To make a raised bed from an old refrigerator, first remove the doors, drawers, and racks. I use old bricks or cinder blocks to raise the level of the refrigerator to the height I want it (about kitchen counter height) and set the refrigerator on its back on the blocks. Then, with a long drill bit, I drill holes through the back wall of the unit to create drainage for the garden. Next, I fill the bed about two-thirds of the way up with fill sand. Only the top foot to foot-and-a-half needs to be good soil, as that’s about how far down the roots on the vegetables could go. I use compost mixed with good dirt and have had excellent results. (A good guide to composting is “Let it Rot” by Stu Campbell.) I also mulch with chopped up leaves or left-over hay from the barn. There’s an obvious benefit here when your soil is poor or rocky – just use beds above it!

The height of the refrigerator beds is always at least the width of the refrigerator. This deters armadillos, wild hogs, rabbits, and (so far) deer among other varmints, but not my son’s hound dog. Nice soft dirt that has just been hand tilled and planted is so appealing to a dog! A piece of chicken wire unrolled to cover the freshly tilled bed discourages the dog and can be left in place until the plants get too tall. Then they can be uncovered and the dog will probably have lost interest.
The refrigerator garden beds have a psychological benefit for me. I go to weed the garden, and instead of being overwhelmed by the task, it is already sectioned off into “do-able” pieces. I may plant onions in the freezer compartment and spinach in the refrigerator space on this bed and something entirely different in the next one. But to till or weed is EASY to do entirely by hand. Even my small children enjoy working with me in these beds. And where watering would be a chore on an entire garden, it is simple with a watering can; that’s the best way with the mini fields I have planted. Of course, you can use a hose. I use the watering can because I like to use manure tea on my garden to give a boost to the plants. I’m playing with the idea of putting a rain catcher of some sort, like an old 6 gallon thermos jug with the lid off, at the end of each bed and attaching a length of soaker hose to it. Haven’t yet figured out how to valve it on and off, but it shouldn’t be difficult.
A benefit to gardening in refrigerator beds is that there is a good bit of insulation all around each of your gardens. This seems to make my crops last longer into cold weather and allows me to start things a bit earlier in the year, too, because my soil is workable. I also save two liter soda bottles, fill them with water and duct tape them together into a ring in which I plant my warm weather plants (tomatoes and peppers) early in the season. The water absorbs heat during the day and lets it off at night to be an insulating source for the plants.
Another plus to gardening in refrigerator beds is that plants which tend to sprawl, like strawberries, are contained and can only go as far as you want them to go. Imagine being able to pick strawberries without stooping. It’s wonderful! I contained a zucchini plant this past summer by planting it in an old microwave prepared in the same fashion.
Now, some may say, “But old refrigerators are so unsightly!” If it bothers you, you could spray paint them, I think. I just placed mine behind a shed where they aren’t noticed when you drive up to the house. Other options are a simple fence with trailing vines or a hedge planted to obscure the view of the garden from those it might offend.
Another thing to help with the garden bed set-up is carpet. Yes, used carpet! I let folks know that I would appreciate any old carpet when they re-carpet their homes, and I use it to set up walkways between my beds. First, I weed-eat all of the weeds down, then use a razor knife to cut the pieces to fit. Voila! Now I have no muddy shoes to worry about when I pick my veggies and bring them back to my kitchen.
For crops that need to climb, I have found that raising the beds to kitchen counter level is not practical. I can’t reach the produce to pick it! So for a few of my beds where I intend to plant beans, peas, cucumbers, etc., I put them only a few inches off of the ground. Even tomatoes can get really high, so keep this in mind as you are placing your beds. Once they are in place and full of dirt, they are extremely heavy to move.

Cattle panels and t-posts are all you need for creating wonderful trellises for your climbing plants. I cut the panel to fit my desired bed and just put either a piece of rebar or a t-post on each end (inside of the bed) to wire it to. If panels are out of your budget, any field fencing or even electric fencing wire strung at intervals would work. I prefer the panels simply because they are more durable and can be used again and again.

Caution: If you make refrigerator garden beds as I have described, you may find it difficult to convince yourself to go back in the house and get busy with necessary chores. It’s such fun to work in these beds!

**Due to my physical limitations, the “I” used throughout this article is a collective one, including my father and my sons, who have devoted a lot of time and energy to making my garden beds for me.

JWR Adds: If you acquire any "dead" refrigerators, be sure to remove their doors right away. If you don't, they would be considered an "attractive nuisance" in the eyes of the law. (The suffocation deaths of children "playing" with refrigerators left outdoors are uncommon, but tragic when they do happen.)

Hi Jim and Family,
I truly enjoy reading your survival blog and learn from it daily and weekly. However I believe you are skipping over a topic that would benefit your readers....most of your readers.
I would think that most of your readers who check out and read your site on a daily basis do not have a remote retreat in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, or Wyoming. Most of your readers I'm sure live like me in American Suburbs, trapped and looking for a way to get out but in the mean time prepping for what we all know is coming.
My question to you and others, what are we to do? We can keep logging on to your web site everyday and read about what to do with 50 acres and security measures, and how to build barricades, but the average joe like me does not live where you do. Lets face it, all those hits on your web site are not only coming from folks high up in their retreats in Idaho.
So can you and other readers who know share some ideas for folks like me who live in the burbs? Fellas like me exist that have over a year's worth of food stored up, lots of ammo and good combat quality arms, radiation detection, water filtration systems, nearby water sources, gold and silver reserves, cash reserves, yearly seed purchases, rainwater collection systems, some solar assets, and at least 6 able bodied males some with spouse who all have a deep love for our Lord.
What are we to do? We are where we are and we have what we have and we are going to try and make it out of what is coming so any advice would be helpful.
The simple fact is that most of us reading your site are probably in the situation I'm in. We're all going to do our best but when it comes down to it, we're going to have to do it from the 'burbs.- Jeff (in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri)

JWR Replies: You point is well taken. I strongly believe that everyone that actively prepares will have a better chance of survival, regardless of their locale. Yes, your chances will be best out in the lightly populated hinterboonies, but that is not to say that the suburbs will be untenable. By actively preparing you will be way ahead of your suburban neighbors, and far, far more likely to survival a disaster--either a natural disaster or a man-made calamity.

It is noteworthy that most of the tactics, techniques, and technologies that you see described in SurvivalBlog can also apply to suburban settings. A good example of this was Fanderal's recent article on raising rabbits and square foot gardening. In the coming weeks I'll try to concentrate on urban and suburban survival topics.

From The Independent (by way of SHTF Daily): Jeremy Warner’s Outlook: Fed in danger of overreacting to crisis

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A friend in Afghanistan mentioned Afterworld--an unusual computer animated quasi-survivalist Internet video series.

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Jason in North Idaho recommended the Rocky Mountain Moggers (Unimog) page

"There's always a confused soul that thinks that one man can make a difference. And you have to kill him to convince him otherwise. That's the hassle with democracy." - Senator Charles F. Meachum in the movie Shooter

Saturday, September 8, 2007

If you value what you read in SurvivalBlog, then please become a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. The subscriptions are entirely voluntary, but greatly appreciated. They help pay the bills here, including our bandwidth costs, which have increased steadily as the worldwide blog readership has grown. Since we started the blog in August of Aught Five we've changed our web hosting contract from silver, to gold, to platinum plans, and we typically get billed an extra $68 a month for additional bandwidth--above and beyond what we are allowed with the platinum plan. The next jump in plans is to the "Webmaster 150" plan, which will provide 150 gigabytes of bandwidth per month. And it looks like we are going to need it, since in August we used a staggering 97.3 gigabytes of bandwidth. That is pretty amazing for a blog site that has very few graphics. For those of you that have already subscribed (representing less than 1% of SurvivalBlog readers), thank you!

We note with alarm that the US Dollar Index is hovering around 79.96. This is the first time that it has dipped below the critical support level of 80. If the USD index closes below 80 for three trading days in row, beware! The Chartist Gnome tells me that the likely support level is 76. Just as I warned you, folks: Lower interest rates--instituted as a stopgap for the current liquidity panic--are to the detriment of the value of the US Dollar on the FOREX. If the Ben Bernanke and his band of fools on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors cave in to political pressure and drops interest rates still further, it could very well trigger a massive sell off of dollars. If you think that the economy is bad now, just wait until the headlines scream: "Dollar Collapse!"

I predict that devaluation of the US Dollar will trigger an investor flight to safety. Savvy investors will diversify out of dollars ASAP. That means precious metals and perhaps select foreign currencies, but even the best of those--such as the Swiss Franc--are much like the dollar. In essence they are "I.O.U. Nothing" instruments. (Meaning that they are not redeemable in specie.) The "safety" response of most sheeple will be toward US Treasury bills, short-term T-bonds, and Treasury money market funds. (Basically any investment with "Treasury" in its name.) But that won't provide any real protection if the dollar itself is wiped out. Sure, you'll be "safe" and get all you money back, but by then, what will that currency represent? What will those dollars buy you? If there is a full scale dollar collapse, we could be living in a Zimbabwe-like hyperinflation in less than 18 months. For those of you that are retirees that need a regular return to live on. (which of course tangible precious metals can't provide) the only US Treasury paper that I can recommend are TIPS, which of course are inflation-indexed.

The bottom line: the only truly safe investments in today's market are silver and gold. It is no wonder that the spot gold price is around $700 per ounce and silver is at $12.53 per ounce (as of Friday's New York close.) Obviously someone out there is seeing the big picture. I expect major gains in the precious metals markets in the months to come, as the dollar continues its painful, inevitable slide. FWIW, I've been a vocal Silver Bull ever since February 2001, when silver dipped below $4.55 per ounce. Mark my words: I still think that silver is headed past $50 per ounce.

I really enjoy your site and books and regularly recommend your work to a number of friends. Due to a job transfer I will be moving from my retreat to a large metropolitan area. I purchased a [Continental Express] shipping container (CONEX) to store some of my preparation items I will not need or be able to transport/store. Do you or your readers have any experience storing saddles/tack, wood items in a CONEX? Bulk food packed in 5 gallon buckets? How about soft goods (clothing, blankets etc.) in steel 55 gal drums placed inside the container? My main concern is “sweating” and resultant damage and mold growth. I live on the north Texas state line where we have hot summers and rainy/moist winters. I have elevated the box off the ground to increase circulation and I am currently in search of “anti condensation” paint for the interior. As a side note to your readers, I recently unpacked some items stored in Rubbermaid ActionPacker [heavy duty plastic bin]s. To my surprise mice had eaten through [the bins] and destroyed ponchos, poncho liners, water filters, matches, first aid supplies etc.. An expensive lesson but better now than later. Any advice on smaller man portable containers for long term storage in a non climate controlled environment i.e. barn, CONEX etc.

