October 2007 Archives

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

One last reminder that today is the last day of the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of the latest 33 chapter edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". The sale price of a box of six books is still just $90, postage paid. (Normally they are $24 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents. Note that because of the recent rush of orders, I am now out of stock. I will continue to honor the special $90 six pack price, but there will be a delay for re-stocking until perhaps as late as mid-November, when the remaining six pack orders will be shipped. Orders will be shipped in the sequence that payments are received. Do not order from me unless you are willing to wait until the third week of November for your six pack of books to arrive! (If you are in a hurry, you can order from Fred's M14 Stocks. They recently bought 1,000 autographed copies for resale.)

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I recently discovered something called 'steel-cut' oats which are healthier than rolled oats. Are you familiar with this and how do they differ when it comes to long term storage. I did find a small container in the store that was about 2-1/2 times the cost of regular rolled oats.

I have enjoyed reading your daily tips and the blog. Thank you, - Margo

JWR Replies: The advantages of steel cut oats are marginal. They do have slightly more nutritive value than rolled oats, but certainly not enough to justify their substantially higher price! Rolled oats are typically steamed, rolled, and then re-steamed and finally toasted dry. The steel cut variety are less heavy processed, so they have just a bit more nutritive value. They also supposedly are a bit more flavorful, but I guess my "Fresh Off the Turnip Truck" palate is not very sophisticated, because I can't taste much difference. Oh yes, I should also mention that when cooked steel cut oats also swell up more than rolled oats.

All in all, I recommend buying rolled oats for storage. If it means the difference between supplying one family versus supplying two families for the same money, then I'm all for quantity! With rolled oats, you typically get more twice as much for your money. And BTW, from what I've read, there is no significant difference in shelf life between the two.

Hello Jim,
I am wondering if there is anyone here in Canada doing the great work that you are doing?

I have just introduced my husband to the idea of getting prepared. I don’t know if I’ve seen one too many movies or if I have a premonition, but I would like to devise a plan sooner rather than later.
I am also looking for a place to escape to, if we (probably) have to get out of our area (which is just on Lake Ontario ). We are thinking that we should go north.

I live less than 30 minutes west of Toronto, in [deleted from OPSEC], which is about an hour from the Niagara Falls border.

Any thoughts or links you would recommend? Thanking you in advance, - Liz G.

JWR Replies: For our readers north of the border, I recommend Survival Bill's Forums. There, you will find an interesting exchange of information, most of which has a distinctly Canadian slant. (The majority of posters are Canadians.) If you intend to "link up" with like-minded folks in your area, I also recommend the quasi-hidden(unlinked) web page sponsored by SurvivalistBooks.com. They have a surprisingly large number of postings from Canadians there. OBTW, if you use this free service, then please be sure to give SurvivalistBooks.com some patronage!

I really appreciate your web site and your wisdom. I agree with your evaluation of the need or the wisdom in storing magazines. You recommend original factory or military surplus. My question is what would you advise as far as AK mags go? Any thought on the polymer mags would also be appreciated. Thanks, - Andy

JWR Replies: For steel AK magazines, I recommend buying any of the magazines made in the former Soviet Bloc that have a full length standing metal rib on the back. Virtually all of those are quite robust and reliable, regardless of the country of origin. (They were all made to essentially the same specifications, on USSR-supplied tooling.) The only steel AK magazines to avoid are: A.) the Chinese magazines (which can be identified by their lack of a "dorsal rib"), and B.) Aftermarket magazines from companies like USA Magazines and Triple K. Their quality control is pitiful, which generally results in unreliable junk.

For polymer AK magazines, I recommend buying either Finnish Valmet green "waffle" magazines (which can be identified by their molded-in lanyard loops), or Bulgarian waffle magazines. Both are excellent. Polymer magazines are available from KVAR, although I've noticed a few genuine bargains from time-to-time on Buddy's Board.

I should also mention that most of the AK drum magazines on the market are overpriced and many of them have poor feeding reliability. My advice: stick with 20 and 30 round magazines.

In deference to Ben, his numbers are a little off.
I have been spending a great deal of time studying everything I can get my hands on about a pandemic flu. (I am the Emergency Preparedness Specialist for my Church) If you go to www.pandemicflu.gov you'll see that the "experts" expect a morbidity rate (those who will become sick) of 40% of the US population.and a mortality rate that would be about 20%. If you do some quick math:
360 million Americans
144 million Americans sick
28 Million Dead.
One of the reasons that the numbers would not be as inflated as Ben states is that, while H5N1 is killing at a 50% to 70% range, when and if it mutates, the mortality and morbidity rates would be much lower. Any virus that wants to propagate itself needs to keep a higher rate of "Typhoid Mary's" just to survive. If it kills it's host too well it wont be a global threat. Think back to other viral scares. Ebola, although tragic to any who come in contact with it, it kills so well and so fast that it doesn't spread very effectively. Same goes with the SARS scare in the 1990s.
A pandemic flu will be disastrous and possibly the worst thing we have ever experienced. Couple that with an economic downturn, a massive hurricane, earthquake, flood, ice storm, or war, and it may be the kind of "event" that changes the way we look at TEOTWAWKI. Regards, - KM


The 1918 Flu is normally used to project/predict the effects of Avian Influenza because it is the last major flu epidemic for which we have decent records. Apparently, the current virus also seems to share some characteristics with the 1918. With regards to Ben's figures on higher mortality: the fact is we don't know what the mortality rate of adapted Avian Influenza will be. Usually, when a virus makes the jump to easy transmission between humans, it loses some of it's potency. This isn't guaranteed, but it seems to be the general trend, and so the models used to predict Avian Influenza generally follow this reasonable assumption. All the predictions being made are based on history, understanding of mutation mechanisms, and the like--but they are still basically guesses, since we won't really know how the virus will mutate until it does.

I'd suggest doing some Operational Risk Management, balance the potential impact with the reasonable probability, and apply preparation resources accordingly. From my reading on the subject, there is a theoretical "tipping point" in pandemic disease casualties (whether natural or bio-warfare) where society may disintegrate--possibly between 10 and 20 million for the modern US. The projections based on 1918 are below the admittedly "fuzzy" guesstimate of this point, while the worst case (lethality of Avian Influenza remains in the 50% range without affecting its ability to spread) are well above. It's food for thought. Regards, - PSJ

Thanks to LW for sending this: The $915 Billion bomb in consumers' wallets

   o o o

I just received a review copy of Michael Z. Williamson's latest science fiction novel "Better to Beg Forgiveness". I really like his books, so I can't wait to dig in to this one. I will post a full review once I've finished it. The novel is now available from Amazon.com.

   o o o

RBS flagged this one: US Mint considering cheaper coins. Our currency has become a pitiful reminder of its past greatness. So go all irredeemable fiat currencies, in time.

   o o o

Our friend Chuck mentioned: "Chris Nelder, an editor and frequent contributor at Energy & Capital took extensive notes on each speaker's presentation at the ASPO conference in Houston. The notes (47-pages) are very useful for those studying the peak oil issues.'

"It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." - Henry Ford

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A reminder that tomorrow is the last day of the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of the latest 33 chapter edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". The sale price of a box of six books is still just $90, postage paid. (Normally they are $24 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents. Note that because of the recent rush of orders, I am now out of stock. I will continue to honor the special $90 six pack price, but there will be a delay for re-stocking, possible until mid-November, when the remaining six pack orders will be shipped. Orders will be shipped in the sequence that payments are received. Do not order from me unless you are willing to wait until the third week of November for your six pack of books to arrive! (If you are in a hurry, you can order from Fred's M14 Stocks. They recently bought 1,000 autographed copies for resale.)

With regards to food storage, I've heard a great deal about people buying buckets of wheat to put away. What would be the feasibility of just cutting out the middle-man and stocking up on baking flour, cornmeal, etc.?
If this were possible it would allow one to forego the price of a grinder and put those funds toward even more foodstuffs. I imagine it would keep pretty well if packed with a good vacuum-sealer and socked away in food grade buckets. What am I missing? - L.C.

JWR Replies: As described in my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, once ground, wheat, corn, and other grains begin to lose their nutritive value almost immediately, and their shelf life is shortened drastically. Once the outer kernel (bran) of a grain is penetrated and the inner germ is exposed, the inevitable degradation begins. Here are some rough storage life figures to consider:

Whole corn: 8 to 12 years. Cracked or ground corn: 18 to 36 months

Whole wheat: 20+ years. Flour: 24 to 36 months

If you were to bake all of your own bread each day, and religiously rotate your supplies of flour and corn meal every 18 months, then I suppose that you could get by without owning a grain mill. But if you want to store more than an 18 month supply of grains, or have extra on hand for barter and charity then the only viable alternative is to buy whole grains and a grain mill.

With all due respect (to Chris in Utah and the folks cited by Computerworld), "If a pandemic strikes the U.S., it will kill about 1.7 million people" is a fantasy, because it is based upon the 1918-1919 flu's death-rate of 2.5%, and also that the United States' population of the time was around one-third of the present number.

It was said that, in "normal" times, flu killed some 0.25% of those afflicted. In 1918-1919, that figure skyrocketed to 2.5%. Triple the U.S.'s population (in regard to the earlier 20th Century figure), and the post-WW1's death-rate goes to slightly over 2 million. But, as I indicated earlier, that's with the 2.5% rate.

In Indonesia and elsewhere, the death rate [for H5N1] is not even close to 2.5%. It is more like 53% to 60%. I made some further calculations (2.5 x 20, for starters, although that is a rather conservative figure), an came up with the following figure[s], that the death rate, in the U.S. alone (675,000 x 3 x 20), will be more along the lines of 40,500,000 (say a round 40 million, just to keep things tidy.)

Anybody who is of the opinion that a mere 1.7 million--approximately 3 times the 1918-19 rate--will be in their shrouds is living in Fantasyland. That-all is based on percentage that catches the flu, not the entirety of the U.S. population. Regards, - Ben

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I just read your recent post on investing in full capacity magazines and was motivated to place several large mag orders. I already had at least 150 rifle mags, so I have quite a few mags around. I recently have been trying to get my preparedness storage organized so that items can be stored for long periods without being damaged. As part of this I have been vacuum sealing mags in my Tilia Food Saver with an oxygen absorber thrown in for good measure. These will then be stored in bins in my clean, dry attic. (I live in the Midwest - extreme hot & cold temperatures). Many of my AK mags are polymer, the steel mags I have given a coat of Break Free Collector before sealing. The AR mags are of course either aluminum or the new Magpul polymer mags.

Do you think this is a good idea, or is there a better way? What is your recommendation for long term mag storage? My indoor climate controlled space is at a premium for food and ammo storage, so I would love to be able to keep these in the garage or attic if possible.

By the way, your book "Patriots" was instrumental in my starting my prepping journey, six years ago. Your Brother in Christ - EWG

JWR Replies: Proper magazine storage depends a lot on your climate. If you live in a humid climate and you want to store your spare magazines in a garage or attic, then you should first heavily oil any steel magazines and store them in sealed ammo cans. Be sure to also include a large packet of silica gel desiccant in each storage can. In the less humid western states, just a light coat of oil will generally suffice. My favorite airtight containers for storing bulky but fairly lightweight items such as magazines are USGI 20mm ammo cans, which are available at most gun shows and surplus stores. They are also fairly inexpensive via mail order, but typically by the time you've paid for shipping, your cost will double.

Stressed borrowers use plastic to delay default

   o o o

Writing in his most recent quarterly newsletter, economist John Mauldin mentioned: "...at the end of the second quarter, household mortgage debt [in the United States] totaled $10.143 trillion, compared with $4.295 trillion in 1999. Thus, in six and a half years the household sector's mortgage debt increased by $5.8 trillion, or 136%."

   o o o

Chester sent us a link to a hilarious YouTube video on hedge funds, credit derivatives, SIVs, and government bailouts.

   o o o

Thanks to Eric S. for sending this article: NYSE Eliminates Trading Curbs Dating Back to 1987. Now wouldn't it be ironic if...

"It is almost as if you were frantically constructing another world while the world that you live in dissolves beneath your feet, and that your survival depends on completing this construction at least one second
before the old habitation collapses" - Tennessee Williams (1914-1983)

Monday, October 29, 2007

A reminder that there are just two days left in the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of the latest 33 chapter edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". The sale price of a box of six books is still just $90, postage paid. (Normally they are $24 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents. Note that because of the recent rush of orders, I am now out of stock. However, I will continue to honor the special $90 six pack sale price, but there will be a delay for re-stocking until mid-November, when the remaining six pack orders will be shipped. All orders will be shipped in the sequence that payments are received. Do not order from me unless you are willing to wait until the third week of November for your six pack of books to arrive! (If you are in a hurry, you can order from Fred's M14 Stocks. They recently bought 1,000 autographed copies for resale.)

Today we present another article for Round 13 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 13 ends on November 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

The late Jeff Cooper described a scout rifle as "a general-purpose rifle [that] is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow, on a live target of up to 200 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target." Some of the basic requirements are a maximum unloaded weight of 3.5 kg (3 kg optimal), an overall length of 1 meter or less, a Ching sling, a forward mounted scope, a .308Winchester / 7.62mm NATO chamber, and auxiliary iron sights (optional). In my opinion these characteristics lend themselves to a SHTF scenario. The rifle would be light enough to always be carried, yet powerful enough to be used for defense or hunting. Also as a bolt action it would be reliable and accurate. It also would not call as much attention to you as a semi-auto battle rifle.

Nowadays, several manufacturers make scout rifle variants. Some of the most popular are the Steyr Scout, the Savage 10FCM, and the Ruger M77 Frontier rifle. The problem is that these rifles cost in excess of $2000, $675, and $750 respectively. This places them out of the range of many gun buyers. The great news is that there is an alternative. If you have at least some modest gunsmithing skills, then why not build your own?

The first thing to do would be to find a starter rifle. Since you want a cheap rifle, I would suggest trying to buy a used hunting rifle or looking at the surplus market. A good Israeli Mauser (.308) would be a great starting point and there are plenty of aftermarket Mauser parts. If necessary, a 7mm Mauser would also work. Another option is the Enfield Ishapore 2A. This is the option that I chose due to its availability at my local gun shop, its reliable and fast action, its 10 round [detachable] magazine capacity, and its ability to be loaded from 5 round stripper clips. Another bonus for using the Enfield is that a "Shooter's Special" version is now available from AIM Surplus for $99.95. Since we will be replacing the stock and cutting and re-crowning the barrel, some drawbacks of the “Shooter’s Special” will not be an issue. Although the procedures below were performed on the Enfield, most could be universally applied.

After you have chosen your rifle, the next step would be to clean it thoroughly and then test fire it. This way you can return it if there is a problem. There is no point investing the time and effort into a faulty rifle.

If you are satisfied with the performance of the rifle, then proceed to the disassembly phase. The Surplus Rifle web site has excellent "walk through" procedures on how to do this. Make note of any damaged parts and order replacements from Gun Parts Corporation (Numrich), or a similar company. I would suggest at least getting another extractor spring, extractor (if available), firing pin, firing pin spring, a new magazine, and a firing pin removal tool. These are not requirements, but having these spare parts would be invaluable if the supply suddenly dried up. The extractor spring is probably the most important since if the rifle was stored with the bolt closed the spring could have lost some of its function causing the extractor not to grip the rim properly resulting in very poor extraction. As far as magazines go, the new manufacture magazine I got from Numrich worked decently, but the new ProMag ones were terrible. Something else to note is that about 80% of the small parts in a Ishapore Enfield 2A are compatible with the Enfield No 1 Mk 3 parts.

After the rifle is disassembled, proceed to remove the barrel mounted rear sight assembly. On my rifle, this assembly was fastened with a screw under the slider bar and a pin on the side through the barrel. It would be a good idea to clean the area around the assembly with acetone (or fingernail polish remover) to remove the enamel paint and gunk. I had to use a torch to heat the assembly enough to knock it loose.

With the sight assembly gone it is time to tackle the barrel. According to Tac Ops,, a .308 20" barrel will result in complete powder burn, full velocity, and full accuracy, while an 18" barrel loses slightly in velocity while accuracy remains the same. I decided the 18" barrel would be worth the trade off. Mark where the cut will be made, secure the barrel in a vise, and proceed carefully with a hacksaw. After the cut is done, stuff a cleaning patch down the barrel (starting from the receiver) to prevent further metal shavings from getting into the barrel and receiver. Use a file to smooth out your cut and get it as close to straight as possible. The better you do here, the easier the next step will be.

To finish the muzzle you will need to crown it. You could take it to a gunsmith, buy the crowning tools from Brownell's, or use WECSOG skills and a little creativity. I chose to buy the Brownell's tools and they worked rather well. I had to sand down the .308 pilot a little to get it to fit, but other than that there were no issues. Use plenty of thread cutting oil or similar and go slowly, cleaning the tool often and clearing any metal shavings from the barrel.

Enfields come with a little magazine loop on the trigger guard where a chain used to hold the magazine to the gun. This was from the days when commanders feared their soldiers would misplace their only magazine. I cut this off with a Dremel as it is no longer needed and it looks cleaner without it.

Before you proceed you must refinish the rifle as you see fit. For me, this meant cleaning, sandblasting, degreasing, and finishing with Gun Kote.

After the rifle is refinished, you can attach the scout scope mount. I chose the XS Sight Systems mount due to looks and robustness. To attach this mount, degrease both the barrel and the scope mount, attach the mount with JB Weld, make sure the Weaver rail is aligned with the receiver, and let it dry. After the JB Weld is dry, use Brownell's Acraglas or similar to fill any voids between the mount and the barrel.

The final step is to fit the stock. I used an ATI Enfield Stock, and it worked pretty well. Some work needed to be done to make room for the scope mount. I used a Dremel tool with a sanding drum tip and checked for fit constantly. At this point you could also glass bed the stock, add a third sling swivel ahead of the trigger guard for a Ching Sling, and clean up excess plastic around the seams. A handy thing about the ATI stock is that the butt is hollow, so you can remove the plastic butt plate and store survival items inside (fishing line and hooks, matches, para cord, etc.). To allow easy access, I bought a Limb Saver slip-on recoil pad and slipped it directly over the open stock.

A scope with intermediate eye relief will be needed once you have a completed rifle. My preferred scope is the Leupold FX-II 2.5 x 28mm IER SCOUT.

A Ching Sling is also a nice option, although a normal sling can certainly be used. The only officially licensed manufacturer of a nylon version of the Ching Sling is The Wilderness.

Now not only do you have a versatile survival rifle for around $300 to $400, but you also have the practical gunsmithing experience from doing the project yourself, which could prove invaluable when the SHTF.

In a recent e-mail, SurvivalBlog reader Mike the Blacksmith mentioned two articles that confirm what I've been saying for several years--that the US Dollar is headed for further significant collapse in foreign exchange: Jim Rogers quits dollar after declaring US recession, and IMF chief warns dollar may suffer 'abrupt fall'. The latter article is frightening. It is noteworthy that since the first month that SurvivalBlog went live (in August of Aught Five) I have been warning readers to minimize their exposure to dollar-denominated assets. Instead, invest in tangibles, tangibles, tangibles!

Other than silver, and productive rural land that could be used as a survival retreat, my personal favorite tangible investment at present is full capacity magazines. I'm talking about the kind that hold cartridges for firearms--not Architectural Digest magazine. You should buy only magazines that either original military contract, or from original factory makers. (No aftermarket junk!) Not only will these shelter you from further declines in the dollar, but they are also likely to zoom up in price if and when another Federal magazine ban is enacted. (This is very likely if the Democrats win the White House.) During the last Federal ban, which ran for 10 years before thankfully expiring (due to a "sunset clause" in 2004), the price of Glock pistol magazines jumped from $15 each to $75 each. Even relative "commodity" magazines like USGI alloy M16 magazines doubled or tripled in value. Magazines would also, of course, be very desirable barter items WTSHTF. I expect that if and when a new Federal ban is enacted it will have no sunset clause. Thus, it will have the same effect as the civilian transferable machinegun "freeze" enacted in 1986. With no end to that ban in sight, prices have skyrocketed.

Keep in mind that several states and localities have enacted "high capacity " magazine bans, so research your laws before purchasing. (I prefer to use the more accurate terms "full capacity" versus "restricted capacity.") OBTW, I am pleased to report that Ohio recently enacted state preemption of local firearms laws, so the bans in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, and Toledo, Ohio are now null and void.

If you have any extra room in your gun vault, then stuff it full of what are commonly called "high cap" (11+ round) magazines. Specifically , after buying a large supply of magazines for your own battery of guns, I recommend buying the following varieties rifle and pistol magazines as an investment: M16, M14, M1 Carbine, FAL, L1A1, Mini-14, HK, Glock, SIG, Browning Hi-Power, Beretta M92, S&W 59/69 series, Ruger P85, ParaOrdnance, Springfield XD, Beta C-MAGs, Steyr, AK family (magazines from former Soviet Bloc countries only, not Chinese) Galil, and Valmet. Buy whatever you can find at reasonable prices. Since there are also semi-auto pistols and carbines out there that take submachinegun magazines (such as Uzi, Thompson, MP5, M3 Greasegun, Ingram M10 and M11/9, Sten, and Sterling), you might also buy a few of those.

To summarize, my guidance on full capacity magazine purchasing is:

1.) Buy only magazines that either original military contract, or from original factory makers. (No aftermarket junk!) Beware of marketing terms like "GI Type" and "top quality." If it isn't original, then don't buy it, or you will be buying grief. Not only will they have poor feeding reliability, but they will also only have marginal resale value.

2.) First, buy extra magazines for the guns that you already own.

3.) Next, buy extra magazines for the guns that you definitely plan to buy. If a ban is enacted, then all semi-autos may be like Valmet rifles are today: where the guns are easier to find than their spare magazines. The law of supply and demand is inescapable.

4.) Next, buy extra magazines for the guns that you hope to buy, or expect that your children might need someday.

5.) Next, buy extra magazines for both the pistols and rifles that your local police and sheriff's department issues. (If they don't carry their long guns in visible racks, then ask them what model they carry in the trunks of their cruisers.)

6.) Next, buy a fairly large quantity of ubiquitous magazines that will serve well as barter items.(Mostly M14, M16, Mini-14, M1 Carbine, Glock, and Beretta M92.)

7.) Buy a smaller, but carefully selected supply of scarce European magazines. (Steyr AUG, HK, SIG, Valmet etc.) The day may come when not even large wads of cash buy you any full capacity magazines, but some owners will be willing to trade for magazines that they want or need.

8.) Once you have your supply of magazines in hand, divide them in three co-equal piles and store them in three separate locations, to protect yourself against burglary or other unpleasant future circumstances.

If you do decide to stock up on full capacity magazines as I have advised, then please buy from our paying advertisers, first: Gun Parts Guy (who, for example currently sells slightly used Imbel FAL magazines for under $8 each), Green Mountain Gear (who, for example currently sells new G3/HK91 20 round alloy magazines. for under $5 each). Then consult our Affiliate advertisers: US Cavalry Store, and GunBroker.com (auctions). If they don't have what you are looking for, then some other magazine vendors that I can recommend are CDNN Sports, Cheaper Than Dirt, and Midway USA. (OBTW, if you buy from any of them, please recommend that they become SurvivalBlog advertisers. Thanks!)

Desert T. sent this article from las Vegas: Hot seller's market shifts into reverse -- Upside-down sales picture won't change soon

   o o o

The Army Aviator notes: "On Sunday, the US Dollar Index dropped -0.25 to 76.98. What a Sunday! Did you see the Euro go to 1.4498 [ to the US Dollar]? That's darned near 1.45, huh?
What a day." JWR Adds: The opening bell in the US market on Monday morning should be very interesting. It is also no surprise that the price of gold just spiked in Asia.

   o o o

Frequent contributor RBS recommended this piece from Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's blog: The Sky has Already Fallen

"We all knew there was just one way to improve our odds for survival: train, train, train. Sometimes, if your training is properly intense it will kill you. More often -- much, much more often -- it will save your
life." - Richard Marcinko, former US Navy SEAL Team Commander

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Consider this: Every friend, neighbor, and co-worker that you get motivated represents once less individual that will arrive begging on your doorstep, come TEOTWAWKI+1. So it is in your own best interest to spread the word. Links to SurvivalBlog at your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

I am going to become a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber before the end of the month because the information provided in SurvivalBlog is invaluable and has forever changed my way of thinking!

I have been a reader for about a half year and have seen the topic of gold come up several times. Gold is apparently at a 28 year high and the desire to get invested from my personal standpoint is high but my question is do you see gold leveling out or continuing its upward trend? The other part of the equation is I am young father of four young children so my assets are extremely limited at this point in my life. That being said, I would ultimately like to "physically" acquire both gold and silver that I can keep on hand since I fear not being able to access it in a sudden SHTF scenario like a terrorist, NBC, etc. At the same time I need to balance this with buying other preparedness items that I have a long list of.

I already have a decent inventory of weapons but need more ammo than what I have on hand. I have about 1,500 pounds of various wheat, soy, rice, corn, and barley but most of that was nitrogen packed in 1999 putting me in position to need to rotate those supplies with a newer inventory. In addition, I have started a fairly detailed list of supplies that range from communications to medical.

All that being said, I kind of feel like I am about to sit down and eat an elephant and I really don't know the best place to start. Thank you, - Dave in Florida

JWR Replies: First, let me state forthrightly that physical preparedness for your family should be paramount. Only after you have your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids squared away should you consider buying any precious metals. In my opinion, the precious metals are still in the intermediate phase of a bull market that will likely propel gold past $1,500 per ounce, and silver past $75 per ounce. Although you will not benefit to the same extent as someone that bought silver when it was between $4.13 and $5 and ounce, you have not "missed the boat"!

I'm often asked whether I prefer silver or gold for investing and barter purposes. I strongly prefer silver, for several reasons:

1.) Silver coins are ideal for barter. Gold is essentially too compact a form of wealth for practical barter. If you need to buy a few loaves of bread, silver dimes make a lot more sense than even the smallest denomination gold coin. Sure, you could divide a gold coin with cold chisel, but that would reduce its recognizability. I still recommend buying pre-1965 US circulated 90% silver dimes and quarters, with no numismatic value. (What the rare coin dealers derisively call "junk" silver.) These coins trade solely on their silver bullion value.

2.) Silver is far more likely to double in value than gold. Not only is silver in greater relative scarcity, at present (after decades of mine production deficits for that required for industrial use), but it also will benefit from what I call the "penny stock effect." This is a purely psychological phenomenon, since silver still seems affordable, whereas gold is already out for reach for many investors. Psychologically it is "a long way" from $700 to $1,400 in order for gold to double, but it is conceivable that silver could double from $13 to $26 in just a few days. It is much like buying a "penny stock" (under $1 per share.) It doesn't take major moves in a market to make penny stock double in value.

3,) Silver is less likely than gold to be confiscated by government decree, in the event of a monetary crisis. The logistics of accomplishing a gold confiscation (like the one that occurred in the US in 1933) would be complex. But since silver is roughly 55 times more bulky and weighty than gold, the sheer volume of silver in circulation would make a silver confiscation very difficult to accomplish

Regarding your bulk storage foods purchased in 1999: Some of them--most notably the wheat--are worth keeping. If you bought white rice, it is still most likely edible, although its nutritive value would be marginal. But the wheat should be just fine. It has a 30+ year storage life, even without nitrogen canning, which should extend its useful life even more.

I thought you and your readers might be interested in this flu pandemic exercise recently carried out by financial services firms. An article in Computerworld describes the scenario: "If a pandemic strikes the U.S., it will kill about 1.7 million people, hospitalize 9 million, exhaust antiviral medications and reduce basic food supplies...", and, "Among the other things that may happen in an actual pandemic are school closings, as well as blackouts or brownouts in major metro areas because of degraded service as a result of absenteeism. Internet service throughput could be reduced by 50% due to congestion, and Web browsing timeouts would become common. Airlines would cut schedules, and garbage would pile up on streets."

The article's fairly standard mainstream media flu pandemic coverage, the kind I'm sure we've all seen before. What makes this really interesting is that the scenario information used for the exercise has been posted online. It's somewhat focused on the financial sector, but there's a lot of good general information about what might happen when a major flu pandemic strikes. - Chris in Utah

Dear JWR:
I have been reading SurvivalBlog for about a month and I really enjoy it a lot. One subject came to mind that I thought was worth discussing. That area is the [Colt Model] 1911. It is worth saying that I find the term combat tupperware incredibly amusing, as a Glock owner. I do not know what kind of high end custom 1911s people are talking about when they say it is necessary to spend $2,000 to get this platform to be functional. I bought a Springfield [Armory] Mil Spec .45 for about $535 and it works fine though it isn't as pretty as an Ed Brown or Les Baer.

Some individuals speak about the guns being really unreliable. From my experience these claims are unfounded. The Springfield and Glock 22 have each jammed once, both were easily cleared, luckily on the range not in an emergency. I am sure the 1911 would not perform flawlessly on the Glock torture test but considering it served the US Army for both World Wars and countless smaller ones its reliability is solid enough for me.

The next point of contention that I have with criticism read on this site is about its single stack capacity and the weakness against multiple targets. I think it is worth remembering that in TEOTWAWKI and probably most of you will be carrying an assault rifle so the .45's magazine capacity of 8+1 is not a big concern. The real niche of the handgun is before the time that I hope never comes! Since it is not convenient or socially/legally acceptable to carry an assault rifle in a 3 point sling to the grocery store or while driving a tractor we are left with a pistol for self protection the vast majority of the time.

The average gunfight is at very close range with a couple of shots fired. During gunfights where individuals (almost always police officers) run out of ammo and find themselves changing magazines rapidly under fire it was because they missed their target(s)! Not because their handguns did not have the needed stopping power or because there were a dozen attackers. Someone can have an extended 33 round magazine in a Glock 17 with four spares in their cargo pocket but if they are not able to accurately engage their target(s) they will probably not survive a gunfight. It is not particularly important what kind of gun you have, it is important that you can accurately engage targets. That is my 2 cents on that topic. - Ryan

Will the house-flipping contrapreneurs on both coasts of the US soon be in Deep Schumer? Reader Charley S. sent us this snippet from The Daily Reckoning: "Two million homes will go into foreclosure in the next two years, if home prices continue to slump, said a report released by Joint Economic Committee Chairman Senator Charles Schumer."

   o o o

Jason flagged this one: US lacks enough labs to test for contamination if a 'dirty bomb' explodes in a major city

   o o o

A hat tip to SJC for sending this: Report: Oil production peaked in 2006, will halve by 2030, possibly leading to war

   o o o

Karen B. sent us a link to a price history chart for wheat.

"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Today we are pleased to present a guest editorial, from precious metals market analyst Oliver Velasquez:

In the past 25 years interest rates have fallen from as high as 15% to as low as 1.25%. During this time our economy has gone through different cycles, everything from stagflation, recession, to historic bull markets, and real estate booms. Today, in my opinion, we are living one recession away from a massive depression which can be credited to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy. Historically, it's never been a good sign to have both gold prices and the stock market trade at such peak levels like we have today. During the past ten years we have gone through a huge stock market bubble, and today we're in the midst of a housing bubble that has only just begun to burst. All of these shifts in our economy can be traced back to the Federal Reserve and their manipulation of interest rates.

In order to understand the Fed game we must first understand how the Fed works. Let's look for example at our current mess. Housing boomed over the past six years as the Fed lowered rates to historic lows, more real estate was purchased as mortgage rates fell. This created a soaring number of new homeowners, as well as drove up home prices across the nation, creating an unrealistic economy that is now entering the stage of foreclosures and declining prices in many markets across the country. Although home ownership maybe at a record high, this is starting to change. Unfortunately, too many of these homeowners in the US have become in reality lessees. As long as a person has income, he can use debt to live very well. But as soon as things change and get tight like today, many opt to letting their assets go instead of paying them off. Many of these new homeowners aren't able to pay the monthly payment and suddenly they're out of a house. Any equity is transient, and if the house is foreclosed, they will most likely lose that too. But that doesn't matter because so many are using their home as an ATM anyway, and there is a big problem with that. Massive debt is created throughout our economy and any assets left are sold in a declining market. This is exactly where we are today because of the Fed's monetary policy. So, how can the average investor then protect their assets from such a tragic game?

There are a couple of ways one may hedge against a weakening dollar and the current housing crisis we're facing. This would be to diversify your portfolio with gold and maybe hedge real estate through the use of the new CME housing futures. Believe it or not, there is a market for housing futures as many are turning to ways to hedge against the declining housing market. Through housing futures, one can actually shift the risk from an individual homeowner with a huge mortgage, to a speculator trying to cash in. If there is a housing bubble and it does burst, housing futures and investing in gold may be able to provide a cushion of support to the savvy investor. This is why I'm writing this article to give the average investor more arsenals in their investment strategies. The Fed for too long has been following a consistent policy of flooding the economy with easy money, leading to an artificial boom followed by a recession or depression when that bubble does burst. Just as it provides an infusion of liquidity into the economy by cutting rates, the Federal Reserve has become the chief instrument in contracting the nation's money supply by increasing interest rates. This type of manipulation has created abrupt fluctuations in our economy that date way back to the great depression of 1929, to the recession of the 1970s, Black Monday in 1987, the stock market bubble of the late 1990s, to recent inflationary policies that have crippled the dollars purchasing power. Today rates are at a low as the Federal Reserve Bank, headed by Chairman Ben Bernanke, have shifted from focusing on inflation as its main concern to tackling the credit crisis facing the economy due to the bubble in the housing market. Certainly there is a relationship that is easy to comprehend. Those affected by the credit crunch are being thrown a line as rates are falling. Stocks, on the other hand, are closing at record highs as they are picking up more investment capital because of the rate cut. The monetary policy has gone from consistent rate hikes to an abrupt rate cut on Sept 18 of 50 basis points. This monetary policy has hurt the dollar tremendously and has given way to commodities such as gold to rally. So, if you're wondering what economic sector will mostly benefit from all this, I believe it has to be commodities, especially gold. Historically, in these cycles precious metals have exploded. In fact, gold rose from a low of $35 to over $850 an ounce in the last commodities boom back in the 1970s. History seems to be repeating itself as gold prices are soaring. The precious metal is up 20% just this year. Even at today's levels, I believe there is still enormous opportunity as gold is still undervalued and is one of the cheapest assets you can buy.

It's only common sense. At some point in the future, I believe interest rates will be moving up from today's artificially low levels. When the economy does start to recover, the Fed has to raise rates to slow the flood of cheap money and the inflation they have created. But, even without raising rates in the short term, world tensions, the global energy crisis, and a weak economy have already pushed gold higher. There is also increasing continued demand for gold worldwide, coming from China, India, and Russia, as they have all been raking in profits from the rise in the price of precious metals. As the commodity bull-market gathers more steam, gold will undoubtedly continue to shine.

If you would like a free brochure explaining Housing Futures from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and more information on the strategies we're using to protect against a market downturn, please request the information here or contact me directly at oliver@wisdomfinancialinc.com Phone: 1-888-397-9184.
Oliver Velasquez, Metals Market Strategist, Wisdom Financial Inc.
Disclaimer: Futures and options trading can involve substantial risk. Past Performance is not indicative of future results.

Ungulates (cattle, deer, antelopes, camels, deer, goats, pigs, sheep, as so forth) daily routines are keyed to the moon. People's routines are keyed to the Sun. The moon cycles each 28 days, the sun in 30 or so days.