Thanks again for your work and I will continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. - Jim in Texas

JWR Replies:
The crucial things to remember for storing items inside CONEXes are to:
1.) Leave a 6" gap between any containers and the "sweaty" walls.

2.) Install one or more "spinner" air vents in the top centerline of the CONEX. The general guideline I've heard is one 8" spinner vent for each 10 feet of CONEX length.

3.) Store most of the items inside in their own vermin-proof and water proof containers. The 30 and 55 gallon steel drums work fine, but I particularly like the surplus US Army 20mm ammo cans. (These measure 18" long x 14.5" high x 8" wide and are often available at guns shows. They are also available via mil order, but with most vendors you will probably pay nearly as much for shipping as you do for the cans themselves!) One vendor that I do recommend is Outdoors. (They are one of our Affiliate advertisers. ) They sell 20mm ammo cans for $19.95 each, and offer free shipping for orders over $45. (Hence, you'd have to order three cans or combine the order with other items.) Search on item # 30440. The 20mm ammo cans are a convenient size to store items up to 18" long, and they stack efficiently.

With 30 and 55 gallon steel drums there is a lot of wasted space and it impractical to access items in the bottom row of drums if you stack them. One solution I've saw used at a consulting client's retreat in Northern California: Making a framework out of 4x4s (attached with large carriage bolts) to stack the drums horizontally, as much as three tiers high. The great depth of drums makes it difficult to access items in the bottom of a drum without a lot of unpacking. But they do make sense if you have a lot of identical items. (For example, say you have 20 or 30 military surplus wool blankets that you are storing for charity or barter.)

4.) Include several packets of silica gel desiccant inside each sealed container. Large bags of silica gel are often available free if you ask at stores that sell imported tools, machinery, or pianos from Asia. A few phone calls or a "wanted" ad placed on Craig's List can often yield quite a bounty. (There are local editions of Craig's List throughout the US and internationally.)

4.) Be sure to put all of the boxes, crates and ammo cans that you store inside a CONEX up on pallets or 2"x4" wood blocks. You can usually get free pallets at building supply stores or feed stores, and scrap random length 2x4 blocks free for the asking at construction sites.

In April of 2007, I tested the three hottest "hypervelocity" .22 Long Rifle rounds. Because of the easy storage, accuracy and effects of .22 ammunition at ranges out to 150 yards (not to mention the fun of shooting a customized [Ruger] 10/22), I've had a second love affair with the round, since being a child. It's the ultimate Survivalist round.
These tests compared Aguila Supermaximum, CCI Stinger and the full 40-grain CCI Velocitor. These tests were conducted at 100 meters, using a Ruger 10/22, customized with a 20" Butler Creek bull barrel on a floating Butler Creek lightweight bull barrel stock with Harris bipod, competition 1 oz. trigger, polyurethane buffer pin. The scope is a Simmons 3-9x32. The Spring weather was sunny, with a slight right-to-left wind in a mountainous area.
My first shots were three-round zeroing groups of the Mexican-made Aguila Ammo, a 30 grain slug with a screaming muzzle velocity of over 1,730 fps. Groups #1 and #3 measured 2 1/2 inches at their widest points, with groups #2 and #4 measuring 5" and 6" inches, respectfully. In other words, even out of a bull-barreled 10/22, these rounds were all over the place, although they were getting there very fast.
My next four groups were five-shot groups, alternating between CCI Stinger and CCI Velocitor for each two sets of groups. Group #1 for the Stinger ammo (1,650 fps) was down and to-the-left by two inches square, and two inches left and five inches down for the slower (1,435 fps) 40 gr. Velocitor round. Deciding at this point that I was going to relegate my stockpile of .22 Aguila to practice ammo, I began making zeroing adjustments based on my Stinger groups.
During the course of this, the Stinger 5 round groups were 2 1/2" to 3", but remained consistent, with as many as three of the holes touching. The Velocitor groups measured 1 3/4" to 2", with three rounds in the last group all touching, and could fit in the area of a dime. The other two rounds in this group were high.
As for any other variables, I could probably have used a better scope. Second, being a runner, I have a strong heartbeat, which I can feel as I shoot, and probably need to train to shoot between heartbeats. The bottom line, however, is that I am now rotating through the Aguila ammo, then Stinger, and saving the 40-grain Velocitor for my SHTF/TEOTWAWKI/zeroing supply.
In conclusion: CCI Velocitor is simply the most accurate, as well as destructive .22 LR round. Once you can acquire good accuracy with a good .22 round, think of it as a good remotely-operated brain surgery tool. - Jerry E.

Michael H. forwarded a link to some sobering analysis of the US credit market implosion and its global reach: The Predicted Financial Storm Has Arrived.

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Frequent contributor Stephen in Iraq pointed out this article: Danger: Steep drop ahead--Even if the credit crunch passes without a major catastrophe, the prices
of stocks, bonds and real estate have a long way to fall.

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SurvivalBlog reader "Rightcoast" recommends the new anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction titled Wastelands, from Night Shade Books, January 2008). It is available for pre-order. The authors include M. Rickert, Cory Doctorow, and Richard Kadrey. The full text of some of the stories are available at the site, free of charge,. (They are linked at the comments page.)

"The notion that one will not survive a particular catastrophe is, in general terms, a comfort since it is equivalent to abolishing the catastrophe." - Iris Murdoch

Friday, September 7, 2007

Today we present another excellent article for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As many of us are trapped in the city, at least for now, while we work and save for the day we can escape. We spend much of our off hours learning about the things we will need to know once we make the move. The thing is though, that learning about something, is not the same as learning that thing. We can't learn what good soil feels like by reading about it, we can't know what soil feels like when it has enough moisture, and what it feels like when it needs water, until we actually garden. Nor can we know how to raise animals until we have some, breed them, and raise the young to table weight. We need to know, rather than know about. The SurvivalBlog site and many others are committed to motivating us, and assisting us, in not only knowing about, but to also knowing. From a strategic point of view, we can't count on not needing our preps until after we make the move to a more rural setting. What would we do if a month before you were to make the move, the Schumer started flying? How would we get by? Eat our storage food, and then what? Too many of us (because of a “I’m trapped in the city what can I do?” attitude) are planning on learning all that gardening and animal husbandry stuff after we get moved.

Knowing how to produce food in our back yard, is a skill that can be expanded to our front yard, common areas, and adjacent lots, thereby making us less vulnerable to random Schumeresque events. If TSHTF before we are ready, we have longer term viability where we are, But only if we learn things, rather than learn about things. Not that I will abandon my plans to leave the city, but it’s nice to know that if I get trapped here, I’m still viable for longer than my stored preps. Also we will be able to teach others how to duplicate what we have done, enabling them to be less needy, and ourselves less of a target.

The cry always goes up, but I'm stuck in the city, I only have a 50'x100' lot that I rent. What can I do? Well the truth be told, you can do a lot. I have about the worst possible situation (shy of an Apartment) I live in the heart of a city of over 1,000,000, in a rented house, on a lot that is 50'x100', the front half is taken up by the front yard, and the house, both sides of my yard have nice big trees, that unfortunately shade out all but the center of my yard. My growing space is less than 20'x20'. I am still able to have a 4'x12' Square Foot Garden unit in a raised bed, and a Rabbit Hutch.

The gardening or raising animals on rented property is easy; just get the landlord’s permission. If you have been a good tenant, for a couple of years, and pay your rent on time, most of them will not have a problem with it as long as it doesn’t involve permanent changes to the property. Frequently the problem in the city is that most cities that I know of prohibit the keeping of poultry, swine, cattle, horses, and/or most other livestock within city limits. Quite often Rabbits are not classed as livestock or they are exempted from a general ban, although sometimes you need to get a Hutch Permit. You can find out by going to your city's web site, or by calling the county health department, they are usually the department that handles animal permitting issues.

We have had gardens in the past, much larger than 48 square feet, so in my case the objective with a garden is not so much to be able to feed my wife and I off of this space, but rather to learn to grow crops I haven’t in the past, and keep old skills up. We have been raising Rabbits for a little over a year, and again my objective is not to make this our sole source of meat, but rather learn the skill of raising rabbits.

I am only going to cover a basic outline on both setting up a training/practice garden, and a basic rabbitry; there are many resources online and at your local library, or bookstore that will give you more and better details than I can in this single article. (see end of article for links) I would recommend that you get copies of the books “Raising Rabbits the Modern Way", and a copy of "Square Foot Gardening", and read them cover to cover before you start. Also read the FAO web page: “The Rabbit – Husbandry, Health, and Production”.

I have done, and am doing both a practice garden, and a rabbitry. They really don't require much time once you get them set up. My web page has pictures of both my garden and my bunny barn.

Rabbits 101
Males are called Bucks
Female are called Doe
Young are called Kits
Kindle - giving birth
Kindling Box - Artificial Den used when Doe kindles, houses the new born kits, for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

Buck/Doe breeding ratio up to 1/10.
Life Cycle
Gestation 30-31 days
4 weeks to weaning
4 – 8 weeks to table weight
6 - 9 months to maturity (Never breed a doe younger than 6 months old)
Breeding stock, useful life is 3 to 4 years.

Rabbits are one of the best backyard livestock animals you can own. They are efficient meat producers, quiet, and only minimally smelly. Rabbits require only shade, food, and water to produce almost 50 lbs of lean meat per doe, per year. Rabbit droppings are a resource in themselves, which can be used directly as plant food, without the need to age as with cow, and horse manure. If you are squeamish about direct use, you can raise worms in the rabbit waste directly under the cages, which yields worm castings. Worm castings are highly prized as a soil amendment for all types of gardening. A complete cycle would be Garden scraps to Rabbits, to Worms, to Garden, and back again, with us siphoning off the lions share of the garden's bounty, as well as meat.

In a well-ventilated backyard shed, medium to large breeds will produce litters of 5 to 9 kits per doe, 3 to 4 times a year. So you can get an average of about 24 kits per year, per doe. A herd of 4 does, and 1 buck will yield 96 to 112 kits every year. For a family of 4 this would allow 1/2 of a rabbit every week per person, plus a few to sell/trade.
Setting up and operating a backyard Rabbitry has 3 components:

1) Breed Selection

The most important decision you will make is what breed of rabbit to raise. We have seen in recent months the news story about the German breeder who raises enormous rabbits that weight up 22 lbs; while this may sound impressive, the practical feed conversion is not that great; for our purposes we want a breed that makes the most meat for the least feed. The best rabbits to meet that requirement are the Medium to Large breeds; giants look impressive but consume more feed per pound of meat than do the smaller breeds. Small/Mini breeds also don’t yield enough meat per animal. Please note; just because the word giant is in the name of the breed doesn't mean that it's a Giant class rabbit, it may just be the largest variant for that breed. Breed size classes are defined by weight at maturity as:
Small 2-6 lbs
Medium 6 - 9 lbs
Large 9 - 11 lbs
Giant 11 lbs < lbs.
Check out the American Rabbit Breeder Association (ARBA) for a list of breeds
Select based on what breeds are available locally, and that do well in your climate. Get to know other breeders in the area, and ask questions, they are almost always willing to help someone new, and it is good networking. Other more experienced local breeders will be able to help you avoid mistakes, and deal with the inevitable issues that will arise as you learn this skill.
Keep in mind that you don't need pedigreed animals for meat production, so it is entirely acceptable to find an inexpensive crossbreed that is popular in your area, a show breeders culls. Buy from a local or at least regional breeder so you stock is acclimated to your climate. Don't buy from a breeder in Montana, and expect to not have heat stress issues in Texas. Barring diseases, heat stress is the greatest threat to your rabbits.

2) Housing/=Equipment
Rabbits need to be confined, and protected from predators. Cages are used for confinement, each adult rabbit will need a cage at least 24"d x 24"w x 16"h for Bucks, and 30"d x 36"w x 18"h for Does. The Doe needs a larger cage in order to make room for a Kindling box. There are plans available for making your own cages, but having tried that, I recommend that you buy your cages. While it is possible to make cages with Hardware cloth from your local home center, the wire used in commercial cages is much superior. Cages cost about $25 for the Buck's cage, and $35 for a Doe's cage, from outlets like Tractor Supply Company, or Bass Equipment. [The Memsahib Adds: We bought most of our cages directly from Bass Equipment. Watch for their seasonal sales. They sometimes have prefabricated cage kits with trays for less than the cost of the equivalent raw materials at you local hardware store!]

You will also need:
1- Doe sized cage for finishing the young to table weight, for every two does.
1 Screen bottomed feed tray per adult rabbit, small for bucks and does, and a large for finishing cages.
Water bottles or automatic watering system; 1- bottle for each adult rabbit, and two for each finishing cage. If your climate has sub freezing temps in the winter time, you will want to get two complete sets of bottles for winter time operations, so that you can have one set in the house thawing out, while the other set is in the rabbitry freezing.
I started with 1 Buck, and 1 Doe.

This Required:
3 Cages
1- for each adult
1- finishing cage
6 – Water Bottles
2 - Short Feeders
1 - Long Feeder
1 - Shelter

A simple three sided shed is adequate to protect your rabbits from the elements. It is important to note that while rabbits need a well-ventilated space, they also need to be protected from drafts. Beyond that you should be sure that your rabbit’s cages are reasonably clean. To make this easier for you, only use all wire cages, and don't set them on a solid surface. My first rabbitry consisted of a table made with 2x4 hardware cloth stretched as a tabletop between 2x6’s and wooden pallets for legs. This gave me a place to set my cages so that waste dropped through to the ground. I later added plywood to the ends and back to block winter winds, and a tarp over the top that draped down the front, to provide shade and keep the rain out.

The total start up cost for me was (in 2005)
3 cages +/-$25 each
Bucks Cage from Garage sale $15
Doe cage $35
Finishing cage $35
6 - Water Bottles @ $5 each = $15
3 - Feeders $25

2x4 hardware cloth was left over form another project (your cost)
The wooden pallets were salvaged from a friend’s storage unit
2x6s were left over from another project (your cost) $ 6
2- half sheets of 3/8” plywood were from the waste cut box at home center, $ 8
1- 4'x8' sheet of 3/8” plywood, $12
1- 10x12’ Poly tarp $ 8
Rabbits $30
Total $ 199

Note: These prices are fairly current as I started my rabbit raising just over a year ago. However if you start your rabbitry when temps are likely to drop below freezing get two sets of bottles for each cage, it will save you lots of time thawing out frozen bottles. [The Memsahib Adds: In very cold climates, plastic water bottles will crack with repeated freezing. In such climates it is best to use two or three sets of 30 ounce steel cans (such as those used for canned peaches and apricots) as water cans. Use a nail to punch a hole just below the top lip so that you can attach the can with a wire hook to keep it from being tipped over in the cage. (Stout wire formed into a 2" long hook shape work fine.) You can simply switch the cans each morning (or twice a day, in very cold weather) and bring the frozen water cans into the house to thaw. We usually let ours thaw out in the bottom of our laundry sink.]

3) Operations
After you have decided on what breed, you will want to set up your hutch/shed, and get enough cages for your starter stock before you get your rabbits.
I would recommend starting with one buck, and at most two does, so four cages with feeders, and water bottles.

I would give your new rabbits at least a couple of weeks to get used to their new surroundings, let the kids get bored with them, and make sure to keep your cats and dogs away from them. [The Memsahib Adds: A caged rabbit can be literally scared to death by a bothersome dog.] You will need to feed your rabbits once a day, Do not just leave food in their trays or they will get fat. Fat does don’t breed well. You will also want to check their water twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This gets them used to you being around, and gives you a chance to monitor their condition. Take the time to pet the adults, and handle any kits, you don’t want them freaking out when you pick them up to process them. Always wear heavy long sleeve shirts when handling your rabbits. If they try to escape they can claw you up pretty good, and frightened Rabbits can bite.
After they have acclimated to their new home, you are ready for your fist breeding.

In order to get Kits, the Buck and the Doe must spend a little quality time together, the most important thing to remember here is always bring the doe to the buck's cage. Never put the buck in the doe's cage or she will beat the daylights out of him, possibly causing injury. Mature Does are very territorial, and will try to drive off any intruder in their space.
Leave the doe with the buck until he has serviced her at least twice, or for about 30 minutes, which ever comes first. Many breeders will tell you to do it again 8 hours later, some will say you only have to wait an hour. I find that as long as you put them together at least two times in the same day it works out okay. I have noticed that less than that results in smaller litters.
Mark your calendar on the day that you breed the doe, and count forward 30 days, mark that day as her due date. About 3 to 5 days prior to her due date, you want to set up your kindling box. I just used a piece of 3/8” ply wood as a partition on one side of her cage, you can buy or build a fully removable box if you wish, set up the box as described in the literature, and wait for the kits to arrive.
I leave the Kits with the doe for 4 to 5 weeks, and then move them to the finishing cage until I’m ready to butcher. I breed the doe again when I move the kits to the finishing cage, and start the process all over.
Cold is not a big problem here in the south, but heat on the other hand will wipe out your herd if you aren’t careful. If you live anywhere that summer time temps reach into the 90s or higher, then you will need to cool your rabbits, and suspend breeding as high temperatures will cause Bucks to go sterile, and pregnant does will loose litters, and may die also. The bucks usually return to full vigor in the fall, but sometimes not. I suspend breeding after mid-May to protect my does. This is why many large scale breeders set up fully enclosed rabbitries that are air-conditioned. However it would be better to avoid this type of set up, because we need our rabbitry to be able to function in a Grid Down environment, and the loss of climate control in mid-July could wipe out your entire rabbitry before you could compensate.

I deal with the heat by using 2 liter soda pop bottles filled with water, and frozen in my chest freezer. As soon as the temps hit the high 80’s we put a 2 liter bottle in with each rabbit, and then usually have to change them out 3 or 4 times a day as they thaw out. I accept this under my Grid Down requirement because I can keep my freezer running on a generator for at least a while, where as keeping an AC unit running takes a lot more energy. Also remember I’m not trying to maintain a breeding environment, I’m just trying to keep my animals alive.
Even losing 3-1/2 to 4 months a year to heat, you can still get 3 or 4 litters a year out of each doe without pushing her.

To give you an idea of what kind of production you can expect here are some numbers to think about. With a herd of 3 Does, and 1 Buck:
6 kits per litter (average) x 4 litters per year = 24 kits per Doe per year.
3 Does x 24 Kits 72 Rabbits (called Fryers)
Fryer = 2 pounds dressed = 1 meal for four people.
72 fryers = rabbit for dinner once a week all year long with a few to trade.
Plus you have the rabbit manure for fertilizer, or for raising worms, and the pelts for clothing, blankets, or trade.

There has been some research done on underground rabbitries to escape the heat see the links for a discussion of this topic. [The Memsahib Adds: This was the method used in ancient Rome. Just keep in mind that rabbits can be prodigious at tunneling, so your perimeter fences must extend 20" underground to prevent escapes. An acquaintance of ours had the foundation of their house ruined by their colony of pet rabbits that they let loose.]

The time I spend with my rabbits is much more rewarding both in a practical sense, and an emotional one, than the description I have written here. Especially when I am standing over my grill with a quartered rabbit being barbequed.

Rabbitry Links
Rudolph's Rabbit Ranch (Mary-Frances R. Bartels)
The Rabbit - Husbandry, Health and Production
Effect of housing system (cage versus underground shelter) on performance of rabbits on farms

The Practice Garden
I can’t give you as much detail about the Garden as I have about the Rabbitry, because; 1) gardening is easier, 2) the details of gardening vary more depending on exactly what you are growing, and 3) raising Rabbits is the newest skill for me, so I have more details in mind at the moment.