Each day, the sun is always somewhere near high noon, i.e. 50% past sun-up, at 12:00 sun time (duh). However, the moon can be at 'high noon' in moon time at any given hour, i.e. at 9:00 a.m./3:00 p.m., etc.---because the moon has a shorter cycle.

Recent satellite telemetry studies on collared white tail does and bucks across North America established hard scientific proof of deer movement. Each morning, deer will move from low ground to the highest grounds and hide during daylight in the highest and densest locations. Each night fall, the deer will move to the lowest and most open areas. That is an established scientific fact, as gleaned from the telemetry studies. The scientists surmise the basis for such movements is that deer see exceptionally well at night, i.e. they enjoy a visual edge over the predators on the dark nights. However, during day time hours, both predator and prey see equally well; therefore, deer hide in the dense stuff in daylight. Additionally, deer have a keen sense of smell and because warm air rises, at day break deer go high and hide, thus accomplishing concealment and the ability to sniff out on the rising thermals any potential predatory threats.

Now, because deer are ungulates, i.e. cud chewers, they must chew their cud 'X' number of hours a day or they die. Most of this is done while bedded down (not sleeping though). They cannot chew their cud while in transit though. The telemetry studies confirmed that for 18 hours a day, deer are bedded down, i.e. the net sum of the time the deer are either up high on the ridges during daylight or in the open flats down low at night.

The telemetry studies established also that the deer 'feed' actively, i.e. their breakfast time/dinner time/ lunch time, when the mood is directly over head (i.e. when it is high noon in moon time) or when the moon is directly underfoot, (i.e. midnight in moon time).

This 'active feed time' is only about two hours each day, i.e. they fill their bellies twice daily and chew their cud the rest of the time, allowing of course the time it takes them to move to and from feeding areas and the time they actually 'sleep'. Unlike people though, deer snooze about 3-4 hours, chew their cud at regular intervals when awake, take time to travel at daylight to higher ground, and take time to travel to lower ground at dark----depending on the 'moon-time', the deer will 'actively feed' along their given travel routes.

Interestingly, and keeping the theory and scientific fact in mind, with a 'full moon', deer move less at daylight and stay in dense cover, especially when it is at night or the early a.m. hours. So to all who hunt with gun/camera, knowing the forces of nature that dictate animal travel patterns, one can surmise when and where animals, both predator and prey, can be found. Yes, predators' travel patterns can be determined by tracking 'their' dinner plates as they move around the landscape!

There is an excellent book that goes through all of the above, titled Moon Struck; Hunting Strategies That Revolve Around the Moon, by Jim Murray. BassProShops sells this book. Tell your hunting buddies about this and they will thank you beyond words! It is the ultimate resource for tracking the moon phases for the very short interval of deer season. Thanks! - Matt B.

Eric Fry from The Rude Awakening penned this about Citigroup's recent SIV accounting shenanigans: SIV Positive.

  o o o

Hawaiian K. and The Army Aviator both recommended an alarming piece of commentary on silver storage from Ted Butler: Money for Nothing. My favorite quote from the article: "I found it appalling that Morgan Stanley would claim to store silver that didn’t exist and even have the chutzpah to charge for the storage." As I've often written: there is no safe and sure substitute for in-home storage of precious metals . Any other method--be it shares, or certificates, or "bonded storage", bank safe deposit boxes, or anyone else--relies on trusting in the honesty and integrity of men and the constance of constitutionally-sound government. And living in these days, we all know about both. Sadly, we live in a wicked, fallen, sinful world.

   o o o

In the "There's No Need for Panic" Department: The Federal Reserve has posted some Foreclosure Resources for Consumers. OBTW, I shoulsd mention: how did they qualify for a ".gov" domain name? The Federal Reserve is a private banking cartel, not a government agency. They are no more "Federal" than either Federal Express or Federal Cartridge Company. If you look in your phone book, you'll see that the Federal Reserve is correctly listed in the "F" alphabetical section of the White Pages, not in the US Government Agencies section.

   o o o

Chester suggested this AP story: Much of U.S. Could See a Water Shortage

"Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." - George Bernard Shaw

Friday, October 26, 2007

A reminder that the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of the latest 33 chapter edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" will end in just five days. The sale price of a box of six books is still just $90, postage paid. (Normally they are $24 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents. Note that immediate deliveries are limited to supplies on hand. I presently have just a few six packs left on hand. Once those have been expended, there will be a delay for re-stocking until mid-November, when the last of the October six pack orders will be shipped. Orders will be shipped in the sequence that payments are received. Do not order from me unless you are willing to wait until the third week of November for your six pack of books to arrive! (If you are in a hurry, you can order from Fred's M14 Stocks.)

That reminds me: I owe special thanks to Fred's M14 Stocks. They recently bought 1,000 autographed copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" for resale. (This was the single largest order for autographed copies that I've ever received. My hand is still sore from autographing!) Take the time to visit their web site. In addition to the world's best selection of M14 rifle stocks, they carry M14 and M1 Garand parts, AQT type targets, bandoleers and repack kits with stripper clips (many different types), shooting jackets, and a great assortment of books. Fred's M14 Stocks is also a major supporter of The Appleseed Project.

Mr. Rawles:

We have a few guns that were passed down from my father, father-in-law, and grandparents. But after reading SurvivalBlog, I've determined that its wise to buying a few more, ahem, "capable" defensive guns. (Like an M1A and a scoped Remington 700 Sendero or maybe a Remington 700 PSS .308.) I would rather not buy them from a [Federally licensed] dealer, so I can avoid that whole paperwork trail. My difficulty here is that I live out in cow country where guns shows are infrequent. And the few we do have, have a poor assortment of guns to choose from. What do you suggest ? Thank You Sir, - Ray, Somewhere in Wyoming

JWR Replies: I recommend that you make all of your gun purchases from private parties, through GunBroker.com (on-line auctions) or GunsAmerica.com (fixed price sales--usually more expensive). Both of these web sites have search features that allow you to search for private party sellers, by State. Search only for sellers from your own state. That way, you won't run afoul of the Federal law that prohibits the transfer of a modern (post-1898) gun across state lines, except through a FFL dealer. It might also be worth your time to drive long distances to some of the larger gun shows in your state. There, you should of course buy only from private parties.

Another option that you should pursue is buying cartridge guns from the 1890s. Under the Federal, law, any gun or receiver/frame that was made in or before 1898 is not considered a "firearm". Rather, it is classed as a Federally exempt antique, regardless of the cartridge chambering. These guns can be purchased privately across state lines without any paperwork. There are quite a few models such as the Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant and the Mauser Model 1893, 1894 and 1895 that are available with receivers from the antique years, yet are available in modern, smokeless cartridge chamberings. Two antique gun dealers that I recommend are: The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our loyal advertisers) and Empire Arms. If you end up buying a Mauser and plan to have it rebuilt as a .308 sporting or counter-sniper rifle, I recommend Scott Molnar of Valier, Montana, who does business under the name "Coyote Commander." Phone: (406) 279-3797.

Dear Jim,
Concerning Justin B.’s letter on reverse osmosis: Why go to all the trouble of using a reverse osmosis system and having to Jerry-rig a way to use it if the electrical system goes on the blink? Use a non-electric, non-water wasting, gravity-based water filtration system like the Big Berkey (30,000 gallons on one set of filters!) and get used to using it for your drinking water every day. It’s a great way to develop a habit and a mind set of preparedness.

Every time I fill my Berkey (once or twice a day) I think about my preps while I am filling/draining water. It is a constant reminder of the commitment I have made to myself and my family to do all I can to be prepared for whatever may come our way. Reverse osmosis filters waste 2 gallons of water for every 1 gallon filtered. That’s not exactly what you want to be doing in an emergency. A Berkey is fill it and forget it! No pumps, no waste, no mess! Replacement filters are easy and compact to store and take under two minutes to remove the old ones and put in the new ones. Part of surviving is the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid.) I remind myself of this at every opportunity when I am tempted to get too gadgety or “Ooh, wouldn’t it be cool if…” starts to creep in. - Lee

Thanks to all of you for your patience as I dealt with some important family issues, several visiting SurvivalBlog real estate clients, and the opening of Idaho's Deer and Elk season, all in the past two weeks. Sometimes there is no such thing as the slower-paced life at a higher altitude!

Well the financial news these days just keeps getting darker and for those of you who are actively searching for your retreat, just press on, you’ll make it. As we get back into reviewing actual retreat locales (next week) it’s important to have a solid standard operating procedure (SOP). to identify, review and finally purchase your retreat. Although JWR does an outstanding job outlining characteristics and tactics to find and purchase your retreat in his book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, I want to bring another perspective from an agent ‘on scene’ and allow you to benefit from my experience watching clients from all over the nation go through what at times may be a physically and mentally exhausting experience.

First and foremost, the best advice for those of you that dream of being at your retreat in the hinterboonies one day is that the locale and property you have chosen to focus on after searching the web for countless hours is never what your mind has made it out to be. The second tidbit of advice I can pass along is that the one property that looks like a shack in the middle of a swamp will actually turn out to be the one you buy. It never fails, a client contacts me regarding the ‘ultimate retreat’ they saw on a web site and once I go visit the property for them it fails inspection miserably against the clients’ criteria.

Keep your expectations as low as possible and focus on the acronym W.A.L.L.S., which stands for: Water, Access, Location, Light and Security. Focus on building strong W.A.L.L.S. around you as you search your prospective locales. Obviously, you’ll need a never ending source of water, preferably gravity fed from a spring or shallow well. The access to the property must be manageable year round, remember, what you see in July will not be the road conditions in December! This is a mistake that is easy to make if you get tunnel vision during your search or have your dream property goggles on, be careful! The location of the locale and property should be well within your defined limits of travel time to whatever major metropolitan area you may have to work in until either you retire or TSHTF, as not all of us can quite our jobs and pack it into the hills! Be realistic about your views of the locale before you arrive for your first visit and be prepared to make radical changes to your shopping list as the days go by. You’ll need plenty of light, Sunlight that is, and Southern exposure in order to keep your garden happy. Last and actually least would be the security of the locale and the property. Why last? Well, if you lack any of the aforementioned, then what’s the point of a retreat? I’d rather live out a socioeconomic storm in a retreat that had less than desirable defensibility than to be on the North face of a tall ridge where I could not grow my garden, with a 400 foot well and snowmobile access only in the winter. Trust me, almost any property can be defended, it just might take more personnel and logistics to do so. Now that you understand the W.A.L.L.S. theory we can jump back to the basics of finding your retreat.

As most of you know my family and I fled the People's Republic of Kalifornia about a year ago and after spending the past year with many clients on their search for Heaven on earth (it does not exist in case anyone wants to know). One of the first mistakes that most people do is fly right in and want to see a bunch approved retreat properties with the properties spread out over a 200 mile radius. Stop. This is a waste of your time and everyone else’s time. The correct process would be to do the reverse of the standard learning curve and run, walk, and then crawl around your retreat locale. Let me explain: First, go to the local book store and pick up a huge folding non laminated paper map of the locale your are interested in relocating to (in CONUS that would typically be a particular State or region) and simply mark your route on the map and allow yourself three full days (not including travel time to and from) to simply drive the entire region. Stop in each town for a look see, breath the fresh air and talk to the local farmer at the general store, that person is usually a wealth of knowledge.

On a side note, please dress appropriately! If you’re coming from a major population center and going into the boonies, do not wear what you think is casual, since “out there” it will be over dressed and the locals will not talk to you. If you take the time to really dress down, you’ll be respected and even though you’re from “down there”, you’ll have a good chance to gain allot of critical Intel from the local population. Do not show up to see property in shorts, tennis shoes or high heels. I’ve actually had several clients come to town on their search and even after I told them to wear long pants and bring hiking boots to be prepared to walk in thick brush and varied terrain, someone shows up in a skirt and tennis shoes, great for looking at condominiums while carrying your toy poodle, but not realistic for retreat shopping. The next thing you know your spouse is pouting in the car while you and your agent are out seeing the property and the trip just goes downhill from there. Pack accordingly for the climate and the general terrain of your locale!

Back on track. If, for instance, you were thinking of moving to the Libby, Montana region you’ll want to drive from Kalispell all the way through Northern Idaho to Spokane, Washington (200 miles) just to give yourself a good working knowledge of the terrain and climate of the region as well as familiarizing yourself with any large metropolitan cities that may be a threat someday. This would be the run phase of your operational SOPs.

Next, once you have the ‘big picture’ you’ll need to identify your main retreat locale, if the one you picked while surfing the web was deemed unworthy, and three alternative retreat locales. Then go to the walk phase. During this phase you may need to take an entire week of vacation so you can actually stay in each locale, walk the towns, talk to everyone you can meet and really seek that warm fuzzy feeling you will have when you have finally found your retreat. Take your tools (such as the Rawles on Retreats and Relocation book) and make checklists of the characteristics that are important to you outside of your retreats W.A.L.L.S. and once you spend an entire day or two in each locale you’ll be ready for phase three.

Finally, in the crawl phase you’ll be ready to actually spend considerable time viewing properties in your main and backup retreat locales. Remember that sometimes you’ll find the best property in locale # 2.. If so, by all means buy it, since you’ll be spending more time at your property than out in the general vicinity anyway. And a short drive is nice out here in the country!

To recap, you’ll need to take a minimum of three trips to your retreat region and locale before attempting to purchase. First, make a large overview and narrow your region into several locales. Then take another trip to narrow the locales into two actual towns that meet your characteristics and then and only then come back with your checkbook in hand. The amount of time spent should be anywhere from 10 to 14 days of actual ‘ground time’, not including your travel days. So you’ll need to plan on saving up your vacation time and using the weekends (or your days off) to your advantage.
God Bless, - T.S. in Idaho

JWR Adds:
If possible, schedule one of your retreat scouting trips for the dead of winter. This is particularly important if you are looking for a retreat anywhere at higher elevations or in more northern latitudes. Elevation and solar exposure make a huge difference in comfortable living. There are also some localized climate variations to consider. (The "snow belt" factor.) Asking a seller or agent about how much snow to expect in January is one thing, but seeing it for yourself is another. Odds are that after your mid-winter trip you will revise your retreat shopping plans to concentrate on lower elevation properties, southern exposure, and ready winter access via regularly plowed roads. (OBTW, I have found that any property that is on a School Bus Route is a good thing, even if you home school your kids, since typically those are the roads that get the highest priority for snow plowing in winter.)

The US residential housing market implosion isn't over yet. My recent web searches turned up some testimony before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. In reading it, we learned that the majority of ARM rate "resets" in the US will occur in in the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. And specifically, the peak for subprime resets will be in March of 2008, the peak in agency loan resets will be in September of 2008, and the peak in "jumbo" loan resets will not be until April of 2009. Buckle your seatbelts and be prepared for a long, bumpy, downhill ride.

   o o o

Courtesy of reader SJC: Centex Reports Loss as Housing Slump Intensifies

   o o o

Stephen in Iraq sent us this article that comes as no great surprise: Merrill Lynch Reports Loss on $8.4 Billion Writedown

   o o o

The folks at Front Sight have posted their 2008 schedule of courses on their web site. Click on Course Schedule in the left hand navigation bar. The Memsahib and I can both personally attest that their training is absolutely top notch, and indispensable! At least one member of each retreat group should attend both the Front Sight four day practical rifle and four day defensive handgun courses, and then come home to train others.

"When men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything!" - G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For those of you that have been waiting, I just got another case of 10 copies of the latest edition of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery. This massive three pound, 870 page compendium is a must for every prepared family's bookshelf. If you look around, you can sometimes find used copies of the latest (Ninth) edition at local used book stores, or through Internet vendors. If you can't find a copy locally, new copies are available through our Catalog page.

Helo Jim,
Just a note to let you know what a great job your doing with the blog. I have a question that as far as I know you have not addressed. Most of my individual retirement account (IRA) money is in a 403b at work. [A 403(b) is a tax deferred retirement plan for the employees of nonprofit organizations.] I had wanted to roll this over into a precious metals IRA. However I am not allowed to do this until I leave my current job. Is there anything you would advise that I can do to protect my 403b against the declining dollar besides cashing it out and taking the huge hit in penalties and taxes? Thanks, - Jeff in Ohio

JWR Replies: My first suggestion is that because in most cases (depending on your income) you can have both a 400 series (401/403) retirement plan and an IRA, that you go ahead and set up a gold IRA, even if the majority of your retirement funds are locked up in another plan. Just minimize your contributions to the 400 series, and maximize your contribution to your gold IRA.

Company retirement plans vary widely. Some have a narrow range of investing options, while others offer a plethora. Even if you are "trapped" in a 400 series retirement plan, then at least direct your funds that are there into low risk investments. Since the US stock market is presently over-valued and likely to decline rapidly, this not a good time to have your retirement fund weighted toward stocks or stock mutual funds. If you have the opportunity to direct your portfolio in to bonds, I would recommend doing so, at least for the next few years.

One option for folks that feel trapped in their current retirement plan is to work out an arrangement with their employer to resign and come back on board--typically after a brief vacation --as an independent contractor. This would allow you to roll your 403(b) directly into an IRA. Note, however, that you must carefully weigh the costs and benefits. If the only retirement benefit that your company provides is the 403b proceeds, then it is is probably a good idea. But if your company also provides a traditional retirement payment, then this would probably be unwise. (Since the benefits that you would earn for the rest of your life are potentially quite large.) Also, switching to independent contractor status will mean some income tax and FICA "contribution" changes and necessitate finding your own health insurance. Run all the numbers before making such a drastic change.

The many variations of IRAs go beyond the scope of this brief discussion, but be sure to research them, and find out what is best for your particular circumstances

Precious metals IRAs are available through Swiss America. I've had a gold IRA with them (through American Church Trust, and more recently through Goldstar Trust Company) since the late 1990s, and in the past six years it has performed very well. Since the bull market in precious metals is still in it early stages, I expect further gains in the years to come.

I generally recommend pre-1965 circulated silver coins for tangible ("at home") holdings, but gold for precious metals IRAs. This is because the purchase premium (above the spot price) is considerably higher for silver American Eagles versus gold American Eagles.

Note: As stated in my Provisos Page, I'm not a registered investment counselor, and I don't give compensated investing advice.

(The following is re-posted with permission, from IceAgeNow.com)

Recently, I said "we'll be fighting in the streets for food long before we're buried in ice." I say the same thing in my book Not by Fire but by Ice.
I just received an email from a reader that sums it up better than I did:

"I spent about thirty years working in commercial agribusiness. My main job was to purchase ingredients, mainly grain, for flour mills and animal feed mills. As a part of my job, I was forced to understand the US food supply system, its strengths and weaknesses.

Over the years, I became aware of some things that nearly all Americans are completely unaware of. I am going to make a list of statements and then you will see where I'm going.

-- 1% of the US population grows all of the food for all Americans.

-- Nearly all Americans know essentially nothing about where the food they eat every day comes from. How it gets from the ground to them. And they don't want to know about it. It's cheap, as close as their local store, and of high quality. So no worries.

-- The bulk of the food we eat comes from grain. Although they raise a lot of fruits and vegetables in California, Arizona, Florida, Oregon and Washington, those things don't compose the main part of the average diet. Half of what a meat animal is raised on is grain so when you eat meat you are really eating grain. And, of course, we eat grain directly as bread, bagels, doughnuts, pasta, etc. Milk (and milk products like cheese) comes from cows that eat grain. A lot of grain. And the grain they eat is not produced where the cows are located.

-- The lion's share of grain produced in the US is done in a concentrated part of the US Midwest (Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri is the center of this area). The grain is moved to the coasts (where 70% of the population live) by only two railroads.

-- Nothing is stored for very long in a supermarket. One day grain travels (by rail) from Kansas to Seattle to a flour mill. The next day the flour mill makes the flour and sends it to a bakery. The next day the bakery makes it into bread (and other baked things) and the next day it is at the store where it is purchased that day.
Nobody stores anything. The grain is produced and stored in the Midwest and shipped daily in a single railroad pipeline to the rest of America where the people live.

-- Up until the 1980s there was a system that stored a lot of grain in elevators around the country. At one time, a whole year's harvest of grain was stored that way. But since taxpayers were paying to store it, certain urban politicians engineered the movement of that money from providing a safety net or backup for their own food supply in order to give the money to various other social welfare things. So now, nothing is stored. We produce what we consume each year and store practically none of it. There is no contingency plan. Now for my take on what this means for us and what it has to do with
the topic you are publicizing.

-- If a drought such as has lingered over other parts of the US where little grain is grown were to move over the grain-producing states in the Midwest where few people live, it would seriously damage the food supply of the country and the apples of Washington, the lettuce of California, the grapefruit of Florida and the peanuts of Georgia won't make up the difference because grain is the staff of life and most of it is grown in the Midwest.

-- Americans are armed to the teeth. In Los Angeles people burned down their own neighborhoods to protest a court case.

-- In order for riots to break out the whole food supply doesn't have to be wiped out. It just has to be threatened sufficiently. When people realize their vulnerability and the fact that there is no short term solution to a severe enough drought in the Midwest they will have no clue as to what they should do. Other nations can't make up the difference because no other nation has a surplus of grain in good times let alone in times when they are having droughts and floods also. It takes two or three months to raise grain, yet people have to eat usually at least once a day, usually more than that.

-- So, basically, we have in place a recipe for a disaster that will dwarf any other localized disasters imaginable. The important thing to note is that there is no solution for this event. There is no contingency plan for this. People living in certain parts of the US will fare better than others (which is another story) but those who live in big cities, where most of the US population live, are done for.

Anyway, I have no agenda of my own concerning this. I just thought I'd share it with someone who appears to have an idea of what might likely cause this scenario to occur. The only people who know about this are those who are involved in the production and distribution of the food supply and there are very, very few of them number-wise. And most of them haven't put two and two together yet, either."

JWR Adds: Do you have plenty of stored wheat and a wheat grinder for your family? If not, then contact any of our advertisers that sell storage foods, pronto. These include: Freeze Dry Guy , JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, Safecastle, and Best Prices Storable Foods. (Be sure to also store plenty of rice, beans, and honey.) Have you stored a good assortment of heirloom variety (non-hybrid) garden seed that is less than three years old? If not, then contact the Ark Institute or the Seed Savers Exchange.

I found Cathy Buckle's most recent letter from Zimbabwe well worth reading. The ravages of hyperinflation are hard to appreciate except when seen first hand, as related by someone like Cathy.

   o o o

California Fire Battalion Chief - Whoever Did This Knew What They Were Doing

   o o o

Alphie mentioned that the October Backwoods Home Magazine e-newsletter is now available.

   o o o

The Black Swan's lessons--The value of considering improbable possibilities


"To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it." - Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Today we are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, Turtle Tuff Shelter Systems, in Utah. Be sure to double click on the video link at the top of their Photo Gallery page. What an amazing shelter!

If you have a favorite quote, feel free to suggest it, via e-mail. Chances are that I'll post it as a Quote of the Day. Thanks!

The high bid is now at $200 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for four items: a Baygen Freeplay Summit digitally-tuned AM/FM/Shortwave radio, and a Baygen Sherpa hand crank flashlight. These were kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, one of our most loyal advertisers. Also included in the auction lot is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". These four items have a combined value of more than $350. The auction ends on November 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

The American newspapers are presently full of stories about declining suburban home values and the galloping foreclosure rates, mainly in the coastal markets. (The erstwhile "hot" real estate markets have turned bitter cold.) As more and more foreclosures get dumped onto an already over-saturated "buyers market", there is a strong likelihood that prices will spiral downward. Anyone that bought a "spec" house is now trying to get rid of it, even if means taking a loss. The downward pressure on house prices is likely to continue for several years in the coastal areas, and in few inland markets like Phoenix and Denver.

The folks that bought "spec" houses at the top of the market are what I call contrapreneurs. They are holding an investment with steadily declining value. Most of them, sadly, used borrowed money to do so. Thus, not only are they riding a down escalator, but they must continue to service their debt on a house with a negative cash flow. Strapped for cash, many overextended themselves, and they are defaulting in alarmingly large numbers. Just as I predicted, some of them are starting to abandon their houses without so much as a fare-the-well to their bankers. This is a downright ugly situation. If the US economy noses down into recession (as I anticipate), with corporate layoffs intensifying the mortgage default numbers, then this could very well go down in history as a housing market collapse.

You may have bought your house a decade ago, well before the big run-up in prices. If so, even if prices decline 50% (as some predict), you would probably still be ahead. But what about your 20-something next door neighbor that bought his house in the summer of Aught Six? Odds are that he bought his house with little money down, via an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM), and at a peak of the market price. Now that prices are dropping, your neighbor is probably "upside down" in his mortgage. (Owing the bankers more than the current market value of the house.) It may be four to 12 years before the market pendulum begins to reverse and prices start to creep back upward. Don't be surprised if you wake up some morning and find that your neighbor moved out in the middle of the night, unannounced. (What our friends in England charmingly call "a midnight flit.")

The full implications of the housing market bust won't be known for a few years--once we are closer to the bottom. I suspect that the psychological impact of that many people losing so many billions of dollars and in many cases the roof over their heads, will be devastating.It may be remembered in the same way as the stock market Crash of 1929. There will be a lot of "riches to rags" stories, and I suspect that this collective trauma will considerably affect the buying, investing, and saving habits of Americans for the first couple of generations in this new century.

One likely side effect of the correction of housing prices is that there will be a considerable lag in downward adjustment in property taxes. Local tax officials are always quick to raise taxes in a booming market, but they will probably drag their feet when it comes time to lower taxes.

Another side effect will come in the next couple of years, as savvy house renters start to hound their landlords, demanding lower rents. All they will have to do is threaten to move out--leaving their landlords with a negative cash flow and no prospect of matching the current rent. Some might consider this more ugliness, but it is actually one of the beauties of the free market. A truly free market eventually achieves price equilibrium. Nearly two years ago, I warned SurvivalBlog readers to jettison any urban or suburban rental houses that they might own. I hope that they heeded my advice.

As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a small portion of rural foreclosures may represent a retreat buying opportunity. Monitor the market closely, either through a cooperative agent in your selected retreat area, and/or through Foreclosure.com. You may find yourself a bargain in the months to come.

I have the rest of the day off due to the wildfires in the area so I am at home. The firefighting aircraft have been grounded due to wind until a couple of minutes ago. The evacuation zone is currently a 1/4 mile east of me. My northeastern and southeastern escape routes are currently out of the question. I figure that by the time I get told to Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.), the Northern route will be closed off or too crowded to take. Going South into Mexico is currently not an option due to the makeup of my G.O.O.D.kit ([which includes] military caliber firearms and ammo.) Probably will head to the beach area if I need to G.O.O.D.. I have a couple of friends in that area. I do not want to G.O.O.D. until the last minute due to security reasons. [For fear of looting of my household goods.]. One positive thing is that there were several small brush fires pretty close to me several months ago so the underbrush is already burned away. The fire department is spending too many resources arguing with the people who refused to evacuate to get them out of harm's way and they are not able to allocate the resources to fight the fire.

I had my low profile small duration G.O.O.D. stuff loaded in my vehicle within 15 minutes. I had parts of the kit stored in multiple locations in my place and it took only 15 minutes to gather my stuff. Only things missing were my Baygen radio and toilet paper. (That's what the liberal newspapers are for.) I was planning on getting a solar/hand crank radio and had put my hand crank radio into storage. My low profile kit is configured so that anyone looking into my vehicle will not know that I have gear in my vehicle, yet enough for me to live out of my vehicle for a few days.

I topped off my gas this morning before I went to work. Not surprised to find out that no one else at work had packed their essentials in case they are not able to make it back to their abode due to road closures. A lot of people were bugging out early from work due to the spreading fire so we decided to close down the company. I really didn't care since I was already equipped to survive. Later,
- "Dan Fong"

JWR Adds: In case you are wondering, yes, the writer of this letter is my real life friend of 25+ years, upon whom the Dan Fong character in my novel "Patriots" was directly drawn. And yes, he really says "Oh maaan!"


First, I must say after reading you for a while now almost every thing on television I see, or disaster, or shopping excursion my mind wanders to " What would Jim say?" Thanks for your wisdom and guidance.

What if you have to abandon your fixed position? like the 500,000 - 1 Million good folks in Southern California?
Obviously one should have copies of all pertinent documents on an encrypted portable drive on their person and if possible all the family photos and originals of those docs not too far away in a briefcase ready to move at a moments notice. What about my arms collection and ammo ? a real house fire will cook a safe and ruin the guns. I have many coworkers and friends in the San Diego area are that are affected and may be homeless soon. please pray for them. If you live in an affected area please have you gear ready to go this time of year (October Santa Ana winds in so cal, hurricane season in the south, tornado season in the midwest, blizzard season in the north east and any earthquake area). ( as an aside, notice no stories yet of rapes at the football stadium or looting?)
I was at Hearst Castle this past weekend and we went on the tour that included the wine cellar. recently you suggested that if you were building a custom home, use non-local contractors.But if you were pouring a nice all concrete basement, I would suggest that you just tell the local guy that its a wine and root cellar/ pantry. Of course Hearst had real steel safe doors for locks and his was compartmentalized, his excuse that they told us on the tour was that if a basement fire broke out it could be contained. One could make an interior room of the cellar their armory / reloading room and then the outer part of the cellar their wine cellar and pantry. Anyway, this is food for thought.
Lastly, with Halloween season upon us, you may have noticed all the stores have all kinds of candies in bite size packaging for sale. For the last few years, I have bought several bags of my favorite chocolate bar and vacuum packed them and then kept them in my camping box (for camping treats as well as long lead time BOB food) and my BOB. Rotating them annually hasn't been a problem if you keep it out of any heat. A real grinch could then give away the year old candy on 10/31.. or just eat it. if you wait until 11/1 your choices may be limited but you can get the candy for 1/2 price. if anything, trade barter or making the kids happy and its some quick energy.

Along these same lines, I was also at the beverage superstore lately and saw all the little 50 ml single serve 'airline' bottles. Me thinks a case or two of these of various hard liquors could be tucked away for future trade barter or medicinal purposes. Your thought?
Thanks, - Tim L.

JWR Replies: As a Baptist, I don't personally stock any liquor for barter. But many folks see the wisdom of doing so. OBTW, if you do buy any liquor, one variety stock up on is the 190 Proof variety of Everclear grain alcohol, which also has medicinal purposes (for sterilizing instruments and for making tinctures) and can be used as lamp fuel.

I write this to you as I communicate with my family still in the fire zones in San Diego. I am a former San Diego resident who happily relocated to the wet and soggy Pacific Northwest. I still have family and memories of the region. My step mother reports that she is on alert to bug out with minutes notice. She is sleeping tonight with a packed car in the driveway and in street clothes so she can go fast to G.O.O.D.. However, there are serious concerns and issues my family has expressed.

1) Main travel ways, arterials and so on are clogged. Fire and emergency vehicles going in, folks evacuating out. As a kid in San Diego, I watched some friends get seriously burned in their vehicle when they were trapped in a blow over, caused by them staying too late. Burning to near death in their car was horrific enough. Over 250,000 people ordered to evacuate. San Diego has an excellent highway system but when you have that many moving . . .
2) Many folks have been reluctant to leave. Family has stated that they are aware that looters and burglars have worked some mandatory evacuated neighborhoods to their benefit. If your house doesn’t burn, it could get robbed.
3) What people are packing for evacuation in their vehicle is insane. Everything but what they really need (documents, photos, family bible, etc.). I was listening to a cable news program tonight in which a producer admitted that she evacuated her house, taking important things like her Emmy [Award Statue]s. For the love of goddess!
4) Fire is a sadly common event and yet people in that area still have homes with shingle roofs and land that has not been disaster proofed (ice plant, sprinkler systems, etc.). Several years ago, my dad rejected a shake shingle roof system to replace the old one. He now has good ole terra cotta and stucco sides (gee, odd how the early settlers knew how to mitigate fire damage to their buildings).
5) Telling statement from a local television report: “ The mayor's office put out a call the public to help provide for the evacuees at the Friars Road sports arena. The following items, which should be taken to the stadium's "P" gate, are needed: tents, cots, water, blankets and prepared food.” Oddly enough, these residents knowingly live in fire and earthquake zones and yet they don’t have supplies. Worse yet, the city is unprepared for the numbers of evacuees. Makes the preps we do seems at that much more intelligent.

Anyway, some thoughts for the SurvivalBlog readers. My thoughts and prayers go out to those affected, my family and those fire fighters and cops going into these zones to put down the fires and help the people out.
- MP in Seattle (a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber)

Writing in The Daily Reckoning, Bill Bonner offers this snippet of investing Gloom and Doom: "Foreclosures in the yankee state [Massachusetts] are running three times last year’s level. And losses are working their way up the socioeconomic ladder. Goldman Sachs’ (NYSE:GS) Trust 2006-S3 is a sophisticated investment instrument containing 8,274 mortgages. One out of every six of those mortgages is in default – only 18 months after the thing was put together. When that many people stop paying, it wipes out the entire capital value of the derivative. And since speculators usually take leveraged positions, the losses can go much further."

   o o o

To follow up on yesterday's post about the imminent short supply of infrared chemical light sticks, I heard that Ready Made Resources does have some left in stock. (They have just been reclassified and will no longer be produced for the civilian market in the US, so stock up!)

   o o o

Larry W. forwarded this link: Staring Into Countrywide's Abyss

   o o o

I just heard that CGW (one of our advertisers) is currently offering deep discounts on some Trijicon ACOG tritium-lit scopes and a few discontinued Microtech Amphibian knife models.

"People only see what they are prepared to see.''- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I heard from my publisher that my wholesale cost for copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" has increased by more than $2 each. Unfortunately this means that I'm forced to raise my price by $2 each, to $24 per copy, postage paid. (See my updated Catalog page.) I will, however, continue to honor my "six pack sale" price of just $90 (which equates to just $15 per copy, postage paid), but only until the end of October. Note that immediate deliveries are limited to supplies on hand. Once those have been expended, there may be a delay for re-stocking until mid-November, when the last of the October six pack orders will be shipped. Orders will be shipped in the sequence that payments are received.

The high bid is now at $150 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for four items: a Baygen Freeplay Summit digitally-tuned AM/FM/Shortwave radio, and a Baygen Sherpa hand crank flashlight. These were kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, one of our most loyal advertisers. Also included in the auction lot is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". These four items have a combined value of more than $350. The auction ends on November 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

I was reading in the SurvivalBlog Archive and it seems that you used to own a Ferret armored car. It piqued my curiosity and I have researched it all over the Internet. I found out that it had 8-to-16mm of armor but nowhere does it say what projectiles that [armor] will stop. What ordnance are these resistant to? To .50 caliber. To .30 caliber? Bugging out in one of these would be interesting. Ideally you would want two Ferrets to bug out so you could rake the mutant zombies off of each other but will your gun punch holes in your friend's Ferret if you were just trying to get bad guys off the top of his Ferret. Can you recommend a web site to research these cool vehicles? There seems to be a lot of sites that only have a short summary about it but only general information. Do you know of any forums that talk about these vehicles in detail? Thanks, - Jeremy

JWR Replies: Ferret scout cars are certainly fun vehicles to own, but they are:

1.) Quite noisy (you need to wear earmuffs inside),

2.) Surprisingly small. Their ground "footprint" is about the same size as a Chevy Suburban. They just weigh four or five tons. Most Ferrets only seat two: a driver and a "commander". (Or perhaps three for short distances if you leave the radio mount area behind the commander's seat open.) They were designed to be scout/reconnaissance vehicles--not serious armored fighting vehicles.