While it is possible to completely feed yourself off of the produce from a back yard garden, on the right lot, few lots are large enough to permit this. Also I for me the city is not a good long term location. What I am describing here is something that allows me to develop, and maintain my gardening skills, as they relate to the kind of gardening I will be doing on my homestead when the time comes. For more information on urban self-sufficiency check out Path to Freedom

My back yard is not good for gardening, as I only have a small area that gets enough sun. I have put in a 4’x12’ raised bed by using 4”x 8”x 16” hollow core cinder blocks, 3/8” x 24” rebar, and some weed barrier fabric. I stake out the area I want to use, with rebar and string; next I place the weed barrier fabric, and staple it to the ground using staples made out of wire cloths hangers. Place the first course of blocks using the string as a guide, and drive a piece of 2’ rebar in the end hole of each cinder block, but not all the way in; leave enough rebar sticking up to have a bit stickup out of the top of the second course of blocks. If you lay out blocks 3 across each end, and 8 along each side you will get a space about 4’ x 12’. My fill is topsoil from the garden center, mixed about 75/25 with rabbit droppings.

You will need the usual garden tools; shovel, rake, hoe, wheelbarrow. I water with a soaker hose, this saves water, and helps limit fungus diseases.
I’m not going to give you specifics as to cultivars, and such, because the point of the exercise is for you to practice growing the veggies you like.
This year we have two heirloom tomato plants, one Yellow Pear, and a Stripy tomato. Some green beans, hot peppers, black beans, radishes, beets, and carrots. We have never grown heirloom vegetables before, and we have never grown a dried bean before. My reasons for them are to find out how much different heirloom varieties are, and to learn about putting up dried beans. This is the part about learning something, as opposed to learning about something.

Gardening Links
Square Foot Gardening (Mel Bartholomew)
Carrots Love Tomatoes (Louise Riotte)
How to Grow More Vegetables (John Jeavons)
Bountiful Gardens
Acres USA

Among the specific things I have learned this year, that I would not have learned from books are:
I would not know how much meat I could produce from x number of Rabbits, if I hadn’t actually started raising them. None of my reading taught me anything about dealing with the heat in the summer time, I had to deal with the heat to learn it.
Having never grown the varieties of tomatoes that we have this year, I would not have known just how big they can get, or that I would need a much bigger cage than I expected. I will next time because now I know, rather than know about.

What I would like you to take away from this article is that we each need to develop real skills, and we can do so, in spite of the fact that our living conditions are often times less than ideal.
- Fanderal

This week: Western North Carolina, and Part 2 of our introduction to New Zealand.
The first section was written by Ron Thompson, a real estate agent in Burnsville, North Carolina, in response to our request for some background on Yancey County, North Carolina.

Western North Carolina and Yancey County are unique in many ways:
We have a principally conservative population of self sufficient souls that live here year round.
1. Our location enjoys the benefits of 2,500 to 6,000 foot elevations. Among them are spectacular mountain scenery, abundant water supplies from rivers and streams, fertile river valleys, and moderate climate (It rarely exceeds 80 or goes below 0).
2. We have an influx of summer residents and tourists providing an excellent source of income for those wise enough to capitalize on them (crafts, home grown vegetables, honey, firewood, etc).
3. We have limited “big city” luxuries such as shopping malls. But, they are within reasonable driving distances. (Asheville is 37 miles [from Burnsville].)
4. We do have grocery stores, a movie theater and a Summer Playhouse and a fine public golf course.
5. We are comfortably out of reach of the more populated areas of North Carolina south and east of us such as Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh/Durham and Chapel Hill, yet close enough for a weekend visit should you need a reality check as to why you left the big city.
6. We do not have burdensome zoning.

Market conditions in our area have seen moderate price reductions due to the overall real estate market conditions. It should be noted that our prices are normally lower than other areas of the Southeast. Raw land starts as low as $10,000 an acre and increases based on features such as water frontage, amount of flat tillable land, etc. Prices are not as low as they used to be and all price trends are upward despite the recent price dip.

Self Sufficiency or Semi-Self-Sufficiency is possible here for a number of reasons. Among them are:
1. The locals are of Scotch /Irish heritage and maintain the customs of growing their own produce, repairing their own possessions and bartering for goods they need (weekend side-of-the-road Flea Markets and Produce Stands abound).
2. We have an abundance of natural resources:
Clear mountain water for drinking.
Streams for water power.
Abundant sun for gardens and solar power.
Mountain breezes for wind power.
Fertile soil for growing your own produce. (This was once a major apple producing area.)
Bear, Deer, Rabbits, Squirrel, Grouse and Turkey can be harvested.

Tactical Considerations:
During the American Civil War, General Sherman said of the mountains of Western North Carolina “Only a fool would lead an army into those mountains”. The heavily wooded mountains, the many caves, old woods roads and unmarked trails and coves (you may call them small valleys), offer concealment and protection.
The local residents of our area are by and large, a private people. Friendly, if their friendship is cultivated, they tend to stick together in small church community groups. You will be welcomed in their church and community but your privacy will be respected. They don’t care for trespassers and they generally don’t trespass. Chasing a bear in season may be an exception.
We are at least four hours or more away from the major population areas of the South such as Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; and Raleigh, North Carolina. With interstate gridlock during an emergency, it is unlikely that anyone seeking haven here would be able to reach us on one tank of gas.
We have many properties that will provide an ideal location for survival-minded people. These vary from small one family parcels to sizeable pieces that will provide suitable conditions for a group of like minded families.
We will be pleased to be your search agent for property in the mountains of Western North Carolina.

Ron or Julia Thompson
June Jerome Realty
P.O. Box 221
Burnsville, NC 28714 Ph: 828-682-4900

New Zealand (Part 2)
A special thanks to those of you who wrote in concerning Part 1 of New Zealand. Obviously, there is a lot more to choosing this locale as a retreat area then meets the eye and I appreciate the feedback.

To recap the cons of immigrating to New Zealand: It is going to be a hard sell at best as the requirements to become a citizen are very strict. (The U.S. should take some lessons from New Zealand), as they should be, that’s most likely one of the main reasons the country has such a low crime rate, they screen their immigrants and are very selective on who they let in. Mostly, you’ll need to bring a ‘value’ with you, be it a business or a lot of money, preferably both, near as I can tell.

Self-defense is frowned upon, at least with a firearm. I spoke with a local realtor there who stated that you may only use the same force that an attacker uses to stop an attack. Meaning, if the perp has a knife you cannot use a gun, you must use a similar level of force. Whether this is true or not I don’t know but it sounds about right given the information that Craig D. posted on the blog this week. Importation of your great firearms collection will be almost impossible if it consists of anything in the black rifle arena. A big no-no in my book. The overall picture now becomes clear, New Zealand firearms laws are a twisted mix of U.S. / British and U.N. scripts. This is a country where you can own a suppressed semi-auto AR-15 but you can never shoot it except at a certified range, never use it for self defense, never travel with it except in a secure box and unloaded (to the range only) and you must store it in a government approved ‘bunker safe’ in your home. I guess Craig D. was right, the great Nanny State is alive and well in New Zealand. The good news is you’ll probably never need your guns there if they keep a tight lid on the immigration flow.
Okay, rant over. Let’s try and see what positive things New Zealand has to offer.

New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere and the air masses from the southern hemisphere and the northern hemispheres don’t mix. That is a huge advantage in the event of a nuclear exchange. Nearly all of the envisioned targets are in the northern hemisphere.

It has a very low crime rate. Many of the other touted offshore retreat locales--particularly in Central and South America have high crime rates, and in some locales like Honduras, ex-pats are specifically targeted for home invasion robberies. The drug gangs have discovered that is where the good stuff is: The Gringo's house. So, by comparison, the low crime rate in New Zealand is a big plus.

New Zealand is an English speaking country, so there is no language barrier. It also means that ex-pats blend in fairly well and can be more readily assimilated into the culture. Even then it would take at least a full generation to be considered a "local" but at least there isn't the same inherent distrust that is prevalent isn many nations that speak other languages.

Overall, after feedback from several readers I must say that New Zealand get’s a 65 out of 100 as far as a retreat locale. The saving graces that brought the score up substantially, were the low crime rate, the variety of terrain/micro-climates between the islands, the immigration laws (allowing only productive folks to come) and the remote location of the country from the rest of the world.

We are looking for suggestions for next weeks update so if you have a favorite locale or region please e-mail us and suggest one CONUS area and one International area and we’ll get to work on it for next Friday! - T.S.

Ben L. bookmarked this article for us: Tool heaven full to the brim. Ben's comment: "Hundreds of thousands of [traditional hand] tools. I can see the lines full of SurvivalBlog readers forming now."

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From The Guardian: The looming food crisis--Land that was once used to grow food is increasingly being turned over to biofuels. This may help us to fight global warming - but it is driving up food prices throughout the world and making life increasingly hard in developing countries. Add in water shortages, natural disasters and an ever-rising population, and what you have is a recipe for disaster.

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Stephen in Iraq sent us some bad news on the Peak Oil front: Oil companies spent 45% more on oil exploration and oil field expansion last year, but reserves increased by only 2%.

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Reader "Quaesiveris" suggested bookmarking the CDC's "Yellow Book" web page for travelers.

"You must have a willingness to do something when everyone else is petrified. You must learn the lesson of following logic over emotion." - Warren Buffett

Thursday, September 6, 2007

I'm blogging this evening from the west bank of The Unnamed River (TUR), which runs through the back end of the Rawles Ranch. I brought my lawn chair, my laptop, a Jump-N-Carry 12VDC jump pack, and a can of root beer. As I'm writing this, I have my boots propped up on a big chunk of basalt and I'm watching some 7" to 12" trout cruise by. (But I remind myself that I'm working, so they will have to wait for another day.) It is about 75 degrees, and sunny. Three Merganser ducks paddled by a few minutes ago. The only distraction is a pesky yellow jacket wasp that has caught a whiff of my root beer. Mental note: Next time, to raise the experiential perfection quotient by bringing ice water instead.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, I live near the poverty level, but at times like this, I feel very richly blessed. The Reverend Jesse Jackson thinks it a shame that I don't earn a "living wage" and that I'm under-insured. But I wouldn't trade my life here for anything. Certainly not for another stint in the corporate world. No way!

Hello Mr. Rawles,
Perhaps you and the readers could help me sort through an issue I’ve been wrestling with for some time. From what I’ve read in the archives it appears that some of your readers are struggling with it also.
For almost two decades I have been preparing for the SHTF scenario I believe is inevitable, given our country’s course. I have read about the need for Christian charity during the difficult time that will come and as a Christian I agree. Many suggest that you should store extra food and necessities and dispense them during difficult times. Good idea, but I haven’t found much agreement on precisely how to accomplish this – the mechanics of doing so, if you will. This may be because the issue seems to raise questions that have no simple answers. For example:

Say you set aside 10% of your supplies as “give away” stock. How do you deal with the former recipients of your charity when the crisis persists and that 10% has been given away? You know it was all you planned to give away, but will they know (or care)? How will you control the remainder of the supplies they are now aware of?