3.) Short range. They only have a range of about 180 miles, at the typical 4 mpg (off road) to 7 mpg (highway). Strapping additional gas cans on externally would of course be a hazard.

For the second two factors cited, I do not consider Ferrets serious survival vehicles. They are just too small to carry enough cargo and fuel to be practical.

My Ferret was one of just a handful of the up-armored Mark 4 model in the United States. (At the time it was thought to be the only Mark 4 in running condition in the US.) I bought it shortly before Y2K, when I was working in the San Francisco Bay Area as a technical writer. I had intended to use it as a "convoy escort vehicle", to shepherd my extended family out of town in the event of a societal collapse. (I also had the all-important "accessory" Model 1919A4 in the turret--a semi-auto made by Valkyrie Arms. With some reluctance I sold my Ferret along with the M1919A4 just before we moved back to hinterboonies in mid-2002.

The upgraded armor on the Mark 4 model will reportedly stop .50 BMG frontally, but only .30 armor piercing (AP) on the sides. The armor on the much more common Mark 2 model will stop .30 caliber AP frontally, but only .30 soft nose (not AP or even FMJ "ball" ammo) on the sides.

To provide truly practical armored "Get Out of Dodge" capability, I would instead recommend buying a pair of the much more roomy Cadillac Gage V-100 wheeled APCs (with squad-size capacity), preferably with the combination .30/.50 belt-fed turret. (For scraping goblins off of friendly APCs, you would naturally safe the .50 M2 and fire just the .30 caliber, or perhaps even just a .223 or shotgun from a firing port.) All this Road Warrior-ish talk may sound captivating, but be forewarned that V-100s are quite rare and $80,000 plus, without armament. This is yet another reason that I discourage "land mobile" retreating.

For anyone considering buying a Ferret, I recommend the Ferret Heaven discussion board. as well as this page at Doug's, and the archived pages from Jim Webster's now defunct "Ferret Heaven" web site.
One reputable armored vehicle dealer that I can recommend is David Uhrig.

Dear Editor:
Greetings, fellow urban dwellers! As an intermittent 10 Cent Challenge subscriber (I put in money when I have it, the Lord has seen fit to test our family lately) and semi-survivalist, I would like to talk about reverse osmosis (RO) filtration systems. Can you afford to depend on the municipal water system to provide clean water? In the event of water supply contamination, you can use portable systems such as the Katadyn or Big Berkey filters, but I want to save my bug-out supplies for bugging out. Also, the first indication that there is a problem is when people start getting sick, which means that you could already be exposed. A [daily use] RO system under the sink is cheap insurance at under $300, and you also save from not having to buy bottled water. When the municipal water system was contaminated, I was able to give drinking water to my neighbors. One [of them] has since purchased his own unit. These systems work on water pressure, so if your water is cut off, hen so is the RO system.

However, many times there is plenty of water available, just not clean water. For this eventuality, one can build a [RO] pressure chamber. I used a piece of 6" PVC, capping it at both ends and standing it on end. On the top, install a half-inch valve and a Schrader valve (tire pressure valve), on the bottom end put a quarter-inch flexible tubing outlet. The assembly sits on a wire plant stand. To use this, turn off the water and disconnect the tubing inlet to the RO system, connect the pressure chamber tubing instead. Add water to the pressure chamber (I use a funnel with a coffee filter), then pressurize it with a bicycle pump, preferably one with a pressure gauge attached. RO systems work best at 40 psi, but provide water down to 20 psi. Add water and re-pressurize as needed, usually every 30 minutes or so depending on your chamber size. With RO systems you throw away a gallon or more of water for every gallon of water they make, so keep that in mind. Distillers produce cleaner water, but require a source of energy, which may not be available, so I consider them less reliable in troubled times. Keep a spare set of filters, replace them regularly, and prosper! - Justin B.

An insider at Cyalume just let me know that because of pressure from the US State Department, infrared chemical light sticks have been reclassified and will no longer be produced for the civilian market in the US. (When activated, these light sticks are barely detectable with the naked eye, but shine with high intensity when seen through "Starlight" light amplification technology night vision goggles or weapons sights. I strongly recommend that you stock up now, while there are still some of these light sticks on the civilian market. You should buy a five year supply for your retreat, and store them in your refrigerator. (They have about a five to seven year shelf life, so there is no pint in buying more than a five year supply.) Remember the small Freon canister production ban? And the more recent iodine crystal ("Polar Pure") ban? Based on those experiences, prices are likely to escalate considerably. (The law of supply and demand is inescapable.) Let's just hope that the folks at Ready Made Resources still have some left--plus a few "Surface Trip Flare" trip wire activators. Be sure to order by phone, since quantities are limited. They can be reached at: 1(800) 627-3809.

   o o o

Ben L. suggested this video clip: A professor of anthropology at a Utah university is doubling as a concealed weapons instructor.

   o o o

Jeff K. noted this article from GATA.org: New Treasury documents reveal loans, swaps of U.S. gold

   o o o

RBS flagged this one: 20 years later, could markets crash again?

"No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality and virtue, and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles." - George Mason (1725-1792)

Monday, October 22, 2007

The high bid is now at $100 in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for four items: a Baygen Freeplay Summit AM/FM/Shortwave digitally-tuned radio, and a Baygen Sherpa hand crank flashlight. These were kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, one of our most loyal advertisers. Also included in the auction lot is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". These four items have a combined value of more than $350. The auction ends on November 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Popular Mechanics magazine outlines five scary Katrina-esque scenarios
in various parts of our country might face in the coming years. I find it interesting that two of the five involve California and three of the five involve large bodies of water. People in the affected areas need to seriously consider moving out or having a Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) plan. Also, just because you don't think you are near any bodies of water, it does not make your home immune to floods. When checking a local university's Emergency Preparedness Plan, I found out that my neighborhood is part of a flood plain for a dam 16 miles away. Fortunately, high ground is within a five minute walk and any flooding from catastrophic failure will take [considerable time] to reach my home.

I pray that nothing horrible will happen to my loved ones, but since reading and acting on the advice of SurvivalBlog, I am more confident in my ability to protect my family. As concerned citizens, we all need to get after our local and Federal government to maintain and improve our infrastructure so we can avoid these disasters. But, like you've admonished us before, we must be prepared in case our government fails us. Because they have, and they will. - Mark D., Utah

Mr. Rawles
I stumbled upon this thread about these guys doing a cross-Africa trip. Its pretty long, but worth the read.

One piece of interest was the use of the bags that wine-in-a-box comes in to store fuel.

Here is the link to the start of the thread, just keep clicking "continue" at the end. Warning: There is some National Geographic-type nudity. - Slinger

JWR Replies: This topic came up once before in SurvivalBlog. OBTW, it would be quite dangerous to store anything that is more flammable than waste vegetable oil (WVO) in a Mylar bag. Use only proper containers (such as DOT-approved fuel cans in the US) for transporting flammable liquid fuels.

I was talking to a friend in North Carolina this afternoon and he was telling me about the drought conditions in the Charlotte area and he relayed to me some interesting drought news.

- The several acre sized lake on his property has dried up.
- Duke Power has issued a statement, in the local area, to expect power disruptions in the coming months due to low water levels in the reservoirs that Duke operates that is used for hydro power, cooling towers, and such.

Here is a link from the DOE about a drought's drain on power. The article is from 2002, but the conditions are worse now.

Best Regards, and I am taking advantage of your "6-Pack" sale for autographed copies of "Patriots". - Desert T

Does this sound familiar?: Burned by Real Estate, Some Just Walk Away. Meanwhile, with thanks to RBS, here is a housing affordability analysis from Dr. Housing Bubble: A $626,00 Short Sale in Burbank, California

   o o o

Yet another reason to dislike eBay's ultra-liberal managers: EBay customers' cash linked to risky assets

   o o o

"Kit" sent us this AP wire story on the global SIV fiasco: The credit crisis is far from over, just look at what the new facts show

   o o o

RBS sent us this article from Alan Farago, posted at the Daily Times newspaper web site in Pakistan. Farago hit the nail on the head with this statement: "Trillions of asset-backed securities are floating around the globe on digital pulses through fiber optic cables, but no major financial institution wants to be the first to re-price assets to market."

"If hedge funds were a country, it would be the eighth-biggest on the planet. They can sink whole economies, and have the potential to crash the entire global financial system. Yet they are beyond regulation. We should be very afraid." - Janet Bush, writing in New Statesman, July 31, 2006

Sunday, October 21, 2007

If you enjoy reading SurvivalBlog, then please keep spreading the word to help grow our readership. Links to SurvivalBlog at your personal web page and/or in your e-mail footer would be greatly appreciated.

Reader Karen B. mentioned the following SurvivalBlog article which was originally posted on August 29, 2005. Karen's comment: "And look what's happening now!" Given the recent economic news, I thought it apropos to re-post this article:

I very rarely post lengthy excerpts from other sources. However, I am essentially forced to in this case. You see, this prematurely archived article was posted at The Australian newspaper web site for just a few hours, earlier today. (Actually late afternoon on the 28th in the U.S., due to the time difference and being on the other side of the International Date Line). It was briefly on their "The World" page--one of their main pages. But it now shows up only in their archives. No explanation was given why it has mysteriously disappeared from their "The World" page. It appears to have been at least partially spiked. A tip of the hat to SurvivalBlog reader "Mr. Coffee" for alerting us to this story. I have made some edits for the sake of brevity and to avoid running afoul of "fair use" legalities.

Headline: Dumping of US Dollar Could Trigger 'Economic September 11'

There is a potentially fatal flaw at the heart of the global economy: the strong possibility of financial meltdown following a collapse of confidence in the greenback, Clyde Prestowitz tells Bruce Stannard
29 August 2005

THE nightmare scenario that haunts global strategist Clyde Prestowitz is an economic September 11 -- a worldwide financial panic triggered by a sudden massive sell-off of US dollars that would lead inexorably to the collapse of economies around the world. If that happens, Prestowitz predicts: "It would make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a walk in the park." Australia would be sucked into the vortex of such a recession, which would cause great hardship throughout the world, he warns. Prestowitz is not a doomsayer, neither is he alone in his views. As president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a Washington think tank, he is in regular contact with the most influential US business leaders, several of whom -- Warren Buffet and George Soros included -- have taken steps to hedge their currency positions against the possibility of a cataclysmic plunge in the greenback. "Right now," he says, "we have a situation in which the US is running huge trade deficits -- about $US650 billion ($766 billion) in 2004 -- which are financed by borrowings from the central banks of Asia -- mainly the Chinese and the Japanese. All the world's central banks are chock-full of US dollars -- they're holding many more dollars than they really want. They're holding those dollars because at the moment there's no great alternative and also because the global economy depends on US consumption. If they dump the dollar and the dollar collapses, then the whole global economy is in trouble.

[Snipped for brevity]

"It doesn't take any great stretch of the imagination to see what could happen if one of these central bank managers decides to dump dollars. We had a situation recently when a mid-level official at the Central Bank of Korea used the word 'diversification'. It was a throwaway remark at some obscure lunch, but there was instantaneous overreaction. The US stock market fell by 100 points in 15 minutes because the implication was that South Korea might be shifting out of US dollars. "So picture this: you have a quiet day in the market and maybe some smart MBA at the Central Bank of Chile or someplace looks at his portfolio and says, 'I got too many dollars here. I'm gonna dump $10 billion'. So he dumps his dollars and suddenly the market thinks, 'My god, this is it!' Of course, the first guy out is OK, but you sure as hell can't afford to be the last guy out. "You would then see an immediate cascade effect -- a world financial panic on a scale that would dwarf the Great Depression of the 1930s." Prestowitz says the panic could be started by something as simple as a hedge-fund miscalculation. "We had exactly that scenario in the US recently," he points out, "when a big hedge fund called Long Term Capital Management went belly-up. These guys were pros. They had two Nobel prize-winning economists writing their trading algorithms, and their traders were the creme de la creme among New York bond traders. "They made a big bet -- a trillion dollars leveraged 20 to one, and they blew it. They went belly-up. That threatened to bring down the whole system so US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan had to organise a bail-out through the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Now consider this: there are currently 8000 hedge funds in the US alone. Every day $6 trillion of derivative instruments trade on international markets. If there are four people in the world who understand those trades, I'd be surprised. So the potential for another disaster is not insignificant. This is why Warren Buffet, chairman of investment giant Berkshire Hathaway, is betting $US21 billion against the dollar. This is why currency speculator and hedge fund manager George Soros has also made a big bet against the dollar. "Soros is one of the greatest currency speculators of all time. He was the guy who broke the British pound in the early 1990s by betting $US10 billion it would fall. He made a quick billion when it did. In 2002, he warned that the greenback was in danger of losing a third of its value.

[Snipped for brevity]

If the dollar started to melt down, the results could be really nasty. A 1930s-style global depression is not out of the question."
To underscore the point that he is not alone in this, Prestowitz cites Paul Volcker, head of the Federal Reserve before Greenspan, who has said publicly there is a 75 per cent chance of a dollar crash in the next five years. "No wonder people look at this and say, 'Holy cow!'," he says. "No one knows for sure what will happen, but clearly the global markets could implode very quickly. The lack of an alternative to the dollar is the only reason it hasn't taken a big fall already." Prestowitz, formerly a trade adviser and negotiator for former US president Ronald Reagan, believes the US will continue to be the world's most powerful economy for the foreseeable future. But he foreshadows an inexorable decline, a trend that is likely to continue "depending on the way we play our cards".

[Snipped for brevity]

"America's global hegemony is already under challenge, and that challenge is going to become more and more evident as the extent of the relative US economic decline becomes evident. Right now, the US dollar is probably 40 per cent overvalued versus the Japanese yen or the Chinese renminbi. How's the US going to look as a global power when the dollar is at 50 per cent of its current value?"

JWR's Comment: Hmmm... I wonder why they spiked this story, post facto? I'm curious to know if this story made it into print in the hard copy edition of the newspaper. Chalk this one up to FFTAGFFR, folks!

JWR's Re-Posting Comment (October 21, 2007): Part of what was described in the preceding article has occurred. I anticipate further erosion of the US dollar on the FOREX. If the US Federal Reserve cuts interest rates again, then all bets are off. At this juncture it would not take much to start a full scale dollar panic. Be prepared. Limit your exposure to US dollar-denominated investments!

Mr. Rawles,
In the event of a natural or manmade disaster you may need to retreat despite extensive preparations at your base of operations, whether in suburbia or in the mountains. You may find yourself in a desperate situation; facing forest fire, fallout from a malfunctioning nuclear power plant, terrorism, organized bands of looters or an invading army. Where will you go? How will you get there? What is your route?
Whether you have been preparing for years or weeks you need a Plan “B”. Identifying the threat will help you determine the safest route and mode of transportation to a pre-selected alternative location(s); a location with several months of water, food, fuel and shelter. If you need to leave your base of operation quickly in an event like a forest fire or malfunctioning nuclear power plant then a pre-planned route on back roads with a well stocked bug-out vehicle may be the answer. But, what happens if the roads are unsafe or impassible? With good backpacking equipment or properly outfitted bike and bike trailer you can carry about two weeks of food, tent, sleeping bag and other necessities. What are you going to do after two weeks?

I pre-planned my backpacking and biking bug-out routes with the intent of avoiding populated areas and main roads. These routes are predominately on logging roads, hiking trails and/or through the bush as circumstances dictate with a pre-positioned supply cache approximately every 25 miles. Close to each cache location are pre-selected camping spots located in the thickest and most remote cover available with a nearby water source. Each cache would provide a minimum (1) week re-supply of food and white gas fuel (no fire, no smoke) allowing me to continue on to my destination or re-group and/or recuperate. Every 50 miles or so I would have shelter building materials, tools, ammunition, water filter, fishing and trapping equipment in addition to food and fuel to allow for a longer stay. One cache would include an old canoe for a major river crossing or travel. Flexibility in a plan “B” could provide you with a plan “C” and “D”.

I plan to use 5 gallon plastic buckets with Mylar or plastic liners inside heavy plastic 55 gallon trash drum liners buried at least two feet below the surface of the ground at cache locations. I plan to use a mix of foods; store bought goods, meals ready to eat (MREs) and individually packaged freeze dried backpacking meals. These locations would be accessible if traveling by vehicle or bicycle or foot route(s). I consider these caches to be “throw away” and would continue to add new buckets/new caches yearly as time and money allow. When considering a plan “B” destination I chose a location several hundred miles away should circumstances require relocation from my home region with the built-in option of returning home along the same route.

Here in the northern tier of the country winter travel must be considered a possibility, being an unprepared refugee in the middle of a sub-zero cold snap would not be pleasant. Being prepared means layered winter clothing, winter footwear, winter camping equipment and plenty of white gas or unleaded gasoline stove fuel to melt snow or boil water. Expect to carry a 60 to 80 pound pack. My plan includes spending a winter (December thru March) away from my base of operations. A bug-out route /cache plan may allow you to take control of your situation and reduce your chances of becoming a refugee, internee or casualty in a desperate situation. Seeking the Lord God Almighty’s protection, salvation and will for your life through prayer in Jesus’ name will allow Him to take control of your situation whatever the circumstances are!!! - Jeff S. in New Hampshire

From our friends at Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (JPFO), we learned of the National "Empty Holster" Protest on College Campuses, this week.

   o o o

Bill in Las Vegas mentioned this article about the lengthy drought in the southeastern United States, necessitating severe water rationing in Atlanta. Bill's comment: "I can't get over our Federal Government's arrogance. When asked about what plans are being made in case Atlanta runs out of water, a major with the Corps of Engineers actually said 'We're so far away from that, nobody's doing a contingency plan'. Incredible."

   o o o

Reader Chris S. suggested these two articles, as a study in contrasts: The Global Millionaire Boom, and Zimbabwe's millionaires worth only $1

   o o o

The latest from The Mogambo Guru: Trading Your Paycheck for a Coin Purse

"No one can find a safe way out for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interests, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle. None can stand aside with unconcern; the interests of everyone hang on the result." - Ludwig von Mises

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Today we are pleased to present a guest editorial, from financial analyst Thomas Tan.

Nowadays after all the 3rd quarter write-off announcements from many banks, sub-prime has been mentioned less on television and newspapers. The market has returned to the old high and some more. Is this credit crunch crisis over? What might be coming next?

The sub-prime is only the 1st layer of the onion being peeled; there is much worse danger yet to be revealed. It is amazing to see the high growth in all kinds of fixed income products during last 10 years called SIVs (structured investment vehicles) such as RMBSs (residential mortgage backed securities), CDOs (collateralized debt obligations), ABS (asset backed securities for credit cards and auto loans), and all the OTC (over the counter) exotic and complex credit derivatives associated with them created and held by Wall Street banks and financial institutions. This has been the largest financial alchemy after the medieval gold alchemy. Similar to medieval, this could turn out to be a pipe dream.

The questions to be asked: Are these products really securitized, collateralized and backed by anything as claimed? Are these OTC credit derivatives really creating value as claimed? In general, most of these derivatives are unregulated, lack of any standards, no transparency, not public traded, no bid/ask price but an assigned "price” by the black box computer model, and no clearinghouse to guarantee anything. Their values thus returns are marked to model instead of marked to market, when in trouble, they are totally dependent on the balance sheet of their counterparts for survivability.

The financial alchemy process starts like this: by the magic touch of the structured product (or financial engineering) groups of Wall Street. banks, a large pool of various mortgages and other loans are sliced and diced thousands of ways into things such as principal only (POs), interest only (IOs), various tranches by the timing of payments, stripping embedded options to be sold separately, creating exotic credit derivative out of nowhere. After enough playing by financial engineers and their flawed computer models, suddenly a $100 mortgage can turn into $106 with a pool of so called "value-added" structured products, many of them are so complex to understand and not registered anywhere with no records to trace.

Now Wall Street banks are so happy to take a 3% cut ($3) for their commission, bonus and profit due to this "creativity". Somehow with hard sales pitch from Wall Street, the yield hungry financial institutions and funds are eager to wait in line to purchase these "higher value" derivatives with seemingly higher yields without thinking about associated higher risks. Quite opposite, many of them have taken even more risk by borrowing commercial papers to leverage a 2-3% spread into a double digit "gain".

The problem is that the $106 is just a paper notional value created and assigned by the structured product groups by using computer models. You can twist the model to get any price you want. But when it is forced to find a real market for ending the obligation of such products by trying to sell them to get liquidity, the real value received by institutions could be a totally different story. Also these products are the opposite of what they claim, depending on which trench they purchase, with higher default rate, the future cash flow can change dramatically and can go down to zero, as a result, these products are "securitized", "collateralized" and "backed" by nothing. Why has no one paid attention and noticed this before? There are many reasons, and a couple of them could be as follows:

1) The imbalance of these derivative markets. Wall Street banks sell them to the institutions hungry for yield, but institutions keep them in the portfolio to "enjoy" long term yield and rarely want to sell them. Quite opposite, they probably are hungry for more. The market becomes a one way street until some day suddenly everyone realizes at the same time that the emperor has actually no clothes.

2) 6% value "creation" is too small to cause any problem and get noticed when the mortgage market is booming. To be more accurate, after Wall Street taking the cut, the original $100 mortgage is actually only worth $97 but insurance companies, pension funds, endowment funds, unsophisticated foreign financial institutions purchase them for $106. Immediately they lose 9% on top, similar to buying a new car from dealer, when out of door, it loses 9% value even before you drive it. Now, when housing market is crushing and the interest rate is going up, causing default rate to double or triple, the original $100 mortgage suddenly becomes $90 on average (or $87 after Wall Street cut), now we are not talking about 6-9% disparity, but 16-19% loss which is much more difficult for institutions to cover it up. The institutions owning these derivatives have trouble to continue to hide the losses any longer. As Warren Buffet famously said "It's only when the tide goes out that you discover who's been swimming naked."

What deepens this crisis is the level of leverage. Leverage is a double edge sword. Many hedge funds in trouble these days are the ones having over 5 to 1 leverage on their portfolio in order to generate double digit paper "return". Imaging 16-19% times only a leverage factor of 5, basically the whole portfolio is wiped out. This is exactly what happened to the two Bear Stearns hedge funds, they leveraged to 8 to 1, and got totally wiped out.

The former Fed Chairman's low interest rate policy and environment also encouraged such irrational and irresponsible behavior. During last 10 years when interest rates had been low, all financial institutions have become more and more yield hungry. These managers have to leverage up their bets higher and higher by buying the CDOs with borrowed funds in order to generate a decent return. Who says a lower interest rate environment is good? It causes everyone to over-leverage, created the equity bubble first, then the house market bubble, which will cost and take many years to burst them. It is similar to the 15 years of meltdown in Japan following the bursting of their credit bubble there.

Recently the Fed has kept pumping liquidity into the market. It actually creates a vicious circle that Fed has to keep pumping more liquidity, too much liquidity will create more leverage which will need more "financial engineering". The Fed has pinned them against the wall, whenever the liquidity pump stops, nothing is going to work anymore so they have to keep pumping. Due to such massive levels of debt held by the public and government as well, this crisis is much worse than the 1989 junk bond crisis. Huge amount of debt is not a good thing anywhere and anytime, in 1989 it was only the corporate world, now it is both the general public and the government. We are only at the very beginning and the worst is yet to be seen.

During the last 10 years, Wall Street firms have become more and more dependent on the structured products for their profits. The profit is not from fees from traditional banking activities such as M&A anymore, majority of the profit recently is actually from structuring, selling and trading of these exotic, complex credit derivatives. This explains why Citigroup’s profit suddenly dropped 57% in the 3rd quarter. During the whole time, regulators have stood at the sideline and done nothing. Many of the high level regulators are one way or another associated with major banks and probably former executives of those banks. Their past performance compensation and bonuses were (still are on their personal portfolio or after they leave government posts and back to the banks) mainly relying on packaging and distributing those CDOs.

The biggest argument and "justification" about value "creation" of these structured credit derivatives is that they mitigate risks. I am not so sure. First of all, all derivative products combined are zero sum game overall anyway. If one side gains value, the other side loses, similar to the futures market. Even for individual hedging purpose, it only changes the individual portfolio and fund's risk profile and transfers risk from one to another, not increasing or decreasing risk for the whole financial market overall.

Secondly, someone can argue, due to all the exotic and complex derivatives involving so many parties, the risk of individual portfolio or fund becomes higher, since through all these trades, everyone is interconnected, interdependent and intertwined together and we are all at the same boat. When a perfect storm hits, one bad apple will cause all apples to rotten. A good example is Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) in 1998. It took the Fed and all the major Wall Street firms to bail out just one single overleveraged fund.

Third, due to the high margin and high commission on these derivatives, the risk for the general public is actually increased, since a good portion of the "created" value goes to the fat bonuses of Wall Street bankers, traders and sales persons. The overvalued products have been dumped to the public and held by pension funds which baby boomers depend on for their retirement. Some of them have been acquired by various overleveraged hedge funds. For hedge funds with SIVs, they had performed very good the last several years. But more questions will surface how real the past return was? Usually a hedge fund fee structure is 2+20, 2% on asset value and 20% for profit. If hedge funds use computer models to assign value and price on these products in their portfolio, instead of marked to market, there is strong incentive to jack up the value of price so they can charge both higher 2% fee and take higher 20% profit.

Both the 2+20 of hedge funds and 3% Wall Street commission, instead of value "creation", it is actually value destruction. Similar to the medieval gold alchemy, not only no gold was created, the raw material of lead was destroyed in the process, not even mentioning the opportunity cost of energy and time spent in the alchemy. I am always wondering who is paying for this and holding the bag eventually for this unprecedented modern day financial alchemy?

One thing today better than 1930s is that this time at least we have many unsophisticated foreign institutions (such as the German hedge funds in trouble) holding the bag together with the US general public, a luxury we didn't have in the 1930s. Even so, it will cause social problems when baby boomers suddenly realize their pension portfolios are full of "securitized" products with nothing secure, so are their retirements. It will cause social divide and unrest when the gap between rich and poor increases further from the current level which is already at a historical high, not even talking about the tax policy becoming more favorable to the few riches than the middle and working class. It will cause a big sell off in various fixed income markets when suddenly foreign institutions feel deceived and start dumping any US paper products at any price, including huge amount of US treasuries held by foreign central banks. The current US dollar devaluation is only the start of the worst yet to come.

At the end of this meltdown, US dollar along with many paper assets will lose at least half of its value, while gold will become a universal currency and standard every country trusts and accepts, and will at least double its value from the current level around $800.

Thomas Tan, CFA, MBA
Web site: http://www.vestopia.com/thomast E-mail: Thomast2@optonline.net

Hi ,

I read the recent statements about the power grid and have to tell you the telephone network in in a similar condition. The reasons are the same as power guy's statements.

I was a tech for the phone company for 26+ years, much of it as a lineman but also in repair and splicing. Fiber optic cables are great but the electronics at each end require [grid] power to run the equipment.
[Some other topics deleted, for brevity]

The point is that things are a mess.

You are doing a great job [with SurvivalBlog] to get people to take care of themselves. - Dave

Since there seems to be big interest in the nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) effect, SurvivalBlog readers might want to see some footage about the Starfish Prime test, [a part of Operation Dominic, a series of tests intended to test nuclear weapons effects in space], which knocked out some power substations on Oahu, Hawaii, around 800 miles away back in 1962. Video clip 1. Video clip 2. - David in Israel

David D. sent a link to a most interesting paper. The abstract begins: "Throughout history, the expansion of human population has been supported by a steady growth in our use of high-quality exosomatic energy. The operation of our present industrial civilization is wholly dependent on access to a very large amount of energy of various types. If the availability of this energy were to decline significantly it could have serious repercussions for civilization and the human population it supports. This paper constructs production models for the various energy sources we use and projects their likely supply evolution out to the year 2100. The full energy picture that emerges is then translated into a population model based on an estimate of changing average per-capita energy consumption over the century. Finally, the impact of ecological damage is added to the model to arrive at a final population estimate."

   o o o

RBS forwarded this news story from Idaho: Family of 17 Found Living in the Woods.

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson mentioned in an e-mail that AIM Surplus is currently selling "shooter grade" 7.62mm NATO Ishapore Enfield bolt action rifles for just $99 each. (FFL Required.) Stock up while they are at this price,.

   o o o

Two readers suggested this article for the "I Told You So" Department: Mint Resumes Gold Coin Sales With New Prices.

“I, as President do declare that the national emergency still exists; that the continued private hoarding of gold and silver by subjects of the United States poses a grave threat to peace, equal justice, and well-being of the United States; and that appropriate measures must be taken immediately to protect the interest of our people. Therefore, pursuant to the above authority, I hereby proclaim that such gold and silver holdings are prohibited, and that all such coin, bullion or other possessions of gold and silver be tendered within fourteen days to agents of the Government of the United States for compensation at the official price, in the legal tender of the Government. All safe deposit boxes in banks or financial institutions have been sealed pending action in the due course of the law. All sales or purchases or movements of such gold and silver within the borders of the Untied States and its territories, and all foreign exchange transactions or movements of such metals across the border are hereby prohibited...” - Proclamation by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, April 5, 1933

Friday, October 19, 2007

Today we are pleased to welcome two new SurvivalBlog advertisers: Centerfire Antenna and Alerts USA. Centerfire Antenna makes top quality specialized antennas here in the US, and offers them at very competitive prices. They offer free consulting to SurvivalBlog readers on antenna selection. Alerts USA is an innovative subscription service that provides text and audio mobile emergency alerts to anyone with a laptop, cell phone, pager, or PDA. OBTW, they are offering a special promotion, just for SurvivalBlog readers: A 15 month subscription for the price of 12. The promotional code to enter when ordering is "survival07".

I enjoy your web site every day and am very close to the 10 Cent Challenge, I promise. I work for a medium sized electric utility in the west and I can tell you first hand how weak and ratty the executives have allowed the system to become. The name of the utility game has now become 'defer maintenance to artificially inflate the price of your stock and pay your executives large salaries with massive stock options.'

In the old days we had over 250 guys in construction and maintenance staying on top of pole change outs, system upgrades, prescribed maintenance, etc. Now we have under 80 employees in that department and the system has doubled in size. The company, as most electric utilities have done, now depends on contractors to do the work, mostly to get away from paying for pensions and health care. Contractors that will leave in a moments notice for a better deal and more money.

Recently we had a flood in our main SCADA control office (because no one cleaned the silted over storm drains for years!) and most of the entire system for a city of a million people was off for about 12 hours. When it came back up our protective relays were out and the power kept going on and off. A large defense contractor, who makes cruise, tomahawk, maverick and other missiles for our military had to shut down production and send over 6,000 workers home because the power could not stay on.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. G. Gordon Liddy wrote an article in Omni magazine way back in the late 1980s that illustrated how vulnerable America's electrical infrastructure really is. One man with a rifle can take out a substation transformer that costs a million dollars and takes a year to be delivered, if you are lucky enough to find one available. One company bought five substation transformers from India for $12 million, because they are desperate, and all five of them failed initial tests before they could be energized. They are now junk.

Buy a generator. Make sure that it will run on propane. The natural gas companies aren't much better. - Cactus Jim

I read the 18 Oct. 2007 posting concerning Recreational Vehicles (RVs) as a retreat vehicle. Your posting's of August 10th 2005 titled Batman Fantasy Land, Vehicular Retreating and Sea Retreating were interesting and very confusing to say the least. After reading your August 10th 2005 post here are some thoughts.

With all the talk about BOVs, BOBs, and G.O.O.D. it seems like a waist of bandwidth on your part since you advocate the Siegfried or Maginot Line, Atlantic Wall type system. You know--fixed fortified emplacements.

Does this mean that you would stay in your fixed retreat no matter what? I think not. I know I can hide an RV easier than you can hide your house. Does your in place theory mean that owning a small plot of land away from the city to park your RV on is a bad thing?

You make it seem like anyone using an RV can only carry one of everything. When I travel in my car I carry enough gear for all. My small car can carry plenty let alone an RV. When you bug out can you use the bathroom on a toilet (not a can) without stopping? Can one drive and the other sleep in a real bed? The list goes on.

A pickup camper on a 4X4 can carry groups of stuff and go almost anywhere.

Last time I checked, doctors do not make house calls, you have to drive to one no matter what, that is if there is one to drive to. (Reference the August 10, 2005)

I have always been an advocate of moving when needed. If you were in New Orleans before Katrina, where would you have [gone] afterwards? Would you have been the guy with the warm beer from his bar in downtown New Orleans or the guy in the air conditioned motel in Texas? I was the guy in the air conditioned house in Montana with the ability to move if needed.

Yep I am in the middle of one of the largest missile fields in the world but I am also in the fourth largest state and we have more places to go than you can shake a stick at.

History has shown that fixed postings have not faired well. Our Military in WWII, Vietnam, Desert Storm and now the GWOT have no fixed fortified emplacements unless you count the bases they use. Mobile is the key to survival. Picture this, You have a paper target that does not move, you can hit it pretty much at will . But hitting a moving target is much harder. Have you ever gone deer hunting and tried to shoot a running deer? - Mark in Montana

JWR Replies: I think that you must have missed some of the earlier SurvivalBlog posts and some of my other writings that clarify my position. This issue was discussed at considerable length in the first year of the blog (see the Archives) and in my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. As I've written previously in SurvivalBlog, I strongly prefer the strategy of fixed retreats over nomadic approaches to survivalism. But I have never ruled out mobility as a tactic. Nor have I ever suggested holding one's ground at all costs. There must always be a "Plan B". If that necessitates "bugging out" and abandoning one's land, livelihood, and a portion of one's logistics, then so be it. Plan accordingly.

It is noteworthy that in my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse", I portrayed two quite similar retreat groups, both with "fixed" retreats. Without spoiling it for those who haven't yet read the novel, I can say that one of those groups chose to hold their ground to confront an invading army, while the other abandoned their retreat to melt away into the adjoining National Forest. It was the group that stayed at their retreat that suffered, badly.

My main objection to the "land mobile" and "sea mobile" nomadic retreat approaches is that they do not allow for a multi-year base of logistics. Once the supplies carried on board an RV are expended, unless blessed with amazing success at gardening, you soon will be reduced to the level of refugee. And unless you have secreted caches of fuel and have considerable good fortune to be able to reach them as needed, you will also soon be on foot. If the history of the 20th Century taught us anything, it is that the least desirable category for a citizen in turbulent times is refugee.

Mobility has it uses, but mobility for the sake of mobility has so many drawbacks that is borders on foolishness. In the context of a full scale economic collapse with widespread lawlessness, mobility means the opportunity to run into one ambush after another. It is far better to have a well-stocked and self-sufficient retreat with the option of mobility, if need be. Your mileage may vary, but if your are going to opt for land mobile retreating, I suggest that you invest in a couple of stout APCs with belt-feds. You may need them.