I live around many people I call “fivers.” (These are the people with $500,000 homes…who drive a $50,000 pickup truck…that pulls their $5,000 ATVs…on weekends they’re spending $500 to attend a pro football game…but they can’t seem to afford $50 for a water purifier…or $5 for emergency candles.) Do I dispense charity to these fools? Should I? While they’ve been living the good life, I’ve been living frugally so I can afford to purchase my preparedness items. Something about a Grasshopper and an Ant comes to mind about now…

If the crisis is truly short-lived (it ends before your shared supplies run out), what have the recipients learned? That someone else will be there to bail them out the next time this happens? That if there’s a problem they can always come to my place for supplies? Isn’t that reinforcing the entitlement mentality that’s already far too prevalent in this country?
You touched on the issue of dispensing charity in "Patriots" when the characters encountered passersby who showed up, were helped, and conveniently exited the scene, never to return. That won’t be the case when those people live down the street.

In the “City Survival” chapter in Ragnar Benson’s Living Off The Land In The City And The Country he contends (and I concur) that most people simply do not have the luxury of leaving an urban or semi-urban environment and moving to a rural retreat. For the city survivor, he suggests, “It is far better to be discreet. Don’t broadcast the fact that you are caching for survival. Keep your stores and caching places to yourself. Then, after the collapse if someone comes around, it will be a random scavenger that can be more easily dissuaded.” Another author simply stated, “In a survival situation you can’t afford charity” and went on to say that unwise (read “unprepared”) people who have nothing of value to offer you should be terminated (read: “killed”). Yikes!!!
I believe the answer lies somewhere between “doing nothing” and “doing them in,” so to speak. This 10 Cent Challenge supporter would appreciate input from you all on this issue.
Thanks, and God bless. - John in Colorado.

JWR Replies: I agree that urbanites that choose to stay put will not have much opportunity to be very charitable WTSHTF. There would be precious few practicable ways--other than perhaps anonymously leaving things on the doorsteps of widows--to be charitable without the risk of getting cleaned out by opportunistic riff-raff. But for those of us that live in the country and even for those in the suburbs, there will be plenty of opportunities to share.

But first let's address this issue at the most basic level: As a Christian, I believe that charity is not optional. It is Biblically mandated. I feel this very strongly, for several reasons. First: it is there in The Book, over and over again. There is no denying it. God said it. I believe it. That settles it. Secondly, I came to recognize God's gift of salvation bestowed upon me, through election, and I learned that His gift was unmerited. I didn't deserve salvation any more than some of my neighbors deserve my charity when things get Schumeresque. But God freely gave that gift to me, so I'm going to do my utmost to freely bestow charity on everyone that I can. Lastly, everything that I've earned and saved, I consider providential gifts from God. So I intend to share some of it with those that are less fortunate and even those that currently lack the foresight to stock up for potential bad times. It's not my stuff. It's God's stuff. I'm just the steward of a part of it.

Charity with no strings attached is a powerful witness for God's love and for the gospel of Christ. You don't need to be an eloquent speaker. Just tell them: "Its the Christian thing to do." That speaks volumes. And, BTW, it won't hurt to hand out a few gospel tracts and Bibles along with the grub.

I strongly encourage charitable giving both the present day and post-TEOTWAWKI. It is important to keep far more storage food on hand than you expect to consume. If all that you have is the bare minimum to supply your own family or retreat group, you won't be in any position to dispense charity.

In particular, I recommend that you stock up on extra wheat, rice, beans, and sprouting seeds. If purchased in food grade 5 gallon buckets they are currently still relatively inexpensive. Just an extra two or three hundred pounds of grains and legumes could save dozens of lives. God's providence is a gift. Share it. I'm sure that there will be a lot of such people wandering about when the balloon goes up. Consider yourself an ambassador for Christ, and act accordingly. Do it for God's glory rather than your own.

If the situation warrants it, give at arm's length. I describe one way to do this in my novel "Patriots". It may sound almost absurd, but you may need to dispense charity by passing it over concertina wire or even while holding the beneficiaries at gunpoint at a safe distance. If times are bad enough, they'll understand your caution.

How much of your preparedness stockpile should you set aside for charity? Generally I'd recommend at least a tenth. That is in line with the tradition of tithing, which has its roots in the Old Testament law of Tzedaka.The Bible says that you provide for your immediate family first, then your extended family, and then your local community, and so on.

What if it is a localized natural disaster and you know that the situation is likely to get back to normal with in a few months? Then you can probably afford to be more charitable than just giving a tenth. In essence, you can look at your three year food supply as a one year supply for three families, or as a six month supply for six families.

Dear JWR,

I think it's great when people stop and think after reading your novel "Patriots". I['m writing] in reply to Thompson's question and your reply. (OBTW, I applaud Thompson's double six pack purchase). In my opinion, some aspects of a collapse/terrorist attack aftermath can get as bad if not worse than in your novel, depending on where you live. Those of us that do have relatives with their head in the sand or somewhere else, you will have to make some tough decisions if and when the SHTF. Do you take the time to help out the ones that ignored us and our warnings, or do you take care of your immediate family and bug out? I for one will bug out with my immediate family, that is where my obligations are and yours should be too. But are you mentally prepared to do that ? Now is the time to think about that scenario, not when the time comes!

I also think that your average criminal element and the people that panic WTSHTF can be overwhelming for those of us that live in large cities but [that] have retreats on stand-by. Hence my preceding statement. If you do live in a large urban area, you don't have any time to waste dealing with family and friends that chose to ignore you and their own obligation to be prepared. Hours and even minutes could be what saves you and your immediate family--[the difference between] surviving or becoming someone's victim. That's my 2 cents. Time for me to re-read "Patriots". Sam in Dayton,Ohio

Hi Jim.
Recently, in a reply to a question as to whether you thought the situation would get as bad as described in your novel, you said you did not think it would. Could you elaborate on that? Why are we storing all these beans, Band-Aids and bullets? Thanks. - Joe

JWR Replies: I believe that in the near future we will see a deep economic depression similar to the 1930s, with massive unemployment and major stock market losses. It will most likely be triggered by the current Liquidity Panic, or perhaps by a Dollar Panic that will follow soon after. Crime rates will increase substantially, particularly in urban and suburban areas. This depression may last a decade or more. But the chance of a complete societal collapse (with long term failure of the power grid and total breakdown of law and order and long distance commerce) is not very likely. There is perhaps a 10% chance of that. Be ready, nonetheless. Your storage food may come in very handy if you lose your job.

Reader "Trickdog" suggested this MSNBC article: The New Money Pit--It started with subprime mortgages. Now owners of McMansions are defaulting, and the effects of the housing bust are beginning to ripple through the economy.

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I generally soft pedal any mention of our Affiliate advertisers, since I prefer to spotlight our paying advertisers. (The ones that you see over in the scrolling banners). But once in a while, an Affiliate puts on a sale that is so attractive that it bears special mention, like this one from TracFone: you can get a reconditioned Motorola phone and two 60 minute airtime cards for just $19.99. Here at the Rawles Ranch we are not inside of a cell phone coverage area (since we are way out in the hinterboonies), but I'm planning to get one of the TracFones from this special offer, just to use when I travel. This is quite a bargain!

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A SurvivalBlog reader has launched a business making fairly realistic combat training targets. These might some interesting training possibilities. But I'm not sure what some of my neighbors will think of them. I suppose that I shouldn't leave them up on their stands in between shooting sessions.

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Mark C. suggested this article: Commercial Real Estate in U.S. Poised for Price Drop. Mark's comment: "Just like you predicted with commercial real estate..." The other shoe is indeed about to drop.

"No benevolent man ever lost altogether the fruits of his benevolence. If he does not always gather them from the persons from whom he ought to have gathered them, he seldom fails to gather them, and with a tenfold increase, from other people. Kindness is the parent of kindness; and if to be beloved by our brethren be the great object of our ambition, the surest way of obtaining it is, by our conduct to show that we really love them." - Classical Economist Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 12 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 12 ends on September 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

As I read SurvivalBlog there is much on how to build things and various preparations. I have gleaned a plethora of information on many subjects. I have implemented many into my preparations. There are some modifications to many of these that I wish to cover in this article. These are basic and simple to achieve with a little creative thinking on your part and can be done by anyone who wants to keep it simple. Preparing for any emergency or disaster or even TEOTWAWKI is a daunting task in and of itself. I wish to pass on a few pieces of knowledge to help ease the burden of preparing for these scenarios.
1. Don’t believe everything you read at face value. Check the information that you find on the Internet first. 90% of the information you read is good but every once in a while you will get an article that is just complete bunk and if you apply any of the information you could get into serious trouble or worse end up dead. So do your homework first and double check the information.

2. Be frugal in your spending. If you don’t have a need for an expensive item or any knowledge on how to use that fancy piece of survival gear that looks so cool then you don’t need it. Don’t waste your money on it. There will always be something better that you could use that will cost a lot less and may be easier to use.
Shop around and find the best price you can on anything you are looking for to add to your preps. Take advantage of those supper sales at the grocery store and clip coupons. Ten cents may not seem worth the effort but add them up and you will be shocked at how much you save at the check out. I have been able to cut $100 off of a good sized grocery bill on a good day.

3. Start small and work up to the big items in your preps. As you gain knowledge you will know what you need and what you don’t. Once you have a good foundation you can expand on what you started with. In my Preps I started in the beginning. I started with a Bug out Bag. I could outfit it to my needs and the initial cost to my budget was minimal. I scavenged the entire contents from spare items in my home. Once this was done I had the minimum of what was needed in the short term. It was not until this was done that I started to supplement with purchased items and gear. Once I finished with that I moved onto Bug out Bags for the rest of my family members. This may seem silly but it prepared me for the big picture and was the first step to building up my preparations. I have only been at this for a little over a year and I have four complete Bug-Out Bags and just a little over two months worth of stored food. I started small and am working up. I would be farther along but it is slow going and the budget is tight. I am quite surprised at how much I have accomplished in the short period that I have been doing this. I just did my first rotation of supplies in my Bug out bags and used the food in a grand dinner for the family. Even the misses was pleasantly surprised by the meal I had made from the BOB preps.