I recently had a reader in Quebec (who prefers to be anonymous) e-mail me to ask if I thought that the gold market was nearing its peak. The short answer is no. Adjusted for the inflation of today's US dollar, the 1980 high in the spot price of gold would be over $2,200 per ounce today. I expect the next peak to be somewhere north of $1,500 per ounce. To be conservative and safe, if you have a large position in gold, you should start to gradually cash out once gold passes the $800 mark. Don't be greedy and try to time the absolute peak. The chances of doing that with any accuracy are slim. Just plan to sell 10% of your holdings at each $100 interval, once $800 is touched. Where to put the proceeds, as you liquidate? Certainly not in dollars or in anything that is dollar-denominated. Plan to put the proceeds in other tangibles. A few suggestions: guns, full capacity magazines, ammunition, top quality hand tools, productive farm land (that can double as a survival retreat), and perhaps some European optics (rifle scopes and binoculars). Until we are the the very bottom of the upcoming recession (or depression) avoid fine art, classic cars, boats, resort real estate, or other luxury items. They will be dirt cheap if you wait for their respective markets to bottom.

   o o o

Michael Z. Williamson suggested the rifle chamber adapters made by MC Ace. I mentioned those in the early days of SurvivalBlog, but they are worth mentioning again. That company bought the tooling that was originally developed by Harry Owen, who advertised in the back of The American Rifleman magazine for more than a decade. We have several of them here at the Rawles Ranch. The one that we use the most often allows a .308 Winchester to shoot .30 US Carbine. They are great for target shooting and small game hunting. They presumably would also a way to be able to use up ammunition that you pick up in barter, after TSHTF. Just be advised that your point of aim will vary considerably versus your rife's normal chambering, so do some paper target testing at known distances and prepare drop table cards, laminate them, and store those with each adapter. OBTW I should also mention that hey are also fairly slow to use (with some calibers you need to poke out the fired cases from the adapter with a dowel), so they should never be considered for self-defense use.

   o o o

Russ sent us this one: Portents of A Nuclear Al-Qaeda.

   o o o

Because of some business commitments with visiting SurvivalBlog clients, the Weekly Survival Real Estate Market Update will be omitted this week, but it is expected to return next week.

"It is not the fact of liberty but the way in which liberty is exercised that ultimately determines whether liberty itself survives." - Dorothy Thompson (1894-1961) Ladies Home Journal, May 1958

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Today we present another article for Round 13 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 13 ends on November 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I am a 23-year veteran of the Recreational Vehicle (RV) industry. I have been in survival mode since the early 1980s after seeing the movies Mad Max and Red Dawn. I started selling RVs in 1984 and thought they were really cool. As the world changed and my concerns grew I started looking at them as a great survival tool. RVs have changed a lot since then. any RVs are fully self contained, meaning you have on board water for drinking bathing and cooking, toilet, climate control, refrigeration and sleeping. Many have onboard generators, deep cycle batteries, power invertors, AC to DC power supplies, and photovoltaic solar power. The following is should help you decide which one is right for your situation.

Types of RVs

Towables.The tow rating for you vehicle will determine your limitation. the following links are the resource I use every day to determine tow capabilities. www.campinglife.com and www.trailerlife.com You will need to consider the weight of the passengers,fuel,water and gear. Considering you will be bugging out and taking everything including the kitchen sink, you should find a unit with the least weight that accommodates your needs. Towing a trailer that is too heavy is dangerous and hard on the tow vehicle. You can't afford an accident or breakdown.

Motorized Vehicles. There is a wide variety to choose from. Class A motor homes ("bus style"), Class C motor homes "van front with cab over bed" Class B motor homes Van conversions. Class Bs are small and easy to drive but are limited to one or two people. They are a great for towing a trailer. Class Cs offer the most sleeping capacity. The cab-over bed will easily accommodate two adults or three children. A 28ft motor home can accommodate 8 to 10.These too make good tow vehicles. For those of you with out budget concerns, Class Bs and Cs are available with 4 wheel drive! Class As are available in gas or diesel. Generally larger and more expensive making them harder to manage both driving and on the budget. They offer the most basement storage and the highest carrying capacity.
Truck Campers. Campers that slide in the back of pickups. If you own a 4x4 pickup you can take your home just about anywhere. Depending on your set up you can still tow a boat or trailer.

Sport Utility Recreational Vehicle (SURVs) [aka "Toy Haulers"]. My personal favorite! Trailers, Fifth wheels and Motor homes with a garage! Perfect for taking the ATV, Motorcycle or just a lot of gear.They come in just about any configuration you can imagine. Most have onboard generators. They usually have 20 or 40 gallon built in gas tanks with 12 VDC pump fueling stations. Fuel stations allow you to fill your ATV or motorcycle's fuel tank.

You need to consider your budget. Cash or finance? You are better to keep you cash in your pocket if you can. Most dealers offer competitive financing. Depending on your situation the interest may be tax deductible. To calculate a payment you can figure on about $10 per every $1,000 that you borrow. That's about $200 per month on a $20,000 loan.
You can find older RVs for as little as free. I get calls from people who just want to get them out of their yards.Try putting an ad in the local paper. "will remove unwanted RVs". Generally they need some work, but if your handy, they aren't that hard to fix. Stay away from vehicles with leaks! Check for soft floors and rippled ceilings or walls. Look in the cabinets for signs of water damage.

Hitch Equipment. Let me make this very clear: Buy the right stuff! People die everyday because the don't have the right hitch set up. Check the weight of you trailer and buy equipment that has a higher weight rating than the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of the trailer you are towing. Always use sway control. Make sure you [electric trailer] brake control is adjusted properly every time.

"Shore power" RVs are either 30 or 50 Amp when your on the grid or running off a generator. AC power runs to the converter and is split to an AC circuit breaker panel and also converted [with a AC to DC transformer] to 12 volt DC. The AC runs to the outlets and appliances such as refrigerator, air conditioning, microwave and water heater. The 12 volt side of the system can also run on just deep cycle battery. The battery will charge when plugged into AC power. It can also be charged from your tow vehicle if wired properly. You lights,water pump, spark ignition for water heater and the blower motor for the furnace all operate on 12v. Extra batteries and a way to charge them are a must. Deep cycle batteries are preferred but auto batteries work if you have no other choice. Solar power is a great option. I get all of mine from ICP Global. They have a great calculator to determine your needs. You should also consider a power inverter. They change battery power to AC power.

LP Gas
Your furnace [space heater], water heater, stove and refrigerator all work on liquid propane (LP) gas. Most of these appliances also require 12 volt DC power. Most motor homes have built in tanks mounted to the frame, which can be a problem for refilling unless you by an adapter to fill the tank from a portable tank. Trailers and fifth wheels have 20 pound or 30 pound tanks that are removable. They are the same as your [back yard barbeque] gas grill's tank. LP is safe when stored properly so stocking up on extra takes is a good idea. I watch for people throwing away old gas grills and take them just for the tank.

When choosing your RV you need to consider where you will be living. Look for one with good insulation. Newer units with ducted roof air conditioners have much thicker roofs. Look for an enclosed and heated underbelly. This help keep the tanks from freezing. You should also find away to skirt the bottom to stop airflow underneath. Straw bales work great for this. Heat strips work well if power is not an issue.

Maintenance & Storage
Have your vehicle loaded and ready to go. Make a check list of monthly inspection items.
Check tire pressure on all tires including the spare(s) once a month.
Test electric, pluming and gas systems
Check battery(s)
Check for water leaks at roof line, doors and windows
Check Hitch equipment and Brake control/wiring.
You can use your RV as a pantry. Keep it stocked with food and water. Rotate it with your supply in your home.
Keep it supplied with sleeping bags, towels, health products and a comprehensive first aid kit, including prescription meds.
Maps, compass and a list of easy to get to out of the way gas and grocery stores.
Hunting and fishing equipment.
If you are storing it for an extended period of time use an RV cover. Plastic tarps will trap moisture and create mold. This tends to destroy the roof membrane.
This is not a complete list by any means but remember to check the weight of your vehicle when it is loaded. You can take your towable or motor home to a truck stop or gravel pit and get the actual weight.

JWR Adds: See my comments in SurvivalBlog on August,10, 2005 on RVs as "Get Out of Dodge" Vehicles and other "land mobile" retreating options. This approach has some huge drawbacks! With the exception of wealthy "snowbirds" that can afford to have two fully stocked retreats, I do not recommend buying RVs! But, as they say, your mileage may vary.

An article posted on 10/16 on Internet Evolution has some sobering thoughts on the state of network security of the US power grid. It is written by Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst and current security expert. His prognosis: “the power grid remains incredibly vulnerable.”

Keep up the good work, - MP

JWR Replies: In my writings, I often refer to the national power grids (there are actually three, eastern and western, and Texas) as the lynchpins of our modern societal infrastructure. Any interruption for more than a few weeks could precipitate a societal collapse. There is just so much of what we depend on for our modern way of life that is dependent on grid power. The telephone networks have backup generators, but those only have a limited fuel supply. Even the supply of piped natural gas is dependent on grid power, since it is used to power the compressor stations that pressurize the natural gas pipelines. I am of the firm opinion that existing Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition.(SCADA) software implementations represent a great vulnerability. The new generation Web-enabled SCADA systems only compounds the problem. (Now, terrorists don't even need to go on-site to inject a computer virus and foul up the power and water utilities' switching and valve hardware. They can now do it remotely.)

McC. flagged this article for us: Japan and China lead flight from the dollar

   o o o

Reader RBS suggested this article by Captain Hook, over at the Financial Sense University web site: The Panic Window Approaches

   o o o

RBS also sent us this: Hedge funds: Be afraid of those definitions.

   o o o

I was recently told about The Utility Belt Blog (aka "Viridari Bushcraft and Preparedness"). This blog has a great mix of posts on outdoor survival, practical shooting, general preparedness, and everyday carry

"The gap between future US receipts and future US government obligations now totals $65.9 trillion, a sum that is impossible for the US to reconcile, which means the US is now technically bankrupt." - St. Louis Federal Reserve Review, July/August issue 2006

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A reminder that the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of the latest 33 chapter edition of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" is ending soon. 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents.

In response to the article you posted titled: "Nightmare on Schuylkill: A first-hand account." I can tell you first hand exactly how awful that highway is. I've lived in the Philadelphia region my entire life, and from the earliest memories of driving on that highway as a passenger with my mom, I can remember her calling it the "Sure Kill", but I was too young to understand why. Now I know and understand all too well.
Planning a Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) route in this area is extremely difficult, let me tell you. My current job has me on the road at all hours of the day and night, for a total of about 3,000+ miles per month, so I've gotten to understand the roads in my area very well. If you live in or around Philadelphia, and plan on "bugging out" when the time is right, you best plan accordingly, and way in advance.
First off, if you live in New Jersey, you need to get out while you can! Having examined all "escape" routes to any rural area is near impossible without having to cross the Delaware River at one point or another. You could go deeper into New Jersey and try roughing it in the Pine Barrens (a favorite camping spot of mine), but in a long term SHTF scenario, you're as good gone trying to hide in that state park.
If you live inside the city limits of Philadelphia, I suggest moving south of the city. The only routes out of the city are backed up enough during the day, let alone rush hour, and let's not even think about a panicked evacuation.
My suggestion is living off the beaten path, but still close enough to Philly to have a reasonable commute. To anyone interested living in the Philadelphia region, Oxford would be a wonderful location. Your average drive time into the city is about an hour, and you have direct access to Route 1.

The best thing about Oxford [Pennsylvania] however, is that you're in Amish country. If TEOTWAWKI truly kicks into high gear, bartering and trading with your neighbors shouldn't be any problem whatsoever. Most of them currently use the barter system. During the winter months, my brother in law plows their driveways, and they let us hunt on their land. That's just one small example.

I hope this letter is helpful to any readers interested in the Philadelphia region. If I had my way, I'd live in Wyoming, but while I'm here, I welcome all to join me. This city really is a wonderful place. Just avoid the highways. ;) Regards! - BDB

The Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) planned routes discussion reminded me of two examples that you had in [the novel] "Patriots". Look at each secondary road now for possible "problem areas" before you need the escape. Are their any bridges that could be out (earthquake), any choke points ( kill zone) that you could be attacked from? when I drive to my relocation spot to work,plan,enjoy, I look at the roads to learn now all I can about possible future problems to be avoided. Thanks, - RE in Oklahoma

Mr. Rawles,
I found this web page interesting: Free Hidden Electricity.

Essentially this site has provided some basic information on how to tap the small amount of electricity available in our land lines to use for charging batteries or powering a lamp should the power go out (and not the phones) in a small emergency scenario.
Within the discussions that follow the post are some legal and contractual concerns and a link to a retail lamp product you can currently purchase for this application. - Tanker

JWR Replies: There are some ethical issues raised by this Instructable video, since telephone service contracts are not contracts to purchase power--however miniscule the amount. But beyond that, there are also legal issues. If someone were to leech too much of the current from their phone circuit's "on hook", "off hook" or, "ringing voltage", it eventually would be noticed by your phone company. Read your phone company service agreement carefully before improvising or purchasing any such emergency device!

One follow-up post from "Myself" summed it up nicely:

"This might be useful, if it was actually running that big lamp shown in the photos. Phone lines are fed with "talk battery" of 48 volts, and are current limited somewhere between 20 and 80 milliamps. A large portion of that limit comes from the resistance of the local loop, so as your current draw goes up, your available voltage goes down. You'll be able to suck about a quarter watt from most phone lines, if you're lucky.
Of course, going below 600 ohms of loop resistance (your circuit looks like a dead short to the phone company) will cause the switch to think you're "off-hook", which is to say, you've picked up the phone and are ready to make a call. It'll send dial tone, and when you don't dial anything within a few moments, it'll send off-hook warning tone, and after a few minutes of that, it'll disconnect your line entirely and generate a trouble message. This means you lose talk battery and phone service.
Once that happens, the switch will periodically reconnect your line to see if the trouble has been repaired. If you leave your "circuit" (and I hesitate to call it that, did you even read the LM317 datasheet? If so, improve your Instructable [video] by explaining its function!) connected for too long, you'll either get a knock at the door, or simply find yourself without phone service for a long time.
Since this gadget violates about half of part 68 of the FCC rules, you're not allowed to connect it to your phone line. They won't throw you in jail for it, but I'm pretty sure they could confiscate your toys and laugh at you. I'd be truly surprised if anyone levied fines against a clueless kid with a soldering iron, but stranger things have happened. (I am not a lawyer.)
Incidentally, this concept is so old, and so laughable, that telco-powered products are a staple joke in the industry. Congratulations on joining the prestigious ranks of Dr. Drizzlenik and others who've discovered this revolutionary "hidden" source of power!
P.S. A five-dollar solar panel will produce more power, more cleanly, and is portable."

After the [Ammunition] Micro Stamping bill signed by Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and the lead ammo ban also signed last weekend, a lot of firearms owners in California were somewhat angered by our "Terminator" Governor.
But this bill (AB 1645) [commonly] called "The Katrina Bill" that would if I read it correctly keep law enforcement officers from taking the firearms and ammo of citizens that posses them legally, in the event of a disaster like Katrina. This might be of interest to those in California that are preparing for WTSHTF or TEOTWAWKI. Take Care. - MGB

JWR Replies: That issue was already settled by Federal legislation (HR 5441), so it is essentially redundant. And one piece of good legislation does not make up for four bad ones: In addition to the cartridge case micro-stamping law and the lead hunting ammunition ban (enacted ostensibly to protect California Condors) The Governator also recently signed two landmark pieces of pro-homosexual legislation. As reported by WorldNetDaily, one of these new laws will allow cross-dressing or gender-confused school children to use whichever restroom or gym locker room they prefer on any given day. (The "Boys Room" and "Girls Room " signs no longer have any meaning at California schools!) Shame on Arnie for cozying up to the liberal Democrats on so many issues. I suspect that a little too much of his wife (who was the offspring of the Hyannis Port, Massachusetts Kennedy Clan) has rubbed off.

Thanks to RBS, who sent this from The Times of London's web edition: There’s a chance Northern Rock is worth zero

   o o o

Those of you that have enjoyed reading the entertaining Hillbilly Housewife blog should be advised that they are no longer sharing web space. They bought their own domain name: HillBillyHousewife.com/. (Please update your links and bookmarks.)

   o o o

The demographic handwriting is on the wall: First Baby Boomer Files For Social Security Benefits. JWR's comment: My favorite snippet from the SSA press conference: "There is no reason to have any immediate panic..." As our friend Stephen in Iraq said in a recent e-mail about this milestone, "Whenever a government official declares that there is no need for panic, that means, it's time to panic! This is another sign that we need to be putting away not just for our future, but also for our children's as well." The Memsahib's comment: If your intended retreat region is also a likely settling place for Baby Boomer retirees, then buy your property soon, before all those retirees arrive and drive up the land prices.

   o o o

A hat tip to SJC, who sent this: U.S. Fed chief warns Wall Street. Meanwhile, we also read: Bernanke Says Housing Slump Will Probably Be a 'Significant Drag' on Economic Growth

"The gun control debate generally ignores the historical and philosophical underpinnings of the Second amendment. The Second amendment is not about hunting deer or keeping a pistol in your nightstand. It is not about protecting oneself against common criminals. It is about preventing tyranny . The Founders knew that unarmed citizens would never be able to overthrow a tyrannical government as they did. They envisioned government as a servant, not a master, of the American people. The muskets they used against the British Army were the assault rifles of that time. It is practical, rather than alarmist, to understand that unarmed citizens cannot be secure in their freedoms." - Dr. Ron Paul

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Congrats to E.M., the high bidder in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a pre-1899 antique Mosin Nagant rifle.

Today we are starting a new SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for four items: a Baygen Freeplay Summit AM/FM/Shortwave digitally-tuned radio, and a Baygen Sherpa hand crank flashlight. These were kindly donated by Ready Made Resources, one of our most loyal advertisers. Also included in the auction lot is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing, and an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". These four items have a combined value of more than $350. The auction ends on November 15th. The opening bid is just $50. Just e-mail us your bid.


I just want to add a few comment toy our post "Dual and Triple Purpose Livestock, by The Memsahib": My wife and I have raised many breeds of multi-purpose farm animals and have been members of the aforementioned American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC) for years. A few comments for the prospective new animal owner.

Point #1 - about modern stupid animals versus older potentially smarter ones. Yes, many modern breeds have lost the ability to do many important things - like giving birth and nursing, egg sitting and brooding, foraging, defending itself of hiding from a fox, et cetera. But, don't assume by buying an older breed you will automatically do better. Unfortunately, many of the older and historic breeds can have the same problems. If you want animals, and have a pretty good idea of what attributes you'd like in them - find a small-scale breeder that selects for those traits. Big hatcheries do not. Chickens present a prime example. Some older breeds, e.g. Speckled Suffolks, Dominiques, African Game Hens, etc. are known to be great all-purpose birds - or at least great sitters and brooders - with good survival instincts.
We have bought many from commercial hatcheries - like Murray McMurray - and had a very small percentage that were worth keeping - many were dumber than a rock. The ALBC keeps lists of small-scale breeders - which gives you the opportunity to call and find out what attributes they select for. This way, you have a much better chance of getting an animal that comes from a smart line - and not a dumb line that's been on animal-welfare for generations.

Point #2 - Learn about disease. This can really ruin things. Many commercially raised farm animals live short lives. Very short if raised for veal or chicken meat, a little longer if for beef, chevon, egg laying, etc. And, maybe the longest if producing milk - but even then commercial operations often kill milkers once production begins to slow down. My overall point here is - many animals have chronic diseases that go undetected since these maladies often don't show symptoms until an animal is 5 years old - or more. Since many never get that old - it's not considered a big problem. But - if you buy one - it can be for you - in several ways. Many of these diseases quickly become entrenched in the soil and can survive for 10 years. If you get one bad animal - on your new farm - and the pathogen spreads to the ground - you're stuck with it virtually forever unless you get rid of all animals and wait - many years. This also happens with certain vegetable crops - and is one good reason for crop rotation. I had to give up growing sweet corn in some of fields for three years - to get rid of ear worms.

If you are just starting out with animals you've got the advantage of virgin disease-free soil. The last thing you should do - is buy an auction animal. If you find a small-scale breeder with a closed-herd and proven history - you are way ahead. This goes back to the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Using their published list of small breeders - you've got a good chance of getting good animals. Many have closed flocks and/or herds - meaning that they never take in outside animals unless the medical histories are known for years previous. Let me also say that I am not trying to be a spokesman for the ALBC. They do a good job - but they are not the only source for good information on this subject. - John from Central New York State

Hi Jim.
A quick note regarding the question/comment from J.S.C. on serving size in the bucket of food.

It is perhaps not commonly known, but it is an important fact to be aware of ... that is, all foods sold in the US with nutrition labels have serving sizes based on definitions provided by the FDA. Each type of food is defined at the FDA web site.

In simple terms, the FDA determines how much food is customarily consumed at one eating occasion. Typically, several different foods are eaten together during a meal (or eating occasion), so a single serving of food is almost never going to be close to being a meal's worth of nutrition. I always tell my customers to figure at least two servings of Mountain House freeze dried food (as just one example) per adult per meal plus some additional supplementary food that is hopefully available. To expect three defined servings of canned or packaged food in your larder to satisfy anyone for a day is going to turn out to be very disappointing at the time you are most counting on it. Vic, SafeCastleRoyal

Mish Shedlock has recently posted some interesting items on his blog about Super SIVs and troubled Countrywide Financial's ) CEO Angelo Mozilo bailing out of his own shares in the company.

  o o o

SHTF Daily (one of our daily "must read" blogs) recently posted links to seven sobering economics articles: Mass auction reveals depth of foreclosure crisis, Even the renters now feel the mortgage crisis, Subprime crisis won't peak until 2009, The dollar era is over: a long, slow collapse and a central bank firesale, Meltdown still has plenty of steam ahead, Global finance leaders gather as economic clouds darken, and Sniffles That Precede a Recession.

   o o o

After very nearly touching $14 per ounce yesterday, the spot price of silver got hammered down 25 cents to $13.74. It is still a strong "buy" in my book.

"Endless money forms the sinews of war." - Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Today is the last day to place a bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle with bayonet 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! When last we checked, the high bid was at $520. The auction ends at midnight tonight, Eastern time. (9 p.m., Pacific time.) Just e-mail us your bid.

In this day and age of specialization, modern livestock have been selectively bred to be super efficient for one purpose. For example Merino sheep are bred to produce wool in abundance or Suffolk sheep that are bred to come to market weight quickly (for meat). Many breeds of chickens no longer will set on their eggs. They have been selectively bred to produce eggs and nothing more! (They have lost their instinctive "broodiness.") Most of our modern farm livestock fall into this specialization category. And in the process they have lost some of their other valuable traits such as mothering ability, ability to forage, disease and parasite resistance. Thus, these modern breeds are not suitable for survival purposes. In TEOTWAWKI we need breeds that can survive without the vet, pharmacy, and feed store! From The Oklahoma State University Animal Breeds web page comes this quote:
“While the Holstein clearly has an advantage over other breeds in the production of whole milk, this advantage is based on feeding high levels of cereal grains and pricing that favors low milk-solids content. A drastic change in either of these factors could result in a decrease in the advantage of the Holstein. Another example might be an increased need for natural resistance to diseases or parasites should a current antibiotic or other treatment become unavailable or ineffective. An example of this type might be the natural resistance of some breeds of sheep to internal parasites. Should anthelmintics become restricted or uneconomical then a breed such as the critically endangered Gulf Coast Native, with the parasite resistance it has developed through natural selection, could be of critical importance in the sheep industry.”

The survivalist would be better off with "heirloom" livestock breeds that are considered to be dual purpose. Most of the dual purpose breeds are raised on small family farms. They are often rare breeds. Dual purpose sheep are know for producing a lamb with a high quality carcass as well as a high quality fleece. (Though usually the fleece has specialty qualities that make it much more valuable to handspinner niche market rather than commercial producers.) Dual produce cattle are those that are good milkers, excellent mothers, and their calves have rapid growth. Do a Scroogle search on “dual purpose sheep” or “dual purpose cattle” to see the wide variety of animals available. An excellent web site to learn about endangered dual purpose breeds is The American Livestock Conservancy.

The survivalist would be best served to select heritage breeds that match the climate and terrain of their retreat. The Rawles Ranch is well-watered and most of the pastures can be downright swampy. The American mustang, although an extremely hardy and disease resistant breed of horse is not suitable for our soggy soil. The Mustang developed in the southwest and is much more suitable for survivalists in drier areas. A better breed for us is the horse breed developed in the wet Welsh mountains such as the Welsh Cob. Likewise our sheep breed needs to be suited to wetter pastures. The Navajo Churro won’t do, but the Welsh Mountain Sheep do fine here.

Survivalists might also consider triple purpose breeds. These are breeds that produce meat, milk, and fiber. They may also be used for transportation. Nomadic tribes have built their culture around some of these animals. Some of the more unusual are the reindeer, the camel, and the yak. The reindeer, though it does not produce fiber, are used for milk, meat, transportation, and hides. The camel not only provides transportation, milk, meat, hides, but it also grows a wooly coat each winter which it sheds. The fiber can readily be felted. Or the itchy "guard hairs" can be removed to produce a luxury yarn. Of the aforementioned animals, the Tibetan Yak is the easiest to acquire and the easiest to handle and fence. They can be raised identically to cattle with the added benefit of producing milk extremely high in butterfat, calves with low fat carcasses, and incredibly soft underdown that sheds every spring.

A triple purpose breed of horse is the "Bashkir", or Bashkirshy of the Volga and the Urals. They have been known to produce 3 to 6 gallons of milk a day. Some of the Bashkir may have a curly coat which may grow from 4-6". It is shed each Spring and can be spun, woven or felted. (American Bashkir Curly Breed though it took the name “Bashkir” seems to be an unrelated breed. American Bashkir Curly Breed does have a curly coat but not the milk production.)

Icelandic sheep are the quintessential triple purpose breed. They are valued in Iceland for their milk production, their fiber, and their ability to raise twins lambs to market weight in 4 to 5 months on grass alone.

Because of prolonged drought in some parts of the U.S. causing high hay costs, livestock prices are at an all time low in certain parts of the U.S. If you can afford the hay, now might be the time to purchase livestock. Heirloom varieties are normally extremely expensive and the top breeders will still be holding out for top dollar and butchering rather than lower their prices. But, many small hobby farmers love their heirloom livestock like pets. They tend to keep way too many lambs/calves each year because they are all so cute. Now it is time to buy hay again…and yikes the hay prices are awful! These hobby farmers would rather sell their animals way under value to you than send them to market.

If you are not prepared to purchased animals now, keep in mind for next year that Fall is always a good time for buyers to get lower prices. By the way, I’m not recommending heirloom livestock raising as a way to make extra income! I do it because I enjoy working with animals, and I enjoy the thrill that the baby animals give my nieces and nephews when they come visit us. And, needless to say, I like being self sufficient--having "backup protein" on the hoof.

Survivalists who love animals, like me, and marvel at mankind's ability to selectively breed so many varieties will enjoy visiting The Oklahoma State University Animal Breeds web page.

Dear Jim:
You are spot on with your recent recommendation to think about concealable body armor first. As we say: "the best vest for you is the one you’re actually wearing when shot!" And being easy to wear and concealable makes a vest much more practical and used more often. It is analogous to self defense with pistols vs. rifles. Rifles are indeed superior protection - but pistols save more lives because they are actually carried and available most often.

I must add a caution to your advice about relying on two Level II vests to perhaps stop a rifle bullet. In some cases, where the rifle bullet is slowed down by cover, yes. We have had a concealable Level II vest come back from Iraq, after saving a service member who was hit with AK-47 fire--but first the bullet had been slowed and deformed by the back of an unarmored vehicle.
Generally soft body armor will never stop direct [rifle] fire. Rifle bullets are travelling at 2 to 3 times the velocity of pistol bullets, and have a more pointed-penetrating tip, and thus will likely penetrate even two Level II or III-A soft body armor vests. Two times Level II does not equal Level IV! ;-) Better to save the money from the second vest and spend it on Rifle Plates and a modular Carrier, or Rifle Plate Pockets as a second outer shell carrier for your vest.

Your advice on helmets is wise - I'd rather have the older, heavier PASGT Kevlar Helmet with the MICH blunt trauma pad system, than a newer helmet with no pad system.

Finally, thank you for your kind words about our dedication to sizing and fitting. We work very hard at this as there is a delicate balance between the amount of protection and coverage vs. comfort and concealment. It is really worth spending the time to get detailed measurements, and to discuss trade-offs between protection levels, models and sizes.
Yours truly, - Nick, BulletProofME.com Body Armor

From SHTF Daily comes this sobering article and accompanying CBS News video clip: Builders Giving Up On The Sinking Market.  Now it is not just defaulting buyers that are "walking away." The article indicates a loss of "$1.2 trillion from the value of American homes. And the losses are mounting, going to $4 trillion by one estimate, by the end of next year."One observation on the video clip: Is wearing one's baseball cap backwards a key indicator of sub-prime borrowing, sub-prime intelligence, or both? I'd hate to tell that real estate "investor" what sort of house and how much acreage $597,000 would have bought him in western Wyoming. Certainly a lot more than his postage stamp lot in suburban California. Maybe he could raise some fish in that swimming pool, so that he'll have extra cash on hand for when his 2/28 adjustable rate mortgage resets next year and his house payment jumps by $1,000 per month.

   o o o

A recent blog post about a five-hour shutdown of an eastern US highway has implications for anyone planning to "Get Out of Dodge" (G.O.O.D.) at the eleventh hour, by car or truck. Be sure to pick your routes carefully.Your main intended route should be on secondary roads. Also be sure to identify a couple of alternate routes.

   o o o

Reader MGB pointed us to a interesting series of posts from AlphaGeek that ran on DailyKOS in 2005. (Back during Hurricane Katrina): Are YOU ready for disaster?

   o o o

The ever-watchful Steven in Iraq sent us this: Banks to set up $80 billion fund to limit credit crunch

"Liberalism, with its ever changing totem pole of hierarchy of its causes, is like a continuous game of Jenga, except that no matter who causes it to fall, it will be the Republican’s fault." - Rourke

Sunday, October 14, 2007

There are just two days left to place a bid in the SurvivalBlog benefit auction, for a scarce pre-1899 antique Finnish M39 Mosin Nagant rifle with bayonet from my personal collection. The high bid is still at $500. 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 bidding ends at midnight tomorrow, October 15th. Just e-mail us your bid.

Consider the case of a lad that tried using some $1 US Mint Presidential series proof coins as spending money at a restaurant. And now consider the hung jury in the tax evasion trial of a building contractor that paid his employees in US Eagle one ounce ("$50") gold coins, at their face value. So if I understand these stories correctly, the U.S. Treasury wants us to accept their "legal tender" coins at face value, when the face value is more than the metal value of a coin, but they'd happily see us thrown in jail when when use a coin at face value if that is less than the actual metal value of a coin. These two news stories help illustrate the supreme hypocrisy of the US monetary and tax systems: the US Mint, the Federal Reserve system (a private banking cartel), the U.S. Treasury Department, and the "self-assessed" personal income tax in the United States.

With the foregoing in mind, my advice to U.S. precious metals investors is straightforward: Keep your transactions as private as possible, while staying within the law. To the best of my knowledge there is no Federal law that requires you or your local coin dealer to report your cash gold or silver purchases, as long as they are less than $10,000. (Although, be advised that if you make multiple sub-$10,000 purchases within a short period, it could be construed as "structuring" (a.k.a. "Smurfing") to avoid the IRS Form 8300 $10,000 tax reporting trigger.) Pay cash, and don't offer your name unless required by state or local law. Get a dated receipt as "Cash Buyer" so that you can establish your cost basis for calculating the tax upon eventual resale. Be sure to annotate your receipt with the metal's spot price at the time and date of your purchase.

Unless you have a penchant for tilting at windmills (not recommended), I suggest that you don't try any fancy maneuverings when it comes time to sell your metals, or when you barter them for something of like value. Capital Gains taxes will probably be due. Just "Render Unto Caesar", be done with it, and sleep soundly at night. Yes, I realize that technically, the Treasury is bound by its "legal tender" promises, but that doesn't stop the IRS from coming after you with a vengeance. And yes, I've read the research on the bogus ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment ("The Law That Never Was."). But just because you are technically right won't keep them from tossing you in prison. Nearly every tax protestor that has brought up Sixteenth Amendment issues as a defense in income tax cases has failed miserably. Again, don't ruin your life by jousting with windmills.

Mr. Rawles:
First off, I would like to thank you personally for the nice note you sent to thank me for becoming a "10 Cent Challenge" subscriber. The services you provide are worth much, much more than the $36.50 [per year that] you ask. To be honest, you're a better man than me; if I were you, I would probably make the subscription mandatory.

I do have a question for you: in your considerable opinion, how would you rate the usefulness of this product from a preparedness perspective
As you can see, they tout "The ARK" [bucket-packaged storage food unit] as having up to a 15 year shelf-life and $119 + $25 shipping seems pretty reasonable for a full month of meals for one individual - especially if it really is 1600 calories per day.

I'm a little confused. As I'm sure you saw, the very top of the web page lists the bucket as containing "90 Complete, Delicious, Easy to Prepare Meals." But, if you add together the individual food servings contained within, my count brings me to 177 individual servings; dividing that by three squares a day would actually give you 59 days (call it 2 months by adding some minor additional preps along the way) worth of individual meals for one person at 1600 calories per day - in a rationing situation, getting by on 2 meals a day plus limited extra preps could stretch this bucket out to a 90 day supply for one person! Sounds too good to be true. Thanks, - J.S.C.

JWR Replies: I believe that it is too good to be true. This product--or one remarkably like it--was originally marketed as a "three month food supply for one person." There was at least one lawsuit over their claims-- which focused on the number of meals and caloric content. This was covered in SurvivalBlog back in August of 2006. It might be a product worth buying, but realistically, consider it just a 15 to perhaps 20 day food supply for one adult.

"Every day you meet a delegation going to some convention to try and change the way of somebody else’s life." - Will Rogers

Saturday, October 13, 2007

If you value what you read at SurvivalBlog, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. The subscriptions are voluntary, and gratefully appreciated. They help pay the bills around here, and keep me from going back to technical writing. Many Thanks!

Dear Jim,
I thought I'd relay an exercise I learned from last year.
Every year, I do a large historical re-enactment in Pennsylvania. I take two tents totaling 300 square feet, my forge, tools, clothing and gear for a family of four down to a four poster bed, tables, chairs and workbench, plus merchandise to sell. This fills a conversion van with rear seat removed and a standard kit-built trailer. It's great rehearsal for bugging out. Packing takes about 8 hours.
Before I left, I realized the brakes were a little soft. I made a point of leaving lots of clearance on the highway. The trip is exactly 403 miles from my house. Most of it is interstate.
Upon leaving the event to return home, I realized the trip out with the cargo and trailer had beaten the brakes up a lot. They were definitely soft. I left lots of clearance. My wife had gone ahead, and I had both kids.
Our usual trip home includes a detour on a state route, two lane, through Ohio hills, to stop at an ice cream factory. I was on this road and came over a hill at normal speed--55--and saw a line of cars backed up behind one turning left. I braked and felt the pedal sink. I was moments from plowing 3 tons of van and cargo into a Toyota. I found there was just enough room in someone's front yard to get between the traffic and a tree. Honestly, I was prepared to sideswipe or lose the trailer to avoid that wreck, and I was lucky there was no ditch. It worked. I pulled over as soon as I could stop and checked things over. Grass and mud everywhere, but no serious problems.
However, as we left the ice cream factory, I heard a whine, rumble, and lost a trailer tire. I always carry two spares, so I pulled into a farmer's driveway (paved, it's central Ohio) and got to work. The blowout had also shifted the cargo in the trailer and split the wooden side from the hinge holding it. The tarp was acting as structural support.
I couldn't find the jack. I knew I had a jack, but I couldn't find it. It wasn't under the passenger seat, nor all the way in back with the trailer spares. I tried using some dunnage and lumber to pry the trailer up, but no luck. I knew I could lift it myself and have my daughter prop dunnage under, if it was empty, but that's a 2-3 hour job to repack, and we'd been at it hard for 12 days and had 250 miles to go, at 90+ degrees with no air conditioning. I tried to go ahead and break the lugs loose, but they were too tight even with me standing on the wrench.
The farmhouse was empty, with a sign noting they were gone until Sept, when apple harvest would start (I think, don't quote me), and I'd rather not start hiking with two small kids, so I tried to flag someone down. Luckily, two minutes later, a very nice man and his wife on a Harley were heading back toward the small town we'd left, and said they'd let a garage know. They even returned to report on it.
A few minutes later, two country boys in a pickup showed up with a screw gun, an air compressor, an impact wrench and a jack. Five minutes later we were good to go. The guy running it said he wasn't sure how to price it, so I handed him two $20s. I would have paid $100 and not flinched.
I left a lot of distance ahead the rest of the way home, especially on the state roads, and on the Columbus bypass.
And of course, when I unpacked I found the jack, under the other passenger seat, where I'd inadvertently moved it to fit in the extra first aid kit and fire extinguisher.