4. Make all of your preparations work for you and your family. If your spouse and children are not 100% on board than you may have to think of their needs and prepare accordingly. Especially if it involves children under the age of 10. Try to engage them by making preparations fun. For that stubborn spouse who still has issues with Prepping just be patient. The first time you have a major power outage or severe blizzard and is in a panic calmly break out some of your preps and assure her that it will be ok and to stop worrying. This will speak volumes more than anything you will ever say to her. It worked with my other half. I still have a bit of convincing to do but she is more open to some of my ideas now.

5. Make friends and allies. You can’t do it alone no matter how prepared you think you are. The right friends can save your butt in any emergency. Knowing who you can count on will be worth their weight in gold. Avoid the type that will leech from you. If they don’t seem to care about anything other than how much they can get out of you than they are not worth the effort. Those would be the kind of friends who would knock on your door WTSHTF and use up all of your preps and leave you and your family in a hanging. This is not a friend that I would want around in the end. Make lasting trusting friendships and always be true to your words. NEVER EVER Break your promises to your friends.
Be sure to make friends with your local law enforcement {in a small community}.You can avoid a lot of trouble that way and if your in good with the police local chief or sheriff they may even enlist your help. The more help you render in a crisis the more likely you will not be the target for Johnny Law when TSHTF. Local businesses are also valuable allies when crunch time comes. This can make the difference when it comes to getting that needed item that you neglected to get when things were good. This will also work in your favor when you are trying to get this item versus the last minute customer trying to get it. Be generous with the shop owner and render any help he or she may need. This can be done during good times or bad times. I once helped a shop owner catch a shoplifter and we became real good friends as a result. This worked out very well. He cut me some good deals on his merchandise and I was able to get items weeks before they were put on the shelf. I was also able to have him set certain items aside for me when I was not able to buy them right away. I always made it a point to thank him and check in on him at least once or twice a week just to shoot the breeze. Remember you never know when you will make a good friend just by helping them out. The simplest help can be of great value to those in need. Never ask for anything in return for your help. People who are grateful will thank you and will remember you. A lasting impression goes along way when the time comes when you may need the help. If they know you are in trouble they will be falling all over themselves coming to your aid.

6. Lists, lists, and more lists. I can’t emphasize this one enough. You will go insane trying to keep track of everything without a list. I also keep a journal to track my progress and to write down any ideas that I have or to just ramble off some thoughts about the whole prepping idea.
This is also where I draw up some of my more creative designs for improvised survival gear. Try to avoid using any of the electronic kind of tracking lists journals etc. In the event of a power failure,all of your efforts to keep track of everything will have been a waste of time. You will have no way to get the information that is so valuable. Good old paper and pencil is your best bet.

7. Assemble a good survival Library. One of he best places to find what you need is all of those used book stores. There may be a lot of old books out there but when it comes down to it the information contained within, they are priceless. Thrift stores and Goodwill stores occasionally have some older how-to books once in a while. Don’t be turned off by the print date. I have a book from 1975 that has more valuable information on such things as repairing your plumbing to patching drywall than anything that is in current print. At least for the price. I paid 29 cents for this book. I went to Walden Books and looked in the do it your self section to see what they had on the subject. I found a similar book but it was $25 bucks and the information was virtually the same as my book. See tip #2 on this. So for the fraction of the cost I had the same information.

8. Check SurvivalBlog, daily. I can’t say enough about this one. Just trust me on this one, it is a must in my book. Even missing it a couple of days and you will be sitting in front of your computer for a few hours trying to catch up on your reading. This will cost you time when you could be doing other prepping.

9. Take each day and read, study and apply your survival knowledge. Read a book on any subject that can help you to survive. Learn a skill and perfect it, so you can use this skill in a TEOTWAWKI scenario. For those who are disabled such as myself find a Valuable skill that fits your capabilities. Be it anything from mathematics to drafting or arts crafts. If you can design a simple machine someone will build it for you. Not all people have the skill or patients to sit down and design mechanical device. Still others can’t draw a stick figure to save their life. Sure a lot of contractors know how to read a blue print but very few know how to actually draw one up. So if you have a similar skill pursue it. I can’t build anything out of wood but I can draw up the plans to build a small house with a complete list of materials and cost. Ask me to build it and I would fail. I have neither the strength or the endurance to build it.

10. Learn what you need and use what you learn. Think outside the box so that your box is always full. Pack smart not hard. If you learn all of these skills and never use them than you will never know if skill you read about was worth learning in the first place. Practice, practice, practice makes perfect.

These are my top ten tips to preparing. I will have more to come as time goes on. This is not an all inclusive list but these are the things that I use everyday to help me and mine to get ready. There is enough information out there on prepping and making and storing this and that. I hope to cover the how to get to there from here as well as doing it in a way that helps everyone, including those who [, like me,] are disabled.

Mr. Rawles:
I'm convinced that given the bursting of the Debt Bubble, the American economy is about to take The Big Swim, a lot like it did back in the 1930s. If this does happen, what sort of businesses will be safe? Do you know what sorts of businesses bucked the down-trend in the 1930s? Thanks, - Chester

JWR Replies: According to statistics published some 20 years ago by Dr.Ravi Batra, the safest businesses and industries during the worst years of the Great Depression (1929-1933) were:

Repair shops
Educational services (A lot of young men that couldn't find work borrowed money to go to trade schools and college.)
Healthcare services
Bicycle shops
Bus transportation
Gasoline service stations
Second hand stores
Legal services
Drug or proprietary stores

To bring that list up to date, I would speculatively add a few more sectors and business that are likely to do well in the event of another major depression:
Home security/locksmithing (since a higher crime rate is inevitable in bad economic times.)
Entertainment/diversions (such as DVD rentals)
Truck farming/large scale vegetable gardening (since just 2% of the population now feeds the other 98%--whereas back in the 1930s the US was still a predominantly agrarian society)
Export consumer goods (since the US Dollar is likely to continue to slip versus most other currencies)

By way of SHTF Daily: Economist eyes home value dive: Others skeptical of 50 percent decline

  o o o

Any readers looking for knives or Leatherman tools should be sure to check out Knife Off. They have a big inventory--including brand names like Cold Steel and Kershaw--at very competitive prices. For localities where they are legal (and in compliance with Federal law), Knife Off also offers Smith and Wesson brand automatic knives (from their new "Extreme Ops" line) at the best prices I've ever seen. (Consult your state and local laws before ordering.)

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Jason in north Idaho suggested a British web site that shows some creative camper conversions for Unimogs.

"Always stand on principle, even if you stand alone." - John Quincy Adams

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Do you have a favorite quote? (Perhaps one related to preparedness, the survival mindset, self-defense, individual liberty, charity, or an important lesson from history.) If so, e-mail it to me, and if it isn't one that has been posted here before then I'll post it as a SurvivalBlog Quote of the Day. Thanks!

I have been corresponding with an infantry soldier (E-6 [pay grade]) in Iraq named Ray that I met through BTW, thanks for running that free ad for them on SurvivalBlog. All those "forgotten" soldiers need our real support--not just a "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon magnet on the backs of our cars. In the last 8 or 9 months I have sent more than 30 "care packages" in [Priority Mail] Flat Rate boxes to [ addressees in] Iraq and Afghanistan.

In our e-mails, one of the things that Ray mentioned a couple of times really impressed me: It is that one of the crucial logistics for modern armies is spare batteries. He described how they go through hundreds of them, for radios, tactical flashlights, sensors, laser target illuminators and designators, and night vision gear/thermal sights. As I look forward to potential hard times in this country, I think that we should learn a lesson from the Iraq experience: never run out of batteries.

So I've resolved to never let my family run out of batteries, even if the "problem" lasts for a decade. I took your advice and got a small [5 watt] solar [photovoltaic] panel from Northern Tool & Equipment which I've already rigged to charge batteries, using an "automobile" (12 volt DC) charging tray. (It looks like a regular home charger, but it has a 12 volt [input power] cable with a cig[arette] lighter plug.) This gives me straight DC-to-DC charging, without an energy hogging inverter in the middle of the equation. Thanks also for making that suggestion! For my retreat , I'm planning to buy one of the 8 watt panels from Safecastle, in a similar battery charging arrangement. That way I'll have a separate charging system, even if I have to E&E on foot and leave my 5 watt battery charging panel at home. I've also stocked up very heavily on nickel [metal] hydride [NiMH] batteries.of various and sundry sizes, plus some of the older nickel cadmium [NiCd] batteries, and some Duracells. My question is: What more should I do, and what is the best way to store all of the batteries that I'm acquiring? Thanks for all that you provide for free in SurvivalBlog. You should make the 10 Cent Challenge mandatory. Maybe with a password for most of what is on your site that only paid subscribers would have. You are way too generous. Giving it all away is no way to make a living. With Kind Regards - Paul G.

JWR Replies: Thank you very much for raising this important issue. You are absolutely right. Without a reliable long term supply of batteries we will lose some of our best tactical advantages for retreat security: radio communication, electronic intrusion detection systems, and night vision goggles/sights. Think about it: The only way that a small group can effectively defend a rural retreat is with these technological advantages. Without batteries, we would soon be back to 19th Century technology and tactics. Since modern tactical electronics are "force multipliers", the lack of them would reduce the effectiveness of our defensive measures. Making up for that loss would necessitate having a lot more manpower. And more manpower means more retreat floor space and more food. That additional food means more land under cultivation, and more land under cultivation and means a larger perimeter to defend, and so forth. You can see where this logic leads: Instead of owning a little two family 20 acre low profile retreat, you'd need 10 to 12 armed and trained adults and perhaps 40 to 100 acres, depending on rainfall and soil fertility. Being the local Lord of the Manor is not conducive to keeping a low profile!

You are right that it is wise to stock up on batteries. Try to get rechargeable batteries for as many devices as possible. In fact, compatibility with rechargeables (versus expendable "throw away" batteries) should be a key determining factor when selecting any electrical or electronic equipment. My favorite source for batteries via mail order is (One of our affiliate advertisers.) They have great prices and a huge selection.

If space permits, you should store all of your small batteries in a sealed bag (to prevent condensation) in the back of your refrigerator. This will extend their useful life.