The lessons here are: always maintain the vehicle. Less than 90% means fix it now. Always inventory your emergency gear with hands-on when loading, so you know where it is. Always leave extra distance and assume there's a roadblock, stopped vehicle or such over the next hill, until you can see. Always check your spares and all lug [nut]s (I've had a frozen lug on the van before, too) regularly and before a trip. - Michael Z. Williamson

Good Morning Jim,
I have been a dedicated reader of your site since almost the beginning and am (finally) mailing my 10 Cent Challenge [voluntary subscription payment] today.

My weapons of choice have always been [Model] 1911 pistols and AK variants. I have long lists of reasons for those choices, but that is a discussion for another day.

I am now thinking of buying a FN FAL and have no idea where to start. I know that FN FALs are your battle rifle of choice, and I understand your reasons. Can you help me (and your other readers, I'm sure) with the following questions:

1. Are FN FALs being made today?
2. If they are in current production, who is manufacturing them? (Do they have a web site?)
3. What should a person expect to pay for an FN FAL? New? Used?
4. Anything a person should be on the lookout for when shopping for an FN FAL?

Thank you for your help. I look forward to your responses, and I bet some other readers will find this info helpful too. Thank you! - Nick in Indy

JWR Replies: In answer to your questions, yes, FALs are still being made, but they are no longer being made in Belgium by FN. The FN-built FAL rifles are considered the benchmark of quality, and bring a premium price. Most of the FALs on the market in the US these days are "parts kits" gun, assembled with used military parts and newly-manufactured semi-auto receivers. (These receivers have an ejector block that cannot accept the full automatic sear.) The quality of these rifles varies widely. A few are assembled by people that shouldn't be trusted mounting car tires, much less headspacing a rifle. Therefore, I recommend that you buy a FAL only from a reputable, well-known manufacturer, or that you acquire your own receiver and parts set, and have it custom built by a gunsmith such as CGW (one of our advertisers) or Arizona Response Systems. The U.S. "factory" maker that I recommend is DSA. They make umpteen FAL variants.
I also recommend the rifles that were formerly made by Springfield Armory (the pre-ban SAR-48 and the post-ban SAR-4800.)
For spare parts and accessories, I recommend Gun Parts Guy.

Prices for pre-ban and post ban FALs vary considerably. Typical post-ban FALs from parts kits range from $500 to $1,100. A top-of-the-line post-ban built by DSA can be 1,000 to $1,800 depending on specifications. Pre-ban FN FALs range from $1,400 for a typical used SAR-48 or Argentine FM-LSR, to $3,200 for a like-new pre-ban folding stock ("Para") FAL made by FN of Belgium.

Again, look for a FAL from a well-known maker. Be advised that under section 922(r) of the US Code, all post-ban semi-auto rifles must have seven US-made parts. It is beyond the scope of this letter to explain all of the details of that regulation here. Refer to the Legal Forum at The FAL Files Forums for more on the section 922(r) requirements. Suffice it to say that some home builder omit the seven US-made parts. This is just one more reason to only buy a rifle built by a "name" gunsmith or manufacturer. They do all of their FAL "builds" in compliance with section 922(r).
For any used rifle or any rifle that was built with a used parts kit, pay particular attention to the bore condition before you make the purchase.

For more about both metric and L1A1 ("inch pattern") rifles, first read my brief FAQ on FALs and L1A1s and then spend some time working your way through the archives at The FAL Files. There, you will learn about the various models, makers, accessories, spare parts, and so forth. The FAL Files Discussion Forums are a great place to learn even more. The folks there are happy to answer questions from "newbies" to the FAL fraternity.

My personal preference is for L1A1 inch pattern FAL variants. They are more sturdy than metric guns, and less prone to jamming when dirty. They are also the most versatile in terms of accepting magazines. (An inch rifle can accept either inch or metric FAL magazines, but a metric FAL can only accept metric magazines--not inch!) We have five L1A1s here at the ranch, all built on pre-ban receivers. Three of them were built by Rich Saunders of CGW. Rich does fantastic work. Our other two are SAR-48s that were rebuilt to inch specifications (with their receivers re-cut to accept both inch magazines and folding charging handles) by T. Mark Graham of Arizona Response Systems.

Jim, it seems that several of your readers have been exercising their keyboards on the subject of "survival batteries" lately. This has been great sport since the days of Mel Tappan and I have seen countless lists of just was is "absolutely" needed. Methinks that many of these well-meaning folks have never carried firearms on a regular basis and used them for work.

I spent 12 years in the law enforcement business, eight of which I was an NRA certified instructor. I carried a gun, both in uniform and concealed, for every day of those 12 years. Based on my experience, I have far fewer firearms than most of your respondents. My long-range rifle is a 30-30. Yup, 30-30, good to 200 yards, based on my experience. Have a .357 lever action for pest control (both four- and two-legged kinds) and a 22 for general use. Have a couple to 12 gauge pumps because they are most effective a close ranges and, in my situation, I won't have long-range encounters. Have a couple of .357 revolvers but I don't emphasize the handguns because "they just ain't good enough" when push comes to shove. But I do have lots of ammo stored. I wouldn't mind having a Garand (box magazine get in the way maneuver-and-shoot) but the cost is too high.

Decidedly low-tech, relatively low-cost in comparison to the urban commando outfits being presented by the Blog's readers. But based on the experience of carrying and using firearms in the course of working. "Ideas that sound good are not a good replacement for what actually works" Keep up the good work! - B.A.C., Sacramento, California

Steve H. and Ben L. both mentioned this: New fire-retardant gel can save homes. Ben's comment: $12,000 to $20,000 may seem like quite a bit of money, but compared to the total price of a house, is it really that much?

   o o o

I just noticed that JRH Enterprises had a couple of scarce Gen 3 AN/PVS-14 night vision weapon sights available. With the current heavy government contract demand to support the war in Iraq, these don't hit the civilian market very often!

   o o o

The price of wheat has gone up 75% in just the past six months. Little did we know that we were sitting on a gold mine.

   o o o

From frequent contributor RBS: U.S. Treasury-Insurers won't cover nuclear risks

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." - General George Patton

Friday, October 12, 2007

Today we present the first article for Round 13 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 13 ends on November 30th. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Let's say that you and your family having been taking the advice provided here by Mr. Rawles and are squared away for the Crunch—you've got your bullets, beans, and band-aids, all piled high in a structurally reinforced home out in the middle of nowhere. You've got just about every survivalist book ever printed, plus the tools and skills you'll need to provide for yourself and your family. You also, of course, have the basic life skills that you'll need to simply stay alive—things like shooting, tracking, cooking, and first aid.

Have you thought, however, about the education of your children? Public schools, private schools, and universities will likely close their doors. And even if any remain open, the education they provide would be of questionable value when society is falling apart. Clearly, the most important things for children to know will be the things that survivalist parents have been teaching them for a long time—skills like shooting, cooking, sewing, and first aid—and none of those are taught sufficiently well in the typical school.

But will children really need to learn anything else during the Crunch? After all, what is the value of "book learning" when you're far from civilization, simply trying to survive? Does it really matter who wrote A Tale of Two Cities? Of what importance is learning to tell the difference between it's and its or good and well? And who cares about calculating the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle?

Actually, all of that is important. The three R's (reading, [w]riting, and [a]rithmetic) will always be of value, no matter how bad things get, as will a variety of other subjects. Why? Because in all except the most horrific SHTF scenarios, people move out of their bunkers after several years and again begin to interact with their neighbors, first just to barter, and later to gather socially. Society eventually rebuilds, and as it does so, leaders are needed to fill the gap—people who are able to communicate effectively and think critically about the problems they face. How are such leaders raised? In part, through their education.
We've already established that traditional educational services will almost certainly be non-operational once the Schumer hits the fan, so survivalists must look elsewhere for a solution. Essentially, that solution is some form of homeschooling, because when society isn't functioning, your children will have no one to learn from other than you.

Are you ready for that? Some of you already homeschool your kids—that's great. But regardless of whether you already do or not, you may not be prepared for the day when there are no more easily obtainable textbooks, no more homeschool co-ops, no more video lectures, and no more sources of basic school supplies. Could you, with only the resources that you have now, teach your kids the important things that they need to know for the next three, four, or five years? How about the next ten?

Before going any further, let's clear up some common misconceptions. First, you don't need to be a professional teacher to be a successful homeschooling parent. College degrees in education might make you more capable of teaching a class of thirty students, but you certainly don't need a degree to teach one or two kids at a time. Second, you don't need specialized curriculum or fancy textbooks. Textbooks are a relatively new invention and can be useful in some cases, but they certainly aren't essential if you have a good attitude and the right tools.

So what do you need? Well, you need some general supplies, a few basic tools, and most importantly, books—lots of books.

The essential tools and supplies are for the most part obvious—pencils and paper are a good start, and you can stock up for pennies during back-to-school sales at major retailers. Don't settle for junk, however—you'll be kicking yourself for buying those cheap mechanical pencils when they're all breaking after a month or two of use. The best strategy is to simply buy a mechanical pencil sharpener if you don't already own one, and plenty of boxes of old fashioned yellow pencils, with separate rubber erasers still in their original plastic wrapping. Don't forget the tools you'll need to teach math, either—items like protractors and well-made compasses are essential. Something else you may not have thought of is a slide rule, since calculator screens and batteries are prone to failure. Slide rules last for decades if properly cared for, and have the added benefit of forcing their users to engage their brains. Of course, since you're going to be teaching your kids how to use these tools, make sure you know how to use them yourself.
Next up is books. This is the most important part of your homeschool preparation, simply because the right books are packed with valuable information that's accessible to anyone who is able to read—both the teacher and the student. Furthermore, it's possible to get most books for only a little bit of money—used book stores and library book sales are excellent ways to build a large library on a small budget.
The key reference works that everyone ought to own include a Bible, an exhaustive concordance, and a modern unabridged English dictionary. A complete encyclopedia would also be a valuable resource, and versions printed a few decades ago can be obtained at little cost. Your Bible and concordance should be of the same version, and the version should be both readable and accurate for serious study. Some prefer more literal versions like the New American Standard or the English Standard Version, while others like the grandeur of the King James Version or the readability of the New International Version. Get a version you like and will read, and get the concordance to go with it.

To teach your child to read, depending on age, you'll need a variety of interesting and educational books. Teach phonics and short-sentence reading, and then move on to picture books like the Frog and Toad series (Arnold Lobel) and stories by Dr. Seuss. Eventually, you'll be able to make the move to some of the older Newbery Prize winners, like A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle), Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham) Amos Fortune, and Free Man (Elizabeth Yates). Other excellent children's books include The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett), the Little House series (Laura Ingalls Wilder), The Chronicles of Narnia (C. S. Lewis), The Princess and the Goblin (George MacDonald), anything by E. B. White, My Side of the Mountain (Jean Craighead George), The Sign of the Beaver (Elizabeth George Speare), Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery) and the Redwall series (Brian Jacques). Pre-teens and teenagers ought to be able to start digesting heavier works—begin with John Bunyan, Mark Twain, and J. R. R. Tolkien, and then move on to Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Herman Melville, Ernest Hemingway, and other great authors. Poetry is also excellent reading material—start with the classics by poets like Rudyard Kipling, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Robert Service. You can also read any of these works aloud to younger kids, thereby giving them early exposure to the masters of the written word.

A strong writer is necessarily an accomplished reader, so by providing literature to your children, you are also encouraging the development of their writing skills. Writing can be improved by a lot of practice and by studying examples in literature, but resources like The Elements of Style by Stunk and White (get the 3rd edition—the 4th edition was made more politically correct by a shameless ghost writer) make it much easier. Do not underestimate the importance of the skill of writing—it forms the basis of all effective communication.

Mathematics can be taught without textbooks as well, but depending on your own familiarity with the subject, it may be difficult. Today it's not uncommon to find people who can't make change in their head or balance a checkbook, so if that describes you, make an effort to develop your math skills. You ought to be able to explain concepts like arithmetic (including long division and three digit multiplication), percentages, units of measurement, distance and graphs, and simple logic. A working knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, logarithms, probability, statistics, and calculus would be even better, but some find this difficult to attain. At this level, many will find it necessary to use textbooks, but there's usually no need to have a separate textbook for each grade: entry-level college math textbooks cover a wide variety of topics and older versions are extremely inexpensive when purchased at book sales or online. Get one that has the answers in the back of the book, or one that comes with a solution manual.
As the new society develops, there will be a need for people who understand how government works and who understand the basis of government by the people. Works like Two Treatises of Government (John Locke), The Federalist (Hamilton, Madison, and Jay), and Democracy in America (Alexis de Tocqueville) provide a better understanding of government than any civics textbook ever could, and supplementing these works with opposing viewpoints like those found in The Communist Manifesto (Engels and Marx) can generate healthy discussion.

History can be taught in a variety of ways, but one of the easiest is through biographies. Learning about the lives of people like Alexander the Great, Marcus Aurelius, Augustine, Martin Luther, Leonardo da Vinci, Shakespeare, George Washington, Simón Bolívar, Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, George Washington Carver, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others can provide a basic understanding of world history. Historical fiction like that written by G. A. Henty can also be a valuable resource, because it simultaneously engages young readers and teaches history.
You may decide to teach a foreign language, or perhaps a "dead" language such as Latin, Ancient Greek, or New Testament Greek. A dictionary, grammar, and Bible in the language are all you absolutely need, but for foreign languages, a few fiction (especially juvenile fiction) books can make it more fun. It's also extremely helpful to have access to someone who already knows and speaks the language well, so make sure you know the language capabilities of the people in your retreat group.

Science is best taught through experiments, and it's often possible to incorporate science lessons into everyday life. Turn your latest kill into a biology lesson by analyzing all the organs and talking about what each does. Physics is critical for understanding bullet drop, and many chemistry experiments can be performed with supplies found in the survivalist kitchen. The theory behind these sciences can be easily discovered in a low-cost college textbook purchased at a book sale, but beware of physics texts that are calculus-based unless you're prepared to teach that as well.

Despite its reputation among the more practical-minded, art encourages creativity and appreciation for Creation. The easiest way to teach art during the crunch will likely be drawing, because all you need are pencils, paper, and a view of the great outdoors. Drawing also has practical value, because a precise drawing can communicate some information more effectively than the written word. Other forms of art, such as painting and music, require more supplies and equipment, making them more expensive and harder to continue once re-supply is impossible.

There are other subjects that you may wish to teach, such as geography, astronomy, or economics. My advice is the same for these topics—find excellent practical books on each, and let them guide how you teach. Some kids enjoy learning directly from books, but others will prefer a more hands-on approach. Use some creativity to provide the learning experience that best matches your child's style, and remember that all the information you need is hidden in the pages of the books in your library.

In addition to purchasing all these books and supplies, you should to get the experience of teaching your kids now, before you need to do it. Just like it's foolish to build an arsenal of firearms but skip weapons training, it isn't easy to suddenly turn into a good teacher for your kids. Taking the time now to homeschool will help you get ready for when it's necessary, and besides, both you and your kids will likely benefit from the additional time together. If you can't homeschool full-time due to time or financial constraints, do you best to practice teaching in your spare time, by reading to your kids and doing fun experiments in the basement. Do whatever you can, both in terms of skill development and resource acquisition, because you owe it to your children to start preparing for the day when other options are no longer available and their education rests entirely in your hands.

JWR Adds: Even SurvivalBlog readers that currently send their children to private school should plan ahead for circumstances that might necessitate home schooling. This could be because of self-quarantine during a pandemic, a natural disaster that disrupts transportation and public school schedules, TEOTWAWKI, or even just the loss of income because of a layoff. Regardless, you should plan ahead, and start stocking up on home schooling curriculum!

Mr. Rawles:
I recently read your novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". I actually had to read it twice. (The first time for enjoyment, and the second time to take down notes.) With all of the recent news about the collapse of the credit market, monetizing of the National Debt and out of control Federal spending (which all sound frighteningly close to the first chapter of "Patriots"), I can only wonder how much longer America can hang in there before we suffer a total economic collapse. I can only see one possible hope: a return to a fiscally-sound constitutional government.And I only see one presidential candidate who is promising to do that: Congressman Ron Paul.

I strongly encourage all SurvivalBlog readers that live in the US to get involved in the Ron Paul campaign. He is our only hope to get us back on track, economically. He stands for a lot of things that will ring true with SurvivalBlog readers. He is: pro-Second Amendment, favors smaller government (within Constitutional limits), favors abolishing both the 16th Amendment and the Federal Reserve system, and favors free market capitalism and restoring a sound currency backed by gold and silver. (See the Ron Paul 2008 web site or his full platform.) I realize that your blog must intentionally be non-political to avoid divisive flame wars and chases down political rabbit trails. But I consider this a survival issue! With all of the other issues aside, after having watched a lot of his speeches and debates on YouTube, I am now sure that Ron Paul is the right choice for America, economically. I'm convinced that all of the other presidential candidates will just continue down the path of Big Government (and consequently big spending and big budget deficits.) I believe that if Ron Paul is elected and his platform is adopted by congress, we can probably avert an economic catastrophe. I feel so strongly about this that I'm buying ad space for a Ron Paul 2008 ad in one of your scrolling banner ad spots until the November, 2008 election. This way, I will be supporting both Ron Paul and SurvivalBlog. Sincerely, - Al in Indiana

Run and Hide, Walk and Talk
I hear it all the time from clients, the magical question of “where can I buy a property that will allow me to hide-away from it all and not be noticed”. My answer is simple. If you want to really ‘hide’ from the powers that may or may not be, live in the biggest city you can find in a flat across from the nearest public transportation system, period. If you think that moving to a small town will give you that wanted anonymity, you're wrong. In a small rural town and setting most everyone knows your business, no matter what you do to try and hide it. Think about it, you have a local contractor (big mistake) give you an estimate on your new ‘wine cellar’ storage facility. Within 24 hours he has had a beer with his buddies, a haircut at the local barber shop and has shopped at the grocery store, all the while speaking to 20 people. It just snowballs from there, by the next day you hear about your ‘wine cellar’ from the local shopkeeper!

My point is not about how to secretly build bunkers; it’s about making trusted friends that will provide you with valuable intel one day. It’s how to hide in plain sight and assimilate yourself into the local culture so that you’re not news around town every time the ‘new guy’ does something. Like those new sneakers that your mom bought you in grade school, the ones that squeeeeeek as you walked down the hallway, yeah, those. Better to put on a pair of old shoes and shuffle around than to make a grand parade of yourself. You can do this simply by meeting as many folks as possible as soon as possible. You can’t go it alone at your retreat and knowing the townspeople is very important especially during a major event. If you hide at your retreat you’ll instantly be labeled an outcast, people in small towns like knowing who you are (for better or worse of course) and hiding out will not help you learn small but very important details about your locale.

Here is an example: In my locale just try and have anything done during the first two weeks of Elk Season, which coincidentally started in Idaho this week. (And I’ll be out today). When I first moved here I had more than one contractor tell me he wouldn’t do the job for double the estimate, so it’s apparent that the locals here take hunting very seriously. Join a local volunteer service (Fire Department, EMS, et cetera), go get a part time job doing some work around town, soon nobody will care two shakes about what you’re doing, the talk will be all about the ‘new guy' and what’s happening over there. Remember, good neighbors become instant LP/OPs during times of peril. Treat them right. Just make sure you’re at the end of the road and on top of the hill! To keep it short, get to know everyone, make friends and a lot of them. You’ll be very thankful that you’re in the ‘circle of trust’ one day.

Well, like I said, try and get anything done during Elk Season. This explains the brevity of this week's update. I’m going to go pack my rucksack and clean my rifle. For those of you looking for reviews of different locales on a weekly basis, we’ll be back on track next week. For his Kingdom, - T.S.

By way of SHTF Daily, James Saft of Reuters reports: Americans charge it as Bank of Subprime closes. A collective $909 billion balance on credit cards? ¡Ay Carumba! Meanwhile, we read at The Baltimore Sun: Credit card debt is ready to blow: (Thanks to Hawaiian K. for sending that link.)

   o o o

RBS flagged this: Heating Oil Prices To Jump 22 Percent Over Last Winter, Says Energy Department

   o o o

RBS also sent us this: Mortgage Lender Thornburg ups estimated loss on loan sales

   o o o

I hope that most of you took my long-standing advice on buying silver. I noticed that the spot price topped $13.85 per ounce yesterday. The spot gold zoomed up beyond $752 per ounce--a 27-year high-- and less than $100 short of its all-time high in 1980. Meanwhile the US Dollar Index sagged to 78.07. (Below the crucial 78.19 level.) I've said it before and I'll say it again: Protect yourself from further declines in the dollar by diversifying into precious metals. Physical silver in your personal possession is still your best bet.

"The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink." - George Orwell

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A reminder that the special "six pack sale" for autographed copies of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse" will end soon. 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 gifts.

Mr. Editor:
I have been working on preparedness for my family for five years now, but I realized that there is one area where I'm lacking: body armor. What sort of vest do you recommend, both for concealment-type and for the "worst case" sort of situations? What [protection] "level" vest rating should I get? For home defense in an out-and-out TEOTWAWKI, should I also buy a kevlar helmet? Are used vests worth buying? Which dealers are trustworthy? I live in a suburb of Atlanta [Georgia, USA], but my work frequently takes me downtown to places like Peachtree Plaza. (Downtown Atlanta has a high crime rate.) Thanks, - Peter G.

JWR Replies: In my experience, most survivalists make the mistake of buying Level III body armor, and then rarely wearing it. It is just too heavy for day-to day wear, especially in a hot, humid climate. A vest is useless if it is always hanging in your closet.

My low-budget approach has been to buy two NIJ Level 2 vests for each adult: One that is my size and one that is slightly larger, with an additional trauma plate. A Level 2 vest will stop most handgun bullets (see the NIJ ratings). And a Level 2 vest is fairly comfortable to wear and relatively inconspicuous, even in an office setting, if you pick your clothes carefully. (For example, opaque, loose-fitting shirts and sweaters.) For defending your retreat, both vests can be worn together. Worn in that manner, the two vests will provide a good chance to stop some rifle bullets--even better than a Level 3 vest. If you have a really big budget, you might consider buying both a Level 2 vest and a full coverage high rating (Level 3 or Level 4) military body armor such as Interceptor Body Armor (IBA). With upgrade plates, those vests can easily cost more than $1,000 each. Although I suspect that the prices of both new and used IBA will come down, since it is being made in very large quantities to support OEF and OIF troop deployments.

Used body armor can be worth buying, if you buy from legitimate dealer. There is a surprisingly large number of "low hours" vest one the market, primarily from people that wash out of police academies.

I strongly suggest that you buy at least one and preferably two spare vest carriers (the out fabric shell). That way you can have an extra carrier, so that you can alternate them, for laundering.

Helmets do make sense for defending a retreat. It just takes a moment to put one on. Their cost has come way down in recent years, with the profusion of used USGI kevlar PASGT helmets on the market. I recommend finding the right size PASGT helmet, and then upgrading it with the latest chin strap and perhaps a MICH-type suspension system.

The vendor that I recommend for both vests and helmets is BulletProofME.com. I have been recommending them for years--long before they became a SurvivalBlog advertiser. They have a wide selection, very competitive prices, and they are quite knowledgeable. Most importantly, they are experts at vest and helmet sizing, which is crucial. Presently they are offering a free shipping special for anyone that mentions that they are a SurvivalBlog reader.

Hi Jim,
More food for thought, this time regarding vehicles. I'm hoping to someday do some expedition type of travel. This link to Expeditions West discusses and rates a few vehicles best suited for the purpose. These are not necessarily for the purpose of getting the family and supplies out of the city, hauling a huge trailer, but are more intended for long cross country unsupported 'expedition' type of travel. If I seriously needed to bug out and hide deep in the Yaak [River Valley of western Montana] for example, my restored 1985 short bed Toyota [pickup] with 235/85/16's would be hard to beat, and hard to follow down narrow forest roads. Not only capable and tough, but also one of the most efficient when it comes to payload verses fuel economy. I would choose this one over more modern ones, but an old Toyota is not for everyone. Fortunately there are brand new choices which are also good.

The Expedition Portal.com discussion board is all about setting up vehicles for serious off roading. These guys are not your typical 4X4er. Big wide tires and snarling V8 engines, or rock crawling is not the topic, but leisurely comfortable travel across all terrains for extended periods is the goal. One can hardly believe the rigs some of these guys have built. Here is one build which could be consider ideal. - Erick


This relates to the latest discussion on bug-out vehicles, Isuzu Troopers, diesels, etc. Seems to me, if someone want a bug-out vehicle, the ability to use different types of fuel blends, simplicity, and good parts availability are all important attributes.

I live in a pretty rugged area and have owned many Isuzus - including 4WD mini-trucks and Troopers. The Trooper is pretty rugged as far as the drivetrain goes, but has lousy sheet-metal and frame - and to a degree - poor parts availability. I had several gas and diesel Troopers. Gas models rarely did better than 20 MPG on a flat highway, but my diesel 4WD Trooper consistently got 27 MPG - city or highway - the mileage pretty much stayed the same. My last Trooper was a 1986 with the 2.2 turbo-diesel. I ran it to 320,000 miles until the body/frame fell to pieces due to rust. I still have the engine. Isuzu makes some of the most rugged small diesels in the world - and that's what is usually running the little refrigerator-units on truck-trailers. I've got a 1981 Chevy Chevette with the Isuzu 1.8 diesel - and it gets 48 MPG highway. Also have an 85 Isuzu 4WD mini-truck with the 2.2 diesel and it gets 27 MPG no matter how you drive it. It too has the awful rust problems as the Troopers do.
In regard to newer diesels such as the Ford Excursion with the Navistar (International Harvester) 7.3? Rugged engines, lousy fuel mileage, and too many electronic controls. Ford never made an SUV of any sort with the pre-1994 mechanically controlled diesel setup. Hard to work on, parts are expensive, no net-gain. The Excursion is basically a heavy truck made to look like an SUV.
Many newer diesels with electronic controls will not run on dyed diesel, heating oil, etc. Some that will run, get damaged from it. With older, pre 1995s - you don't get that problem. My neighbor/farmer recently had a funny experience when he put farm-fuel (dyed) into his new Chevy truck with the Isuzu "Duramax" diesel. It went into "limp mode" and would not go faster than 20 MPH. He had to drain the tank, and put highway-pump diesel back into it.

General Motors is the only U.S. company to ever make a light-weight diesel and install it into a lightweight truck or SUV. Yes, International Harvester sold Scout SUVs (before the acronym SUV was invented) and they used Nissan diesels. I drove two 1979 diesel Scouts for years as service-vehicles for a John Deere dealership. They used 198 cubic inch (3.2 liter) Nissan diesels and were good for 25 MPG highway. They were rugged vehicles with lousy sheet metal and lousy handling.
There were a few other diesel "oddballs" but not offered in 4WD. Dodge offered a full-size 2WD, 1/2 ton truck late 70s with a Mitsubishi 6 cylinder diesel. They dropped it after one year. Chevy sold S10 2WD trucks with Isuzu 2.2 diesels, and Ford sold 2WD Rangers with Mazda diesels.

If your fuel of choice is diesel - JP8 military fuel, vegetable oil, heating oil, etc. - and you want a truck that you can easily find parts for - new, used, and cheap - you'd better stick with a pre-1994 Chevy, GMC, Ford, or Dodge (with some lee-way as to year and make). Chevy and GMC are the only ones that made 1/2 ton trucks and SUVs with the diesels. Starting 1982, GM offered 4WD Blazers, and 1/2 ton Suburbans and trucks with the 6.2 diesels. If geared properly - any of them can get 22 MPG highway. My 87 diesel Suburban with the 6.2 made it to 520,000 miles before the engine failed. The 6.2 and later 6.5 engines are basically the same - but for civilian use changed over to problematic electronic controls in 1994. Military models are still using mechanical injection systems.
Ford never made a light truck or SUV with the Navistar diesel. HD 3/4 trucks were sold from 1983 to mid-1994. Mid-1994 the 7.3 diesel got changed over to the Powerstroke - and it uses some electronics and is complicated. The older Ford diesels are very rugged and easy and cheap to work on. Expect around 14 MPG average highway mileage from most - although some do a bit better with proper gearing.

If you want a diesel 4WD truck - the GMs are good for light work and offer good fuel mileage. If you want the truck for heavy work - the Fords or Dodges are much better. And - of those two - nothing compares to the Cummins 5.9 diesel engine that is used in the Dodge trucks. It is extremely rugged - and fuel efficient at the same time. Also, if you want to run questionable fuels, including home-brews of vegetable oils, thin arctic or military diesel, etc. - a diesel that uses an "in-line" injection pump is much more durable than a "rotary" type pump. Dodge-Cummins sold some trucks that use these in-line pumps - while all the others use rotaries.
No matter what you buy and/or build, there is always some compromise. My "ultimate" bug-out vehicle - for the moment - is my 92 Dodge 3/4, ex[tended]-cab, 4WD diesel truck. It consistently gets 21 MPG highway and 17 MPG mixed driving. It will run on many types diesel-type fuels, has amazing torque for heavy pulling, it's easy to work on, etc. Only negatives are -the Cummins-powered trucks are popular and therefore expensive - even the older trucks with 600,000 miles on them. Also, cheap used parts are not common. My truck has 80 gallons in mounted fuel tanks plus an aux. 55 gallon tank I can stick in with quick-couplers if needed. That gives close to a 3,000 mile cruise-range. I have a slide-on camper for it and can also pull a trailer loaded with equipment. It has an on-board heater that runs on diesel fuel. It will heat the camper and truck cab when the engine is not running, and also work as an engine block heater for cold-weather starting. The camper is hooked to four deep-cycle batteries, a 3000 watt inverter, and has two Kyocera 120 watt solar panels that mount to the roof when parked.

One more comment - if "cheap" is the operative word - you can't beat the GM diesels. They are found all over - and I have over forty of them sitting in my fields, inside my barns, etc. A diesel 4WD Blazer, Suburban or truck can usually be bought in the price ranges of $200 - $1000. Many don't have high miles like the Fords and Dodges do - since many of the GMs are light vehicles not used as much for long-haul towing. Since our military still uses the basic GM diesel engine, and had thousands of diesel 1 1/4 ton trucks and 1/2 ton Blazers in the 80s - parts are all over via military surplus.
One example - I recently bought a 1/2 ton, 4WD, 1991 diesel Suburban from the local school district. Runs perfect, has 130K miles on it, and I bought it for $225 on sealed-bid. - John from Central New York

More "ARM Twisting" ahead: It has been widely reported that nearly one trillion dollars worth of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) will reset to higher interest rates in the next 18 months. That is nearly 20% of all mortgage loans outstanding. Are the majority of sub-prime borrowers ready for the higher monthly payments? Probably not. So we can expect to see a lot more delinquencies and foreclosures in the next two years. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a small portion of rural foreclosures may represent a retreat buying opportunity. Monitor the market closely, either through a cooperative agent in your selected retreat area, and/or through Foreclosure.com.

   o o o

A recent issue of The Sovereign Society A-Letter noted that the US Dollar Index recently fell "below the 78.19-level - the level it's managed to hover above since 1992." When I last checked The USD Index had bounced back up a bit to 78.33. Watch this key indicator closely. It is a barometer for the health of the dollar, and inevitably for our entire economy. Presently, we are standing on a precipice. The bottom is long way down.

   o o o

A reader is Sweden mentioned that there is a new Swedish language blog on survivalism, called Systemkollaps. Välkommen!

   o o o

Mark A. saw this interesting site on making small batches of steel from iron ore. Mark's comment: "I hope things don't get so bad that we've got to revert to this technology."

"[P]oliticians gave us the idea that the things we could not afford individually we could somehow afford collectively through the magic of government." - Thomas Sowell

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The bidding is still at $500 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.

My consulting clients often ask me for advice on their preparedness purchasing programs. Some of the items that I've see them purchase in the name of "preparedness" make me wonder. For example, a family that recently relocated from Michigan to Idaho's Clearwater River Valley purchased matching snowmobiles for every member of the family. But they now live in a climate where in some years they only have snow that "sticks" for two or three weeks. In most years they will have to put their snow machines on trailers to get up to the high country to use them much.

Another client in Wyoming bought a brand new off-the-lot Hummer H1 Alpha Utility (4 door). With a price tag of around $128,000, he could have bought four or perhaps five 4WD crew cab pickups for the same amount of money. Sure, H1s have great off-road capability, but now he owns a vehicle with dubious parts availability and that just screams "Rich Guy Coming!"

I also have a wealthy client in Texas that bought 20 pre-ban Galil .308 rifles for his extended family's retreat. He said that he wanted "the best". He also bought 200 spare 25 round waffle magazines for them, at a whopping $80 each. That is is $16,000 just for the spare magazines. Talk about insanity. (OBTW, when I asked him about ammo, he said that he "planned" to buy 2,000 rounds per rifle, but when we last spoke, he "hadn't gotten around to it.") For the same amount of money that he spent on the Galils and spare magazines he could have bought nearly 90 post-ban FN-FAL rifles and 2,000 magazines.

These illustrations are provided not as ridicule, but merely to point out that folks should learn to distinguish wants from needs They should also forget about earning Mall Ninja "style points" and instead concentrate on practicality. Unless you are a multimillionaire, you cannot lose sight of prioritizing your purchases. And, regardless, everyone should have a well-balanced set of tools, skills, and logistics.

Most of my consulting clients take a methodical, well-balanced approach to their planning and procurement. When I do on-site consulting, I 'm regularly surprised by their ingenuity and resourcefulness. Often it is the people that are clever, methodical, and hard working that are better prepared than the wealthy few that just "throw money at the problem." Some of these, as I've mentioned, have clearly gone overboard in a few areas. Do your best to make a purchasing plan and stick to it. Don't go overboard in one area at the expense of another. Preparedness is more than just a fancy gun collection. It takes balance: food storage, gardening supplies, canning supplies, medical gear, communications gear, reliable vehicles, fuel storage, field gear, cold weather gear, night vision equipment, and so forth. Maintaining that balance takes both concerted planning and self-control.

Also remember: You can have the very best tools in the world, but if you don't have the skills to match, then those tools are little more than ornaments. I would much rather own a $1,000 rifle and spend another $1,000 training at a place like Front Sight than I would owning a $2,000 rifle.