Hello JWR,
I am a reader of your blog, and a New Zealand Citizen and firearms licence holder. I was pleasantly surprised to see your post [from Todd Savage] on New Zealand , and thought I could offer some more information.

MSSAs (Military Style Semi-automatics) are acceptable, but only with the E endorsement, as you stated. This endorsement costs NZ$200 and means more government involvement. What qualifies as an MSSA weapon may be quite different to what Americans are familiar with; especially as there are no magazine capacity limits. The distinction is based mostly on cosmetic features (like a bayonet lug or pistol grip) and often people can tack on a piece of metal to enclose a pistol grip and turn it into a class A firearm, which needs no endorsement.

In other words, you could shoot a semi-auto, with as large a magazine as you wish, from an enclosed pistol grip through a suppressor, all with just a basic firearms licence. Not bad at all, in that regard. Any person over 18 can own an air gun with no licence.

The A class licence requires you to go into the police station, pass a test on the New Zealand Arms Code, fill out an application form including reason for application and have a photo and details taken. This is loaded onto the national police database, so if you are stopped and queried by the police they will be aware of your ownership status. The police also visit your house, interview references and check your storage provisions. Licences last for 10 years and cost NZ $124.

One item from your post is incorrect; suppressors are not E class devices, anyone with a basic firearms licence can purchase them. Also for A class firearms, storage requirements are minimal. I screwed a thin sheet-metal locker to a wall in my household and attached a padlock, which was deemed sufficient storage for a small number of A class firearms. Gun stores also sell very inexpensive gun racks, which need just a padlock to comply with storage laws.

We’re not quite the land of freedom you might think, [the] Nanny state is alive and well here. You cannot carry any weapons for self defence (including firearms, pepper spray, Tasers or knives) and the police have a track record of prosecuting individuals who injure or kill others in legitimate self defence. Using firearms for self defence is severely frowned upon and if you give self defence as a reason for applying for your licence it will be denied (see below an excerpt from the Arms Code on self defence). Pistols are extremely difficult to own and shoot legally, and can only be used and carried at approved pistol ranges, without exception. Automatic weapons are illegal, with the exception of some specialist endorsements (such as collector), under which you may not fire them.

Self defence aside, New Zealand does have relatively sensible firearms laws that let you do many activities easily and legally. Feel free to come over! (Remember to get a “Permit to Import” first).

I hope this information is useful to you and your readers. Best Wishes, Craig D.



While things may have changes since my recent scouting mission to New Zealand. At that time, firearms laws were definitely heading the wrong way. Confiscations seemed an unfortunate eventuality. It was the main reason I nixed New Zealand as an ex-pat location. - SF in Hawaii


I hope you hear from someone who has actually tried to get an "E" Endorsement and/or import MSSAs into New Zealand because I would seriously doubt getting either
accomplished [by an ex-pat] would be easy. The firearm prices listed on the New Zealand gun store web site reflect amounts worse than what America experienced 1994-2004 and
this would represent a severe supply restriction.
New Zealand is also far from immune when it comes to the globalist march to ban civilian possession of small arms. See this site, and this site.

So tread carefully when it comes to recommending New Zealand as a place for freedom-loving Americans to tuck tail and retreat to when the going gets tough here. As an OIF veteran the last thing I'd want to see are honest believers in the original US Constitution abandoning the ship because a few waves came over the deck during
a storm! The phrase "sunshine patriot" would begin to come to mind.
Thanks and +1 on your work with SurvivalBlog, - Chris S.


Your piece on New Zealand needs to be augmented with a few key points.
New Zealand is a very left-leaning and liberal country, far more like Scandinavia than the US or Canada. If your views go towards the right or libertarian, you would probably be uncomfortable.
Gun controls are very restrictive by US standards. Most of the police are unarmed at all times. [JWR Adds: That is only true in terms of guns visible to the public. What is carried in the car boots (called "trunks" in the US) of senior officers is a different matter.] Handguns are quite rare. However, the murder rate in NZ, while growing, is only about 1/7 of that in the US on a per-capita basis.

An essential question to consider is whether a prospective immigrant will, in fact, be granted a visa to settle in NZ. New Zealand has among the most restrictive immigration policies in the world. New Zealand seeks immigrants who are young and college educated, healthy, with a good employment record, and clean police record. Persons 56 years old or older will not be granted permanent residency, though a temporary work permit may be possible. Qualifications are rated on a points system, and high scorers may (or may not) be invited to apply for residency.
Application is intrusive, and requires a full medical exam, an FBI background check, documentation of financial resources, and checks of references on education and employment. Information is available at this site.- Rick S.


Hi James,
A couple of minor corrections [to Todd's post] regarding firearms in New Zealand: E category guns are not readily imported into the country which is why the prices are so high. To import your E category firearms you will first have to buy a “hand in” E category that is already in NZ like an SKS, then get an import permit. As an alternative, if you get a C cat (collectors) license endorsement you may be able import your collection without a “hand in” gun, but C cat weapons are not to be fired although you might be able to change your C cat to an E cat at some future time. Importing pistols (B cat) and PC rifles and shotguns (A cat) are no problem assuming you have the proper license endorsements.

Suppressors are covered by the basic A cat license, not E cat which is why they are so prevalent and inexpensive.

For detailed information on shooting sports you may want to try the IMAS web site where most questions about firearms in NZ will be answered. NZ is a wonderful place and I would encourage firearms enthusiast from all over the world to immigrate here and vote.

Regards, - Bert

From The New York Times: Few Expect a Panacea in a Rate Cut by the Fed

  o o o

The folks at Guardians of Jericho are gearing up for the Jericho Convention ("Jerichon") in Oakley, Kansas the weekend of September 14th to 16th. I'd like to be there but I have a commitment for some on-site consulting that weekend. If you attend, be sure to look for folks wearing SurvivalBlog T-Shirts. I've heard that there will be at least a half a dozen blog readers there, including frequent SurvivalBlog contributor Rourke.

   o o o

RBS mentioned this article in Yahoo! News: Los Angeles in 1,000-year Earthquake Lull

"Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one's own person is its ultimate reward." - Patricia Sampson

Monday, September 3, 2007

The high bid is now at $235 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a for a new-in-the-box Hydro Photon UV Light SteriPen Water Sterilization System with solar charger and pre-filter, kindly donated by Safecastle, one of our most loyal advertisers. This very popular water sterilizer product package normally sells for $225, plus postage. See the details on the SteriPen and solar charger here. As a bonus for this auction, I'm also including three autographed books: Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 and my novel: "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". (Together, these books have a retail value of $82, and hence the full auction lot has a combined value of $307.) The auction ends on September 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

I have been a SurvivalBlog reader for nearly a year. It is my favorite blog, by far. I got a [voluntary] 10 Cent Challenge subscription after about the first month (and I'm about to renew). But it wasn't until last month that I got around to purchasing a copy of your novel ["Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse"]. I had been avoiding it because I'm not the sort that reads novels. They are mostly a waste of time. But I thought that I'd make an exception and get yours, since it had such a high rating on Amazon. It wasn't until I started reading it that I realized what the fuss was all about. I absolutely devoured your novel. I read it all in a 12 hour stretch. (Luckily, I started it on a Saturday morning, or else I would have been up reading all night.) It may sound like a old cliche, but I just could not put it down. Then I re-read parts of it on Sunday, and highlighted some sections with my Accent marker, and started taking notes. Since then, I've re-read the entire book twice.

All that say is Wow! Now I'm planning to take advantage of your sale and get two six packs of autographed books, for Christmas gifts for my family (including my head-thrust-firmly-in-sand uncle) and a few friends at work and at church. Thank you for writing your novel, and all that you do in sharing your preparedness knowledge on the SurvivalBlog.

That said, now for my question: Do really expect things to get as bad as you described in Patriots? I hope not, because if it happens that way, then I'm still quite under-prepared. Sincerely, - Thompson

JWR Replies: Thanks for your kind comments on SurvivalBlog and my novel.

In answer to your question: No, I don't expect things to get as bad as I described in "Patriots". It could happen. But frankly, the odds are that it won't be nearly so severe. I made the scenario in the novel a near "worst case" in order to make it more interesting reading, and as an opportunity to show the need for planning and preparedness in a variety of areas such as first aid, food storage, faith, self-defense, communications, et cetera. The Deep Drama was essentially an excuse to write about a lot of different tactics and technologies.And it does make for an exciting read.

The bottom line: If you prepare for the worst, you'll be able to take on any lesser challenges with relative ease, and have plenty of extra logistics to dispense charitably.

Mr. Rawles, I have been considering sending you this note on fuel, so I’ll tag on now. I work for a very large pipeline/oil company and I am in management. My family & I have been in this business for nearly 30 years. I run diesel pickups and use a CFN card as well. The real point I want to share is that when we may no longer get gasoline or diesel fuel, there are hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles around in which fuel can be “obtained” with a hose or pump [in the cited absolute worst case situation.] First, think of how many over the road trucks there are in North America. They are all run on diesel fuel. Perhaps more important, think of the number of backhoes, excavators (we call them track hoes), bulldozers, various other earthmoving and construction equipment, cement trucks, delivery vans. The list is pretty long. Farm tractors in the US-- and how many you see parked on the edge of a field pulling a fuel tank. In the agriculture belt of the Midwest , this is a common sight. If you’re in oil producing states, you have work over rigs, drilling rigs, and an entire network of support vehicles, all which keep large on-site storage of diesel fuel to operate. Look at the US military and the diesel powered vehicles they use. Here’s another thought; it is difficult to siphon Gasoline out of a modern car today, due to the filler cap restrictions. Most diesel powered vehicles have a large, open filler cap.
To go along with that, most companies that are in this sort of business have bulk diesel fuel storage at their yard(s). I work at a CI/KR facility, (the DHS acronym for Critical Infrastructure/Key Resources as outlined by the National Infrastructure Protection Plan (NIPP) where these businesses and facilities have large backup generators utilizing diesel fuel. A bonus is that the fuel is treated for long term storage and usually filtered on discharge from the storage tank.
I think it is also important to figure out your town or city’s supply chain for fuel. A tremendous number of refineries are still located on the Gulf Coast/Mississippi River and the refined products are transported by pipeline across the U.S. to central terminals. From there, it is transported out by your local jobber to each gas station. Remember, this is still free enterprise with private companies at the steering wheel, however, under NIPP, this could all change. The shutdown of refineries starting in the late 1980s only tightens the noose, so to speak. I find in my travel around the Southwest U.S. interacting with law enforcement and private citizens, not many people really know a thing about our crude oil/refining/fuel infrastructure and all of the processes that it takes to get to the gas pump. We are, and will continue to be, in a very delicate energy balance--particularly fuel. Simply look at Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the ice storms in early 2007. People need to be educated.