I am a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber and daily reader of SurvivalBlog.com. I have found much helpful information provided by you and other readers and appreciate all of the work you do. Having read the articles concerning self-defense weapons, It seems that many readers get side tracked
I have owned, fired, hunted with and reloaded numerous caliber’s over the last forty or so years and although I by no means consider myself an expert I am very experienced and well informed. That being said I would like to talk about weapons and calibers relating strictly to the purpose of this site, survival and preparation.
When considering survival/preparedness weapons there is no doubt that the most useful are the 12 gauge shotgun and the .22 [rimfire] rifle and handgun. Both of these [chamberings] are extremely flexible in their ability to be used for defense and hunting. A marksman with a scoped Ruger 10/22 can do a lot of damage at fifty yards, especially with the high capacity magazines available for this rifle. Many deer have been taken with this little caliber. At closer ranges there is nothing short of a hand grenade that is more devastating than 12 gauge 00 buck shot.

Of the high power rifle calibers, readily available today, the .308 reigns supreme for our purposes. It performs extremely well as a long range sniper/hunting caliber in a good bolt action scoped rifle such as the Remington 700 or is considered the caliber of choice for a battle rifle such as, my favorite, the M14/M1A. It is also available in another of my favorite rifles, the Browning BLR lever action. This is a magazine-fed lightweight rifle that would work for low profile situations where a military type weapon might attract attention. With practice it is capable of fast follow up shots and spare magazines could be carried with different types of bullets appropriate for different situations. Like the bolt action and unlike the semi auto, it will feed any .308 cartridge without concern for malfunctions.

The 30-06 is an old favorite of mine and many good rifles are chambered in this caliber including the M1 battle rifle of WW II fame. I keep a bolt action in this caliber because of the present availability of ammo. It is a little more powerful than the .308 but not enough to be considered an advantage. Even though the 30-06 is an older caliber it still maintains popularity and has a good following. There is no new development of battle rifles chambered in this caliber and it will probably be restricted to sporting rifles with the exception of the older M1. [JWR Adds: or FN49]. I would not recommend this as the main stock up caliber but it could be a secondary.

There are many other popular options such as the AK47 in 7.62x39 and the AR 15 in 5.56NATO/.223 and, too numerous to count sporting calibers, but none will meet the all-around requirements that are necessary for our purpose as the .308. Most other calibers are only suited to limited uses. The .223 is a good varmint cartridge and has been overrated as a military round. Just talk with the guys that had to give up their M14 in Vietnam for the M16 and those coming back from Iraq today. The 7.62x39 is better and is chambered in a reliable AK47 rifle but in a face off the 7.62NATO/.308 in a M14/M1A is going to kick butt. You don’t see any AKs at the National Matches.

There are more different opinions as to the best handgun caliber than there are presidential candidate platforms. In my opinion, for our purpose, the first choice is a .22 revolver. It is able fire any kind of ammo you can scrounge up without considerations of jamming or performance and you can easily store thousands of rounds.

Next will be your main defense handgun. The big difference here is choosing between a revolver and semi automatic pistol. The advantage of the revolver is reliability and the ability to shoot a multitude of different types of ammo without impeding the operation of the weapon. If ammo becomes scarce you could cast your own bullets and use a multitude of different powders as long as you have brass and primers and still be able to fire it from a revolver. A semi auto is much more sensitive to bullet shape, composition, ignition pressures and case sizing. It would be much more difficult to reload pistol ammo to operate effectively in a post-SHTF situation.

The number one man stopper is still the .357 magnum. For this purpose it performs better than much larger calibers and can defeat the protection of a vehicle. This caliber is found primarily in revolvers and has the advantage of firing the less powerful .38 caliber ammo in the same revolver. The disadvantage has been the limitation of six round cylinders compared to higher magazine capacity of a pistol and also slower reloading time. Smith & Wesson has come out with the Model 327 with an eight round cylinder capable of using moon clips or direct loading. Practice using moon clips can get reloading time very close to that of a pistol. The .357 is coming back into favor as a primary defense round. The .38 can be found in the most popular concealed carry handgun, the S&W 642 J frame snub nose.
The most popular self-defense pistol calibers are 9mm, .40 cal. and the tried and true .45 [ACP] caliber. Police departments have been the main force in proving the popularity of the .40 [S&W] caliber. I personally prefer the 9mm using +P ammo. 9mm [Parabellum] is a much more popular round and in a TSHTF situation it will be more readily available. Also my wife can easily shoot it.

I also prefer the .45[ACP] to the .40[S&W] because of its proven knock down power and continued availability of ammo. Here again .45 ammo will be much more available and a tremendous number of guns have been chambered in this caliber. I believe the .40 could get hard to find in hard times.

My primary stock is:
12 gauge 00 buck, #6 [bird]shot, slugs
.22 LR both hollow point and lead round nose.
.308 both ball and expansive point bullets in 165/168 grains.
.357 magnum 158gr hollow point.
.38 +P hollow point and wad cutter
9mm +p hollow point

My secondary stock is:
.45 ACP ball and hollow point
.30-06 180 grain expansive bullets
I could easily switch the 9mm for the .45 but the availability and price of ammo is a factor.
Your primary stock should be a few different calibers, each in large numbers. Stocking calibers that can be used in several different types of weapons is also advantageous. You may have other favorite guns chambered in other calibers and there is nothing wrong with these. For the purpose of preparing for TEOTWAWKI, stick with the popular first and then add the rest. Also remember that you are better off with fewer high quality weapons than more of the cheaper low quality. Breakdowns can get you killed. - Jack R.

Dear Editor:

The [BBC/Discovery Channel] documentary [mentioned yesterday in SurvivalBlog] on Avian Flu can be viewed via Google video.
Scary stuff. - Martin

Speaking at the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole, Wyoming conclave in August, Yale University Professor Dr. Robert Shiller said that residential house prices might fall as much as 50% in some former real estate boom areas. As evidence, he cited how much home prices have escalated in comparison to rents. Personally, I think that 50% is an optimistic figure. Given the pendulum-like nature of macro market swings, I think that prices in some cities like Phoenix and San Diego may drop at much as 65% from their peak. And it may take five or six years before prices hit bottom. I predict that in two years, the newspapers will be filled with "tales of woe" human interest stories, with plenty of articles about home owners that are upside down in their mortgages, in default and walking away from their McMansions. They'll leave it to the bankers to tidy up the mess.

   o o o

A hat tip to SJC for sending us this Financial Times article link: IMF head warns on impact of credit crisis

   o o o

Chris D. recommended this article at the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee (GATA) site: Treasury claims power to seize gold and silver -- and everything else

   o o o

The folks at Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) mentioned in an e-mail that they have put some of their most popular items together onto a single Practical Holiday Gifts page. I'm sure that any of your preparedness-minded friends or relatives would be tickled to receive any of those items as Christmas gifts.

"But a constitution of government, once changed from freedom, can never be restored. Liberty , once lost, is lost forever." - John Adams, Letter to Abigail Adams, July 7, 1775

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A 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 United States, including APO/FPO addresses.) This sale ends on October 31st. This is your chance to buy some extra copies for Christmas presents.

Hi Jim,
Last night I watched a superb two hour documentary on one of the science [cable television] channels about the coming avian flu pandemic. It was a co-production of the Discovery Channel and the BBC, so I'm sure everyone with cable television will have a chance to see it.

The documentary weaved between the predictions and projections of top epidemiologists, and a fictionalized account of the breakout in Cambodia, and its spread worldwide. The 1918 Spanish Flue pandemic was also used as a major point of comparison. All of the experts on the show said it is not a question of if, but when the bird flu pandemic explodes. They expect a 10% mortality rate minimum among the infected, with our health system totally overwhelmed. The antiviral medicine Tamiflu won't prevent but will only slightly delay the pandemic, because it has no carry over effect. That is, as soon as Tamiflu stocks run out, the pandemic carries on at full speed. They expect the pandemic to launch worldwide within a month of the H5N["X"] virus making one or two minor mutations to allow rapid human to human transmission. The new pandemic will spread much more rapidly than the 1918 [influenza] virus, because of the speed of jet travel. From the first bird flu first case in the USA to every city and town in pandemic crisis will take 90 days, according to their projections. In sum, it may take only four months from virus mutation to completely blanketing every town in the USA. Schools will be shut down, and at least 40% of workers will be off of the job, causing severe economic fallout.

They even showed and interviewed a suburban couple who are concerned enough to lay in "preps" for four months at home, including a generator, fuel, a water well etc. For once, they were not portrayed as "survivalist kooks" but more in the light of, "everyone should be making a plan like this." A main point of the show is that ordinary people just cannot grasp the speed with which this pandemic is expected to breakout and travel worldwide, or the fact that there is no medical solution to the problem. It will have to burn itself out, with many tens of millions dying. The purpose of the documentary was given as causing people to ponder and discuss the issue and begin to make their own preparations. Once the mutation and breakout happens, events will proceed much too rapidly to make decent preparations at the national, local or even family level.

I would highly recommend that all SurvivalBlog readers keep and eye out for this documentary and watch it very carefully. - Matt Bracken

I have been fascinated by the material in the book "Alcohol Can Be a Gas!". My first walk-through was a bit disappointing because of what I thought was a lot of fluff until I got to how to use alcohol as a fuel. Then I went back and read about distilling alcohol. Then I realized the author was saying alcohol is a by-product (he uses the term "co-product" to show all the products have value). Then he explains how a small farm operation could be self-sustaining, power, heat, fuel and food. Sounds like a survivalist's dream. I'm anxious to go back and read everything in the book.It is 500+ pages. It is $46, but worth it (I don't have a dawg in this hunt.)

Chapter 12 "The micro-distillery farm" is the one that will get you thinking: waste heat from the still warms the mushroom facility; mushrooms are growing on the leftover mash; fish are thriving on the liquid part of the mash leftovers; earthworms get 1/3 of the mash to make castings. Alcohol fuels all the machinery, plus heats food, and on and on. Well, you've got to read it to catch it all. - Bob

Hi Jim,
First of all please pardon my English but this language is hard to learn, especially being from Cuba.
Let's talk about silver. As a survivalist one of my tools is silver and at this time I am using that survivalist tool. At this time my cost per gallon of gasoline is of $1.21 and the reason for that is that I pre-paid for my gasoline for the next two years in one oz silver rounds.

Back in 1972 I paid $4.90 per ounce for my silver and in 1980 I sold it for $63.65 per ounce. I started once again in 1982 and stopped in 2002 when I had all that I needed. (There is a difference between "need" and "want") and my average cost was $5.16 per ounce

At first cash will be king because that's all that the American public is familiar with but with time they will educate themselves and precious metals will be king.
As soon as the general public in China and India start to buy silver the the price will explode, I don't say the US because most people here are already broke. As time goes by my silver will go up in price and I will pay less for my gasoline and other items which will be very hard to get in the future. There is a lot more but I hope that you get the general idea.
PS: I already have food for 4-1/2 years, water for free from a creek, live out in the woods and I'm ready to rock and roll. "To be ready is not". - Ponce

Winter is coming [in the northern hemisphere]. An important skill is treating and preventing cold exposure, especially if a person is disabled and on the ground. The ground steals heat through direct conduction and by absorption of moisture.

Always go out well fed, include plenty of protein, copious warm hydrating liquids, and fats. Together these break down in a heat generating reaction as well as providing large amounts of energy for more heat

Have a way to make a warm drink. A Thermos is skimping, better a small stove that is easily lit and kettle that will let you melt snow and make hot water to drink, this saves your body from having to heat
your drinks and also raises your core temperature if you get chilled or worse. Cold drinks bring down body temperature and the metabolism required to heat it to body temperature nearly requires as much water as you are consuming, un-melted snow is actually hydration negative due to the metabolism [required] to bring it to body temperature.

Insulate from the ground, dry grass leaves, seat pad foam, clothing, whatever. The ground will steal your body heat quickly.

Share warmth with a friend or more, huddle, hug, stack up as injuries allow.

Protect the heat loss areas. Cover first the head, then armpits, groin, trunk, and finally the extremities.

Writing in the September, 2007 issue of The American Rifleman magazine, Walter J. Kuleck reports that there is a logistical support problem for the thousands of M14 rifles that have been issued to US troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kuleck writes: "...there is essentially no support available through Department of Defense channels--no parts, accessories, magazines, tools or documentation beyond a new Preventive Maintenance [PM] Magazine comic book and a 40-year-old manuals printed from on-line PDF files. The Army has made some efforts to buy back parts surplused decades ago and to purchase new walnut stocks, for example. Most components, however, are either acquired by individuals using personal funds or by combat units directly from stateside sources or scavenged from cannibalized rifles." I have heard from three different "designated marksman" soldiers that are SurvivalBlog readers that they've had to beg relatives in the states to buy spare M14 magazines and mail them to their APO address, because they were issued an M14 with just a scant few magazines. One of them told me that he was issued his M14 with just one magazine. What a sad state of affairs. Our troops deserve better logistical support!

   o o o

AVS suggested an MP3 file of a sermon by Dr. Robert Dean of West Houston Bible Church, on our Founding Fathers and Genuine Freedom.

   o o o

Stephen in Iraq sent us this article on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD): First it was honeybees. Now it is decimating native Bumblebees.

   o o o

By way of SHTF Daily comes the story of a modern day ghost town: ‘Nobody expected this to continue’ — it didn’t Phoenix suburb shows what can happen when gambling on housing boom. Just as I had predicted, the folks upside down in their mortgages are starting to just walk away.

"When you think it's too late is the best time to act." - Korean Proverb

Monday, October 8, 2007

The bidding is still at $500 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.

I'd appreciate your advice. I am in the process of getting my family dialed-in for a long term collapse. (My main concern is a post-Peak Oil economic collapse.) Since I expect "the problem" to last at least 5 or 10 years before the economy gets reorganized (at a much lower level, and prolly much more dispersed and localized), I have worries that if I get a Starlight scope or goggles that they will be inop[erative] within three or four years, given constant use. From all that I've read, even the best [light amplification] tubes eventually burn out. I'm also worried that it would take 40 or 50 rechargeable batteries--even those gee whiz nickel hydride "no memory" batteries to last me [through the scenario]. What is the best alternative for someone looking at a 10+ year problem, yet still wanting the advantages of Starlight-type technology? And is there anything else that is low tech (other than friggin' bells on strings) that I can use for night time defense of a retreat out in the wilds? Thank You Sir, - Allen D.

JWR Replies: There are a couple of alternatives that I can suggest. First, is buying a brand new "low hours" Gen 2 or Gen 3 night vision scope that uses standard type AA batteries plus a spare intensifier tube, and of course plenty of spare batteries. My recommended suppliers for Starlight weapon sights and goggles are JRH Enterprises and Ready Made Resources. For full mil-spec units as well as spare intensifier tubes, talk to STANO Components. For additional rechargeable batteries at a discount price, contact All-Battery.com. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, every well-prepared family should also have a small PV panel for battery charging.

One lower technology alternative to Starlight technology, as described in my novel "Patriots", is tritium-lit scopes, such as those made by Trijicon. I am often quoted as saying that I consider them "the next best thing to a starlight scope." I still do. We have six of these scopes on our rifles here at the Rawles Ranch, including three ACOGs. The half-life of tritium (a gaseous isotope of hydrogen) is 11.2 years, meaning that through radioactive decay they have one-half of their original brightness after 11.2 years. So the practical effective life of a tritium scope is 22 years, and the practical effective life of tritium iron sights is 33+ years. (The latter are much too bright for my liking when new from the factory. We have three Colt M1911 series .45 ACP handguns that were retrofitted with factory-fresh Trijicon iron sights in 1994. Now, some 13 years later, in my opinion they have only just now "mellowed" (by radioactive decay) to the point that I consider them practical for tactical night shooting. I probably won't have them replaced until around 2024. Trijicon scopes and iron sights are available at quite competitive prices from CGW. (One of our advertisers.) Tell them that Jim Rawles sent you.

I started reading SurvivalBlog just two months ago,following a recommendation by an elder at my Baptist church. Your blog has become a daily habit. I just recently signed up for $3 a month for the 10 Cent Challenge. Right now, I'm "peeling back the onion layers"--going through the [SurvivalBlog] archives. I am blown away by how much knowledge you have amassed there, all free. Thank you!

I'm feeling more than a bit overwhelmed by the enormity of what I now realize that I need to do, to prepare for my family [for] disasters. I wasn't raised on a farm, or even in the suburbs with a vegetable garden. (Although I now live in the 'burbs, I've never planted anything but flowers and ornamental bushes.) At the core, I'm from the Microwave Swanson's Dinners and Pop-Tarts culture. I don't have Clue One about how to do canning or dehydration of fruits and veg[etables]. Where do I start? What brand of home sealer or vacuum packer gizmo do you recommend?

Most importantly: My wife and I have two teenage boys, and they eat like horses. I have a pretty big budget (I'm in middle management and make six figures), so I don't mind just buying most of what I need off the shelf--although I would like to get one of the Excalibur dehydration units that you mentioned. That sounds like a fun project my family on weekends. But for the storage food, I really don't know where to start. Can I buy most of my food for storage at a "club" store like Sam's Club or Costco? (We are already Costco members.)

Also, how to I calculate the storage [life] of foods? (I don't want anything to go bad before we use it up.)

Thanks for your time, and all that you do in putting SurvivalBlog together. It is an amazing resource. - Bruce L.

JWR Replies: Don't feel overwhelmed. Just make a "list of lists" and start preparing systematically. A good starting point is to get a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course. It is tailored for someone walking into a Costco--or similar "Big Box" store--and buying a one year food supply right off the shelf. I even organized it based on the layout of a Costco store, and I talked specifically about what items are available in each section of the store. There are a surprising number of foods sold at "Big Box" stores that have long storage lives. The course binder includes an appendix on the anticipated storage life of dozens of different foods, and it differentiates between the various packaging methods.

Home canning is a subject that would take a book to explain in detail, so for this letter I'll suffice with a couple of good references: The first is the book The Encyclopedia of Country Living by Carla Emery, from Sasquatch Books. Be sure to get the ninth or later edition. Mentioned at our Bookshelf page, and also available through our Catalog page if you can't find a copy locally.) The second book on canning that I recommend is Keeping The Harvest. by Nancy Thurber, Gretchen Mead, and Nancy Chioffi. (Published by Storey Books.)

I do indeed recommend the Excalibur brand dehydrator. If buying one of them these days, I would opt for their big 600 watt ED-2900 model. We have a smaller, older model here at the Rawles Ranch that has been in regular use for about 20 years. And I expect it to last 20 more! (They are quite sturdy.)

For packaging the foods that you dehydrate, I recommend the Food Saver brand vacuum sealer, made by Tilia. These, coincidentally, are available at Costco stores. Stock up on plenty of extra bags. We prefer to buy the bag material in continuous rolls. We just cut them to size, as needed. We also use ours quite a bit to evacuate the air from canning jars, using the Mason Jar Adaptors. We use large 2 quart Mason-type jars to vacuum pack lots of foods--mostly grains, beans, and dehydrated goodies. OBTW, as a back-up for periods when grid power is not available, I also recommend buying a Tilia hand-pump sealer. They are a bit more time consuming to use than the 120 VAC "Food Saver", but they work well and cost just $20 if you shop around.

Hi Mr Rawles,
I saw the letter from someone that was considering an Isuzu Rodeo as a BOV. That is an awful decision. They do not get "30-35 MPG". (Look up the EPA ratings). They are not reliable, they are cheap because of their poor quality, and parts are rare.

If I were buying a BOV (which I'm not, because I'm in college at the moment.) I would aim for a 1997 Ford Explorer with the V-8, which is compatible with the Mustang's 302 for after-market parts (however, transmissions on the V-8 were upgraded in 1998 because of an issue with the clutch). The pre-1996 second generation V-6 Explorers had notoriously bad automatic transmissions (which is what caused mine to be junked at 233,000 miles, everything else was solid), but the 5-Speed automatic was much improved. Towards 1998 and 1999, as demand for Explorers was going up quality took a backseat to building as many as possible (this is a rule of thumb I follow for SUVs made from 1998 to 2000 during the dot com boom).

As a second option, a Ford Excursion or Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon with a diesel would be a good option simply because they were the only major SUVs sold with a diesel and diesel has its inherent advantages, but with less maneuverability and off road handing due to longer wheelbase, and higher weight, the excursion weighs in at over 7,000 pounds. A stock Ford Excursion is useless in mud (firsthand experience), if one plans on using it as a BOV, upgrade the suspension and tires. I would steer away from any newer generation SUVs (2002+ Explorer, 2003+ Expedition, 2000+ Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban, 2002+ Trailblazer/Envoy, etc.) because they were redesigned to get better rollover ratings at the expense of off-road capability, something that literally 99% of SUV owners never did.
Land Rovers should be turned away from because of awful reliability and rare parts. Toyota Land Cruisers and Sequoias are venerable, but are rare. Luxury SUVs such as the Lincoln Navigator, (identical to the Ford Expedition, a decent BOV but built at the wrong times), Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon Denali, Lexus RX or GX, will draw added attention, and one would be wise to avoid that "He has a Luxury SUV, I bet he can afford tons of extra food." They may have more options and be more comfortable, but every regular SUV counterpart had similar options, but without the Luxury nameplate.
Jeep Cherokees (discontinued) and Grand Cherokees are both very good SUVs in terms of handing off road, but were not as common as the Explorer, my logic being, its better to have a BOV that one can find parts for easily, they are however, more reliable. Some newer models are not "trail rated" and should be avoided if it is to be used as a BOV. Regards, - Sam

JWR Replies: For the record, according to All AutoReviews.com's review of the 2008 Isuzu Rodeo, the two wheel drive version (with 2.2 Liter engine) gets 19 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway, while the four wheel drive 3.2-liter, V6, 205-horsepower engine gets a pitiful 16 MPG in the city and 20 MPG on the highway. That is a hair less than a 4WD Ford Explorer!

Via SHTF Daily comes this commentary from Robert P. Murphy: The Worst Recession in 25 years?

   o o o

Typhoon Season: China Evacuates 1 Million As Storm Hits

   o o o

Blair recommended this article by Dr. Gary North (my hero): A 10-Step Personal Self-Defense Strategy Against a Coordinated Bioterrorist Attack

   o o o

RBS flagged this piece from The Age (in Australia): Food shock as 'agflation' sees prices rise

"When the music stops, in terms of liquidity, things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. We're still dancing." - Charles Prince, CEO of Citigroup, as quoted in The Financial Times, July 9, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

To anyone looking for the Claire Wolfe's Blog discussion forums ("The Claire Files"), be advised that the forums were recently sold, simply because they were too time consuming for Claire to maintain. They are, however, still quite active, under their new name The Mental Militia Forums. (A poor name choice, in my opinion.) The same folks still post there.

I have been reading your blog and I find it very useful in many ways. I have a couple of questions for you:
1) For a secure compound or retreat would a multi family area (with like-minded people of course) be something useful? And if so, how would you bring it to the attention of members that would be willing to invest in something like this? [JWR's replies are in-line, in bold.]

Yes, a multi-family retreat can be viable, but only if there are clearly delineated rights and responsibilities. These should spelled out formally--either contractually or covenantally--lest there be any later disagreement on what was intended. Typically this is is done by taking a large farm or ranch property and subdividing it into a set of contiguous parcels that are deeded to individual families. I've seen these done with some areas left for common use, but that generally causes disagreements--usually about grazing rights and unintended livestock cross-breeding. (The classic European "Tragedy of the Commons" is all too commonplace, even when it is just a three or four family group retreat.)

It is probably best to first try to find local buyers for your group retreat. If there are some like-minded friends at your church, that would be ideal. Failing that, you can advertise at the SurvivalistBooks.com's "Groups" page. It is a free service. If you use it be sure to place a book order , to "do your bit" to support their efforts.

2) I just built my first Bug Out Vehicle (BOV). It is a one ton Chevy old body style 4x4 crew cab pickup. I have just put a multi-fuel Hummer engine in it with a very good transmission, 2 ton springs all the way around, a 2 ton rear end with a 2 speed in it. 24 volt DC system. There are 2 winches--front and back. I boxed the frame. I added A removable [fording] snorkel tube, under the hood air compressor and welder, and an [120 VAC] inverter system in the cab with an outlet also available in the back of the bed. Now the question is there anything that I have missed?

It sounds like all that you have it pretty well "dialed in". You might add a pivoting spotlight. Don't be complacent and plan to rely entirely on your two winches. There may be situations where you need to pull your rig sideways. I recommend also carrying at least one come-along (ratchet hoist), a shovel, an axe, a tow chain, and and two Hi-Lift jacks. If you live in a forested area, also carry a chainsaw and accessories. If you life out in the desert, carry a couple of sheets of PSP (steel "runway mats".) Depending on the range that you need to travel to your retreat, you might consider adding another fuel tank. Assuming that your pickup already has dual tanks, the third tank would typically mounted in the cargo bed. If you plan to use a cargo bed tool box, then get an L-shaped tank.)

3) Next because of growing family now I need two BOVs. I have been looking into the SUVs for my wife and the [Isuzu] Rodeo is looking very good. You can pick them up cheap. The parts are inexpensive, and they are a good little 4x4. You can buy a whole spare"crate" engine with everything from radiator to computer for around $600 brand new. They get around 30- to-35 mpg which on a full tank is around 500-550 miles. What are your thoughts?

I consider the Isuzu Rodeo essentially an "expendable" light duty vehicle that is good for only 15 years of service, even if you switch engines past 150,000 miles. Beyond just planned obsolescence, they are built to fall apart. I suggest that you buy something more durable. Perhaps a Ford Explorer. (OBTW, some of these are also available "flex fuel"--so they can burn E85 ethanol ) if you shop around.) At least you have a chance of making an Explorer last 25 to 30 years. Granted, they only get 20 miles to the gallon, but they are far more durable and they can carry a load. We've used our Explorer to tow large livestock trailers and a 10 foot long box trailer that at times has been outrageously loaded with green firewood. That is something that I would never dream of doing with an Isuzu Rodeo.

4) I'm considering an off-grid property in an old mining district. It has some hot springs. Your thoughts? Thanks, - C.D.

Be sure to have the drinking well/spring water analyzed for both bacteria count and heavy metals before making an offer on the property!

As far as a perfect survival firearm you are right there is no one fire arm, I have seen many people give there opinion on this and in calibers also. As far as I am concerned there is only one all round weapon of perfection, that would be the 12 gauge shotgun with the many different types of ammo offered for slugs to bird shot it is an all around must have in the pending days. As for a protection in a high capacity fire arm I would be trust anything less then a 7.62x39 it has enough stopping power where one round will stop a threat. Which is what your looking for unless you have all the ammo in the world to waste. Now the other thing that you would want to think about is servicing and repairing your weapon now the best in this area is the AK-47. Their design is perfect for rough usage and great for field use they all fire when wet, in sand, in the heat and the cold. Their ammo is also is fired by the SKS which is a great scout gun, and "starter" gun for the people that have kids that are just getting to the age to shoot. The next model which is my personal favorite is the M14 which has the same great "fire every time and in every circumstance" as the AK. It chambers the .308 which is a sledgehammer of a round and is a easy round to find.

Next is the pistol category now this one is a touchy subject with most because of persons opinions they like a revolver or an auto it really isn’t a dime's difference between the two except you can get the larger calibers in the revolver. Being able to hit your target is the most important thing. If you are using a pistol for you main protection gun then your not using the correct tool for the job. Now in a revolver I personal like the .45 "Long" Colt or the .41 Magnum for their stopping power and I do have both in the Ruger, which I prefer because of price. As far as autos go, I also like the P-series models by Ruger. They are a double action and for the price you can not beat them. And there are aftermarket magazines that are very easy to obtain. Bottom line you should find what guns feel good to you and shoot them regularly because that is only way you will become good with them. Please try to keep your armory down to 3 to 4 calibers. It is nice to try to have ammo that will work in multiple weapons. Please remember when you see ammo on sale of different calibers you should buy it--you might be able to use as trade.

In my personal armory I have:

12 Gauge Shotguns:
Browning Auto-5 with 3 barrels--nice to have extra barrels if you have to alter one.
Remington 870 pump with 8 shot magazine tube
Coachman style double barrel
Remington 1100 auto with 2 barrels

Remington Model 700 BDL 25-06 (a great caliber)
2 Semi-auto M14s .308
Remington Model 700 BDL .308
2 AK47 rifles
3 SKS rifles
Remington Model 700 BDL .338
Savage Model 99 .308
.22 [Long Rifle] bolt action
[Ruger] 10/22 [.22 Long Rifle]
Now you can see that I have a lot of the of the 700 BDL models.This is because they have the same "feel" as my my shotguns, and I used to shoot trap.

Ruger .41 Magnum
Ruger 45 Long Colt
3 Ruger P85 9mm with 20 15 round magazines and 10 30 round magazines
2 Ruger P90 45 ACP with 10 15 round magazines
1 Calico 9mm with a collapsible stock with 50 and 100 round magazines
2 Thunder Five .410/ 45 Long Colt (My wife carries one at all times)
2 Browning 22

Miscellaneous Ammo for Trade:
I have these varieties of ammo that I have found on sale--acquired for barter
.300 Short Magnum
7mm Mauser
.357 Magnum
.44 Magnum
20 Gauge
.25 Automatic [ACP]
.30 Carbine
I do not have a lot of this ammo, but I do keep it for trading purposes.

As you can see that I have tried to keep my armory in interchangeable ammo which keeps your money well spent and be able to use on multiple weapons. I recommend the .25-06 because it is a real tack driver and has great ballistics. The only drawback is I have not been able to find bulk ammo in this caliber and it can be quite spendy. - Chad

JWR Replies: Thanks for your input. When acquiring extra ammunition for barter, I recommend that SurvivalBlog readers first research which calibers are popular for deer hunting in their particular area, as well as what calibers the local police and sheriff's departments issue. Concentrate on those calibers for barter.

I am not fond of the Ruger P-series pistols. They are a bit bulky and have unwieldy safety levers, but admittedly they are fairly reliable. I also dislike Ruger's anti-gun ownership politics (particularly their advocacy of magazine bans), so I generally buy guns from other makers, when possible.

I noticed that you mentioned "10 30 round magazines" as some of your spares for your Ruger P85. Those are not made by the Ruger factory. My experience with aftermarket pistol magazines has been very disappointing. The quality control of most of the aftermarket makers is pitiful. Many aftermarket magazines refuse to feed reliably. I've even seen some that even refuse to be fully loaded. The "Brand X" or "no name" makers such as (Triple K, PMI, USA, etc.) are notorious for either under-heat treating their magazine feed lips. This eventually causes all sorts of failure to feed problems, even for magazines that start out life feeding fairly well. I highly recommend that you thoroughly test all of your spare magazines before depending on them for self-defense use!

A decade ago, I was fairly dogmatic about exclusively buying guns in standard calibers. But these days, I tell clients that it is fine to a have a rifle or two that is in a "pet" or oddball chambering--even for a wildcat cartridge--but only if they first stock up adequately on standard caliber guns and ammunition. (Such as .308 (7.62 mm NATO), .30-06, .223 (5.56 mm NATO), and 7.62 x 39mm.) After you own a couple of FALs (or something similar like an M1A, AR-10, or HK91) and several thousand rounds of 7.62 mm NATO, then by all means go ahead and buy your ".396 Belchfire (Improved) Magnum". If you buy any rifle in an unusual caliber, then don't neglect buying plenty of extra ammunition and/or reloading components. I agree that the .25-06 is a great choice for a long range deer and antelope rifle. Just be forewarned that your chance of finding .25-06 ammunition for sale after TSHTF will be just about nil.

Alphie sent us this: "Adding Insult to Injury Department " news story: Lost your home? You may owe IRS

   o o o

Homebuilders: Lennar's Loss Deepens the Pain

   o o o

DV sent us this item: Bird flu virus mutating into human-unfriendly form. The article begins: "The H5N1 bird flu virus has mutated to infect people more easily, although it still has not transformed into a pandemic strain, researchers said..."

   o o o

Found at the Drudge Report: Adventurer ends 13-year human-powered world trip

"In a mature society, civil servant is semantically equal to civil master." - Robert A. Heinlein

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Today we are pleased to feature an excerpt from the published science fiction novel "The Weapon" by Michael Z. Williamson. You will recognize Michael's name as a frequent content contributor to SurvivalBlog. The following biography is courtesy of Wikipedia: Williamson "was born in England, but his family emigrated to Canada, then the United States in 1978. He has served over 20 years in the United States military, in one form or another. Williamson's first book, Freehold, was released in January 2004. The novel is set in a future wherein the UN is a Socialist empire. Williamson's next novel, The Hero, was written with New York Times best-selling author John Ringo and takes place within the universe of Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata series. Both Freehold and The Hero were published by Baen Books. He also has a multitude of short stories published in various anthologies. Williamson has written or published five other works: The Weapon, a sequel to Freehold told from a different point of view; Better To Beg Forgiveness, a story set in the Freehold universe but outside the Grainne War series; and the "Target: Terror" series, which includes The Scope of Justice, Targets of Opportunity, and Confirmed Kill. In his free time Williamson also creates and sells blades and daggers. He is married and has two children."

Though definitely not for children, I do recommend Mike's fiction writings. I am eagerly awaiting the release of "Better To Beg Forgiveness", expected late this year. The first several chapters of "The Weapon" are available for free download.