I could go on and more in-depth about our nation’s infrastructure, but I think that is a separate e-mail. The bottom line is; I think I personally will have a better chance of obtaining diesel fuel for myself, than gasoline. Most folks will be sitting in long lines at gas stations and convenience stores waiting on gasoline. Wonderful site you have! - LetterJRanch, in Texas

AVS sent us this from, confirming an "urban legend" as factual: Tampons are indeed used as wound dressings in Iraq.

  o o o

Ed L. suggested this piece from Bill Fleckenstein at MSN Money Central: Central banks are stealing from the average citizen

   o o o

Subprime Crisis: Can It Happen In Britain, Too?

"Because Roman civilization perished through barbarian invasions, we are perhaps too much inclined to think that this is the only way a civilization can die. But if the lights that guide us [morally guided public institutions] ever go out, they will fade little by little, as if of their own accord." - Alexis de Tocqueville

Sunday, September 2, 2007

The first post today is from our newest foreign correspondent: "SurvivalistSam" a 15 year old home-schooler living on New Zealand's South Island.

New Zealand firearms laws seem rather restrictive when compared to those in the USA but they are generally liberal when compared to Australia's.
In New Zealand one can own normal firearms such as shotguns and rifles with a normal A class Firearms Licence but for pistols one must acquire a "B" endorsement to that licence.
Even then one must join a pistol club and partake in shooting events at least 12 times a year.
You must also never fire a pistol in any area that is not an approved range and you must store it in an appropriate safe that has been approved by the New Zealand police.

Normal bolt action, lever action, pump action and semi automatic rifles can be purchased by a person over the age of 16 with a regular A class firearms licence.
However in the case of semi autos, one is only allowed to have a magazine capacity of 7 or less for centerfire rifles and and magazine capacity of 15 or less for .22 rifles.
There is, however, no limit on the amount of magazines one can own nor is there any age limit or licence required to purchase magazine(meaning anyone of any age can buy magazines).
There is no magazine capacity limit for bolt, lever or pump action rifles.

If one wants to own a semi auto rifle/shotgun with any of the following features then they must obtain a MSSA (Military Style Semi Automatic) licence:

.Folding or telescopic butt
.Magazine of more than 15 cartridges for .22 rimfire
.Magazine of more than 7 cartridges for others
.Bayonet lug
.Free standing military style pistol grip
.Flash suppressor

To obtain a MSSA licence one must be over the age of 18 and must pass rigorous tests/evaluations conducted by the New Zealand Police.
Also, if you do get a MSSA licence then you must have extremely good safes for all MSSA firearms you purchase.

Basically all shotguns can be purchased with an A class licence except those with MSSA characteristics.

All info for this article has been sourced from The New Zealand Arms Code. - SurvivalistSam

While keeping your profile low at the beginning of TEOTWAWKI makes perfect sense during the time period if and when the bandits and masses are looting. Once the dust settles, and the survivors begin to recreate a semblance of civilization, then the trading post, and it's natural evolution, the general store will come into being.

1.) If you are in a remote location, you may not be well-suited to running such an enterprise, but if location permits then consider the benefits of providing this service. Consider also that as a SurvivalBlog reader, you already likely have a base of items from which to start bartering. Bullets, tools, et cetera. Look at your cache and think of what you can barter. You also know what will be valuable before others will. (Chainsaw [gas mixing] oil, hand tools etc.)

2.) By running a trading post and being a central hub, you will have better access to information.

3.) By taking a percentage from both the buyer and seller, you will have an income stream. By this, I do not necessarily mean cash. If someone left 100 pounds of potatoes there to trade and you negotiated a trade with their approval for 50 rounds of 9mm you could take both 10 potatoes and 5 rounds of the ammunition as your fee.

4.) You would have access to a wide variety of items at lower cost,
As time went on, the trading post would become the general store where people brought in their goods, say eggs and chickens and vegetables etc. hand made tools, every day at a negotiated wholesale cost, and you had people that bought them from you at retail.

The following is a quote from Wikipedia:
Trading posts also were places for people to meet and exchange the news of the world or simply the news from their home country (many of the worlds trading posts were places people loved to emigrate to) in a time when not even newspapers existed.
The trading posts in general were of great importance of the history of currency , almost right at the start of trading post history the need occurs to have something as a payment medium, soon trade-tokens and eventually coins were extracted from precious metals like gold, silver and copper for the use of buying and selling goods instead of simply exchange them.

Let us discuss some the challenges associated with running such a venture. You will need
1.) Manual scales for small items (seeds etc.) and heavy ones (bushels of wheat etc...). 1-10 pounds. 10-100 pounds. [JWR Adds: A small precise non-electronic scale for precious metals would also be useful.] Weights of known quantity for calibration and showing your customers you are giving them a square deal.
2.) The ability to provide proper security for you and your customers.
3.) The ability to provide documentation (not easily counterfeited) for people who leave their goods with you for trade.
4.) Perhaps some form of trade-tokens, see above.
5.) The ability to properly store materials, free from insects, rodents and the elements that may degrade them. A solar-powered DC refrigerator might be useful for antibiotics, et cetera.
All in all, if the timing and location were right, running the trading post/general store could be a very rewarding, albeit initially risky venture. - SF in Hawaii

Another attack by Al Qaeda on the United States is "inevitable", the head of the National Counter Terrorism Center says.

  o o o

One of the folks over at The Claire File Forums pointed out the Our Cool House web site, describing the construction of an earth-bermed a super-energy efficient house.

   o o o

Sid C. forwarded this link to a humorous video clip: Some survival retreats in Texas will not have a shortage of venison.

"Stand in the ways [crossroads] and see;
And ask for the old paths,
where the good way is,
And walk in it,
Then you will find rest for your souls." - Jeremiah 6:16 (NKJV)

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Anyone looking for a survival retreat in North Carolina should see the new listing at for a 130 acre parcel called the Rolling Meadows Retreat. OBTW, we are actively looking for more retreat property listings in the eastern US. Note that our ads are free at for our first few months of operation!

I work for a truck company and came up with an idea that may be useful to others out there. We fill our trucks up with diesel at Commercial Fueling Network (CFN). We do this for a couple reasons such as it is more cost effective and low key. From a city survivalist point of view its a great location to acquire fuel in two situations. One would be the natural disaster scenario where one is trying to flee the city only to find that regular stations are out of fuel. At this point they could divert low key CFN locations and purchase fuel assuming that the power is working. The reason that this would be advantageous is that fuel is purchased via a card and only people with a CFN card can buy, there are no attendants.

The second second scenario would be in a TEOTWAWKI situation where you would desperately be seeking fuel and resort to siphoning from the underground tanks. To top it off CFN publishes a book with every CFN location, a small map and what types of fuel they have. You can pick these up at any local oil company (CFN member). With regards to obtaining a CFN card, I have no idea maybe there is another reader that has some knowledge of this. Great job with SurvivalBlog! Regards, - Echofourcharlie

JWR Replies: Many thanks for that great idea. You are the first SurvivalBlog reader to specifically mention getting a CFN card as a preparedness measure. You just earned yourself a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) Award. I'll be mailing you a complimentary autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

I presume CFN cards should be available to just about any one with "Inc." in their company name, although they might only serve folks with fleets of vehicles.

Echofourcharlie's letter underscores one recommendation that I've been making to my consulting clients for more than a decade: Every family should own at least one diesel vehicle with some cargo room. Whether it is a military surplus M1008 CUCV pickup or a battered old pre-turbo Mercedes station wagon doesn't matter. Just get something that can burn diesel fuel--or home heating oil. The day may come when gasoline will be unobtainable, but diesel or home heating oil is still available.

In addition to the station guide book that you mentioned, CFN also lists their station locations at this web site.

In my opinion, it would have to be absolute worst case grid-down situation with depopulation on the scale of the upcoming I Am Legend movie before I'd ever consider scavenging in the way that you described. But if this ever were necessary, the best way to accomplish it would be by using a 12 VDC fuel transfer pump, built according to specifications that I described in SurvivalBlog.

While the tuna tin theme is cute, for the price there are much better QRP rigs out on the market than I see at the web site. (Theirs are about the worst). The kits they shown here all look like they have the smallest transistors possible and are only able to make miracle DX on very special occasions as I suspect they would be hard pressed to kick out a whole watt. The other downside is that they are not transceivers just transmitters. I still think the best deal for the money is from Small Wonders. There is a whole educational program prepared around building this kit. My choice was the mmr-40 with SSB voice and CW morse code. - David in Israel

As mentioned in The Drudge Report, a pronouncement has come from the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, conclave: Fed Acts to Limit Credit Crisis Fallout. Meanwhile, we read: Bush Outlines Aid for Mortgage Holders. I don't think anything that they do at this point will stop the debt bubble from bursting. This just the beginning of a huge financial debacle that will play out in the months and years to come. As I've said before, the macroeconomic implications are huge. I should also mention that I'm presently waiting for the other shoe to drop: commercial real estate. There were lots of foolish loans made in that market, too.

  o o o

The precious metals markets closed decisively higher on Friday--with spot silver at $12.02 and gold at $673.20. I suspect that investors have finally realized that the only real safe havens in the upcoming dollar debacle will not be denominated in any paper currency, they will be tangibles. For some background on precious metals supply and demand fundamentals, see: The Coming Flight to Gold, by Roland Watson

   o o o

A hat tip to Internet journalist and talk radio show host Steve Quayle. His frequent mention of SurvivalBlog at his popular web site and on his Q-Files Internet/shortwave radio show have resulted in thousands of new visits to SurvivalBlog. Thanks, Steve!

"A gimmick is a brilliant solution to a non-existent problem. A gadget is what you use to solve a problem you didn't know you had. A gizmo is what you use to solve a problem when you don't have the know-how or skill to do it yourself. A tool is what you use to get real work done." - R.H. Ruana, member, American Bladesmith Hall of Fame

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