That night I left.
I had to abandon most of what I had acquired. I took all the baby clothes and formula I could manage. I grabbed the Dr. Seuss book. One bottle of whiskey would work as trade goods. I had the clothes on my back, extra underwear and shirt. The little remaining ID and a few cash cards would have to do me.
I was in quandary over the food. If I left it, it might be taken as a bribe, or used as evidence against me. If I burned it, it would be obvious. I couldn’t think of another way to get rid of most of it quickly. They might think it poisoned and avoid it. They might be angry that I hadn’t shared before. There was no good answer.
I left it. I closed the door softly and left it unlocked. The food would be useful, I hate wasting resources, and it wasn’t that big a clue. Besides, Mario and Becky deserved it. I turned and walked off, Chelsea tugging at my hair and quietly staring around at the scenery. She hadn’t been outside much; her world had been a four meter box. I’d have to remedy that.
I walked south and east. There was little in that direction, but less in any other at this point. It was slightly less chill. It seemed a warm front was moving in. I looked at the clouds, backlit by an early moon, and saw impending rain in them. Not good. I should have paid more attention to them before I left. On the other hand, I hadn’t had much choice.
Traffic was light. Apparently, cities not hit and farther suburban areas were resuming operation without too much hassle. They were busy enough straightening out their own problems to be able to provide only the barest help to survivors. Earth would be digging out the rubble for a year or more, and not worrying about anything else in the meantime. The UN Star Nations and the Colonial Alliance were grinding their political axes on the husk of Earth. We’d succeeded. Somehow, I still didn’t feel good about it. Perhaps if I knew how bad things were back on Grainne it would be different.
I watched the few cars drive by. None would stop to offer a ride, of course. It might prove dangerous. In the aftermath, they were cooperating with each other, but only close friends and neighbors warranted that help. Strangers were still a threat. Plus ça change.
I was not paying attention. I didn’t notice the police car pull up along the roadside. “Hey, buddy,” a voice called.
I snapped to attention, tried not to show any panic and said, “Y-yes?”
The cop was getting out of the car and asked, “Where you going?”
“Nowhere particular,” I said, and realized it was the wrong answer. Evasion wasn’t the way. “Eventually my folks’ place,” I said.
He looked at me. His driver sat and waited, not getting out yet. That was a good sign. Unconsciously, he heaved at his gunbelt, low on his soft belly. That wasn’t a bad sign; they all did that. “There’s a curfew of dark. Hadn’t you heard?”
I’d heard, but hadn’t seen it enforced. This looked bad. I felt everything around me, from slightly gusty wind to spongy ground to buildings too far away and too separated for cover. “Ah, I guess I forgot,” I said.
“Why are you out in the dark?” he asked, still probing.
“Dunno.” It was all I could think of. Playing stupid often works.
He shook his head, looking slightly bewildered. “Get in back,” he said, turning and opening the door. “We’ll take you to a shelter.”
I did not want to get in that car. I would be trapped and helpless. But if I didn’t, he’d know something was not right. It was almost certain he had an image of me on his gear. That image would go to everyone and might match up with a file from their patrol cameras.
“Wow, thanks,” I said, and stepped forward. There was nothing else to do at that point. I climbed in and sat down, awaiting the sting of a baton that never came. I awaited a high-speed drive to a building with more cops. That didn’t happen either. They actually took me to a shelter. It was set up in that local mall. An old department store had been converted and was lit up from within.
We arrived and he let me out again, then walked me to the door. “I’m fine, really,” I said.
“It’s no trouble,” he said. “I’m supposed to help people.” There was also a hint of “I’m not letting you sneak off again, you loon.” He figured the stress of the events had gotten to me, and he wasn’t far wrong. At least he left after opening the door for me. I’d have to check in then leave out the back in a hurry.
“Here y’ go,” he said to both me and a harried woman running the admissions desk. Then he was gone.
“Name?” she said. It was an actual desk. They had only a portable comm and one data line.
“Uh, Martin Lee,” I said.
“ID?” she asked.
“Broken,” I said. “I have a card, but no chip. Got to get it fixed.” I was still sizing up escape routes surreptitiously. Escaping here wouldn’t be the problem. Not being IDed for file would be.
“We’ve had some of those,” she said without suspicion. “What’s your daughter’s name?”
“Melanie,” I said. She was asleep on my shoulder by this time.
“All we’ve got is cots and soup,” she said, sounding apologetic.
“Oh, soup sounds so good,” I said, sounding relieved.
“Great. Well, Lara here will show you where to go,” she said. A teenage girl came around, all cheerful.
“Hi!” she said. “This way.”
She chattered as we walked. “That is such a cute little baby. Girl?”
“Yes,” I agreed. “About six months.”
“Good! She’ll be big before you know it.”
I said, “She’s getting heavy now,” while casually looking around. Large open area, lots of people on cots and occasional vids. Pillars. Several cops. I’d have to be subtle.
Giggling, she said, “Well, we’ll put you right here in the middle. If you need help, just let me know. I’m roving around helping.”
“Thanks,” I said. I tried to sound grateful.
I lay down and snuggled Chelsea, trying to act as if I was resting. Had Mario made that call yet? Would I get associated with the description? How would I get out of here?
A bathroom break seemed like a good idea. I stood and looked. None were immediately visible. “Restrooms?” I asked in the general direction of a family nearby. I shouldered my bag. I wasn’t leaving anything lying where it could be swiped.
“Up the escalator,” I was told. “Sucks.”
Nodding, I wandered that way and up. There were lots of side rooms and staff offices down here, but all were in use as nurseries or such. None of them appeared to have outside doors.
Near the escalators, I met Lara again, as she was coming the other way.
“Need a hand?” she asked.
“Just going to the restroom,” I said.
“Oh, okay. I can hold her for you. What’s her name?”
“Melanie,” I said. “I’ll be fine. Really. I hate putting her down.”
“Oh. Okay,” she said, looking crestfallen but not suspicious. “Well, let me know, huh?”
I turned and rode up, along with a couple of other people. Upstairs was about the same, but more open. There were lots of back passageways. I hit the stinking, overused restroom first, then started to patrol.
Yes, indeed. Lots of exits. All three roof hatches near the restrooms were locked with padlocks. I might be able to kick one open, especially Boosted, but where would I go? There were three other roof hatches at corners, behind “MAINTENANCE ONLY” doors. There was a service conveyor that went down at an angle. It was locked off. The warehouse areas were dark and guarded by cops. Without lights, they were deemed unsafe.
I wandered downstairs. I’d have to sneak out one of the two regular sets of doors. Easy enough. Fresh air or some other excuse should do it. I grabbed some soup as I passed, needing food.
I’d reached our cot and sat down, Chelsea starting to stir a little. I mixed her a bottle and sat back to consider. Then I stopped considering, because the choice was made for me.
A news load came on one of the channels, showing a flashing “TERRORIST ALERT” at the top of the screen. I couldn’t hear and tried to move closer, then realized that might not be too bright. I was just close enough to hear, “—suspected terrorist may be traveling with a baby. Everyone should be alert for a young Caucasian male adult with an infant—” The rest was lost in a stir of voices.
Sometimes, sheer gall is your best weapon. “H*ll, that description could be anyone!” I said aloud.
“Even you,” a man replied, looking levelly at me.
I replied, “Yeah. Even me. Watch it. I’ve got a loaded baby and I’m not afraid to use it!”
Laughs scattered across the area, including the man who’d been momentarily suspicious.
But it meant I’d have to stay here tonight. Leaving now would be a clear sign. I sighed. It would be a long night and I wouldn’t dare sleep.
I lay there under the lights, dreading every passage of the security, cops and staff. When would they swoop in like vultures and take me?
I knew they’d get me sooner or later. Every time a guard trudged by, staring at faces, I cringed inside. When would it happen?
As soon as it was light, I grabbed one of the offered breakfast pastries and checked out. “Leaving already?” The current staffer asked.
“Yeah, got to find my folks,” I told him, trying not to seem too eager.
“Was your stay okay?” he asked.
“Oh, sure. Warm, dry, fed. I can’t complain, can I?” I said.
“You’d be amazed how many do,” he said, shaking his head.
I muttered a goodbye over my shoulder and headed out.
It was another long march. I was getting used to them. But with Chelsea on my back, curled up deep in the new ruck, I had one less thing to worry about and her radiated heat was a comfort to me. The tools I had were wrapped in the ubiquitous blanket to hide my intentions, except the small shovel I carried through the straps.
Far south of the metroplex, I sought a cache that had been hidden for us when we were only in the prep stages. It would have more than I’d need for this problem. The trick was to get there.
Outside the cities, there are grids of roads, unlike back on Grainne where we have only a few. They’re paved too, rather than being fused. I found the mark I needed at the edge of the southernmost suburb of Preston. Now I would head four squares south and three east. 11,200 meters.
The dark was a comfort, as it closed out visibility. Operatives live by night. Of course, criminals do, too. I slipped down into weeds the three times vehicles came by. I might cadge a ride from one if I looked helpless enough, I also might be questioned or attacked. It was still chill; spring comes late to those latitudes, and the environment was still a mess. Every time I lay down, I could feel the cold seeping through the wet spots on knees and elbows and eventually chest. It didn’t matter. This trip here should set me up.
My ears were on automatic, picking up the occasional bird amid the rustling, sighing, whispering trees. What did the trees make of this? They had CO2, a cool environment, and were being left alone out here, but stripped to the ground in their few remaining camps in the cities. Above, or below all those natural sounds was the pervasive, muted and barely audible soft rumble of the city. Even this far out, the omnipresent reminder of humanity intruded. How could one live on a planet like this?
I was suddenly alert. Something was wrong, but what? Bird sounds stopped. Threat, but what and where? Footsteps in soft ground, behind and to the right. About fifty meters. Closing. Run, or engage? Engage. My brain, trained as a battle comm, sorted through what it needed almost without me thinking about it. The ripple of natural adrenalin was followed by the surge of Boost, and I turned with the short shovel in hand.
My attacker was surprised as I spun. He’d been sure he had the edge. The tape-wrapped chunk of cable in his hand made him a threat, not a supplicant, and I struck, the edge of the shovel batting his crude sap aside before shattering his right shoulder as I brought it down. “No!” he yelled in denial. Scream. He collapsed. Whimper. “Damn you, you shoulda been mine.” No hope of salvation in this piece of filth. Cock back for a lethal blow to the skull…
…turn and keep walking.
I couldn’t do it. He was no threat mentally or physically. He was a waste of my time and his death would serve no purpose.
Behind me, there were animal cries of pain. I was used to them by now. I kept walking. Shortly, I turned east.
From the mark I’d sought, I followed a buried hydrogen line by its markers for 150 meters. From that bend in the line, I continued ten more meters. It was a dangerous spot, so close to a farmer’s field, but northern wheat didn’t grow that deep. The harvest I sought was far below.
I dug. Digging is meditation for a soldier, because we do so much of it. I kept Chelsea in the ruck, and had it on the ground next to me, always at hand. I stopped periodically to refill her bottle, check her diaper and drink a few swallows myself. Then I returned to digging. The small shovel, E-tool really, made it slow work, as did the need to keep the fill pile low. I acquired blisters right through my gloves, but at least I was warm from the exertion.
Then she started fussing. Baby cries travel a long way, and I had to stop them. I picked her up and she clung like a monkey, heels and fingers clutching my jacket. She quieted down at once.
But I had no luck in giving her a bottle and putting her down. She wanted held. One cannot argue with an infant, they have no higher functions. I couldn’t have the noise. I had no way to sedate her and would be reluctant to do so anyway. So I turned the blanket into a sling and placed her under my right arm, a hindrance but not an incapacitance. I just hoped the digging wouldn’t take much longer.
Two meters should be my depth. I was at two meters. Nothing. I hoped I wouldn’t have to try again another night, or dig laterally. Perhaps additional soil had been laid above by the farm.
That was the case. At 220 centimeters, I struck crate. Eager now, frantic even, I cleared away one corner. There were stress lines that could be broken in an emergency. This was an emergency. I snapped off the corner.
Riches! I had more clothes. I had at least four IDs that would work passably. I had weapons. I looked longingly at a Merrill Model 17, the brand new 11 mm killer. Lovely, but a dead giveaway. My weapons were my wits, these mere tools. I left most of the tools where they were, except for a good folding knife. I took the clothes, the IDs and risked a double armful of battle rats. I took cashcards and credchips that matched the IDs. I wanted a standard military shelter, but that, too would reveal me if found. I settled for the plain but adequate inflatable civilian tent within. I abandoned the cheap backpack for a better grade of camper’s ruck. The whole process took minutes.
Then it was time to exfiltrate. I rigged fuses to a five kilo demolition block and shoved it far back into the case. I rigged fuses on three magburn incendiaries, the proprietary mix that was evolved to cut titanium struts, hardened concrete and weaken structural whisker composites. It had been so long since I worked with professional explosives, but my fingers were sure in trained muscle memory. Insert fuse to detonator, butt, crimp, insert, place. Rig a second detonator for every charge as a backup. Uncoil fuse. I couldn’t test burn the fuse, but it should be 300 seconds per meter. I’d have to rely on the estimate, and I’d need approximately twelve meters of fuse for each of eight detonators.
I climbed out, piled the dirt back in as fast as I could, using it as quick fill and not worrying about compaction. There was no visible fill pile to indicate anything, and hopefully no one would look for yet another few weeks. There was bare gray in the east when I finished. Looking around for observers and seeing none, I spoke aloud, the textvid safety formula now a ritual to remind me of who I was.
“I am ready to strike. The area is clear. Fire in the hole. Strike." As soon as I confirmed them burning, I pulled the igniters free with the tip of my knife. I scooped them up and wrapped them in a rag, still hot. Then I began walking.
An hour later, I was five squares east. I glanced at my watch. Right now. In that cache, the magburn was melting the unused explosives, the crate, the weapons and the ammo. The ammo would be sputtering as its matrix decayed in the heat. And right now, the explosives to the side would be blowing the molten pool into slag mixed with dirt. Should anyone find it, they’d assume it had been caused by a gas leak. The hydrogen utility would check, see it wasn’t their problem, and ignore it. If they recognized signs of explosives, they’d call in experts. After some days of checking, the experts might deduce it had been a cache. That would tell them there were infiltrators on Earth. Which they knew. Very careful checking might show the possibility that the cache had been used after the attack. That would tell them that at least one Operative might be alive. Which they knew. I reminded myself again that I was safe. Then I turned and kept walking.

Sam M. sent us this: CIBC Economist: $100 Oil by End of '08--Expert: Oil Prices Set to Hit $100 by End of '08, and Will Likely Stay at Triple-Digit Level. Perhaps the "alarmist" Peak Oil crowd was not far from the mark.

   o o o

A hat tip to Ben L. for forwarding us this article link: Tamiflu may create resistant bird flu

   o o o

The folks at SHTF Daily linked to a great primer on sound, specie-backed money being replaced by fiat currency: The Rule of Planned Money

   o o o

Chuck suggested ED-Day--Dead Sydney, an online Avian Influenza Pandemic survival novel from Australia, presently being posted in installments. It seems nicely done, thusfar. Be forewarned that there is some foul language. I will also be posting this is the Survival Fiction section of my Links Page.

"If a man neglects to enforce his rights, he cannot complain if, after a while, the law follows his example." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

Friday, October 5, 2007

We are pleased to have so many new SurvivalBlog readers, worldwide. (See our "ClustrMap" hit maps.) A special welcome to our many new readers in Central and South America. ¡Hola!

You know we respect you. You're at the top of the survivalist food chain because of your relevant knowledge and for your impeccable integrity. Those qualities draw respectful, serious readers to SurvivalBlog, and their contributions, in turn, to the cause of preparedness and your blog's content are first rate as well.

Needless to say, we're very pleased that Safecastle is associated with you and can help sponsor the work you're doing for the folks of this nation.

You know that Safecastle is all about crisis preparedness. For most folks, they know us by our Buyers Club (that club ad is prominently displayed on your blog site). We try to find and offer most any quality product our customers need in the way of preps at the lowest margins possible. The bottom line though in my book, is that any preparation people can put in place has to be a good thing. In fact, I believe simply developing the attitude of wanting to be prepared gets a person more mileage than just about any other step they can take in that direction.

Anyway, there has been some recent dialog here about various methods of constructing storm and fallout shelters. Shelters and civil defense are my greatest passions. I suppose that goes back to my days as a point-blank Cold Warrior when the need for such threat protection was more globally recognized than it is today.

As the proprietor of Safecastle Shelters, I feel a need to try to correct a few impressions that some may have drawn by comments posted here. I'll keep it brief and focused on our products, since I did already comment about the idea for using shipping containers as the basis for a shelter.

1. Safecastle's shelter business consists of custom fabricating steel-plate Storm Shelters, Fallout Shelters, and Safe Rooms. They are all engineered to withstand winds of 330 mph. Our builder has installed something on the order of 500 shelters and saferooms all over the USA in the last 15 years, to include about 100 for FEMA.

2. Our primary business these days is in Fallout Shelters. In fact, right now, we are busier than we have ever seen the business. I suppose you can reach your own conclusions about why that might be. Suffice it to say, we are seeing more and more shelters being built by some knowledgeable, wealthy and/or powerful folks.

3. Our Fallout Shelters are installed underground 99% of the time. (Yes, we can berm up adequate shielding over an above-ground shelter if need be). We can even install below the water table--though we prefer not to. Our shelters are fully double welded and double seal coated to create a structure that is impervious to moisture penetration. The use of magnesium anodes greatly extends the life of the shelters, significantly reducing the natural pace of corrosion on the outside surfaces. Simply put, our shelters are dry as a bone inside. (In a few rare instances, there is the possibility of condensation forming on the underside of the hatch if that hatch is exposed to the elements and the sun, and we do have a fix for that.) No sump pump is ever needed due to groundwater penetration.

4. Our shelters are designed by state-certified structural engineers to last 90 years in most environments. We offer a lifetime warranty on workmanship and structural integrity.

5. A comment or two on the use of cylindrical steel culvert for shelters: They are very strong and an excellent basis for DIY sheltering. They are engineered for subterranean forces. But if you are doing it yourself, be careful when cutting and welding in that enclosed environment. Be sure your area is well-ventilated as you work. Also, for commercially available culvert-based shelters, they are normally high-margin products for the seller. In other words, be sure to comparison shop. (Hint, hint). A big obvious point to consider is the amount of usable living space in a cylinder as opposed to a six-sided structure.

6. We're coming out with a new brochure in the next week or so along with a few new offerings and features, to include a standard-sized, above-ground storm shelter that we can offer on a lease-to-own basis. We also now are offering a drive-in storm shelter for those who want to protect their vehicles, and safety-glass windows for those who want to watch Dorothy, Toto, and the Wicked Witch fly by from the comfort and safety of their well-anchored shelter.

Jim, one more thing ... I might as well use this opportunity to politely differ with one of your main premises about everyone aiming to move to Montana or Idaho to escape coming dark days. You have clearly stated that such an event is only a possibility, and I agree with that. Still, I would go so far as to point out that different measures are appropriate for different people. Preparedness can be done seriously and very well wherever folks find themselves. And wherever folks find themselves, they can always do something more or better to improve their survivability for endless potential scenarios.

The real objective should be personal peace of mind. That should always be attainable. The apocalypse may never get here while we are still around, so to simply be ready, satisfied, and optimistic should be a nice consolation. ;-)

Keep up the great work! - Vic

JWR Replies: I didn't mean to denigrate all underground shelters. I have seen many marginal designs over the years that have leaked, especially in areas with high water tables. Many of the commercial in-home "vaults" and "shelters" are little more than beefed-up traditional basements. And those are the ones that typically leak.

I noticed that the Utah Shelter pricing is higher than yours per cubic foot. I consider your shelters superior in most respects to theirs, including more efficient use of space, versus a cylindrical pipe. (Cylinders are inherently inefficient for shelving, storage, and bed space.)

Greetings Jim,
Here is a link for gathering statistical intelligence on an area one may want to relocate to for a retreat or to use to plot an escape route. This site gives a quick thumbnail reference of demographics, economic and social indicators etc. for further research or to locate areas to avoid that you may not be familiar with. Plug in the ZIP code for the area of interest and you will get information on the area as well as adjacent area ZIP codes along with an additional tool to compare up to twenty other ZIP codes of your choice. This site is under Beta testing and so far with areas I am familiar with it is accurate. Perhaps it will be expanded to include more information. Stay safe, - The Rabid One

Here is an article describing the challenges associated with betavoltaic batteries. The recent buzz over the 30 year battery, while intriguing, is overly optimistic. As stated in the article I linked to, betavoltaics currently have low efficiency, require heavy shielding, and the energy absorption media tends to degrade due to the high energy bombardment. I think it would be great if they could overcome these issues, but it looks like it may be 30 years before we see anything like a 30 year battery. - Mark D. in Utah

Mr Rawles,
Firstly I would like to say that after recently having found your site, I now read it daily. Thank you for all your hard work. Hopefully I will be able to meet the 10 Cent Challenge in the next few weeks.
Regarding the 30 year battery and betavoltaics, there are many basic problems with such a battery design. I am not an expert in this field, however the article does make some amount of sense on a fundamental level. I wouldn’t hold your breath for a 30 year battery any time soon. Sincerely, - Derek from New York City (God help me)

Realities and Compromises While Retreat Shopping
Over the summer I was blessed to meet a lot of fellow SurvivalBlog readers here in north Idaho. Most, if not all, made several drastic changes to their retreat shopping list either during or right after their trip here. Most notably, the changes made most often were: Distance to a sizeable town/economic base, the parcel size (acres), and access to the parcel.

It’s important to realize that once you take in the enormity of the locale you have chosen to relocate to that these factors become the number one issue in a search. There are many superb retreats here and elsewhere in your region of choice but realize that in between now and when TSHTF you must live a semi-normal lifestyle. If this means that your mate is 15 minutes from Costco and the hair salon then so be it. If I were a marriage counselor I would strongly advise against the ‘super tactical retreat in the boonies’ if your wife has issues with it. Practical is as important as tactical when it comes to living your daily life before TSHTF.

I want to reinforce to those men out there that although sitting on your porch sipping your morning coffee while overlooking your interlocking fields of fire on your 40 acre retreat 45 minutes from the nearest paved road is cool and all, but it may just be better to envision the same thing taking place on your 5 acre retreat 15 minutes from a ‘larger than you would have thought you’d live near’ town.

Look folks, there are those of you out there that would be happy to just get out of the locale you are living in, let alone worry about finding the ‘super bunker retreat’ in the boonies, and you’re right, if you can figure a way out then just do it. When you think about it, even if you could only ’take your existing house on a postage stamp lot in the suburbs and trade it for the same exact property in a free locale, would you do it? Would you do it if you still had to deal with a Homeowner's Association (HOA)? How desperate are you? Is it all worthwhile if you can just escape so you can stop waking up each morning with that dull pain in your chest because you know your living in the middle of a foreign landscape? Is it worthwhile if you can still live close to the lifestyle you’re accustomed to but were legally able to purchase and stockpile certain items that were banned in your locale? Just because you can’t buy that super retreat does not mean you can’t do anything at all. How much longer will you allow the boots of tyranny to smother you in your present locale? These are all questions that I asked myself thousands of times over two years until I snapped and just made the move. I had a client here recently that was uncomfortable at our local shooting range when I took him shooting because he realized that in the locale where he currently lived, we would have been arrested for even possessing such weapons let alone driving up to a ‘self-supervised’ range on the side of the highway to shoot. I knew exactly what he was going through. Been there, done that and escaped!

Speaking of reality, do you really need that 40 acre retreat? Of course, but the reality of the situation is that you are still there, so if it takes duplicating all the nice amenities you live with now in suburbia and transfer those items to your free locale so your marriage stays intact and your mate does not ‘loose it’ from culture shock, then you ought to consider it. Also, the access road should not be a four wheel drive only road or a snowmobile in winter road, as your mate, unless properly prepared and motivated, will most likely hang you out to dry, have fun with that.

Now, the issue of actual acreage. We are blessed with 10 acres on our retreat and let me tell you, it is a lot of work. The animals aside, just the upkeep on the trails we have throughout the property is enough to make me thankful we don’t have 80 acres! Unless you plan to till the ground outside of your regular organic gardening or building a bunch of structures for family or refugee then anything I’d say over twenty will be a bit much for the average city folk moving to the sticks. It may sound cool to say you have 80 acres but unless you need it for tactical or farming reasons, then you ought to reconsider. There are no tea parties in the country and nobody is impressed or really cares about how much ground you have and most likely they’ll have more land than need you anyway.

Not everyone out there is cut out to make a drastic lifestyle change within 30 days, we did, but we had prepared and prayed about it for several years and then made our move. Trust me; I was used to my granite counter tops, manicured lawns and concrete sidewalks. My wife transitioned easily but I was still flabbergasted that our ‘mud room’ really was one. (I had thought it was just a storage place for my cases of ammo), and contained mud off my shoes before we put gravel down on the driveway last spring. In addition, the fact that my wife actually had no issues walking out the door to slaughter 15 chickens one morning, then walked back in and ate breakfast. I’ll be the first to admit even as a former U.S. Marine I was a bit taken back by what real living was all about. I missed going to the local high class food market for nicely wrapped chicken cordon bleu ready to bake.

Just think back 150 years and learn the skills you need to know to live in that era, then either practice them regularly or just go ‘off grid’ on your retreat, but either way realize that you’ll need to make compromises in order to have your mate comfortable with making The Big Move.

If you and your mate are totally on the same page and properly motivated then by all means buy that super tactical retreat and you’ll have more fun than you can imagine working on your property day to day. But, please be prepared to make compromises while shopping for your retreat. It will spare your marriage and keep your real estate agent sane, and I’m certain they would appreciate that!
Remember: research and pray! For His Kingdom - T.S.

Pending Home Sales Index Hits Record Low

  o o o

From Newsweek's Daniel Gross: There's No Inflation (If You Ignore Facts)

   o o o

Green Mountain Gear has found a limited supply of some more original German HK91/G3 alloy magazines. This new batch is in new-in-the-wrapper condition. These are in the original factory wrappers, with factory labels and anti-corrosion paper strips on the followers. (Just as they left the factory in the 1960s.) They don't come any better than this.

   o o o

DV and David L. both suggested this article: Dollar's double blow from Vietnam and Qatar

"Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances." - Letter from the Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina

Thursday, October 4, 2007

After my recent gun show trip to Montana, I have added a few new items to my catalog page, including a scarce special order takedown Winchester Model 1894 .30-30 short rifle that was made in 1896, and a scarce special order 5" barrel S&W Safety Hammerless ("Lemon Squeezer") Third Model .38 S&W revolver that was made around 1891. For residents of most of the United States, both of these antique guns can be shipped directly to your doorstep, with no FFL paperwork!

Mr. Editor:

Why on earth do you place such a strong emphasis on gold "in hand" as opposed to gold [mining] stocks? From what I've read, gold may soon double or triple [in price], but gold mining stocks like Barrick and Newmont are set to go up 5x to 7x. I think that you'll be missing the boat as this bull market in [precious] metals continues. I feel sorry for you, pal. - Pete in Tampa

JWR Replies: I recommend buying (and personally holding) physical gold rather than gold stocks for three reasons: safety, safety, and safety:

The first "safety" is protection from a collapse in the dollar. Mining stocks are denominated in dollars, not ounces of gold or silver. So if the dollar is ever wiped out as a currency unit, then I know that I'll be safe. I'll have it in my personal possession, safe and sound.

The second "safety" is from mining company management stupidity. Ever since the early 1980s, the major gold mining companies have built up a large backlog of over the counter derivatives--commonly called their "hedge book" of forward sales. (This started when gold prices were chronically weak, back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.) Although many of the hedged position have been eliminated ("unwound"), there are still millions of ounces of gold that have "sold forward" at promised prices below $320 per ounce. In some cases this forward selling will account for more than 50% of their next five years of production. What will happen if gold zooms up to $1,500 per ounce? The miners will be stuck. They will still have to fulfill those forward sales contracts at the promised prices. Presumably they can add extra production shifts, but because of their hedging, their profitability will suffer, even when gold is going sky high. So if you are buying any gold stocks, first do your homework and only buy stocks from companies that have a small hedge boo, or better yet no hedging whatsoever.

The third "safety" is from social turmoil. In a major economic cataclysm ("WTSHTF") all paper assets will be wiped out--even mining stocks. For that reason, I recommend that individual investors have a core holding of at least one $1,000 face value bag of pre-1965 circulated US 90% "junk" silver coinage per family member. This is for use in barter in the event of major depression. After you have that silver in hand, then you might consider some "paper" gold or silver mining investments.

I realize that all of the foregoing is an ultraconservative approach to precious metals investing. And I also acknowledge that I might miss out on some potential big gains. But I'm just an ultraconservative kinda guy.

Dear JWR,
I am a middle-aged female, single and have no children. I recently relocated to an area that I believe to be "safer" than where I had been living previously. I had hoped to meet others who were awake to the realities of life once I settled here, but much to my disappointment and amazement the natives seem to be "clueless."

So I find myself in a very difficult if not dangerous situation. I may likely find myself alone when the SHTF. I have searched endlessly for a message board or the like in which I could communicate with others who have a similar interest, but to no avail. I know that there must be many others who share my concern about being alone when the time comes. I have a tremendous amount to contribute in many ways and I don't give up easily either.

Do you have any resources or ideas that you would share? Thank you in advance for your time and consideration! Sincerely, - Beth

JWR Replies: I recommend this site previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, as well as the Country Singletree Forum at Homesteading Today. Use the same precautions that you would with any other online dating service. Proceed with prayer.

Mr. Rawles:
Utah Shelter Systems sells pre-fab shelters built inside culvert pipe. At $38,000 for a 10x25 pipe based shelter, it's not cheap but it is a complete solution including two entrance/exit ways with blast doors, ventilation, bunks, shelving, lighting, and so on. The bunks, flooring system, and other furnishings all seem designed to maximize storage space. - BR

JWR Replies: There are a number of approaches for hard shelters that work well. Buried galvanized culvert pipe shelters are just one of them. Other folks say that they like underground poly or steel tanks, while others insist on reinforced concrete. Good drainage is essential, regardless of where you live. In areas with high water tables, I highly recommend aboveground reinforced concrete shelters, such as those made by Safecastle. I realize that there are indeed below-ground shelters that can be built in those areas with a supplemental sump pump. But after all, our view of the future here at SurvivalBlog includes the prospect of extended periods without grid power.


JN is absolutely right about TrueCrypt, it's an excellent tool. Be aware, however, that you can be compelled to disclose your encryption keys in the UK legally, and you can always be compelled to do so via extra-legal means. If you have any data that you truly wish to keep secret, a good start is to use a second TrueCrypt volume containing important data inside the primary volume which contains
data that is less crucial
. Regards, - PH

The Chartist Gnome chided me in a recent e-mail, after I had mentioned that after having dropped decisively through the 80 level: "Some analysts suggest 75 or perhaps even 72 as the next support level for the US Dollar Index." He said that I was being overly optimistic. By his calculations, "the next logical support level for the USD Index is 72 and then if that fails to hold, we can expect a step off the cliff with no support until 42." Lest you think that this is some wild-eyed exaggeration, Jordan Roy-Byrne (editor of The Trendsman) came up with almost identical numbers. (Namely, 72 and 40 support levels.) Gulp! A USD Index level of 42 would equate to around $2.75 to buy a Euro and $4.02 to buy a British pound. As The Memsahib is fond of saying: "Good thing that there's no inflation."

   o o o

The next frontier for battery technology: betavoltaics: Scientists Invent 30 Year Continuous Power Laptop Battery 

   o o o

The folks at Ready Made Resources report that their home biodiesel production systems are now shipping. How about a cost of just 67 cents per gallon to produce biodiesel?

   o o o

RBS recommended this free e-book on the 1929 stock market crash and its aftermath: The Greatest Bull Market In History

"I fully understand the primary function of guns in the human condition: to protect oneself against the aggression of others. If other people are going to use them for the purpose of aggression, why, that’s all the more reason for me to own one (or in my case, considerably more than one)" - Kim du Toit

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

If reading SurvivalBlog has substantially added to your survival knowledge and family preparedness, then please consider becoming a 10 Cent Challenge subscriber. Less than 2% of regular SurvivalBlog readers have done so, with the other 98% assuming that "someone else will do it." Please be that someone else. Subscriptions are 100% voluntary, and greatly appreciated. Thanks!

There has been a lot of news in recent weeks about real estate foreclosures in the US. Foreclosure.com (one of SurvivalBlog's Affiliate advertisers) just published the following US residential real estate foreclosure statistics:

National Highlights:
* Foreclosure activity increased 36 percent from July
* Foreclosure activity increased 115 percent from August 2006
* REO ("Real Estate Owned")s increased 59% month over month, the biggest increase of any of the three foreclosure categories (Default, Auction, REO)

State and Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) Highlights:
* Nevada, California and Florida posted the top three state foreclosure rates
* The states with the most total foreclosure filings were California, Florida, Ohio, Texas and Michigan
* California cities accounted for six of the top 10 metropolitan foreclosure rates
* Modesto, Stockton and Merced (all in California) documented the top three metropolitan foreclosure rates
* Other top 10 metropolitan foreclosure rates were Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas and Cleveland

Beneath these statistics, there are millions of untold tales of woe. Many of them come from house buyers that were never properly qualified to buy in the first place. Clearly, they just couldn't make the payments. They had "the dream of home ownership" but they were really just dreaming. In essence, they were never really home owners. The bankers were, since they held the notes for 90% or more of the purchase price and very little of the loan principal was ever paid. Huge numbers of houses have gone through foreclosure and are now "bank owned" (a lovely euphemism). That number is expected to increase substantially in the next 18 months, as mortgage interest rate "resets" kick in on millions of adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). Meanwhile, if the economy slips into recession as predicted, there will be large corporate layoffs, and that will mean even more payment delinquencies and inevitably more residential foreclosures. Many of the defaults and foreclosures will come from the once-popular but now notorious "2 and 28" mortgages. (These are 30-year ARMs that feature two years of a low "teaser" rate followed by 28 years of a substantially higher interest rate.)

What does the new glut of foreclosures mean to those of us that are actively preparing for hard times? A few of the foreclosed properties hitting the market are in lightly populated rural areas with good soil and plentiful water--prime candidates for use as survival retreats. If you are in the financial position to buy a retreat with cash (or with a very small mortgage)--perhaps in partnership with some members of your extended family--then watch the foreclosure listings carefully. A service like Foreclosure.com is a good way to monitor new foreclosure listings in your chosen retreat area. But of course you can accomplish nearly the same thing for free by bookmarking the web sites for three or four real estate agencies, checking them daily, and regularly reminding local agents that that you are looking for a foreclosure. Since bankers will want to cut their losses, they will start the auctions for many of these properties at substantially below their market value. Those houses that receive no outside bids (that are "bought back" by the banks at the opening bid price), will probably hit the market at true bargain prices, to ensure quick sales. Wait. Watch. Pounce.

In coming weeks, you will see some listings for foreclosed properties that would be appropriate for retreats on our spin-off site, SurvivalRealty.com.

Todd Savage Adds: Remember that in most locales the banks cannot just 'take back' a foreclosed property, they must bid on it themselves on the day of the auction and the amount is usually the face value of the first mortgage note plus any back fees et cetera. The second mortgage holder is out of luck unless they want to buy the first mortgage and try and sell the property. This of course usually only happens in rising markets. If you or your agent locate a property that is a good deal then you may want to have them go to the auction on your behalf and make a bid. Remember though that in most cases the purchase price is due upon closing of the sale and you must pay cash. So those of you that have done your refinancing and taken $300,000-to-$400,000 out of your investments then this is a great deal. Bring cashiers checks in large denominations and then you'll write a check for the small difference. There are also a few locales that allow you to bid and hold a property for 30 days to come up with the money, but you must present a large non-refundable deposit (sometimes 10% of the sale price). If you are sure you can pull it off then go for it. Otherwise, be careful!

Regarding the SD card idea, I have been doing something similar but with a few improvements:
1. Instead of a camera flash card, get a USB keychain drive [also known as "thumb" drive or "jump" drive]. These are cheap, available in at least 4GB [capacity] and are darn near impossible to break. The USB models can be read by nearly any PC or Mac.
For encryption, I recommend using True Crypt. This program is free and has been well-tested in the computer security community, as its code and design are open source.

One nice thing about this program, is that it lets you create a single file that you can access like a drive. And the program is only one file which can be run from the USB drive without the need to install anything on the PC.
I have several copies of this distributed to friends, and I have an envelope with the key distributed to some family members. This way, either one losing the goods does not compromise my info. And nobody can access the data unless I put them in touch, or they get together because I'm stuck somewhere and need a replacement passport/etc.
Regarding the family photos, the best way to make a digital album of 1,000+ pictures is to get a good quality digital camera and a copy stand. You may have to peel back the clear page covers to get rid of the glare, but the results with a high-megapixel camera are pretty darn good. Scanning dozens of albums on a flatbed is just not feasible.
Once you have them scanned, make DVDs and send them to your family. Make it a Christmas present or something. If your house burns, you not have nothing irreplaceable.
Hope this helps! - JN, EMT

Frequent contributor RBS sent this article link: Credit derivative volumes rise 32 percent to $45.5 trillion. I've warned SurvivalBlog readers about the threat of a derivatives implosion before, but for the sake of new readers, I'll mention it again: Derivatives--The Mystery Man Who'll Break the Global Bank at Monte Carlo

   o o o

The bidding is now at $500 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.

   o o o

From The Australian (by way of SHTF Daily): Americans watch greenback fall

   o o o

The recent mention of CONEXes prompted Mike Williamson to forward us a link to his friend John Wagner's blog. (Foul language warning!) Wagner recently had the sad experience of having a CONEX at his remote New Mexico property broken into by some goblins with a cutting torch. They also stole several restored 4WD vehicles at a neighbor's house. (Also unattended.) This underscores the advice that I have been giving my consulting clients and SurvivalBlog readers many years: Never leave a retreat property both stocked and unattended. Unless you have a kindly, watchful, and close proximity neighbor with line of sight that is there year-round, then you need to have someone living at your retreat. The only viable alternative to on-site security is leaving your retreat essentially "stripped" and all of the valuable goodies in a completely hidden cache room--either above or below ground. And I do mean well-hidden. One clever approach that I saw was a false wall at the far end of a 40' x 70' rectangular barn that left a full-height five foot deep room for storage. The entrance door was hidden by a metal wall locker. Only a clever thief with a 100 foot tape measure and plenty of time to ponder would ever find a cache room like that. Another cache room that I saw was a "half basement" that in actuality was a full basement with a poured concrete divider. The only entrance to the concealed half was via a hidden trap door in a bedroom closet and a descending ladder.

“When it all comes down, the last man standing is going to be standing there in shorts and sneakers [armed] with a ’98 Mauser, and all the ninja-looking guys belly up at his feet - with all their cool gear.” - Louis Awerbuck

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The bidding is still 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 brand new 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 recent query about burying CONEXes sparked a large flurry of replies. You may recognize the writer of the last letter posted below--"Doug Carlton"--as one of the characters from my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse". The character was loosely based on a real life friend for mine that I have known since college. We went through ROTC together, in the early 1980s.

Dear Jim And Readers,
As Jim said, [CONtinental Express] CONEX containers are not designed to be buried. They will stress out and leak. (I know of an [illicit] drug lab that was in a buried Conex container, it did not do well.) Having said that, a better choice is a buried culvert pipe. You can use 8 foot or 10 foot diameter. Remember the Roman Arch. "Earth Arching" will make it strong. There are a lot of buried culvert pipes in the world that have survived decades of heavy traffic. Weld end caps on the ends of the culvert pipe and use smaller diameter pipe for an entrance. It is easy to put in a wood floor to store cases of #10 cans underneath the floor. How to bury it? Go to your friendly Caterpillar Rental Store. Rent a backhoe or a excavator ("Track hoe"). They will deliver. Never operated one before? No problem. They will give you a quick lesson. By the end of a day of digging you will have it down. Remember not to have your vehicle or house within range [of the bucket arm] when you first start out!

We also dug a few holes and dropped 36" diameter used culvert pipe vertically about 8 feet deep. Back fill it with dirt and with a base of railroad ties, you can build a dandy outhouse that will hold lots of Schumer in case of emergency!

As far as building a house we use Structurally Insulated Panel (SIP) construction. Structurally Insulated Panels are three times as strong as stick built homes for earthquake. You can go all the way up to a 12" thick panel that exceeds the insulation value of a straw bale house. Better insulation means less fuel to heat and cool your house. You can get them in a kit. I would never build a stick built house again. You can get the walls up in a day or two.

Keep up the great work that you do, Jim. - PED


Burying a CONEX container will collapse (or in my case partially collapse ) the side walls of the container. If you use insulated concrete forms (ICFs) and pour a modest side wall and reinforce the top using the incredibly strong corners as support then you can bury one to at least four feet. The insulated forms will greatly mediate condensation problems but the site must be well drained. All in all it would have been much cheaper for me to just build a concrete storage site but I got into the "In for a penny,in for a pound mindset" and things just got out of hand. My next underground facility will be a large septic tank waterproofed inside and out buried to stash very long term food and munitions. The condensation problem is exacerbated by opening the doors and letting warm moist air into the very cool dry interior of the Conex. I suppose that I could build a double door entrance and greatly reduce the condensation. The idea of successfully burying a CONEX still appeals to me if the cost and effort could be reduced. - East Tennessee Hillbilly


A thought: Containers are stackable, but load bearing is in question.
A ground level container on a property is hardly uncommon.
A second container [hidden] underground beneath it, acting as support for the first... - The Hushmailer


I have personally done such a project. It was quite involved. I wouldn't do it again. between the cost of the container $1000 cheapest available from Newark NJ, then transport $600, then the railroad ties and wood to form for a concrete roof, then steel, then $800 for crete; the because the sides bulged in when backfilled; I had to mineshaft it. $1000 worth of lumber(large dimensional native sawn oak) and two days of my time. The CONEX must be placed on a level reinforced footing: or it goes out of square easily and doors won't shut.
If I had it to do again: I'd simply rent the forms and pour the whole structure out of concrete. I never spanned more than 8' anywhere in the project due to railroad ties 8'6" length ($4 each) and the fact that they have to support a 6" concrete roof and 2-to-3 feet of fill.
The corners aren't the whole story in CONEX containers: the walls are integral and support weight. The roof is the flimsiest thing: I suggest anyone who thinks they can bury one unmodified to merely walk on the roof before they buy it: when it buckles under your own weight that bell should ring in your mind. My design utilized lots of free billboard vinyl tarps and professionally cleaned 12,000 gallon double wall fiberglass fuel tanks (already designed to be buried, plus they are free).

If I haven't dissuaded anyone yet from burying a CONEX and they want to go ahead anyway: some sound advice I would offer is be wary of what [type of] CONEX you buy. I tried hard to buy a galvanized one; but [they are] hard to come by and very pricey as they are usually used for a "refer" box with attached refrigeration unit. Secondly don't forget to buy some zincs for sacrificial anodes to slow corrosion. And most important ; seek out a CONEX made of Corten steel [aka Weathering steel]: it is a very special steel alloy. Most of the good European based shippers like Hapag-Lloyd, P&O, et cetera use them. Bridges that will never be painted in the US utilize Corten steel: it [surface] rusts immediately; but then corrosion slows to close to nil for some very long time. Google it. The container I used was made from Corten, although it was nearly 18 years old; it had almost no rust. I have seen some half that age that were turning into piles of scale.
After I buried mine I coated it with liquid asphalt [aka "asphalt emulsion"], then tarps, then isocyanate roof insulation board I got for free from local roofing supply houses (they left them outside for too long turning them yellow and no longer salable), then more tarps then careful backfill. Burying the CONEX is easy; but what do you do for an entrance? That is where you will spend considerable thought, time, effort, and money. I have no issues with condensation. here we we are in the Northeast; temperature stays a constant 53 degrees inside there year round: ideal for food storage and other critical goodies. My main reason for its construction: hidden, insect proof, rodent proof, secure, water tight. Hope this info is of some significance. - John E.


Regarding camouflaging vents from an underground storage/living area, there is are some pictures and ideas here [at the Walton Feed web site]... along with another alternative to the CONEX idea.
- JFC in the Ozarks


Hi Jim.
I saw the post about shipping containers underground. I don't have data, but our real-world experience (and our builder has hundreds of in-ground installations of steel shelters--all engineered by a certified structural engineer) is that any shipping container going underground as is will fail and does--period. It's very dangerous and foolish to think that it can be a shortcut to providing a safe place to go in time of need. Above ground would be a different matter as there are not the lateral subterranean forces at work there. But similarly, I would not want to be in one above ground, even if it was anchored in concrete in a serious wind storm. Think mobile home. And of course, above ground is not going to do you any god in terms of being a fallout shelter.

Reinforcing the container/structure every two-three feet on each of the structure's surfaces with heavy gauge channel bracing and possibly adding steel plate around the walls may do the trick--but that is no easy or cheap job. And of course, you also need to be talking about moisture sealing/corrosion-proofing the structure externally to be sure it won't suddenly fail you a few years down the road, even if you do all the needed buttressing.

Another alternative would be to use the shelter as a form for heavily rebarred concrete to be poured around and over it--again with some reinforcement to ensure the wet concrete does not cause a structural failure.

In my experience, those who post on the internet of plans for shipping container shelters do not have real-world qualifications in the matter.

This much I can plainly tell you that should tell a lot--we would (as would our competitors) love to be able to offer cut-rate shelters to customers if it could be done, using shipping containers. But it can't be done economically. If you are actually looking for a safe refuge, do not do this. Shortcuts in building/engineering cost you in the long-run. At the front end, such a DIY project might save you a few bucks, but not that much over what is available out there that is certified to do the job you need it to do. Longer term, it could end up costing you dearly.- Vic at Safecastle

About two years ago I "planted" a couple of CONEXes for use of as a goat barn for a lady acquaintance of mine A few things to consider:
1) If it's damaged, fix it! Any ding, dent or gouge can (and will, over time) precipitate a stress riser, and the wall may collapse, usually in spectacular fashion;
2) The walls need to be braced from buckling inward. If they want to bow outward, not a problem. The earth packed around them will hold them in place;
3) Corners are strong; tie the walls to them (we used 3"x3"x0.136" tubing for bracing, and welded it securely to the sides). Same going with passages cut between the containers;
4) Set the containers 1'-2' apart. The ensuing "box" you build to bridge that gap as you cut doorway will serve as a pilaster to strengthen the middle of the structure, both laterally as well as in compression (holding up the roof). Also, make your doorways all the way to the top of the wall(s);
5) Insulation, ventilation, drainage, condensation: for brevity sake, I refer you to two sources: "Earth Sheltered Houses" by Rob Roy (the old hippie, not the 17th century Scottish patriot!), published by New Society Publishers; Rocky Mountain Research Center. I can attest to the efficacy of information provided in both of these, as the abode I'm sitting in was built using them, and I'm wearing T-shirt and drawers, it was in the mid-30s last night and I haven't built a fire for two days, and that was to bake bread in our masonry brick oven (demonstrating the value of thermal mass; more on that in the books);
6) And finally, using more steel tubing, we built a grid work to hold rebar , and had concrete poured onto the roof (my lady friend wanted a patio garden). Depending on the bracing you add to the roof, you can bury your tin cans as deep as is practical (read with particular interest chapter 8, Earth Sheltered Houses, on "living roofs"), and pay particular attention to proper overall drainage.
Yes, it can be done, it's not terribly difficult, it's really not very expensive (YMMV depending on what work you do yourself), but it does require a lot of planning and attention to detail. Remember, you will be living there. The little dip in the floor may not bother you now, but may drive you nuts the thousandth time you stumble in it. Hope this helps, keep the faith, - Bonehead


[What Robert in New York suggested is] not a good idea. The weight of that much earth would cave in the sides.
Better to carve a hole in the woods, use camo paint and park it [a CONEX, aboveground.].

It would be safer and more cost effective to use steel culvert. My friends thought I was crazy until an F5 tornado leveled Jarrell, Texas

Depending on your budget, an 8 or 9 foot diameter culvert with the ends welded up makes an excellent shelter. Weld angle iron about a foot from the bottom along both sides of the interior. 6 foot 2x12’s then rest on the angle iron to make a sturdy floor. Entrances and vents can be cut and fitted to please. During final touches we had a fully loaded cement truck parked on top.

As is, culvert is not water proof. A coating of automotive under-spray would be nice.

Pricing is by the foot for both diameter and length. Installation is easily handled by a track hoe. - Jon in Texas

Here's some info on the inverted shipping container idea.
The principle of an inverted CONEX as a shelter comes from military use as such. A military CONEX is 8x8x6 and not the conventional shipping container that most people see or have access to. To confuse matters more, the military has also used the same commercial containers since they came out as well, so the word "CONEX" usually attaches some confusion as to what is meant. As far as the Army is concerned though, throughout it's publications on using one as a shelter, it refers only to the GI CONEX (8x8x6). So while you can take good ideas and make them better, the readership should
understand that there may or may not be a difference in actual use between the commercial shipping container and a CONEX.
The purpose of inverting the CONEX is to have the stronger floor become the roof. This is done primarily because it provides better ballistic
Obviously the secondary effect of inverting is that the now stronger "roof" can hold more material for improving on that ballistic
protection. FM 5-103,"Survivability" 10 June 1985, has an explanation and illustration of use of the CONEX as a shelter. There was an earlier edition to this manual that had a much better explanation and actual pictures, but I haven't seen a copy of that edition in decades. Either way it doesn't matter much.
The preferred way to dig one in is to invert the box in a hole that is about half the depth of the box (i.e. 4 feet). Then cover the half that's sticking out with earth, etc. The illustration shows over 5 layers of sandbags, or a great deal of dirt, so they can indeed take a lot of weight.
Remember this is the GI one and not the commercial container, but the same principle would apply. While the FM is pretty shy on details as to how much you can pile on, since most people would not be using the GI container illustrated and would be using a commercial container, any numbers would simply be wrong for that type of container, so it's probably better there
aren't any given to begin with. I wouldn't use this exact method myself.
If I were to use a commercial container, I'd generally follow the Army FM but with some changes. Since you aren't really going to be moving this thing around to keep up with a mobile Army, you can afford to do better site preparation. I'd dig a hole half as deep as the container, and then add in some drainage, such as weeping tiles and waterproofing. Just burying a metal box in the ground may work for a while, but eventually you're going to have a rusted-out buried metal box if you don't do something to protect it.
I'd make sure the hole floor has a slight grade to it, and place the inverted container in the hole with the door at the downhill side. A sump would go in on that end and the weeping tile would lead to the same sump as well. Across the sump would be the stairs leading down from ground level.

Digging into the side of a hill makes drainage easier, but you still need to take steps about drainage. If you don't, you'll end up with a rusted out metal box full of water. Look at the level of work as being about the same as installing a basement and that should give you a good idea of the work involved.
Instead of just burying the top half under a mile of Earth, I'd consider just what the ballistic protection factor really needs to be. You aren't normally going to need artillery or air strike protection. If you do, then
by all means build a better bunker, but most people will simply need to stop [rifle caliber] bullets. Since we only have to stop direct fire, you don't really need anything piled on the box itself unless your site has some other terrain feature that is higher near enough to be used by shooters who would then be able to shoot down at you.
Piling dirt or sandbags directly against/on the box has the advantage of not needing as much material, and easier to conceal. Nothing says you have to do it that way. Since only half the box is above ground, it's pretty easy to build berms, or a sandbag standoff that will give you direct fire protection, and allow movement inside the "perimeter" of the site. It all depends on what's best for you and your site.
You can easily see just how much work and resources could go into one of these sites. But you can start off with just the container sitting on the ground, and slowly improve it over time. Just carefully plan in detail what you are doing and think over all the small details. Don't just take "military wisdom" as the best way for you either. "Think outside the box" there. What works for the big Army may or may not work for you. Often people mistakenly think that if the Army does it this way, then that's the best way, but the Army's job is different and takes into account many different factors that survivalists may not. There are other factors that the survivalist has to take into account that the military doesn't (like cost, first of all).
The inverted shipping container is viable, but it just needs to be thought out. See Ya, - "Doug Carlton"

First, thank you for the work you have done. Your blog site will surely save many lives. Also, thank you for your books. I've just started on "Patriots" and am thoroughly enjoying it.

I'm very new to 'long-term' survival and much of the political and economic machinations that are going on that potentially may lead to SHTF. Living in hurricane country (Florida) I've always been better prepared than the average family and I've maintained my preps year round due to fears of terrorist attacks and bird flu pandemics. However, I'm completely shocked, horrified actually, about what I've learned over the past few months on how bad things could really get, and why!

Anyway, here is something I've been doing as part of my preps. I hope it is something you might find useful and possibly worthwhile enough to pass on to your readers. (I've copied the following from a post that I made on WarRifles.com.)

I've seen lots of posts on what to put in your Bug Out Bag (BOB). And what not to. But I've never seen this mentioned so my apologies if someone somewhere has. An SD, or similar, memory card. They are small (size of large stamp), featherweight light, and can pack a lot of data.
Get a scanner and store all your financial and legal documents. Be sure to encode everything to thwart prying eyes. Copy your driver's license and passport. Birth, death, and marriage certificates. Life/health/house/auto insurance documents. Property deeds. etc. Someday, post-SHTF government may be up and running and people with access to this info may be a step ahead of the crowd.
It's also great for personal & sentimental info. Most BOBs don't have room for that shelf of photo albums so scan them in. Digital cameras even save that extra step. Save those videos of your son's first steps or your daughter's first recital. Your favorite music or movie. Those are just a few suggestions.
If you want, you can pack a USB SD reader/writer as they're about the size of a keychain light. If not, SD cards are ubiquitous enough you should be able to find something later on.
Make several copies, vacuum seal them in mylar bags and store in various places - one in pocket, one in fanny pack, one sewn into secret BOB pouch, whatever.
Once you walk out that door, you may never have easy access to that info again. If you later decide you don't want or need it then so be it. Until then at least you have that option.
Also save your survival library to one just in case the hard copies are lost, stolen or damaged. - Florida-40s

Reader Nathaniel noted that Netbank, a major online bank, just went under due to problems with subprime loans and other issues. Not a good sign...

   o o o

"Florida Guy" mentioned a piece posted at This is London: Tom Cruise building '£5m bunker to protect against alien attack'

   o o o
SF in Hawaii mention this product as a valuable aid for teaching centerfire rifle and shotgun shooting for folks not yet accustomed to stout recoil.

   o o o

The ever-vigilant Stephen in Iraq mentioned these two related news articles: Citigroup Sees 3Q Earns Down 60 Percent and Swiss bank UBS warns of big losses, blames US housing crisis

"Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand." - Edward Everett Hale

Monday, October 1, 2007

We've finished the judging... The winner of Round 12 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. is "Polar Bear" for his article "Converting Diesel Vehicles to Run on Waste Vegetable Oil". He gets the top prize--a four day "gray" transferable Front Sight course certificate. These certificates are worth up to $2,000! Our thanks to Front Sight's director, Naish Piazza, for generously donating the course certificate. Check out the Front Sight web site and take advantage of their great training opportunities.

Second prize goes to Brian in Wyoming for his article "Running Chainsaws on Ethanol". His prize is is a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing.

I'm also sending out two honorable mention awards to Dixie for her article "The Refrigerator Box Method for Easy Survival Gardening", and to Michael G. for his article "A Trip to the Yucatan--Observations of Mayan Primitive Living." Both of them will be sent an autographed copy of my novel "Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse".

Note to all the prize winners: Send me an e-mail to let me know your snail mail addresses, and your prizes will be mailed to you shortly. Thanks gents, and congratulations!
Today we start Round 13 of the contest. Send your non-fiction articles via e-mail for a chance to win some great prizes!

We are pleased to welcome our newest advertiser, CGW. I've been doing business with Rich Saunders for more than five years. He is an outstanding gunsmith with great attention to detail. (He custom built three of the L1A1 rifles that we use here at the ranch. In addition to his gunsmithing services, be sure to check out his great line of optics (including Trijicon), knives, packs, and field gear.

One of the consequences of the collapse of the credit bubble and the subprime lending fiasco in particular is with hedge funds. There is a substantial risk of uncontrollable instability in hedge funds that could potentially be disastrous for investors. This instability will likely be seen in waves of bad news that will come roughly once a quarter.

First, let me provide a bit of background:

1.) Most hedge funds have rules that allow only quarterly redemptions ("cashing out") by by their investors. (A few hedge funds even have only one annual redemption "window.") Typically, the redemption requests must be filed 45 days before the end of any given quarter.

2.) Most hedge funds have rules that allow them to suspend redemptions, at the discretion of the fund manager or their board of directors. This is just what Bear Stearns did with their funds that went under. United Capital Asset Management did the same back in July, for their Horizon Fund L.P., Horizon ABS Fund L.P., Horizon ABS Fund Ltd. and Horizon ABS Master Fund Ltd. ("Horizon").

3.) Hedge fund portfolios can change radically, almost overnight. This can be either good or bad. If back in the middle of the year a fund manager was wise, he would have minimized or eliminated his Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDO) positions. But, on the other hand, if he was willing to take a risk, to increase yields he might have have increased his CDO holdings in chosen tranches that didn't have exposure to sub-prime real estate lending.

My personal prediction is that for at least the next year, there will be successive quarterly waves of hedge fund redemption suspensions and perhaps some spectacular hedge fund collapses, with the news breaking in the first two weeks of each quarter. (The first two weeks of November, the first two weeks of January, the first two weeks of April, and so on.)

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD)
The investors in hedge funds place a tremendous amount of trust in the fund managers. This is because the fund managers are generally given free rein to regularly re-invest all of the fund's assets in the most profitable investments. Sometimes a hedge fund can be almost totally re-invested in a different venture very quickly. For example, investors might assume (based on the previous quarter's report and the manager's newsletter) that the fund's portfolio is heavily in European bond derivatives and the Yen Carry trade. But then then when the next newsletter issue is released, they may learn that 80% of the fund portfolio was shifted into corporate stock derivatives, during a leveraged buyout (LBO). The current economic and finance climate is so darkly clouded with Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), that it is likely that a substantial number of hedge fund investors will make a hasty exit, while the exit door is still open. I suspect that news of these redemptions will inspire additional investors to also cash out, in a cascading effect.

I cannot say with certainty that there will be a hedge fund panic, but ever since the Bear Stearns meltdown, the likelihood has definitely increased.

For any SurvivalBlog readers that hold hedge fund investments with any CDO exposure: If you aren't sure about your hedge fund's exposure, then you are better off getting out, pronto. (You probably should have submitted your cash out order in before August 15th.) If you wait for a quarterly report, it will probably be too late, since your quarterly redemption window will probably close before you see the report. And before the next redemption window opens the fund might suspend redemptions.

Dear Jim,
A friend of mine who is a contractor sent this. It's been posted elsewhere. Foul language warning. - Michael Z. Williamson

Info from Iraq From Someone Who is Doing the "Run and Gun"

Yesterday a friend of mine who runs a small security company here in Iraq emailed me. He is standing up a protection detail and wanted my opinion on tactics and equipment running the roads of Iraq; Tactics, SOPs, hard car or soft? I have been giving it some thought and here is where I am at.

I am willing to speculate I’m as well traveled in Iraq as anyone I’ve met. I’ve been just about everywhere between Kuwait and Iran, all points in between. And I’ve traveled every way possible.
I’ve gone in military convoy up armored hummers at 40 MPH. I’ve run the Fallujah Baghdad gauntlet in a 15 truck convoy, thin skinned white F350s. I’ve rolled all over in blacked out Pajeros in local dress. Diplomatic convoys with armored suburbans and helo cover.
I’ve done the whole hide the guns and smile a lot all the way to showing just about everyone the front sight post.
I’ve done 140 KPH up MSR Tampa and weaved through Sadr city at a near standstill.
I, like nearly everyone have made mistakes and been lucky to be here writing this.
I think the most important and neglected aspect of survival in theatre is training. Every freaking day your crew should practice "actions on" - At least do it on a dry erase board. Actions upon anything and everything. What usually happens is we start going through the "what ifs" and all the sudden every guy in the crew has a different idea of what should happen. After all we come from many different backgrounds. After about 30 minutes of that we all end up scratching our head debating which idea is best and say "let’s get chow." Decide on some fundamental concepts. And stick to them, but of course always remembering that the plan is just something to deviate from anyway. As long as we all know the end goal and work towards it. i.e. If the vehicle is stalled in the ambush, driver flicks it in neutral so the rear car can ram us out and we prepare to un-ass the vehicle on the opposite side of the contact.
So rehearse and practice - Which is easy to say because I am the first to admit that a knock on my hooch at 7AM with, "Hey, man, let’s rehearse this" makes me grumble.
I’m sure we can all agree that debating your actions on is best done at the hootch rather than on the side of a road in Tikrit while your car is being remodeled by a PKM.
PMCS your vehicles all the time. Being broke down in Iraq is like a scene on a bad movie. Been there done that. Check tires, oil, fluid, etc... And don’t overdrive your car. My friend VC managed to put a Pajero upside down and backwards on Tampa once because we pushed the cars past their controllability.
Every IC you meet will tell you he is a great driver. Just because you drive fast and haven’t hit anything yet doesn’t mean you’re a good tactical driver. Go to BSR or some other school. And if you haven’t let the guy who has drive. Conduct driver training. Get the best guy to teach everyone else. OJT.
Practice changing tires. There are a couple guys reading this email right now who know exactly what I am talking about. Realizing you’ve packed 300 pounds of gear on top the spare while on the side of a road in Ramadi is a self loathing I’d like not replicate. Make sure you have a tow strap in every vehicle. Loop it through the rear bumper so it’s already attached. that way you swing in front of the busted car and they hook up. Gone in 60 seconds or vice versa... Get a good jack, it's worth the money. Make sure everyone knows where all the tow, change, repair gear is in every vehicle.
In the glove box keep your stay behinds. A frag, Smoke, CN. The rule is. Never f*ck with the pin unless you have the grenade outside of the window. Hit a bump and it drops on the roadside. Minimal drama. Inside the car? Party foul. Use CN and Smoke. If you're caught in traffic and you have a bad feeling about a car behind you, toss the smoke. Most motorists will stop or at least give you a lot of space. It works and it’s harmless. Can use more sparingly and never while in tight traffic. Watching that cloud blow towards your car faster than you can drive is not fun. The CN is rough stuff and I only would use it on those rare situations where it just has to be done. And the frag? Well we all know when those need to be used.
Put a rubber band on your sling so it doesn’t get caught on stuff while getting out of the car.
Always do a proper route plan. Common sense here. And another note, we are always trying to be sneakier and cleverer than everyone else. Avoiding MSR's and roads frequented by convoys you know the deal. Well before taking a road you see on a map that isn’t used by the Army. Go see the G2, ask them why. It may be for good reason.
Think about fuel consumption. Plan your stops for fuel and food. Always carry a gas can, just in case.
Always have spare batteries for the GPS, Always have a map and compass just like when we were E1's. Do a map study; make sure everyone in the crew knows the route plan.
Carry as big a gun as you can. Keep it clean. Keep it hot.
Carry lots of ammo. On April 4th I went through 14 mags and never would have thought that a possibility before then. Carry more ammo, stage spare mags everywhere. Like the freakin Easter bunny.
I will never go without wearing a helmet again. If there is a Kevlar helmet, it’s going on my head. A dude standing right next to all of us on the roof was dropped from a head shot. Spend the money get a good MICH or the like. The more comfortable and low profile the more likely it is you'll wear it. Wear a helmet. Watching Alcon get blasted in the noggin was a SOP changing experience for all of us here.
Wear your armor. Period.
If you sleep in a trailer or hootch, know where the nearest bunker is. Trying to find it at 4 AM while scared sh*tless isn’t the answer. And yes everyone runs for the bunker. The Delta dude who is always giving the evil eye will probably be the first one there followed immediately after by a SEAL in flip-flops. 120mm mortars make us all very humble.
Shoot a lot. Keep training. If your company won’t get more ammo, make them dry fire. Practice mag changes. Focus on cheek weld and front site. The basics win every time.
The three guys shot on the roof here were all either changing mags while standing or weren’t moving to different firing positions frequently - all were regular military and not contractors. They were doing standard Army range sh*t. And got dropped for it...
You remember when Sam Elliot said "If I need one there will be plenty laying around" in the film We Were Soldiers Once, in regards to the rifles? He was right. If you’ve seen those pictures of us on the net Chip was on a SAW and I had a M203. There were weapons strewn about the roof by wounded and those who elected to not play on the two way range. No sh*t. By the end of week two here we all had our choice in weapons. No sh*t. We fired RPK, AK47, PKM, MK19, M249, M203, M4, Dragunov, and M60 at bad guys between the eight of us... That was unreal.
This brings me onto this - Train on all weapons. If you don’t have access at least read the FM or TM on them. You never know when you’re out of 5.56 and someone will hand you a PKM. Get familiar with them.
Practice shooting out to 800 meters. I know, nearly every fight is within 150 [meters] but we were trying to bang a mortar crew that was pounding us at 800 meters. And it happened more than once.
In terms of shooting. Practice as you did on active duty. Always scrounge ammo.
I will ALWAYS take a hard car over a soft. Its just common sense at this point. If I have a soft car I will sandbag the floors and jam steel and spare plates everywhere I can. Bolt on armor is sh*t, but better than nothing. Remove the Lexan windows from the gun trucks. Just like in the old days nothing breaks contact quite like returning accurate, violent fire.
The rear vehicle is always most likely to be hit. Put your best shooters in there, biggest guns.

The Golden CONEX box. It ain't coming dude. If I had a nickel for every time I have been told "Oh yeah man, we ordered ten of those and they should be here in three days" Or my favorite "don’t worry, it will meet you in country.” If you don’t have good guns, ammo, armor, or comms, just say no like Nancy Reagan used to say. Some companies are total pieces of sh*t and will leave you in Iraq with a busted ass stolen AK and two mags. Some will do you better than a tier one unit. Personally, I just want the above mentioned items and the rest to go to my bank account. If I want a three hundred dollar backpack Ill buy it.
Bottom line. Remember what gear is critical. Demand it be the best and take proper care of it.
Medical equipment. It’s expensive. It has saved lives. The company I currently work for spent a gazillion dollars outfitting each crew with great mad gear. I'm sure the bill was hard to swallow. I sh*t you not it saved three people’s lives, all had life threatening injuries. The med kits and our 18Ds saved them. The Army had a few bandages and an IV. That was it. You know who you are, thank you for spending the money...
Do remedial med[ical] training. Can’t say anymore on that issue. Do it.
Wherever you go carry lots of booze. It’s the most valuable item you can have. If I wrote a list of things I have managed to swindle with a bottle of Jack [Daniels whiskey] placed in an E8's hands you would cr*p you’re pants.
Don’t get drunk and stupid. Be drunk or stupid but never both at once.
Never let the client convince you "it’s safe, I do this all the time.” If it’s stupid it’s stupid.
On the same note. Remember if we hamper our client’s ability to do their job too much. Our company can get sh*tcanned. It’s a fine line. Yeah, your client thinks it’s cute to drive to some Hadji's house at midnight for tea, sometimes you just have to do it.
Learn to deal with all the clients. Some truly think that all Iraqis are great people and that the US Army is the enemy. Some will encourage you to shoot bicyclists who hog the road. I’ve seen both sides. Keep their agenda and egos in mind. Don’t make your own life miserable.
Aimpoints are great. The Eotech is okay. TA31 ACOG is the best by far. The Aimpoint battery lasts six months. The Eotech is a little too bright for my taste. Remember that the dot is like 3 MOA in size so they aren’t any good past 300 or 400. The ACOG is the heat.
Buy short M4s. They will save you’re ass. I carry a 18" upper on me with glass so when we reach our destination I flick it on the lower receiver and I now have a decent long gun. It’s like having two guns to choose from.
If you’re doing Green Zone PSD a mag or two may do you but if you’re in the party zone? Twelve.
Speaking of which, weapon, twelve mags, pistol, three mags, Med kit, GPS, map and compass, radio, spare battery, $500 [in] US dollars, MRE , water bottle, NVG, armor. It’s a lot. It’s hot but f**k it, if its too heavy get membership at the gym. This job isn’t for everybody.
In your vehicle. Put a US flag on the visor so nobody can see it until you approach a checkpoint, then flip it down. On the passenger side do the same with a VS17 panel. G.I. Joe will shoot your a** just as soon as a Hadji will.
Carry MREs and water in your car.
NEVER throw food or candy to kids. there are many reasons why. But at the least it encourages kids to jump in front of cars, smashing a kid would ruin your trip here.
If you find yourself trusting the locals its time to take a vacation.
Walk the fine line. Don’t be too conservative and don’t get blown up.
Listen to your intuition. It has saved a guy who is on this mailing list and not listening to it killed a friend a month ago.
Once you make contact ... Finish it. If you shot a guy and he is limping to cover he can still get there and return fire. Just finish everything you start.
A car door is not cover. In fact a car is not cover. Cement is.
While doing the work-up for my last deployment we did live fire IADS and movement from vehicles. It was the best training I have done and the most useful. On that note we did many Simunition [practice] runs with vehicle ambush scenarios. We found that without a doubt the single most important factor in surviving is getting out and away from the car. Getting behind it as though it was a concrete barrier and playing HEAT will get you killed.
Don’t work for a company that doesn’t vet its ICs. Check their creds, call the references, and put them through a ten day selection course. Just because a guy was a SEAL in Vietnam doesn’t mean he maintained his skills. On that note the best shooter in my training class was Vietnam SEAL. Some of the best guys were 22 year old Rangers and the worst 38 year old SEALs. My point it’s the individual that counts.
But we don’t have time or money to bring a regular Army kid up to speed. You have to have the fundamental skill sets. We can’t introduce you to live fire Australian peels. We should just review and coordinate verbal commands and simple sh*t.
Just because somebody is a good dude isn’t good enough. If he can’t shoot, think, and move - leave him home. Big boy rules.
If a guy doesn’t work out in your crew but has talent and skill send him elsewhere, don’t sh*tcan him. Personalities clash. Especially when you’re living together 24/7 for six months. Eating every meal together all that. If I hear the same stupid story from a guy forty times? That’s cool. It’s the 41st that’s gonna be drama. You guys know what I’m talking about.
The contractor community is a sewing circle for men. Remember the Dyncorp guy who shot the principal in Baghdad last winter? The story in its most recent telling over cheap Turkish beer involved a diplomatic cover up, a magazine change, and several deaths.
Throwing a flash-bang into the team leader’s hootch at 3AM while drunk is not a good practical joke.
Remember how much money you’re making. Nobody wants to clean the sh*tter on a Wednesday morning but keep in mind you're the highest paid janitor in the world that day.
Keep a sense of humor. Keep funny people around, they make sh*tty situations tolerable and are like Prozac when you need it.
Have thick skin. Your friends will ask for naked pictures of your wife on deployment and yes they may take them to the bathroom with them. Take criticism. If you suck at something ask for training.
Always remember that you were once a young dumb*ss E1. You made $450 a month and weren’t allowed to fart without a permission chit ran up and down the chain of command. Keep this in mind when you’re bitching because you’re only making $17,000 a month when guys at the other company are getting $17,500. And when the bosses back in the states email you to have a clean shave? Do it. you never know when you’re going to be on some stupid newspaper.
The soldiers around us are deployed for a year sometimes more. They make a fraction of the pay. And are ordered to do stupid, dangerous sh*t everyday. Keep that in mind when you are upset that instead of 60 days you’re extended to 68.
And keep that in mind when dealing with soldiers. Treat them well, nobody else does.
Yes, we all work for ourselves at the end of the day. At the same end, never f**k over your company or teammates who have to stay behind and clean up your mess. Business OPSEC is one thing but always share your info on intel and tactics. We are all Americans and most of us will work together one time or another. Some of the "business secret" stuff is corny. If you hit an IED on ASR Jackson yesterday, e-mail your colleagues to stay away.
That’s it off the top of my head. Stay Safe, - Ben

Five different readers sent us this: Alabama City Reopening Fallout Shelters

   o o o

NFA sent us this link: A spike in the germination failure rate for commercially grown seeds?

   o o o

Bill N. came across this web site for women with guns. Has some good information for any woman that may carry a gun.

   o o o

A hat tip to Desert T. for sending this from The Wall Street Journal: Historic Surge In Grain Prices Roils Markets

"[T]he derivatives business is like hell--easy to enter and almost impossible to exit." - Warren Buffett

All Content on This Web Site Copyright 2005-2013 All Rights Reserved - James Wesley, Rawles - SurvivalBlog.com

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2007 is the previous archive.

November 2007 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Visitor Map



counter customisable
Unique visits since July 2005. More than 300,000 unique visits per week.